Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Goodies - Bob

It might be the parties. Or maybe it's the roasting of chestnuts. Or the caroling out in the snow. Whatever the reason, most people consider the holiday season to be the most wonderful time of the year. That's exactly the case among the members of Take 6, the a cappella group that has been mixing elements of jazz, gospel, R&B and vintage doo-wop for nearly 25 years. Recipients of 10 Grammy Awards, the group has made an indelible musical and cultural mark in the past quarter century. Their new holiday CD -- "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" -- is a collection of heartwarming seasonal favorites.

John Sheridan's Dream Band's "Hooray for Christmas", on the other hand, is not your usual Holiday album. As explained in the disc's liner notes, "With a single happy exception, John Sheridan stays away from the pre-tested tried and true Christmas songs and, drawing upon his vast knowledge of American popular music, offers up a program of overlooked and underappreciated gems that in their freshness, along with the joyful enthusiasm with which they are played, summon forth some of the fullness of good feeling that the holiday season was originally meant to convey."

Also: drummer Matt Wilson's "Christmas Tree-O" performs a collection of everyone's favorite holiday tunes in Wilson's always-unique style; Wynton Marsalis presents his first holiday release in 20 years, "Christmas Jazz Jam", which is rooted in the spirit of New Orleans and the gospel church.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gadd's Gang Live - Bob

Steve Gadd has had a remarkable career during the past 40 years, working with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie and Chick Corea to Maynard Ferguson and George Benson. When it comes to his own projects, the drummer loves to play good-time groove music that has the danceable qualities and bluesiness of the best R&B along with the adventurous solos and impeccable musicianship of jazz. On his new CD -- "Live at Voce" -- he's joined by organist Joey DeFrancesco, the passionate baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber, and the versatile guitarist Paul Bollenback, a quartet which has been together since 2007 creating grooves and hard-driving swing that are reminiscent of the best organ groups of the '60s.

Also notable. In a diverse career spanning three decades, keyboardist Pete Levin has performed with hundreds of jazz artists, including Miles Davis, David Sanborn, and Wayne Shorter, along with a 15-year association with Gil Evans and an 8-year stint with Jimmy Giuffre. His new CD "Jump!" documents his continuing efforts to push the envelope of the traditional organ trio. The set features a collaboration with the remarkable guitarist Dave Stryker, legendary drummer Lenny White, and dazzling percussionist Manolo Badrena.

Also out with new music this week: Japanese trumpeter Takuya Kuroda makes his debut as a leader, "Bitter and High"; trumpeter and Chicago native Brad Goode unveils his exciting new quartet on "Tight Like This"; and veteran keyboardist and composer Bill O'Connell features saxophonist Steve Slage, trombonist Conrad Herwig and vibraphonist Dave Samuels on his new release, "Rhapsody in Blue."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Strings Attached - Bob

Russell Malone has been a significant figure in the jazz world for more than two decades. One of his most pivotal career-shaping experiences was as part of organist Jimmy Smith's band in the late-80s. He's also spent time working in the bands of Diana Krall, Harry Connick Jr., Sonny Rollins, and Ron Carter among other notables. For his ninth release as a leader -- "Triple Play" -- he once again cements his reputation as a pre-eminent jazz guitarist, composer and bandleader in a piano-less trio setting with bassist David Wong and drummer Montez Coleman.

Guitarist Kevin Eubanks held one of the most coveted chairs in television for nearly 15 years as the leader of the Tonight Show band, when his muse struck and prompted him to take his axe and move on. Before taking the TV gig that boasted talents like Branford Marsalis and the venerated Doc Severinsen, Eubanks had an acclaimed recording career garnering many awards along the way. He resumes that career with "Zen Food", a new disc which finds him in the company of his favorite players, most of whom can be found jamming with him at L.A.'s famed Baked Potato.

Also out with new music, veteran drummer Louis Hayes and his Jazz Communicators, featuring pianist Mulgew Miller and vibraphonist Steve Nelson, offer up "Lou's Idea"; pianist and composer Leslie Pintchik, who first surfaced on the Manhattan jazz scene in a trio with legendary bassist Red Mitchell, unveils her third release as leader, "We're Here to Listen"; and Boston-based pianist and composer Pamela Hines presents her seventh release, "Moon Germs."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

KCCK's Military Veterans

Veterans Day 2010 - we note several KCCK staffers who are veterans of military service.

Mark Yother was in the Air Force for three years. He was editor of the base newspaper at Ent Air Force Base in Colorado, then worked in radio and television with the American Forces Korea Network (AFKN) for a year.

George Dorman spent two years in the Army, including a year in Korea -- first in field artillery, later as a reporter/photographer for the 2nd Infantry Division newspaper. He also worked weekends as a radio newscaster and television sportscaster for AFKN.

Cary J. Hahn served four years in the Navy, broadcasting on Armed Forces Radio aboard the USS Hancock aircraft carrier during Vietnam service and on the island of Kodiak, Alaska.

Murray Kent was a news and sports announcer for American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN) and an FM radio music host.

Bob Naujoks spent his entire two-year Army tour at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., managing an enlisted men's service club.

Student Music Producer Josh Roberts is an Army vet who did two tours of duty in Iraq as a helicopter mechanic.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hot Club Sandwich and Other Good Stuff - Bob

Drawing on the Hot Club style of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, Hot Club Sandwich adds in classic Latin American, old-world European and other influences, including a bit of West Coast twang. The fourth release from the Seattle-based band -- "And If Only" -- takes listeners from the smoky cafes of Paris to the hipster backstreets of 1930s Harlem, careening along a winding musical road filled with yodeling cowboys, a band of Mexican violinists, and spirited Gypsy jazz guitar slingers.

The inspiration for trumpeter Chris Davis' new CD -- "Baile Bonita" -- comes from an old, fairly obscure album by Kenny Dorham which consisted of Dorham on trumpet and the great Ernie Henry on alto on the front line plus bass and drums. It was essentially a jam with a head-solos-head format. Davis' date utilizes this instrumentation in a very different way with complex ensemble passages, background riffs, and is much more orchestrated. The same instrumentation was used by Ornette Coleman in his first legendary quartet, but Davis' music is fresh and free like Coleman's but has a strong harmonic structure.

Also out with new music: Brazilian guitarist Sandro Albert, cited by Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip as one of the best young contemporary guitarists and an exquisite composer, unveils his latest quartet release, "Vertical"; saxophonist Eli Degibri is joined by Brad Mehldau, Ron Carter and Al Foster for "Israeli Song"; and young organist Jared Gold, who has plied his craft as a sideman with Randy Napoleon and Oliver Lake, offers up his third release as a leader, "Out of Line."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Spotlight on Piano Trios and Trumpets - Bob

The piano trio is hardly a new concept in jazz. Certainly Cyrus Chestnut has established himself as a giant in that format, through CDs stretching back to his recording debut in 1990 and his countless appearances at clubs, concert halls and festivals throughout the world. Even so, his new release -- "Journeys" -- marks a watershed moment in his ongoing growth as a pianist, composer and bandleader. "This is a trio record as opposed to a piano trio record," he points out. "...It's about three gentlemen paying close attention to each other. Each of us listening to the others, reacting and working together for what I believe is the unique sound of this particular unit." That unit features Dezron Douglas on bass and Neal Smith on drums.

Cornetist Warren Vache and trombonist John Allred put together a quintet a few years ago for a live date in Switzerland, resulting in their first disc as co-leaders. "The live CD we did was a ball," Vache says. "I love playing with these people-they're all very creative and they all have something to say, and it inspires me to keep going. This line-up is something pretty special and it's something I'd like to do more of." Vache and Allred do just that on "Top Shelf", featuring a program of bop, hard-bop and standards. Their band mates include Tardo Hammer on piano, Nicki Parrott on bass and vocal, and Leroy Williams on drums.

Also out with new music: trumpeter/singer and New Orleans mainstay Kermit Ruffins unveils his latest, "Happy Talk"; pianist Pete Malinverni includes some of his original compositions and some popular songs less-used in the jazz context on his new trio release, "A Beautiful Thing"; and trumpeter Joe Magnarelli mixes in string orchestration by Marty Sheller with his own quintet arrangements on "My Old Flame."