A collaboration between an established bandleader and band with an established singer is something that harkens back to a bygone musical age. The teaming of the Branford Marsalis Quartet and singer Kurt Elling is one of those rare and special instances. Upward Spiral is the fantastic documentation of this pairing. To hear musicians of this calibur interact with each other, and the material, is phenomenal The song list is a fairly diverse one taking on tunes by Sonny Rollins, Sting, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Fred Hersch and Oscar Brown, Jr. along with a couple of numbers created by the collaborators on the project. This group handles ballads and bop with equal tenacity. The performances from Elling, Marsalis and the quartet members, which include Joey Caldarazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Justin Faulkner on drums, are alive with arrangements that let all of the players to play off each other and do what each does so well. If you enjoy great artistry and great music, this is one you shouldn’t miss.
Click to listen to a clip of “Doxy”:
Tracks: There’s A Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon For New York, Blue Gardenia, From One Island To Another, Practical Arrangement, Doxy, I’m A Fool To Want You, West Virginia Rose, Só Tinha de Ser Com Você, Momma Said, Cassandra Song, Blue Velvet, The Return (Upward Spiral).
Marquis Hill is one of the most compelling voices on the trumpet today. On The Way We Play, his debut recording for Concord Jazz, he pays tribute to the jazz standards and American songbook classics that informed his development as a musician. The result is a engaging brew of times. Not content with a simple recitation of the songs, Hill adds contemporary rhythms, as well as a bit of spoken word to the music that add somewhat different colors and feel to the compositions, while keeping the essence of the originals. The eclectic menu includes songs by Horace Silver, Donald Byrd, Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, Thelonious Monk, Gigi Gryce and Herbie Hancock. Joining the 29-year old Chicagoan on this effort is his core quintet of alto saxophonist Christopher McBride, vibraphonist Justin Thomas, drummer Makaya McCraven and bassist Joshua Ramos. Trombonist Vincent Gardner and percussionist Juan Pastor lend their great talents to the project. Vocalists Christie Dashiell and Meagan McNeal are stellar on their respective appearances as well. Mr. Hill delivers again.
Click to listen to a clip of “Maiden Voyage”:
Tracks: Welcome / “Bulls Theme”, The Way We Play / Minority, Prelude, Moon Rays, My Foolish Heart, Polka Dots And Moonbeams, Fly Little Bird Fly, Maiden Voyage, Straight, No Chaser, Beep Durple, Juan’s Interlude, Smile.
Vocalist Lauren White’s elegant delivery style makes this a very pleasing third recording for the singer. Out of The Past – Jazz & Noir takes you out of moment and into the world that White, along with producer Mark Winkler create on this production. It’s an album that requires listening from start to finish. The song repertoire, wonderfully arranged by Kathyrn Bostic, include works by Lionel Newman and Dorcas Cochran, Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, Joe Pasquale and Winkler, and Duke Ellington and Peggy Lee, among others. Excellent musical talents on the project include pianist Mitchel Forman, bassist Trey Henry, drummer Abe Lagrimas Jr, guitarist Andrew Synowiec and trumpeter Andrew Carney. The Lisa Liu String Quartet really enhances the lushness of the songs on which they perform. Just a truly fantastic effort.
Click to listen to a clip of “You Kill Me”:
Tracks: When All The Lights In The Sign Worked, He’s Funny That Way, Again, I’d Rather Have The Blues, I’m Gonna Go Fishin’, Amado Mio, Laura/The Night We Called it a Day, You Kill Me, Haunted Heart.
Growing up in the Soviet Union, Arthur Sadowsky was raised on Russian classical music, but that all changed with his introduction to the genius of Joe Zawinul. That feeling comes through in the bassist-composer’s approach to the tunes which make up Beautiful Moments, his second release as a leader. The arrangements of works here, including five original compositions, are a balanced fusion of the straight ahead and slightly avant garde. Sadowsky finds interesting inroads to a song as an arranger, taking on works by Irvin Berlin, Michel Legrand, Tad Dameron, Zawinul and Miles Davis among others. The excellent ensemble on this production includes Justin Mullens and Shunzo Ohno on trumpet, David Comidi on saxophones, Joel Rosenblatt on drums and Carlos Gomez on triangle. Just really solid musicianship to be heard on this very enjoyable recording.
Click to listen to a clip of “Very Strange Blues”:
Tracks: Intro/Cameo#1/BeautifulMoments, Beautiful Love, How Deep Is The Ocean?, Cameo #2/Etude in November, Very Strange Blues, Cameo #3/Summer of ’42 (The Summer Knows), The Mathematics, Cameo #4/ Relaxin’, If You Could See Me Now, It’s About That Time .
Vocalist Sari Kessler has a bright tone to her voice that draws you to what she’s singing. On Do Right , her debut recording, what she’s singing are nicely constructed renditions of well-known standards and less traveled fair, working with producer James Shipp and pianist Randy Porter to craft fresh arrangements of two tracks that set the tone for the entire production. This lead to the assemblage of a band of first-rate talents that are the backbone of the music on this effort. Kessler is joined by saxophone-great Houston Person, pianist John Di Martino, guitarist Ron Affif, bassist Steve Whipple, trumpeter/flugelhorn player Nadje Noordhuis, drummer Willard Dyson, with Shipp handling percussion. The menu includes tunes by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Mercer, Duke Ellington and Irving Mills, Joseph McCoy and Bobby Hebb, and Kessler adding one of her own to the mix, all of which added to her wonderful vocal delivery, makes for a thoroughly entertaining work of song.
Click to listen to a clip of “Too Close For Comfort”:
Tracks: Walk on By, After You’ve Gone, Why Don’t You Do Right? The Gal from Joe’s, Sunny, It’s a Wonderful World, I Thought About You, The Frim Fram Sauce, Feeling Good, My Empty BedBlues, Too Close For Comfort, Moonglow.
Terceto is the fantastic convergence of guitarist and bandleader Jason McGuire, bassist Paul Martin Sounder and drummer Marlon Aldana. The three musicians bring the spirit of the great flamenco bands alive on the new release Kali. The synchronicity of this trio is only matched by their individual virtuosity. McGuire fingers fly across the fretboard in a way that would make the great Paco de Lucia proud. McGuire wrote all but of one the songs exclusively, with exception of one that co-created with the great vocalist José Cortés who also appears on the effort. The sound is fiery and cool often within the same track. This is a true work of artistry that will transport you to Madrid, Buenos Aires and anywhere in-between for the entire time you’re listening. An outstanding recording.
Click to listen to a clip of “Mira Mira”:
Tracks: Zardoz, Ratones Ciegos, Romance, Mira Mira, A. Liberty, Contratiemp, Tio Paco, Zap, Kali, Motivation.
Trumpet and trombone man Mac Gollehon has been a standout on the recordings of many other more known artists, including David Bowie, Grace Jones, Duran Duran, now comes his own visionary project. Mac Gollehon & The Hispanic Mechanics is a percussion, horn-powered excursion through a funk and Latin-flavored wonderland. The use of electric sound effect and textures give the danceable tunes a very colorful, spacey feel. Gollehon’s solos ride the groove in a very engaging way. Other musicians on the project are bassist Mike Griot, guitarist Tomas Donicker and percussionists Miguel Valdez, Baba Don and Ronnie Roc. Vocalists on the project include Tina Torres, Miguel Valdez and Josh David. Remixes of several tracks add an even more trippy feel to the whole effort. Gollehon has assembled a very different, fun and entertaining work here.
Click to listen to a clip of “Exito Obscuridad”:
Tracks: No More Drama, Amor Tragico, Exito Obscuridad, Dale Jamon, Elegancia, Oscuridad (David Ben Jack Remix), Amor Tragico (David Ben Jack Remix) No More Drama (Touchy Feemix), If Time Allows (Mark Heny Remix).
More of evidence of the enduring greatness of Sonny Rollins is what you hear on Holding The Stage: Road Shows Vol. 4. The recording is the latest release in a series of Rollins live performance stops from 1979 to 2012. The current collection features tunes recorded at shows in Paris, London, Pori (Finland), Prague and Boston, among other cities across the globe. The songs are a mix of standards and the venerable saxophonist’s compositions. The ebullience and mastery of Rollins is only equaled by his willing to share the floor and allow his fellow merrymakers to create. The features the talents of pianists Stephen Scott and Mark Soskin, guitarists Peter Bernstein, Bobby Broom, and Saul Rubin, bassists Jerome Harris and Bob Cranshaw, drummers Al Foster, Victor Lewis, Kobie Watkins, Harold Sumney Jr. and Perry Wilson and percussionists Sammy Figueroa, Kimati Dinizulu and Victor See Yuen, in various personnel configurations. Another must-have in the Rollins ‘live works’ library.
Click to listen to a clip of “Keep Hold of Yourself”:
Tracks: In a Sentimental Mood, Professor Paul, Mixed Emotions, Keep Hold of Yourself, Disco Monk, You’re Mine You, H.S., Medley: Sweet Leilani, Solo, Don’t Stop the Carnival .