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."