Monday, February 27, 2012

Live Sets from Jordan and Moulder - Bob Stewart

2012 NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan's performances are always intriguing blends of imaginative music making and deeply felt, richly emotional storytelling. More than many performing artists, she lays her life on the line with everything she sings. And more than any other jazz vocalist she reflects the power of the instrumentalists who shaped her musical life. She alone, it seems, can combine Rolllins' drive and Parker's soaring invention with Ella's spunk and Billie's passion. Sheila has always enjoyed performing in duet with an acoustic bassist. For her new CD -- "Yesterdays" -- a previously unreleased performance from 1990, she's in a live setting with Harvie S.

Known for his ability to create masterful studio recordings of his sweeping, cinemagraphic musical visions, guitarist John Moulder transports a live audience at Chicago's venerable Green Mill Jazz Club on his new CD, "The Eleventh Hour." Of the performance, the Chicago Tribune's Howard Reich wrote "...the music-making often achieved a quiet serenity, bringing a capacity audience to a whisper. There's simply no way to converse when music of such profundity and grace is unfolding." Along with saxophonist Geof Bradfield, pianist Jim Trompeter, Larry Gary on bass, and his long-time collaborator Paul Wertico on drums, Moulder adds another dimension to his powerful body of recorded work.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Beat of Different Drummers, A First Call Trombonist - Bob Stewart

"There are a few more emphatically dazzling drummers working today, but almost nobody in Wilson's peer group with a broader sense of jazz history, or a more natural sense of time, or a stronger signature as a bandleader, or more goodwill among his fellow players." That's Nate Chinen of Jazz Times magazine speaking of Matt Wilson, who is beloved world-wide for being one of jazz music's most imaginative, entertaining and fun-loving spirits. He was voted 2011 Drummer of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, an honor he was also awarded in 2003. In addition to maintaining an active schedule as a performer, bandleader and recording artist, Wilson is a dedicated teaching artist. His outreach work and reputation as a community builder has helped establish him as a treasured ambassador for the music. "An Attitude for Gratitude" is the fourth release by his award-winning Arts & Crafts ensemble, an extraordinary collective of musical personalities featuring Wilson, trumpeter Terell Stafford, keyboardist Gary Versace and bassist Martin Wind.

Steve Turre demonstrates once again why he is one of the first call trombonists in the world on his new disc -- "Woody's Delight" -- an aptly named homage to his mentor and former boss, Woody Shaw. "He liked trumpet and saxophone," says Turre," but thought it had been done to the max...Woody said our group with trumpet and trombone was 'fresh air,' the favorite of all the groups he'd had." Turre offers an intensely interesting program featuring five of today's greatest trumpeters in a program that captures at once Shaw's fierce intensity, his limitless imagination and versatility. On hand to help are trumpeters Jon Faddis, Wallace Roney, Claudio Roditi, Freddie Hendrix and Chocolate Armenteros.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Live Set from SF Jazz Collective, New Music from Johnathan Blake - Bob Stewart

If you aren't already familiar with the eight artists who make up the SF Jazz Collective, you will be. As soloists, composers and bandleaders, they represent what's happening now in jazz. More than master instrumentalists, each member is possessed of a totally individual creative voice, working collectively to express a unified musical identity. They also demonstrate that jazz has truly become an international language. Hailing from Puerto Rico, Israel, Venezuela, New Zealand and the U.S., the Collective's multi-cultural line-up mirrors the explosion of jazz talent around the globe. Familiar players like Miguel Zenon, Robin Eubanks, Avishai Cohen, Stefon Harris and others were recorded at the Jazz Standard in New York across a five-night run for "Live in New York 2011-Season 8" featuring fresh arrangements of the music of Stevie Wonder and original compositions by group members.

Drummer/composer Johnathan Blake has been an integral part of the working groups of Tom Harrell, David Sanchez, Russell Malone and Kenny Barron for years. Born and raised in Philadelphia, he is the son of jazz violinist John Blake and carries on the family tradition of great music making. Though he is extremely active as a sideman, Blake has made a concerted effort to create his own ensemble with a sound. He was able accomplish this by enlisting a true murderer's row of jazz heavy hitters, friends and longtime collaborators, including saxophonists Jaleel Shaw and Mark Turner and bassist Ben Street. For his debut CD -- "The Eleventh Hour" -- he's also included special guests Harrell, Robert Glasper, Tim Warfield and Gregoire Maret.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Worldy and Cool - Bob Stewart

Elio Villafranca and Arturo Stable, two Cuban-born maestros of jazz and world music,
unveil "Dos Y Mas" -- the debut recording of their new piano and percussion collaboration. The intimate musical journey was sparked nine years ago when the pair met for the first time while working for Jane Bunnett's Spirits of Havana band. Together and separately, the two have developed loyal followings both as leaders and for their work with Wynton Marsalis, Pat Martino, Esperanza Spalding and others. Villafranca's virtuosic and multifaceted pianism engages Stable's poly-rhythmic percussion genius on 10 originals that pay tribute to the spiritual, classical and traditional legacies of Cuba, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Spain.

Saxophonist Bruce Babad is best known for his recordings with Luther Hughes' Cannonball/Coltrane Project and the Bill Holman Band. On his new release -- "A Tribute to Paul Desmond" -- recorded live at the A-Frame in Hollywood, Babad reveals his cool, lyrical style as he pays homage to the jazz master. Doug Ramsey, author of "Take Five: the Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond," says Babad "approximates Desmond's relaxation and lyricism with imitating him. From a pure sound standpoint, he is almost eerily like his predecessor, but in the blowing choruses his harmonic approach and tonal characteristics earmark his individuality."