Very Early, singer Audrey Silver’s third release is a pure delight. The combination of Silver’s warm and crystal clear vocals, an excellent song selection and fantastic musicianship makes this an outstanding recording. The eclectic set aptly showcases Silver impressive command and delivery of song. To make matters even better, the arrangements are absolutely stellar. The musician lineup responsible for bringing the music to life includes Bruce Barth on pianist, Lewis Nash on drums, Alex Pope Norris on trumpet, Paul Beaudry on bass, Ron Affif on guitar, Gary Versace on accordion and Tom Beckham on vibes. The whole production is solid and makes this one of our favorite vocal albums of 2016.
Click to listen to a clip of “What’s With You”:
Tracks: Galileo, Surrey with the Fringe on Top, The Cold Winter’s Embrace, Getting to Know You, Goodbye New York, Until, Lemon Twist, Very Early, What’s with You, Jardin D’ Hiver, Lucky to Be Me, When The World Was New .
Cleveland native-turned-New Yorker Jerome Jennings, makes a powerful debut with The Beast. The nine-track production presents the virtuosity of the high-demand drummer in a set of eclectic compositions inspired by romantic to the socio-political matters. Jennings wrote four on the album’s tunes, including one which artfully merges music with words of a speech on lives lost in highly-publicized deadly law enforcement encounters, including the shooting death of 12-year old Tamir Rice in Jennings’ hometown. Performances of tunes by Freddie Hubbard, Ben Webster,Jon Burr and Don Raye and Gene de Paul, among others, comprise much of the recording. The musician lineup on the effort is no less impressive with bassist Christian McBride, trumpeter Sean Jones, trombonist Dion Tucker and tenor saxophonist Howard Wiley helping to power the notes. Singer Jazzmeia Horn is a fantastic contributor on one of the tunes as well. This is a truly substantive and engaging first outing from Jennings.
Click to listen to a clip of “The Beast”:
Tracks: Love The Drums, Cool It Now, Ice Cream Dreams, You Don’t Know What Love Is, Did You Call Her Today, The Core, Cammy’s Smile, The Beast, New Beginnings.
The genius of Ray Charles is on full display in this previously unreleased recording. Swiss Radio Days: Ray Charles Orchestra: Zurich 1961 captures Charles at a moment just before his ascendancy into popular music fame on a returning tour across Europe in 1961. The production is a snapshot of a legend in the making. Captured here is the full scope of Charles as a musician at ease with the intersection of jazz, blues and soul that is the heart of his repertoire. The dynamic performer leads his orchestra as they jam on some serious jazz pieces, and as he delivers powerful vocals throughout the evening on a number tunes, arranged and conducted by his longtime friend and colleague, Quincy Jones. The band, as expected, is top shelf, with a lineup that includes Marcus Belgrave, Keg Johnson, and Dickie Wells on trumpets, Hank Crawford and Rudy Powell on alto saxophones, David Newman and Don Wilkerson on tenor saxes, Lenny Cooper on baritone sax, Elbert Forrest, Edgar Willis on bass and Bruno Carr on drums. The Raelettes finely polish the package of music with their incredible backing voices. This recording is a classic and a must-have.
Click to listen to a clip of “I’ve Got News For You”:
Tracks: Happy Faces, Along Came Betty, My Baby, Sticks and Stones, Georgia on my Mind, Blue Stone, Margie, Hit the Road Jack, The Birth of a Band, I Remember Clifford, Come Rain or Come Shine, Ghana, I Believe To My Soul, I’ve Got News For You, Misty, I Wonder, Ray Minor Ray.
Drummer, composer and arranger Marcello Pellitteri once again transforms grief into a fantastic musical tribute. Aquarius Woman is Pellitteri’s second homage to his daughter who passed away in 2014. The production is a mix of originals and covers reflects the father’s desire to convey the positive energy of his daughter. Nicely arranged renditions of tunes by Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys are joined by excellent original compositions by Pellitteri, pianist, Salvatore Bonafede, alto saxophonist Orazio Maugeri, bassist Gabrio Bevilacqua. Guest performers include tenor saxophonists George Garzone and Rino Cirinna, vocalists Nedleka Prescod and Lauren Kinhan and Yvonnick Prene on harmonica. Guitarist Marcello Todaro is also featured on spoken word, as is the voice of Veronica Pellitteri, the heart and soul of this wonderful recording .
Click to listen to a clip of “Twenty Three”:
Tracks: Chasin’ The Tone, Longing, Aquarius Woman, Remind to Live, Villeneuve, Prelude to If I Ain’t Got You, If I Ain’t Got You, Twenty Three, Colors on Your Face, Absolute Beginner, Saxando, Ribbon In The Sky, Strange Light .
Pianist/ composer Enoch Smith, Jr. brings jazz back to its church roots with his latest effort. The Quest: Live at APC is the product of two performances at the Allentown Presbyterian Church in Allentown, NJ. We’re reminded with this effort that Smith’s gift as a pianist is matched by his talents as arranger. The set here is a selection of nicely re-imagined takes on some spiritual standards and equally enjoyable originals. Vocalists Sarah Elizabeth Charles and Emily Braden contribute fantastic vocals to several of the tunes. The band joining in is comprised of bassist Mimi Jones and drummer John Davis in one trio and Noah Jackson on bass along with Andrew Atkinson on drums for the other. Another outstanding work in Smith’s continuing musical ascendancy.
Click to listen to a clip of “The Quest”:
Tracks: Searching for God, Open Your Eyes You Can Fly, With Me (intro), With Me, Creator, Home, Jesus Loves Me, The Quest, Love Lude, Wheels Up, Jesus Loves Me (alternate take) .