charlie hunter/scott amendola. not 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.