Of Colors, the phenomenal debut release of violin virtuoso Curtis Stewart is as colorful as the cover implies. Stewart brings a witty and fresh perspective to classical as with no hint whatsoever of gimmickry. He lights up compositions by everyone from Bach to Coltrane and does with great flair. Stewart adds elements of beat box along with dissonant sounds and words like a painter might use a splatter brush or sponge to add texture to a canvas. It’s hearing someone cut a new path to a familiar place. Stewart, who provided all of the arrangements on this effort, is joined on Alex Hills on keyboards; Alex Wyatt on percussion; Fung Chern Hwei on violin; Joanna Mattrey on viola; Jeremy Harman on cello and Tyler Gilmore on electronic sounds. An outstanding work by a bold and very talented player that should be heard.
Click to listen to a clip of “Giant Steps”:
Tracks: Solo Violin Sonata in G minor: Adagio; Giant Steps; Of Webern: A Color between Colors; Alone Together; Four Pieces, Op. 7: I; Of Webern: Contrast color; Prototype; Solo Violin Sonata in G minor: Presto; Of Webern: Compare; Four Pieces, Op. 7: II; Prime; Descent; Tectonics; A Breath in Time; Gone; Solo Violin Sonata in G minor: Siciliana; Solo Violin Sonata in G minor: Fugue “Remix”; Four Pieces, Op. 7: IV; Four Pieces, Op. 7: II; A Drop of Wind; Of Color(s) “Remix”; Of Color(s) and (UN)-folding; Gone. .
Taking on songs of the Beatles can be a daunting task, but it’s one that vocalist Daria handles with perfection on Strawberry Fields Forever. The singer delivers the lyrics and the vibe here with the grace of her obvious experience. She seamlessly shifts from ballad to swing on a recording that is nicely balanced. The arrangements provided by Daria and Sam Bevan who plays bass, keyboards and guitar on the project are creative and engaging. Other outstanding talents on the effort are pianist Jonathan Alford, drummer Deszon Claiborne, percussionists Michaelle Goerlitz and Colin Douglass, guitarist Jean Michel Huré, trumpeter Henry Hung, saxophonist Sheldon Brown and trombonist Mike Rinta, among others. Daria is a stellar vocalist and this is a superb recording.
Click to listen to a clip of “Can’t Buy Me Love”:
Tracks: When I’m Sixty-Four, Strawberry Fields Forever, Come Together, Fixing a Hole, Can’t Buy Me Love, Bird Medley (Blackbird/Icarus/Bye ByeBlackbird) The Fool on The Hill, If I Fell, Helter Skelter, She’s Going Home .
Trumpeter and composer Ian Carey has returned with an ambitious new recording that succeeds in its effort. Interview Music: The Ian Cary Quintet +1 is a fantastic suite that sees some of Cary’s most adventurous writing matched with truly outstanding performances. The musical opus takes its name from a term that the late Mulgrew Miller used for writing that seemed overly conceptual, a term that Carey grabbed onto for his endeavor. While the production is one of some range, it is accessible, even as weaves and winds its way forward. Carey is joined again by his great quintet of Adam Shulman on piano, Kasey Knudsen on alto sax, Fred Randolph on bass and Jon Arkin on drums. Sheldon Brown on bass clarinet is the “+1” in the endeavor. Cary’s writing affords each of his fellow players many moments to exhibit their depth of talent, and in the process, allows the entire project to shine.
Click to listen to a clip of “Interview Music: I”:
Tracks: Interview Music I, II, III, Interlude, IV Big Friday .
Composer/trumpeter Darren English makes a tremendous recording debut with Imagine Nation. A native of South Africa, English builds his production around a suite of his well-crafted compositions paying tribute to Nelson Mandela, as well as presenting his playing and arranging skills with fantastic covers of tunes by Ray Noble, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Loesser, Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer. The project also showcases the interplay of some other outstanding musicians, including trumpet players Russell Gunn and Joe Grandsen, pianist Kenny Banks Jr., saxophonist Greg Tardy, bassist Billy Thornton and drummer Chris Burroughs. Vocalist Carmen Bradford is a very welcomed addition on several tracks. This effort definitely makes English a talent to watch in years to come.
Click to listen to a clip of “Imagine Nation”:
Tracks: Imagine Nation, Body and Soul, Bebop, What a Little Moonlight Can Do, Pledge For Peace, The Birth, Skylark, I’ve Never Been In Love Before, Bullet in the Gunn,Cherokee .
Spark is pianist-composer Hiromi’s fantastic and latest artistic outing. The compositions deftly fuse classical, blues, rock and other sound embers into the varied original compositions. The dexterous keyboardist is joined again by bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips in another freewheeling exploration of their talents. The music created is electrifying. Hiromi continues to challenge herself and stretch boundaries with each effort and this production is yet another great expedition on her creative journey.
Click to listen to a clip of “Spark”:
Tracks: Spark, In A Trance, Take Me Away, Wonderland, Indulgence, Dilemma, What Will Be, Wake up and Dream, All’s Well .