Posts Tagged ‘ Jazz ’

The Omar Hakim Experience – We Are One

It’s hard to imagine someone telling Omar Hakim that he doesn’t play enough solos. To be fair, the importance of a drummer isn’t limited to simply carrying the rhythm. Still, it isn’t necessary for a good drummer to solo in order to make an impact. Throughout his career, Hakim has done that numerous times, both as a sideman and as a leader. However, he has taken some flak for not playing enough solos. With that in mind, The Omar Hakin Experience presents We Are One (OZmosis Records, 2014).

The album title can be taken as a testament to the group dynamic, or how people have a symbiotic relationship with other humans. Whatever the underlying message, the 10 original tracks – Hakim wrote or co-wrote each song – offer plenty of originality with stylish contributions from all players. The corps ensemble consists of Hakim, keyboardist Scott Tibbs, guitarist Chieli Minucci, bassist Jerry Brooks, keyboardist Rachel Z and harmonica player Gregoire Maret. Additional players contribute to a few tracks.

Hakim and Tibbs teamed up to write the funky “Transmigration.” Brooks’ bass line helps set the mood. This is a group effort all the way. Hakim’s dexterity lays the foundation, but all the other players make significant contributions, whether leading the rhythm, injecting a solo or filling the background canvas. Special mention must be made to Minucci and Rachel Z. Regardless of which instrument is out front at a given moment, there’s always a sense of movement. Hakim splits time between the electronic V-Drums and the acoustic kit.

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Ellen Rowe Quintet – Courage Music

Too often, when the mainstream thinks of women in jazz, thoughts immediately go to the singers. Pianist Ellen Rowe reminds us there are many women in jazz who are also composers and musicians. Courage Music (PKO Records, 2014), by the Ellen Rowe Quintet, gives a taste of what the artist can do with longer forms and two horns in the mix.

Accompanying Rowe are Andrew Bishop, tenor saxophone and clarinet; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet and flugelhorn; Kurt Krahnke, bass; and Pete Siers, drums. Trombonist Paul Ferguson sits in on one track. Bishop and Jensen share the lead, at times overlapping, on “Circle of Life.”

It’s one of eight tracks composed by Rowe. It’s a bright, sunny tune, highlighted by Rowe’s joyful play during the middle. Krahnke and Siers keep busy in the background. Bishop then puts the tenor through a rigorous pace, employing a series of high-speed phrases before Jensen rejoins. Things go quiet briefly as Rowe leads, but then the full band comes back in for the blazing finish.

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Tim Hegarty – Tribute

Tim Hegarty has been a force on the New York scene for more than 25 years. Now, he brings a rich collection of sound with Tribute, a mix of choice standards and fresh originals.

Hegarty plays tenor and soprano saxophones. With him are Mark Sherman, vibraphone; Kenny Barron, piano; Rufus Reid, bass; and Carl Allen, drums.

“Amsterdam After Dark” is a mellow, charming piece. Reid lays down a steady groove, with Allen, Barron and Sherman doing their thing. Hegarty’s tone is rich. The entire mood of the piece prompts visual images of an evening tour of the city – the streets, the buildings, human activity. After Barron’s middle solo, Hegarty comes back with fire and passion, setting up Sherman’s turn.

“New Picture” is an upbeat waltz. Barron, Reid and Allen are in tight syncopation underneath Hegarty’s lead and Sherman’s solo. Regardless of who’s out front, each instrument comes through clearly. After Barron’s turn, Hegarty comes back with more riveting tenor. Things soften for Reid.

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Harvey Mason – Chameleon

A mosaic of a smiling Harvey Mason graces the cover of Chameleon (Concord Records, 2014), the renowned drummer’s homage to the Head Hunters recording as well as a nod to Mason’s nickname, a reference to his versatility.

A legendary session drummer, producer, composer, recording artist and member of Fourplay, Mason is one of the most sought-after and recorded musicians on the planet.

Kasami Washington sits in on “Black Frost,” a tune composed by Mason’s Fourplay bandmate Bob James with Grover Washington Jr. The arrangement is reminiscent of mid-1970s jazz, the style popularized in that period by artists like Grover Washington, Tom Scott and Wayne Shorter. Kasami makes the tenor squeak and squeal in key points. Also contributing are arranger Corey “Ck” King on synths and trombone, Matthew Stevens on guitar, Kris Bowers on Fender Rhodes, Ben Williams on electric bass and Bill Summers on percussion. Mason gets his licks in, but this song is all about Washington.

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The Puppeteers – The Puppeteers

They aren’t controlled by strings or by a hand in a sock. In fact, the Puppeteers are the ones in control. The Puppeteers (Puppet’s Records, 2014) brings together four accomplished musicians who logged many hours on stage at the former Puppet’s Jazz club in Brooklyn.

The players are Arturo O’Farrill, piano; Bill Ware, vibraphone; Alex Blake, bass; and Jaime Affoumado, drums. Collectively, their associations include The Jazz Passengers, Steely Dan, The Manhattan Transfer, Sun Ra, Stan Getz, the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie, Harry Belafonte, Jaco Pastorious and Wynton Marsalis.

Blake’s “On the Spot” has a main phrase that reminds one of the classic, “Giant Steps.” The similarities end there. Ware then goes on a jaunt worthy of Lionel Hampton, with some intense support from the other musicians. O’Farrill and Affoumado get their licks in, too.

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Ark Ovrutski – 44:33

Born in Kiev, Ark Ovrutski began playing violin at age 8 – influenced not by classical music but by his father’s love of American jazz stars Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. Now, Ovrutski releases his third album as a leader, 44:33 (Zoho Records, 2014).

Ovrutski plays double bass. With him are trombonist Michael Dease, saxophonist Michael Thomas, pianist David Berkman and drummer Ulysses Owens. Benito Gonzalez plays electric piano on one track.

The set begins in Bourbon Street fashion with “New Orleans.” Owens’ gumbo drum play mixes well with Berkman’s piano. Thomas plays the soprano on this track, alternating lines with Dease. During one sequence, the two horns sound like police sirens. Then they overlap with independent melodies, like the Dixieland style. The pair then step aside for a moment, leaving things to the trio of Berkman, Owens and Ovrutski. All three stretch out plenty, complementing one another. The horns return for the finale.

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Robert Miller – Twenty

During his career, New York bassist and composer Robert Miller has been creating jazz music with a lot of different musicians for several decades. He started with solo projects and formed bands like “The Robert Miller Group” and “Project Grand Slam” with some of the best musicians of the genre. Several Grammy-nominations and Top 20 Jazz-Radio-Hits were the result of that creative process.

For his new Album Twenty, Miller has chosen sixteen tracks from his huge oeuvre, mostly taken  from the two releases Play (2007) and Spring Dance (2012) together with some older songs of Miller’s solo work.

The whole album describes the unique career of Robert Miller and is -at the same time- like a journey through the different styles of Jazz Music of the last twenty years.

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