New Music Monday for April 21, 2014
“For me,” says Dave Douglas, “I have always been fascinated by the trio with Giuffre, Jim Hall and Bob Brookmeyer. It’s kind of unparalleled the way they dealt with harmony and rhythm in such a stark setting and in such an open way.” “Riverside” is a new collaborative project put together by trumpeter Douglas honoring the musical legacy of composer, bandleader and reedman Jimmy Giuffre. Working with bassist Steve Swallow, Juno Award-nominated saxophonist Chet Doxas and Chet’s brother Jim on drums, Riverside puts a contemporary stamp on small group improvisation while evoking the dynamic ensembles Giuffre led. They perform both Giuffre’s pieces and dedicate Douglas’ and Doxas’ original compositions to his spirit.
Brooklyn-born-and-raised guitarist Tom Guarna is a musician’s musician, a stellar talent who can seemingly play anything, and play it brilliantly. His fluid lines, creative chord voicings, captivating tone and profound solos have made him a first call musician for the likes of Wallace Roney, Branford Marsalis, Randy Brecker, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and many others. After five acclaimed recordings under his own name, Guarna recently experienced another deluge of inspiration, resulting in his new CD, “Rush.” It features Danny Grissett on keyboards, Joel Frahm on reeds, Orlando Le Fleming on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums.
Also this week, Eastern Iowa percussionist and educator James Dreier unveils his new band, Ritmocano, on “Familia”; Grammy nominated arranger Pete McGuiness leads his Jazz Orchestra with “Strength in Numbers”; and saxophonist Tom Tallitsch is joined by trombonist Michael Dease and drummer Rudy Royston on his new disc, “Ride.”
New Music Monday for April 14, 2014
Throughout a career spanning six decades, New York-based pianist Monty Alexander has garnered acclaim for bridging American jazz, popular song and the music of his native Jamaica. The New York Times has described him as “an effervescent pianist and one of Jamaica’s proudest musical exports.” The Wall Street Journal has called him “maybe the first—and certainly the most successful—musician to combine Jamaican music with North American jazz” and said that, “Alexander’s blend of jazz and reggae makes for an outrageously good time.” As he celebrates his 70th birthday, Alexander unveils “Harlem-Kingston Express Vol. 2: The River Rolls On.” It features a mix of Monty’s originals and interpretations of classic soul hits and reggae landmarks.
Steve Cardenas has become a standard bearer of sorts for the jazz guitar over his outstanding career. Originally hailing from Kansas City, Cardenas has been an important voice in the New York City jazz community since his arrival in the mid-1990s. He became an integral part of a number of fabulous ensembles, including those of bassists Charlie Haden and Ben Alllison and drummers Paul Motian and Joey Baron. He’s also led well-received ensembles of his own. His warm tone and nimble picking echo the sound of the historic legends of the instrument, while his compositional voice has bridged the jazz guitar into the future. Cardenas focused on this bridge in the creation of his new recording, “Melody in a Dream,” a collection of covers from jazz legends, historic and more contemporary, and originals written with reverence for the tradition.
Also this week, MacArthur Fellowship recipient Regina Carter, considered the foremost jazz violinist of her generation, explores the folk music of the South on “Southern Comfort”; pianist Adam Kromelow, who has frequented the KCCK studios over the last year, debuts his new trio, “Krom”; and singer Libby York offers up her first CD in six years, “Memoir.”
New Music Monday for April 7, 2014
Ken Field’s Revolutionary Snake Ensemble is a horn-heavy project that grows out of the New Orleans brass band tradition, but incorporates modern sounds from electric, post-bop and avant jazz without ever losing its allegiance to the groove and the collective party spirit of NOLA. The group’s elastic instrumentation and attitude have paved their way into every kind of venue: parades and clubs, festivals and concert halls. From the first rhythm laid down by the mighty drum tandem of Phil Neighbors and Kenny Wollesen, “Live Snakes” makes it clear that these Boston-and-NYC-based players are coming for your mind AND your body. As producer of the disc, saxophonist/composer Field creates a remarkably coherent flow from four separate live performances consisting of pieces written over many years.
Before embarking on her musical career, Manhattan-based pianist and composer Leslie Pintchik taught English literature at Columbia University, where she also received her Master of Philosophy degree in seventeenth-century English literature. She first surfaced on the Manhattan jazz scene in a trio with legendary bassist Red Mitchell at Bradley’s and, in the ensuing years, formed her own trio with bassist Scott Hardy and a series of drummers, including her current band-mates Michael Sarin and Satoshi Takeishi. Downbeat magazine says Pintchik’s music is “fresh, full of light and instantly invigorating,” while the All Music Guide touts her “enormous gifts as a composer, arranger and pianist.” For her new CD, “In the Nature of Things,” she expands her ensemble with the addition of reed man Steve Wilson and trumpeter Ron Horton.
Also this week, drummer Rudy Royston, whose impressive list of credits includes work in the bands of Bill Frisell and Dave Douglas, steps out as a leader of a septet on “303”; bassist Nathan East, a founding member of the chart-topping contemporary jazz group Fourplay, makes his debut as a leader as well with “Nathan East”; and Croatian pianist and composer Matija Dedic offers up his third disc as a leader, “Sentiana,” with Antonio Sanchez on drums and Scott Colley on bass.
New Music Monday for March 24, 2014
“Jazz and the Philharmonic” is a one-of-a-kind concert project featuring a star-studded roster of award-winning jazz and classical artists performing iconic compositions by legendary composers. The project harkens back seventy years when producer and impresario Norman Granz expanded the scope of the jazz audience from clubs to classical concert halls, staging an all-star jazz concert at the Philharmonic Auditorium in Los Angeles. From that original 1944 concert, JATP grew into an institution with Granz assembling internationally touring ensembles for the next four decades. The new program features Grammy Award-winners Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, Terence Blanchard, Dave Grusin and Mark O’Connor recorded in concert in Miami.
The West Coast has an unfair stereotype of being home to the more commercial sound associated with modern jazz. There is a sound that only a handful of artists are able to cultivate which is an almost organic mix of the more straight ahead with splashes of contemporary flair. “El Guapo” finds saxophonist Scott Jeppesen nailing the new sound of modern jazz while utilizing some of his more old-school influences on his debut release. The ensemble cast is A-list straight down the line, with trumpeter John Daversa providing the perfect counterpoint while Larry Koonse’s nylon string work adds that ethereal contemporary quality. Josh Nelson further establishes his reputation as perhaps the fastest rising pianist working the L.A. scene and bassist Dave Robaire and drummer Dan Schnelle round out a formidable rhythm section
Also this week, soulful tenor sax great Javon Jackson makes a crowd pleasing statement with his new live set, “Expression”; award-winning San Francisco-based guitarist and composer Terrence Brewer unveils his eighth studio disc, “Mosaic”; and vibraphonist Jason Marsalis leads a new ensemble, the Native Jazz Quartet, on ”NJQ: Stories.”
New Music Monday for March 17, 2014
Puppet’s Jazz, the much-missed Brooklyn, New York, club, may have completed its six-year existence in 2011, but its afterlife has spawned both a substantial jazz quartet and a new record label. “The Puppeteers” reunites drummer and club founder Jaime Affoumado, pianist Arturo O’Farrill, bassist Alex Blake and vibraphonist Bill Ware, respected veteran musicians who logged in more hours together on the compact bandstand of the former club than they can remember. Individually, each member of the group has a rich musical history. Ware, an original member of the influential Downtown band the Jazz Passengers, also co-founded the Groove Collective and has toured with Steely Dan. Blake has long been associated with pianist Randy Weston. O’Farrill leads the acclaimed Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, and has collaborated with Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis and Carla Bley. And Affoumado has played with Jaco Pastorious, the Jazz Passengers and Arthur Blythe. In describing their sound, author Howard Mandel states that, “if the heady fragrance of hard bop, Latin, Afro-Caribbean and funk idioms can be detected, then the Puppeteers have done their job.”
The group L.A. 6 is chiefly made up of musicians based in the Los Angeles area who came together over 13 years ago and continue to evolve their very unique sound and approach to jazz. They exemplify the current state of West Coast Jazz in 2014 by retaining the rich small ensemble arranging style developed chiefly in California during the 1950s (e.g. Shorty Rogers and Gerry Mulligan) coupled with a more contemporary approach to small group playing and dynamics. L.A. 6 carries on the relaxed tradition of West Coast Jazz while brining in some more intense elements of hard-bop. The tunes are an interesting mix of standards and original compositions by members of the band. Pianist Rich Eames and saxophonist Tom Peterson provide the majority of the arrangements with trumpeter Clay Jenkins and drummer Dick Weller each individually contributing an arrangement themselves.
Also this week, director Mike Vax leads the Stan Kenton Alumni Band on “Road Scholars Live,” featuring Kim Richmond, Scott Whitfield and Carl Saunders; organist Matthew Kaminski unveils his sophomore disc, “Swingin’ on the New Hammond”; and Canadian trumpeter Joe Sullivan’s latest recording, “Whiskey Jack Waltz,” is a collection of nine new Sullivan originals.