Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New Music Monday, Christmas Style

New Music Monday Playlist on Youtube and Spotify
      The Hammond organ may just be the musical instrument best suited to Christmas and holiday-themed music. It produces a gloriously warm, rich and full-bodied sound, the aural equivalent of a hug from Santa Claus. Place that instrument in the hands of a genuine virtuoso and you have the recipe for an instant classic of a Christmas album. Which is precisely what Joey DeFrancesco has produced with “Home for the Holidays,” the first holiday album of his 25-year career. Disc one of the two disc set features many of the most popular Christmas and holiday songs ever recorded, “the typical Christmas party songs,” as Joey puts it. DeFrancesco calls disc two “the more traditional liturgical side of Christmas music. 

     American soprano Renee Fleming’s first-ever holiday album celebrates the beloved and iconic Christmas season in New York City. From the holiday windows lining 5th Avenue to the red and green-lit spire of the Empire State Building, the essence of the city at the most wonderful time of the year is captured on “Christmas in New York.” Jazz notables Wynton Marsalis, Kurt Elling, Brand Mehldau, Gregory Porter and Chris Botti join Renee has she lends her sublime voice to a program of seasonal gems.

     Also in the holiday spirit this week, guitarist Larry Carlton takes an intimate approach on nine new arrangements of classic holiday songs on “Four Hands and a Heart Christmas”; award-winning trumpeter and bandleader Irvin Mayfield debuts his first disc of holiday music with “A New Orleans Creole Christmas,” with his handpicked small ensemble the New Orleans Jazz Playhouse Revue; Mack Avenue Records celebrates the season with its brightest stars in a collection of familiar and not-so-familiar holiday tunes with “It’s Christmas on Mack Avenue,” including Sean Jones, Christian McBride, Cyrille Aimee, Hot Club of Detroit and Sachal Vasandani; and contemporary jazz vocalist Maysa unwraps “A Very Maysa Christmas.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New Music Monday for November 24, 2014

New Music Monday for November 24, 2014

Click here for the New Music Monday Playlist on Youtube or on the individual links below.

Click here for our new Playlist on Spotify.

     Dayna Stephens has developed into one of the most important saxophone stylists playing today. His lush tone on tenor, soprano and baritone has led to his involvement with musicians of legendary status and those of the scene nouveau, from Al Foster and Kenny Barron to Taylor Eigsti and Ambrose Akinmusire. For his new recording, “Peace,” Stephens focuses on interpreting intimate and heartfelt compositions that harken back to the major ballad players like Lester Young, Ben Webster and Dexter Gordon. The musicians selected to fill out his ensemble include one of his influences, the fantastic pianist Brad Mehldau, wunderkind guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Eric Harland.

     “Playing with the Mu’tet is a dream come true to me. Making music with these amazing players is like eating homemade ice cream on a hot day!” That’s reedman Jeff Coffin talking about his band mates in his Mu’tet, which takes its name from the word mutation, clearly reflecting Coffin’s philosophy that music must continue to change and mutate in order to grow. A longtime member of Bela Fleck’s Flecktones and now a part of the Dave Matthews Band, Coffin and the Mu’tet blend music from the deep wells of funk, African, New Orleans, Indian, jazz, rock, Brazilian and other cultures of music. The new CD, “Side Up,” features an all-star group including Felix Pastorius on bass and Futureman on percussion. 
     Also this week, Hungary’s iconic guitarist, composer and arranger Attila Laszlo and world-renowned drummer, composer and arranger, Hungarian-born Ferenc Nemeth, composed the music for their new CD, “Bridges of Souls,” with two of jazz fusion’s greats in mind, Russell Ferrante and Jimmy Haslip of Yellowjackets fame, who complete their quartet; “Questioned Answer” is the intergenerational collaboration between Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Brian Lynch and new piano star on the modern jazz horizon Emmet Cohen; and pianist Dana Landry  and his trio celebrate the jazz musicians of a great American musical city with “Memphis Skyline,” including new interpretations pieces by Hank Crawford, Charles Lloyd, Phineas Newborn, Jr. and others.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New Music Monday for November 17

 New Music Monday for November 17, 2014

Click here for the New Music Monday Playlist on Youtube or on the individual links below.
Click here for our new Playlist on Soundcloud.

     “While their acoustic instrumentation, virtuosity, and improvisational brio scream jazz, their music displays influences from all over the map, including classical, rock, ambient, and electronica. James Farm has big ears. And the quartet grooves fiercely.” That’s the Boston Globe talking about the quartet James Farm, featuring saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland. They’ve performed in this exact configuration since their debut at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2009. Their sophomore release, “City Folk,” is comprised of a new collection of ten original tunes written by all four members of the collaborative band. As Penman describes them, “In general, we like to let the songs lead the way, and each of these tunes is like a mini world unto itself with its own ecosystem and hidden places to discover.”

     When you visit a franchise restaurant, you always know what will be on the menu and what it will taste like. When you listen to a Bill O’Connell recording you may not know what is on the menu, but you’re guaranteed it’ll be a gourmet delight. For O’Connell’s new CD, “Imagine,” as with his previous recordings, the gifted veterans and leaders in their own right, Conrad Herwig on trombone and saxophonist Steve Slagle, add their prowess to the mix. On the bass is one of New York’s first call rhythm men, Luques Curtis, who was also part of Bill’s prior CD, as was percussionist Richie Flores, who has been playing with O’Connell for more than a decade. The newcomer to the group is drummer Richie Barshay, who has an impressive resume that includes a stint with Herbie Hancock. 

     Also this week, New York harmonica ace Hendrik Meurkens teams up again with Mexican bassist Gabriel Espinosa, who heads the jazz department at Central College in Pella, for “Samba Little Samba, featuring nine new Brazilian-style originals; veteran saxophonist Houston Person is joined by vibraphonist Steve Nelson for his new disc, “The Melody Lingers On”;  and saxophonist John David Simon exhibits impressive writing and performing skills on his third release as a leader, “Phantasm.”

Click here for "Phantasm"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New Music Monday for November 10, 2014

 New Music Monday for November 10, 2014

Click here for the New Music Monday Playlist on YouTube or on the individual spotify playlists below. 

     “There’s something about being the age I’m at now,” reflects iconic guitar hero Bill Frisell.” I turned 63 this past spring, and after playing for more than 50 years, it just feels right to once again play some of the music which shaped my consciousness during my formative years, even to play some of it for the first time.” As a baby boomer who came of age in the 1950’s and ‘60s, there is an undeniably autobiographical bent to the tenor and tone of the repertoire which Frisell explores on “Guitar in the Space Age,” along with long-time collaborators Greg Leisz on pedal steel and electric guitar, Tony Scherr on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums and vibes. The disc, says Frisell, “isn’t really an exercise in nostalgia, but about a re-commitment to keep learning, to firm up the foundation—and to showcase one of the best bands I’ve ever had.”

     Banjoist Bela Fleck has praised vibraphonist Jason Marsalis for “brilliant ideas that sound as if he’s played them his whole life but are really coming off the top of his head.”  Some of those brilliant ideas are on display on Marsalis’ second release with his Vibes Quartet, “The 21st Century Trad Band.”  Backed once again by Will Goble on bass, Austin Johnson on piano and David Potter on drums, the disc puts a spotlight on the growing synergy between these young and talented musicians. In addition to including original compositions from his band mates, Marsalis has taken a step further in encouraging the vanguard of the next generation of jazz by including compositions from a couple of young graduates of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.

    Also this week, “The Art of Conversation” showcases the duo partnership of pianist Kenny Barron and bassist Dave Holland with a simple, beautifully understated mix of standards and originals; pianist Marcus Roberts and his new big band the Modern Jazz Generation offer up “Romance, Swing, and the Blues”; and acclaimed multi-reed instrumentalist Steve Heckman is joined by guitarist Howard Alden and others on his fourth album, “Search for Peace.”

A Little of the DG Thing - Dennis Green

I've had a great time over the last few months, holding down KCCK's Saturday morning shift, which I dubbed the Saturday Morning Thing. I tried to do my friend Doug Jackson proud, and enjoyed talking with his friends and mine during the show.

We've recently added a talented personality to the KCCK stable, Ward Grant, to take over Saturday mornings, and even in these early days, he's doing a fabulous job.

But I already miss doing the show, and while I'm not going to joggle Ward's elbow, I thought it might be fun to play around with offering you some music in a different listening context.

Below is a link to a Spotify playlist entitled "The DG Thing." If you enjoyed my Saturday show, I think you'll enjoy this list.

And if you do enjoy it, and would like to hear more, let me know in the comments and I'll periodically post other playlists.