Monthly Archives: May 2012

Bobby Broom – Upper West Side Story

(Origin Records)

Chicago-based guitarist Bobby Broom returns to his roots with his tenth and latest recording. Upper West Side Story finds the New York City native paying homage to the place of his physical and musical birth. The album has the feel of a big city guitar trio, with Broom and longtime bandmates, bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Kobie Watkins, working together again quite nicely.  There’s a rawness to the playing of Broom and company here that feels very much as if you were checking out the trio at an evening jam session at a small club. Broom stocked this effort entirely with compositions that he’s written over the years, which, in addition to the outstanding musicianship, makes the entire effort a truly refreshing production for the ear. Excellent work.

Click here to listen to a clip of “D’s Blues”.

Tracks: D’s Blues, Upper West Side Story, After Words, Minor Major Mishap, Lazy Sundays, Fambroscious, Father, Call Me a Cab, When The Falling Leaves.


Randy Hoexter Group – Fromage

(Randy Hoexter)

Fromage is the Randy Hoexter Group’s take on some of the cheesier pop tunes of our times. Don’t even look at the titles. Just put it on and push play, because what you expect based on your memories of the original tunes, and what you’ll get here are something entirely different. Pianist Randy Hoexter provides some excellent arrangement of the tunes that renders them jazzy, grooving and swinging. The group, comprised of some high calibur musical talents, turns the campy tunes from several decades into uniquely good creations. Joining Hexter in this effort are drummer Tom Knight, guitarist Trey Knight, saxophonist Sam Skelton, as well as guests Jimmy Haslip on bass. Dave Weckl on drums. The sound is big, brilliant and definitely good listening .

Click here to listen to a clip of “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves”.

Tracks: Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves, You Light Up My Life, Delta Dawn, Muskrat Love, Escape (The Pina Colada Song), I’ve Never Been To Me, Seasons In The Sun, Yummy, Yummy Yummmy, Honey/Dies Irae, Billy , Don’t Be a Hero, Canon.


Tessa Souter – Beyond The Blue


Singer Tessa Souter brings the music and inspiration of classical composers such as Brahms, Chopin and Beethoven into to the jazz vocal realm with her latest effort, Beyond The Blue. Souter adapted classical works to her musical methodology, writing lyrics for most of the compositions at the suggestion of Venus Records’ Tetsuo Hara, who co-produced the date with Todd Barkan of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Other of the album’s tracks find Souter combining the lyrics of familiar standards with the melodies of works by Revel and Debussy. The result of it all is a unique, artistic and richly entertaining endeavor. Souter is aided nicely by the trio of pianist Steve Kuhn, bassist David Finck and drummer Billy Drummond.The band is further augmented by the talents of vibraphonist Joe Locke, tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm and accordionist Gary Versace. Released solely in Japan last year, the project is being made available by Motema Records worldwide. What a great concept for a recording and terrific production to boot.

Click here to listen to a clip of “My Reverie”.

Tracks: Prelude to The Sun, The Lamp is Low, Dance With Me, Chiaroscuro, My Reverie, En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor, Sunrise, Baubles, Bangles and Beads, Beyond The Blue, The Darkness of Your Eyes, Noa’s Dream, Brand New Day .


Mads Tolling Quartet – Celebrating Jean-Luc Ponty – Live at Yoshi’s

(Madsman Records)

Violinist Mads Tolling recently announced his departure from the Turtle Island String Quartet after 9 years to focus on his own band projects. He’s off to a great start with his new recording, Celebrating Jean-Luc Ponty , a substantive tribute to one of the modern masters and heroes of his instrument. Recorded live at Yoshi’s, Tolling leads his own quartet, which includes Mike Abraham on guitar, George Ban-Weiss on bass and Eric Garland on drums. The set is very fusionesque, covering not only Ponty’s compositions, but also works by John McLaughlin, Stanley Clarke, Frank Zappa and Sam Rivers. Tolling soars and paints dreamscapes with his bow in a way that truly captures the spirit of the music of the gentleman to whom this effort is a tribute.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Lila’s Dance”.

Tracks: Lila’s Dance, Song to John, Old Country, Struggle of the Turtle, King Kong, Enigmatic Ocean, Bowing Bowing, Struggle of The Turtle, Last  Memories of Her, New Country, Beatrice, Intro to Pontyfication, Pontytifcation.


Hailey Niswanger – The Keeper

(Calmit Records)

Saxophonist Hailey Niswanger plays with all of the skill and sophistication of someone three or four times her age of twenty-one. The latest showcase for her virtuosity is her sophomore release, The Keeper. The 11-track album, which features eight tunes which she composed, is further testimony to Niswanger’s tremendous artistry. The album is a total swingfest, featuring a lineup of talented sidemen who help power the music. Joining the Houston native on the project are Max Moran on bass, Takeshi Ohbayashi on piano, Mark Whitfield, Jr. on drums and Darren Barrett on trumpet for several tracks. The recording includes nice renditions of tunes by Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Cole Porter. If you appreciate hearing fantastic, next-level musicianship, you can not go wrong by checking this one out.

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

Tracks: Scraps, Straight Up, Norman, Milestones, Ravine, Played Twice, Balance, Night and Day, Tale of Dale, “B” Happy, The Keeper.


Brian Ho – Organic

(B2B Music)

San Francisco-based organist Brian Ho first fell in love with playing the organ when he became its full-time practitioner at an African-American church at 16 years old. Today, the thirty-something is a bona fide groover, as his debut release Organic makes very clear. The project features Ho among a solid group of musical sidemen deftly conveying the subtlety and power of the Hammond engine, with a repertoire that ranges from funky jams to bluesy ballads. The song selection is a balance of original compositions and nicely done covers, from classics to pop. Joining him on the set are drummer Lorca Hart, saxophonist Oscar Pangilinan and guitarist Calvin Keys, a veteran of his craft, who has played alongside the likes of organ greats like Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, and Dr. Lonnie Smith, among others. Such experience in his corner can’t help but contribute to the musical acumen Ho demonstrates on this inaugural effort. This is a fantastic recording kickoff for a rising star of the keys.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Restoring The Faith”.

Tracks: Tres Ritmo, Beat Street, Song My Father, Rehab, Artful Dodger, Restoring the Faith, In a Sentimental Mood, Reversi .


Catherine Russell – Strictly Romancin’

(World Village)

It’s not just the fact that Catherine Russell has a voice that sounds like a throwback to earlier singers (including a touch of Billie Holliday), while still being very much in the present, or that she phrases lyrics in a way that recalls a Satchmo trumpet solo, or that she brings a joy to the presentation of the music she sings. It’s really all of the above that make Russell’s latest, Strictly Romancin’, one of our favorites. The singer’s tone is further enhanced by wonderful arrangements and the talents of a terrific band, which includes Matt Munisteri on guitar and bango, Lee Hudson on bass, Mark Shane on piano and Dan Block on clarinet. The recording covers a collection of period tunes, which includes compositions by Mary Lou Williams, Ellington and Strayhorn, Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh, Hoagy Carmichael, and Lillian Green. Russell’s ebullient voice brings these songs to life in a whole new way with an infectious appreciation that is thoroughly pleasing.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Everything’s Been Done Before”.

Tracks: Under The Spell of The Blues, I’m In The Mood For Love, Wake Up and Live, Ev’ntide, Romance In The Dark, I’m Checking Out, Goom’ Bye, No More, Satchel Mouth Baby, Everything’s Been Done Before, Don’t Leave Me, I Haven’t Changed A Thing, Everybody Loves My Baby, He’s All I Need, Whatcha Gonna Do When There Ain’t No Swing.


Joe Locke / Geoffrey Keezer Group – Signing

(Record Label)

Vibraphonist Joe Locke and pianist Geoffrey Keezer join forces to lead a stellar lineup musicians on their collaboration Signing. The album acquired its title from a touching story that Locke tells of his mother, who taught the deaf early her career and later befriended a blind, deaf neighbor. Locke relates this theme of connection to his bandmates here, who include bassist Mike Pope, who suffered a stroke two months before this recording, and drummer Terreon Gully. The interplay of these four talents makes for some fantastic music.The music is mostly original, save a nice arrange of John Coltrane’s Naima, there’s a fantastic sense of telepathy and timing. If you want to hear the beauty and power of what happens when a group of solid musical talents can do when they connect, this is a recording you should check out .

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

Tracks: Signing, The Lost Lenore, Darth Alexis, Naima, Hide and Seek, Her Sanctuary, Terraces, This Is Just To Say.


Anne Sajdera – Azul

(Bijari Records)

Azul is the terrific recording debut of San Francisco-based pianist and composer Anne Sajdera. The project, co-produced with guitarist Ray Obiedo, has a wonderful melodic feel. Sajdera is joined on the effort by members of her trio, which include Gary Brown on bass and Paul van Wageningen on drums, both of whom are a stellar complement to the pianist. Joining the unit on several tunes are Michael Spiro on percussion and Phil Thompson takes the drumming chair on two of the album’s tracks. The effort is made even more special by the appearance of the legendary percussionist Airto Moreira on a number of tunes. Sajdera is a gifted composer, penning a number of tunes on the album, which blended nicely with reworked bows to Wayne Shorter, Egberto Gismonti and Ivan Lins. The commendable music choices make this artist’s debut a great pleasure to hear.

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

Tracks: Rashid, Ana Maria, Azul, I Should Care, Love Dance, Sambinha, Frevo, Tema em 3, Time Passes, Touch.