Trumpeter David Weiss and his band Point of Departure of musical proof that jazz is very much alive. On Venture Inward, the acoustic quartet creates a brand of music that is electric. Weiss and company take on compositions by Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Andrew Hill and Charlie Moore and the band’s performance lives up to the stature of the jazz greats. The sound and synergy here is too engaging to ignore. Weiss is joined by tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen, bassist Luques Curtis, drummer Jamire Williams and guitarist Nir Felder for a lively musical conversation, one which we have the privilege to overhear.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Venture Inward”.
Tracks: I Have A Dream, Black Comedy, Number 4, Venture Inward, Pax, Snuck In .
After many years working seperately, vocalist Rachel Caswell and violinist Sara Caswell decided to work together and the result is heavenly. Alive In The Air , the sisters’ debut recording collaboration, was produced by piano great Fred Hersch. The synthesis of the three musician, along with the talents of bassist Jeremy Allen and drummer Bryson Kern is magical. The singer’s voice is as powerful as the violin is soothing. That the two work so work so well together seems to have more to do with each sibling’s mastery of their respective craft, than familial connection. The musical menu fits the production with a cross-section of standards, classic and contemporary. The recording is a joyous work from an outstanding duo which re-affirms the fact that inventiveness and brilliance continue to emerge in jazz.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Poinciana”.
Tracks: Song of Life, I Get Along Without You Very Well, Stroll, Poinciana, Lucky To Be Me, I Sing For You, Bye Bye Blackbird, A Wish, Sweet Adelphi, Sweet Lorriane, Asiatic Raes.
Saxophonist/composer Geof Bradfield’s Melba is a brassy and powerful tribute to the great arranger and trombonist, Melba Liston. The recording is a work which was commissioned by Chamber Music America for their New Jazz Works programs in 2011, and Bradfield delivers with compositions that are soulful, bluesy, swinging and contemplative, together and apart. The tunes possess depth that come from a skillful blend of past and present. The musical proficiency from every player is truly marvelous to hear. Joining Bradfield on the recording are trombononist Joel Adams, pianist Ryan Cohan, trumpeter Victor Garcia, bassist Clarke Sommers, guitarist Jeff Parker and drummer George Fludas. Singer Maggie Burrell provides beautiful notes for the projects only vocal piece. This is an outstanding homage to Liston and yet another reason to check out the tremendous music being made by Bradfield.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Central Avenue”.
Tracks: Kansas City Child, Central Avenue, Dizzy Gillespie, Randy Weston, Solo Saxophone Introduction, Detroit/Kingston, Homecoming, “let me not lose my dream” .
Vocalist Emy Tseng’s debut recording Sonho introduces us to an exhilarating new voice in the Brazilian music genre. Tseng was studying classical voice when she discovered the jazz scene in New York and took and fell in love with Brazilian music. She studied with several noted Brazilian musicians further immersing herself in the sound and culture. Tseng has a warm and inviting voice, much like the music she sings. The tunes selected created a soothing ambiance that make the project a pleasure to listen to. The musicianship on the project creates a terrific sonic landscape for Tseng, this includes the talents of Matvei Sigalov and Rogério Souza on acoustic guitars, Andy Connell on saxophones and clarinet, Bruno Lucini and Roberto Berimbau on percussion, Alejandro Lucini on drums and David Jernigan on acoustic bass. Also duly noted is Marco Delmar, who co-produced the project with Sigalov and the talented singer who breathes wonderful life into the projects’ beautiful Brazilian standards.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Se Dependesse de Mim”.
Tracks: Aquelas Coisas Todas, Deixa, California Dreamin’ Berimbau, Coracao Vagabundo, Brigas Nunca Mais, Helianthella (Little Sunflower), Se Dependesse de Mim, I Thought About You, Na Beira do Rio, Close Your Eyes.
Bandleader, composer and producer Anthony Branker directs Wordplay, a collective of talented musicians, on his latest release Uppity. The sound is forward-thinking, with a nice mix of swing and ballads. Branker’s direction and fantastic compositions are the heart of this project, as the players on the project bring the soul. The gifted musician crew consists of Ralph Bowen on saxophone, Kenny Davis on basses, Andy Hunter on trombone and keys, Jim Ridl on piano and Fender Rhodes, Eli Asher on trumpet and flugelhorn and Donald Edwards on drums. The recording is six selections of tremendous musicianship at its absolute best.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Dance Like No One Is Watching”.
Tracks: Let’s Conversate!, Dance Like No One Is Watching, Three Gifts (from a Nigerian Mother To God), Accorss the Divide, Uppity, Ballad for Trayvon Martin.
Rhythm of The Heart is Raquel Bitton’s beautiful and innovative marriage of French vocals with Afro Cuban rhythms. The result is music of great zest and je ne sais quoi (a certain something) that transports you somewhere between Paris and Havana. Bitton, singing in French, along with her musical collaborators, cover tunes steeped in samba, bossa nova, merengue and the tango, among many others. The project, which was co-produced with Grammy winner Rafa Sardina, features legendary Latin vocalist Tino Rossi, virtuoso guitarist Ramon Stagnero, pianist Rebeca Mauleon, bassist Carlos del Puerto,Jr., drummer Jimmy Branley, timbalist Orestes Vilato and congo drummer Jesus Diaz. The blend of all these talents makes for incredible sound. This is a magical and exceptional recording.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Pardonne Moi”.
Tracks: Il Pleut Sur la Route, Le Secret de tes Caresses, Un Violon Dans La Nuit, Merci Pour tes Fleurs, Pardonne Moi, Guitarra Mia, Bonjour Tristesse, Plus Je Vous Aime, Tango Melodie, J’ai Gardé Ta Photo Sur Mon Coeur, Il Est Trop Tard, Tout Bleu.
Gerald Clayton’s debut for Concord Records is another great venture in sound. Life Forum co-mingles the pianist’s syncopated rhythms with voice and brass for a magnificent musical journey. Clayton’s core trio of recent years, bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown, is joined by saxophonists Logan Richardson and Dayna Stephens and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire . Vocalists Gretchen Parlato and Sachal Vasandani and poet Carl Hancock Rux expand the expeditionary group, as well the sound and scope of Clayton’s hypnotic compositions. The tunes are contemplative, melodic and entrancing and the performances herein are admirable and beautiful to the ear .
Click here to listen to a clip of “Deep Dry Ocean”.
Tracks: Life Forum, Future Reflection, Shadamanthem, Sir Third, Deep Dry Ocean, Dusk Baby, Mao Nas Massa, Prelude, Some Always, Like Water, Unhidden, When An Angel Sheds A Feather.
Vocalist Jeffrey Gimble is a unique new voice on the jazz scene. What makes Beyond Up High ,Gimble’s debut effort, such a pleasure to listen to is hearing the joy in his approach to the material. He was aided in this regard by noted producer Mark Winkler and outstanding pianist/arranger Tamir Hendleman, who makes anything sound better. The song selection, which features a cross-section of ballads and uptempo numbers and modern and classic jazz standards, really compliments the singer, and vice versa. Offered here are nicely done renditions of tunes by Irving Berlin, Marilyn and Alan Bergman, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, Chick Corea, Oscar Brown, Jr. and Bill Withers. The tremendous musicianship of Hendleman, drummers Zach Harmon and Dean Koba, bassist Ryan McGillicuddy and saxophonist Bob Sheppard create a rich canvas on which to paint, something Gimble does with vivid color and great flair.
Click here to listen to a clip of “High Wire/The Aerialist”.
Tracks: Sweet and Lovely, HumBrum Blues, High Wire/The Aerialist, Rain Days, It Only Happens When I Dance With You, Aqua De Beber, Creatures, The Windmills of Your Mind, Aint No Sunshine, All The Things You Are (things About You) .
(Coastal Sky Productions)
Guitarist Dave Haskell is proof that sometimes it is possible to live more that one big dream in the course of lifetime. Haskell lived the life of a commercial airline pilot for many years before turning his passions back to the guitar, something he became noted for in the Bay Area jazz community. His latest effort, under the banner of his group, is the high-flying production Pivot Point. Produced by famed Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip, the project is compromised of mainly contemporary jazz compositions, almost all of which were written by Haskell, that serve as a forum for some outstanding performances and head-bopping melodies. Haskell Group members include pianist/keyboardist Dan Zemelman, bassist Aaron Germain and drummer Alan Hall. Special guests on the production are guitarist Robben Ford, keyboardist Russell Ferrante, drummer Toss Panos and Haslip on bass and percussion. Even with all this firepower, Haskell’s musical voice in the writing and performances shines through brightly.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Thirty West By Seventy”.
Tracks: Agnes, For Barack, Mamaba Samba, Second Look, Thirty West By Seventy (o’Something Hundred), 888 Watson, For The Moment, Monty, Eye of The Hurricane.
A veteran of the hotel circuit before becoming a Berklee College professor, vocalist Jan Shapiro presents a warm and inviting recording on that exemplifies the depth of her earlier vocal experience. Piano Bar Afterhours features Shapiro working mostly with several different pianists in an intimate duo environment that is entrancing. The singer aptly cover a host of venerable standards by Frank Loesser, Ira and George Gershwin, Horace Silver and Jon Hendricks, along with more recent compostions written by Al Jarreau and Rickie Lee Jones. Partnering with Shapiro on the selection of material are pianists Daniela Schachter, Bob Winter, Tim Ray, Adriana Balic, Russell Hoffman and John Harrison III. Regardless of the pairing, Shapiro is in total sync with her fellow musicians and in wonderful voice throughout the production.
Click here to listen to a clip of “I Keep On Loving You”.
Tracks: On a Slow Boat To China, You’re Getting To Be a Habit, I Keep On Loving You, They Say It’s Wonderful, Doodlin’, Lost Up In Loving You, Time Lies, If I Were A Bell, Who Cares, Tell Me, Company.