Music Reviews

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.

A new release by a Chicago-based outfit headed by tenor saxophonist
Shelly Yoelin is an intoxicating mix of straight ahead bop, ballads and Latin
sounds. Five of the seven members provide material.The highlights include
Diddley Dance, the Bo Diddley beat would be right at home in New Orleans.
Beautiful Sweetheart, composed by pianist Bobby Schiff is a lovely ballad
dedicated to his wife Natasha. Eastern Fun incorporates Klezmer music into
the mix. One of the highlights of the year so far.

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