Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

G’s Way – Patchwork

An exotic colorful cover attracts people and make them curious. Kudos to Gérald Bonnegrace for the wise selection of Clément Laurentin’s excellent picture for G’s Way‘s new album.

The Parisian group G’s Way consists of Gérald “GG” Bonnegrace (percussions, trumpet, trombone, keys) Thierry “JP Groov” Jean-Pierre (bass), Stefane Goldman (guitar), Sylvain “Sly” Fetis (tenor and baritone saxophone) and Sonny Troupé (drums). Their debut album Seventy Seven (2012) has the status of an insider. Hopefully that will change with the sophomore album Patchwork (2014).

It sounds like an old legend from ancient times. Once Upon A Time is not a fairy tale, but throw waves in the style of Curtis Mayfield or Fela Ransome Kuti. Is it jazz, is it funk or is it just African? Take It Easy has that certain groove beyond all musical borders. Lorenz Rainer shines on trumpet.

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Diva – A Swingin’ Life

A rare offering, a 15-piece, all-female orchestra matched up with two classy vocalists. Diva presents A Swingin’ Life (MCG Jazz, 2014).

A product of the Manchester Craftsman’s Guild, the album offers 11 songs, recorded in two sessions. “Nothin’” and “All My Tomorrows” were recorded by MCG Jazz at the Guild in Pittsburgh. Appearing only on those are Karoline Strassmayer and Kristy Norter, alto saxophone; Anat Cohen, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Scheila Gonzalez, tenor saxophone; Leigh Pilzer, baritone saxophone; Liesl Whitaker, lead trumpet; Barbara Laronga, trumpet; Lori Stuntz, trombone; and Chihiro Yamanaka, piano.

The rest were recorded by Jazz at Lincoln Center at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York City. The musicians are Sherrie Maricle, drums and leader; Sharel Cassity, alto saxophone and flute; Janelle Reichman, clarinet and tenor saxophone; Roxy Cross, tenor saxophone; Lisa Parrott, baritone saxophone; Tanya Darby, lead trumpet and flugelhorn; Jami Dauber, Carol Morgan and Nadje Noorduhuis, trumpet and flugelhorn; Deborah Weisz and Jennifer Krupa, trombone; Leslie Havens, bass trombone; Tomoko Ohno, piano; and Noriko Ueda, bass.

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Isha Love – Jars of Waters

JarsofWaterWhen the fingers of Isha Love glide across the piano, a dazzling cascade of melody rushes forth spraying the atmosphere like the mist from a waterfall. “Jars of Waters,” her new offering, is a fluid tapestry of 14 luscious piano solos that pour sweet liquid libations for the soul. With ten gospel-tinged jazz originals and four unique interpretations of traditional spiritual hymns, Isha Love’s “Jars of Waters” is a tall refreshing glass to drink from.

A classically trained pianist, Isha Love emerges on the music scene as a source of “living water.” With “Jars of Waters,” Isha hopes to share and spread ever-abundant love. The inspirational solo performances on the CD transcend genres, riding the waves of jazz, classical, gospel, worship and pop. Whether she is surfing across the keys, like a boogie board bouncing above the ocean or rafting quietly down the river’s bank, tickling the ivories like a paddle propelling the current, her compositions shower light and shimmer with the presence of love.

Isha reveals that she only composes when she feels led by the Spirit. In fact, each track from “Jars of Waters” emerged from a series of compelling visions she believes God used to guide her musical journey. Song titles like “Rain On Me,” “I’ve Got Peace Like A River,” “There is a Fountain,” “Living Water,” and the title track “Jars of Waters” reveal her personal plunge to sacred depths. Continue reading

Jim Stranahan Little Big Band – Migration to Higher Ground

A big band and a smaller ensemble that sounds like a big band are the backdrops for Migration to Higher Ground (Tapestry Records, 2014) by the Jim Stranahan Little Big Band. The versatile reed instrument player and composer surrounds himself with top Colorado musicians.

Two ensembles are used in this set, recorded in two sessions. For five songs, Stranahan plays alto and soprano saxes, saxophone cadenza, and on “Mambo Facil,” soprano and tenor saxes. Other players are Caleb Starbuck, alto sax; Joe Anderies, alto flute and tenor sax; Chuck Schneider, tenor sax; Brad Goode, lead and jazz trumpet; Hugh Ragin, jazz trumpet; Wade Sander, trombone; Ben Faust, sousaphone on “Bayou Bounce”; Justin Adams, piano; Bijoux Barbosa, bass; and Todd Reid, drums. That session was recorded live in the performance studio of KUVO (Colorado Public Radio) during a broadcast.

On the four tracks, Stranahan plays soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. This group consists of Good, trumpets; Sander, trombones; Glen Zaleski, piano; Rick Rosato, bass; and Jim’s son, Colin Stranahan, drums.

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Kiki Ebsen – Scarecrow Sessions

As a jazz vocalist you are faced with the decision to present your own compositions or songs from the American Songbook. The first testifies to creativity, the latter is more popular but also more challenging. However it exposes you to the comparison and competition with a wide variety of other artists.

Singer Kiki Ebsen has chosen the American Songbook, to honor the memory of her father, the great actor Buddy Ebsen. Scarecrow Sessions stands out because of its cultural diversity and professionalism of the musicians involved. John Patitucci (bass), Henry Hey (piano and organ), Chuck Loeb (electric and acoustic guitars), Clint de Ganon (drums) and David Mann on saxophone and flute.

Kiki comments꞉ “The songs included are taken from my father’s career in movies and musicals, songs he loved, and his original works″. The album opens with You Don’t Know What Love Is, originally sung by Carol Bruce for the Abbott and Costello picture Keep ‘Em Flying. You learn to appreciate the value of a treasure only when it is lost. The bittersweet of this knowledge is internalized by Kiki with sensuous voice.

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Itamar Borochov – Outset

Debuts for jazz artists can be challenging. Some play it safe, reinventing standards or covering pop tunes. Others are more adventurous, delivering not only original material but going beyond the cookie-cutter, radio format-friendly tunes but testing the listener: Do you want your jazz to be quick, catchy, familiar? Or do you want something more complex, something you haven’t heard before?

It’s the latter that’s targeted by trumpeter/composer Itamar Borochov. Outset (RealBird Records, 2014) features seven original songs, totaling approximately 55 minutes. Accompanying him are Hagai Amir, alto sax; Avri Borochov, bass; and Aviv Cohen, drums.

“Pain Song” is an epic piece. At nearly 13 minutes, it offers the artist plenty of space to express. The mood is dark, brooding. The trumpet begins softly but rises when joined by the sax. All this is part of the setup. Then, Borochov goes exploring, with bass and drums representing the rugged terrain he must cross. After a few minutes journey, Amir takes point, going in a different direction but with the same sense of wonder. The pair rejoin and gradually wind down, accented by Cohen’s cymbal splashes.

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Steve Khan – Subtext

I’ve said on occasion that Steve Khan can do no wrong. Having heard his solos in performances with some of my old favorites, Maynard Ferguson and Steely Dan, I’ve come to know a different side of him as a solo artist. He never disappoints. Subtext (Tone Center Records, 2014) further validates the point.

The lineup is Khan; Ruben Rodriguez, electric bass and baby bass; Dennis Chambers, drums; Marc Quinones, timbale, bongo and percussion; and Bobby Allende, conga and bongo. Keyboardist Rob Mounsey performs on a few tracks and handles orchestrations for several others.

Special guest Randy Brecker plays flugelhorn on the first track, “Bird Food (Comida para Pajaros),” an Ornette Coleman remake. Quinones and Allende get quite busy beneath the leads as Khan and Brecker carry the melody. After the opening sequence, Brecker delivers a bright, sunny solo. When it’s his turn, Khan moves seamlessly between single notes and chords. Guitar and flugelhorn blend for tightly syncopated phrases several times during this piece. “Blue Subtext,” one of three original songs on this date, has a placid, tropical vibe. Mounsey comes through a bit more. Khan puts the guitar through a few high-speed passes, yet he does it in such a way as not to sound like he’s speeding up the song. That mellow, easygoing feel is present throughout.

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