A Different Porgy & Another Bess is the Brussels Jazz Orchestra’s bold attempt at re-imagining one of classic pieces of musical cinema and stage. It’s an effort that greatly succeeds. The recording features vocalists David Linx and Maria Joao presenting the lyrics of Dubose Heyward and Ira Gershwin, with George Gershwin’s tremendous music wonderfully arranged in jazzier, more contemporary vein. The orchestra delivers a powerfully impressive performance and a deserving homage to one of music’s absolute masterpieces.
Click here to listen to a clip of “A Woman Is A Sometime Thing”.
Tracks: A Red-Headed Woman, A Woman Is A Sometime Thing, I Love You, Porgy, Buzzard Song, My Man’s Gone Now, Oh Lord, I’m On My Way, Clara, Clara, Don’t You Be Downhearted, Bess You Are My Woman Now, Oh, Doctor Jesus, I’ve Got Plenty of Nothing, Summertime.
Mike Stern has one of the most recognizable voices of any contemporary electric guitarist on the music scene. His latest, All Over The Place, has Stern as the centerpiece of a very eclectic work. The album is a nice of music of the high-energy acrobatics and sweet soulful ballads. The project also features an impressive guest list of stellar music talents in their own right, including saxophonists Kenny Garrett and Chris Potter, drummers Al Foster and Dave Weckl, bassists Richard Bona and Esperanza Spalding and trumpeter Randy Brecker. With all these talents a lot of musicians, and recordings, could get lost in the fog of variety, but Stern and producer Jim Beard masterfully make it all work beautifully.
Click here to listen to a clip of “AJ”.
Tracks: AJ, Cameroon, Out of The Blue, As Far As We Know, Blues For Al, OCD, You Never Told Me, Half Way Home, Light, Flipside, All Over The Place.
Drummer Steve Smith presents his Vital Information franchise, which is celebrating 30 years on the jazz scene, in a fantastic CD-DVD combo package, Live! One Great Night. Three decades since the formation of the project, Smith is pushing the envelope with his fusion of rock and jazz, and a touch of the blues. Recorded live in 2007 at The Mobius in Ashland, Oregon, the performances are high energy from start to finish. Smith is, as always, assisted by a solid group of musicians, including Tom Coster on keyboards, Baron Browne on bass and Vinny Valentino on guitar and some very innovative scat vocalizations. The CD and DVD are a thoroughly entertaining showcase of the outstanding musicianship we’ve come to expect from a Vital Information project over these many years.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Interwoven Rhythms -Synchronous”.
Tracks: Cat Walk, Time Tunnel, Interwoven Rhythms -Synchronous, Seven and a Half, Khanda West, The Trouble With, Interwoven Rhythms – Dialogue, The Closer, Jimmy Jive.
(Rhyme or Reason Records)
Chicago-based vocalist Rebecca Sullivan teams up with guitarist Mike Allemana for a fantastic debut effort. This Way, This Time captures the dance between the human voice and the guitar beautifully. The timing and synchronicity between vocalist and guitarist is near perfect. The album has an intimate, quiet feel with nice arrangements by Sullivan and Allemana of some less-covered tunes by known composers. Featured are works by Johnny Mandel and Peggy Lee, Brian Wilson, Frank Loesser and Fredrick Hollander as well as a nice cover of a beautiful Irish traditional. A really wonderful listen.
Click here to listen to a clip of “You Are There”.
Tracks: This Way, This Time, The Shining Sea, She Moved Through The Fair, Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Some Kind of Love, Blossom Friend, Human Racing, Strange Enchantment, Ivy, You Are There .
New York-based saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin makes an impressive recording debut with Retox. The project is a collection of jazz-tinged funk or funk-tinged jazz, depending on your perspective. Benjamin is an impressive composer, in addition to being a solid practitioner of her axe. She wrote all but one of the tunes on the project. The effort is very much vocal-based with terrific contributions from various singers, including Krystle Warren, Mavis Swan Poole, Chinah Blac and Melanie Charles. There are equally impressive musician performances from organist Jess Fisher, guitarists Louis Cato and Shelton Gardner, bassist Solomon Dorsey and brasswork by The Hotspot Horns. This is fantastic premier by a great new artist on the scene.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Get Down”.
Tracks: SoulSquad, Keep Talkin’ Maceo, Share My Life, My Love, Human Being, Jump and Shout, Smile, Get Down, Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing, Dreams, Slow Juice .
Swedish vocalist Rebecka Larsdotter’s latest, Feathers & Concrete is the follow-up to her previous recording of standards. Here the writing is by Larsdotter and the songs provide a more personal perspective. The tunes are contemporary and mostly upbeat. The vocals are augmented by a fine list of West Coast musician talents, including Ruslan Sirota on piano, Chris Coleman on drums, Charles Altura on guitar and J.P. Maramba on acoustic bass. Though most of tunes are sung in English, the singer performs one tune beautifully in her native language. Larsdotter is a truly promising artist to watch.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Verkligheten Är En Dröm”.
Tracks: System Overload, Wise One, Friday Sweep, Pearl of Glass, Verkligheten Är En Dröm, Cracks, Strangers In The Garden, Waiting On The Wind, System Overload/Pimpy’s Brew (Extended Version) .