Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Chick Corea Trio – Trilogy

Q: What happens when you turn one of the great composer/pianists of our time loose.
A: Nearly three hours of first-rate music.

National Endowment for the Arts jazz master and winner of 20 Grammy awards, Chick Corea releases Trilogy (Stretch Records/Concord Jazz, 2014), a special three-disc selection culled from various performances around the world. The trio includes bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. Guests Jorge Pardo and guitarist Nino Josele appear on two songs, and Corea’s wife, Gayle Moran Corea, provides the voice on “Someday My Prince Will Come.”

Disc 1 has seven tracks, including standards “The Song Is You” and “My Foolish Heart.” This part of the set ends with one of Corea’s most popular compositions, “Spain.” It begins with Josele playing a classical-style solo. The Corea’s piano comes in, offering hints of what’s to come. The guitar continues to lead as the prelude slowly builds up, eventually joined by the flute. At last, the ensemble kicks it in gear. The trio carries it early on. Guitar and flute rejoin when the familiar melody appears. Corea is clearly the star here, but Josele does plenty with the time he’s given. Things heat up when Pardo takes point. The flute easily transitions from simply intense to shrill. The energy remains high even when the volume is low for McBride’s turn out front. The song reverts to the main them for a triumphant ending.

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The Breithaupt Brothers – Just Passing Through

The Breithaupt Brothers note that many vocalists who record a jazz album tap into the American Songbook. Compositions by George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, Richard Rogers and Larenz Hart have been covered by artists of a various genres, including Natalie Cole and Rod Stewart. With Just Passing Through – The Breithaupt Brothers Songbook Vol. II (Alma Records, 2014), composer Don and lyricist Jeff attempt to recapture that spirit but with all-new material.

Each of the 15 tracks is led by a different vocalist. But these aren’t merely guest performers invited to sit in on the session. Many are singers the brothers have worked with before, including some who have performed their songs live.

The musicians are Don Breithaupt and Paul Shaffer, keyboards; Justin Abedin, Drew Zingg and Mike Francis, guitars; Russ Boswell and Pat Kilbride, bass; Steve Heathcote and Mark Kelso, drums; Tony Carlucci, William Sperandei and Dave Dunlop, trumpets; Carlucci, flugelhorn; Doug Gibson, Gordon Myers and Terry Promane, trombones; Gibson, bass trombone; Phil Poppa, Perry White, John Johnson, Vern Dorge, Andy Ballantyne, Mike Murley and Turner King, saxophones; Ross Woolridge, clarinet; Maurizio Baccante, cello; and Heathcote, percussion.

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Al Jarreau – My Old Friend

MyoldfriendAl Jarreau and George Duke were friends long before they became household names. They began playing together in the mid-1960’s in San Francisco as Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio. The successes of these performances are what helped to launch both their careers. George’s tragic passing in August, 2013, inspired Al to record this loving tribute to his longtime friend. With the exception of the fitting title track composed by Jarreau, all the tunes were written by George.

Guest artists/collaborators include Gerald Albright, Stanley Clarke, Dr. John, Lalah Hathaway, Boney James, Marcus Miller, Jeffrey Osborne, Kelly Price, Dianne Reeves and Patrice Rushen. There’s even a song with George Duke playing on it! You can buy this album at

The Brandee Younger 4tet – Live at the Breeding Ground

Taking a page out of Deborah Henson Conant’s playbook, Brandee Younger blazes her own trail, playing an instrument seldom heard in jazz circles: the harp. With fresh takes on a few older songs and some original music, the Brandee Younger 4tet presents Live at the Breeding Ground (2014).

With Younger are Dezron Douglas, bass and E.J. Strickland, drums. The quartet is completed on some tracks by tenor saxophonist Chelsea Beratz and on others by soprano saxophonist Stacy Dillard.

A shuffle beat is part of the backdrop for “Wax and Wane.” Harp and tenor sax complement each other well on the melody. Behind the leads, Douglas and Strickland get plenty of action. Younger takes point for a while then yields to Baratz. The entire ensemble plays with passion and energy – enough so that it’s difficult to focus on one without neglecting the others. Even during the solos, the other musicians remain firmly engaged.

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Chris Walden Big Band – Full-On!

The title says it all. Full-On! (Origin Records, 2014), by the Chris Walden Big Band, is a full-on thriller for fans of this style of music.

Walden has done orchestral arrangements for mainstream pop stars like Stevie Wonder and Neil Young, as well as jazz artists such as Michael Buble and Diana Krall. When he’s not doing that, he’s doing this. Full-On! features six original songs, including one co-written by Walden with Courtney Fortune, and Walden’s arrangements of several genre-crossing selections: pop, standards, country and jazz.

The band consists of Jeff Driskell, Bob Sheppard, Rob Lockart, Brandon Fields, Tom Peterson and (two tracks only) Kim Richmond, saxes; Wayne Bergeron, Kye Palmer, Ron King and Kevin Richardson, trumpets; Bob McChesney, Alex Iles, Paul Young, Rich Bullock and (two tracks only) Andy Martin, trombones; Mitch Holder and (“Sir Duke”) Andrew Synowiec, guitars; Alan Steinberger, piano and keyboard; Kenny Wild, bass; Ray Brinker, drums; and M.B. Gordy, percussion.

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Mitch Shiner and the BloomingTones Big Band – Fly!

Fly! (Patois Records, 2014) is the startling debut of Mitch Shiner and the BloomingTones Big Band. The percussionist, composer and arranger is a protégé of trombonist Wayne Wallace and follows the trail blazed by other products of Indiana: Freddie Hubbard and Wes Montgomery among them.

Shiner was born in Milwaukee but received musical education in Indiana, where he also has performed with a variety of jazz ensembles.

The BloomingTones Big Band are: Amanda Gordier, alto and soprano saxophone, flute and alto flute; Adam Carrillo, alto and soprano saxophone, clarinet; Matt Roehrich, tenor saxophone, alto flute and clarinet; Alex Young, tenor saxophone and clarinet; Steven Banks, baritone saxophone and bass clarinet; Dan Coffman, lead trombone; John Sorsen and Stewart Rhodes, trombones; Wayne Wallace, trombone on two tracks; Brennan Johns, bass trombone; Jordan Ghaim, lead trumpet; Josiah Lamb and Lexie Signor, trumpets; Joe Anderson, flugelhorn, trumpet and electronic valve instrument; Pat Harbison, trumpet on two tracks; Matt Johnson, tuba on two tracks; Eric Dumouchelle and Torrey D’Angelo, tuba on “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”; Matt MacDougal, guitar; Richard Baskin, vocals on three tracks; Michael Spiro, vocals on “When You Wish Upon a Star”; Anna Butterss (three tracks), Rob Walker (five tracks) and Jeremy Allen (two tracks), bass and baby bass; John Weisinger, piano; Joe Galvin (two tracks), Kristin Olson (five tracks), Shiner (four tracks) and Spiro (“When You Wish Upon a Star”), percussion; Olson (four tracks) and Shiner (three tracks), vibraphone; and Ben Lumsdaine (“Watchful Eyes”), Josh Roberts (two tracks) and Shiner (six tracks), drum set.

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Steve Wilson and Lewis Nash – Duologue

Each an established performer in his own right, saxophonist Steve Wilson and drummer Lewis Nash join forces for Duologue (MCG Jazz, 2014). It’s two players without accompaniment, stretching out to their hearts’ content.

Words cannot do justice to the sounds these two musicians create. It’s always a challenge to put into words a vivid description of instrumental music. That challenge becomes greater when there are only two instruments. In such cases, it’s best to just tell about the project and let the music speak for itself.

Three Wilson originals are among the 11 songs in the set. Among the classics they cover are “Caravan,” “The Mooche,” “Jitterbug Waltz,” “Woody ‘N’ You” and two medleys of Thelonious Monk compositions, the first presenting “Ask Me Now” and “Evidence,” and the second bringing forth “Bright Mississippi” and “Four in One.”

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