Monthly Archives: April 2013

jazz/blues adds april 29, 2013


nicole mitchell’s ice crystal.  aquarius.  delmark.  Chicago girl makes very good!  flutist mitchell guides the compostion, but shares the stage in an amazing quartet:  vibist jason adasiewicz (great), bassist  josh abrams, and drummer frank rosaly.   collective performing, digging in, making room for what comes next.  Mo’better flute.

ellery eskelin.  trio new york II.  prime source.  Standards stood on their ear in this equal partnership trio.  tenor player eskelin  leads/produces but dialogue between sax and the B-3 of gary versace deserves a wow.  gerald cleaver on drums is ever-present, and no slouch in the rhythm department.

raquel bitton.  rhythm of the heart.  self.   Lush, full Latin orchestra with bandoneon, horns, percusssion for Parisian-raised, vocalist bitton’s tribute to Corsican singer tino rossi, heartthrob of the French cabaret.  easy listening, adorable rolling r’s, superb piano work from rebecca mauleon.

 benoit delbecq & fred hersch double trio.  fun house.  songlines.  Co-production of French almost avant-garde pianist delbecq and NYC downtown jazz pianist hersch;  together they inhabit a strong ECM ethos.  Best title– coleman’s lonely woman, maybe le rayon vert.  double every thing supports:   mark helias & jean jacques avenel on bass; steve arguelles & gerry hemingway at drums, electronics.
elgar djangirov trio.  break through.  motema.  Virtuostic–but relentless– from Krygystan-born, Kansas City-raised young pianist eldar.  Previous recordings have more peace, less frenzy as  here he unpacks standards, and originals.  with armando gola-bass;  ludwig afonso-drums;  guests, chris potter and joe locke.
john gunther.  safari trio: surrender.  dazzle.  Trio led by U of Co. reed player/educator gunther shapes a beauitful playlist from Brazilian-inspired originals to traditional Turkish.  gunther plays soprano, alto, flute, clarinet;  brad shepik, guitar;  john hadfield, drums.  sound = dynamic, exotic, conversational.  my pick of the week.
bruce torff.  look again.  summit.  NYC-area keyboardist/songwriter torff assembles a quality band but lets us down with his original songs, sung meandering-ly  by vocalist pete mcguiness.  i tried but could not connect with this one;  joel frahm, tenor;  matt wilson, drums;  pete mccann, guitars.
jeff berlin. low standards  random act.  The trio–berlin on electric bass, mike clark on drums, and richard drexler, piano/acoustic bass–get a
compelling moody, murky fusion groove going.  covers–loved  carla bley’s vashkar–all have merit.
phil woods. right to swing. jazzed media.  Jazz alto giant woods performs with the DePaul U jazz  ensemble.  but this recording is the production of bob lark, director of the ensemble and head of the prestigious De Paul jazz program.  music is fine, but i was dismayed to see no women in either ensemble that performs.
stefan redtenbacherthe cooker.  self.  Da funk!  great music to cook by, confessing that’s how i took this for a spin.  redtenbacher’s big horn-y band (UK and US “hornheads” get credit) is the Funkestra.  suitable for blues, dancing, high energy activities-like cooking.  names on the notes:  lenny pickett, jim hunt, dave limina, rob taggert.
michael blanco.  no time like the presentcognitive dissonance.  Here, I liked the solo bass solo, postcard, better that the collaborations, though broadway/jazz bassist blanco is a-list player.  with jonathan kreisberg, guitar;  david cook, piano;  john ellis, sax; mark ferber, drums
molly holm.  permission.  rinny zin.  Berkeley, CA singer/songwriter/educator comes with exalted pedigree but her voice does not deliver.  musician supports are all first class:  famoudou don moye & deszon claiborne on drums; frank martin, piano; jeff chambers, bass.
lisa biales.  singing in my soul.  big song music.  Gentle country vocalist meets a French-based blues rhythm trio on a old-timey/standards/gospel playlist…and it sparkles.   thibaut chopin, upright bass; anthony stelmaszack, guitars;  simon boyer, drums + ricky nye, piano/production.
hans thessink. wishing well.  blue groove    A deep voiced murmuring delta-blues stylist { born in Holland, working in Vienna, Austria} , thessink plays varied string instruments, has traveled the world, sung with the many, and holds the listener with a whisper not a scream.
mike schermer.  be somebody.  finedog records.  Bills itself as Texicali-music, hmmmm?  Austin-based mighty mike schermer writes and plays various guitars.  his guests include marcia ball, piano;  elvin bishop, slide guitar;  with core band credits to damien llanes, drums, and ronnie james, bass.
ron dziubla.  nasty habit. rip cat.   Ridiculously juicy, froggy  sound from saxman dziubla–formerly Duane Eddy’s tenor/bari master.  classic playlist–harlem nocturne creates its own second hand smoke curls.  with farfisa, piano;  pete curry, percussion; sam bolle, bass; rj ronquillo, guitar.

jazz/blues adds april 22, 2013


the catholics.  yonder.  bugle.  Headliner for me this week.  where exactly did they come from?  down under,….or yonder? impossibly friendly band–double percussion, ditto guitars { tres, acoustic}, regular bass, 4 horns {tenor, soprano, trombone, pocket trumpet} + a piano accordion.  originals are the best, many are long;  led by bassist lloyd swanton.

john medeski.  a different time. okeh. Solo debut from medeski, martin and wood pianist;  a man meets a 1924 Parisian-made Gaveau piano– inspiration becomes quiet revolution.  somewhere between classical minimalism and graceful improvisation, medeski lets the venerable piano have its song and silences.

the engines with john tchai.  other violets.  not two.  Tribute to, and with, the late john tchai, south african tenor player, made in 2011.  organized by dave rempis, alto for Chicago-based the engines [ jeb bishop-trombone, nate mcbride-bass; tim daisy-drums].  recording is luscious but x-perimental. very long cues needing night time to stretch out.

swingadelic.  toussaintville.  zoho.  Playlist salutes compositions by  New Orleans icon allen toussaint ;  NYC-based “little big band” –14+ guests including queen esther–swings into a variety of juicy arrangements.  southern nights and ruler of my heart top this chart.

terry klinefelter.  zingaro. vectordisc.  Philly-area pianist/vocalist klinefelter heads a trio– lee smith on bass, byron landham, drums–but knits a number of guests into her ambitious playlist.  Co-starring denise king, steve giordano,  jerry weldon, and a string trio on the title track.
michael dease.  coming home. d-clef. Young trombone talent dease breathes a different musical life into jazz standards:  the piano’s blues etude, and freddie hubbard classic take it to the ozone.  excellent supporting cast:  renee rosnes, piano;   christian mcbride, bass;  steve wilson, alto, and ulysses owens, drums + guests.
michael blake.  in the grand scheme of things.  songlines.  Terrific quartet jazz fusions from canada.  blake, via NYC, composes and weaves a restrained tenor thru an all originals playlist;  trumpet/ electronic from jp carter, exotic drum lines from dylan van der schyff, and gorgeous keyboard and Moog moods from chris gestrin.   Willie, the lonely cowboy, a beauty.
christian mcbride & inside straight.  people music.  mack avenue.  Smooth as silk combo led by bassist/composer mcbride, with all the jazz young Turks–warren wolf on vibes;  steve wilson on alto; carl allen or ulysses owens  on drums; peter martin, piano.
jaimeo brown.  transcendence.  motema.  Mesmerizing, dynamic work from drummer/producer jaimeo brown, mixing gospel samples from the Gee’s Bend singers–who toured with the Gee’s Bend Quilt project back in the 90”s;  inspired by Alabama African American community life, blues vocalise & world riffs = everybody wins.  a brilliant cast:  geri allen, piano; chris sholar, guitar/electronics; jd allen, constant tenor; Indian vocalist falu; dartanyan brown, bass.
larry carlton & robben ford unplugged.  335.  Guitar + guitar, recorded live in Paris @ new morning jazz club from blues legends carlton and ford.  with supports from bassist fifi chayeb, and claude salmieri, drums.
dave haskell group.  pivot point.  coastal sky.  More guitars, including guest appearance by robben ford,
leader haskell has been a guitar master since the 1980’s when he dropped out of the gigging world to fly airplanes.  he’s back with a core band–dan zemelman, aaron germain, allan hall– and guests.
stephen anderson trio.  believe.  summit.  UNC scholar/musician anderson leads his trio –jeffrey eckels, bass; ross pederson, drums–with guest joel frahm on tenor.  anderson, who trained in classsical and jazz @ north texas state, produces fine originals, and robust arrangements.


john primer & bob corritore.  knockin around these blues. delta groove.  Chicago blues vocalist/guitar musician primer meets harmonica cat corritore;  barrelhouse chuck drives the piano, boogie-woogie style.  traditional blues playlist, smart arrangements.

nicole hart & anni piper.  split second. blues leaf.  Girly duets–Florida blues girl joins with Aussie blues lady;  OK, but a little too much tired rockabilly.

andrew jr. boy jones.  i know what it’s like.  43rd big idea.  On the blues scene for decades, jones comes out of the west Texas tradition– back in the day, his vocals  and guitar were heard with freddie king’s band, thunderbirds, and mustangs.  new cd features kerrie lepai on vocals, with many seasoned players.

mighty mojo prophets.  flyin home from memphis. delta groove. Sophomore release from five blues scholar/musicians out of CA.–though not west coast swing.  tom eliff on vocals; mitch dow, guitars;  alex schwartz, drums;  dave deforest, bass;  mike malone, keyboards.  with horn and harmonica cameos.

jazz/blues adds april 15, 2013


madeleine peyroux the blue room. decca.  Real revelations here from honey-voiced peyroux with both a jazz rhythm combo (5 players) plus strings.  all covers–buddy holly to leonard cohen to warren zevon (my fav) –her mix of country, jazz, blues loves them all.  the actual “blue room” is the oldest bar in Burbank, CA.
dave douglas quintet. time travel. greenleaf.  Fearlessly staking out new ground with each project, trumpeter douglas reassembles the  musicians from 2012’s Be Still (minus bluegrass vocalist aiofe o’donovan).  all original playlist, with  jon irabagon–tenor; linda oh–bass; matt mitchell–piano; rudy royston–drums.
jim snidero.  stream of consciousness.  savant.  Smart guitar-ish trio led by alto player snidero.  all (very good) original compostions played effortlessly by of-the-moment musicians:  linda oh on bass;  rudy royston, drums, and paul bollenback on guitar.
barbara morrison.  a sunday kind of love.  savant.  Solid collection of standards about yearning and love from LA-based vocalist morrison featuring the big tenor sound of houston person.  with stuart elster on piano, bassist richard simon, and lee spath, drums.
jay d’amico quintet.  tango caliente. CAP. Old style combo playing, with excellent trumpet/ (richie vitale) and tenor/flute (andrew sterman) interplay.  misleading title, with not a tango in sight;  all originals, good band, arrangements, just no tangos.
eli yamin and evan christopher.  louie’s dream for our jazz heroes. self.
Clarinet in the foreground from evan christopher, with eli yamin at the piano;  lots of ellingtonia, louis armstrong, mary lou williams.
jared gold.  intuition.  posi-tone.  Excellent organ trio:  drummer mcclenty hunter, dave stryker on guitar, and leader/composer jared gold pushing keys and pedals.  covers and originals; very groovy, toe-tapping.
charnett moffett.  the bridge:  solo bass works. motema. Oddly–musically severe, but a beauty.   seasoned “young lion” bass player moffet  mixes it up on the 20-count roster:  shorties like Haitian fight song, and monk medley fly into longer cues like kalengo, eleanor rigby.  check it out.!
tommy flanagan, jaki byard  the magic of 2.  resonance. Brilliance from 1982, recorded live ( on cassette!!) at the keystone korner in San Fran. CA, two of the greatest jazz pianists–duets and solo.  byard (teacher to many formidable players, jason moran among them)  and flanagan, the smooth, lyricist could not be more different in their moves:  jaki finds repeated resistance in the melodies, as tommy looks for the lines of beauty.  enjoy this.
 kahil el’zabar quartet.  what it is!.  delmark.  Arriving with the pedigree of an avant-garde jazz elder, this 58th recording by composer/drummer el’zabar is very friendly.  must be the company he’s keeping:  kevin nabors on tenor;  justin dillard on keyboards, and junius paul on bass.  softness is available;  check out “from the heart” with its thumb piano (West Africa) solo.
sean nowell.  the kung-fu masters.  posi-tone.  A whole lotta blowing going on here–but an affirming quote about plateaus from bruce lee.  so the band composition is two keyboards–organ, adam klipple, and art hirahara on piano-like things;  nowell on tenor, brad mason on trumpet; michael dease on trombone, and then a super energetic drummer, marko djordjevic + evan marien, bass.
CSC funk band.  funkincense. electric cowbell.  I took this little puppy for a ride in the car and had to pull over.  Have no idea who they are;  no liner notes, composition credits give names–but alas, besides being from Brooklyn, this grooves ‘n funk fabulosity is under my radar.  play it, please—afro-funk-world-jazz-ethiopique-dance-boogaloo.  a musical identity crisis of the best kind.


anders osborne.  three free amigos.  alligator.   Reluctant as i am to praise osborne’s easy and beautiful recording–in fear that it will be “kidnapped” like the boz scaggs memphis–i can not pretend otherwise.  friendly blues-esque originals that seem familiar, polished with casual but complex arrangements.  band has more than 3 amigos  –osborne-vocals, guitar;  carl dufrene, bass; michael burkhart, B-3; billy iuso-guitar; maggie koener, vocals.
blues mix 10:  super soul mix.  ecko.  Collection of soul artists like Mrs. Jody, Sir Ced, Jaye Hammer with various pleadings:  Stop it, Pay Before you Pump, All I Need, Just Like Dat, Sit her on the Table.   how can you go wrong?
johnny and the motones.  shake it.  altenburgh.  Wisconsin-based blues and r&b  group featuring john altenburgh, chris o’keefe, and mitch viegut.

arthur big boy crudup.  sunny road.  delmark.  Blues brilliance from 1969, vocalist/guitar master  arthur crudup takes on the melancholy of loss and hardship.  sit back and listen;  with jimmy dawkins & mike thompson on guitar;  mark thompson on bass, and willie “big eyes” smith, drumming.

jazz/blues adds april 1, 2013


gerald clayton.  life forum. concord.  Classically educated pianist/composer clayton represents a musical family–john and jeff clayton = elders.  his third recording is an argument to the “jazz is dead” alarm;  original compositions with even more original arrangements;  a brilliant supporting cast of musicians– vocalists gretchen parlato & sachal vasandani, reed-men logan richardson and dayna stephens; ambrose akinmusire on trumpet and steady drummer justin brown.

ben sidran.  don’t cry for no hipster. nardis.  Vocalist/keyboardist sidran explains historically the word “hipster”, and then, without affectation, defines it in his playlist.  music  by Monk, Sidran, and the author of “sixteen tons”. successful.

beata pater.  red.  b & b records.  Vocalizing from the Polish-born singer/composer/violinist pater showcases her mezzo-soprano voice and technique in originals and covers.  not my usual cup of tea because it all sounds the same after awhile, this is her third recording in a series dedicated to colors.

lisa hilton.  getaway.  ruby slippers.  Jazz pianist/composer with  strong blues expressiveness, hilton has been recording since the mid 1990’s.  excellent trio format– with larry grenadier on bass, and nasheet waits (regular player on jason moran gigs) drumming.

jovino santos neto.  piano masters series. # 4.  adventure music.  Solo improvs  from Brazilian-Seattle-based pianist/composer santos neto.  cues are short, a few covers, the piano (a Fazioli) sounds like a milllion bucks.

lauren white.  meant to be.  self produced.  Jazz and cabaret from vocalist white and the quinn johnson quintet (+ cameos).  mixed quality but worth a listen.

bill harris quintet.  this time the dream ‘s on me.  self produced.  American songbook standards  with a bluesy style from alto/tenor player harris.  traditional quintet fills out with trumpet, piano, bass and drums.

scott healy ensemble.  hudson city suite.  hudson city records.  Ellingtonia re-visited in pianist/composer healy’s decades-in-the-making contemporary original.   a small, “big band” with 6+ horns of various hues, magic drums from kendall kay, and healy’s  defining piano line.

ryan keberle +catharsis.  music is emotion.  alternate side records.  Trombone leader/composer keberle has sideman-ed for a wide spectrum:  ivan lins, alicia keys, maria schneider.  his tight group, catharsis, is all about the blend of his horn and that of trumpeter mike rodriguez, with jorge roeder on bass and eric doob on drums.  smooth.

rich thompson.  less is more.  origin. Strong straight-ahead jazz quintet led by drummer thompson.  excellent band includes terell stafford on trumpet/flugel and tenor doug stone, with master keyboardist gary versace, and jeff campbell on bass.

jim ridl.  blue corn enchilada dreams.  self produced.  Ambitious, bilingual music/poetry release from keyboardist/composer ridl grew out of a love for the American southwest.  band rounds out with stellar terell stafford on trumpet/flugel, bassist john benitez, and donald edwards on drums.

pedrito martinez.  rumba de la isla.  calle 54.  Musical mix  of Cuban and Spanish flamenco– congero martinez gathers a great band:  cajon master pirana, alfredo de la fe on electric violin, nino joselle-guitar, claps. + john benitez on bass, percussionist roman diaz.  beautiful graphic design,  one of the better Latin releases to come along.


tinsley ellis.  get it!.  heartfixer music.  Blues and rock guitarist ellis  doing mostly originals with kevin mckendree on organs, clavinet;  lynn williams, drums, ted pecchio, bass.

boz scaggs.  memphis.  429 records.  Recent “discovery” pour moi, and this fun thing just adds to his oeuvre.  lots of guests–charlie musselwhite, jim cox  playing killer piano, spooner oldham on wurlitzer.  try ” cadillac walk.”

brad vickers & his vestapolitans.  great day in the morning. manhattone. Old time blues styling with fabulous fiddler, charles burnham.  leader vickers plays bottleneck  guitar;  margery peters on vocal + fiddle;  bill rankin, drums;   many guests.
sterling koch.  let it slide.  self -produced.  Lap steel guitar music from leader/vocalist koch and his trio (seems like there are more):  gene babula, bass; john goba, drums.  great songs–slow, fast, always deep in the blues and twang.
albert king.  born under a bad sign.  stax records.  From 1967, blues guitar and vocalist king plays the release classics+ bonus alternate takes.  musician credits include isaac hayes or booker t. jones on piano; donald “duck” dunn on bass, al jackson jr. on drums, steve cropper, more guitar.  fresh.