Return To Forever's new multidisc recording is an essential addition to any progressive jazz fans library. Founding Return To Forever group members Chick Corea(piano, keyboards); Stanley Clarke(bass) and Lenny White(drums) are joined by Frank Gambale(guitars) and Jean-Luc Ponty(violin). Recorded on tour in 2011, this version of the band creates one magical moment after another onstage with excellent readings of RTF gems "Medieval Overture", "After the Cosmic Rain", "The Romantic Warrior", and others. A DVD is included.
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.
Bassist Marcus Miller has released his second recording in less than a year. This one sees the veteran bassist, bandleader, sideman and famous associate of Miles Davis on a groove driven project with a number of special guests, including vocalist Gretchen Parlato. Miller's signature bass sound is one of the most distinct in jazz, and it sets the pulse on a number of fine gems on the new disc, including "Detroit", "Slippin' into Darkness", Setembro(Brazilian Wedding Song) and "Mr. Clean". As a 30 year veteran of the jazz scene his records have been featured frequently on Last Call.
The fusion of West African & jazz musical traditions is impeccably achieved in the latest recording from guitarist Lionel Loueke. "Heritage" creates a sonic landscape that is contemplative and graceful. Steered by the guitar artistry of Loeuke, the warmth of the program is hard to resist. Loueke's brilliant guitar and vocal work is complimented by close friend and associate Robert Glasper on keyboards, the incredibly talented drummer Mark Guilliana, bassist Derrick Hodge and guest vocalist Gretchen Parlato.
A significant trumpeter to arise in the last ten years, Christian Scott has released an ambitious new 2 CD set that heralds his new name and identity. "Christian Atunde Adjuah" , a traditional African name that has been adopted by the trumpeter, is also the name of this latest release. Scott says he seeks to "stretch" jazz to encompass new musical forms. Inspired by his hometown, New Orleans, Scott paints a turbulent & passionate musical story.
Dr Lonnie Smith's immense talent on the bandstand is documented on the new disc "The Healer", on the organist's new label, Pilgrimage Productions. Never heard him in person? This is the next best thing. Capturing the spontaneity and style transcending appeal of this accomplished organist who just turned 70, Dr. Lonnie Smith is joined by his touring band of Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar and Jamire Williams on drums. The results are nothing less than mesmerizing, check out the high intensity "Beehive" for an essential electric jazz jam that reminds one of Miles Davis's "Bitches Brew".
Our CD of the Month for September is by baritone saxophonist Frank Basile. It's called Modern Inventions, released independently by Frank. He is a native of Omaha who has been active in the New York jazz scene for several years now. His talent shined earlier this year on a recording by the Joe Chambers Moving Pictures Ensemble recorded live at Dizzy's Club Coca- Cola in New York. He is joined on this project by Fabien Mary on trumpet; Alex Hoffman on tenor saxophone; Ehud Asherie on piano; David Wong on bass and Pete Van Nostrand on drums.