Monday, March 19, 2012

Newly Discovered Wes Montgomery - Bob Stewart

With a lot of sleuthing and a team of experts on the case, long-lost tapes of Wes Montgomery have been discovered and restored. "Echoes of Indiana Avenue" is the first full album of previously unheard Montgomery music in over 25 years. The tapes are the earliest known recordings of the guitarist as a leader, pre-dating his auspicious 1959 debut on Riverside. The disc showcases Montgomery in performance from 1957-1958 at nightclubs in his hometown of Indianapolis as well as rare studio recordings. Joined by such Naptown colleagues as keyboardist Melvin Rhyne and his brothers Monk and Buddy on bass and piano, Wes swings with blistering abandon on a program of burners and ballads.

Monday, March 12, 2012

On the Vanguard with Esperanza and Vijay - Bob Stewart

On the Vanguard with Esperanza and Vijay

It hasn't taken Esperanza Spalding long to emerge as one of the brightest lights in the musical world, with a unique and style-spanning presence deeply rooted in jazz yet destined to make her mark far beyond the jazz realm. Just last year she became the first jazz musician to receive the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Her new CD -- "Radio Music Society" -- is a companion of sorts to her last release, "Chamber Music Society." As the bassist and singer explains, "Originally I thought it would be fun to release a double album. One disc with an intimate, subtle exploration of chamber works and a second one in which jazz musicians explore song forms and melodies that are formatted more along the lines of what we would categorize at 'pop songs.'" The music on the new disc is realized by many of the brilliant musicians who are part of Esperanza's ever-expanding universe, including Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, Terri Lyne Carrington, Lionel Loueke and Billy Hart.

Pianist/composer Vijay Iyer's career has moved on an ever-accelerating arc over the past decade-and-a-half, with the Indian-American artist earning a slew of international honors for his intrepid, multi-hued vision of 21st-century music. The latest chapter of this compelling story in contemporary jazz comes with the Vijay Iyer Trio's "Accelerando" -- a CD driven by the visceral, universal, intoxicating experience of rhythm. He and his band mates-bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore-light up material that ranges from a brace of bold Iyer originals and pieces by great composers like Ellington, Herbie Nichols and Henry Threadgill to surprising interpretations of vintage and recent pop and funk tunes by Michael Jackson, Heatwave and Flying Lotus.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Teenie Tunes; Cool Kosins - Bob Stewart

A groundbreaking exhibition, "Teenie Harris, Photographer: an American Story" opened at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh in October. It celebrates this artist/photographer whose work is considered one of the most complete portraits of the 20th Century African American experience. "Hill District Beat" is an enhanced CD featuring over 100 of Harris' most iconic images of luminaries of his day synced to an original soundtrack performed by the MCG Jazz All Stars. This collection of musicians associated with the MCG Jazz family includes pianist David Budway, bassist Dwayne Dolphin, drummer Roger Humphries and trumpeter Tom Williams.

For the last fifteen years or so, Kathy Kosins has become famous as one of the most successful jazz singers of the contemporary era. Since 2010, she has adapted to the changing needs of the music industry by releasing a regular series of digital singles. So, when she announces a new album, it's abundantly clear that this won't be just an arbitrary assemblage of random tunes, but a very special collection of specific songs connected to each other. The new CD, her fifth, is titled "To the Ladies of Cool" and the songs all derive from the repertoire of four canonical female singers of the 1950s: Anita O'Day, June Christy, Chris Connor, and Julie London. Kosins has sifted through an enormous selection of songs and found the ones that match her voice and style, creating a 'toast' to four artists who continue to inspire her.