Posts Tagged ‘ Jazz ’

Offiong Bassey – Offiong Bassey

Her first name means “God’s moon.” Nigerian-American singer Offiong Bassey scores with her self-titled debut, Offiong Bassey (Moonlight Media Group, 2013). The set blends Afro-Peruvian, Nigerian Ekombi, R&B, jazz, gospel, funk, soul and hip-hop.

Bassey performs lead and backing vocals on all tracks. Other players are Blethy Emmanuel Tiegnon: keyboards, Fender Rhodes, drum programming and auxiliary instruments throughout, plus bass guitar on four tracks, claps on two and backing vocals on “Conclusion”; Bassey’s brother, Eniang Bassey: percussion on “Owo Iba Me Ita”; Cornell Coley: percussion on several tracks; Victor Dogah: percussion on “Legitimate Child”; Remy Foussard: guitar on three songs; Derek Friesen: trumpet on two songs; Alexander Jerry: bass guitar on two tracks; Erik Kramer: bass guitar on two tracks; Hilary Noble: flute on three tracks, tenor sax on “Conclusion”; Robert John O’Block: guitar on two tracks; Dokun Oke: guitar on “Efik Praise Medley”; William Raymond: guitar on two songs; Nija Tiegnon: backing vocals on “Wild Oats”; and Vessel: rap on “Mistaking Chivalry for Chauvanism.”

“Legitimate Child” represents a strong African influence in the rhythm. Bassey sings, “You are a legitimate child,” as she tells the story of a young person in a harsh environment, unfairly judged by others. Her vocal power offers encouragement to the child characterized by others as murderous or otherwise unworthy of love and respect.

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Barry Danielian – Metaphorically Speaking

With an experience as part of the world’s “most famous” horn band, Tower of Power, Barry Danielian has a long, distinguished track record as a session player and soloist. As a leader, he releases Metaphorically Speaking (Tariqah Records, 2013), an eclectic mix of jazz, world music and funk.

A trumpeter, producer and arranger, Danielian has toured and performed with some big names, including Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel and James Taylor. He also spent several years with the trio known as the No Sweat Horns, which appeared on several recordings by Spyro Gyra in the 1990s.

“Turning Inside Out” is an adventurous piece that begins with a bit of jungle funk. Danielian blends with Pillow for the lead much of the way. Each layers multiple instruments. Pillow plays flute, alto flute and bass clarinet. Danielian provides trumpet, Rhodes, Clavinet and elegant string synths. The composition is like a soundtrack to an adventure sequence in a movie, enhanced by the percussion of Bashiri Johnson and the funky bass line of Hubert Eaves IV.

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Dave Sharp’s Secret 7 – Worlds

There is world music, and there is jazz. When the two collide, you get Worlds (Vortex jazz Recordings, 2013) by Dave Sharp’s Secret 7.

Recognized in the JazzTimes 2010 Critic’s Poll, Dave Sharp’s Secret 7 blends rhythms, sounds, textures and musicians from around the world. Sharp mostly plays electric and fretless bass. On selected tracks, he plays acoustic guitar, Hammond B3 organ, acoustic guitar, upright bass or ride cymbal. A variable lineup assists him on the different tracks. No two songs have the same lineup.

“Sherehe,” which is Swahili for celebration, opens the set. It’s a happy, playful tune which features Andre Frappier on lead guitar, Walter White on trumpet and Chris Kaercher on saxophones. The saxes and percussion carry the mood most of the way, with Kaercher contributing a baritone sax solo.

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Sonya Robinson – Whistle

A lovely front porch photo is the cover for Sonya Robinson’s Whistle (2013). It shows the artist holding her violin, a cello propped against the wall and a child’s bicycle. It’s a visual appetizer for the audible main course.

Whistle is described as “one of those” jazz string albums that takes years from concept to completion. It’s a tribute album dedicated to the memory of Robinson’s mother.

Robinson plays violin and viola, plus triangle on “Carib-bean.” Other personnel are Manuel Valera, piano and keyboards on all but two tracks; Axel Tosca, piano and keyboards on “I Want to Know”; Monte Croft, Fender Rhodes on “The World Is a Ghetto”; John Benitez, electric bass on all but “The World Is a Ghetto”; Paul Ramsey, electric bass on “The World Is a Ghetto”; Jay Rodriguez, flute on “Circle”; Kahlil Kwame Bell, percussion on all but “Circle,” and drums on “The World Is a Ghetto”; Francis Benitez, drums on all but “The World Is a Ghetto,” percussion on two other tracks; Eric Person, alto saxophone and flute; Vinny Valentino, electric and acoustic guitars.

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Project Them – Project Th3m

When experienced and accomplished musicians come together, good things usually happen. That is the case with Project Them, featuring Bob Franceschini and Mark Sherman. The album, Project TH3M (Miles High Records, 2013) is a set of mostly original songs.

Franceschini plays tenor saxophone and flute; Sherman plays vibraphone. The two leaders were students together at the High School of Music and Art in New York City.

With them are Mitchel Forman, piano and organ; Martin Gjakonovski, bass; Adam Nussbaum, drums; and Paolo Di Sabatino, piano. Each has established himself as a leader or a session player with other artists. Collectively, their associations include Mike Stern, the Yellowjackets, Dave Liebman, Stan Getz, Gil Evans, Gary Burton, Kenny Wheeler, Mel Torme, Gerry Mulligan, Wayne Shorter and the Mahavinshu Orchestra.

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Ghost Train Orchestra – Book of Rhapsodies

Part sass, part throwback. That’s the recipe for Book of Rhapsodies (Accurate, 2013), the second outing by the Ghost Train Orchestra.

The ensemble consists of Brian Carpenter, trumpet, slide trumpet and voice; Andy Laster, alto saxophone, flute; Dennis Lichtman, clarinet; Petr Cancura, tenor saxophone, clarinet; Curtis Hasselbring, trombone; Ron Caswell, tuba; Mazz Swift, violin; Tanya Kalmanovitch, viola; Avi Bortnick, guitar; Michael Bates, double bass; and Rob Garcia, drums. Additional players are Brandon Seabrook, banjo on “The Happy Farmer,” Matt Samolis, flute on “The Children Met the Train” and “Revolt of the Yes Men,” and the Book of Rhapsodies Choir: Yolanda Scott, soprano; Katie Seiler, mezzo-soprano; Mazz Swift, alto; Tomas Cruz, tenor; Brian Carpenter, baritone; and Joe Chappel, bass.

Book of Rhapsodies is a different kind of cover album. Instead of the usual offerings by jazz greats or the American Songbook, Ghost Train revisits some off-the-beaten-path compositions. These songs are adapted from recordings by the Alec Wilder Octet, the John Kirby Sextet, the Raymond Scott Quintet, and Reginald Forsythe and His New Music.

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Fareed Haque – Out of Nowhere

Deemed a modern guitar virtuoso, Fareed Haque goes on an adventure with Out of Nowhere (Charleston Square Recordings, 2013).

Voted “Best World Guitarist” by Guitar Player magazine, he has toured with Zawinul Syndicate, Sting and Paquito D’Rivera.

Haque goes with a trio format on half the songs and quintet for the other half. The trio includes Billy Hart on drums and George Mraz on bass. Bassist Doug Weiss contributes to “TexMex Jungle.” The quintet consists of Rob Clearfield, piano; Corey Healey, drums; John Tate, bass; and Salar Nader, tabla and percussion.

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Tom Kennedy – Just Play

Take vintage compositions, mix with a few stars of today, and you’ll get a delicacy for the ears. Bassist Tom Kennedy accomplishes this with Just Play (Capri Records, 2013).

Kennedy delivers fresh interpretations of songs composed by Sonny Rollins, Victor Young, Lee Morgan (the review copy incorrectly credits Freddie Hubbard with “Ceora”), Duke Ellington, Cedar Walton, Dave Brubeck and Cole Porter.

For this outing, Kennedy calls upon the talents of Dave Weckl, drums; Renee Rosnes, piano; George Garzone, tenor sax; Mike Stern, guitar; Tim Hagans, trumpet; Lee Ritenour, guitar; John Allred, trombone; and Steve Wirts, tenor sax. Kennedy plays acoustic bass.

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James Gilyard – New Moon

New MoonNew Moon is the newest recording by bassist/composer, James Gilyard of Dallas, Texas. The music album consist of original Gilyard compositions and the ever popular “everyday I have the blues”. the album features some of the best young players on the Dallas scene including: Quamon Fowler, Dana Sudborough, Keith Banks, Andrew Griffith, Eric Willis, Greg Slavin, Robert Aberg and Simone Rodgers.

The music is uplifting and danceable as well as featuring great solo work by the instrumentalists. As a Dallas radio personality described the Music of James Gilyard: “This is jazz that is approachable and doesn’t leave the casual listener behind”. Let New Moon shine for you at CDBaby.

Pete Mills – Sweet Shadow

No disrespect for other instruments in the family, but there’s really nothing like a tenor sax as lead instrument in jazz. Its flavor is rich, its range exceptional. And in the hands of Pete Mills, it can make many a listener happy. And it’s fresh with 11 original songs on Mills’ Sweet Shadow (Cellar Live Records, 2014).

The project features Mills, Pete McCann on acoustic and electric guitars, Erik Augis on piano, Martin Wind on bass and Matt Wilson on drums.

The set begins with vigor. “Shiner” opens with a bouncy lead by Mills with the accompaniment fully locked in. Mills says the song is based on the standard, “My Shining Hour.” One can almost feel the charm of a jazz diva, such as Kitty Margolis or Sara Gazarek crooning this one in front of a big band or small ensemble. Mills steps aside Augis and McCann to have a moment to shine. And they do, with plenty of action underneath by Wind and Wilson.

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