Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Alex Wintz – LifeCycle

Being one with the world, one with humanity is the logic behind Alex Wintz’s LifeCycle (Culture Shock Music, 2017).

Personnel are Wintz, guitar; Lucas Pino, tenor saxophone; Jimmy MacBride, drums; Victor Gould, piano; Ben Williams, bass on three tracks; and Dave Baron, bass.

The title songs is an energetic piece. All players are firmly engaged. Wintz and Pino blend on the melody, including some tightly synchronized phrases. Pino, Wintz and Gould each thrill in his moment in the spotlight. But don’t lose track of Baron and Macbride.

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Yoko Miwa Trio – Pathways

After almost half a decade absence, pianist Yoko Miwa is back in the studio. Pathways (Ocean Blue Tear Music, 2017) exhibits the cohesion of her long-standing trio.

Miwa is accompanied by Will Slater, acoustic bass; and her husband Scott Goulding, drums. Brad Barrett handles acoustic bass on “Dear Prudence.”

A balancing act of four original songs and four covers, Pathways is a stand-out for piano trio music. Instead of revisiting the same standards many other trios have covered, Miwa opts for jazz improvisations of two pop/rock songs, two Marc Johnson compositions and her originals. The result is a sound that’s fresh, exciting and full of vigor.

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Joris Teepe and Don Braden – Conversations

It took about seven years to complete, but Conversations by Joris Teepe and Don Braden (Creative Perspective Music, 2017) is worth the wait. A project that began in 2009 with the recording completed in 2016 mixes old and new, classics and originals.

Personnel are Teepe, bass; Braden, tenor saxophone and flute; with drum duties split by Gene Jackson and Matt Wilson.

Three classics open the set in stellar fashion. Chick Corea’s “Humpty Dumpty,” Elvin Jones’ “Three Card Molly” and Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat” showcase the partners’ complementary styles. The last of that trilogy is done sans drums. Braden (“Eddieish”), Wilson (“Stolen Time”) and Teepe (“We Take No Prisoners”) each penned one track.

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Julia Fordham – The Language of Love

If you’re in the mood for romance, or need inspiration to get into the mood, vocalist Julia Fordham is calling to you. The Language of Love (Red River Entertainment, 2017) injects a jazzy element to some favorite pop songs, including a power ballad by Blondie and a song of denial by 10cc.

The musicians are Grant Mitchell, piano and keyboards; David Piltch, upright bass; Herman Matthews, drums and vocal beatbox on “Happy Ever After”; Ramon Yslas, percussion; Ramon Stagnaro, guitar; Harry Kim, trumpet; Colin Ryan, guitar on “Moon River”; and Judith Owen and Sista Jean McClain, background vocals on “Happy Ever After,” “Like You Used to Do,” “Fragile” and “Who’s That Girl.” Mitchell is the producer. He also co-wrote three songs with Fordham.

Fordham goes bossa nova on the cover of the Eurhythmics’ “Who’s That Girl.” Fordham’s voice and style are like a cross between Tierney Sutton and Sarah Vaughan.

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Gerald Cannon – Combinations

Bassist Gerald Cannon released his first album as leader, Gerald Cannon, then took some time out of the studio. A long time. Combinations (Woodneck Records, 2017) comes 14 years after the first.

The players are Gary Bartz, alto sax; Sherman Irby, alto sax; Steve Slale, alto sax on “Prelude to a Kiss”; Jeremy Pelt, trumpet; Duane Eubanks, trumpet on “Combinations”; Rick Germanson, piano; Kenny Barron, piano; Russell Malone, guitar; Wille Jones III, drums; and Will Calhoun, drums on “Gary’s Tune.”

“A Thought” shows the soft side of Cannon. This mellow piece has a bossa nova vibe, reminiscent of a Getz/Gilberto collaboration. Irby, Barron and Pelt assist on this one, each contributing in his own way. Irby and Pelt are out front much of the way. But Cannon and Jones handle plenty in the background.

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The New Triumph – Keep on Push’n

Funk, Afro-Latin and jazz come together with The New Triumph’s Keep on Push’n (2017).

The musicians are Camilo Estrada, bass; Marc Hager, keyboards; Arie Pytel, guitar; Adam Kessler, drums; Ahkeenu Musa, percussion; Robby Beasley, trumpet on five tracks; Scott Morning, trumpet on three songs; Ariel Chi-Linh Nguyen Loud, saxophones.

“Intro Cut” is a sensational opening track. Imagine you’re at a concert, and anxious for the show to begin. Then, when the curtain finally opens, a dramatic swell, not unlike the production company fanfare that introduces a movie. That formality aside, the band shifts into a free-for-all jam. The blended horns carry the lead. Or do they? There’s so much going on from the other instruments, the bass line, the wah-wah guitar, the keys, drums and percussion. Everybody gets in on it.

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Kenny Shanker – The Witching Hour

It’s straight-ahead jazz, but with enough melodic influences to work for the masses who tend to shy away from things that aren’t catchy. Saxophonist and composer Kenny Shanker releases The Witching Hour (Wise Cat Records, 2017).

Shanker plays alto and soprano saxophones. His accompanists are Mike Eckroth, piano; Daisuke Abe, guitar; Yoshi Waki, guitar; and Brian Fishler, drums.

Shanker plays the alto on the opener, “Kottinger Park.” It’s a high-energy, fun romp. The leader plays with passion, exploring the range of his instrument, with powerful cohesion among his accompanists. Middle solos by Eckroth and Abe keep things going, but it’s the play of Waki and Fishler that keeps it all together. The two really get busy behind the guitar.

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