Monthly Archives: March 2013

jazz/blues adds-march 25, 2013


charlie hunter/scott amendolanot getting behind is the new getting ahead.  Exciting release from guitarist hunter and drummer amendola– just the two of them, exploring the blues, making a big, non-airbrushed sound.  original song titles comment on the “nooks and crannies” of USA  and hard lives of many Americans.  not anthem-ic;  very talented cats.

sunna gunnlaugs.  long pair bond.  sunny sky.  Gorgeous piano work from Iceland composer/keyboardist gunnlaugs and her trio–husband, scott mclemore on drums and progrimur “toggi” jonsson on bass.  harmonic challenge that finds soft curves in gunnlaugs’ signature minimalist jazz pieces.  for me, this is her best CD–drop the needle, they are all keepers.

jason robinson.  tiresian symmetry. cunieform.  This has its charms;  lots of deep horns—tuba, bass trombone, bass clarinet, contra bass clarinet.  robinson leads, composes, plays tenor/soprano.  his supporting cast is A+: marty erlich, marcus rojas, jd parran, bill lowe, george schuller, ches smith, drew gress.  long cues, demanding.

roscoe mitchell.   duets with tyshawn sorey, and guest hugh ragin.  wide hive.    Legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago saxophonist mitchell collaborates with trumpeter hugh ragin and composer/drummer/multi-instrumentalist tyshawn sorey.  explorers at work, unmasking “the bells” and their disguises.  once again, wide hive records in the East-Bay area goes out on a musical limb. bravo!

tomasz stanko new york quartet.  wislawa.  ECM.  Two discs from 70-year-old Polish trumpeter stanko working with a NY quartet: Cuban pianist david virelles ( fresh from his work on chris potter’s the sirens); double-bassist thomas morgan, and drummer gerald cleaver.  stanko, tries on a new style of playing–drawing inspiring for his long cues from the poetry of Polish Nobelist wislawa szymborska with whom he claims to have “poetry slammed” back in Warsaw.

giacomo gates.  milestones.  savant.  At the age of 40, after working construction on the Alaska pipeline and other points far north, gates began a singing career.  his favored technique is vocalizing or scat singing songs that may not have lyrics.  mixed bag effect for me, thouhg the band is good–dave stryker, guitar;  lonnie plaxico, bass;  john di martino, piano;  freddie hendrix-trumpet;  vincent ector, drums.  music is of course by or famously recorded by miles davis.

kendrick scott and oracle.  conviction. concord.  Drummer/composer scott and his quartet oracle accomplish smooth stylings in
their very sophisticated recording;  loved the bruce lee “Be Water” spoken word.  Young and strong band:  taylor eigsti @ piano; joe sanders, bass;  mike moreno on guitar;  john ellis on tenor.

aguanko.  elemental.  PKO.   Albert nacif, congero leader of the group aguanko, composes and practices medicine in Michigan.
his enthusiasm for Cuban music + a radio shift on WEMU led him to record an all -original playlist.  with jose pepe espinosa  on bongos, timbales, and a local band from the Ann Arbor area.

ron oswanski.  december’s moon.  tames/palmetto.  Oswanski plays B-3, piano, accordion;  his band walks proud–john abercrombie, electric guitar;  john patitucci, acoustic bass; clarence penn & ian froman, drums;  jay azzolina, acoustic guitar, and tim ries, soprano/tenor.  Mostly originals–except a Kenny Wheeler and Fred Hersch–the vibe is chilled with the very best light swing. even the polka works.

greyboy allstars.  inland emperor.  knowledge.  San Diego-based funk band– I could feel a frown coming on–but, listening put an end to that.  title track is a scorcher, as is the last, and the first two;  open mind refreshes ignorance.  band does not lack for stars: karl denson, reeds;  aaron redfield, drums; robert walter keyboards;  chris stillwell, bass;  elgin park, guitar.

better than alright.  MSU Professors of jazz.  self-produced.  Michigan State University jazz professors release a 2CD, all originals; bassist rodney whitaker charts African American migration within the US;  saxophonist diego rivera explores Latin influences in his suite, and etienne charles, trumpeter, focuses on jazz rhythms from the Caribbean.

eric alexander.  touching.  high note.  With his soft, strong tenor sound, eric alexander sounds like so many of our favorites– george adams, john coltrane.   the mostly ballads, lesser-known covers recording features harold mabern on piano, john webber on bass, and joe farnsworth, drums.  Blues-y, sophisticated,  irresistible-all at once.


beth hart.  bang bang boom boom. mascot.  gorgeous girl writing terrific songs in a stylized blues elegance.  lots of confidence in the pop arrangements, and hart’s slightly burned-out delivery. she won me over.

clay swafford.  rooster.  lost cause.    Boogie-woogie piano from Alabama pianist “rooster” ( (red-hair from birth) swafford.  some cues have gospel vocalist diunna greenleaf, one has rooster playing with bob corritore and his all stars.  swafford, heir to the pinetop perkins piano tradition, plays with grace and heart.

andy poxon. tomorrow.  ellerSoul.  Under the wing of duke robillard, 18 year old andy poxon makes his debut;  all originals from the singer/songwriter/guitarist,  carrot-top poxon tackles all blues musical traditions:  soul, R&B, hillbilly, classic country, a full menu.

j.j. grey & mofro. this river. alligator.  Perhaps best for last,  variety pack of many blues delicacies:  twangy “sombody else”,  delicate blues, especially the title track, .  all originals , all danceable;  formerly known just as mofro, excellent band includes grey-vocals, guitars and bass; anthony farrell on keyboards;  anthony cole-drums;  art edmaiston-tenor & bari; dennis marion-trumpet; andrew trube-more guitars., todd smallie-bass.

jazz/blues adds–march 18, 2013


rondi charleston. signs of life.  motema music.  Chicago-born singer/songwriter charleston wasn’t always a musican.  after julliard, she went to journalism school, and distinguished herself as an investigative reporter for NY metro media;  compositions come from personal experiences–a dangerous family rafting trip, relics in her Civil War home, and a film score she wrote with pianist fred hersh.  Not your ordinary vocalist with the band; dave stryker, guitar; brandon mccune, piano; clarence penn, drums; ed howard, bass.

james danderfer.  the hummingbird brigade.  reigning parade.   Inspired by the New Orleans tradition, this eleven-piece, mostly brass,  band plays a full menu of R & B, funk, NoLA, on leader/reed player james danderfer’s second recording.  All originals;  danderfer tweets that he is the #1 clarinettist in Canada.

jack mouse group range of motion.  origin records.  Chicago based drummer who has played with everyone gathers the best of his windy city players in this all-originals session:  art davis, trumpet & flugel;  john mclean, guitar;  bob bowman and kelly sill, bass.  Mouse is crafty and smooth.

brad goode.  chicago red.  origin records.  Excellent band with international focus:  brad goode, trumpet from Chicago; paa kow,, on drums from Ghana;  bijoux barbosa on electric bass from Sao Paulo;  bill kopper on guitar, sitar ;  rony barrak, on darbouka from Beirut; jeff jenkins on piano.  title track and W.C. Handy cover are delightful.

lenny white. lenny white live. BFM records.  From the vault and the unforgettable Japanese tour, says victor bailey who plays bass on this 1997 high-energy, polished, early example of  Planet Fusion.  drummer lenny white leads mark ledford trumpet;  bennie maupin, saxes; patrice rushen–with the grooviest keyboards, + donald blackman, and foley (????) on bass.  Love the 1990s–close enough to have not been stylized.  yet.

tine bruhn & johnny o’neal.  nearness. burner records.  Danish vocalist bruhn and former jazz messenger pianist o’neal team up with a playlist of standards.  quiet, unaffected delivery with gentle piano runs and arrangements:  Stacy Dillard on tenor.   Maybe i needed more oomph.

paris combo.  5.  drg records.  Was all set to love this but no!.  Billed as global, but I think more Parisian, quintet:  vocalist belle du berry; potzi on guitar; francois jeannin-drums;  david lewis, trumpet, piano;  emmanuel chabbey, double bass.  The playlist all ran together; couldn’t tell one song from another.  Project has style, polish, energy–what went wrong?  failure to compose compelling music.

the kandinsky effect.  synesthesia.  cunieform records.   A different kind of recording out of  Paris,  from the  jazz trio synesthesia-– warren walker on sax + effects; gael petrina on bass + effects;  caleb dolister, drums + laptop.  almost ambient, but wakes  you up with random rhythm excitement.  Very soothing for writing all these jazz notes.

david weiss.  venture inward. positone records.  Compositional credits—mostly charles moore and andrew hill–place the sound of this recording in late miles davis territory.  the trumpet ( david weiss) and the tenor (j.d. allen) dominate;  guitar by nir felder, luques curtis on bass, and jamire williams, drums.  note to self:  listen to more andrew hill.

cory weeds.  “with benefits.  cellar live .  Smooth quartet of four world-class musicians:  cory weeds, tenor player, club owner, and owner of the Vancouver-based cellar live label;  bill coon, guitarist/composer;  peter washington, bass and lewis nash, drums–masters from the NY jazz universe.  I left my “dots” all over this.

craig wuepper.  leaps and bounds cellar live.  Prefaced with a story of how he got the piano he wrote the songs on, drummer/composer  craig wuepper involves the  listeners in his process.   what shines through is the collaboration and good will among band members:  trumpeter jim rotondi; david schnitter, tenor;   the solid rhythm  section–david hazeltine, piano; dennis irwin, bass.

living by lanterns.  new myth/old science.  cunieform records.  My pals at cunieform lost me on this one;  missed the seminar on Sun Ra back in the day.  Vibraphonist jason adasiewicz and  drummer mike reed assemble a new group, called living by lanterns that reworks unpublished compositions and improvisations by jazz oracle sun ra.  with mary halvorson, guitar;  ingrid baubrock, tenor; greg ward, alto; taylor ho bynum, cornet.


duane allman.  skydog: the duane allman retrospective (excerpts).  rounder records.  With this compilation from the seven CD discography of duane allman you have here a superb ready-made blues show.  goodness me, everything is brilliant– his early work with
the allman joys, the escorts,  31st of february, clarence carter, king curtis, duane’s restrained version of goin down slow, but nothing is as good as the 13 minute boz scaggs loan me a dime.  i must have been living under a rock to miss this music when it originally came out.  oh, don’t overlook the eric clapton/duane allman acoustic duet, mean old world.

southern hospitality.  easy living.  blind pig records. Five-man blues band, produced by tab benoit, features  lap steel guitarist damon fowler and pianist/B-3/vocalist victor wainwright.  excellent originals, great arrangements–some retro.  with jp soars on various guitars, chuck riley, bass and chris peet, drums.

the cash box kings.  black toppin.  blind pig records.  Second release for the CBK, this one is dedicated to Chicago blues from the 1940-50’s;  mostly original compositions by vocalists joe nosek and oscar wilson;  strong band with lots of guitar twang–billy flynn, beau sample, gerry hundt, joel paterson.

 james hunter six.  minute by minute.  fantasy.  British blues vocalist/songwriter james hunter working with daptones producer gabriel roth  and a killer band gets the R&B revival sound perfect:  great horn section–damian hand, tenor; lee badau, bari; +andrew kingslow, piano and kyle koehler, organ; jason wilson, double bass; jonathan lee, drums.

jazz / blues adds –march 11, 2013


robert hurst.  bob: a palindrome.  bebob records.  In-demand bassist/educator/composer bob hurst assembles a “wildbunch” of Detroit musicians :   jeff “tain watts-drums; marcus belgrave (who mentored hurst since the teen years) -trumpet/flugel;  adam rudolph on percussion; robert glasper-piano and Rhodes;  bennie maupin on flute, clarinet, and  branford marsalis on tenor/       soprano.   Great arrangements take advantage of the superb talent ;  hurst, runs the  whole composition/ producing show.

larry coryell.  the lift.  wide hive records.  Musical nods to jimi hendrix and coryell’s own acoustic genius, master guitarist turns 70 this year and is not slowing down.  working with a small group– matt montgomery on bass; lumpy on drums, and chester smith on organ–all original compositions, and one-take cues, this recording oddly diagrams thirty years of  rock-jazz guitar permutations with a few shout-outs to blues, soul and everyone else along the way.

mike prigodich.  a stitch in time. mexican mocha music.   A young man gets cancer, fights back, and his second chance is as a jazz pianist;  the cinderrella-story puts a smile on your face when you listen to his debut CD.  It’s high energy, polish, all originals, and a seven piece band that sounds like a giant band–with edge.  Jazz, blues, world— we are on the planet Fusion.  The husband focus group loved it;  so did I.

lydia liebman. familia. vectordisc.  Featuring the dave liebman group, vocalist and daughter lydia makes her debut recording with compositions of jobim and lesser-known brazilian guitarist guinga.  a labor of love from an adoring parent (dave liebman), the formula of 50/50–instrumental to vocal–just underscores the not ready for prime time quality of lydia liebman.  much as i like quiet, this is just too quiet.

john stein.  bing bang boom. whaling city sound.  Gentle, quiet songs from experienced guitarist john stein (teaches @ berklee in Boston);  he tributes duke ellington, but the better stuff is his own original brazilian-esque compositions.  band includes john lockwood on bass; young jake sherman at various keyboards; and outstanding drummer ze eduardo nazario.

jim pearce.  you are an edgy visionary seer.  oak avenue.  Triple-threat–pianist, singer-songwriter, pearce has his devotees who return again and again to the quirks and clever of his lyrics; seven CD’s to date.  he’s a tad goofy for me, but i see the appeal;  bluesey but urbane, best compositions are when he sings.

dylan ryan/sand.   sky bleached.  cunneiform records.  LA drummer ryan and his trio–timothy young on guitar, devin hoff on bass– are very electrified;  this CD made be think how great bill frissell is.  But, as a label, cunneiform PR really demands that you listen to it.

rob mazurek octet.  skull sessions.  cunnieform records.  Cornetist mazurek combined his Chicago-based exploding star orchestra (nicole mitchell on flute, john herndon on drums and jason adasiewicz on vibes)  with his other group, the Sao Paolo Underground  (mauricio takara  on cavaquinho, guilherme granado on keyboards), plus thomas rohrer on the brazilian viola (rabaca) and carlos issa on guitar.  that’s a big, very colorful ensemble… the original compositions are long, so stretch out in the evening.

curtis hasselbring.  number stations. cunneiform records.   Ambitious, stylized project from NYC trombonist/guitarist hasselbring that ends up being much more meditative than intimidating.  the packaging comes with a lot of hoopty-doo about “mysterious shortwave radio broadcasts” from the Cold War days.  Fine, maybe buried somewhere deep, it’s there. musicians are A-list:  trevor dunn- basses; mary halvorsen-guitar; ches smith-drums/marimba; satoshi takeishi-drums/percussion; matt moran-vibes; chris speed- tenor/clarinet.

verve jazz ensemble.  it’s about time.  verve.   the young and the talented are presented with all their musical chops.  tatum greenblatt, trumpet and flugelhorn;  jon blanck, tenor;  matt oestreicher, piano; chris  de angelis, bass;  john feldstein, drums.  yes, we have heard these tunes many times, but the quintet does fine work– check out Big Swing Face, 1st take and the alternate.  applause for the young!

jaleel shaw.  the soundtrack of things to come. changu records.  Alto/soprano sax player shaw comes out of the mingus big band and roy haynes quartet.  All original compositions, many pieces were commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum;  shaw’s inspiration in many cases was family loss and spirituality.  Band members include  boris kozlov, bass;  lawrence fields, piano, and johnathan blake on drums.

melton mustafa.  the traveling man.  zaki records.  Miami-based trumpeter/composer/educator mustafa gathers a great band:  patrick bartley on alto; mulgrew miller, piano;  jason jackson, trombone; essiet essiet, bass; victor lewis, drums; ray mantilla, percusssion.  The horn sound is generous, and the compositions– all originals, arranged by mustafa.


adrian younge presents the delfonics.  wax poetics records.  loved this one, a baker’s dozen of dreamy,  romantic odes from the guys who brought us “la la means I love you”.   Octogenarian William Hart is the iconic falsetto, and songwriter;  hip-hopper Adrian Younge is the LA  producer with a plan.  Enduring.

frank bey with anthony paule band.  you don’t know nothing.  blue dot records.  Back in the day, blues singer bey was the opening act for otis redding.  he took some time off, then re-surfaced in the Philly and Jersey blues circles.  now he’s out in San Fran. where this CD was recorded live.  He appears to be the real deal;  the anthony paule band has a gentle way with the mix of covers and originals.

otis clay.  truth is.  echo records.  this is good too, and David E. has left his black dots on favorites.  Otis, a legend from the soul, R & B, and Chicago blues world continues into his seventh decade. This recording excels with its arrangements and  a terrific chorus of back-up singers– that’s the gospel roots.  Pretty damn charming, especially disco-esque #12.

sena ehrhardt.  all in.  blind pig records.  Blues of a different stripe, but good, too.   backed by three guitars and drums, Minneapolis-based vocalist and songwriter ehrhardt jumps into her second recording with no fear.  she’s gorgeous, writes her own music and very appreciative of  jim gaines, her producer.

jazz adds/ march 3, 2013

jazz   (this is what i did not send last week)

new york voices.  live.  palmetto records.  Grammy-award winning vocal quartet NY Voices ( lauren kinhan, kim nazarian, damon meader, peter eldridge) have recorded with paquito d’rivera, and i loved their latin interpretations.  This show– American standards with lush arrangements by WDR Big Band — was performed at the Cologne philharmonic in 2008.  World class musicians the production was shaped and charted by conductor michael abene.

blake meister.  septagon. inner circle.  Voted #1 album of 2012 in the DC area, meister is a bassist with an excellent band–gary thomas on tenor/flute; paul bollenback on guitar; marc copland at piano; ralph peterson, drums.  All original compositions, recorded on greg osby’s inner circle label.

stockton helbing.  crazy aquarius.  armored records.  More smooth horn-y sound from alumni @ the power-house North Texas State jazz dept. in Denton.  drums, composition and arrangements by helbing, but the head-liners are david lown on tenor, paul tynan on trumpet/flugel.  great, tight band, this recording grew out of a band camp encounter.  with  james driscoll, bass, noel johnston, guitar and david braid, piano.

gabriel alegria / afro-peruvian sextet.  cuidad de los reyes.  saponegro records.  What did I expect from this CD?   Old-style latin or maybe pan-pipes.  none of that;   rather,  elegant  jazz-world styling with mostly originals by leader/trumpeter alegria and his sax/vocalist laura leguia.  Rest of the band is no slouch:  shirazette tinnin on drums; john benitez, double bas; yuri juarez  on guitars.

charles lloyd/jason moran.* hagar’s song.  ECM.  Duets from two great artists–jason moran at the piano, and the indomitable charles lloyd on tenor, alto, bass &alto flute.  the playlist is fresh covers of tunes you thought you knew, but the anchor is a 28 minute original [hagar’s song] that owes to ellington and jazz history.  excellent.
* check out the New Yorker piece on jason moran by alex wilkinson in march 11, 2013 issue.

christian howes with richard galliano. southern exposure. resonance records.  Violin and accordion but so much more.  Galliano, student and friend of bandoneon master astor piazzolla, is a Parisian one-man-band with his fiery technique and compositional skills.  Howes may be from Ohio but he circles the globe with this afro-brazilian-cuban-celtic serenade.  band includes scott colley on bass, lewis nash on drums, josh nelson, piano.

aaron diehl.  the bespoke man’s narrative.  mack avenue records.  Five originals+ five classics from young piano wiz aaron diehl.  his debut recording sounds like keyboard magic but the back story is amazing technique, sophisticated improvisation whether he’s jazz-ing Ravel’s le tombeau de couperin,  homage-ing the MJQ with the cylinder, or  playing it solo and straight on single petal of a rose.  he’s not alone:  warren wolf on vibes, david wong on bass, rodney green on drums—don not miss this one!

kyle eastwood.  the view from here.  jazz village records.  Mr. Eastwood, son of clint, plays bass but his real strength is band leader/composer/ stylist of this fine recording.  Quality in the british band:  andrew mccormack on piano; stunning horns from graeme blevins on tenor & soprano and quentin collins on trumpet/flugel; drummer martyn kaine.  #9 is great, but it’s all great energy, tight.

mark egan/ karl latham/john hart.  unit 1.  wave tone records.    Very electric, groove-y sound from trio:  mark egan on bass; john hart on guitar; karl latham, drums, recorded at Bula club in Newtown N.J.  Titles, though all jazz covers, offer the barest suggestions;  long cues.

UCF jazz ensemble.  the blues is alright. flying horse records.  Central Florida  University’s calling card for recruiting jazz students has a great playlist– and as you know I usually run away from big band collections. Charts and composition by UCF performers;  jeff rupert, director.

rob parton big band.  we’ll be together again.  jazz tech records   Chicago  trumpet/flugel studio musician assembles his dream big band for this tribute to horn master clark terry.  Full, clean, high sound;  many covers and an original fantasy for trumpet & jazz orchestra by eric richards.