The pantheon of jazz trumpet players includes familiar names such as Davis, Gillespie, Brown, Hubbard and Morgan. There are, however, numerous lesser known trumpet players whose music comprises an essential part of jazz history. One of our contemporary trumpet masters, Brian Lynch, embarked upon a project focusing upon some of the unsung heroes – and thus the title for this project, the second volume of which is our album of the month for December.
The music of Miles Davis, so firmly entrenched in the instrumental heart and soul of jazz music, has also been embellished with lyrics in several instances. Vocalist Giacomo Gates' latest release gathers a variety of these selections and serves them with his inimitable stylings and superb musical accompaniment.
Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II, known as Donald Byrd, passed away February 4, 2013 at the age of eighty. Byrd was a superb trumpet player whose music spanned a period of some five deacdes. After playing with Lionel Hampton before finishing high school and service in the United States Air Force, Byrd completed his bachelor's degree in music at Wayne State University in 1954 and moved to New York in 1955 to get his master's at the Manhattan School of Music.
ALBUMS OF THE MONTH – January, 2013 (and some related comment)
The November, 2012 issue of The Atlantic contained a pitifully myopic article entitled “The End of Jazz”. Essentially, its author argued that since the traditional songbook has become passe and with nothing new coming into the jazz repertoire since 1960 the music has exhausted its relevancy. What we have here is a severe case of ignoratio elenchi.
As usual I have trouble confining my annual “Best of the year” list to the traditional ten and have thus weaseled my way around the issue by adding a few vocal releases and reissues. Your sympathetic tolerance is appreciated. Our hungry ears were substantially rewarded through the year with these fine recordings:
Frank Basile – Modern Inventions – independent through CD Baby - Omaha native and baritone burner Frank Basile leads a vibrant sextet on this refreshingly straight-ahead release.
Summertime has been a wonderful season for fine new jazz releases. With a proliferation of smaller labels that specialize in jazz music and independently produced efforts a diverse bounty of music is available for the listener. Many new releases are now available within just a few months after their being recorded. All of this seems to have invigorated the recording scene and, vitally, brought more artists in touch with a wider audience. This beneficent activity is evidenced by some fine releases over the summer and I'll touch upon just a few standouts:
Drummer Lewis Nash leads a quintet at the Cellar Jazz Club in Vancouver, BC from September of 2011. First call musicians share the stage in the persons of Jeremy Pelt, trumpet and flugelhorn, Jimmy Greene, tenor and soprano saxophones, Renee Rosnes, piano and Peter Washington, bass. This engagement at Cory Weeds' Jazz Club exhibits the loose spontaneity of straight-ahead jazz. There's formidable talent to burn, and burn they do in a wide-ranging program including compositions by Bobby Hutcherson, Renee Rosnes, Clifford Jordan, Ornette Coleman, Thad Jones and Thelonious Monk.
Saxophonist Bob Mintzer has been active for several decades as instrumentalist, composer and arranger. Having been a member of the saxophone section of bands led by Buddy Rich, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis, Tito Puente and Gil Evans, Mintzer is also a member of the group Yellowjackets and leader of his own smaller ensembles and has played with numerous Brazilian artists over the years. He also leads his own Grammy-winning big band. “For The Moment” is Mintzer's fourth big band recording for Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and was recorded live at the Pittsburgh, PA music hall in September of 2011.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding; and trombonist Steve Turre's new release “Woody's Delight” is a rich and highly palatable blend of straight ahead, relaxed and Latin sounds enhanced by an array of talented musicians augmenting the leader's consistently engaging compositional skills and playing. It's a marvelously diverse session and our CD of the month.