Archive for the ‘ Jazz ’ Category

Jentsch Group Quartet – Fractured Pop

What happens when you do a lot of things well but don’t want to focus on just one or two? One possible result is a sample of each, mixed, matched, melded and blended with various combinations of the others. In other words, Fractured Pop (2017) by the Jentsch Group Quartet.

The band features Chris Jentsch, guitars; Matt Renzi, tenor saxophone, clarinet and alto flute; Jim Whitney, double bass; and John Mettam, drums.

The music moves from jazz fusion to rock instrumental, from ambient jazz to something bordering on electronica, from structured to free-form. Each musician is solid in his performance. Jentsch spices things up by playing more than one guitar on some tracks and adding some distortion effects here and there. Highlights include “Fractured Pop,” “Route 666” and “Meeting at Surratt’s.”

Read more …

Jeff Weinmann – Alma Matters

For want of an artist name, Jeff Weinmann gets credit for this project. The truth of the matter is, Alma Matters (Tone Traveler Productions, 2017) is a collaborative effort from several producers and musicians who appear in varied combinations. Weinmann is the main force behind the album’s creation, but he appears on only a few tracks.

The players, in order of appearance, are: Weinmann, flute, vocals; Jeff Cressman, trombone, flugelhorn, cornet, bass, Engelhart castinets; Natalie Cressman, vocals and trombone; Elena Penderhughes, flute, vocals; Samora Pinderhughes, keyboards; Jonathan Stein, bass; Mark Whitfeld Jr. drums; Ivan Jackson, trumpet; Peter Apfelbaum, keyboards, tenor sax, flute, drums, percussion, vocals, piano and bass; John Schott, guitar; Jill Ryan, vocals and alto sax; Will Bernard, guitar; Charlie Ferguson, drums; Sandy Cressman, vocals; Ben Heveroh, keyboards; David Belove, bass; Josh Jones, drums and percussion; Paul Hanson, bassoon and clarinet; Robin Bonnel, cello; Rachel Durling, violin; Erik Jekabson, flugelhorn; Terrance Kelly, vocals; Destani Wolf, vocals; Marcus Rojas, tuba; Mathias Kunzli, drums; and Julianna Cressman, vocals.

Weinmann brings together musical families whose members have some connection to Weinmann over the course of his career. Key among these are Apfelbaum, the Pinderhughes, Jekabson, and Sandy and Jeff Cressman. The latter couple’s eldest daughter, Natalie, is an up and coming artist in her own right. She composed two tracks and sings lead on one. Apfelbaum wrote three and arranged four others. Sandy Cressman composed one song and sings lead on three.

Read more …

Allegra Levy – Cities Between Us

It took a few years, but it’s well worth the wait. Upstart jazz vocalist Allegra Levy releases her second album, Cities Between Us (Steeple Chase Productions, 2017).

Supporting musicians are Kirk Knuffke, cornet; Stephen Riley, tenor saxophone; Carmen Staaf, piano; Jay Anderson, bass; and Billy Drummond, drums.

Levy’s acclaimed Lonely City (2014) has been billed as the darker side of Allegra. By comparison, the new release would be the lighter side. In reality, it’s a more human side. Whereas the debut album presented songs about “serious” topics, Cities Between Us delves more into emotions as they relate to personal relationships and memories.

Read more …

Manuel Valera Trio – The Seasons

Does Manuel Valera ever get tired? If the pace of his releasing new music, or joining another artist’s session, is any indication, the answer to that is an emphatic no.

Six albums of his own in just four years, not counting other projects. And he’s done them in various configurations: solo piano, his groups New Cuban Express and Groove Square. Now, in trio format, he presents The Seasons (Mavo Records, 2017).

Accompanists are Hans Glawischnig, bass; and E.J. Strickland, drums.

Read more …

Tom Kennedy – Points of View

“Behold. The master at work,” says Ben Vereen of bassist/composer Tom Kennedy. He’s not exaggerating, as Kennedy exhibits his mastery of the instrument and of composition with Points of View (2017).

Kennedy plays electric bass, acoustic bass and keyboards. Personnel are Dave Weckl, drums; Bill Evans, soprano sax; Charles Blenzig, piano; Karla Harris, vocal on “New July”; Wes Ritenour, drums; Chuck Loeb, guitar; Bob Fanceschini, soprano sax, tenor sax; Lee Ritenour, guitar; Obed Calvaire, drums; Nick Marcione, trumpet; Randy Brecker, trumpet; Mike Stern, guitar; Richie Morales, drums; and Bob Malack, tenor sax.

Weckl and Kennedy begin “The Dark” in emphatic fashion, injecting a slight Weather Report touch. After the intro, the mood changes to something more mellow. Evans takes lead, setting the mood for an evening of romance. The tenor expresses freely, with Weckl and Blenzig offering support. Kennedy evokes memories of Jaco Pastorius when playing in the background. During his middle solo, he makes the instrument talk, much like a suitor saying sweet nothings to his darling. At just above eight and a half minutes, it’s the second-longest track in the set. That gives the listener ample time to enjoy each musician individually, and the quartet as a whole.

Read more …

Bob Dowell – Mississippi Slide!

After years recording and performing in large ensembles, or as a sideman for an array of artists in various genres, trombonist Bob Dowell celebrates his new home and the inspirations it provides with Mississippi Slide! (2017).

Accompanying musicians are Art Edmaiston, tenor sax; Tony Thomas, Hammond B3 organ; Tim Goodwin, bass; and Tom Lonardo, drums.

The title song has a cool blues vibe. The organ introduces the piece, followed by a brief melody by trombone and tenor. Dowell quickly gives way to a tenor solo that’s right out of the 1950s or ‘60s. Edmaiston plays clean, bright and – cool. Dowell follows with a smooth solo of his own. Thomas, Goodwin and Lonardo stretch out plenty in the background. After Thomas’ brief stint, Dowell and Edmaiston blend for the closing melody and fade.

Read more …

Bruce Blackman – Is That Your Yacht?

Bruce Blackman aims to please. He rarely, if ever, misses his mark. And he scores again with Is That Your Yacht? (Starbuck Music, 2017).

The musicians are Blackman, lead vocals, keyboards, percussion and bass; other vocals: Jerome Olds, Jim Tice, Lina Kawar-Machaelides, Sarah Blackman, Meeko, and Cheryl Wilson; Randy Hoexter, keyboards and strings; Bo Wagner, percussion and vibes; Larry Cianelli, percussion and bass; James Cobb, bass; Atlanta Symphony, strings; Robert Taylor, guitar and violin; and the Bentley Brass, horns.

A coastal location in Spain, the Caribbean or South America may be the setting for the opening track, “Luz De Luna,” or “light of the moon.” It’s a tropical ballad that’s accented by Taylor’s guitar. Blackman sings of a midnight rendezvous with his lover – sneaking away while everyone else is asleep.

Read more …