Reggie Watkins is a force on trombone. On One For Miles, One For Maynard, his second recording, Watkins brings the energy of a player who has always been out front, and yet he spent a bit of time working behind the scenes as the musical director and arranger for the late great trumpetman Maynard Ferguson. The experience paid off and it’s heard on this effort. The music and arrangements are big and bright with an intensity that the two men it pays homage to would likely enjoy. Watkins is joined by an outstanding group of musicians, including Matt Parker and Rick Matt on various saxophones, Steve Hawk and Ian Gordon on trumpets, David Throckmorton on drums, Howard Alexander III on piano, Jeff Grubbs on bass and Carmelo Torres on percussion, to name a few. Most of the great compositions on the effort are by the hands of Watkins and Parker, with nice re-workings of tunes by Miles Davis, Maynard Ferguson and McCoy Tyner. This is a truly high-quality work.
Click to listen to a clip of “Full Sun”:
Tracks: Shhh, Expecting You, Chala Nata, Contemplation, Sound Judgement, I Can’t Help It, Full Sun, Hurdles .
Audrey Martin’s Living Room is proof that one should never give up on a dream. Martin, a vocalist inspired by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Abbey Lincoln and Laura Nyro, step away from her love of singing for several decades. If this, her debut recording, is an indication, she made the most of the time and has become a confident, mature singer with a voice that can leave you hanging onto every word. Martin is surrounded by a first-class core trio lineup, which includes pianist Larry Dunlap, bassist John Shifflett and drummer Jason Lewis. There are additional performances by percussionist Michaelle Goerlitz, guitarist Jeff Buenz and Marry Fetting who chimes in on saxophones, clarinet and flute. Martin makes some inspiring song choices, selecting more contemporary standards, and others that should be, and in the process creates an environment that is as intimate as the album title.
Click to listen to a clip of “The Touch of Your Lips”:
Tracks: Living Room, Wild is the Wind, Summer, Winter Me, Meaning of the Blues, Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye, Lazy Afternoon, I Never Meant To Hurt You, Calling You, The Touch of Your Lips, My Favorite Things, I Like You…You’re Nice, April In Paris, Upstairs by a Chinese Lamp .
The Michael Carvin Experience is a great experience. Led by drummer Michael Carvin, Flash Forward is a outstanding recording of a master musician collaborating with talented lineup of next gen players. The fantastic quartet includes Yayoi Ikawa on piano, Keith Loftis on saxophone and Jansen Cinco on bass. The group’s performance is a rewarding journey through standard and not-so-standard tunes by Bobby Hutcherson, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver, Joseph Cosma. More than a mere reciting of the tried-and-tried again, you really hearing the players exploring, listening to each other and laying down some really great music in the process. Carvin and company really provide music lovers a great service with this effort.
Click to listen to a clip of “Sayonara Blues”:
Tracks: So What, Sayonara Blues, In Walked Bud, Same Shame, Night In Tunisia, You Go To My Head, You Stepped Out Of A Dream, Autumn Leaves.
John Blake Jr., the Philadelphia jazz violinist and music educator who toured with Grover Washington Jr. and McCoy Tyner and taught generations of students at the Settlement Music School and University of the Arts, has died.
Blake, who was 67, died on Friday from complications of multiple myeloma according to his son, Johnathan Blake.
Guitarist Bobby Broom once again proves himself the stellar musician on his latest creation. My Shining Hour features Broom and his trio of drummer Dennis Carroll and drummer Makaya McCraven in a session captured through a single stereo microphone, and spot mics, with all three players in the same room, interacting eye to eye. You can hear it too, and it works. What Broom also does on this effort is to select timeless tunes and perform them in a way that shows the brilliant elasticity of the compositions. Presented here are works by Cole Porter, Fats Waller, Richard Whiting and Newell Chase, Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King, as well as Harold Arlen, among others. The improvisational acumen and synchronous interplay of highly-attuned musicians are at heart of the artistry of this recording.
Click to listen to a clip of “The Jitterbug Waltz”:
Tracks: Sweet and Lovely, My Ideal, Just One of Those Things, My Shining Hour, Sweet Georgia Brown, The Heather on the Hill, The Jitterbug Waltz, The Tennesse Waltz .
Trumpeter Joe Magnarelli has an amazing tone that makes listening to him play a real pleasure. This statement also applies to his latest release Lookin’ Up!. The production is mostly comprised of Magnarelli’s own artful, original compositions, along with nicely arranged tunes by John Coltrane, Jimmy Van Heusen and John Handy. The playing by the outstanding supporting cast here is top shelf, with the talents of of Steve Davis on trombone, Anthony Wonsey on piano, Mike Karn on bass and Jason Brown making up the stellar quintet. The group shifts gears from high-speed swing to melodic ballads with great ease. Magnarelli has delivered a truly great recording worth hearing.
Click to listen to a clip of “Inner Beauty”:
Tracks: 44, Third Set, Inner Beauty, You Go To My Head, Blue Key, Easy Transition, Suddenly It’s Spring, Miles’ Mode, Darn That Dream, In Walked Lila .
Cecil Taylor had a prize sum of nearly half a million dollars stolen from him by a general contractor who befriended the pioneering jazz pianist while working next to his house in New York City, according to a criminal court in Brooklyn.
Noel Muir, from New York’s Long Island, could face up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted. He is currently waiting arraignment on a charge of grand larceny in Brooklyn’s criminal court.
Taylor, one of the key figures in the free-jazz revolution, was invited to collect the prestigious Kyoto prize by Japan’s Inamori Foundation in November 2013. According to a statement by the district attorney in Brooklyn, Muir, a contractor who had worked for Taylor’s neighbor, joined him for the event and helped the musician prepare for the trip.
Colors of Life isn’t his debut recording, but the effort does mark a jazz-focused debut for vocalist Jua. The sophomore effort for the North Carolina-based talent makes quite the impression. While the singer has a voice that remind some of other talents, he has quite the style and sound of his own. In fact, it was so distinguished that it won him the Mark Murphy Vocal Jazz Scholarship at Berkeley’s Jazzschool Insititute (now known as the California Jazz Conservatory). Produced by veteran pianist, arranger and composer Onaje Allan Gumbs, the production is a mesmerizing showcase of the singer’s command of lyric and tone. The set features a nice palette of originals by Jua and excellently arranged covers of tunes by Abbey Lincoln, Bill Withers, Sam Rivers, Bob Dorough and James Williams. Making the music for the words are Gumbs on keys, guitarist Shan Kenner, drummer Victor Ector, bassist Gregory M. Jones, saxophonist Roger Byam and percussionist Gary Fritz. Jua truly delivers with every tune and the entire effort.
Click to listen to a clip of “Beatrice”:
Tracks: Beatrice, Bird Alone, Old Devil Moon, Time Past, Love Came On Stealthy Fingers, Colors of Life, You’re My Alter Ego, Let Me Be The One, Believe, Finally .
The Newport Jazz Festival turned 60 this year, and expanded to three days to celebrate. Throughout last weekend, more than 45 bands performed at Fort Adams State Park in coastal Rhode Island, playing through abundant sunshine, pouring rain and anything in between.
Our photographer Adam Kissick spent long days in the saddle, logging approximately 22 miles on foot while carrying 40 pounds of often-damp gear.
Kenny Garrett, the internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist, bandleader, arranger, and composer, has been appointed director of the Jazz Studies Program at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J.
Garrett, who will join the University faculty on September 1, becomes the fifth world-renowned musician to lead the program. Founded in 1973, the program has been directed by legendary trumpeter and composer/arranger Thad Jones, renowned bassist Rufus Reid, and internationally acclaimed pianist James Williams. Most recently, the program was directed by preeminent pianist Mulgrew Miller, who died in May 2013.