Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

E.S.P. – Zero Gravity

zero-gravityE.S.P. is a tasteful, award winning modern jazz group, featuring guitarist John Magnate, bassist Matthew Vacanti and drummer Bill D’agostino. Their last two recordings reached #3 on the jazz charts and were featured in JAZZIZ magazine. In 2010 “Time’s Up!” won a SAMMY award for best jazz recording of the year. In 2011“Reach” was produced by grammy award winning bassist Jimmy Haslip from The Yellowjackets and featured three tracks from legendary keyboardist Jeff Lorber.

This critically acclaimed, award winning group proudly presents its seventh recording of original modern jazz featuring tight, grooving and creative music. Its real jazz, but you won’t need a GPS to follow it! Zero Gravity is your preferred condition at CDBaby.

Noah Preminger interviewed by Woodrow Wilkins

On the heels of back-to-back releases rooted in the blues of the Mississippi Delta, Pivot – Live at the 55 Bar,” and “”Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground,” saxophonist Noah Preminger makes a different kind of statement. “Meditations on Freedom” is part reaction to the 2016 election of a billionaire who had no political experience, a limited attention span and a knack for stirring the emotions of people who are fearful, angry or prejudiced against one or more ethnic groups. It’s also a call for those who believe in freedom, democracy and progress over regress to keep going, not give up.

Preminger spent a few minutes talking about the project.

WW: Interesting statement you’re making with this new recording. Tell us when the idea started to take shape. What had just happened and what were your immediate thoughts?

NP: I’d been talking to Jimmy Katz one day, and we talk most days. The amazing engineer, photographer and a great friend of mine. And we spoke often about politics, and he said, “One day, I think you should make sort of a protest album.” It was right when Trump was elected. Two weeks after that we already had a recording date.

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Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra – Make America Great Again!

It may sound like a slogan uttered by a person who may the most unpopular person ever elected to the United States of America’s highest office, and echoed by hordes of angry people, longing for vision of the nation that faded with progress. But a member of the First Family of jazz uses the phrase to deliver a positive social and political message. Make America Great Again! (Troubador Jass Records, 2016), by Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra, presents that message with wonderful music.

Marsalis plays trombone. The orchestra consists of Khari Allen Lee, alto and soprano sax; Jeronne Ansari, alto sax; Roderick Paulin, tenor and alto sax; Gregory Agid, clarinet and tenor sax; Scott Johnson, tenor and baritone sax; Roger Lewis, baritone sax; Terrance Taplin, Charles Williams, Jeffery Miller, T.J. Norris and Maurice Trosclair, trombones; Andrew Baham, Scott Frock, Dr. Brice Miller, John Gray and Jamelle Williams, trumpets; Kyle Roussell and Meghan Swartz, pianos; David Pulphus, bass; Herlin Riley and Peter Varnado, drums; and Joseph Dyson Jr., drums and percussion. Special guests appearing on selected tracks are Dee-1, rap; Cynthia Liggins Thomas, vocal; actor Wendell Pierce, narration of the title song; and brother Branford Marsalis, tenor sax. The Uptown Music Theatre Choir, which appears on two tracks with lyrics, consists of Cynthia Liggins Thomas, Tara Alexander, Ebon George, Jazmine Piper Marsalis, Kiya Henderson, Justice Smith, Celeste Metoyer and Hillary Vaucresson. Additional players sitting in are Victor Goines, tenor sax; Oliver Bonie, baritone sax; John Culbreth, trumpet; and Jeff Albert, bass trombone.

The set opens with a saxophone-led rendition of “Star Spangled Banner,” sans percussion. After two horn-driven instrumentals, the Uptown Music Theatre Choir and Dee-1 join for “Back to Africa.” The voices and horns blend seamlessly in chanting the song’s title. The first verse lyrics are a snapshot of the attitudes expressed by many who, decades after the end of state-sponsored segregation, would love to see brown-skinned people leave the United States. “Go back where you came from,” begins one line. Dee-1 responds, rapping that Africa isn’t just a place, but a state of mind, and many positive things about humanity. Musical highlights include the dueling saxophones during part of the instrumental break and the emphatic percussion of Alexey Marti.

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Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra – Basically Baker Vol. 2 – The Big Band Music of David Baker

The purpose behind the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra’s Basically Baker Vol. 2 – The Big Band Music of David Baker (Patois Records, 2016) is trifold. To reintroduce the music of NEA Jazz Master and jazz educator David Baker. To benefit the David N. Baker Scholarship Fund. And, of course, to entertain the listener.

Brent Wallarab is conductor and music director. He also co-produced the album with Wayne Wallace, Mark Hood and Mark Buselli. On saxophones are Tom Walsh, Bill Sears, Rich Perry, Rob Dixon and Ned Boyd. Trombonists are Tim Coffman, Freddie Mendoza, Brennan Johns and Rich Dole. Celeste Holler-Seraphinoff plays bass trombone. On tuba is Dan Perantoni. Luke Gillespie is on piano; Jeremy Allen, bass; Steve Houghton, drums; Mitch Shiner, vibes; and Monika Herzig, celeste. The trumpet section consists of Tony Kadleck, Scott Belck, Graham Breedlove, Jeff Conrad, Mark Buselli and Pat Harbison. Guest soloists are Randy Brecker on trumpet, and Dave Stryker on guitar.

Some of the musicians were students of Baker, including the orchestra’s namesakes. The orchestra previously tapped in Baker’s musical genius with Basically Baker (2007). That recording made DownBeat’s top 100 of jazz CDs for the 21st century and is being reissued with the new release.

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Tom Cohen – Joyride

Drummer Tom Cohen mixes old with new in his fourth release, Joyride (2016).

Accompanying Cohen are Benito Gonzales, piano; Kris Funn, bass; Mike Boone, bass; and on selected tracks, Tom Ries, tenor and soprano saxophones.

After a brief introduction titled, “Desi/Lucy,” Cohen and the gang get busy with Wayne Shorter’s “Black Nile.” Gonzalez leads, with Cohen and Funn jamming it up in the background. It’s a high-energy, finger-snapping song. The piano rolls on a frenetic pace. At the midway point, the piano brings it way down, as the bass comes forward. After Funn’s solo, Cohen cranks up the heat, showing his dexterity in a back and forth with the others. The trio plays a sequence, then Cohen stretches out on his own. They do this several times before reverting to the theme.

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Francisco Pais – Verde

The band is new, but the relationships have a history. And that history makes a recording like Verde (Product of Imagination, 2016) by Francisco Pais possible.

The musicians are Pais, voice and guitar; Myron Walden, tenor sax; Godwin Louis, alto sax; Julian Shore, piano; Connor Schultze, bass; and Fereno Nemeth, drums. Guest vocalists Genetta Kha and Jacklyn Chan appear on “Million Galaxies.” They have performed together in one configuration or another for about 10 years.

“The Painter” is an upbeat, gear-shifting song. Guitar and sax are in unison for the main theme. The tempo is constant, but the leads adjust their rate of notes per beat as the song progresses. Shore, Shultze and Nemeth stay quite busy behind the leads, especially Nemeth. Louis and Walden carry the middle passage in turns, each making his instrument sing, grind and wail for emphasis.

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SaltmanKnowles – Almost

Questions abound with the duo of William Knowles and Mark Saltman. They refuse to be defined by others, yet by their own admission, they’re not quite what they want to be – yet. On the brink of establishing that identity, they release SaltmanKnowles – Almost (Pacific Coast Jazz, 2016).

Personnel are Knowles, piano; Saltman, bass; Keith Killgo, drums; Grant Langford, saxes; DeAndre Schaifer, trumpet; Lori Williams, vocals on “What Is This Thing Called Love” and “September in the Rain”; EC3, drums on “This Is New”; Yvette Spears, vocals on “This Is New”; and Victor Provost, steel pans on “This Is New.”

Williams joins the ensemble for “What Is This Thing called Love?” It’s an easygoing, sassy rendition with Killgo provided a shuffle beat. The interplay among Knowles, Saltman and Killgo is dynamic throughout. Williams delivers a soulful lead. Solos are by Langford and Schaifer.

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