New Music Monday for August 4, 2014
The world of music was forever changed in 2013 with the passing of legendary keyboardist, composer and producer George Duke. This year, Al Jarreau, famed vocalist and long-time friend of Duke, re-interprets some of Duke’s renowned catalog of post-bop, jazz fusion, Rhythm and Blues and Brazilian jazz with “My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke.” The disc also hosts a stellar blend of guest artists including Dianne Reeves, Marcus Miller, Dr. John, Gerald Albright, Lalah Hathaway, Boney James, and Jeffrey Osborne.
Among the premier vocalists and songwriters in American music today, Dee Alexander has delighted audiences and impressed critics with her flawless intonation, interpretive brilliance, intrepid improvising, and the range of genres that she commands. In addition to leading her own bands, Dee has been a vital contributor to some of the most important groups and projects to take shape in Chicago over the last two decades—from mainstream big-band tributes to Ella and Dinah to large-scale compositions premiered by her fellow members of the world-famous AACM. She has lent her talents to the bands of such major Chicago artists as flutist Nicole Mitchell and saxophonist Ernest Dawkins, and has shared stages with such iconic musicians as Ahmad Jamal, David Sanborn, Roy Ayers, and Joshua Redman. Her new CD, “Songs My Mother Loves,” is a tribute to her mother, Dee says, “giving thanks for her inspiration, influence, guidance, and homage to the music that is now an important part of my life…”
Also this week, “Trumpet Story” is Bill Warfield’s big band dedication to trumpeters and composers who have influenced him and features special guest Randy Brecker; veteran Canadian vibraphonist Craig Scott makes his recording debut, captured live at Cory Weeds’ jazz club in Vancouver on “Introducing the Craig Scott Quintet”; and Michael Bellar and the As-Is Ensemble unveil “Oh No Oh Wow,” described by Jazz Times magazine as blending “pop, rock, funk, jazz and world music elements into a provocative brew on this spirited alt-jazz outing.”
New Music Monday for July 28, 2014
If it weren’t so true it would sound like a cliché: there really is no other ensemble quite like Diva. A 15-piece all-women band in the classic tradition—yet wholly un-retro in their approach—Diva is all about dynamics and innovation, class and sass. Led by drummer Sherrie Maricle, Diva has released more than a dozen discs, drawing raves from prestigious outlets like the Washington Post and JazzTimes magazine. On their new CD, “A Swingin’ Life,” the band presents a program of pieces from the Great American Songbook and beyond. Joining them for the occasion—recorded at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York and the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh—are two of our greatest divas, the inimitable Nancy Wilson and Marlena Shaw.
Cyrus Chestnut is one of the great piano voices of his generation or any generation, as he proves again with his latest release, “Midnight Melodies.” For this his first-ever live recording, he’s captured at Smoke in New York City. Chestnut claims that the club’s Steinway B is the best piano in the city. “It’s just my ticket. We connect. It’s warm and it’s sharp at the same time with a lot of earth in it. I like clubs like the Jazz Standard or Smoke, where you can sit down at the piano and get down-home, because that’s the kind of audience they attract.” Joining Cyrus are bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Victor Lewis on a musical odyssey that includes music by Billy Strayhorn, John Coltrane, and one of his important influences, John Hicks.
Also this week, we’ll have new discs from vocalists on the opposite ends of the generational spectrum: veteran Barbara Morrison’s “I Love You, Yes I Do,” and the first domestic release from the widely acclaimed young French singer Cyrille Aimee, “It’s a Good Day”; and trumpeter Joe Magnarelli is joined by trombonist Steve Davis on a new quintet date, “Lookin’ Up!”.