Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Brandee Younger – Wax & Wane

Continuing her tributes to the sounds created by icons Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane, harpist Brandee Younger makes her own mark in the jazz world with Wax & Wane (2016).

Younger is accompanied by Anne Drummond, concert and alto flutes; Chelsea Baratz, tenor sax; Mark Whitfield, guitar; Dezron Douglas, electric bass; and Dana Hawkins, drums and percussion.

“Soul Vibrations” has a 1970s, disco/funk vibe, influenced mostly by the rhythm guitar effects. However, the song takes on more of a classical feel with the harp and flute melody. After a few passes on the main theme, Younger stretches out for a moment. The music reverts to the theme. Then on the fade, Younger and Drummond step back and let the rhythm section ride it out.

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Jackie Gage – Siren Songs

It can’t be said often enough. A jazz vocalist who thinks outside the proverbial box stands apart from those who simply cover the standards. Jackie Gage uses a mix of styles as well as fresh arrangements, a few lesser-known songs and new compositions to establish herself as one who stands apart with, Siren Songs (First Orbit Sounds, 2016).

Gage is accompanied by Timothy Wat, piano; Dillon Vado, marimba; John Shifflett, bass; and Jason Lewis, drums.

Gage enjoys an a cappella scat to introduce the classic, “That Old Black Magic.” When the instruments join in, the song takes on a soulful groove. Gage’s vocal straddles the line between Ella Fitzgerald and Natalie Cole. She sings with joy and verve. The string quartet, The Juxtapositions Chamber Ensemble, assist on selected tracks. They are Ilana Thomas and Kristina Dutton, violins; Su Buchignani, viola; and Freya Seeburger, cello.

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Anne Walsh – Brand New

Classically trained singer Anne Walsh reveals the spectrum of her work through her stylistically diverse releases. She started her career with Baby Mine – Lullabies From Around The World (2003), soothing vocals and beautiful orchestral arrangements of classic lullabies, followed by Be Still My Soul (2006), classic hymns in a meditative feel.

Her albums Pretty World (2009) and Go (2011) offer an eclectic soundscape of groove oriented Bossa Nova, standards and “lyricized” versions of classic instrumental jazz pieces. Brazilian jazz music is also the center of her album this year’s album Brand New (2016).

The style is themed in the first song Amazon River. The song was composed by Brazilian singer Dorival Tostes “Dori” Caymmi for his album Brasilian Serenata. Anne Walsh has written the lyrics for her own interpretation of the piece. Her intonation is perfect and the orchestral instrumentation superb.

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Colin Cannon – Intermission (Farewell)

Guitarist Colin Cannon changes up his format and goes for the cinematic with his third release, Intermission (Farewell).

Following In Summary (2009) and Glenville, Cannon says goodbye to the Colin Cannon Quartet, an ensemble that played together for seven years. His new approach involves a small orchestra. The musicians are Cannon, guitars, ukulele, vocals, synthesizer and sound effects; Zak Croxall, electric and upright bass; Tom Hartman, drums; Manami Morita, piano, Fender Rhodes and Melodica; Devin Dunne Cannon, Brik Olson, Madison Straton and Alex Mitchell, vocals; Tomako Omura, violin 1 and violin 2; Allyson Clare, viola; Kristine Kruta, cello; David Carkner, trumpet; Sly Onyejiaka, tenor saxophone and bass clarinet; and Yuhan Su, vibraphone.

“Everyday” picks up the melody at the end of “Your Everyday Prelude.” He plays a two-chord rhythm to accompany the orchestra at the start. The music swells briefly, then softens, as Cannon takes point. The song goes through many changes and paces. It’s like a musical adventure through different elements of an individual’s daily life, transitioning from the commute to work, encounters with other people, emotional highs and lows. A mostly instrumental track, a vocal chant joins in during the build-up to the finale. It ends with the playful laughter of children.

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Susie Arioli – Spring

Emerging jazz vocalists typically fall into one of two camps. One attempts to freshen up standards, with a session drawn entirely from the American Songbook. The other brings something new, either in the approach to how the songs are arranged or with new material. Susie Arioli gives us a taste of both with Spring (Spectra Musique, 2016).

The singer-songwriter is accompanied by Don Thompson, piano and vibraphone; Terry Clarke, drums; Neil Swainson, bass; Reg Schwager, drums; Phil Dwyer, tenor saxophone; Kevin Turcotte, trumpet; Andy Ballantyne, alto saxophone; Shirantha Beddage, baritone saxophone; and Kelsley Grant, trombone.

The set opens with one of four Arioli originals, the delightful, upbeat “Loverboy.” A bright, sunny horn section riff begins the song. Arioli’s voice charms the spirit. The pace is moderate and snappy. Turcotte stretches out during the middle break, with ample assistance from Clark, Swainson, Thompson and Schwager.

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Katherine Farnham – Vintage

She answers to Kool Kat. Pianist and vocalist Katherine Farnham breaks out the cool, the groove, the funky and the ethereal with Vintage (2016).

The music melds several genres, incorporating pop, funk, R&B, spiritual and a hint of easy listening, employing a few jazz musicians to help deliver her messages. The variable lineup of session players consists of Dan Warner, guitar; Dan Feizli, bass; Jason Furman, drums; Akil Thompson, guitar; Roy Vogt, bass; Marcus Finnie, drums and percussion; Jorge Costa, drum programming and background vocals; Kirk Whalum, saxophone on “Star Reacher”; Juancho Herrera, guitars; Nestor Torres, flute on “Mermaid” and “Eternidad (Eternity)”; Andres Canola, guitar and percussion; Danny Jiosa, guitar; additional vocals on “Zip, Zad, Zowee”: Thompson, Finnie and Dave Hagen.

In the “Prelude,” Katherine speaks over an electronic soundscape, asking the question, “How far would you go for love?” It’s an appropriate setup for what’s to come, songs of relationships, romance and pursuit of dreams.

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Julian Shore – Which Way Now?

Tranquility is the theme for pianist Julian Shore’s Which Way Now? (Tone Rogue Records, 2016).

Shore plays solo on a few tracks. On half the songs, he’s accompanied by the quartet of Gilad Hekselman, guitar; Dayna Stephens, tenor sax; Aidan Carroll, bass; and Colin Stranahan, drums. Other contributes are Louis Godwin, alto sax; Noah Preminger, tenor sax and clarinet; Michael Mayo and Alexa Barchini, vocals on “Alpine”; Kurt Ozan, guitar, dobro and pedal steel; Jorge Roeder, bass; Samuel Torres, percussion; and Michael Thomas, clarinet, bass clarinet and alto flute.

Thomas joins the core quintet for “Back Home.” It’s a tranquil, traveling piece that conjures the image of an individual who had been away, perhaps for college or military service, making a long drive home. The music captures the soothing, calming effect of seeing familiar landscapes after months or years away. It’s symbolic of feeling refreshed energy that comes with knowing family and old friends are close. The instruments represent the traveler’s mood and reaction to the occasional sight of birds in flight or animals on the ground enjoying an afternoon romp.

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