Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

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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Bob Wijnen – NYC Unforeseen

To paraphrase Mac Davis and Stevie Wonder, music is a universal language that we all understand. It can take on a special meaning when songs are written with certain people in mind. Pianist Bob Wijnen uses that philosophy on his debut, NYC Unforeseen (2016).

Performing with Wijnen are Peter Bernstein, guitar; Dezron Douglas, bass; and Billy Drummond, drums.

The set opens with a dramatic, 6/8 rhythm, featuring Drummond’s dexterity. “NYC Unforeseen” is an upbeat romp through the city. Bernstein leads the melody, with Wijnen supplying fills. Douglas and Drummond stretch out aplenty, playing underneath Wijnen’s middle solo. The play summons visuals of forays into various nightclubs, seeking that perfect fit. Bernstein follows with his own jaunt. The baton gets passed briefly to Wijnen before the main melody resumes to set up the ending.

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Mings & Craig – Day By Day

Jim Mings and Monty Craig formed the jazz guitar duo Mings and Craig to release their debut album Day By Day. Although both have a personal career, academically teaching included, they joined forces in 2015.

To enjoy the album, it requires two basic preconditions. Firstly, you have to like a pure guitar album. Secondly, you have to love jazz guitar standard music.

Day By Day starts with the duet of both jazz guitarists. They change the lead back and forth, while the seconding guitarist takes over the rhythm or even more harmonious additions. Stylistically the piece is paced in Latin American Bossa Nova.

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Laura Perlman – Precious Moments

From tragedy comes triumph. Laura Perlman. A lover of jazz since childhood, she achieves a lifelong dream with the release of Precious Moments (Miles High Records, 2016).

Musicians performing with Perlman are Bill Cunliffe, piano; Mark Sherman, vibraphone; Chris Colangelo, bass; and Joe La Barbera, drums.

An upbeat, bossa nova vibe accompanies “I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face,” Perlman’s spin on the classics. After Perlman lends her earthy voice to the lyrics, the band kicks it into high gear, with Sherman leading the way on vibes, followed by Cunliffe. An all-stop signals a call and response between Cunliffe and La Barbera. Two exchanges lead Perlman back into the mix. This is one of the brighter, livelier arrangements of this song.

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Bill Stewart – Space Squid

There is the tried and true. And there is that which is off the beaten path. Bill Stewart takes the latter approached with Space Squid (Pirouet Records, 2016).

Drummer Bill Stewart is accompanied by Seamus Blake, tenor and soprano saxophones; Bill Carrothers, piano; and Ben Street, bass.

“Paris Lope” was inspired by a mid-day walk from a hotel to a Parisian club for an afternoon of practice before a gig. The mood of the music is such of taking one’s time to get from here to there. You have to go. No sense crying about it. Besides, when you get there, it’s all for the joy of creating music. It’s just that you don’t really get into the journey. Or do you? The pace is slow and unadventurous. However, Blake’s tenor and Carrothers’ piano offer some interesting, if not exciting, diversions along the way.

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