Monday, July 26, 2010

Burrell Live at Dizzy's - Bob

From the very start of his career in the early '50s, Kenny Burrell has been described as a bop and hard bop guitarist. Some of his early recordings supported this description, but like all the great players, Burrell brings his own unique style and sound to his playing. The bop elements are there, to be sure, along with blues and a great blend of the two styles, but he exhibits a much gentler, more melodic and expressive style of play. And he consistently proves himself to be an exceptional soloist. The diversity and elegance of Burrell's playing is evident throughout his new CD -- "Be Yourself" -- recorded live with his quintet at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in New York City.

"A Handful of Stars" is a most apt description for Los Angeles' first-call baritone saxophonist Adam Schroeder's debut release as a leader. He's been featured over the years with the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Clark Terry, Ray Charles, and Anthony Wilson's Nonet. Shroeder has assembled a hard-swinging and sublimely sensitive quartet with veterans John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton, and rising star guitarist Graham Dechter on a program of originals and works by Ellington, Hefti, Porter and Quincy Jones.

Other new musuc: Bassist Charnett Moffet explores both the inner and outer limits of jazz composition, with solo and duo works, the trio format, and a larger ensemble on his new disc, "Treasure"; Michael Dease, whom jazz masters and critics alike have pegged as one of the most impressive trombonists of his generation, offers up his third release as leader, "Grace"; and contemporary jazz keyboardist David Benoit shines on "Earthglow."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mintzer Organ Project - Bob

In the jazz world, Bob Mintzer is a household name, usually associated with being a reed man, composer, arranger, leader of a Grammy Award-winning big band, member of the Yellowjackets, and educator. For his new project, "Canyon Cove", he was inspired by the rich sound of the Hammond B3 combined with the close-knit feeling of the organ trio. Much of his original music on the disc is a nod to the older generation of organists like Groove Holmes, Jimmy McGriff, and Jimmy Smith, but also acknowledges subsequent players like Joey De Francesco, Lonnie Smith and Charles Earland. He's joined in this endeavor by another stellar organist, Larry Goldings, and drummer Peter Erskine.

Meanwhile, Pianist Hilario Duran's career began more than four decades ago in Cuba, where he was a member and arranger of two of that country's most illustrious orchestras. He also gathered up the remnants of the band Irakere after the departures of Paquito D'Rivera and Arturo Sandoval, serving as its musical director until he left to live in Canada. For the follow-up to his Grammy-nominated, Juno Award-winning Latin big band recording of last year, Duran brings together a power trio comprised of bassist Robert Occhipinti and drummer Mark Kelso for "Motion."

Other new musuc: Icelandic pianist Sunna Gunnlaugs unveils her sixth releases as a leader, "The Dream", having returned to her native land from New York City five years ago; Larry Carlton teams up with Japanese guitarist Tak Matsumoto on a program of fusion fretwork, "Take Your Pick"; and Washington D.C.-based saxophonist Jeff Antoniuk steps out with his second CD with his band the Jazz Update on "Brotherhood."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Holiday/Piaf Tribute from Marsallis & Galliano - Bob

Hailed as an extremely versatile musician who is able to masterfully navigate many musical contexts and genres, the French accordionist Richard Galliano has collaborated with jazz greats like Chet Baker, Ron Carter and Charlie Haden over the years. In the summer of 2008, he joined up with multiple-Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and his quintet at the annual Jazz in Marciac Festival in southern France to pay tribute to the late jazz legends Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf. The resulting CD, "The Wynton Marsalis Quintet & Richard Galliano From Billie Holiday to Edith Piaf: Live in Marciac", translates classic jazz vocal compositions into artful instrumental versions that are striking in their rhythmic variety.

Saxophonist Tim Warfield has been associated with the Wynton Marsalis/Lincoln Center post-Young Lions of mainstream jazz for over a decade now, and was also a member of organ great Shirley Horn's ensemble for a number of years. For his sixth release as a leader, "A Sentimental Journey", he offers up an informed, soulful exploration of American Songbook repertoire with his current band of trumpeter Terell Stafford, B3 master Pat Bianchi and drummer Byron Landham.

Other new music: with "Images", trombonist Steve Davis salutes the people and places of Hartford, Connecticut, where he studied with his late mentor Jackie McLean; singer Lucy Woodward displays her formidable songwriting talents on her third release, "Hooked!"; and pianist Russ Kassoff is joined by bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Dennis Mackrel on his sophomore CD, "Bird Fly By."

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Fifth of Stryker/Slagle With a Sip of French Kent - Bob

With 20 years experience together and five discs to its credit now, the Stryker/Slagle Band has proven itself to be one of the most enduring units playing jazz today. The combined talents of guitarist Dave Stryker and saxophonist Steve Slagle as composers and improvisers sets it apart from the many pickup groups assembled just to make a gig or a record. The fifth outing by the band, "Keeper", is the third to partner the pair with the formidable rhythm team of bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Victor Lewis. Recorded after a successful engagement at New York's Jazz Standard, the disc captures the band at its very best, both relaxed and cutting edge.

Singer Stacey Kent has established herself as one of the new century's brightest jazz revelations. Voted best jazz vocalist at the 2001 British Jazz Awards, and the 2002 BBC Jazz Awards, she was also a 2009 Grammy nominee. France became her special stomping ground last year, with a sell-out nationwide tour and the National Order of Arts and Letters decoration, bestowed by the French Minister of Culture. Stacey's new CD, "Raconte-Moi...", was recorded entirely in French, and she sings the language with fluency and flair on great classics of the French musical heritage and original work by talented young songwriters.

Other new music -- Grammy Award-winning guitarist Lee Ritenour celebrates his instrument with "6 String Theory", featuring a star-studded tribute including George Benson, John Scofield, Pat Martino, Mike Stern and B.B. King; drummer Manu Katche dishes up his third helping of contemporary jazz for ECM Records, "Third Round"; and pianist Bob Mamet and his trio highlight ten of Mamet's original tunes on his fourth disc as a leader, "Impromptu."