Monthly Archives: March 2011

Alex Pinto Quartet – Inner State

(Pursuance Records)

The son of a father from India and a mother from the American midwest, San Francisco-based guitartist Alex Pinto brings the fusion of these cultural elements to his debut recording, Inner State. Evident in Pinto’s sound is his love for Hindustani music, as well as the music guitar heroes like Wes Montgomery and Jimi Hendrix. The influence of traditional Indian instruments work their way through the guitar. The music here has an exploratory quality, as the quartet works through the project’s seven original compositions, all written by the group’s leader. The band includes Jaz Sawyer on drums, Dave Tranchina on bass, and Jon Armstrong on tenor saxophone. This is a fantastic debut by a promising new presence on the jazz scene.

Click here to listen to a clip of “1 By 4”.

Tracks: 1 By 4, Chai Kinda Day, Outed, Two Pictures of Love, Refresh, Do It Now, CIA .


Randy Weston – The Storyteller

(Motema Records)

The Storyteller , the Motéma recording debut of the venerable virtuoso pianist-composer Randy Weston, coincides with the 50th Anniversary of his landmark 1960 recording, UHURU Afrika which fused jazz and African rhythm. All these years later, Weston continues this legacy. This latest effort was recorded live at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at the Jazz at Lincoln Center complex. Featuring a cross-section of Weston compositions, the music here is brought exquisitely to life by a collection of outstanding musical talents who make up the African Rhythms Sextet. The lineup includes the great trombonist Benny Powell,(who has passed away before the release of the recording), bassist Alex Blake, drummer Lewis Nash, saxophonist and flutist T.K. Blue, percussionist Neil Clarke. The blend of such talents can’t help but produce a great work and this effort certainly fits that bill.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Jus’ Blues”.

Tracks: Chano Pozo, African Sunrise, Tehuti, Jus’ Blues, Bridge, The Shrine, Loose Wig, Hi Fly, Fly Hi, The Mystery of Love.


Lisa Lindsley – Everytime We Say Goodbye

(Blondsongstress Productions)

From the very first note she sings on Everytime We Say Goodbye, it’s clear that Lisa Lindsley is a true jazz singer. This is made even more clear by the fact that the album came together without a rehearsal and on the strength of pianist George Mesterhazy calling Lindsley and saying “What are you doing this Saturday?”. The result of the interplay between Lindsley, Mesterhazy and bassist Fred Randolf is pure lightning-in-a-bottle magic.  Together, they take on the songbooks of Hoagy Carmichael, Billie Holiday, Ray Noble and Antonio Carlos Jobim in an engrossing musical foray. If great performances like this can result from impromptu sessions, then viva la impromptu. 

Click here to listen to a clip of “Don’t Explain”.

Tracks: The Nearness of You, Don’t Explain, Alice In Wonderland, Inside a Silent Tear, The Very Thought of You, It’s Only a Paper Moon, Why Don’t You Do Right, The Girl From Ipanema.


Sonny Rollins Receives National Medal of Arts at White House

Saxophonist Sonny Rollins was one of ten honorees who received the 2010 National Medal of Arts for outstanding achievements and support of the arts. The presentation was held on March 2nd with President Barack Obama in an East Room ceremony at the White House. 

“I’m very happy that jazz, the greatest American music, is being recognized through this honor, and I’m grateful to accept this award on behalf of the gods of our music,” Rollins said of the award.
The National Medal of Arts is a White House initiative managed by the National Endowment for the Arts. Each year, the NEA organizes and oversees the National Medal of Arts nomination process and notifies the artists of their selection to receive a medal, the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence.
“The National Medal of Arts recipients represent the many vibrant and diverse art forms thriving in America,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. “From criticism to literature, music, poetry, sculpture, and theater, these honorees’ devotion to shaping and sharing American art is unrivaled, and I join the President and the country in saluting them.”
The 2010 National Medal of Arts Recipients are: Robert Brustein, theatrical critic, producer, playwright, educator; Van Cliburn, pianist, music educator; Mark di Suvero, sculptor; Donald Hall, poet; Quincy Jones, musician, music producer; Harper Lee, author; Sonny Rollins, jazz musician; Meryl Streep, actress; James Taylor, singer, songwriter; Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

You can check out video of the ceremony above.

Marcus Miller – A Night in Monte-Carlo

(Concord Jazz)

Bassist extraordinaire Marcus Miller was requested by the principality of Monte-Carlo to perform at its 2008 jazz festival, the result is the new release, A Night In Monte-Carlo. Miller’s deep, low notes are accompanied beautifully by the strings and horns of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic. He’s also joined by the phenomenal singer, songwriter and guitarist, Raul Midon, who performs one of his own very popular tunes, as well as Miller’s arrangement of the spiritual “Amazing Grace”. While Midon has been known more for his vocal talents, his guitar skills heard here are just as impressive. The fantastic trumpeter Roy Hargrove joins Miller and the orchestra and delivers a gorgeous rendition of “Amandla”, a Miller compostion recorded by the great Miles Davis, as well as a beautiful take on the classic “I’m Glad There Is You”. Miller, who also picks up his bass clarinet on several tracks, is joined by piano great Herbie Hancock on his rendering of “Strange Fruit”. Also performing on the date are saxophonist Alex Hon, drummer Poogie Bell, pianist Federico Gonzales Pena and turntable scratchologist DJ Logic. It’s amazing music from what sounds like an incredible night. 

Click here to listen to a clip of “So What”.

Tracks: Blast, So What, States of Mind, I Loves You Porgy, Amandla, I’m Glad There Is You, Medley: O Mio Babbino Caro/Mas Que Nada, Your Amazing Grace, Strange Fruit.


Disney Jazz Vol. 1 – Everybody Wants To Be A Cat

(Walt Disney Records)

Where to start? When we see a project bearing the Disney name, there’s a natural tendency to think that it’s going to be something just for kids. That’s not the case with Everybody Wants To Be A Cat. Far from Disney-fied jazz tunes, these are Disney songs put through the paces of some of jazz’s most notable talents. The project features Roy Hargrove, Dave Brubeck, Esperanza Spalding, Dianne Reeves, Roberta Gambarini, Regina Carter, Joshua Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Alfredo Rodriguez, Nikki Yanofsky, Gilad Hekselman and Mark Rapp. Each artist performs their own rendition of classic Disney film-related tunes and there’s just too many standout performances to list here. Suffice it to say, this is a fantasic collection of music that absolutely must not be missed.

Click here to listen to a clip of “He’s a Tramp”.

Tracks: Ev’rybody Wants To Be a Cat, Chim Chim Cher-ee, Some Day My Prince Will Come, Find Yourself, You’ve Got A Friend In Me, He’s a Tramp, Feed The Birds (Tuppence A Bag) Gaston, Alice In Wonderland, The Bare Necessities, It’s a Small World, Belle, Circle of Life.


Dado Moroni – Live in Beverly Hills

(Resonance Records)

Live in Beverly Hills is the latest from Italian pianist Dado Moroni, recorded in a city that’s known more for movie stars than jazz bars. Moroni and his trio of drumming great Peter Erskine and bassist Marco Panacia give a spirited performance in a front of a receptive audience at the Rising Jazz Stars venue in the world-renown Los Angeles suburb. Erskine and Panacia provide a solid musical canvas for Moroni’s broad strokes and vibrant splashes of color. The three musicians cover a range of tunes by various composers, including three written by Moroni. If hearing these three great artists work together weren’t enough, the project includes a DVD of the performances that is equally captivating and thoroughly enjoyable.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Where Is Love”.

Tracks: Ghananian Village, Django, Where Is Love, I Hear a Rhapsody, Einbahnstrasse, Vitti Na Crozza, Noze Off, Jamal.


Amy London – Let’s Fly


Let’s Fly is singer Amy London’s fantastic followup to her 2007 debut recording for Motema Records. London, a 30-year veteran of the jazz vocal scene dedicates this recording to her mentor and primary vocal influence Annie Ross (of the famed Lambert, Hendricks and Ross), who wrote the album’s classic track. It’s clear from the first note that you’re listening to a vocalist who knows her craft incredibly well. London takes on a wide array of styles and tunes from a range of songbooks, including songs by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, Charles Mingus, Peggy Lee, Irving Berlin and Joni Mitchell, among others. Providing solid musical backing are guitarist Roni Ben-Hur, bassist Santi Debriano, drummer Steve Williams, and percussionist Steve Kroon, among others. The result is simply outstanding.

Click here to listen to a clip of “Let’s Fly”.

Tracks: Out of this World, Let’s Fly, This Happy Madness, Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love, How Deep is the Ocean, I Love Being Here with You, All I Want, My Darling Monique, I Never Meant to Hurt You, You Taught My Heat Sing, You and the Night and the Music/Habenera, Here’s to Life, Without a Song.