Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Joe Policastro Trio – Screen Sounds

Take what is known and juice it up. The Joe Policastro Trio revisits some themes from popular television series and movies on Screen Sounds (JeruJazz Records, 2017).

The trio consists of Policastro, bass; Dave Miller, guitar; and Mikel Avery, drums.

An ambitious taking, Policastro melds two hit songs from a hit movie in one of the coolest tracks in the set. “Everybody’s Talkin’ – Midnight Cowboy” moves back and forth between the two. One is a slow, easy listening ballad. The other is an upbeat, pop/folk tune. And the trio weaves in and out of each, changing the pace, and mood, as it suits them. Policastro leads the first melody, but gives way to Miller, who takes off, mixing familiar phrases from the two songs, with improvisation. The signature, descending four-step phrase from “Midnight Cowboy” is worked in and out of numerous passages. As the piece starts to wind down, Policastro uses the bow on his bass to take one more shot at “Everybody’s Talkin’” before handing it back over to Miller.

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Ted Chubb – Gratified Never Satisfied

One can be pleased without being ecstatic. But one might find it difficult to separate the two when listening to trumpeter Ted Chubb’s Gratified Never Satisfied (Unit Records, 2017).

In assigning that title to his third album, Chubb acknowledges that life, like jazz, is handed down, absorbed and practiced daily. Though you may achieve goals, tomorrow is a new day and may present new challenges. It’s also an idea brought to him by trumpet player and teacher, William B. Fielder, who inspired him to maintain curiosity and continue to grow.

Accompanying Chubb are Bruce Williams, alto sax on several tracks; Seth Johnson, guitar; Oscar Perez, piano and Fender Rhodes; Tom DiCarlo, bass; and Jerome Jennings, drums.

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Marc Copland – Better By Far

Sometimes, a jazz artist just wants to play good music – feel-good music. No crossing over to attract a diverse, or younger, audience. No enhancements or gimmicks to pick up on contemporary trends. Just the musicians, their instruments, quality songwriting and an hour of your time. That’s what you get with Marc Copland’s Better By Far (Innervoice Jazz Records, 2017).

The players are Copland, piano; Ralph Alessi, trumpet; Drew Gress, double bass; and Joey Baron, drums.

“Day and Night” opens the set. It’s a bright, warm piece that features some crisp stick work by Baron. Bass and trumpet share the lead when the melody begins. Alessi takes the first solo, taking the trumpet on an easygoing jaunt, a stroll in the park that’s occasionally broken up by a few hops and skips. Copland takes it to another level. With Gress and Baron firmly engaged, the pianist takes the baton and turns the jaunt into a sprint. Gress downshifts a bit when it’s his turn, slowing down to enjoy the scenery.

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Organissimo – B3tles: A Soulful Tribute to the Fab Four

It’s difficult to imagine any mainstream pop or rock band covered more than The Beatles. And jazz musicians are like pirates finding buried treasure as they peruse the Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Star songbook. Organissimo takes the music to a different arena with B3tles: A Soulful Tribute to the Fab Four (Big O Records, 2017).

Alfredson plays the Hammond B3 organ, Wurlitzer electric piano and synthesizers. His accompanists are Lawrence Barris, guitar; and Randy Marsh, drums. Percussionist Bill Vits joins for a few tracks, and Mike List plays tabla on “Within You Without You.”

“Taxman” enters a new world at the fingers of Alfredson. The beat starts with a funky groove. The verses and choruses are relatively straightforward. Then the organ goes on an excursion, making good on the 19-to-1 offer, stated in George Harrison’s lyrics. After the middle solo, the call-and-response interlude repeats, leading to a phrase where the base rhythm continues, with Barris stretching out. The song closes with the main theme.

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Macy Blackman and the Mighty Fines – Shoorah Shoorah: The Songs of Irma Thomas and Allen Toussaint

The project began with a conversation between Macy Blackman and Allen Toussaint shortly before the latter’s death in 2015. In tribute to Toussaint and his longtime partner, Irma Thomas, Macy Blackman and the Mighty Fines present Shoorah Shoorah: The Songs of Irma Thomas and Allen Toussaint.

The players are Blackman, piano, cornet, guitar and vocals; Nancy Wright, tenor saxophone and vocals; Ken “Snakebite” Jacobs, baritone saxophone; Bing Nathan, upright bass and background vocals; Larry Vann, drums and tambourine; and Kit Robberson, viola da gamba on “With You in Mind.”

The band delivers a playful, sassy take on “Working in the Coal Mine.” The piece is accented by the drum shuffle, the saxophones and Nathan’s bass line. Blackman sings lead.

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Jamhunters – Nightclub

After their self titled debut album (2006), and follow-ups Music Speaks Louder Than Words (2008), Driftin’ (2011) and Colortones (2015) Danish group Jamhunters are back with Nightclub (2017).

Supportive members of the new project are the musicians Christina Boelskifte (vocals), Klaus Menzer (drums), and Peter Hansen (bass). All tunes are composed, arranged and produced by the creative duo Lars Fabiansen (guitars) and Peter Michael (grand piano).

Jamhunters introduce into the album with Welcome to the Nightclub, an atmospheric prologue. The Palm Tree – Part II ties up to Under The Palmtree from the album Driftin’ with a contemplative jazz excursion. A more eclectic approach compared to the mainstream of the original.

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Soil & “Pimp” Sessions – Black Track

Don’t let the name fool you. Soil & “Pimp” Sessions is a group of Japanese musicians whose brand of jazz is unconventional, yet noteworthy. Their new release, Black Track (Red River Entertainment, 2017) combines elements of what’s commonly known as “black music,” a mix of R&B, hip-hop and jazz.

“By Your Side” features special guests Bambu and Nia Andrews. It’s a soulful rap. Unlike conventional hip-hop where the rap and the beat are all that matters, this song is underscored by a hybrid of smooth jazz and R&B instrumentation. Bambu handles the rap skillfully, like some of the old-school artists of the genre. Andrews provides a change of mood, singing the melody in a soft, romantic style. As the song progresses, a lead vocal sings different lyrics while the title is sung in the background, following the phrase of “For Your Love,” an obscure album track from producer Peter Brown’s only release as a vocalist. The piano and soprano sax are prominent throughout.

“Black Milk” is a lively instrumental. The main theme features the soprano out front, joined by a trumpet on alternating phrases. Emphasis on bass line and percussion complementing the other instruments. The piano and soprano are frantic during their high-speed solos. And just when you think they’re about to revert to the main theme, the soprano enters a mind-blowing sequence, with the piano offering a Latin-style counter-solo.

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