(Blue Note Records)
Guitarist Lionel Loueke’s latest release M’Waliko, is a true sonic journey. Combining his percussive finger-style playing, mouth clicks and vocalizing, Loueke makes music that is somewhere between his native African country Benin and street corners of New York City, where he currently resides. He’s joined in this effort by Esperanza Spalding who plays bass ands vocals on a couple of tracks, likewise bassist Richard Bona. Vocalist Angelique Kidjo, who comes from the same village where Loueke was born, also performs on two tracks. The guitarist’s virtuosity and creative musical license make this a recording definitely worth hearing.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Griot”.
Tracks: Ami O, Griot, Twins, Wishes, Flying, Intro to L.L., L.L., Nefertiti, Vi Ma Yon, Shazoo, Dangbe, Hide Life.
A New Promise
Sheryl Bailey was 18 years old when she saw the late guitarist Emily Remler perform at the University of Pittsburgh Jazz Festival and promised herself that she too would one day master the instrument. She kept her word. A New Promise, Bailey’s sixth recording, an eight-selection tribute to her hero, features three of Remler’s compositions and an equal number of her own contributions. Bailey’s virtuostic accumen, highlighted by solid arrangements and performances from the 16-piece Three Rivers Jazz Orchestra make this not only an outstanding musical homage, but one stellar recording.
Click here to listen to a clip of “East To West”.
Tracks: Lament, East To West, Miekkaniemi, Mocha Spice, Unified Field, Carenia, You And The Night.
Men of Honor
If there was ever such a thing as, “this is what jazz should sound like”, then this, the latest from trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, is what jazz should sound like. Right from the top, Men of Honor is alive with an energy that can’t be ignored. Recorded at the famed Rudy Van Gelder studios in 24-bit digital audio, there’s a brightness to the sound quality that is matched by the quality musicianship on the project. Joining Pelt are tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen, pianist Danny Grissett, drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Dwayne Burno. A nice blend of high-octane swing and sophisticated ballads, this recording is one that does great honor to jazz past and present.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Without You”.
Tracks: Backroad, Milo Hayward, Brooklyn Bound, Danny Mack, From A Life of The Same Name, Illusion, Us/Them, Without You.
Free At Last
Free At Last, the latest from drummer and composer Tobias Gebb, blends a first class roster of musicians with an energetic mix of originals and classics to great creative effect. For example, it’s not often that you hear a sitar (performed by Neel Murgai) in a jazz context, as is the case on his swinging, James Bond-ish arrangement of Lennon and McCartney’s “Tomorrow Never Knows”. There are equally clever renditions of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and ”Softly As In A Morning Contemplation”. Gebbs own pieces leans towards the upbeat as heard on “Spitball” and “Blues For Drazen”, with ”My Love” and the title track (dedicated to Barack Obama) on the more mellow side. Besides Gebbs stellar drumwork and writing, one can’t help but take note of the tight sound of the horn section. With the seasoned talents of Bobby Watson, Ron Blake, Joel Frahm and Stacy Dillard on saxophone, as well Joe Magnarelli on trumpet and flugelhorn, it can’t help but be great. They join Ugonna Okegwo and Neal Miner on basses, along with Eldad Zvulun on piano. The combination of all these elements makes Free At Last, a quality listening experience.
Click here to listen to a clip of “Spitball”.
Tracks: Blues For Drazen, My Love, Spitball, You Don’t Know What Love Is, Bop Be Dop, Free At Last, Softly As In A Morning Contemplation, Tomorrow Never Knows.