(Mack Avenue Records)
Trumpeter Sean Jones is one of the most exciting voices in jazz and deserves tremendous acclaim for what he’s doing to advance the idiom. On Kaleidoscope, Jones blends jazz with a healthy dose of funk and gospel to create a truly entertaining result. The album features Jones’ labelmate Kim Burrell on a number of tracks including “You’re the Reason”. The recording also features the vocal talents of Carolyn Perteete on “Esperanto”, Gretchen Parlato, J.D. Walter and Sachal Vasandani. In an album that leans more towards vocals than instrumentals, it could be easy to drown out the album’s signator, but the selection of singers and songs combine to complement the trumpeter’s brilliant tone on this excellent project.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Allison”.
Tracks: Allison, Journey, Never Let Me Go, I Come To Thee, So Wonderful, Esperanto, It’s Just A Matter of Time (Intro), It’s Just A Matter of Time, Say Brah, Blak Music, Kaleidoscope, The Sluice, You’re The Reason.
In The Middle Of It All
From the very first song you know that this album isn’t just a collection of songs, but something personal to vocalist Melissa Walker. In The Middle Of It All is something of a comeback for the singer who was off the scene for some time due to vocal cord paralysis that resulted from an infection. Many of the songs, which Melissa picked for the return project seem to have a theme of coming back from loss, whether it’s from a health setback or the end of a romance. Among the songs she selected in this regard are Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up”, and the title track which sets the mood for many of the album. Drummer Clarence Penn co-produced the project with Walker and plays on it as well. He’s joined by Adam Goldberg on piano, Christian McBride on bass, Adam Rogers and Keith Ganz on guitar, and Gregoire Maret who plays harmonica on a number of the tracks. The many of the don’t swing in the traditional sense, but there’s a stunning calmness about that is appealing, making this project a strong return from a very strong talent, both off and on, again, the music scene.
Click here to listen to a clip of “The Way He Makes Me Feel”.
Tracks: In The Middle of It All, Don’t Give Up, The Way He Makes Me Feel, I’ll Sing A Song, The Other Woman (part one), Forget Me (part two), Mr. Bojangles, If You Could Love Me, Invitation, I’m With You Now, Our Love Remains, Where or When.”
While many of musicians of his generation have fled for smooth jazz pastures, saxophonist Benny Reid continues to bridge the gap between jazz and contemporary jazz on his latest release Escaping Shadows. Reid’s music is adventurous and explores in a way that is rare to hear these days. But his sound is also clearly the product of influences such as Pat Metheny, as we hear on his composition “New Days” with vocalist Jeff Taylor’s accompaniment. There’s also a hint of Santana in the guitar work of Richard Padron on ”Sleeping Beauty”. On the softer side, Reid’s ballad ”The Most Beautiful Girl I Ever Knew” harkens back to something that Coltrane might have had in his repertoire. Escaping Shadows is a throughly entertaining recording for those of us who appreciate jazz in a contemporary tense.
Tracks: The Final Chapter, Five Years Later, Sleeping Beauty, Facing The Edge, New Days, The Most Beautiful Girl I Ever Knew, Firelight, Cutting, Always & Forever, Escaping.
Jackie Ryan Doozy
Jackie Ryan is a real-deal jazz singer, as she proves once again on her latest release, Doozy. The recording is a double CD edition with a total of 20 wonderful performances. It’s not just Ryan’s voice that stands out on her projects, but also the creativity of the arrangements to complement her unique approach to a song. The caliber of musicians that the Bay area singer assembles on this effort is a tribute to their respect for her as a vocalist. Joining Ryan on this recording are pianist Cyrus Chestnut, Eric Alexander on saxophone, guitar legend Romero Lumbambo and trumpet Jeremy Pelt who takes every song on which he performs up a notch. The album is tilted just slightly towards ballads, contentwise, but Ryan also proves that she can belt with the best of ‘em on tunes like the title track and “I Must Have That Man”. Jackie Ryan is one of our favorite jazz singers and projects like this are the reason she’s held in such high esteem.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Doozy”.
Tracks: (Disc1) Doozy, You’ll See, Caminhos Cruzados, Do Something, With The Wind And Rain In Your Hair, Speak Low, I Must Have That Man, Dat Dere, Beautiful Moons Ago, My How The Time Goes By.
(Disc 2): Opportunity Please Knock, I Haven’t Got Anything Better To Do, Brigas Nunca Mais/A Felicidade, Spepring Can Really Hang You Up The Most, Solamente Una Vez, Summer Serenade, Get Rid of Monday, Midnight Sun, Tell Me More, And Then Some, Some Other Time