Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Josh Maxey – Celebration of Soul

Guitarist Josh Maxey covers an array of moods and textures with Celebration of Soul (Miles High Records, 2015).

He’s accompanied by organist Brian Charette, organ; Chase Baird, saxophones; Jeremy Noller, drums; Rodney Jones, guitar on “Light & Shade,” “Cycles of Sound” and “Blues for Page”; David Parnell, acoustic guitar on “Brooklyn Sunrise” and “Colorado Sunset”; Michael Cioffero, guitar on “Brooklyn Sunrise” and “Colorado Sunset”; and Bret Parnell, lap steel guitar on “Brooklyn Sunrise” and “Colorado Sunset.”

The ethereal “Brooklyn Sunrise” opens the set. It’s a tranquil soundscape that provides foundation for the overall project.

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The Dan Trudell Trio – Dan Trudell Plays the Piano

It’s a change of pace, but not in the usual sense. Dan Trudell, known as an organist, opts for another instrument on Dan Trudell Plays the Piano (2015) by the Dan Trudell Trio.

Accompanying the artist are Matt Wilson on drums; and Joe Sanders on bass.

The trio sets the stage early with a vibrant, bouncy take on Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.” Trudell gets the familiar out of the way quickly, then takes the listener on the happiest of happy-go-lucky jaunts. One can easily get the sense of joy shared by the musicians as they perform.

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Darren Barrett – Trumpet Vibes

TrumpetVibesTrumpeter Darren Barrett proudly wears his Jamaican ancestry on his musical sleeve as well as on the album sleeve of Trumpet Vibes, his seventh album that will be released November 20 on the dB Studios label. Decorated in the distinctive green, yellow and black colors of the Jamaican flag, the award-winning Canadian musician, composer and producer mines the native sounds of his parents’ homeland for the first time on the eight-tracker constructed of hard bop jazz amidst laidback reggae rhythms and frenetic ska grooves. Throughout the session that highlights Barrett’s academic technical proficiency and heartfelt interpretive trumpet work, animate vibraphone plays the role of trusty sidekick with noted vibist Warren Wolf on the record’s opener and closer.

Barrett not only honors his family’s lineage on “Trumpet Vibes,” but he opens the proceedings with a salute to one of his early mentors, Donald Byrd, with a bouncy take of Byrd’s “Fly Little Bird,” that flaps mightily, evolving into a hard-swinging tilt midflight. Barrett wrote four compositions for the album and applies the jazz-meets-reggae ethos to a few modern classics. An original tune, “Chiapas” serves up somber autumnal hues from Barrett’s horn over a brisk ska track provided by the dynamic rhythm section composed of brothers Alexander and Anthony Toth on upright bass and drums respectively. The stately pop gem “To Sir, With Love” gets an invigorating and spritely makeover, riding the crest of a rocking wave of Caribbean culture. Vibraphonist Simon Moullier, who plays on the entire album, charismatically shares the spotlight with Barrett’s moody horn on the regal reggae jam “Song For A Princess.” The cadence is elevated on “Phantom,” a particularly rambunctious monster stalking the outer perimeter of experimental jazz, free-form fusion and rowdy rock. Both “Everything I Own” and Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” get the full-scale reggae treatment with the former being a fun and celebratory romp while the latter benefits from some good old rock & roll grit. Closing with a knockout punch, brilliant musicianship electrifies “The Club Up The Street,” which bops, swings and soars mightily, allowing Barrett and Wolf the time and space to mix it up in a go-for-broke improvisational trumpet and vibraphone free-for-all.

“This album means so much to me personally because it mixes the music from my Jamaican heritage, which is part of my heart, and jazz, which is part of my soul, into one. ‘Trumpet Vibes’ brings together the best of these two musical worlds that share a common ancestral genesis in Africa. I’ve spent the past two years totally immersed in the creation of this project – writing, producing, playing and recording – and I’m excited for people to finally hear it,” said Barrett, who was labeled “a force to be reckoned with” by the Boston Globe. Continue reading

Pierre Labbé Sextet – Tromper Eustache

Innovation? Thinking outside the box? Daring to be different? Perhaps a bit of all three is appropriate for the Pierre Labbe Sextet’s Tromper Eustache (Effendi Records, 2015).

The ensemble consists of Labbé, tenor sax and flute; Francisco Lozano, tenor sax and bass clarinet; Francois Bourassa, piano; Bernard Falaise, electric guitar; Clinton Ryder, doublebass; and Pierre Tanguay, drums.

“Inouie Ouie,” or “Unheard Hearing,” opens the set. It has a slow-to-moderate groove with a haunting theme. The saxophones overlap one another, with one providing a base or foundation while the other builds around it. As the music gradually amplifies, each goes his own way while keeping with the cohesion of the group. Piano, bass and drums are constant in the background, though each makes subtle variations. The song doesn’t have a discernible melody so much as it’s an example of free-form music with just enough structure to maintain a sense of shared purpose.

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Peak Experience Jazz Ensemble – Live at Lucy’s Place (Volume 1)

Take a few jazz standards, a few original songs and a few pop covers, put them in the hands of a small, no-frills ensemble, and you’re likely to get something that sounds like Live at Lucy’s Place (Volume 1) (JoySpring Music, 2015) by the Peak Experience Jazz Ensemble.

The leader is bassist Mike Peak. With him are Ron Kobayashi, piano; Ann Patterson, flute, alto and tenor saxophones; Andrea Miller, vocals; Rickey Woodard, tenor saxophone; and Kendall Key, drums. The title is derived from a special room in Peak’s Laguna Hills, California, home, named for his wife, Lucy Peak.

Patterson and Woodard are first to shine on the opener, a lively rendition of Sonny Rollins’ “Tenor Madness.” It’s a toe-tapping, finger-snapping, put a smile on your face arrangement. The ensemble introduces the piece, but the saxophones are the focal points, playing together at first then successive solos. Piano and drums also get their turns, but one cannot overlook the bass groove that Peak lays down throughout.

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Carol Duboc – Colored Glasses

It’s worth noting anytime a jazz vocalist delivers an album of original music, rather than re-imagining standards or performing jazz arrangements of popular music. That’s what we get with Carol Duboc’s Colored Glasses (Gold Note Music, 2015).

Producer Duboc sings lead on all tracks and background on several. Co-producer Jeff Lorber handles keyboards, piano, bass, programming and guitrs. Other players are Vinnie Colaiuta, drums; Jimmy Haslip, electric bass; Brian Bromberg, acoustic bass; Lenny Castro, percussion; Hubert Laws, alto flute on “Celestial Skies”; Eric Marienthal, soprano sax on “Hypnotic”; Paul Jackson Jr., electric guitars on “Spinning,” “Wavelength,” “Breathing,” “Hypnotic” and “Code Red”; Michael Thompson, guitars on “Celestial Skies,” “Walking in My Sleep,” “Colored Glasses” and solo on “Breathing”; Dave Mann, horn arrangements and all horns on “Every Shade of Blue,” “Trajectory” and “Wavelength”; Jeff Pescetto, additional background vocals on “Trajectory”; and Lori and Sharon Perry, additional background vocals on “Walking in My Sleep.”

Horns are brought in to add depth “Every Shade of Blue.” The contradiction is that the lyrics speak of longing, sadness, despair, but the music is full of joy, life, energy. The union is an ironic, yet pleasing audio experience.

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Don Braden Organix Quartet – Luminosity

Cool, slick, warm, elegant. The listener gets some combination of those elements throughout Luminosity (Creative Perspective Music, 2015) by the Don Braden Organix Quartet.

The ensemble features Braden on tenor saxophone, flute and alto flute; Kyle Koehler, Hammond organ; Dave Stryker, guitar; and Cecil Brooks III, drums. Trumpeter Claudio Roditi and alto saxophonist Sherman Irby appear on one track each. No credit is given for a bassist, which usually means the organist covers the bass lines.

Stryker sets the tone for the bright, joyful “Luminosity (First Steps).” Tenor and organ perform a duet during the main theme. Then Braden takes off on a fun-filled jaunt. While he expresses, the others jam underneath. Koehler and Stryker keep it going when the baton is passed to them in succession. Brooks, who stretches out plenty underneath others, also gets a moment to shine.

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