Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Myriad3 – Moons

A trio that sounds like something bigger. That’s Myriad3. And the group continues to impress with Moons (Alma Records, 2016).

The players are Chris Donnelly, piano and synth; Dan Fortin, upright bass, fretless and synth; and Ernesto Cervini, drums and Glockenspiel.

Highlights include the opening track, “Skeleton Key,” “Unnamed Cells” and the one cover song, “Counter of the Cumulus.” When one thinks of the piano-bass-drum lineup, the music usually covers jazz standards or is confined to the acoustic sounds of those instruments, often both. But the inclusion of synths and the Glockenspiel immediately gives these songs more depth and diversity. The electronic element adds a contemporary, or modern, feel. And the compositions range from the simple melody to the complex symphony, a soundtrack of life.

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Darren Barrett – The Music of Amy Winehouse

WinehouseTrumpeter Darren Barrett, winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, was flipping through cable television channels while taking a break from a recording session when he stumbled upon a live concert by Amy Winehouse. He had heard the buzz about the unconventional British artist, but hadn’t heard any of her music until that moment. The musician of Jamaican descent with a proclivity for incorporating reggae into his neo-bop jazz recordings was instantly struck by the way the rhythm & soul singer-songwriter infused reggae into her throwback tracks.

“I was surprised to discover that the majority of her concert consisted of performing music mirroring the spirit-liberating sound of reggae music. Damn! Amy was laying the music down like one of the ‘old heads.’ She immediately gained much respect from me and I soon became a fan and a loyal follower of her fast-moving musical career,” Barrett recalled about his 2008 discovery and the inspiration for his eighth album, “The Music of Amy Winehouse,” which will be released August 26 on the dB Music label.

Barrett and his Trumpet Vibes band, a jazz and reggae group, selected nine songs from the late artist’s songbook and spent over a year working on the arrangements and rehearsing before entering the studio. To recreate Winehouse’s high voltage, multi-tiered sound, Barrett augmented his band by adding guitars, keyboards, saxophone and percussion to the Trumpet Vibes lineup that consists of the trumpeter-producer, bassist Alexander Toth, drummer Anthony Toth and vibraphonist Simon Moullier (noted vibraphonist Warren Wolf is featured on “Our Day Will Come”). Naturally, the toughest part was casting a female vocalist capable of capturing Winehouse’s uniquely soulful and charismatic spirit on hallmark hits such as “Tears Dry On Their Own,” “Rehab,” “Back To Black” and “Just Friends.” Enter Joanna Teters.
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Charlie Ballantine – Providence

Guitarist Charlie Ballantine aims to step out in a way that he never has before. Providence (2016), his second release, captures his goal by combining his jazz training with his non-jazz influences.

The core ensemble includes Josh Espinosa, organ; Conner Green, bass; and Josh Roberts, drums. Saxophonist Amanda Gardier appears on selected tracks. All are Indiana University classmates.

The scratch and pop of the needle hitting the record on an old turntable accompanies the introduction to “Old Hammer.” This track is an easygoing groove conjures the image of a country spread, where a working man isn’t laboring so much as he’s taking in the scenery around him while doing a little bit of work. He and his colleagues might break out into song to pass the time. Ballantine runs through his middle solo, mixing single notes with chords, throwing in some twang in key moments. His bandmates crank up the heat underneath. Then, just when you think the sound will draw the attention of the foreman, Espinoza hushes them. Relaxed, they continue to groove at will. But even the organist can’t contain himself. Before long, he’s just as intense as the guitarist before him. But when the boss looks over, they revert to what they were doing, working steadily while continuing to enjoy their song.

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Daniel Meron – Sky Begins

How do you make a piano-led trio sound like something other than a piano-led trio? Give it a voice. That’s one way of looking at pianist Daniel Meron’s Sky Begins (Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit Records, 2016.)

Maia Karo, Meron’s wife, is the featured vocalist. The other musicians are Noam Wiesenberg, bass; and Jimmy MacBride, drums.

“Sleepless Nights” opens the set. The music is tranquil, haunting. Karo’s voice and the piano complement each other in charming fashion. An updated version of a tune from Meron’s Directions album, it also has a subtle groove that might generate some dance floor activity. Wiesenberg gets a moment to stretch out, followed by Karo in a wordless chant. Meron’s middle solo is accented by Macbride, with Karo injecting a brief scat.

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Myles Wright – The LA EP

Composer and arranger Myles Wright puts the spotlight on Los Angeles, as he assembles a cast of area musicians for The LA EP (2016).

The band is comprised of Dan Higgins, alto sax, flute and clarinet; Sal Lozano, alto sax, flute and clarinet; Bob Sheppard, tenor sax and clarinet; Jeff Driskill, tenor sax and clarinet; Jay Mason, baritone sax and flute; French horns by Teag Reaves, Laura Brenes, Dylan Hart and Katie Faraudo; trumpets by Dan Fornero, Rob Schaer, Jeff Bunnell and Bob Summers; trombones by Alex Iles, Ryan Dragon and Charlie Morillas; Craig Gosnel, bass trombone; Doug Tornquist, tuba; Alan Steinberger, piano; Andrew Synoweic, guitar; Rick Shaw, bass; Harvey Mason Sr., drums; and Wade Culbreath, percussion.

The epic “Corridors” opens the set. The music begins softly, like an elegant symphony. After a brief warm-up, it evolves into a delightful, contemporary groove. That’s just one of many transitions the composition will go through. It easily shifts from the tranquil, featuring the piano or woodwinds, to wide open with the brass out front. Sheppard is the featured soloist on tenor sax. He takes over at about the midway point, with perfect balance between his lead and the backing horns. What follows is a sequence in which different instrument groups carry the melody, while the others complement or perform a counter-melody. Superb composition and performance.

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Mala Waldron – Deep Resonance

It’s just a lady and her piano, with no more than one or two accompanists per track. Mala Waldron presents Deep Resonance (Soulful Sound Music, 2016), a short set of original music, plus one cover.

Waldron sings and plays piano. Her accompanists are Vincent Gardner, trombone; Allen Won, bass flute; Akua Dixon, cello; Jonathon Perez, percussion; and Maurizio Rolli, fretless bass.

“Life Is Now” begins slowly, softly with the piano accompanying a throaty trombone lead. Then, it settles into a bright, up-tempo groove. Waldron’s earthy voice joins in, with lyrics that speak of hope and a eye toward the future. After the interlude, trombone and voice harmonize on the melody. Peretz’s play injects an African feel.

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Christopher Zuar Orchestra – Musings

It’s rare to find a debut artist who brings mostly original music. Even rarer when the artist leads a large ensemble but does not perform as a musician. That’s the case with the Christopher Zuar Orchestra’s Musings (Sunnyside Records, 2016).

With liner notes by the album’s producer and fellow jazz artist, Mike Holober, Musings takes the listener on a journey of thought, expression and virtual scenescapes.

The musicians are Dave Pietro, alto and soprano saxophones, piccolo, flute and alto flute; Ben Kono, alto and soprano saxophones, flute, oboe and clarinet; Jason Rigby, tenor and soprano saxophones, flute and clarinet; Lucas Pino, tenor saxophone and clarinet; and Brian Landrus, baritone saxophone and bass clarinet; trumpets and flugelhorns by Tony Kadleck, Jon Owens, Mat Jodrell and Matt Holman; trombones by Tim Albright, Matt McDonald and Alan Ferber; Max Seigel on bass trombone; Pete McCann on electric and acoustic guitars; Frank Calberg on piano and Fender Rhodes; John Hebert on acoustic and electric bass; Mark Ferber on drums; Rogerio Boccato, percussion on three tracks; and Jo Lawry, voice on four tracks.

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