Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Dan St. Marseille – Invitation

Throwing in a pair of originals with an assortment of covers, Dan St. Marseille has a license to thrill with Invitation (Resurgent Music, 2016).

St. Marseille plays tenor saxophone and clarinet. He’s accompanied by Claudio Roditi, trumpet and flugelhorn; Bill Cunliffe, piano; Roger Shew, bass; and Paul Kreibich, drums. Special guests on three tracks are Gary Foster, alto saxophone and clarinet; and Chris Dawson on piano.

The title song is an elegant take on the classic composed by Bronislaw Kaper. Adapted by many jazz artists over the years, “Invitation” began as a selection in the 1950 film, A Life of Her Own. However, it became a standard after being used as the theme for the 1952 film of the same name. St. Marseille takes point on the first pass of the melody, with Roditi handling what counts for the chorus. On the second chorus, the duet shares the lead with St. Marseille deviating from the prescribed path, creating a charming harmony. What follows is jazz heaven. Roditi stretches out, occasionally dipping into the theme to supplement his free spirit. St. Marseille then steps out in purse, toe-tapping, finger-snapping style. After Cunliffe takes a turn, the song reverts to the theme. The rhythm trio is solid throughout the piece.

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Bahama Soul Club – Havana ’58

Bahama Soul Club is a project by producer and percussionist Oliver Belz. Oliver lives in Braunschweig, the musical silicon valley of Germany. Groups like Dancing Fantasy, Blue Knights, Jazzkantine, D-Phunk, Bahama Soul Club and many more have their origin in this German city.

Oliver started the project in 2008 with the album Rhythm Is What Makes Jazz Jazz. He returned in 2010 with Bossa Nova Just Smells Funky, added in 2013 Bossa Nova Just Smells Funky Remixed and followed in 2013 with The Cuban Tapes.

November 2016 sees the new edition with Havana ’58. All tracks are written and performed by Oliver and keyboardist André Neundorf. Additional musicians on selected tracks are Ralli King (guitar), York (sax), Thomas Wolter (orchestra), Lars Lehmann and Helge Preuss (bass). The group describes their style as Afro-Cuban jazz, but with the original style of the fifties and sixties their music has at best in common just the inspiration. It is a groundbreaking conglomerate of Bossa nova, rumba, jazz and much, very much modern beat.

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Maggie Herron – Between the Music and the Moon

Events and locations are typically considered tourist attractions. But if it can be said that a voice is a draw, Maggie Herron fits the bill. But for those unable to travel to Hawaii to see and hear her in person, there is Between the Music and the Moon (2016).

Herron is accompanied in various lineups by Bill Cunliffe, piano; Grant Geissman, guitar; the horn section of Bob Sheppard, sax, Brian Scanlon, baritone sax, Bob McChesney, trombone, and Ron Stout, trumpet; Dean Taba, bass; Abe Lagrimas, drums; Denise Donatelli, harmony vocals; Alex Acuna, percussion; Ramon Stagnaro, guitar; DeShannon Higa, trumpet. Stout and Sheppard each appear on one track without the other horns, the former opting for flugelhorn.

The horn section gives a creepy introduction to “Wolf,” a stealthy, stalking, swinging tune. Think film noir meets “Stray Cat Strut.” Sheppard stretches out a bit during the middle break, with the other horns sounding like a mini big band.

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Nori – World Anew

From central Texas comes the unique sound of Nori, presented on World Anew.

The band consists of Akina Adderley, vocals; Erik Telford, trumpet; Nick Litterski, Fender Rhodes; Aaron Allen, upright bass; and Andy Beaudoin, drums.

A cool bass groove sets the pace for “Just a Man.” Adderley’s vocal is accompanied by a parade march beat. After an intense passage where voice and trumpet counter each other’s moves, Allen sets up the spirited solo by Telford. The climax is highlighted by Adderley’s emphatic crooning, aided by the trumpet and keyboard ad libs.

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Todd Hunter Trio – Eat, Drink, Play

Life experience is the inspiration for the Todd Hunter Trio’s Eat, Drink, Play (Dexterity Records, 2016).

Hunter plays piano. Dave Robaire handles bass on all but one track. Rufus Philpot covers it on the closer, “210 to the 15.” Drum duties are split between Steve Hass and Aaron Serfaty.

The opening track is the sunny, upbeat, “Big Bird.” It’s a happy, proud strut through the neighborhood, occasionally changing pace to toss a ball back to a group of kids, or wave to someone on the porch. Hunter can hardly contain his excitement as he plays those keys with the vigor of one who has no troubles on his mind. About two-thirds of the way in, the leader steps aside, giving Robaire a moment to stretch out. The title was inspired by someone Hunter met during travels. The individual reminded Hunter of the Sesame Street character.

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Motor City Jazz Octet – Sanctuary

Drummer and band leader Joe Syrian brings together one of multiple lineups of the Motor City Jazz Octet to present Sanctuary (2016), a short set of six arrangements of jazz classics and pop hits.

The octet is made up eight members at any one time, but the band is a larger collection of Detroit-area musicians who vary from one performance to the next. Press materials show the entire group has 28 players. However, the liner only lists the following for this recording: Steve Wood, tenor sax and flute; Jimmy Smith, trumpet; Mike Rumbell, trombone; Mark Berger, baritone and alto saxophones; Gary Schunk, keyboard; Steve Carryer, guitar; Don Lewandowski, bass; Andrew Lloyd, bass; and Joe Syrian, drums. George Benson and Rick Margitza are listed as guests.

The set begins with a cool, ’70s fusion take on the Beatles’ “Come Together.” Syrian’s high hat work is a constant, as well as the bass line. The horns control the theme, with one trumpet taking lead briefly. A haunting guitar solo is followed by a free-spirited bass interlude. After a bridge the signals a reset, they split for overlapping phrases, with the baritone sax out front, before reverting to the melody.

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Kris Allen – Beloved

How about a change of pace. A jazz album by a saxophonist that’s neither pop nor smooth nor covers, nor anything trendy. Kris Allen plays it straight with all-original songs on Beloved (Truth Revolution Records, 2016).

Allen plays alto saxophone, switching to soprano for “Bird Bailey.” With him are Frank Kozlya, tenor saxophone; Luques Curtis, bass; and Jonathan Barber, drums.

The highlight of the music is that Allen and Kozlya often share the melody, whether in unison, harmony or offering counter melodies. Curtis and Barber team up to open some tracks, but mostly enjoy their roles as accompanists, firmly engaged though underneath the leaders. The saxes play well off each other, at times engaging in snappy dialogue. A few standout songs are “Lowborn (Proverbs 62:9),” “Flores,” “Bird Bailey,” “Hate the Game” and the closer, “Threequel.”

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