Monday, June 28, 2010

Legends and Virtuosos - Bob

In 1999, the same year that Jason Moran released his debut disc, the prodigy pianist and composer also joined New Directions, a band made up of young stars from the Blue Note roster that went on tour in celebration of the label's 60th anniversary. At the core of that band was the genesis of a rhythm section-with Moran, bassist Taurus Mateen, and drummer Nasheet Waits-that would go on to become one of the most enduringly creative piano trios in jazz. Ten years later, the trailblazing trio--which Moran has dubbed The Bandwagon--releases "Ten", the most assured and focused CD of Moran's acclaimed career, a snapshot of a mature band with a decade of shared musical experience from which to draw.

Renowned bassist Stanley Clarke feels that the music on his new release, "The Stanley Clarke Band", is fresh and different from just about anything he's done before. The range of collaborative material has allowed him to venture to new levels of experimentation. The disc includes original compositions from the innovative young musicians of the band, including keyboardist Hiromi on her second foray with Clarke. He compares it to the first three albums of his solo career, with long extended electric pieces that take the listener on a kind of journey. "There are people other than myself who have something to say," explains Clarke. "Everyone on this project brought their own music and their own ideas."

Meanwhile, legendary trombonist and composer Curtis Fuller is offering up a new two-disc set, "I Will Tell Her"; pianist Fred Hersch features new compositions and fresh takes on old standards on his new trio recording, "Whirl"; and Gregory Porter, whom Wynton Marsalis has called "a fantastic young singer," debuts with "Water."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cats on the Keys - Bob

Pianist Bill Charlap is a two-time Grammy Award nominee who has performed with icons such as Tony Bennett, Phil Woods and Gerry Mulligan, and served as musical director for the Blue Note 7. Canadian-born Renee Rosnes is a four-time Juno Award winner who has collaborated with legends like Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson and J.J. Johnson, and has been the pianist and contributing composer in the dynamic SF Jazz Collective. Husband and wife have now joined forces for their first collaborative CD, "Double Portrait", a sparkling set of four-handed piano duets.

Hailed by Downbeat as one of the most "multi-dimensional keyboard players on the scene today," Marc Cary's continual search for his musical identity has taken him to all corners of the earth. His latest offering on this journey is "Focus Trio Live 2009", recorded live at select festivals across Europe and the U.S. Cary drives his longstanding trio towards hard-hitting turns, fusing together indigenous East Asian, Indian, African and Native American influences within the African American blues and jazz tradition. That trio features Sameer Gupta on percussion and Davie Ewell on bass.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Music - Bob

Stockholm, Sweden, native Andreas Oberg is quickly becoming one of the most admired guitarists on the jazz scene today. Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times has noted that "Oberg has mastered everything from bebop and swing to bossa nova, Gypsy jazz and fusion, enhanced with youthful, rock-driven vigor. His playing is, at times, an astonishing display of virtuosity." His new CD, "Six String Evolution", presents the guitarist in the company of pianist Dave Kikoski, bassist John Patitucci, drummer Lewis Nash and singer/saxophonist Darmon Meader.

The new CD by reedman Azar Lawrence, "Mystic Journey", features his East Coast piano and bass players of choice, Benito Gonzalez and Essiet Essiet, and reunites him with alto saxophonist Gerald Hayes after 35 years. They are joined by the great Eddie Henderson on trumpet. Jazz fans agree Lawrence is playing better and harder than ever, invoking inevitable John Coltrane comparisons. His connection to 'Trane might have begun with his work with McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, but on the new disc Azar is also joined by another Coltrane acolyte and free jazz legend Rashied Ali, who passed away just four months after making this recording.

Two other guitarists are out with new music: "Resonance" is the third recording from Yotam, featuring Christian McBride, Gregory Hutchinson and Roy Hargrove; and veteran Royce Campbell unveils his 26th recording as leader, "All Standards...And a Blues"; and a new self-titled disc from the Eastern Iowa quartet "Koplant No", who will be part of both the Iowa City Jazz Festival and KCCK's Jazz Under the Stars this summer.

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Music by Regina Carter - Bob

Through her albums, incessant touring and various guest appearances and collaborations over the years, Regina Carter has developed into a distinctly diverse musical personality. With "Reverse Thread", the preeminent violinist has taken a giant step forward by recording a CD primarily of African folk tunes infused with a contemporary feel. Without the support of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation, which awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals, the disc may not have been realized. Armed with the funds and the freedom to follow her muse, Regina turned to the World Music Institute in New York City, in which she found a diverse and inspirational resource for material, including ethnographic field recordings.

Other new music includes:

After two releases devoted to big band jazz and swing, singer Robin McKelle has turned to a bit of rhythm 'n' blues on her new CD, "Mess Around." "It's a project that spans a number of genres: soul, blues and jazz-all musical styles I love and which define my personality," McKelle says. "It has quite a '60s flavor, inspired by the albums Ray Charles and Nina Simone were making at the time." Its themes are drawn from very different sources, including Willie Dixon, the Beatles, Leonard Cohen and Doc Pomus. Special guests include Houston Person, Fred Wesley, and Marvin Sewell.

Also this week, saxophonist Paul Carr returns to his Houston, Texas, roots, inspired by mentors like Arnett Cobb and Don Wilkerson, for his new disc, "Straight Ahead Soul"; the sultry-voiced Brazilian singer Kenia, who reemerged on the jazz scene two years ago, serves up one of the most demanding and satisfying projects of her three decade-long career with Kenia Celebrates Dorival Caymmi; and the dynamic guitarist Corey Christiansen returns with another grooving soul-jazz offering, Outlaw Tractor.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Music: Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden, Phil Woods, Dr. Lonnie - Bob

The last time Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden were together on record was a live disc in 1976, a document from the final days of Jarrett's great American Quartet. In the interim, the two have each separately given renewed attention to the music of the Great American Songbook, Jarrett in his widely-admired Standards ensembles, and Haden with his Quartet West. Early in 2007 Jarrett was invited to contribute some reminiscences to a film documentary about Haden. This led to some informal playing together and, ultimately, to "Jasmine", their first collaboration in 30 years.

Saxophonist Phil Woods and the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble began their association with a series of performances at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago back in 2004 which resulted in a recording that received widespread critical acclaim. Since that time, Woods has performed with the band on several occasions, including many performances at area high schools and jazz festivals. Early last year they completed recording sessions for their latest project, "Solitude", featuring a program of Woods originals arranged by members of the DePaul Jazz Studies faculty, Ensemble members and alumni, and Woods himself. The disc also features his Grammy Award-winning rhythm section of pianist Jim McNeely, bassist Steve Gilmore and drummer Bill Goodwin.

Dr. Lonnie Smith, who headlines the Iowa City Jazz Festival July 4, unveils his new CD, "Spiral; Grover Live", a never-before-released live performance by Grover Washington Jr. from 1997.

And Trumpeter Ken Watters and his trio combine the most powerful and seductive Caribbean styles with a broad mix of other musical traditions on "Riyel."