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Music Reviews

The new disc by the septet The Cookers harkens back to the
days of the classic hard bop sessions on Blue Note by Art Blakey's
Jazz Messengers, Wayne Shorter and Jackie McLean.

The music soars with fine soloing on the front line with Billy Harper on
tenor, Donald Harrison on alto and two trumpeters, David Weiss and Eddie
Henderson. The rhythm section of pianist George Cables, bassist Cecil
McBee and drummer Billy Hart keep things firmly grounded and in the pocket.

Trombonist Robin Eubanks and his band Mental Images present bold reinterpretations of rock anthems from Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone on a new release, which also features five new original tunes.

We begin with the KIOS Jazz CD of the month:

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.

It is a thrilling experience to hear Miles Davis and his band achieve the impossible over and over again in this rollercoaster ride of four nights of performances from June, 1970. 

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. 

Joe Magnarelli, who grew up in Syracuse, New York and has resided in
New York City for over 25 years.He has played with some of the best in
the business including Jimmy Cobb, Lionel Hampton and Brother Jack
McDuff. He has led his own bands for twenty years and has released
nine recordings of his own as a leader.

Flautist Gerald Beckett has recorded another fine addition to his growing catalogue as a leader. His fifth release, The Messenger, on Summit Records, features his working quintet burning through hard bop pieces by Lee Morgan, "Aniticlimax", and Bud Powell's "Tempus Fugit". He leads the group on quieter works such as the Duke Pearson line" Idle Moments" and Beckett's own "Sunset Place", co-written with Eugene Pilner. There is also a nice Latin tune on the program titled "Lupe's Ride", written by Sharman Duran, the daughter of guitarist Eddie Duran.

Drummer Harvey Mason is back with a recording that celebrates some of the grooviest jazz-funk of the 1970s with some of today's top players.  Mason's contributions to the vibrant jazz-funk of the 1970s are immediately recognizable for those familiar with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters.

Legendary jazz drummer Louis Hayes and his band recorded a set of music last year at Smoke Jazz Club in New York City. The set draws the listener in with twelve numbers of sustained brilliance and is the "Return of the Jazz Communicators".

It swings!

Louis Hayes knows a thing or two about swing. He co-founded the Jazz Communicators with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard in 1967, after offering to present a summer's worth of performances in a club in Manhattan with a band that had not actually been founded at the time of the offer!

One of the most adventuresome and dynamic guitarists in jazz or rock is Nels Cline.  Active since 1977 in a wide variety of genres, he is the guitarist for the alternative rock band, Wilco. Cline's command of the guitar is such that Spin magazine in 2012 named him the 43rd greatest guitarist of all time. He is also the leader of the Nels Cline Singers, a band which has explored the frontiers of jazz music on several recordings over the last decade.

On Chicago Fire, Eric Alexander demonstrates again why he is one of the busiest saxophonists on today's jazz scene. Alexander has a fully developed voice on the saxophone and can blow with the best of them. Harold Mabern, one of the greatest jazz pianists ever, is in the studio, as is bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth.  Additionally, special guest Jeremy Pelt steps in for a few tracks and demonstrates his mainstream credentials. This gathering of total professionals creates a smoking session!

A remarkable orchestral jazz work recorded in France in the last two years, I Hear The Sound is a live performance of material from saxophonist Archie Shepp, "Attica Blues". The big band effort brings to a new generation of listeners material first presented in 1972 on Impulse.

The vitality of funk music connected to the traditions of New Orleans second line music is hard to resist. The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble, led by saxophonist Ken Field, brings this exciting, easily danceable groove into focus on the new effort, Live Snakes (Accurate 2014). It's the third album from this ensemble of musicians with a changing cast, but rock solid second line performances.

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.

Legendary Chicago Drummer & Bandleader Kahil El'Zabar continues to add fine recordings to an already impressive discography of discs firmly in the jazz avant-garde but rooted in straight-ahead jazz. Zabar's latest effort with his longstanding Ritual Trio band, Follow The Sun, continues in that direction. 

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.

Creativity, innovation, and artistry help define the rich body of work that cornetist Rob Mazurek has released. Mazurek's relentless exploration of the frontiers of jazz in recent years has put him at the forefront of adventuresome music. In a career spanning over 25 years, Mazurek has written nearly 200 original compositions. His latest work may be his most ambitious yet. Mazurek has returned with his Exploding Star Electro Acoustic Ensemble on one of the most profound discs in recent memory, The Space Between(Delmark Records).

Shauli Einav is a saxophonist from Israel based in New York. His new cd, Generations, captures him and his band burning brightly on a varied program of jazz standards and two original tunes from Einav. The sound harkens back to the Blue Note sessions of the 1960's and if you didn't know this was a new album, you might think you were listening to some long lost Blue Note bop session from the vault.

Miles Davis Quintet/Live In Europe 1969/Columbia/Legacy
Rob Mazurek Exploding Star Electro Acoustic Ensemble  / The Space Between / Delmark
Dr. Lonnie Smith / In The Beginning Volumes 1 & 2 / Pilgrimage
Etienne Charles / Creole Soul /Independent Release
Nicole Mitchell's Ice Crystals/Aquarius/Delmark
Jeremy Pelt / Water and Earth / High Note
Gretchen Parlato / Live In NYC / ObliqSound
Frank Rosaly / Cicada Music / Delmark
Corey Christiansen / Lone Prairie / Origin Records
Dave Holland / Prism / Dare 2 Records

Janis Siegel - Nightsongs: A Late Night Interlude-Palmetto Records
Brian Lynch- Unsung Heroes Volume 2 – Hollistic Music Works
Kathy Kosins- The Space Between-Resonance Records
David Weiss-Endangered Species: The Music of Wayne Shorter-Motema
Steve Turre- Bones of Art- High Note
Andy Bey- World According to Andy Bey-High Note
Kenny Garrett -Pushing The World Away- Mack Avenue
Giacomo Gates- Miles Tones- Savant
Ted Nash Big Band- Chakra- Plastic Sax Records  
Gregory Porter-Liquid Spirit- Blue Note

JAZZ JUNCTION TOP TWELVE OF 2013

Dec 2, 2013

Yes, it's that time of year when we take a fond look back at some of the delightful releases of the year and attempt to whittle so many worthy contenders to a dozen, because only ten was just too difficult. Come to think of it, twelve is kind of tough – so here's our baker's dozen at the Jazz Junction:

Jim Alfredson's Dirty Fingers – A Tribute to Big John Patton – Big O Records – Nothing like good meat and potatoes Hammond organ music and here's an outing that encompasses the thrill and energy of the genre in this savory dedication to organist Big John Patton.

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.

Dr. Lonnie Smith's Hammond B-3 wizardry has dazzled this listener for years. Smith's first live recording on his own Pilgrimage imprint, The Healer, was a deeply powerful organ trio experience. On the new release,  In The Beginning Volumes 1 & 2,  the liner notes declare that "Dr. Lonnie Smith revisits, recontextualizes and reimagines a dozen songs from his first decade as a recording artist."

Phil Woods’ soulful brilliance glows everywhere you turn in this 2013 release from Chiaroscuro Records . His soloing on alto, his compositions and arrangements sparkle throughout, enhanced by a fine array of soloists hailing from parts of the U.S. east. But, be warned; listening to it all at one sitting could diminish the effect.  It’s like trying to consume too many slices of a superb and rich birthday cake when the party’s just started. Don’t take in too many pieces at once. Savor the flavor gradually.

Veteran jazz bassist Dave Holland is back with one of his boldest sessions in years. Fans of his straight ahead jazz recordings may be startled to hear the relentless intensity of Prism, but it shouldn't be surprising given Holland's roots in the electric jazz explosion of the late 1960s.

Our CD of the Month at KIOS is from legendary pianist and bandleader Chick Corea. His latest release, The Vigil, features a new lineup of players along with the keyboard legend in an energetic program that recalls Corea's legendary group Return To Forever.

Certainly one of the most potent dates in recent years by some of the today's top Chicago avant-garde players. Frank Rosaly leads this group of top notch instrumentalists in a program of dense rhythm and unusual musical conversations.

Etienne Charles is a trumpeter from Trinidad whose three previous albums have featured calypso music as interpreted through an engaging post-bop focus. Charles continues to grow as an artist as evidenced on his latest, Creole Soul.  His latest recording reflects his interest in Carribean music and the music of New Orleans.

One of the most eclectic guitarists in jazz is back with his associates for another enjoyable journey into music. Big Sur is the new recording from Guitarist Bill Frisell and his band.  Composed by the guitarist at Glen Deven Ranch in Big Sur, California, the new effort presents a kaleidoscope of musical colors listeners have grown accustomed to expect from the veteran guitarist. Frisell is joined by Eyvind Kang, viola; Hank Roberts, cello; Jenny Scheinman; violin and Rudy Royston, drums.

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