Tales & Tones is the impressive latest recording from saxophonist Troy Roberts. Roberts is adroit in an array of musical moods here with an engaging tone that shines through on every tune, whether it’s a ballad or a swing feel. The mostly original compositions on the effort are outstanding, as are the wonderfully arranged covers of tunes by Bernie Miller, Billy Strayhorn and John Sangster. Helping to propel the music forward are the fantastic talents of Silvano Monasterios on piano, Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums and Robert Hurst on bass, with each providing great performances throughout the set. Roberts is a tremendous player as this superb production makes clear .
Click to listen to a clip of “Trams”:
Tracks: Decoration, Trams, Rivera Mountain, Bernie’s Tune, CotuChiChi Chi, Take the ‘A’ Train, Pickapoppy, Mr. Pinononnk, Boozy Bluesy .
Change of Address is the fifth recording as a leader from baritone saxophonist Jared Sims. The production is an outstanding display of Sims’ versatility, on a recording that leans in the funk-organ groove direction. The saxophonist is the pulse of the recording, playing with both, power and tremendous dexterity on the large horn. Engaging original compositions provide an outstanding framework for the fantastic musicianship on the effort. The synchronous band includes Steve Fell on guitar, Nina Ott on organ, Chris Lopes on bass and Jared Seabrook on drums. The combination of all of the above makes for a great listening experience.
Click to listen to a clip of “Ghost Guest 1979”:
Tracks: Offer for Wilson, Seeds of Shihab, Ghost Guest 1979, Forest Hills, Tower of Fazenda, Lights and Colors.
Backlog is guitarist Steve Khan’s fifth recording since his return from a decade-long absence and a real pleasure to hear. The production filters the work of some of jazz’s great players through Latin-rhythm and percussive rhythms. The body-moving grooves are derived from compositions by Thelonious Monk, Greg Osby, Bobby Hutcherson Stevie Wonder and Ornette Coleman. On the more laidback side are compositions by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, as well as Johnny Mandel and Johnny Mercer. The band, like the music on this effort, is stellar. The lineup includes Mark Walker on drums, Rubén Rodriguez on bass, Marc Quiñones and Bobby Allende on bongos and other percussion. Guests on the set include Rob Mounsey on keyboards, Randy Brecker on trumpet, Mark Mainieri on vibraphone and vocalist Tatiana Parra. Fantastic performances by all involved in an outstanding package of music .
Click to listen to a clip of Head Start:
Tracks: Criss Cross, Concepticus in C, Latin Genetics, Our Town, Head Start, Rojo, Invisible, Emily, Go Home, Catta.
Vocalist Sidney Jacobs brings a contemporary flair to an approach that has a connection to the great vocal improvisers of our time. First Man, his second recorded outing, is an eclectic showcase for his talents as a singer, composer and producer. There’s a compelling freshness to his approach, with a nice mix of original compositions and custom tailored re-workings of classic and modern standards. Joining Jacobs on this effort are Josh Nelson on piano, Michael Jarvey on viola, electric and acoustic pianos, Zephyr Avalon on basses, Efa Etoroma on drums an percussion, Greg Poree on guitars, Josh Johnson on alto sax, Justin Thomas on vibraphone and marimaba, Nolan Shaheed on trumpet, Wendell Kelly on trombone and Francesco Canas on violin. Cathy Segal-Garcia delivers backing vocals on the production. Jacobs is a modern singer with a fitting style who definitely should be heard.
Click to listen to a clip of “Fly”:
Tracks: First, First Man, Last Night, Undercurrent, My Favorite Things, Sabine’s Grind, Fly, The Story Teller, Lonely Town Lonely Street, Say WhatYou Will, You Aint Gotta Lie, The Good Life, The Love Within You, Long Walk, Secret O’ Life .
Singer Virginia Schenck’s latest is a wonderful homage to the great Abbey Lincoln. Aminata Moseka: An Abbey Lincoln Tribute avoids the attempt at evoking the spirit of Abbey’s approach, but instead presents her compositions from a different perspective with a new voice. Clever arrangements and Schenck’s own way into a song lend themselves in a very engaging way. The singer and band work well together here. The band on the recording is comprised of Kevin Bales on piano, Rodney Jordan on bass and Marlon Patton on drums, with a guest performance by Kebbi Williams on alto sax. A really solid production from Schenck.
Click to listen to a clip of “Bird Alone”:
Tracks: Talking to the Sun, Another World, Bird Alone, The River, Learning How to Listen, Blue Monk, Caged Bird, Being Me, Throw It Away, The Music Is The Magic, When I;m Called Home, Wholly Earth.
Organist Greg Hatza’s latest is a fantastic tribute to the music he grew up hearing as a child in Reading, PA. Diggin Up My Roots is Hatza’s take on some classic r&b and blues he heard on a jukebox in the restaurant owned by his father. The band does the classics by the likes of Ray Charles, Percy Mayfield, Jimmy Smith and Johnny Otis, among others, a great service. The music is smoking and the musicianship is stellar. The members of the group are Robert Shahid on drums, Brain Kooken on guitar and Peter Fraize on saxophone. Hatza wrote several of the tracks on the production and provides the vocals on a number of the tunes as well. A thoroughly entertaining recording.
Click to listen to a clip of “Headin on Down South”:
Tracks: Baltimore Strut, Big Big Back, High Heel Sneakers, Headin on Down South, I Got A Woman, Back At The Chicken Shack, Night Train, Please Send Me Someone To Love, Hand Jive, Something You Got, Stagger Lee.
Bassist-composer Miroslav Vitous’s latest is a journey through structured music that sounds incredibly improvised. Ziljabu Nights: Live at Theater Gütersloh features Vitous and his band painting large musical murals before a live audience in Gütersloh, Germany. The other players on the productions are tenor saxophonist Gary Campbell, tenor and soprano saxophonist Robert Bonisolo, keyboard player Aydin Essen and drummer Roberto Gatto. The tunes, almost all originals by Vitous, seem to evolve in each of the compositions, with the band in almost telepathic connection with each other and the music. The recording closes with an interview conducted by Götz Buhler. The whole recording is a truly fascinating listening experience.
Click to listen to a clip of “Stella by Starlight Variations”:
Tracks: Ziljabu, Morning Lake, Ziljabe, Gloria’s Step Variations, Mira Bop, Stella by Starlight Variations, Interview with Miroslav Vitous.
Singer Ron Boustead offers his entertaining take on love stories of songs with this effort. Unlikely Valentine is a nice mix of original tunes and clever twists on some less-traveled standards. Boustead brings a humorous flavor to a number of the tunes on the mostly upbeat production. The ballads are equally nice, including a lovely duet with singer Fabiana Passoni. The recording is enhanced greatly by the producing and arranging talents of both, Bill Cunliffe and Mitchel Forman, each of whom handle the piano and organ duties on the respective tunes which they produced. The band also includes the talents of John Leftwich on bass, Jake Reed on drums, Pat Kelley on acoustic and electric guitars, Bob Sheppard on saxes and flutes, Bob McChesney on trombone and Ron Stout on flugelhorn. This is a thoroughly enjoyable musical excursion.
Click to listen to a clip of “Unlikely Valentine”:
Tracks: Unlikely Valentine, Love Potion #9, Coffee, I Won’t Scat, Til Now, Autumn Leaves, Love’s Carousel, Along Came Betty, I Love My Wife, Love Came on Stealthy Fingers .
The Journey is exquisite debut of The Baylor Project. The husband-wife duo of drummer Marcus Baylor and vocalist Jean Baylor brings a wealth of experience from work with an array of artists, which serves this production incredibly well. The vocal delivery of Jean Baylor is impeccable. The arrangements are the tunes here, a mix of standards and soulful originals, is fresh and engaging. The musicianship here is equally stellar. Among the fantastic talents contributing to this effort are pianist and organist Shedrick Mitchell, pianist Allyn Johnson, percussionist Pablo Batista, guitarist Marvin Sewell, saxophonists Keith Loftis and Bob Mintzer, flugelhorn player Freddie Hendrix, trumpeter Kenyon Harrold, bassists Dezron Douglas, Chris Smith and Corcoran Holt, and harpist Brandee Younger. This is simply an outstanding recording .
Click to listen to a clip of “Our Love is Here To Stay”:
Tracks: Block Party, Great is Thy Faithfulness, Tell M A Story, Tenderly, Our Love Is Here To Stay, Again, Summertime, Voice of The Drum (Interlude), Afro Blue (Dream), Laugh and Move On, Journey .
With The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door, saxophonist Mike Casey makes an impressive debut. The recording puts you right in the room for a set that is brimming with the creative intensity that is enhanced by the presence of a live audience. There’s a gritty and raw improvisational feel in the performances of the band, which includes bassist Matt Dwonszyk and drummer Corey Garcia. Casey leads the tight-knit trio through a set which is comprised of adventurous originals and exploratory covers of tunes by John Coltrane, Kurt Weil, Jackie McLean and Ornette Coleman. Casey is a really impressive up and coming talent with a fantastic tone worth hearing.
Click to listen to a clip of “Dagobah”:
Tracks: Hydraulics, Turnaround, Dagobah, Heartbreak, Mack The Knife, Miles Mode, Little Melonae.