Charenee Wade is not one to hold back or let fear stand in her way. The first artist ever to enter two Thelonious Monk Vocal competitions, she walked away from the second in 2010 with instant buzz and second place to her new friend Cecile McLorin Salvant. Known for expert vocal improvisational ability and her seriously swinging groove, Wade evokes a classic jazz sound akin to Betty Carter and Sarah Vaughan, two of her musical touchstones. Her new CD, “Offering: the Music of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson,” pays tribute to another inspiration, the socially conscious poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron. She is joined in this endeavor by notable guests including guitarist Dave Stryker, vibraphonist Stefon Harris and bassist Lonnie Plaxico.
Tenor saxophonist, composer and arranger Bob Mintzer recorded his first big band album in 1983. Five of his subsequent big band discs have been nominated for Grammys, one of which won the coveted award. Now comes Mintzer’s 20th big band release, “Get Up!,” recorded live last year at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh. It’s something of a stylistic departure for the adventurous musician, as all nine selections utilize syncopated grooves that draw on Rhythm and Blues and funk traditions. Besides five original Mintzer compositions, the set is made up of the leader’s vibrant arrangements of classic tune by Weather Report, the Isley Brothers, Sam and Dave, and Sly and the Family Stone.
Also this week, composer, arranger and bandleader Maria Schneider celebrates a long-awaited reunion with her vaunted jazz orchestra with “The Thompson Fields,” a homecoming nearly a decade in the making; trumpeter Terell Stafford celebrates jazz master Lee Morgan with “BrotherLee Love”; and one of America’s premiere gypsy jazz groups, the Seattle-based Pearl Django, stretches the genre in new directions with “Time Flies.”