Monday, September 27, 2010

Barbecued Jazz; Oregon Milestone - Bob

Connoisseurs of the Kansas City barbecue scene are certainly familiar with the world renowned Gates Barbecue. Saxophonist Bobby Watson, who leads the jazz studies program at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, is a huge fan. "Kansas City is the Napa Valley of barbecue," he says. "Gates' Barbecue stands alone as king of the valley!" He's such a big fan that he's written a suite in honor of the legendary chain, "The Gates BBQ Suite", featuring Watson with the UMKC Concert Jazz Orchestra. Asked why he chose to write about barbecue, Watson explains, "...the way I compose is similar to the way Duke Ellington composed, which is to find a theme, not necessarily a musical one."

The band Oregon has achieved a rare milestone - 40 years of making music together. The innovative quartet has become one of the leading improvisational groups by blending Indian and Western classical music with jazz, folk, and avant-garde elements. Their new CD, "In Stride", reflects the compositional talents of the four musicians, drawing upon Mediterranean moods that cross with European traditions, incorporating influences from South America, and drawing upon the American tradition of melding traditions.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Scofield-Mendoza Collaboration, Lloyd's New Quartet - Bob

The collaboration heard on John Scofield's new CD -- "54" -- had its origins back in the '90s when Vince Mendoza asked the guitarist to play on his first album. Scofield has since been on two more of Mendoza's records. When Mendoza assumed directorship of the Metropole Orchestra of the Netherlands in 2005, he and Scofield decided to collaborate again with primary focus on Mendoza's arrangements of Scofield compositions as performed with the Orchestra. Scofield says, "Vince is one of the most creative arrangers today and his sensibilities are perfect for my compositions. This orchestra is unique to any other I know of in its ability to play with a natural jazz feeling."

Many critics have opined that Charles Lloyd's new quartet with pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rodgers and drummer Eric Harland may be the best of all his groups. The quartet's previous live release in this line-up met with across-the-board approval and was voted number one album of the years in both the Critics and Readers Polls of Jazz Times magazine. "Mirror" is the first studio CD by the unit and it features beautiful, transformed versions of favorites including both Lloyd originals and tunes he has made his own over the years.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Sound of Latin America - Bob

Born in Quivican, Cuba, in 1941, Chucho Valdes is one of Cuba's most famous pianists, bandleaders, composers and arrangers. Perhaps best known for founding the famous Latin jazz band Irakere in 1972, Chucho's illustrious career has also garnered him six Grammy wins and 16 nominations over the past three decades. He's recorded over 80 CDs and performed with everyone from Herbie Hancock and Dizzy Gillespie to Wynton Marsalis and Chick Corea. Chucho's new CD, "Chucho's Steps", with the Afro-Cuban Jazz Messengers, marks his return to the U.S. for the first time in 7 years.

Grammy Award-winner Danilo Perez is among the most influential and dynamic musicians of our time. In just over a decade, his distinctive blend of Pan-American jazz has attracted critical acclaim and loyal audiences. The Panama native first attracted the spotlight in the late-'80s as the youngest member of Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra. Since then, the pianist has toured and/or recorded with jazz greats like Wayne Shorter, Roy Haynes and Michael Brecker. In 1993, he turned his focus to his own ensembles and recording projects. His new release, "Providencia", crosses streams of jazz, classical and Latin American folk music.

Also out with new music: singer Cynthia Felton showcase the Ellington songbook on "Come Sunday"; saxophonist and composer Albert Rivera, whom DownBeat Magazine touts as "part of the next wave in this jazz ritual," unveils his second release, "Inner Peace"; and veteran guitarist and composer Tom Rizzo, originally a member of Doc Severinsen's fusion group Xebron and a regular member of the Tonight Show Band in its final Carson years, is joined by a stellar new ensemble of some of L.A.'s finest on "Imaginary Numbers."

Monday, September 6, 2010

The "Bones" of September - Bob

Few can match Steve Turre's skill as a trombonist. His technical mastery has seen him win five Down Beat magazine polls. Since his formative experience as a teenager playing alongside Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Turre has gone on to play with artists such as Ray Charles, B.B. King, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie and McCoy Tyner. He can also be found playing in Cuban maestro Arutro O'Farrill's orchestra and the "Saturday Night Live" band. For his new disc, "Delicious and Delightful", Turre is joined by sax great Billy Harper, pianist Larry Willis, with whom Steve had worked in Shaw's band, and guitarist Russell Malone.

After reimagining the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter on previous releases, trombonist Conrad Herwig continues his "Latin Side" series of discs by highlighting the compositions of iconic jazz pianist Herbie Hancock. "The Latin Side of Herbie Hancock" was recorded live at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York, and features reigning jazz giant pianist Eddie Palmieri and trumpeter Randy Brecker. With arrangements provided by Herwig and pianist Bill O'Connell, the recording includes classic Hancock tunes like "Cantaloupe Island," "Watermelon Man" and "The Sorcerer."

Also out with new music: Pianist Larry Goldings and saxophonist Harry Allen collaborate on a sophisticated and magnetic project, "When Larry Met Harry"; pianist and composer Dave Bass, whose music career was put in jeopardy 20 years ago after a wrist fracture and who went on to law school and his current gig as a California Deputy Attorney General in civil rights enforcement, is joined by Ernie Watts and Mary Stallings on "Gone"; and trumpeter Jim Rotondi has vibraphonist Joe Locke and drummer and Iowa native Bill Stewart in his quintet for "1000 Rainbows."