After David Sanborn recorded his one-off acoustic jazz album with pianist Bob James for Okeh Records in 2013, the label continued the conversation with the renowned alto saxophonist. That exchange led to Sanborn—deemed the most influential crossover artist of his generation and the most commercially successful saxman since his 1975 debut—to link up with his old collaborative friend, bassist Marcus Miller, to serve as producer in creating the jazz-meets-R and B recording, “Time and the River,” Sanborn’s 25th as a leader. “Marcus can cover all the bases—as arranger, composer, instrumentalist, producer—and since we have a lot of history together, working together was like shorthand,” Sanborn says of the project.
Writing about Mary Stallings, The New York Times declared that “perhaps the best jazz singer singing today is a woman almost everybody seems to have missed.” Bay Area jazz lovers chuckled ruefully over yet another blast of East Coast parochialism, long recognizing Ms. Stallings as a singular jazz treasure. Her talents were also recognized by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Eckstine, Count Basie, Cal Tjader, Ben Webster and Wes Montgomery, who all went out of their way to showcase this supremely soulful singer. For her latest CD, “Feelin’ Good,” Bruce Barth occupies the piano bench and handles the arranging duties with Peter Washington and Kenny Washington rounding out the rhythm section. Mary herself requested the added tone color of Steve Nelson’s vibes, Freddie Hendrix’s trumpet and the Latin percussion of the irrepressible Ray Mantilla.
Also this week, pianist Harold Mabern, who has enjoyed a reputation among vocalists as one of the music’s most sensitive and stimulating accompanists for more than 50 years, features special guests Gregory Porter, Norah Jones, Kurt Elling, and Jane Monheit on his new CD, “Afro Blue”; keyboardist Jason Miles and trumpet great Ingrid Jensen collaborate on a project inspired by Miles Davis’ Cellar Door sessions with “Kind of New”; and Canadian drummer Curtis Nowosad is joined by reedman Jimmy Greene and trumpeter Derrick Gardner on a new quintet recording, “Dialectics.”