This new release from vocalist and pianist Eliane Elias marks the first time she has recorded in her native Brazil since 1981. Incorporating music from three generations of Brazilian composers, Elias has rendered a beautiful album that epitomizes that exquisite quality of Brazilian music to blend the melancholy and the uplifting with beats that soothe the soul.
One can depend upon Mary Stallings to deliver a good album and yet with “Feelin' Good” she has recorded a quintessential jazz vocal outing. This release embodies all of the qualities that comprise a superior session. It's an album so steeped in jazz tradition and delivered with such consummate ease and style as to be irresistible.
Trombonist David Gibson delivers a solid post-bop session that adds further affirmation to the vibrancy of the current jazz scene on his sixth release as a leader. This is no-nonsense, straight ahead music in a program of mostly original compositions. The instrumental setting is a quintet with the fine trumpet player Josh Evans and rhythm section comprised of Theo Hill playing piano, Alex Claffy at the bass and Kush Abadey at the drums.
Pianist Tim Olsen's “Creature of Habit” is a beautifully rendered collection of highly attractive compositions from Olsen, performed in either quintet or sextet settings. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in composition from Yale University and is currently Associate Professor of Music at Union College in Schenectady, NY as well as Director of Music and Organist at St. George's Episcopal Church in Clifton Park, NY. He performs in concerts and clubs with a band that varies in size from a quartet to an 18-piece big band. This is his very convincing debut recording.
Bassist and vocalist Katie Thiroux has released an attractive album that combines delightful repertoire and musicianship on this introductory recording. She was recipient of the Shelly Manne New Talent Award at age 17 and has won awards for bass and voice. She has attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and later received a Masters of Music at CSU Long Beach. She has performed with numerous prominent jazz artists and has worked at jazz festivals and venues in the Big Apple.
Once again we're back with this year's edition of our respective picks for top albums of the year. Inhabiting our three hours on Saturday nights we have been hearing a lot from the albums listed below, all of which should also prove attractive recordings to which we'll return over the years. Dispensing with all pretense of maintaining a rigorous limit in deference to this year's bountiful array of releases, here are a number of eminently worthy recordings:
ORRIN EVANS – LIBERATION BLUES – Smoke Sessions Records SSR-1409
As a listener I appreciate an album that catches my attention through stimulating composition, improvisation and that spark that transpires between musicians during a good session. It is also pleasing when a CD's capacity is utilized to offer over seventy minutes of solid music that takes one unexpected places, both inside and outside the pocket. Pianist Orrin Evans' new release “Liberation Blues”embraces these qualities in stimulating fashion.
EVERETTE DEVAN – For the LOVE of YOU – Henry Records
Tip Top! The likeability index on this new one from organist Everette DeVan is like the heat index on a mid-summer day in the Heartland. But don't worry much about that because DeVan has the burners on his Hammond B-3 turned up to 'way cool' for seventy-one minutes of the sweetest organ combo music to come our way recently.
One of the most influential and popular of jazz artists, Horace Silver, passed away on June 18 at the age of 85. Born Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silver in Norwalk, CT in 1928, his father was an immigrant from the Cape Verde Islands. The creole rhythms from these islands were to have profound impact upon Silver's music and his successful career.
In the not too distant past we have had the pleasure of hearing previously unreleased live recordings from artists such as Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery and Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane. Now comes an album from guitarist Pat Martino's personal collection recorded during the waning days of the “chitlin' circuit” at Club 118 in Louisville, KY. The tracks are culled from different appearances at the club during 1968 and 1969 although the program sounds cohesive, as if it were a one night engagement.
Every now and then you slip a disc into the CD player and immediately become engaged in a thrilling experience. Such is the case with alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo's new album “Threshold”. Firmly ensconced in the post-bop idiom, this smoking quintet session is full of captivating delights for the listener.
Here's a release that is going to write it's own review, a session so inspired and intuitively right-there that it all bubbles to the surface propelled by the buoyant trombone sound of Steve Davis. This quintet session is Davis's seventeenth album as leader and a gem among a steady succession of strong recordings.
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.