A longtime devotee of John Coltrane’s musical contributions, saxophonist Steve Heckman’s latest is a superb homage. Primarily recorded during a 2013 live performance, Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute, is centered around compositions from Coltrane’s early and middle career. Heckman’s performance paints with the colors from the Trane palette in his own unique way and definitely honors, rather than simply emulating an idol. To that end, he also adds a self-penned tune to the mix that fits right into proceedings. The stellar production of ballads and burners is a work of captivating performances. Joining Heckman on this effort are Grant Levin on piano, Eric Markowitz on bass and Smith Dobson V on drums, all with great performances in their own right. An excellent adventure.
Click to listen to a clip of “The Legacy”:
Tracks: 26-2, Impressions, It’s Easy To Remember, The Legacy, Dear Lord, The Promise, Reverend King, Fifth House, Wise One, Resolution.
Seven is the debut recording of singer Alison Lewis, a truly a magnificent singer. Lewis’s soulful and soaring vocal range joined with beautifully sculpted arrangements makes for an outstanding production. The effort is comprised mostly of standards re-imagined to fit the singer’s talents perfectly. Lewis’s own compositions add nicely to the mix. Backing the vocals are Mitchell Forman on piano, organ and Fender Rhodes, Adam Schulman on piano, Andrew Synowiec on steel and acoustic guitars, Jude Gold on acoustic guitar, Kevin Axt and Paul Eastburn on bass, Ray Brinker handles most of the drum duties with Ricky Carter on sticks for one track. Anne King is also featured on trumpet along with Eddie Reyes on percussion. A really wonderful first outing from a talent that will have your attention from start to finish.
Click to listen to a clip of “Blackbird”:
Tracks: Blackbird, Cheek to Cheek, Like a Rolling Stone, Mr. Right for Right Now, Season, Midnight Sun, My Funny Valentine .
Manu Katché weaves together hypnotic rhythms and transportive melodies to produce his latest, superb effort, Unstatic. The music, all of which was composed by the drummer, has a contemporary feel and very much fits the album’s title, and the same can be said of the album’s outstanding performances. On this production, Katché works with a new group, but the outcome remains very high quality, with the band syncing together incredibly well. The core musician lineup on the effort includes Jim Watson on piano and keyboards, Tore Brunborg on saxophones, Ellen Andrea Wang on bass and vocals, and Luca Aquino on trumpet. Guest performances by Nils Landgren on trombone, among others, definitely make an impression as well. A truly solid recording from beginning to end.
Click to listen to a clip of “Rolling”:
Tracks: Introduccion, Unstatic, Flame&co, City, Blossom, Daze Days, Rolling, Ride Me Up Trickle, Out of Sight, Number 11 .
Swift To Hear, Slow To Speak by saxophonist Anthony E. Nelson Jr. is a fantastic artistic statement. The project is also an effort built around the artist’s faith and gratitude. Nelson, Jr. has a tone that is powerful and engaging, which accentuates the fine quality of his compositions. Each song on the project is based on particular scriptural biblical passages. The aesthetics and artistry of the work is not at all lost in the message. In addition to Nelson Jr. on tenor and soprano saxes, this production benefits from an outstanding lineup comprised of Brandon McCune on piano, Kenny Davis on bass, Chris Beck on drums, Bruce Williams on alto sax and Josh Evans on trumpet. This is a fantastic musical brew .
Click to listen to a clip of “Never Too Late”:
Tracks: Swift to Hear-Slow to Speak, Peter’s First Step, Softly She Said, Never Too Late, Fully Come, Isaiah, Those Who Wait, Blessed Are Those Who Mourn, Consider It All Joy, I’ll Be a Fool, More Than Rubies, Psalms 150:6 .