Monthly Archives: October 2011

Deborah Winters – Lovers After All

(Jazzed Media)

San Francisco-based Deborah Winters is a true songtress, something she conveys quite well on her third and latest recording, Lovers After All.  The album, comprised mostly of ballads, is nicely arranged by trumpeter Peter Welker, who also produced the album, which allows Winters wonderful voice and phrasing to resonate. The tunes chosen are a mix of well-known standards and lesser-known ones as well. In addition to Welker, the singer is aided by the talents of keyboardist Pete Levin, saxophonist Andrew Speight, pianist Mark Levine, drummer Kevin Dillion and a host of others. The horn section on the project provides an excellent framework for Winters to work in and around. This is a wonderful vocal recording .

Click here to listen to a clip of “Lovers After All”.

Tracks: Lovers After All, How Am I To Know, Get Out of Town, Body and Soul , I Love Being Here With You,  For All We Know, Haunted Heart, The End of A Love Affair, Come Sunday, How Deep Is The Ocean, I’ll Close My Eyes .


Occupy – Jazz Music?

Salon Magazine’s Martin Johnson wonders aloud if jazz musicians could provide the musical expression of the Occupy Wall Street movement.


In the late ’50s and ’60s, during the peak of the civil rights movement, marches and meetings had a jazz soundtrack. Masterworks like Max Roach’s “Freedom Now Suite,” Charles Mingus’ “Fables of Faubus” and Sonny Rollins’ “Freedom Suite” were equal parts incendiary and innovative — brilliant music that reflected their times with precision and passion. As that era gave way to the heyday of Black Nationalism, political themes continued in the vibrant jazz of musicians like Archie Shepp, Sunny Murray and Julius Hemphill, among others.

Yet by the ’80s, fight-the-power odes died down in jazz, especially as rap and hip-hop emerged to carry the flag. Jazz veered toward easy listening instead. “I think jazz went through a period in the 1980s and 1990s where it was trying very hard to be ‘America’s Classical Music,’” says composer and bandleader Darcy James Argue. “The intentions behind this were laudable. The movement clearly succeeded in increasing respect for jazz in elite circles — but it also defanged the music by stripping away the social and political context, or by trying to frame it in broadly inoffensive terms.”

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Mort Weiss Meets Bill Cunliffe

(SMS Jazz)

The venerable, and seemingly tireless, Mort Weiss continues to explore new combinations and musical connections. Never one to settle for the old formulas, on his latest he teams with pianist Bill Cunliffe for a fantastic product. Weiss, who is stellar as usual on clarinet, cedes a great deal of the floor to Cunliffe, who delivers with virtuoso solos on everything he plays. The two gentlemen are joined by the great Sam Most on flute. The production swings, of course, but also takes some interesting turns, mixing in a spoken word piece delivered by Peter Marx and a song co-written and performed by his grandson Anthony Weiss, who also plays guitar on the track. Contributing to the terrific band here are Roy McCurdy on drums, Ron Escheté on guitar, Chris Conner on bass and Scott Yanow, also on clarinet. The main menu of music on the project is courtesy of the likes of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Kurt Weill and Anthony Newley, among others. As you’ll hear in the exuberant exhortations supporting his fellow musicians, Weiss clearly had as good a time making this recording, as you’ll have listening to it.

Click here to listen to a clip of “The Theme”.

Tracks: The Theme, Who Can I Turn To, Indian Summer, The Gentle Rain, What Is This Thing Called Love, Readings of Kerouac, My Ship, If I Should Lose You, The Sheik Araby, Dewey Square, Awaken, For Heavens Sakes, Who Cares.


Dee Dee Bridgewater – Midnight Sun


Dee Dee Bridgewater stands as one of jazz’s most versatile singers. She covers the full range of the emotional spectrum of music. Midnight Sun is a collection of ballads from her various albums over the past decade and a half, from Dear Ella to the Grammy-winning Elenora Fagan. The selection and sequence of tunes is great. To hear the singer’s fantastic and seductive delivery of words and magic in a concentrated package, is to be reminded of the exquisite artistry that has been the hallmark of all her work.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Speak Low”.

Tracks: Midnight Sun, Angel Eyes, My Ship, Que reste-t-il?, Lonely Woman, Speak Low, I’m a Fool to Want You/I Fall In Love Too Easily, L’Hymne à l’Amour, The Island, Good Morning Heartache, Here I’ll Stay.


Cedar Walton – The Bouncer


At 77, master pianist Cedar Walton shows no signs of slowing down on his latest release, The Bouncer. The former sideman to the great John Coltrane leads a stellar group of musicians in this swinging effort, comprised mostly of his own compositions. Joining Walton for the ride are the talents of Willie Jones III on drums, and David Williams on bass, along with guests Steve Turre on trombone, Vincent Herring on saxophone and percussionist Ray Mantilla on various tracks. The project was recorded in 24-bit sound by and at the studios of the great Rudy Van Gelder. The quality of the sound allows Walton’s incredible, enduring virtuosity to come through as clear as a bell.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Martha’s Prize”.

Tracks: The Bouncer, Lament, Bell For Bags, Halo, Underground Memoirs, Willie’s Groove, Got To Get To The Island, Martha’s Prize.


Music Foundation Created In Memory of Slain Jazz Fan

NEWPORT, Ore. – A special music foundation has been created for underprivileged children, in the memory of slain Oregon teen Cody Myers.

Myers was involved with several bands and loved music – especially jazz. He was murdered after a trip to the Newport Jazz Festival.

Before his death, Myers, 19, told his family that he had a passion to help lower income and underprivileged children who can’t afford musical instruments, music supplies or lessons.

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Ben Williams – State of Art

(Concord Records)

If all anyone knew was that Ben Williams was a heralded talent in music, the expectation might likely be that the music would be hip-hop, but the 26-year old from Washington, D.C. is one of the true revelations on the bass, who has worked with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Pat Metheny, and Roy Hargrove, among others. His first release, State of Art, reflects the diversity of his experiences and a broad spectrum of music from classical, R & B, and yes, hip-hop. The recording’s set is a mix of self-penned compostions and songs from Woody Shaw, Blackburn and Suessdorf, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. The covers are nicely re-harmonized to render them almost new and the original works include a rap-flavored tribute to Lee Morgan. You don’t hear that everyday! Joining Williams is an outstanding lists of talents that includes pianist Gerald Clayton, saxophonists Marcus Strickland and Jaleel Shaw, guitarist Matthew Stevens, drummer Jamire Williams and trumpet player Christian Scott, who guests on one track. Williams solos are as notable as any of the higher octave instruments on the project and this is a very ear-worthy debut for the quite-deserving Thelonious Monk Award winner.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Moontrane”.

Tracks: Home, Moontrane, The Lee Morgan Story, Dawn of A New Day, Little Susie, November, Part-time Lover, Things Don’t Exist, Mr. Dynamite, Moonlight in Vermont.


Michael Pedicin – Ballads: Searching For Peace

(The Jazz Hut)

Tenor saxman Michael Pedicin has a deliciously, sweet sound on the horn. This component of his sound is the focus of Ballads, his newest release. His sound was no doubt honed in part by his years of touring with jazz greats Dave Brubeck and Maynard Ferguson. Every song on the project is a lucious, ear-pleasing experience that can’t help but encompass the listener. This fantastic recording is aided by the talents of Barry Miles on piano, John Valentino on guitar, Dean Schneider on piano, Barry Shomo on drums and Andy Lalasis on bass. The menu here is selected tunes from Hank Mobley, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter and Don Roye, along with nicely written pieces by Pedicin and Valentino. This is one really worth hearing.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Blame It On Your Heart”.

Tracks: You Don’t Know What Love Is, Blame It On Your Heart, Home At Last, Few Moments, Virgo, Tell Me, Search For Peace.


Rahsaan Barber – Everyday Magic

(Jazz Music City)

Saxophonist Rahsaan Barber is one of the truly exciting young talents in jazz, as he aptly displays on his second and latest release, Everyday Magic.  In addition to the powerful voice he brings to the instrument, Barber is an incredibly harmonic composer, writing all of the songs on the project. Barber clearly comes out of the Coltrane tradition, but the arrangement of his music, with its use of electric guitar, gives it an element of yesterday and very much today. On guitar is Adam Agati, Jody Nardone plays piano, Jerry Navarro is on bass and Nioshi Jackson provides the drum work. It’s a unit that sounds incredibly good together. Joining them on several tracks are trombonist Roland Barber, Rahsaan’s twin brother and Giovanni Rodriguez on percussion. Based in the country music capital, Nashville,Tennessee, Barber is one of many artists proving that great jazz talent does exist in the American South.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Jubilee”.

Tracks: Jubilee, Lost and Found, Floodsong, Manhattan Grace, Why So Blue?, Innocence, Adagio, Memphis Soul, Redemption .


Véronneau – Joie de Vivre

(Véronneau Music)

Virginia-based Véronneau draws its name from its tremendous lead French-Canadian singer Lynn Véronneau, who possesses a beautifully-haunting, resonant voice. She’s supported by a talented band, which includes Ken Avis on acoustic guitar and additional vocals, David Rosenblatt also on acoustic guitar and Pete Walby on drums. The group artfully weaves through a cross-section of tunes, from Brazilian to traditional and pop standards, from the likes of Lennon and McCartney, Lerner & Lowe, Luis Bonfa and Jobim, doing so with the telepathy of a group of musicians who’ve worked together for many years. Violinist David Kline and saxophonist Jeff Antoniuk make terrific guest appearances on several tracks. This is a band to watch for, listen for and very much enjoy.

Click here to listen to a clip of “The Gentle Rain”.

Tracks: La Mer, The Gentle Rain, For No One, Corcovado, Cielito Lindo, The Street Where You Live, Brazil, Abertura do Verão, One Note Samba, Blue Skies.