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.”