On her latest, Tempo, the amazing vocalist and pianist Tania Maria teams with bass great Eddie Gomez for a wonderful album of duets. This work finds the Brazil native Maria playing as much as singing. Though the project consists of just two players, Maria’s rhythmic vocalizing and colorful playing makes the music sound much bigger. The duet covers a range of tunes by various Brazilian composers, with a musical synchronicity that makes the effort a near perfect work. Bravo.
Further Explorations is pianist-extraordinaire Chick Corea’s tribute to the genius of Bill Evans and his recording, Explorations, which was released 50 years ago. This 2 CD-set was recorded live at the Blue Note in New York in May 2010, along with Evans band alum Eddie Gomez on bass and the late Paul Motian on drums. The mastery of all three men combines into this kinetic aural landscape. Corea and company are heard casually deciding between songs what to play next and the performance that follows is flat-out brilliant. It’s like witnessing three great artists working on a painting together and the result can’t help but be fantastic. Don’t miss this!
Trombonist Dennis Rollins is no newcomer, but his sound is a true revelation on The 11th Gate his third release as a leader. Rollins and his Velocity Trio which includes Ross Stanley on Hammond organ and Pedro Segundo on drums and percussion, sculpt beautiful melodic soundscapes in a style that is both traditional and decidedly contemporary. Think J.J. Johnson meets Weather Report and Jack McDuff. The three players on the project have wonderful synchronicity, and Rollins’ gift as a songwriter is on full display with the UK native composing all the tunes on the project. This is an artful and terrific production.
Saxophonist James Carter leads a spirited session of music on At The Crossroads. The trio, comprised of Carter, who plays alto, tenor and baritone saxes, is enhanced by a rhythm section of Gerard Gibbs on organ and Leonard King, Jr. on drums. The unit is augmented on various tunes by the addition of Brandon Ross and Bruce Edwards on guitars, Vincent Chandler on trombone, and Kenyon Harrold on trumpet, among others. Miche Braden’s deep, earthy vocals on several tracks is a powerful addition to the project. The flavor here is music in the African-American tradition, from blues to spirituals, including compositions from Maybelle Smith, Ralph Bass and Jess Powell, Duke Ellington, and Julius Hemphill, as well as a couple of interesting titles from members of the trio. A thoroughly entertaining effort from start to finish.
Tracks: Oh Gee, JC Off The Set, Aged Pain, The Walking Blues My Whole Life Through, Walking The Dog, Lettuce Toss Yo’ Salad, Misterio, Ramblin’ Blues, Come Sunday, Tis The Old Ship of Zion, The Hard Blues.
The great Sonny Rollins was among the artists at 2011 Kennedy Center Honors. Fellow honorees included actress Barbara Cook, singer Neil Diamond, celloist Yo-Yo Ma, and Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep. The program was broadcast on CBS on Dec 27th. Here’s a look at the segment on Sonny which was highlighted by a video segment on his career narrated by Bill Cosby. Here’s a look:
Congratulations to Sonny and all the artists whose contributions were recognized.
Bassist Christian McBride gets by with the help of a few of his musical friends on his latest release Conversations with Christian.The recording is a collection of duets with a cross-section of musical talents, both past and present, in various genres. Among the collaborations featured here are two with the late, greats, Dr. Billy Taylor and Hank Jones. Other artists joining in conversation with McBride are violinist Regina Carter, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, vocalist and fellow bassist Sting, guitarist Russell Malone and on sizzling duet, singer Dee Dee Bridgewater. The expanse of artists and styles all serve to show the versatility of the Philadelphia-bred bassist.
Tracks: Afririka, Fat Bach and Green, Consider Me Gone, Gueajeo Y Tumbao, Bauble, Bangles and Beads, Spiritual, It’s Your Thing, Alone Together, McDukey Blues, Tango Improvisation #1, Sister Rosa, Shake ‘n Blake, Chitlins and Gefiltefish.
Sam Rivers, an inexhaustibly creative saxophonist, flutist, bandleader and composer who cut his own decisive path through the jazz world, spearheading the 1970s loft scene in New York and later establishing a rugged outpost in Florida, died on Monday in Orlando, Fla. He was 88.
The cause was pneumonia, his daughter Monique Rivers Williams said.
With an approach to improvisation that was garrulous and uninhibited but firmly grounded in intellect and technique, Mr. Rivers was among the leading figures in the postwar jazz avant-garde. His sound on the tenor saxophone, his primary instrument, was distinctive: taut and throaty, slightly burred, dark-hued. He also had a recognizable voice on the soprano saxophone, flute and piano, and as a composer and arranger.