Monday, July 25, 2011

Headhunters and 'Bones - Bob Stewart

For many years, Jay Ashby and Steve Davis sat side by side in both the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band and Slide Hampton's World of Trombones, and no matter where they were, the two were constantly mistaken for one another. Chalk it up to an uncanny physical resemblance or their common roots in upstate New York, their shared musical influences, the fact that they both play large horns, or a combination of all these factors. Whatever the reason, it happens frequently enough to have inspired the title of their new CD, "Mistaken Identity." Very few two-trombone recordings have surfaced since the great J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding recordings of the 1960s. This new disc pays homage to these jazz masters while simultaneously taking a fresh look at the possibilities for two-trombone arrangements and repertoire.

"This album is a true fusion of jazz, salsa, New Orleans, hip hop, rap, African rhythm and its classical forms. This is the most fun we've had making a Headhunter CD and we're excited to see how people react to our new album, Platinum." So say percussionists Bill Summers and Mike Clark of the Headhunters, the legendary jazz-funk fusion band founded in 1973 by Herbie Hancock. The band went on to produce more seminal records on their own and has been acclaimed for its musical pioneering and innovative concepts. The new release also features saxophonist Donald Harrison and bassist Richie Goods, with guests including Patrice Rushen, George Clinton and original Headhunter Bennie Maupin.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Woods/Mays Duo; Monty's Milestone - Bob Stewart

Grammy-winner and multiple nominee Phil Woods is one of the top alto saxophonists alive, and he has lost neither his enthusiasm nor his creativity throughout his illustrious career. He's worked with a who's who of the jazz world, including Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones. Pianist Bill Mays has his own long-standing trio, plus he's worked with such artists as Gerry Mulligan, Sonny Stitt, and Art Pepper. After Mays joined Woods' Quintet a few years back, talk began of doing a duo recording. They came together last September to record "Phil & Bill", which includes a handful of off-the-beaten-path standards and a couple of Woods originals.

In a career spanning five decades, pianist Monty Alexander has distinctively bridged the worlds of jazz, popular song, and the music of his native Jamaica. With over 70 albums to his name, Alexander celebrates his 50th year in music with "Harlem-Kingston Express: Live." It presents his most "reggaefied" touring group yet which, for the past few years, has defined a bold new chapter in Alexander's lifetime journey of uniting jazz with reggae and a wide array of other Island musical idioms he holds dear. A majority of the disc was recorded live during the group's triumphant week at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in New York City in June of last year, which the Wall Street Journal called, "an outrageously good time."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Clayton's Latest; An H2 Debut; Rapson's New Project - Bob Stewart

A 2010 Downbeat Magazine Critic's Poll Rising Star, pianist and composer Gerald Clayton has been steadily honing his craft since high school. With the release of his Grammy-nominated debut CD in 2009, Clayton began to make his mark as a leader in the jazz community. His dynamic sound has been praised by publications such as Jazz Times, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. His second disc as a leader -- "Bond: The Paris Sessions" -- features his trio mates Joe Sanders on bass and Justin Brown on drums, providing him with the vehicle to explore and expand on his own vision of the music.

"You're It" is the debut release from the H2 Big Band out of Denver, Colorado, a collaboration of trumpeter Al Hood and pianist/composer/arranger Dave Hanson. It features world-class soloists and players from the Mile High City and beyond, including veterans from the bands of Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Artie Shaw and Toshiko Akiyoshi. Trumpet legend Bobby Shew is also in the spotlight, playing on all the tracks as either soloist, lead player, or section trumpeter. Hanson offers up a program of originals and his unique arrangements of tunes by Miles Davis, Clifford Brown and Cy Coleman.

John Rapson, Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Iowa, has unveiled his latest project -- "Mystery and Manners: the Improvisations of Vinicius and Nene" -- featuring Brent Sandy, Chris Merz and Drew Morton.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Wilson Salutes Chicago, New Snidero CD - Bob Stewart

Gerald Wilson, the reigning composer/orchestrator in jazz today, pays homage to his adopted hometown of Chicago on his new CD-- "Legacy" -- featuring his "Yes Chicago Is..." suite. Composers Igor Stravinsky and Giacomo Puccini also receive Wilson's musical tips of the hat. Wilson's son, guitarist Anthony Wilson, and grandson Eric Otis are also represented by a composition/arrangement apiece. Wilson's orchestra comprises many of the great jazz artists who have been his collaborators over the last four years, including Renee Rosnes, Lewis Nash, Sean Jones, Jeremy Pelt, Dick Oatts, Gary Smulyan, and Peter Washington.

Described as being "soulful, swinging and yet utterly modern," New York-based alto saxophonist Jim Snidero's music seems to encapsulate what is both unique and compelling about jazz. Called an "alto sax virtuoso" and "master musician" by Downbeat magazine, Snidero is a veteran recording artist with sixteen releases to date. He's also been a valuable sideman in the bands of Jack McDuff, Eddie Palmieri, and the Mingus Big Band over the years. Snidero exercises his composing chops on "Interface" -- penning all the tunes on the program and drawing an astonishing array of colors from the sax-guitar-bass-drums quartet combination.