Monthly Archives: October 2013

Stephen McQuarry Trio – Azure

(Mandala Records)

Pianist Stephen McQuarry leads his trio in a beautiful work of musical synchronicity. Azure is a cross-section of soothing ballads and upswinging tunes, all written by McQuarry. The chemistry of the trio is that of a group of musicians who are familiar with each other and like playing together. The lineup includes Ted Burik on bass and Greg German on drums. Both as a musician and a composer, McQuarry has a musical voice that is pleasing to the ear and soul. This is a fantastic recording.

Click to listen to a clip of “Azure”:

Tracks: Blues For Jack, Azure, Lunar, Little Brown House, Sunday Afternoon, Azadeh, A View From My Heart, You Never Know, 34 Miles Away, Lydia


Gretchen Parlato – Live In NYC

(Obliq Sound)

Singer Gretchen Parlato has one of the most unique and creative voices in jazz today. Her latest, Live in NYC, is a portrait of an artist who is as comfortable and consistent on stage, as on her studio albums. Parlato and company are captured in a performance at the intimate Rockwood Music Hall. The album covers most of the material Parlato has recorded on her past two releases. The approach is decidedly contemporary with nice covers of several pop/R&B favorites. The singer’s vocalizations and some of the musical choices evokes Brazilian flavored rhythms. The band is a solid one, with Taylor Eigsti on piano and keys, Alan Hampton on bass and vocals and Mark Guliana on drums (there’s a DVD included that has Eigsti joined by Kendrick Scott on drums and Burniss Earl Travis II on bass and vocals) This is a thoroughly entertaining recording of a truly compelling and engaging talent.

Click to listen to a clip of “On The Other Side”:

Tracks: Butterfly, All That I Can Say, Alô Alô, Within Me, Holding Back The Years, Juju, Weak, On The Other Side, Better Than .

Roberto Fonseca – Yo

(Concord Jazz)

Cuban-born pianist-composer Roberto Fonseca’s bold blend of piano and eclectic sound textures makes Yo one of the great albums of this year. The recording joins Afro-Cuban rhythms with jazz, soul and voice elements to create his own energetic musical groove. Yet somehow within this cacophony of beats, the keys manages to cut through and drive it all. There’s an intensity and immediacy to Fonseca’s playing, even in ballad mode, that truly grabs the ear. Likewise the compositions, most of which are originals, are sonically engulfing. Percussionist Baba Sissoko, bassist Étienne M’Bappé, guitarist Munir Hossni, kora player Sekou Kouyate make up the African musician lineup on the project, while Joel Hierrezuelo, drummer Ramsés Rodriguez and acoustic bassist Felipe Cabrera comprise the Cuban player personnel. There’s also some great vocal work included from Fatoumata Diawara, Faudel, Assane Mboup and spoken-word artist Mike Ladd.  This amazing and unique musical adventure is a true work of art.

Click to listen to a clip of “80’s”:

Tracks: 80’s,Bibisa,  Mi Negra Ave Maria,  7 Rayos, El Sonador Esta Cansado, Chabani, Gnawa Stop, El Mayor, JMF, Astes Lsa Vida, Quien Soy Yo, Rachel, Remixes: Bibisa, 80’s  .


Kellye Gray – And They Call Us Cowboys:The Texas Music Project

(Grr8 Records)

And They Call Us Cowboys: The Texas Music Project from singer Kellye Gray absolutely blows your socks off. First of all, what a voice! Throw in true passion and outstanding delivery and you have soulfulness that knows no boundaries. Gray and her band blend blues,country, jazz and folk into a mesmerizing stew of entrancing sound that is captivating from start from to finish. The songlist is music by Texas composers such Kris Kristofferson, Mack Davis, Roger Miller and Roy Orbison, among others. Backing her on this effort is outstanding collection of talent, which includes the project’s co-producer Jake Langley on guitars, Pamela York and Kevin Lovejoy on piano and Fender Rhodes, Chris Maresh on basses, Kyle Thompson on drums and John Mills on saxophones. This is a fantastic production that you need to hear.

Click to listen to a clip of “Dang Me”:

Tracks: Help Me Through The Night, In The Ghetto, If I Needed You, Dang Me, Deep In The West, Sailing, Only The Lonely, Always On My Mind, Night’s Lullaby .


Tom Goehring – A Reflected Journey

(Mengli Music)

Trumpet and flugelhorn man Tom Goehring has produced a fantastic new work that shows his range both as musician and a composer. A Reflected Journey features a balanced set of  nice Goehring’s originals and  excellent covers of some classic jazz works. You really get to hear some truly top-notch playing in a production that balances an array of moods. The talents on this effort include Roger Rosenberg on saxophones and bass clarinet, Dave Leonhardt on piano, Matt Parrish on and Roy Cumming on bass (alternate tunes), and Paul Wells on drums. All of the gents here deliver a solid accounting on their individual instruments and the result is an excellent big league jazz recording. A truly pleasing listening experience.

Click to listen to a clip of “For Beverly”:

Tracks: A Reflected Journey, For Beverly, Clarion Call, The Walkdown, Bossa Nova Ova Old Folks, Con Alma, Grazing In The Grass, Namely You .


Star-Tribune: Blue note from St.Paul: Artists’ Quarter to Close


St. Paul’s longest-lived downtown nightclub and a mainstay for jazz purists three decades running, the Artists’ Quarter will shut its doors for good at the end of 2013. Choking back tears that no doubt will be shared by the AQ’s regular musicians and customers, owner Kenny Horst said, “This place is important in the lives of a lot of people, not just mine.”

Horst’s candlelit basement venue has enjoyed a faithful if not lucrative customer base since it relocated from Lowertown to the Hamm Building near Rice Park in 2002. However, Horst said his rent has “literally doubled” in recent years after his former landlord died.

“I cut my salary to where there’s nothing left, and I still can’t make the numbers work,” Horst said. “I still have great nights here, but one great night a week doesn’t cut it. People say, ‘The place was packed when I was there.’ The problem is everyone is there on the same night.”

Source: Star-Tribune

At 80, Wayne Shorter performs ‘without a net’

Wayne Shorter
Photo: Robert Ashcroft

By CHARLES J. GANS, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — At age 80, Wayne Shorter isn’t ready to rest on his reputation as one of the greatest composers in jazz history. Instead, whenever he performs the saxophonist can’t resist the urge to “de-compose” his works and create something anew.

“Jazz to me is something that doesn’t have to sound like jazz,” said Shorter, speaking by telephone from his home in the Hollywood Hills. “The word ‘jazz’ means I dare you. I dare you to go beyond what you are. You have to go beyond your comfort zone, to break out of the box. … You’re talking about not just music, you’re talking about life.”

Source: SF Gate

Quartet San Francisco – Pacific Premieres: New Works By California Composers

(ViolinJazz Recordings)

The Quartet San Francisco is something really special, as string musicians with a fierce dedication to jazz. Their latest production, Pacific Premieres: New Works By California Composers ,features new music by the talents of Gordon Goodwin, Vince Mendoza, Patrick Williams and the quartet’s leader, violinist Jeremy Cohen. The group, which also includes, Kelley Maulbetsch on cello, Chad Kaitlinger on viola and newcomer to the group, Matthew Szemela on violin takes and turn in the notes with great skill and synchonicity. Bassist Larry Epstein joins the troop on one track. The music is soaring and brilliant, both artistically and acoustically, thanks to help of Grammy-winning engineer Leslie Ann Jones and the famous Skywalker Studios. This quartet is amazing and this music is simply stunning .

Click to listen to a clip of “Guamba”:

Tracks: California Pictures for String Quartet: Oakland, Carmel, Venice, String Quartet No. 1- Funky Diversions in Three Parts: Mike and Randy, Towner, Maurice White, The Bay Is Deep Blue, Three Stages for String Quartet: Focus, Contemplation, Resolution, Guamba .


Bossa Nova Guitar Great Oscar Castro-Neves Dies at 73

oscar_castro_nevesSteve Chawkins, LA Times

Oscar Castro-Neves, a Brazil-born guitarist who helped to create the cool, sensuous rhythms of bossa nova and orchestrated music for movies including “L.A. Story” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” has died. He was 73.

Castro-Neves had cancer and died Friday in Los Angeles, his wife, Lorraine Castro-Neves, said.

Castro-Neves, who was noted for both his virtuosity and his impish sense of humor, toured with jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz.