Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Chad Lefkowitz-Brown – Onward

In a field where so many saxophonists opt for the smoother sound, it’s always a good day when an artist plays the instrument with an edge, an old-school verve. Chad Lefkowitz-Brown comes through with Onward (2017).

Lefkowitz-Brown plays the tenor sax. His accompanists are Steven Fiefke on piano; Raviv Markovitz on bass; and Jimmy MacBride on drums. Special guest Randy Brecker plays trumpet on a couple of tracks.

The title song opens the set in dramatic fashion. This hard-charging, free-spirited piece is like a call to move forward. Upbeat, with solid play from all, it’s a song that can get you on your feet, or that you can enjoy just listening. Lefkowitz-Brown leads most of the way, but there’s not a moment when you don’t feel the others. Fiefke also has a stunning middle solo.

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Lety – The Wallflower

Vocalist Eva Leticia Padilla aka Lety is haling from New York, where she received the degree “Bachelor of Fine Arts” at the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. Now she lives in Stuttgart, Germany, while her artistic activities expand worldwide.

The Wallflower (2017) is her debut album. All songs are her creations with the support of Nikolai Banke, Tino Derado, and Dany Labana. Personnel are William Lecomte (piano), Leonie Hefele, Jens Loh ( bass), Jo Ambros, Christoph Neuhaus (guitar), Antoine Fillion and Fulgencio Medina (drums).

Her songs tell of personal experiences, love, family, friendship, lying, fighting in life and dealing with it. And with every song she reveals a part of her strong personality.

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Sylvia Brooks – The Arrangement

With music, sometimes it’s the songwriting that makes a difference. Other times, the voices and instruments and how they execute are key. But then there’s that time when a reworking of what’s written is the focal point. That’s where vocalist Sylvia Brooks comes in, hiring several Los Angeles-based arrangers for her third album, The Arrangement (2017).

The lineup varies from song to song. Collectively, the players are: Otmaro Ruiz, piano; Sezin Ahmet Turkmenoglu, bass; Aaron Serfaty, drums and percussion; Kim Richmond, alto sax; Bob Sheppard, tenor sax; Francisco Torres, trombone; Juliane Gralle, bass trombone; Brian Swartz, trumpet; Ron Stout, flugelhorn; Will Brahm, guitar; Quinn Johnson, piano; Trey Henry, bass; Tom Brechtlein, drums; Michael Stever, trumpet; Jeff Driskill, sax; Jeff Colella, piano; Kendall Kay, drums; Chris Colangelo, bass; Bruce Babad, flutes; Larry Koonse, guitar; Christian Jacob, piano and Fender Rhodes; Will Brahm, guitar; David Hughes, bass; Jamey Tate, drums.

Brooks brings warmth and a bit of joy to Hank Williams’ “Cold Cold Heart.” Rather than wallow in the misery of being mistreated by a loved one, Brooks sings it with vigor, as a wronged person turning the situation into a positive, by taking charge. Her scat enhances Driskell’s tenor solo. The horn section gives a swing feel to the song.

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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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