On Hungarian-born pianist Daniel Szabo’s third release, A Song From There , “there” must be a reference to the heart, as this project is a perfect blend of technical mastery and simpatico. Szabo’s brilliant pianissimo is matched by the beautifully melodic notes of his compositions he writes. Each song on the project, all of which are originals, are like a journey, inward or outward. Szabo is joined by two outstanding craftsman on this venture, in the form of drummer Peter Erskine and bassist Edwin Livingston. The musical synthesis of the three is incredible and a true pleasure to experience. One of our favorites of the year thus far.
Click to listen to a clip of “I Crooned It Before”:
Tracks: Hun-Fro Blues, Kids’ Dance (dedicated to Aron and Julia), Eastynato, A Song From There, Barbaro Con Brio (Hommage à Bela Bartok), I Crooned It Before, Hun-Fro Blues-Alternate Take.
Ed Reed is back with a new production that showcases his veteran singing skills. I’m A Shy Guy takes its title and its vibe from the music of Nat King Cole, with Reed as the experienced song man taking on a wide array of standards. Featured are tunes written or co-written by Cole, Bobby Troup, Henry Nemo Irving Mills and Louis Jordan. The band on this effort is on the money. The lineup has Randy Porter on piano, Anton Schwartz on tenor sax, Jamie Fox (not the actor) on guitar, John Wiitala on bass and Akira Tana on drums. Reed’s vocals with and great songs and musicianship is a solid bet every time.
Click to listen to a clip of “Meet Me At No Special Place”:
Tracks: I Just Can’t See for Lookin’, Baby Baby All the Time, Unforgettable, Is You Is Or Is You AIn’t My Baby, I’m a Shy Guy, That’s The Beginning of the End, Meet Me At No Special Place, I’m Lost, ‘Tis Autumn, It’s Only A Paper Moon, That Ain’t Right, I Realize Now, This Will Make You Laugh, Straighten Up and Fly Right .
Glasswork is the fantastic debut recording of saxophonist and composer Ian O’Beirne. The Philadelphia-based musician combines a pleasing tone with engaging compositions for a fantastic result. The music grooves, swings and mellows here in a most entertaining and enjoyable way. O’Beirne brings a sound to the table that is modern and innovative, while embracing the best aspects of his chosen instrument’s tradition. In addition, the playing and the interplay of the band here is first rate. Joining in on the effort are Tim Wendel on guitar and Tim Brey on Fender Rhodes, Kurt Kotheimer on bass and Matt Scarano on drums. O’Beirne wrote all the compositions on this effort, which draw you in, while avoiding the jazz cliches you hear in so many emerging artists. This is a thoroughly entertaining talent and music production that are well worth hearing.
Click to listen to a clip of “Halifax/Parallax”:
Tracks: Glasswork, Sea of Stars, Duel, Halifax/Parallax, Dreamwake, Sapparo, My Spirit, No Stalgia, Paradigm City, Epitaph, Sarah Sings .
Dianne Reeves has never been afraid of musical eclecticism and her new recording is no exception. Beautiful Life finds the singer turning to fellow Grammy winner Terri Lyne Carrington for production direction on her first studio album in five years, and the decision pays off nicely. As with most of Reeves’ efforts, it’s multicolored and multi-cultured, as heard in the choice of material. The project includes incredibly well-re-arranged covers of tunes made famous by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Nicks, Bob Marley, and Ani DiFranco, but there also as many originals written by Reeves, Carrington, Esperanza Spalding and Nadia Washington, who also play and sing on the effort. The album’s talent roster is as impressive, with performances by vocalists Gregory Porter, pianists Gerald Clayton and Peter Martin, trumpeter Sean Jones, guitarists Romero Lubambo and Marvin Sewell, bassists Reginald Veal and James Genus, drummer Terreon Gully and saxophonists Tia Fuller and Tineke Postma. The singer’s late cousin George Duke, a mainstay on so many of her prior productions, provides his famous synth and keyboard sounds; beautiful notes to their final collaboration. This is a fantastic work of Reeves’ amazing artistry and versatility that stays with you even when the songs aren’t playing.
Click to listen to a clip of “Tango”:
Tracks: I Want You, Feels So Good (Lifted), Dreams, Satiated (Been Waiting), Waiting In Vain, 32 Flavors, Cold, Wild Rose, Stormy Weather, Tango, Unconditional Love(For You), Long Road Ahead.
On his latest effort, David Ian compiles a beautifully played collection of ballads as part of a celebration of romantic jazz. Valentine’s Day features an array of instrumental and performances by a solid rhythm section and a number of guest vocalists. In addition to producing the effort, Ian handles the piano and guitar duties in presenting these fantastic renditions of jazz standards. Joining him in a mostly trio setting are Jon Estes on double bass and Josh Hunt on drums and percussion. Singers on the project are Russ Taff, Andre Miguel Mayo, Kevin Max, Acacia and Talitha Waters-Wulfing. Ian also nicely incorporates strings on several tunes, in what is a wonderfully produced and packaged recording .
Click to listen to a clip of “Someday My Prince Will Come”:
Tracks: Autumn Leaves, My Funny Valentine, Stella by Starlight, Solitude, Someday My Prince Will Come, Emily, Young and Foolish, Summertime, Night and Day, There Will Never Be Another You, Sweet By and By.
Catherine Russell’s latest Bring It Back is an exquisite production from a singer with an extraordinary talent for delivering a song. Russell’s soulful voice can go from tender to powerhouse and back with great ease, which is exactly what’s required for the bluesy and Jazz Age song list on this recording. She ably to take this “period” material and orchestration and make you feel it like it was written a week ago. Featured are tunes written or co-written by Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, Fats Waller Edward Heyman and Luis Russell, the singer’s father. The same team that helped craft her two previous award-winning efforts joins Russell on this project as well, including guitarist Matt Munisteri, pianist Mark Shane, bassist Lee Hudson, saxophonist Andy Farber and drummer Mark McLean. The musicianship and arrangements are impeccable allowing Russell’s brilliance to shine through ever more brightly.
Click to listen to a clip of “The Darktown Strutters’ Ball”:
Tracks: Bring It Back, I’m Shooting High, I Let A Song Go Out of My Heart, You Got To Swing and Sway, Aged and Mellow, The Darktown Strutters’ Ball, Lucille, You’ve Got Me Under Your Skin, After The Lights Go Down Low, I’m Sticking With You Baby, Strange As It Seems, Public Melody Number One, I Cover The Waterfront .
Wherever real jazz was happening in St. Louis, there was a strong chance Richard McDonnell was there.
McDonnell, one of St. Louis’ most omnipresent jazz figures and founder of the Webster Groves-based, MAXJAZZ Records, died Saturday (Feb. 8, 2014) at St. Louis University Hospital. He was 68.
McDonnell had been attending a concert by Houston Person and the Bill Charlap Trio Friday night at Jazz at the Bistro, his third night in a row in attendance during Person’s multinight stand, when he suffered a stroke and was taken to St. Louis University Hospital.
On his latest project, trombonist Steve Davis continues to make plain the fact that he is not only a quality musician, but composer as well. For Real is another great work in Davis’ repertoire with a range of colors and vibes, with great musicianship at its core. The effort is enhanced by the outstanding contributions of Abraham Burton on saxophone, Larry Willis on piano, Nat Reeves on bass and Billy Williams on drums. The tunes, all of but one of which was written by Davis, can’t help but sounds but good in the hands of talented players such as this and blend makes for a tremendous recording.
Click to listen to a clip of “Big East”:
Tracks: For Real, Nicky D, Angi’s Groove, Days Gone By, Big East, Blues on Blues, Tactics, I Found You, Daylight .