Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Sivan Arbel – Broken Lines

International flavor is what Sivan Arbel brings to listeners with Broken Lines (2016). The Israeli born songwriter and vocalist says the music is inspired by people and experiences she has encountered.

Performing with Arbel are Shai Portugaly, piano; Nadav Shapira, bass; Yogev Gabay, drums; Ron Warburg, trumpet; Jack Sheehan, alto saxophone; and Ori Jacobson, tenor saxophone. The vocal trio of Caleb Mason, Seth Weaver and Ben Tiberio join on the title song.

Arbel seamlessly weaves lyrics, chants, scats and instrumental breaks into a colorful tapestry of sound. Highlights are the opening track, “Over Sensitivity,” the improv special “Analysis” and the cover of Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green.” Her scatting ability could easily have been borrowed from the textbook of Ella Fitzgerald.

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Anna Danes – Find Your Wings

FindYourWingsIt was against all odds that Anna Danes found herself standing in Capitol Records Studio A, in front of the same microphone used by her role models, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, recording an a cappella song that she wrote for her sophomore album. In the dimly lit studio in the heart of Hollywood, the woman who escaped communist Poland as a child and overcame the pain and loneliness of a loveless marriage by discovering her voice just three years ago poured her broken heart into the intimate album closer, “I Love You,” as producer Dave Darling sat spellbound at the recording console. In the famed studio during sessions financed by selling a car, Danes shared her deeply personal tales of love and loss through the six acoustic jazz songs that she wrote for “Find Your Wings,” the DLG Records disc scheduled for release on October 14 that is completed by five standards and a stunning interpretation of blues singer Janiva Magness’ “When You Were My King.”

Late last month, as Danes plotted with her marketing and promotions team to gear up for the upcoming album release, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. True to the theme of “Find Your Wings,” the positive-minded vocalist faced her worst fears, saw the silver lining and penned a motivational blog, “Cancer Part 1: Vanity Saved My Life,” to help educate and encourage others facing their own health and personal challenges (

When Danes began the recording project that is slated to street during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she had the desire to emulate the sound of a pair of jazz vocal albums from the esteemed duo of Tony Bennett and Bill Evans. Darling kept Danes’ captivating and expressive voice front and center in the mix using only sparse accompaniment from pianist Rich Ruttenberg, drummer John Ferraro and bassist Trey Henry. Blessed with a classic voice possessing charm, warmth, elegance and grace, Danes’ patient delivery and vocal phrasing uncoils with poise and complete control despite the vulnerability and intensity of her emotion-charged subject matter. Love is her ever-present muse on “Find Your Wings.” On originals, she sings a haunting melody on “The Voice,” pines hopefully on “See You In L.A.” and longs to see forever in the eyes of her lover on “Long Distance.” Among those she interprets from the Great American Songbook are Michel Legrand’s “I Will Wait For You,” Sammy Cahn’s “It’s Crazy” and Johnny Mercer’s “I Want To Be Around” while on the romantic duet “That’s All,” she takes enduring vows with Richard Shelton’s debonair tenor. Continue reading

Phil Palombi – Detroit Lean

Sitting behind the wheel and looking cool is the thought behind the title, Detroit Lean (Xcappa Records, 2016). A product of Ohio, Palombi says the material corresponds to events or feelings that he had when he moved to New York City in 1997.

Personnel are Palombi, Scott LaFaro’s Presscott bass, electric bass; Matthew Fries, piano, Vintage Vibe and Wurlitzer electric pianos; Keith Hall, drums and percussion; Tony Romano, classical, flamenco, steel string and electric guitars; Kat Gang, vocals; and George Walker Petit, percussion and special effects.

“Beyond the Wall” opens the set in dynamic fashion. Palombi’s riveting bass line introduces the song, augmented by a haunting chorus of instruments. The melody is tightly syncopated, with Romano, Fries and Palombi playing complementary lines. After two passes, the leader stretches out, taking the bass to its upper range and diving down to its depths. Romano and Fries get their turns as well, the latter doing his with the electric piano. Palombi says of the title that it represents the success of one who steps outside of his comfort zone. He says it’s built atop the idea that “we put up personal walls around us and can accomplish much if we get past them.”

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Gordon Goodwin – An Elusive Man

AEMHaving amassed 20 Grammy nominations, four statues and three Emmy wins, Gordon Goodwin is the most decorated big band leader in the 21st century. After all six of his Big Phat Band albums have garnered Grammy nominations or wins, he’s not elusive about why he trimmed his large 18-piece ensemble for an outing as the 8-member Little Phat Band, which will release their debut album, An Elusive Man, on September 9 via the Music of Content label.

“It represents another side of my interest in jazz with more emphasis on improvisation and letting the musicians explore things in a way that they can’t do in a larger ensemble. The music I write for this band covers a wide range of styles, from swing to Latin to funk and more. The seven musicians who join me in making up the Little Phat Band are all members of the Big Phat Band and are, to a man, the most accomplished and versatile musicians that I know,” said Goodwin, who produced and arranged the date while composing eight new songs for the ten-tune set.

Goodwin’s Little Phat Band – Goodwin (piano and tenor sax), Wayne Bergeron (trumpet), Eric Marienthal (alto and tenor sax), Andy Martin (trombone), Andrew Synowiec (electric and acoustic guitar), Rick Shaw (electric and acoustic bass), Bernie Dresel (drums) and Joey De Leon (percussion) – fills the diverse “An Elusive Man” with regal swing, elegant be-bop and effulgent Latin jazz rhythms along with soulful jazz funk jams. Throughout the collection adeptly balancing serious and somber with playful fun and quirk, astute musicianship is on full display with the players granted more room to bob and weave spontaneously than in the tightly-scripted big band settings to which they are typically confined. Goodwin’s communicative piano ruminations and probing tenor sax explorations carve space to solo as do Marienthal’s roaring tenor and penetrating alto sax, Bergeron’s commanding and eloquent trumpet, Martin’s character-rich trombone, Shaw’s rock-steady bass and Synowiec’s adaptable electric guitar that pierces tunes with expansive straight-ahead and contemporary jazz riffs as well as country licks. Continue reading

CCM Jazz Orchestra – In Search of Garaj Mahal

Guitarist Fareed Haque is a solo artist as well as a member of Garaj Mahal. The group’s approach to jazz inspires many, including Scott Belck, jazz director at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. The pair collaborated with Belck’s orchestra for In Search of Garaj Mahal (Harmonized Records, 2016).

There are two ensembles: the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Jazz Orchestra, and the CCM Jazz Lab Band. The orchestra is comprised of musical director, Dr. Scott Belck; Joe Duran, lead alto saxophone; Ryan Van Scoyk, alto sax; Josh Kline, tenor sax; Eric Wurzelbacher, tenor sax; and Nathan Hatton, baritone sax; Michael Dudley, lead trumpet; Ty Sheets, Eric Lechliter and Aaron Todahl, trumpets; Charles Dong, lead trombone; Jacob Neiderman, Christian Dawson, trombones, and Josh Omaits, bass trombone; Brad Myers, guitar; Jordan Pollard, piano; Will Wagner, bass; and David Albanese, drums. The Jazz Lab Band, featured on “Alvin,” consists of Dominic Marino, director; Curtis Holtgrefe, lead alto saxophone; Emily Jordan, alto sax; Royce Files, tenor sax; Kyle Kidwell, tenor sax; and Caleb Burkhardt, baritone sax; Michael Cruse, Sarah Muttyala and James Tilman, trumpets; Christian Dawson, lead trombone; and Michael Bauer, bass trombone; Niko Kordalis, guitar; Adam Sampson, piano; Julia Higgins, bass; and David O’Connell, drums.

“Chester the Pester” opens the set. The introduction is a haunting, symphonic sequence that quickly evolves into an upbeat hybrid of big band and fusion. Wagner’s thumping bass line is a constant. His middle solo is consistent with the schools of Pastorius, Patitucci and Miller. Haque uses effects to make his guitar sound like a keyboard. Albanese’s stick work is superb throughout. The horns cannot be overlooked as they play a lot of the lead melodies.

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Noah Preminger – Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground

The Mississippi Delta is a powerful force in the music of Noah Preminger. He again taps into the culture that gave birth to America’s music with Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground (2016).

Noah plays saxophone. On this date, he’s accompanied by Jason Palmer, trumpet; Kim Cass, bass; and Ian Froman, drums.

Trumpet and sax trade licks over a riveting bass line to begin “Hard Times Killin’ Floor Blues.” This Skip James composition takes on different modes. While the horns wail like so many field workers trying to survive an agonizing day picking cotton, the bass drives along. Then, the quartet takes off on a high-speed jaunt with Preminger and Palmer exchanging lines in an intense dialogue. Cass and Froman cut loose underneath. After a frantic middle, the horns step back while Froman stretches out. Then it reverts to the beginning mode.

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Damian Drăghici – The American Dream

The pan flute is usually allocated to the world or folk music. Gheorghe Zamfir is the best-known performer of this instrument. Pan flute and jazz? That is something new.

Damian Drăghici is such a seldom musician, who interprets with his instrument jazz, as we have never heard before. With his unique triple-tongue staccato technique he is the proven virtuoso on this instrument.

His new album is entitled American Dream (2016). Everyone associates with this term his own vision. “The American Dream has been a dream of mine for a while now,” Draghici recalls. “Here’s how the story started almost 30 years ago. When I was 17 years-old during the communist times in Bucharest, Romania, I saw and heard for the first time real American jazz musicians playing live.

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