Wednesday, December 24, 2014

New Music Monday for December 29, 2014



     After leading his legendary group Quest in the 1980s and after over two decades of the Dave Liebman Group, the NEA Jazz Master unveils a brand new band, Expansions. The adventure features members of a new generation of talented musicians eager, like their bandleader, to alter the language of jazz. These musicians, heard on the new CD, “Samsara,” include Bobby Avey on piano, Matt Vashlishan on reeds, Tony Marino on bass and drummer Alex Ritz. The directions are unpredictable and dazzling, with an emphasis on collective improvisation…a milieu seemingly built for Liebman as evidenced in his extraordinarily diverse stylistic career. 
     As a saxophonist and composer, Newhall, Iowa native and Luther College grad Chad Eby has earned widespread critical acclaim as “a consummate improviser” (Jazz Times), who “has tremendous poise and natural melodic sense” (Ottawa Sun), and whose “tone is boundless, blues-inflected, and wholly satisfying” (All About Jazz). His commissioned works have been performed by Wynton Marsalis, Bill Charlap and Kurt Elling, and various jazz orchestras across the country. He is currently assistant professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Music, Theatre and Dance. For his  new CD, he’s put together a quartet to present his music inspired by the work of poet Shel Silverstein on “The Sweet Shel Suite.”
     Also this week, trombonist/composer/arranger Jamie Dubberly and Orquesta Dharma present “La Clave Del Gumbo,” combining the rhythms and sound of New Orleans brass bands with Afro-Cuban jazz and salsa; trombonist Jason Jackson unveils his second disc as a leader, “Inspiration,” featuring Roy Hargrove, Terell Stafford, Pete Christlieb, Dick Oatts and others; and contemporary jazz trumpeter Rick Braun offers up “Can You Feel It.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New Music Monday for December 22, 2014



     Legendary alto saxophonist Richie Cole first heard the Washington DC-based Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet in 2012 and immediately declared them “my new discovery, the whole package.” Cole, who has worked extensively with the Manhattan Transfer, instantly recognized the vocal appeal of the UVJQ and the unique songwriting and arranging talents of their leader, Ginny Carr. A lover of swinging vocal harmonies and a prolific songwriter himself, Cole invited Carr to arrange his own songs for her group and collaborate with him on "Vocal Madness," a recording featuring their collective original compositions with arrangements by Carr.

     2013 Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Manual Valera is a 34-year-old powerhouse who has taken New York by storm since relocating there from his native Cuba in 2000, and has worked with many of today’s finest artists in Afro-Cuban jazz. For his third release with his band New Cuban Express, “In Motion,” Valera offers up a selection of originals that cover a good deal of ground, touching on both Latin and swing sensibilities. Yosvany Terry on alto sax, Tom Guarna on guitar and Alex Sipiagin on trumpet make strong statements while Valera tastefully uses the Fender Rhodes to add new colors to the ensemble mix.
     Also this week is the brand new disc from Eastern Iowa’s Lynne Hart on clarinet, Richard Wagor on bass and Pat Smith on guitar for their debut release as a trio, “Roots of Rhythm”; Gary Urwin and his L.A.-based Jazz Orchestra welcome special guests Bill Watrous, Pete Christlieb and Carl Saunders to the proceedings for “A Beautiful Friendship”; and Phil Brown and the New Arts Jazztet out of Southern Illinois University present an engaging set of originals on “Arkadia.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

New Music Monday for December 15, 2014



     A lot of commitment is required for a band to develop musical ESP, and it was in this spirit that saxophonist Jeremy Udden and trumpeter John McNeil began to meet regularly in 2011 to work on their concepts of composition and improvisation. Over time, they added a rhythm section of bassist Aryeh Kobrinsky and drummer Anthony Pinciotti and Hush Point was born. The Brooklyn quartet’s acclaimed 2013 self-titled debut was named by the New Yorker as “among the most substantial jazz albums of the year” and the New York times described it as “…surprising music, much of it a kind of x-rayed blues.” Their brand new disc is “Blues and Reds."
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     Legendary organist Dr. Lonnie Smith says, “Jonathan Kreisberg is a creative guitarist who has been an integral member of my trio for many years. He is a passionate musician with great vision, and he is constantly in fiery pursuit of innovation.”  Vibraphonist Joe Locke says Kreisberg “…is a great musician whose playing and writing always tell a story. His formidable technique and intellect never get in the way, but only serve the agenda of the heart.” “Wave Upon Wave” is Kreisberg’s new CD, his tenth as a leader.

     Also this week, drummer Jeff Hamilton steps away from the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and leads his trio on “Great American Songs Through the Years”; Brian Charette, who has established himself as one of the most adventuresome yet respectful organists operating today, proves himself a “Good Tipper”; and singer Kenny Washington, recently dubbed “the Superman of the Bay Area jazz scene” by the San Francisco Chronicle, joins with saxophonist Michael O’Neill for “New Beginnings.”

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New Music Monday for December 8, 2014

New Music Monday Playlist on Youtube and Spotify.

     For many years, a special part of David Hazeltine’s Christmas Eve ritual was to go to the Village Vanguard and listen to Cedar Walton play. The pianist has been listening to and trying to incorporate aspects of Cedar’s style since 1974. He first met Walton in 1982 and saw him play many times after that but didn’t really get to know him until 1994 when Hazeltine moved back to New York City. Walton passed away in August of 2013. Hazeltine’s new trio CD, “I Remember Cedar,” is a testament to his deep love and admiration for the musical genius that was Cedar Walton.


     Legendary Russian pianist, composer and arranger Nick Levinovsky is supported by his friend, saxophonist Igor Butman and his Moscow Jazz Orchestra on “Special Opinion,” a non-traditional session of music presenting funk, fusion, jazz-rock, a tinge of psychedelic, and straight-ahead jazz. The fourth disc in the Orchestra’s discography features  special guests Dave Weckl on drums, Mike Stern and Mitch Stein on guitars, Bill Evans on reeds, Randy Brecker on trumpet and Tom Kennedy on bass. As allaboutjazz.com sums it up, “Levinovsky does a bang up job in melding influences of funk and fusion into traditional jazz orchestrations to produce a swinging sound that packs a punch.”

     Also this week, drummer Louis Hayes leads his Cannonball Adderly Legacy Band “Live at Cory Weeds’ Cellar Jazz Club”; organist Tony Monaco introduces guitarist Fareed Haque to his trio on “Furry Slippers”; and veteran saxophonist Greg Abate is joined by bassist John Lockwood and drummer Mark Walker on “Motif.”