Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Steve Sandberg Quartet – Alaya

Pianist Steve Sandberg taps into music history, spirituality and a slight touch of Brazil. The Steve Sandberg Quartet presents Alaya (2017).

Sandberg’s accompanists are Zach Brock, violin; Michael O’Brien, bass; and Mauricio Zottarelli, drums.

“Maurice” is a nod to classical composer Maurice Ravel’s “Prelude to Le Tombeau de Couperin.” It’s a tranquil, easygoing piece that largely features the violin out front, with the piano painting a haunting background scene.

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B.J. Jansen – Common Ground

With one foot rooted in jazz tradition, the other explores the present with an eye on the future. Saxophonist B.J. Jansen brings in five associates whose diverse backgrounds and musical styles culminate in the artist’s 10th recording as a leader, Common Ground (2017).

Jansen plays baritone sax. His accompanists are Delfeayor Marsalis, trombone; Ralph Peterson, drums; Duane Eubanks, trumpet; Dezron Douglas, bass; and Zaccai Curtis, piano.

“Street Walk,” composed by Frank Stagnitta, was inspired by the writer’s experience in New York City. The song has a beat the draws from African rhythms. The horn players are the driving force behind this piece, harmonizing for the main theme, then splitting into a series of solos. Douglas also gets a moment to stretch out, accompanied only by Peterson, who tears it up on the kit.

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The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys Traditional Jass Band – Slightly Concussed – Live at De Melkbus

The name alone is enough to get your attention: The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys Traditional Jass Band. And they’re out in full force with the two-disc Slightly Concussed – Live at De Melkbus (2017).

This versatile group of musicians play traditional jazz, blues and New Orleans style, or Dixieland. Formed in 2012, they began touring nationally in 2013 and sold out the Blue Note in New York City in February of 2014. Word got around after the group performed their version of the “Game of Thrones” theme at B.B. King’s in New York City. A video of the performance went viral, scoring more than a million views.

Personnel are James Williams, vocals and trumpet; Sam Friend, banjo and vocals; Miles Lyons, sousaphone; Nick Garrison, trombone; Josh Marotta, percussion; and Connor Stewart, clarinet and saxophone.

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Berta Moreno – Little Steps

A debut album with all-original music. Add a couple of Grammy winners and nominees to the mix, and you have the stunning introduction to saxophonist Berta Moreno, Little Steps.

Moreno plays tenor sax and composed all eight songs. Her accompanists are Steve Wilson, alto and soprano sax; Troy Roberts, tenor and soprano sax; Manuel Valera, piano; Maksim Perepelica, double bass; and David Hardy, drums.

The set opens with the cool “J.G. Power.” The blended saxes carry the melody after the finger-snapping pace is set by the rhythm section. Moreno then goes on an extended jaunt, delivering with a happy-go-lucky attitude. The sax trio engages in a brief, but tightly syncopated series of rolls before the next soloist. The cool mood continues until the next round, when the sax cranks up the intensity. After another rolls in which the saxes call, with a response first by the drums and then by the bass, the song reverts to the main theme.

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Chad Lefkowitz-Brown – Onward

In a field where so many saxophonists opt for the smoother sound, it’s always a good day when an artist plays the instrument with an edge, an old-school verve. Chad Lefkowitz-Brown comes through with Onward (2017).

Lefkowitz-Brown plays the tenor sax. His accompanists are Steven Fiefke on piano; Raviv Markovitz on bass; and Jimmy MacBride on drums. Special guest Randy Brecker plays trumpet on a couple of tracks.

The title song opens the set in dramatic fashion. This hard-charging, free-spirited piece is like a call to move forward. Upbeat, with solid play from all, it’s a song that can get you on your feet, or that you can enjoy just listening. Lefkowitz-Brown leads most of the way, but there’s not a moment when you don’t feel the others. Fiefke also has a stunning middle solo.

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Lety – The Wallflower

Vocalist Eva Leticia Padilla aka Lety is haling from New York, where she received the degree “Bachelor of Fine Arts” at the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. Now she lives in Stuttgart, Germany, while her artistic activities expand worldwide.

The Wallflower (2017) is her debut album. All songs are her creations with the support of Nikolai Banke, Tino Derado, and Dany Labana. Personnel are William Lecomte (piano), Leonie Hefele, Jens Loh ( bass), Jo Ambros, Christoph Neuhaus (guitar), Antoine Fillion and Fulgencio Medina (drums).

Her songs tell of personal experiences, love, family, friendship, lying, fighting in life and dealing with it. And with every song she reveals a part of her strong personality.

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Sylvia Brooks – The Arrangement

With music, sometimes it’s the songwriting that makes a difference. Other times, the voices and instruments and how they execute are key. But then there’s that time when a reworking of what’s written is the focal point. That’s where vocalist Sylvia Brooks comes in, hiring several Los Angeles-based arrangers for her third album, The Arrangement (2017).

The lineup varies from song to song. Collectively, the players are: Otmaro Ruiz, piano; Sezin Ahmet Turkmenoglu, bass; Aaron Serfaty, drums and percussion; Kim Richmond, alto sax; Bob Sheppard, tenor sax; Francisco Torres, trombone; Juliane Gralle, bass trombone; Brian Swartz, trumpet; Ron Stout, flugelhorn; Will Brahm, guitar; Quinn Johnson, piano; Trey Henry, bass; Tom Brechtlein, drums; Michael Stever, trumpet; Jeff Driskill, sax; Jeff Colella, piano; Kendall Kay, drums; Chris Colangelo, bass; Bruce Babad, flutes; Larry Koonse, guitar; Christian Jacob, piano and Fender Rhodes; Will Brahm, guitar; David Hughes, bass; Jamey Tate, drums.

Brooks brings warmth and a bit of joy to Hank Williams’ “Cold Cold Heart.” Rather than wallow in the misery of being mistreated by a loved one, Brooks sings it with vigor, as a wronged person turning the situation into a positive, by taking charge. Her scat enhances Driskell’s tenor solo. The horn section gives a swing feel to the song.

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