Bruce Barth, despite his professorship at Temple University, is no stodgy jazz egghead. He is a working musician with an abundance of technique, a seemingly bottomless well of ideas and is a composer of considerable skill with a contemporary and inventive approach. Early professional engagements included those with jazz masters Nat Adderly and Stanley Turrentine. He's been leading his own ensembles on disc since the late '90s. His new CD, "Three Things of Beauty", features mostly originals by the pianist with along with a tune each by Gershwin and Coltrane. Joining Barth's trio on the front line is the masterful vibes player Steve Nelson.
Tenor saxophonist and Detroit native JD Allen is a member of the third wave of Young Lion mainstream jazz players. Upon his arrival in New York City, his apprenticeship included work with such notables as Ron Carter, Jack DeJohnette and Frank Foster. For his fifth release as a leader, "The Matador and the Bull", Allen is back with colleagues Greg August on bass and Rudy Royston on drums, both of whom have been his regular partners on the bandstand and in the studio since 2008. They go about their business with a minimum of muss and fuss; a robust and focused melodic articulation with great rhythmic drive. The tracks are short; they get in, make a statement, essay some variations, and get out-short and sweet and intense.
Also this week, reed man Michael Pedicin is captured in concert with his quintet "Live at the Loft"; pianist Joe Alterman unveils his second disc, "Give Me the Simple Life", featuring Houston Person and James Cammack; and trombonist Bill Cantrall offers up his sophomore release with his band Axiom, "Live at the Kitano."