Monthly Archives: January 2014

Helen Sung – Anthem For A New Day

(Concord Jazz)

Pianist/composer Helen Sung applies color in her playing as creatively a painter would on canvas, with broad bold strokes and intricate touches compromising a compelling work.  Anthem For A New Day, her sixth recording, is a colorful array of moods and modes. Sung’s sound is a nice mélange of classical and blues elements, shifting smoothly from acoustic to electric piano.  The playlist features a mix of Sung originals and nicely arranged works by Thelonious Monk, Chick Corea and Duke Ellington. Adding to the quality of this effort are saxophonist Seamus Blake, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, bassist Reuben Rogers, drummer Obed Calvaire, and percussionist Samuel Torres. Violinist Regina Carter,  Paquito D’Rivera (clarinet) and saxophonist John Ellis (bass clarinet) also guest on the project. This eclectic set is completely captivating from start to finish.

Click to listen to a clip of “Hope Springs Eternally”:

Tracks: Brother Thelonious, Armando’s Rhumba, It Don’t Mean A Thing, Hope Springs Eternally, Anthem, Never Let Me Go, Chaos Theory, Epistrophy, Equipois .


Anton Schwartz – Flash Mob

(Anton Jazz)

Tenor saxophonist and composer Anton Schwartz brings a diverse collection of moods and tunes to his new recording. FlashMob is Schwartz’s first recording in seven years. The tunes are fresh and definitely augment the West Coast-based musician’s big, bright sound on the horn. Schwartz wrote all but two of the album’s tracks, giving way to works of Thelonious Monk and Kenny Durham for two numbers. Adding magic to the music is a line of considerable talents, including Dominick Farinacci on trumpet and flugelhorn, Taylor Eigsti on piano, John Shifflett on bass and Lorca Hart on drums. The quartet sounds as polished as a unit as they are individually gifted and the result is a fantastic work.

Click to listen to a clip of “Pangur Ban”:

Tracks: Flash Mob, Swamp Thang, Cumulonimbus, Pangur Ban, Alleybird, Spurious Causes, La Mesha, Epistrophy, Glass Half Missing, The Contender, Dawn Song.


Porter, Carrington Among Jazz Grammy Winners


Vocalist Greg Porter winning his first Best Jazz Vocal Album and Terri Lyne Carrington becoming the first woman to win for Best Jazz Instrumental Album were among the highlights of the 56th Annual Grammy Awards Ceremonies held in Los Angeles. For Porter, this was the third straight nomination for the award for successive albums, and his first time receiving the statue, while it was the second award for Carrington in two years. Saxophone great Wayne Shorter was also among those recognized this year as well as Herb Alpert for his production this year. Jazz writer and reviewer Neil Tesser was honored with an award for his liner on a Coltrane reissue, while composer and musician Maria Schneider who has spent a good part of her career working on music more closely identified with the jazz genre won for Best Contemporary Classical Album.

Below is the full list of the award recipients who are connected with jazz:

Best Pop Instrumental Album: Herb Alpert Steppin’ Out

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Michael Bublé To Be Loved

Best Instrumental Composition: Clare Fischer “Pensamientos For Solo Alto Saxophone And Chamber Orchestra”

Best Instrumental Arrangement: Gordon Goodwin “On Green Dolphin Street” (Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band)

Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s): Gil Goldstein “Swing Low” (Bobby McFerrin & Esperanza Spalding)

Best Album Notes: Neil Tesser Afro Blue Impressions (Remastered & Expanded) (John Coltrane)

Best Jazz Instrumental Album: Terri Lyne Carrington Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album: Randy Brecker, Wlodek Pawlik Trio & Kalisz Philharmonic Night In Calisia

Best Improvised Jazz Solo: Wayne Shorter, soloist “Orbits”

Best Jazz Vocal Album: Gregory Porter Liquid Spirit

Best Latin Jazz Album: Paquito D’Rivera and Trio Corrente Song For Maura

Best R&B Performance: Snarky Puppy with Lalah Hathaway “Something” (Track from: Family Dinner Volume One)

Best Classical Vocal Solo: Dawn Upshaw (Maria Schneider; Jay Anderson, Frank Kimbrough & Scott Robinson; Australian Chamber Orchestra & St. Paul Chamber Orchestra) Winter Morning Walks

Diane Hubka – West Coast Strings

(SSJ Records)

On her latest effort West Coast Strings, vocalist Diane Hubka, a guitarist herself, decided to feature the handiwork of some of the West Coast’s most notable jazz guitarists. Hubka’s wonderfully, pleasing vocal tone carries the day on this effort, as the singer weaves her way through an array of great standards by the likes of Henry Mancini, Billy Strayhorn and George and Ira Gershwingiven, among others. Hubka’s effort is graced by the considerable talents of guitarists Ron Eschete, Anthony Wilson Larry Koonse, Peter Sprague, John Pisano, Mimi Fox, David Eastlee and Barry Zweig. In addition, organist Bobby Pierce adds some extra firepower to whole affair and the rhythm is held together by bassists Jeff D’Angelo and John Leftwich, along with drummers Kendall Kay and Enzo Tedesco on various tracks. Hubka, who also plays guitar on three tunes, is a thoroughly engaging voice who should not be missed.

Click to listen to a clip of “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In”:

Tracks: West Coast Blues, Moondance, Brigas Nunca Mais, Warming to Spring, It Ain’t Necessarily So, Amanhacer, Never Let Me Go, Moon Ray, They Say It’s Spring, Slow Hot Wind, A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing, Someone Else Is Steppin’ In.


Scott Jeppesen- El Guapo

(Creative Bottle Music)

On El Guapo, his debut as a leader, Scott Jeppesen weaves together colorful and fascinating musical tapestries. Both as a saxophonist and a composer, Jeppesen is truly a creator of great music, writing all but two of the tunes on the project. The selection here is a nice balance between uptempo numbers and ballads, with arrangements that give all of the players involved the opportunity to showcase their considerable skills. Joining the L.A.-based talent on this effort is a solid lineup, which includes John Daversa on trumpet, Josh Nelson on piano, Larry Koonse on guitar, Dan Schnelle on drums and Dave Robaire on bass. This is an outstanding debut from an artist who is really worth hearing.

Click to listen to a clip of “Great Odin’s Raven”:

Tracks: El Guapo, Elm, Great Odin’s Raven, I Tend to Agree, Maybe Later, No Drama, Overlapping Conversations, Hidden, Prayer for Sandy Hook, Don’t Fence Me In .


Matt Renzi – Rise and Shine

(Three P’s Records)

The music of New York-based saxophonist Matt Renzi has a raw quality that sounds like it’s being invented in real-time. His latest effort Rise and Shine feels almost like looking into an artist’s sketchbook and peeking at some ideas that are being working out. It’s a brave new work which allows for some real musical expession and this is what takes place on this recording. Renzi who also plays oboe, clarinet and flute on the effort is joined by Dave Ambrosio on bass, Ralph Alessi on trumpet, Russ Meisner on drums, Giridhar Udupa on vocals and percussion and A.R. Balaskandan on mridangam. This is a dynamic recording by an incredibly virtuosic performer.


Click to listen to a clip of “Tha Thom”:

Tracks: Noasis, Rise and Shine, Wall Tune, SP, Tha Thom, Number Two, Animals Come Forth, Vetro .


JALC, Marsalis Septet Rings In 2014 Right

The Wynton Marsalis Septet was back together for a week of concerts at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York towards the end of 2013, right up until New Years Eve. The septet is comprised of Marsalis on trumpet, Wessel “Warmdaddy” Anderson on saxophone, Reginald Veal on bass, Herlin Riley on drums, Eric Reed on piano, Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, Victor Goines on sax and clarinet. Thanks to, New Years revelers around the world were able to witness their merrymaking to bring in another year before an enthusiastic audience at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, especially the lady in the red dress.

Redmond, Langosch, Cooley – Compared to What

(Mary Ann Redmond)

Guitar/vocalist Mary Ann Redmond is joined by bassist Paul Langosch and keyboardist Jay Cooley for a refreshing musical set. Compared to What gets it great sound, not only from Redmond’s uniquely soulful voice and the gentlemen players on the project, but from the recording fresh takes on standards and less covered contemporary compositions. Produced by Langosch, the album features great arrangements of all the tracks listed, which includes contributions from Duke Ellington, Lennon and McCartney, Irving Berlin, Smokey Robinson, Leonard Cohen, Joanie Mitchell and Stevie Wonder. Also contributing to the effort are Dave Mattacks on drums, Dan Hovey on guitar and Bruce Swaim on saxophone. Redmond, who also contribute 2 nicely written tunes, has a command of the guitar, as well as the microphone, that makes this production a pleasure from start to finish.

Click to listen to a clip of “Dance Me To The End of Love”:

Tracks: Come Rain or Come Shine, Dance Me To The End of Love, Compared to What, Storm is Coming, Never Make Your Move Too Soon, Creepin’, Coyote, Ain’t That Peculiar, What’ll I Do, Fool on The Hill, Love Me Anyway.


Dave Sharp’s Secret 7- Worlds

(Vortex Jazz Recordings)

Bassist Dave Sharp assembles a collection of talented artists together to create music that is a thoroughly entertaining intersection of cultures. Worlds.Sharp’s stellar bass work underpins the eclectic rhythm and vocals. Featuring singers and musicians from Africa and India, the album explores the world music territory and adds some serious groove and jazz elements on the way. The package includes perfomances drummer Cheikh Lö, trumpeter/ flugelhorn player Walter White, pianist Gary Schunk, drummer Gayelynne McKinney and guitarist Elden Kelly, among others. Vocalist Parthiv Gohil also contributes some beautifully melodic notes to the project. This is a fantastic production by Sharp and all involved .

Click to listen to a clip of “Mystery Blues”:

Tracks: Sherehe, Nu Africa, Return, Mystery Blues, Sunrise, Eastern Flame, Desert Sky, Kalinjar, Rain Raga, Dakar Detroit .