Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Nick Finzer – Hear & Now

The year 2017 so far is shaping up to be one of statements. Delfeayo Marsalis and Noah Preminger have already released protest albums, inspired at least in part to the U.S. presidential election in 2016. Now comes trombonist Nick Finzer with Hear & Now.

With Finzer are Lucas Pino, tenor sax and bass clarinet; Alex Wintz, guitar; Glenn Zaleski, piano; Dave Baron, bass; and Jimmy MacBride, drums.

“The Silent One” is moderately paced. The melody consists of overlapping phrases, with Finzer and Pino going one way, and Wintz another. After the opening sequence, Finzer steps out front while Wintz shifts into rock power chord mode in the background. About midway through the interlude, the guitar shifts back into jazz. Pino then takes the tenor on a jaunt, with some hardcore background play by Zaleski, Baron and MacBride. Finzer comes back in what for a moment seems like a competing solo, but he and Pino seamlessly weave back toward the main theme, setting up the placid finale.

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The Baylor Project – The Journey

From a guest appearance on Kenny Garrett’s Happy People to fulltime member of the Yellowjackets and guest vocalist, the journey of husband-wife duo Marcus and Jean Baylor is one of unity, togetherness and partnership. Thus The Journey (Be a Light, 2017) by The Baylor Project is aptly titled.

Personnel are Jean Baylor, all vocals, handclaps; Marcus Baylor, all drums, handclaps; Shedrick Mitchell, piano and organ; Allyn Johnson, piano; David “DJ” Ginyard, electric bass; Chris Smith, upright bass; Dezron Douglas, upright bass; Corcoran Holt, upright bass; Marvin Sewell, guitar; Rayfield “Ray Ray” Holloman, pedal steel guitar and electric guitar; Bob Mintzer, tenor sax on “Summertime”; Keith Loftis, tenor sax; Freddie Hendrix, trumpet and flugelhorn; Keyon Harrold, trumpet on “Again”; Stafford Hunter, trombone on “Again”; Aaron Draper, percussion and handclaps on “Block Party”; Pablo Batista, percussion and handclaps; Nicole Neely, live strings and arrangement on “Again”; and Brandee Younger, harp on “Summertime.”

“Block Party” is a straight jam. It opens with sermony vibe, but quickly warms into a celebration, punctuated by handclaps, Jean’s wordless chants and Hendrix. Marcus holds back until a spot about two minutes from the end. Accompanied only by the organ, he gives the kit a workout. The interlude sets up the listener for the joyous, all-in climax.

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Swiss Youth Jazz Orchestra – Heaven Help Us All

Take some 1960s and ‘70s jazz, soul and funk, and put them into the hands and hearts of some young people from Switzerland and other countries, you might be astonished by the result. Heaven Help Us All (Shanti Records, 2016) by the Swiss Youth Jazz Orchestra mixes old, new and lots of energy.

The orchestra is comprised of Sharon Renold, vocals and bass; Rit Xu, flute; Sara El Hachimi, alto sax; Felix Piringer, tenor sax and EWI; Mia Stauffacher, baritone sax; Gergo Szax and Dmitry Zinakov, trumpets; Florian Weiss and Sebastian Wey, trombones; Claude Stucki, guitar; Mary Rasshohovatskaya, keyboards; and Roberto Carella, drums. Additional players are Oli Rockberger, vocals and keyboard; Franke Greene, trumpet; Tony Lakatos, tenor sax; Marques Young, trombone; Neil Jason, bass; and Billy Cobham, drums. The orchestra is directed by Fritz K. Renold, who composed two original songs, “Blues for George” and “No Way Boss.”

“Ridiculous,” was written by and features Rockberger. He sings of a relationship with someone who seems not to notice him. He wonders if it’s ridiculous, if it’s really out of the question, for them to be together. The sense of longing comes through loud and clear in his singing. After a brief interlude by Stucki, an uncredited soprano sax player cuts loose on a blistering, pleading solo. The song is big band jazz meets old-school soul.

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The Ray Charles Orchestra Zürich 1961 – Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series

It’s nearly 80 minutes of musical brilliance, presented by 17 songs. The Swiss Radio Jazz Series presents Ray Charles Orchestra, Zurich 1961 (The Montreaux Jazz Label, 2016).

It’s a legendary concert recording featuring a young Ray Charles at the start of a tour that was a turning point in his career. The performers are Ray Charles, piano and vocal; trumpets: Marcus Belgrave, Wallace Davenport, Phil Guilbeau and John Hunt; trombones: Henderson Chambers, Dickie Wells and Keg Johnson; Rudy Powell, alto saxophone; Hank Crawford, alto saxophone and band leader; David Newman, tenor saxophone and flute; Don Wilkerson, tenor saxophone; Leroy Cooper, baritone saxophone; Elbert “Sonny” Forriest, guitar; Edgar Willis, bass; Bruno Carr, drums; and Quincy Jones, arranger of several tracks. Background vocalists, the Raelettes, are Priscilla “Pat” Lyles, Margie Hendricks, Gwen Berry and Darlene McCrea.

Set highlights include “Happy Faces,” “My Baby,” “Sticks and Stones,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Hit the Road, Jack” and “I Believe to My Soul.”

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Firey String Sistas! – That’s What She Said …

Celebrating the power, beauty and creativity of women through original compositions. That’s the aim of the Firey String SistasThat’s What She Said … (A&EC Music, 2016).

The players are Nioka Workman, cello, vocals and percussion; Marlene Rice, violin, vocals and percussion; Melissa Slocum, acoustic bass; Mala Waldron, piano, vocals and percussion; and Karina Colis, drums and percussion.

“Ellie,” composed by Waldron, is a lively jaunt, with the main theme led by a vocal scat. Colis and Slocum set the groove, playing emphatically underneath whoever has the lead. Rice, Workman, Waldron and Slocum deliver riveting solos, and Colis stretches out subtly but effectively throughout.

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Nathan East – Reverence

A musician’s musician, platinum awarded bassist Nathan East has performed with Barry White, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Beyoncé, Barbra Streisand and Stevie Wonder. Just the most known stars of music entertainment are mentioned.

The smooth jazz genre loves his activity as a founding member of the super group Fourplay. He started his solo career with his self-titled debut album in 2014. Reverence is his sophomore project released this year on Yamaha Entertainment Group.

East invited on his new album such top players like Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Philip Bailey and Yolanda Adams to name a few. The voice of Earth, Wind and Fire Philip Bailey gives Love’s Holiday an unmistakable and exciting profile. Originally the song was composed by late Maurice White for EWF’s Grammy awarded album All ‘N All (1977). East brings on his rendition the glamour back to shine.

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Ron Helman – It Never Entered My Mind

The music is billed as autobiographical, but it’s something Ron Helman hopes everyone would be able to apply to life. The flugelhorn player remakes some standards, accompanied by an all-star cast of luminaries, on It Never Entered My Mind (Ron Helman Music, 2016).

Mike Mainieri produced the record and plays vibraphone, as well as contributes some arrangements. Grammy winner Rachel Z Hakim is on piano, bringing with her touring experience with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. James Genus, whose discography and concert appearances includes stints with Bob James and Terri Lyne Carrington, is the bassist for the television series “Saturday Night Live.” Joel Rosenblatt, formerly of Spyro Gyra, is the drummer. Guitarist David Spinozza has played with three of the four Beatles and has a share in most arrangements. Steve Wilson plays soprano and alto saxophone. Vocalist Ann Hampton Calloway is special guest for “Born to Be Blue.”

“Just Friends” is a finger-popping, head-bopping, toe-tapping groove. Its bright mood is sure to make you smile. Anchored by Rosenblatt’s deft stick work and Genus’ fingering, Helman sets the stage for this audio delight. Then he steps aside while Hakim and Wilson on alto offer engaging interludes.

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