The New York City-based saxophonist Michael Blake has built his reputation by producing albums that “make the familiar sound fresh” (Jim Macnie, Downbeat). That statement couldn’t be applied better than to Blake’s new release, “Tiddy Boom,” his nod to the magnificent tenor saxophone innovators Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. The title references Young, who had a vernacular all his own. While watching an old video of Pres, Blake picked up on him requesting the drummer to give him a “little tickity boom, please.” The disc reunites him with two of his former Jazz Composers Collective colleagues, bassist Ben Allison and pianist Frank Kimbrough, who, along with drummer Rudy Royston, provide effortless support for Blake’s tenor sax to flow in any direction he chooses on his program of originals.
The jukebox was one of the most ubiquitous devices that adorned many African-American barbershops, beauty salons, lodges and restaurants throughout the many waypoints of the Great Migration of the early to mid-Twentieth Century. The infinite musical inventions and dimensions emanating from jukeboxes back in the day form the conceptual core of Allan Harris’ new CD, “Black Bar Jukebox,” his heartfelt tribute to Harlem. The 13-track journey displays the wide range of Harris’ mellow bari-tenor voice that was forged by and pays homage to the infinite variety of Upper Manhattan, the Sepia Panorama Citadel that gave artistic birth to him.
Also this week, trumpet virtuoso Brad Goode, whom the Chicago Tribune calls “the lyrical genius of the trumpet,” creates a rich and distinctive group dynamic with his quartet on “Montezuma”; Seattle-based composer, arranger and woodwind multi-instrumentalist Jim Norton returns to the Bay Area to reunite with a stellar cast of former bandmates for a wide-ranging exploration of the compositions of Bill Evans on “Time Remembered”; and the funk/Afrobeat ensemble The Funk Ark, comprised of the best jazz musicians from the Washington, D.C. area, create music that is gritty, soulful and invigorating on their new disc, “Man is a Monster.”