Archive for the ‘ Woodrow Wilkins ’ Category

Julia Fordham – The Language of Love

If you’re in the mood for romance, or need inspiration to get into the mood, vocalist Julia Fordham is calling to you. The Language of Love (Red River Entertainment, 2017) injects a jazzy element to some favorite pop songs, including a power ballad by Blondie and a song of denial by 10cc.

The musicians are Grant Mitchell, piano and keyboards; David Piltch, upright bass; Herman Matthews, drums and vocal beatbox on “Happy Ever After”; Ramon Yslas, percussion; Ramon Stagnaro, guitar; Harry Kim, trumpet; Colin Ryan, guitar on “Moon River”; and Judith Owen and Sista Jean McClain, background vocals on “Happy Ever After,” “Like You Used to Do,” “Fragile” and “Who’s That Girl.” Mitchell is the producer. He also co-wrote three songs with Fordham.

Fordham goes bossa nova on the cover of the Eurhythmics’ “Who’s That Girl.” Fordham’s voice and style are like a cross between Tierney Sutton and Sarah Vaughan.

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Gerald Cannon – Combinations

Bassist Gerald Cannon released his first album as leader, Gerald Cannon, then took some time out of the studio. A long time. Combinations (Woodneck Records, 2017) comes 14 years after the first.

The players are Gary Bartz, alto sax; Sherman Irby, alto sax; Steve Slale, alto sax on “Prelude to a Kiss”; Jeremy Pelt, trumpet; Duane Eubanks, trumpet on “Combinations”; Rick Germanson, piano; Kenny Barron, piano; Russell Malone, guitar; Wille Jones III, drums; and Will Calhoun, drums on “Gary’s Tune.”

“A Thought” shows the soft side of Cannon. This mellow piece has a bossa nova vibe, reminiscent of a Getz/Gilberto collaboration. Irby, Barron and Pelt assist on this one, each contributing in his own way. Irby and Pelt are out front much of the way. But Cannon and Jones handle plenty in the background.

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The New Triumph – Keep on Push’n

Funk, Afro-Latin and jazz come together with The New Triumph’s Keep on Push’n (2017).

The musicians are Camilo Estrada, bass; Marc Hager, keyboards; Arie Pytel, guitar; Adam Kessler, drums; Ahkeenu Musa, percussion; Robby Beasley, trumpet on five tracks; Scott Morning, trumpet on three songs; Ariel Chi-Linh Nguyen Loud, saxophones.

“Intro Cut” is a sensational opening track. Imagine you’re at a concert, and anxious for the show to begin. Then, when the curtain finally opens, a dramatic swell, not unlike the production company fanfare that introduces a movie. That formality aside, the band shifts into a free-for-all jam. The blended horns carry the lead. Or do they? There’s so much going on from the other instruments, the bass line, the wah-wah guitar, the keys, drums and percussion. Everybody gets in on it.

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Kenny Shanker – The Witching Hour

It’s straight-ahead jazz, but with enough melodic influences to work for the masses who tend to shy away from things that aren’t catchy. Saxophonist and composer Kenny Shanker releases The Witching Hour (Wise Cat Records, 2017).

Shanker plays alto and soprano saxophones. His accompanists are Mike Eckroth, piano; Daisuke Abe, guitar; Yoshi Waki, guitar; and Brian Fishler, drums.

Shanker plays the alto on the opener, “Kottinger Park.” It’s a high-energy, fun romp. The leader plays with passion, exploring the range of his instrument, with powerful cohesion among his accompanists. Middle solos by Eckroth and Abe keep things going, but it’s the play of Waki and Fishler that keeps it all together. The two really get busy behind the guitar.

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Tal Cohen – Gentle Giants

Pianist Tal Cohen bridges jazz with classical on Gentle Giants (Inner Circle Music, 2017).

In session with Cohen are Greg Osby, alto saxophone; Jamie Oehlers, tenor saxophone; Robert Hurst, bass; and Nate Winn, drums.

Often when paired horns lead a jazz song, it’s two instruments from different families, such as a trumpet or trombone (brass) and a saxophone or clarinet (woodwind or reed). Two saxes bring a different dynamic, as Osby and Oehlers blend or overlap. That pairing launches “Great PK (for Shuli),” an upbeat jaunt. With Hurst and Winn digging it in the background, the middle section features a series of solos by Cohen, Oehlers and Osby. Each goes to town by a different path, enjoying all the scenery. In the liner, Cohen explains that the song is dedicated to his sister, Aviv, whom he calls “Shuli.” The “PK” refers to their friend, PK the Dog, an odd mix of Dachshund and golden retriever.

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Thelonius Monk – Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960

It’s 15 tracks, split over two discs and just over an hour long. And it’s a first-time release of some vintage music. Thelonious Monk: Les Liaisons Dangereuses 1960 (Sam Records/Saga, 2017).

This collection captures Monk’s 1959 all-star band of Charlie Rouse, Sam Jones and Art Taylor, with special guest Barney Wilen. It marks the first time Monk’s music was used in a film, in this case the French film of the same title, about a couple who enjoy fun, excitement – and sex. They agree to see other people, with one caveat: Don’t fall in love.

The release comes about after producer Zev Feldman visited Paris in December of 2014. He received an e-mail from the head of Sam Records, Fred Thomas, explaining that Thomas and an associate had located master tapes of a previously unissued studio session. After a meeting of the three partners, they spent two years working with the Thelonious Monk estate to gather the voices, words and photos to tell the story. Marcel Romano, described in some publications as “hipster,” was active on the jazz scene in France during the 1950s. He served as the liaison between filmmakers and jazz artists, which ultimately led to Roger Vadim’s selecting Monk to score Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

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Bill Cunliffe – BACHanalia

A play on words and the melding of two genres of music is the result when pianist Bill Cunliffe put his creative energy toward two passions. His effort comes through with BACHanalia (Metre Records, 2017).

The ensemble consists of varying combinations of players. On trumpet are Wayne Bergeron, John Daversa, Dan Fornero, Jamie Hovorka, Kyle Martinez, Kyle Palmer, Terell Stafford and Bob Summers; trombone: Ryan Dragon, Erik Hughes, Alex Iles, Andy Martin, Bob McChesney, Ido Meshulam, Ira Nepus and Francisco Torres; bass trombone: Ben Devitt, Cody Kleinhans and Bill Reichenbach; alto and soprano saxophone, clarinet and flute: Jeff Driskill, Nathan King, Brian Scanlon and Bob Sheppard; tenor saxophone, clarinet and flute: Jeff Ellwood and Rob Lockart; baritone saxophone and bass clarinet: Tom Peterson and Adam Schroeder; guitar, John Chiondini and Larry Koonse; bass: Alex Frank and Jonathan Richards; drums: Joe La Barbera; and vocals: Denise Donatelli. Cunliffe also provides background vocals on “Sleepers Wake.”

Donatelli’s delightful scat sets the tone for the opening track, “Sleepers Wake.” With a muted trumpet and the trombone offering countermelodies, she flits and dances to this upbeat arrangement of the Bach classic. After a vocal and horn section swell, the music softens for the leader’s solo. Accompanied only by bass and drums, Cunliffe expresses freely, licking his improvisational chops, occasionally giving hints of the main theme. McChesney also stretches out. Donatelli’s voice takes on a haunting mood as the song downshifts to its closing.

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