amy cervini. jazz country. anzic. A gem, not to be missed, jazz vocalist amy cervini re-thinks country music. her background–Toronto, music conservatory initially in alto + voice–gives her style beauty and uniqueness. produced by matt wilson, core band = cervini, jesse lewis, guitar; matt aronoff, bass plus stellar guests–anat cohen, gary versace, nellie mckay, marty erlich.
stacey kent. the changing lights. parlophone/wb. Brazil, a region of the heart, gets exquisite treatment from vocalist stacey kent. playlist surveys the well-known and lesser Brazilian composers, plus originals from kent’s collaborator husband, jim tomlinson & writer kazuo ishiguro. kent sings like a native in many languages but her Portuguese is soft, with clear musical drifts. always a pleasure.
jeff ballard. time’s tales. OKeh. Great balance between originals and classics in this sophisticated debut (as a leader) recording from drummer jeff ballad. trio rounds out with miguel zenon, alto and lionel louecke, guitar as they cover Cuban troubadour silvio rodriguez, george gershwin, and bela bartok. multiple listens required to get under complete musical umbrella.
frank wess. magic 201. IPO. In 2013 flutist/tenor frank wess died at the age of 91; he had played with count basie, ben webster, lester young. His two posthumous releases– magic 101 and magic 201–are old school sessions that surrender to the unhurried, to ballads with silent lyrics. make his acquaintance if you don’t know him. piano, kenny barron; guitar, russell malone; rufus reid, bass; winard harper, drums.
rudy royston. 303. greenleaf. Dynamite debut from drummer rudy royston as bandleader. excellence began with the band selection: tenor jon erabagon and Aussie trumpeter nadja noordhuis smoothly sounding as one; pianist sam harris weaving melodies; guitarist nir felder and mimi jones or yasushi nakamura defining a strong bass line. leader/ composer royston and dave douglas’s greenleaf label create the home.
the tiptons. tiny lower case. sowie sound. i played this first, and in the middle, and late at night, and never fell in love. love, love, love this group in previous incarnations, but tiny lower case spelled no magic for me. it’s not bad, just fussy & rudderless.
natalie cressman. turn the sea. self. Pop & jazz in trombonist/singer/composer natalie cressman’s confident second recording as a leader. a beautiful redhead with poetry in her lyrics.
takuya kuroda. rising son. blue note. In the horn playing department, it’s much harder to be a trumpet super-star than tenor or alto sax. out on a limb as i am now, takuya kuroda– Japanese-born, berklee-educated– adds in soul to his exceptional trumpet glory. originals playlist, except for 70’s roy ayers cues. co-starring: nate smith, drums; solomon dorsey, bass; kris bowers, rhodes, corey king, trombone.
sheryl bailey. a meeting of the minds. cellar live. Mostly originals, expertly interpreted by guitarist sheryl bailey’s organ trio: ron oswanski on B-3, ian froman, drums. whatever guitar/organ vibe you like— the burner or the pensativo— bailey & co provides. released by cory weeds thoughtful cellar live label.
dave stryker. eight track. self. Guitarist dave stryker celebrates the lost god that was the 8-track tape in his 70’s set list. curtis mayfied, music from Hair, stevie wonder, witchita lineman— fun at every turn. jared gold keeps the organ lively, stefon harris on vibes; mcclenty hunter, drums and stryker @ guitar.
alex blake+bill ware+jaime affoumado+arturo o’farrill. the puppeteers. puppets. Disclosure: contemporary vibraphone is irresistible to me, and bill ware, one of the best, displays both compositional & performance chops with this Latin-esque rhythm quartet. blake on bass; o’farrill, piano; affoumado, drums.
ben paterson. essential element. maxjazz. Chicago jazz pianist ben paterson jumped labels, from origin to maxjazz, on this recording. sometimes he reminds me of an emerging bill evans, and then not. here, he confines himself with the trio: joshua ramos, bass; and jon deitmeyer, drums, and a playlist that never catches fire, even in a quiet way.
jim suhler. panther burn. underworld. Dallas vocalist/guitarist with his new recording.
laith al-saadi. real. weber works. Dozen + musicans for live session of mostly originals, fronted by Detroit/Ann Arbor blues man laith al-saadi. Band–rhythm/horns/vocals–thrives with the lack of technical interference.
daunielle. eponymous. cat food. Debut recording for Memphis blues/soul singer on the El Paso catfood label; killer voice– range, growl, energy– daunielle (dawn-yell) worked the twenty feet from stardom path with solomon burke, huey & the news,– now giving other soul divas a run for their audience. loved it.
blue lunch. 30th anniversary special. rip cat. Blues/ swing band, Cleveland-based, many original compositions by their de facto leader, guitarist bob frank. older, experienced bluesmen who can really jump.