My Finest Hour from bassist Ali Bey is a showcase of outstanding virtuosity. The Detroit native demonstrates the craftsmanship of a player who his found his voice through much study and commitment. Bey stands strongly in the tradition of bass players not content to simply take a seat behind other soloists. The voice of the bass very much drives this effort and is the forefront of what happens on this effort. The music is a fusion of rock, soul and jazz influences with a nice sonic range from uptempo grooves to ballad. Bey’s touch as a composer is equally impressive, as he wrote and arrange every track on the recording. Joining him are Larry Andrews on guitar and Timothy Omar Stroud on drums. Guest performers include Raymond Davis, Jr. on keyboards, Ladarrel Johnson on tenor and alto saxophones, Raphael Statin on soprano sax and Larry Tucker and Eric Joe on drums on alternate tracks on the production. A truly quality effort.
Click to listen to a clip of “Ace In The Hole”:
Tracks: “Dam” I Got A Toothache, Larry and Ali’s Theme, Sanktum Santorium, Brooklyn Blues, Brooklyn Blues, Slugger, Ace In The Hole, Joe Cool, My Finest Hour .
Composer-pianist Josh Nelson takes us on a journey to the red planet in his concept-driven new recording. Exploring Mars was inspired by the four robotic rovers exploring the planet and Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”. The sounds and feeling of the music certainly reflects the interstellar journey on which the listener embarks from the very first cut. The production quality lives up to the objective. Likewise, the musicianship is stellar with some impressive performances by Nelson on acoustic and electric pianos and trumpet, Larry Koonse on guitar, Dave Robaire on bass, Dan Schnelle on drums. The sound is augmented by John Daversa on trumpet, Alan Ferber on trombone, Brian Walsh on bass clarinet. Singer Kathleen Grace provides wonderful vocals on the project, which is comprised almost entirely of Nelson’s outstanding compositions. Check this one out and enjoy the ride.
Click to listen to a clip of “Spirit”:
Tracks: Bradbury’s Spirit, Soujourner, Memnonia Quandrangle, Opportunity, Solis Lacus:The Eyes of Mars, Curiosity, Syrtis Major:The Hourglass Sea, Spirit.
Trumpeter Clark Terry, a jazz legend who in his seven decades as a musician and bandleader collaborated with artists ranging from Quincy Jones and Duke Ellington to Charles Mingus and Count Basie, passed away Saturday following complications from a long battle with diabetes. He was 94. For his contributions to jazz music, Terry was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.
“Our beloved Clark Terry has joined the big band in heaven where he’ll be singing and playing with the angels. He left us peacefully, surrounded by his family, students and friends,” Terry’s wife Gwen wrote on the musician’s official Facebook. “Clark has known and played with so many amazing people in his life. He has found great joy in his friendships and his greatest passion was spending time with his students. We will miss him every minute of every day, but he will live on through the beautiful music and positivity that he gave to the world. Clark will live in our hearts forever.”
Bassist Mark Wade demonstrates his strengths as musician, bandleader, arranger and composer on his debut recording. Event Horizon also showcases Wade’s affinity for the piano trio. The other members of his trio are pianist Tim Harrison and Scott Neumann on drums. The three connect musically with great proficiency and artistry at their respective crafts. Wade composed all but one track on the recording and his gifts as a writer really shine through. Each song is a musically engaging work of exposition that allows for great interplay, which pulls the listener into the conversation. This effort is an outstanding debut that is not to be missed.
Click to listen to a clip of “The Prisoner”:
Tracks: Jump for Joy, The Prisoner, Apogee, Singsong, Tossed, Valley and Stream, Twist in the Wind, Cold Spring, If I Only Had a Brain.
Beauty Indestructible is vocalist Ashley Daneman’s triumphant recording debut and much more. Daneman’s story is one of overcoming PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), divorce and the financial challenges many artists face to produce a work that is distinctly contemporary, personal and exceptional. The singer’s exquisite voice is engaging, even when she’s providing backing harmonies to her own lead vocals. Daneman also provides the compositions and arrangements for this recording with songs that seemed to evolve from her own healing. The production is aided by an outstanding assemblage of musicians, including Sam Weber on acoustic bass, Michael W. Davis on drums and percussion, David Izard on piano and Fender Rhodes, Benje Daneman on trumpet, Matt Davis on guitar and Amali Premawardhana on cello. Ashley Daneman is an artist, whose talent is as impressive as the strength and courage it took to bring her gift to the world.
Click to listen to a clip of “Where No One’s Ever Lost”:
Tracks: How You Got To Yes, He Loves Me Well, Sing ’til You’re Good And Live Again, This is Somebody Else’s Piano, Think On Whatever Is Lovely, Beauty Indestructible, Here Comes A Body, Where No One’s Ever Lost, The Forest’s Virgin Tree .
Trombonist David Gibson leads the way on his sixth recording at the helm. Boom! is an extremely cool meshing of jazz and funk grooves for a very digable result. Gibson, who wrote all but two tracks on the effort, demonstrates the power and subtlety of his axe in a set that goes through a range of musical moods. The quintet of players on the effort has a cohesive sound that really helps deliver the quality of the writing. The band features trumpeter Josh Evans, pianist Theo Hill, bassist Alex Claffy and drummer Kush Abadey. Gibson is an outstanding player forging some really fresh-sounding and entertaining paths in his music.
Click to listen to a clip of “Boom!”:
Tracks: The High Road, Rare Truth, Grass Fed, Eyes of Argus, Persephone, Empathy, Boom!, The Dance, The Cup Bearers, Change The World .
It’s hard to recall very many recordings featuring a trumpet/guitar duet, and such a collaboration by a male and female debut seems non-existent. Trumpeter Airelle Besson and acoustic guitarist Nelson Veras change all that with their wonderful production, Prélude. The sound of the two instruments together is unexpectedly extraordinary and these two artists of their crafts create a musical conversation which is warm and magical The songs are most originals by Beeson, with a contribution by Veras, and a couple of nicely arranged covers. This is a beautiful, unique and enjoyable effort .
Click to listen to a clip of “Pouki Pouki”:
Tracks: Ma Ion, Pouki Pouki, O Grande Amor, Neige, Lulea’s Sunset, Full Moon in K., Vertiges, Virgule (improvisation), Body and Soul, Birsay, Time To Say Goodbye .
Saxophonist Jimmy Greene’s daughter Ana Grace was one of 20 children killed in the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. Beautiful Life is Greene’s loving tribute to his beloved daughter. Though the understandable sorrow of a father can be felt, the album is a work of both celebration and healing. Greene was joined in the making of this recording by the outstanding rhythm section of Renee Rosnes on piano, Christian McBride on bass and Lewis Nash on drums. Guitarists Pat Metheny and Jonathan DuBose, Jr. guest on the effort, as well as pianists Kenny Barron and Cyrus Chestnut. Vocalists Kurt Elling is joined by the Linden Christian School Early Years Choir, featuring some of Ana’s former classmates on one of the tunes. Javier Colon and Latanya Farrell provide vocals on two other tracks. A spoken word piece from the Tony Award®-winning Anika Noni Rose, one of Ana’s favorites actresses, and a 13-piece string ensemble from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra are part of the production as well. Ana’s own beautiful singing voice is wonderfully used to close one track in this mosaic of sound and emotion and love. The recording is simply beautiful.
Click to listen to a clip of “Seventh Candle”:
Tracks: Come Thou, Last Summer, When I Get Home, Ana’s Way, Your Great Name, Where Is Love, Seventh Candle, Maybe, Prayer, Little Voices.
Kenny Wheeler’s brilliance shines through on his final recording Song For Quintet. The flugelhornist and composer passed away in September of 2014, ten months after the completion of this recording, and what a gift it is for music lovers. True to form, the sound of Wheeler’s horn permeates everything from the moment he starts to play. The compositions on this effort have that wonderful transporting quality we’ve come to associate with his sound. Recorded at the famed Abbey Road Studios in London, the band is comprised of some of Wheeler’s favorite musicians, to include Stan Sulzmann on tenor saxophone, John Parricelli on guitar, Chris Laurence on double bass and Martin France on drums. The unit works together seamlessly to produce a beautiful work by which to remember Wheeler’s magnificent contribution to the musical arts.
Click to listen to a clip of “Pretty Liddle Waltz”:
Tracks: Seventy-Six, Jigsaw, The Long Waiting, Cantor No.1, Sly Eyes, 1076, Old Time, Pretty Liddle Waltz, Nonetheless.