Posts Tagged ‘ Jazz ’

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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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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Elias Haslanger – Live at the Gallery

Play loose. Play happy. Have fun. And the audience will appreciate you. That seems to be the message Elias Haslanger gave his sidemen for Live at the Gallery (Cherrywood Records, 2014), which refers to the Continental Club Gallery, where the saxophonist and his band play regularly on Mondays.

Haslanger plays tenor sax. With him are Dr. James Polk, Hammond B3 organ; Jake Langley, guitar; Scott Laningham, drums; and Daniel Durham, bass.

“One for Daddy O” starts the set. It’s gritty, soulful, no-nonsense. The tenor growls at its lowest depths, then wails at some of its highest heights. The audience responds accordingly. Langley stretches out during the middle, playing like an old-school blues artist. Polk gets his chance to shine as well.

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Brenda Earle Stokes – Right About Now

Newlywed Brenda Earle Stokes has undergone some changes over the past few years. But now that she’s somewhat settled, she’s back in business as a pianist, composer and vocalist. Right About Now (2014) captures seven original songs and a few remakes.

Stokes also plays Rhodes and triangle. Accompanists are Matt Aronoff, bass; Jordan Perlson, drums; Steve Cardenas, guitar; and Joel Frahm, saxophone.

“It’s High Time,” one of Stokes’ original compositions, has an upbeat, 3/4 tempo. Stokes’ inflections add emphasis on key beats. The band solidly supports the voice. One gets the sense the singer has reached the limits of patience and is ready for the object of her affections to act. This song is right at home in a smoky jazz club where most of the patrons opt for hard liquor on the rocks rather than wine, beer or cocktails. The way Frahm and Stokes play their instruments contributes to that vision. As if the song weren’t enjoyable enough already, Stokes injects some Fitzgeraldesque scatting toward the end.

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Felipe Salles – Ugandan Suite

Take pieces of jazz, smidgens of classical and bits of African music, and you’re likely to get something close to Ugandan Suite (Tapestry Records, 2014) by Felipe Salles. This unusual, yet interesting approach brings nearly an hour’s worth of music.

Salles players tenor and baritone saxophones, flutes and bass clarinet. Fellow wind instrumentalist David Liebman plays wooden flute, soprano and tenor saxophones. Nando Michelin is on piano, and Keala Kaumeheiwa handles the bass. Versatile percussionist Damascus Kafumbe handles several instruments, including tube-fiddle, bow-harp and madinda xylophone. Rogerio Boccato takes care of other percussion.

Each piece is named for a wild animal. “Movement 1 – The Buffalo” begins quietly. Slowly, the beat begins to pick up, possibly indicating a herd on the move. The flute and piano gradually come into the picture, setting up the layered theme, with Salles and Liebman handling multiple instruments. The music comes to an abrupt stop, shifting to a slower, softer mood – as if the herd found a watering hole. The animals rest and drink but with senses on full alert for predators. Then the beat returns as the herd moves on. Liebman plays the soprano with flits here and there, followed by a more rhythmic tenor. One of the horns does some rolling wails, symbolizing an animal crying out. The intensity builds as Salles and Liebman answer each other’s calls, at times overlapping. After a narrow escape, the herd moves on.

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