As the old saying goes “…and a good time was had by all”. That’s what it sounds like listening to the Peak Experience Jazz Ensemble, led by bassist Mike Peak on Live at Lucy’s Place (Volume 1)., the first in a series recorded in the music room of the bandleader and his wife Lucy. Peak and his six-piece band, presents a lively, high-energy set of self-penned compositions and nicely re-done works by Sonny Rollins, Cole Porter and John Lennon, among others. The quartet features the talents Ron Kobayashi on piano, Ann Patterson on flute and saxophone, Rickey Woodard on tenor sax and Kendall Ward on drums. Vocalist Andrea Miller contributes very nicely to several tunes. This is just a wonderful upbeat listen.
Click to listen to a clip of “CC”:
Tracks: Tenor Madness, Angel Eyes, Lucy, Sweet Georgia Brown, Imagine, Fancy Pants, CC, Cry Me A River, Just One of Those Things.
Pirouet marks pianist Kenny Werner’s first recording with his trio in 7 years. The absence is not evidence in the performances here. What it is heard here is Werner’s mastery of the keys and the musical telepathy of three musicians who know each other and their craft very well. The convergence of intuition and melody are truly mesmerizing to hear. The production is a journey through a mix of Werner compositions and nicely re-constructed works by Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane among others. This is definitely one of our favorites of the year.
Click to listen to a clip of “Who?”:
Tracks: Try To Remember, Who?, Ballons, 26-2, Voncify The Emulyans, In Your Own Sweet Way, Beauty Secrets.
Willis Conover was known around the world, but not so much at home. He was the voice of jazz over the Voice of America for more than 40 years, most of it during the Cold War.
Imagine what it was like to sit in the dark of a hushed room in Prague, Moscow or Warsaw in the 1960s, fiddle with the dial of a shortwave radio, slide over crackles, pops, and jamming, to finally find the opening notes of “The A Train” and a rich baritone intoning slowly through the static, “Good evening. Willis Conover with Music USA … ”
He played the Count, the Duke, and Satchmo, Dizzy, Miss Sarah Vaughan and Charlie Parker.
Last week, I found myself in an Italian restaurant playing improvised jazz music with a few other musicians. Despite what it might sound like, I’m not a full-time musician. I’m actually CEO of a big data startup, a far cry from my musical moonlighting gig.
But as I played, I couldn’t help but connect the dots between the two roles. On paper, CEOs and jazz musicians may seem like they are on opposite ends of the spectrum and appear to have very little in common. We think of executives as rigid, driven, and all business, while musicians appear to be casual and more free spirited.
Percussionist Joe Porter and pianist Joel Goodfellow present a unique take on some well-known compositions in their recording debut. Detours showcases Porter and Goodfellow’s renditions of classic themes from film, literature and jazz. Acoustically, the production has a live in-the-moment feel that sounds completely improvisational and compelling. Porter moves between vibraphone and other percussive instruments and the interplay between the two players gives the effort a sound that is intimate and encompassing alternately. The project features the music of Ennio Morricone, Howard Shore, Paul Desmond and Sean Beeson. The latter composer’s work is performed live before an audience. Be sure to check out this engaging adventure in musical artistry.
Click to listen to a clip of “Take Five”:
Tracks: The Good Bad and The Ugly Suite 1. Main Theme 2. The Ecstasy of Gold, Concerning Hobbits from The Frlllowship of The Ring, Take Five, Prometheus Rapture: Seven Legends (I. Theft of Fire, II. Golden Metropolis, III. Vulcan’s Forge, VI. Wrath of Zeus, VII. Hope of Hercules).
Saxophonist, composer and arranger Bob Mintzer changes things up again for the 20th recording of his big band unit. Get Up! takes an R&B turn, featuring tunes inspired by the music the New Rochelle native grew up hearing on radio. In addition to five of Mintzer’s own pieces, the project features the compositions made famous by The Isley Brothers, Sam and Dave and Sly &The Family Stone, among others. Powering Mintzer grooving arrangements, performed in front of a live audience at Pittsburgh’s Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, is an all-star band of players including alto saxophonist Bob Sheppard, tenor saxman Bob Malach, baritone saxophonist Roger Rosenberg, trumpeters John Daversa and Scott Wendholt, trombonists Andy Hunter, Michael Davis and Keith O’Quinn. Ray Obiedo sits in on guitar, with Will Lee on bass and Mintzer’s Yellowjackets bandmates drummer Will Kennedy and pianist Russell Ferrante joining the ensemble as well. A truly outstanding effort by the bandleader and all involved.
Click to listen to a clip of “Get Up!”:
Tracks: Get Up!, Land of Oak, It’s Your Thing, I Thank You, Sing a Simple Song, Truth Spoken Here, Elegant People, Civil War, Yeah Yeah Yeah.
The great jazz trumpeter Buck Clayton would fondly recall his time in China in the 1930s, when jazz was the soundtrack to Shanghai.
Although jazz was massively popular in China during the 1920s and 1930s, it suffered greatly under Chairman Mao, who banned it out-right during the Cultural Revolution of the Sixties, decrying it as “capitalist, bourgeois decadence”.
A thaw began in the 1980s (when even George Melly played in Beijing) and has really taken hold in recent years, with a revival in many cities and the return of jazz festivals to places such as Changsha.
The groundswell is such that Blue Note, one of the world’s best-known jazz franchises, has announced an expansion to China as it banks on a growing appetite for live performances among moneyed consumers.
Guitarist and vocalist Lucky Peterson delivers an outstanding live performance in this recording. July 28th 2014 is a fantastic documentation of the gifted blues man’s virtuousity and showmanship in a Marciac, France concert. The powerful set is a mix of originals and nicely re-worked cover songs paying tribute to artists including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Wilson Pickett and Chuck Berry. Peterson’s solos are off the charts in their soulfulness and artistry. The sound of entire band together compels you to move to what you’re hearing. The player lineup includes Marvin Hollie on keyboards Shawn Kellerman on guitar and vocals, Raul Valdes on drums and Timothy Waites on bass. The blazing rock guitarist Joe Satriani makes a tremendous guest appearance on the stage as well. From a technical standpoint, the sound is incredible and makes you feel as though you are sitting right down front. Peterson and crew really know how to put on a show and this is definitely one not to miss.
Click to listen to a clip of “Funky Broadway”:
Tracks: Boogie Thang, Funky Broadway, I Can See Clearly Now, It Ain’t Safe, Trouble, Lock Out Of Love, Make My Move On You, Tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Nana Jarnell, I’m Still Here, Goin’ Down Slow (I’ve Had My Fun), Jody’s Got Your Girl And Gone, Boogie Woogie Blues Party, Johnny B. Goode.