Nikolett Pankovits’ warm vocal delivery makes her debut recording a true pleasure. Magia nicely blends the music of singer’s native country, Hungary, with Brazilian, Latin and American flavors. Pankovits’ moves through the various influences and genres with an ease that weaves the eclectic set together very deftly. The diverse array of material includes songs written by Consuelo Velazquez, Marilyn and Alan Bergman, Tamás Hegdūs and several Hungarian composers as well as the singer herself. The musicianship on the effort is equally impressive, with the talents of violinist Zach Brock, guitarist Juancho Herrera, bassist John Benitez, pianist Jason Lindner, saxophonist Greg Hardy, trumpeter Josh Deutsch and drummers Yayo Serka and Ferenc Nemeth, among the many outstanding contributors to the production. Pankovits also plays piano one of track of this very engaging project. Check it out.
Click to listen to a clip of “Fogadj El Engem”:
Tracks: Kis Kece Lányom, Madárka, Madárka; Száz Panasz Ég A Dalomban, La Dama De La Muerte, Gloomy Sunday/ Szomoru Vasanap, Don’t Ask Me Who I Was/ Ne Kérdezd i Voltam, Fogadj El Engem, Besame Mucho, Stop For a Moment, Where Do You Start? .
Outset is an outstanding Chicago-based quartet. Lead by saxophonist and composer Dan Meinhardt, the self-titled Outset is a a sturdy debut recording with tunes that allow the skills of each of the talented player to shine, as well as the cohesiveness of the group. The trust that develops among a group of musicians that have played together is heard in every track. Joining Meinhardt on the effort are Justin Copeland on trumpet, Tim Ipsen on bass and Andrew Green on drums. All but one of the compositions on the effort is an original, with the exception being a Thelonious Monk composition which fits the kinetic quality of the adjoining material quite nicely. If you like discovering new and exciting musical offerings, this is definitely one to checkout.
Click to listen to a clip of “Gooby”:
Tracks: Gooby, Dropped, Points for Trying, Bixotic, Something Mellow, New Rain, Epistrophy .
Catherine Russell is back with another outstanding effort. Harlem On My Mind finds Russell returning to the Jazz Age songbooks which have been integral to her recent productions. The effort covers works written or co-written by Ray Noble, Fats Waller, Dinah Washington, Benny Carter, Jimmy McHugh and Joe Seneca, among others. The singer is as powerful and precise as ever, breathing new life into every word as if they were written yesterday. The arrangements are stellar and the musicianship equals the standard of Russell’s previous efforts with many of the same talents joining her again. The player personnel includes Matt Munisteri on guitar and banjo, Mark Shane on piano, Tal Ronen on bass, Mark McLean on drums, Jon-Erik Kellso and Alphonso Horne on trumpets, John Allred on trombone, Mark Lopeman, Andy Farber and Don Block on saxophones, and Fred Staton making a guest appearance on tenor sax. First rate effort all around and Catherine Russell is always a joy to hear.
Click to listen to a clip of “I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me”:
Tracks: Harlem On My Mind, I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me, Swing! Brother Swing!,The Very Thought Of You, You’ve Got The Right Key But The Wrong Keyhole, Don’t Take Your Love From Me, Blue Turning Grey Over You, You’re My Thrill, I Want A Man, When Lights Are Low, Talk To Me, Talk To Me, Let Me Be The First To Know, Goin’ To Town.
The Second is the fantastic sophomore recording from bassist Derrick Hodge. The effort is very much a bass player’s album in that it definitely features a good dose of Hodge’s virtuosity on his primary instrument, but there’s a balance struck between that and making a great package of music overall. The mission is definitely accomplished. The compositions on this production are as strong as Hodge’s debut endeavor with strong hypnotic rhythmic soundscapes and a full palette of musical colors driving things forward. Hodge’s versality is demonstrated further here by virtue of his playing almost all of the instruments on the songs and vocals as well. Drummer Mark Colenburg guests on three tracks, with trumpeter Keyon Harrold, trombonist Corey Kin, and tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland joining in for one tune. Hodges’ brilliant musical vision is the centerpiece of this stunning gem.
Click to listen to a clip of “You Believed”:
Tracks: The Second, Transitions, Song 3, You Believed, World Go Round, Heart Of A Dreamer, Underground Rhapsody, Clock Strike Zero, For Generations, Don Blue, Going, From Me To You.
Portraits and Places is power-packed leap into the modern big band genre from composer, conductor and arranger Scott Reeves. Reeves, a veteran of other band ensembles, is free here to present his work within context of his own collective of musicians. The music is an undulating exploration of the bounds of the orchestral landscapes that has a very contemporary and forward-thinking feel. The band is as nimble as the notes presented them. In addition to Reeves on alto flugelhorn, the outstanding assemblage of musicians here includes Steve Wilson on soprano and alto saxophones, Tim Sessions on trombone, Seneca Black on trumpet, Jim Ridl on piano, Todd Coolman on bass and Andy Watson on drums, among a host of very able instrumentalists. The use of human voice in the form as contributed by Sara Serpa brings another element to the production that adds to freshness of the effort. A truly excellent recording.
Click to listen to a clip of “The Soulful Mr. Williams”:
Tracks: The Soulful Mr. Williams, 3 ‘n 2, Osaka June, Aquas De Marco, L & T Suite (Movement 1: Who Wants to Dance), L & T Suite (Movement 2: A Trombonist’s Tale), L & T Suite (Movement 3: Hip Kitty),Last Call. .