Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Music Monday for March 2, 2015

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     It’s a rare combination that has made trombonist Marshall Gilkes an in-demand performer, composer and sideman since his arrival in New York City in the late 1990s.  He has been a regular member of Maria Schneider’s Grammy Award-winning orchestra. Schneider describes him as, “one of those musicians who continually just drops my jaw and leaves me shaking my head in disbelief.” He spent four years as a full time member of the Grammy Award-winning WDR Big Band of Koln, Germany, an association that lasted until the end of 2013. At the request of the band’s producer, he returned in early 2014 for a farewell concert of the material heard on his brand new CD, “Koln,” titling the disc after the city where he lived during his tenure with the WDR.
     Musicians can take on the role of anthropologists, curious about what came before in music and how musicians reflected the world around them. Award-winning vocalist and songwriter Roberta Donnay is that rare species of musician who almost lives in another time, as she and her Prohibition Mob Band exist to revive the Jazz Age of America. Their new release, “Bathtub Gin,” mines 1920s gems but also takes the listener on a stroll into the 1930s. Donnay also includes four party-rousing shout-chorus originals that evoke and revive the open spirit that birthed jazz.
     Also this week, trumpeter Randy Brecker is captured in a live performance with the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago on “Dearborn Station”; pianist Jacky Terrasson is fueled by loops, Afro beats, wah-wah Fender Rhodes voicings and hip-hop flavors on “Take This”; and bassist Omer Avital mines his Middle Eastern Jewish heritage for his new disc, “New Song.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Music Monday for February 23, 2015

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     “Collective Portrait” is much more than just the title of Eddie Henderson’s new CD. For Henderson, it’s the heart and soul of the remarkable trumpet master’s entire approach to music expression. Taking a cue from Miles Davis’ statement that “a collective portrait is better than a self-portrait,” Henderson has assembled a stellar cast of musicians to create music forged with the classic qualities of synergy and empathy essential for jazz at its highest level. Reuniting with pianist George Cables and alto saxophonist Gary Bartz—musical collaborators for nearly 40 years—along with the perfectly simpatico bass and drums tandem of Doug Weiss and Carl Allen, the disc embodies the creative spirit and adventurousness that is always the primary goal of all of Henderson’s musical endeavors.
     Legendary alto saxophonist and Charles Mingus alum Charles McPherson teams up with Colorado cats Keith Oxman, Chip Stephens, Ken Walker and Todd Reid for his latest outing, “The Journey.” The recording features three originals by McPherson as well as two originals from tenor man Oxman and one from pianist Stephens. The rest of the date has bop-infused standards from Richard Rodgers, Sammy Cahn and Charlie Parker. McPherson calls the date, “fruitful and joyous” and the tunes “a great representation of the collective spirit and vitality of this group.”
     Also this week, Texas-based guitarist Chris Cortez offers up an eclectic mix of standards, a few originals and a few re-imagined pop tunes in the jazz tradition on “Top Secret!”; drummer Robert Jospe releases a double CD with his new band the Robert Jospe Express in both trio and quartet settings for “Doin’ It Up”; and veteran flutist Sam Most recorded and finished his final project, “New Jazz Standards,” just one month prior to his passing in June of 2013.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New Music Monday for February 16, 2015

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     Pianist Vijay Iyer’s long-running and widely acclaimed trio with bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore has been in existence for eleven years now. It’s a group whose musical language is informed by more than just the jazz piano trio tradition. While Iyer acknowledges the influence of, for instance, Ahmad Jamal, Andrew Hill and Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” trio upon his own trio aesthetics, he points out that his group also has been inspired by James Brown’s rhythm section, Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies, Miles Davis’ rhythm section, soul music from the ‘70s, electronic music and hip-hop from very recent times. Their new disc, “Break Stuff,” is Iyer’s third now for ECM Records. 
     “Constellations” is the debut recording from the trio of drummer Karl Latham, trumpeter Ryan Carniaux and bassist Mark Egan. A longtime fan of the music of Icelandic singer/songwriter Bjork, Latham longed to attempt a true representation of his impression of her music. He approached his close friend Egan to be part of the project and they brought in the rising star Carniaux, whom they had worked with in 2012. The ensemble was completed with the addition of special guest Nick Rolfe on keyboards. The result is a journey, explorations of conscious and subconscious reality and humble homage to the vision of one of the 20th Century’s most influential creative forces.
     Also this week, guitarist Rez Abbasi and his Acoustic Quartet offer up acoustic interpretations of ‘70s jazz-rock classics by Weather Report, Herbie Hancock and others with “Intents and Purposes”; “Songs for Quintet” is one of the final recordings from the late trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler; and the George Gee Swing Orchestra performs the compositions and arrangements of trombonist David Gibson on “Swing Makes You Happy.”

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New Music Monday for February 9, 2015

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     Tradition is an overused word in jazz—tradition is important, but the continuum of jazz is far more important because it’s not just about where the music’s been but where it is going. Two people that symbolize the continuum are pianist Justin Kauflin and his mentor, iconic trumpeter Clark Terry. The new documentary film, “Keep on Keepin’ On,” explores the close relationship that has developed between the two. Terry also imparted much knowledge to a young Quincy Jones when he was embarking on his musical journey as a trumpeter. As if to complete the circle Kauflin—who met Jones via Terry—joined Quincy on his 2013-2014 world tour. Now the multi-Grammy Award winning Jones has produced Kauflin’s second disc as a leader, “Dedication.”
     For his fifth release for Savant Records, alto saxophonist Jim Snidero draws from a quarter-century of touring to create a compelling sonic trip across America. “Main Street” is inspired by towns throughout the United States and features one of the hippest rhythm sections in jazz; pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Rudy Royston. The CD includes five originals by Snidero, a piece by Gil Evans, and a surprising version of the cowboy lament, “The Streets of Laredo.” 
      Also this week, trumpeter Joshua Bruneau, a product of the Hartt School’s Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz and now a faculty member of The Artist’s Collective in Hartford, Connecticut, debuts with “Bright Idea”; trombonist David Gibson explodes strongly back on the scene with a new quintet date, “Boom!”; and pianist and Atlanta native Joe Alterman is joined by Houston Person, Gregory Hutchinson and Reuben Rogers for his first release, “Georgia Sunset.”