Beautiful Jazz is a magical music excursion courtesy of the talented fingers of pianist Christian Jacob. This solo effort is an immersive and mesmerizing aural experience. The acoustics of the recording give you the sense of virtually being in the room as it’s being made. Jacob deftly finds the heart of each note. The musical menu here consists of standards by the likes of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Kern and Mercer, The Gershwin Brothers and Coltrane, among others. Jacob, who hails from France, is a classically-trained pianist who had his artistic life altered by hearing Dave Brubeck on the radio at the age of 9, a fortunate happenstance as lovers of piano jazz and beautiful ballads can attest upon hearing this outstanding production.
Click to listen to a clip of “I’m Old Fashioned”:
Tracks: How Long Has This Been Going On, That’s All, It Might As Well Be Spring, Stravinsky’s Etude No. 4 F#Major, My Romance, Surrey With The Fringe On Top, Tea For Two, I’m Old Fashioned, One Note Samba, Body and Soul, September Song, Giant Steps, Till The Clouds Roll By.
Live Snakes by saxophonist Ken Field and his jazz-funk ensemble Revolutionary Snake Ensemble is a jubiliant celebration of music and life. The project credits Field’s wife, Karen Aqua, who passed away during the production of this recording, as the inspiration for many of the tunes and the spirited feel of the music. The costumed horn-driven unit puts on a show in this collection of live performances. The music has a serious New Orleans flavor with a blend of originals and spirited covers of jazz standards. Joining Field is a first rate lineup of talents, including Jerry Sabatini on trumpet, Charles Neville on tenor saxophone, Matt Darriau on tenor sax and flutes, Danny Heath and Josh Roseman on trombones, Blake Newman on upright bass, Alex Smith on electric bass, and Phil Neighbors and Joey Lefitz on drums among many others. This is one movin’, groovin’ funfest.
Click to listen to a clip of “Parade”:
Tracks: Parade, Cassandra 4, Rock of Ages, Slots, Caravan, Cassandra 5, For Karen, I’ll Fly Away, Que Sera Sera, I Got It, Cassandra 4 Remix, Breakdown Part 1.
For singer Kendra Shank and guitarist John Stowell, New York Conversations is the documentation of a longtime musical friendship. Shank and Stowell initially went into the studio at the suggestion of the latter’s childhood friend, John Kilgore, a recording engineer in New York. It became apparent soon after that the informal sessions that there was magic in the spontaneity and chemistry between the voices involved. This led to a more formal endeavor, which is the recording. The project truly does have the feeling of a conversation between friends, as they make their way through inventive original compositions, as well as covering a wide swath of the Great American Songbook. The set nicely re-imagines tunes by Irving Berlin, Woody Guthrie, Rodgers and Hart, and Van Heusen and Burke, among others. In addition to singing lead, Shank also adds other vocals and harmonies to the mix. The result of it all is a nice production that has the coziness of a performance in your own living room, only better.
Click to listen to a clip of “Like Someone in Love”:
Tracks: Blue Skies, Throop, Hard Travelin’/Motherless Child, Rush Hour, New York Conversations, Ghost, Silent Photographer, My Romance, Za-Zoh, Songs & Lullabies, Like Someone in Love, Simple Pleasures, WalkTalk, I’ll Be Seeing You, Glad Mango.
Pianist/keyboardist Brad Mehldau and drummer Mark Guiliana are the names behind this amazing hyphenated effort. Taming The Dragon is a spellbinding, mood-altering ride from start to finish. The duo weaves together an electronic, rhythmic panorama of sound and beats to produce a mesmerizing alternate musical universe. Mehldau, who is well-known for his dexterous, boundless solo forays soars even further in this electronic frontier with the aid of various electric pianos, Fender Rhodes and synthesizers, as Guiliana adeptly lays down the backbeats, grooves and drives the under-structure of the endeavor. This recording is something beyond fusion and yet totally digabble, as much for its musicality and artistry, as its boldness .
Click to listen to a clip of “Luxe”:
Tracks: Taming The Dragon, Luxe, You Can’t Go Back Now, The Dreamer, Elegy for Amelia E. Sleeping Giant, Hungry Ghost, Just Call Me Nige, Sassyassed Sassafrass, Swimming, London Gloaming .
The pared down pairing of trumpeter Ian Carey and pianist Ben Stolorow on their new effort Duocracy is a simple pleasure. It’s not often that we get hear the interplay of the trumpet and piano alone together, and the talents of these two gentleman certainly elevates the caliber of the effort. They primarily cover a nice selection of standards by Rodgers and Hart, Henry Mancini, Thelonious Monk, George and Ira Gerswhin and Walter Donaldson among others. The duo of Carey and Stolorow makes this more than a fascinating concept, instead it’s a fantastic recording.
Click to listen to a clip of “Cherokee”:
Tracks: Little White Lies, You Took Advantage of Me, Cherokee, Goodbye, Four in One, Two For The Road, Social Call, Coming Along, How Long Has This Been Going On?, All The Things You Are .
Better Than Anything is the second release from singer Rebecca Dumaine and the Dave Miller Trio. Miller, on piano, and Dumaine also happen to be father and daughter, which may partly explain the timing you hear between singer and musician Along with Mario Suraci on bass and Bill Belasco on drums, they provide some truly wonderful takes on a cross-section of classic standards. Included are tunes written by Bob Hymes, Peggy Lee and Duke Ellington, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, Irving Berlin and Antonio Carlos Jobim. The chemistry and collective talent of this band makes for an engaging and simply enjoyable recording.
Click to listen to a clip of “You for Me”:
Tracks: Better Than Anything, You for Me, Sometime Ago, Oh, Look at Me Now, No More Blues, What Is There to Say, I’m Gonna Go Fishin’, Telephone Song, I Found Out About Love, It Might As Well Be Spring, Cheek to Cheek, It’s Love, Dreamer, Lucky to Be Me, That’s All .