KIOS-FM

Album Reviews

Reviews of jazz and blues albums by local KIOS hosts.

.Chicago based trumpeter and educator Pharez Whitted returns to the spotlight with an exciting new release, For The People. A bright, optimistic, heartfelt session, the noted trumpeter is joined by the band with which he recorded 2010's "Transient Journey":  Guitarist Bobby Broom, pianist Ron Perrillo, saxophonist Eddie Bayard, bassist Dennis Carroll, & drummer Greg Artry. The result is a bright, optimistic, heartfelt session that features a solid lineup of tunes.

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.

SUMMER'S SOUNDS

Oct 1, 2012


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.

Get ready for the electric trombone artistry of Oscar Utterstrom. His latest recording, Departure, is one of the finest electric jazz recordings to be released in the last several years.

From a veteran rock & jazz drummer and his long standing band, this date really cooks. A CD + DVD package allows the listener to totally enjoy the recorded experience, from 2007 with band members keyboardist Tom Coster, bassist Baron Browne and, guitarist Vinny Valentino, and drummer Steve Smith. Sustained energy and creative interplay persist throughout the recording, featuring adventuresome numbers, "Cat Walk", "Time Tunnel", "Interwoven Rhythms-Synchronus" and a straight ahead burner, "Jimmy Jive".

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.

An artist with roots in the Midwest, Rhiannon is one of a handful of vocalists who can successfully explore totally improvised music.  Her latest recording, Spontaneous, is a good introduction to her immense talents. Together with Abraham Laboriel, electric basses; Alex Acuna, drums and percussion, Otmaro Ruiz, acoustic piano and Jetro Da Silva, acoustic piano and keyboards, the ensemble (also named Spontaneous) creates magic. "Breath", "Multitudes" and "Drop of Rain" are profound experiences of music beyond predictability.

The latest offering from Michael Benedict and Bopitude, Five and One, is a hard bop delight filled with classic tunes and some forgotten gems by some of the greats of the post war bop scene. Drummer Benedict is joined by special guest baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan, Chis Pasin on trumpet and flugelhorn, Brian Patneaude on tenor, pianist  Bruce Barth and bassist Mike Lawrence. The band offers fresh interpretations of such classics as Nat Adderley's Work Song and Miles Davis' Compulsion. There are a few non-bop tunes in the set as well.

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.

Electric pianist Tom Wetmore makes his debut with an impressive electric jazz recording which does not disappoint. Wetmore's energetic band includes the very talented Jaleel Shaw whose saxophone provides a stimulating conversational partner to Wetmore's electric piano. An all-original program of nine numbers ensures a satisfying listen for the jazz enthusiast. Tom Wetmore is a pianist, composer, and bandleader working in the New York City area.

Sure to warm up even the coldest of winter nights, the latest disc by Frank Macchia is a pleasure.  Swamp Thang presents a band of the same name lead by Grammy Nominated Compser Macchia. Wild groove music with crazy chromatic melodies come together with a dose of Cajun and a dash of humor.   The Swamp Thang band, led by Frank Macchia on saxophone, features  John Rosenberg on piano, organ and keyboards, Ken Rosser and Eric Jensen on electric guitars, Tom Lockett on electric bass and Frank Briggs on drums and percussion.

Another one of those live recordings that lets you feel that you are there.  Further Explorations is a 2 CD celebration of the music of Bill Evans with two of the former band mates of Evans on stage. There's Eddie Gomez, the legendary bassist who was with the Bill Evans trio for eleven years, 1966-1977.  Paul Motian is also on the stage, one of the most influential jazz drummers of the last 50 years who was with Evans from 1959 through 1964 .  Chick Corea, one of the most dynamic and creative pianists in all of jazz since Evans, joins Gomez and Motian.

Trumpeter and flugelhornist Jimmy Owens, an NEA Jazz Master, has gathered an outstanding septet to reinterpret the Thelonious Monk Songbook on The Monk Project, just released on IPO Recordings.This is Owens debut as a leader and he has the backing of fellow NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron at the piano, Wycliffe Gordon- trombone, Marcus Strickland- tenor sax, Howard Johnson- tuba and baritone sax, Kenny Davis-bass and Winard Harper-drums.Highlights include a Latin take on Well You Needn't, a gutbucket blues arrangement of Blue Monk and Let's Cool One arranged as a waltz with Owens playin

Jazz vocalist's tremendous artistry is demonstrated on "Cosmic".

As one of the most significant jazz pianists of the history of the genre, Herbie Hancock's contributions to music over 50 plus years of activity as a musician are nothing less than remarkable.  Born in 1940,  Hancock made history as a member of the Miles Davis Quintet of the 1960s.  Hancock was also one of the most in-demand pianists of the decade. Important contributions to the birth of jazz-rock in the In A Silent Way/Bitches Brew sessions followed.