Posts Tagged ‘ Jazz ’

Quinsin Nachoff – Flux

Strap yourselves in. You’re in for a ride unlike anything you’ve experienced. Saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff challenges the listener with Flux (Mythology Records, 2016).

Nachoff plays the tenor. Accompanying him are David Binney, alto sax; Matt Mitchell, piano, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Moog Rogue and organ; Kenny Wollesen, drums, timpani, tubular bells, and handcrafted percussion.

“Complimentary Opposites” opens with some quirky keyboard phrasing. The other instruments enter in what might best be described as random switching on and off. The saxes meld for what passes for a melody, but separate once the song goes full force. Binney stretches his creative muscle with an extended solo. His accompanists are seemingly in another world, as no two appear to be on the same page. Yet it somehow works. While each musician is in his own world, they’re not in conflict. After Nachoff goes a round, the mood softens for the acoustic piano. There, the drums do appear to complement, at times barely audible. Mitchell and Wollesen then take off on a parry and thrust sequence. This continues after the tenor rejoins. A slight hint of reggae is injected when the song shifts again, entering a more melodic phase. The pace, intensity and quirkiness pick up as the entire ensemble builds to an explosive ending. There are many elements to this piece. At 10 minutes, the group has time to cover them all.

Read more …

Daniela Schächter – Van Heusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen

Take some well-written songs, a charming voice and excellent musicians, put them together, and you’ll come away with a feast for the ears. Daniela Schachter accomplishes this with Van Heusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen (2016).

The set consists mostly of songs composed by the celebrated songwriter for whom it’s named. Many of Van Heusen’s songs were recorded or performed by Frank Sinatra. Schachter sings, plays piano and composed all arrangements. Her accompanists are Mike Tucker, tenor saxophone; Michael O’Brien, acoustic bass; and Mark Walker, drums.

The quartet is solid throughout, with Schachter performing elegantly on the keys, and her voice expressing the love and joy of playing this music. Her voice is at once soothing and enchanting. The musicians complement one another well, each getting an opportunity here and there to stretch out a bit. A few highlights are “Here’s That Rainy Day,” “Darn That Dream,” “Come Fly with Me,” and the one original song, Schachter’s “Vanheusenism.” Schachter even employs a delightful scat during her rendition of “Polkadots & Moonbeams.”

Read more …

Gordon Goodwin’s Little Phat Band – An Elusive Man

Smaller ensemble, same leader, equally good sound. That’s the essence of An Elusive Man (Music of Content, 2016) by Gordon Goodwin’s Little Phat Band.

The band consists of Goodwin, composer, arranger, piano and tenor saxophone; Wayne Bergeron, trumpet; Eric Marienthal, alto and tenor saxophones; Andy Martin, trombone; Andrew Synowiec, electric and acoustic guitars; Rick Shaw, acoustic and electric bass; Bernie Dresel, drums; and Joey De Leon, percussion.

A cool bass line, percussion and stick work help set the table for “Behind You,” a bouncy, delightful piece. Muted trumpet accents the melody. After two passes on the theme, the horns deliver a drama-building sequence, setting up Synowiec’s dancing, prancing solo. Goodwin follows with a spirited jaunt on tenor sax. Back on piano, he engages in a call and response with Dresel and De Leon. The horn section returns with the main phrase, also calling and responding with Dresel. A transition, and the melody comes back in full.

Read more …

Anthony Branker and Imagine – Beauty Within

Where he leads, they gleefully follow. Anthony Branker and Imagine present Beauty Within (Origin Records, 2016), an engaging set of all-original music.

Branker is composer and musical director. The Imagine musicians are Ralph Bowen, tenor and soprano saxophones; Pete McCann, guitar; Fabian Almazan, piano; Linda Oh, double bass; Rudy Royston, drums.

Oh goes it alone to introduce the title song. The nearly two minute solo shows the bassist’s dexterity. A little stick work from Royston cues the band. The song has a haunting, enchanting mood, whether Bowen or Almazan has the lead. Royston, rather than keep a steady beat, mixes rolls with independent strikes, deftly shifting from cymbals to toms and back. The melody is a duet between tenor sax and guitar. Entering the final phase, Bowen stretches out, bringing more energy and passion.

Read more …

The Girshevich Trio – Algorithmic Society

Three generations of talent come together for the debut recording of the Girshevich Trio, Algorithmic Society (Tapestry Records, 2016).

The trio is comprised of Vlad Girshevich, piano and synthesizers; his son, 12-year-old Aleks Girshevich, drums; and Eddie Gomez, bass. Special guest Rony Barrak appears on “Healing the Chaos,” playing the darbouka, riq and daf – respectively, a hand drum, a tambourine-like instrument and another type of drum.

“Healing the Chaos” is a mixed media piece. The opening sequence is a simple, pop trio offering. Then it shifts briefly into something of Hungarian classical, featuring a string section. Back to the acoustic trio, the piano thrills out front, with subtle support from the synths. Meanwhile, the bass line is riveting, and the drum track keeps it all together. After another pass on the Hungarian, Gomez takes point. They engage in a call and response with Barrak, who answers with his trio of hand percussive instruments.

Read more …

Kent Miller – Contributions

Bassist Kent Miller delivers an engaging collection of songs with Contributions (TNEK Jazz, 2016). The title refers to the contributions of the musicians on the recording, as well as songwriters whose compositions are included in the set.

Performing with Miller are Benny Russell, tenor sax; Darius Scott, piano, and Greg Holloway, drums and percussion.

“West End Carnival” is a lively opener. Like something off the streets of Rio, this energetic celebration puts Russell out front. Miller’s bass line and Holloway’s play are constants. It’s a festive, cast-your-worries-aside song.

Read more …

Michael Shrieve – Spellbinder

The Santana connection makes magic for the first time in 45 years, leading to drummer Michael Shrieve’s Spellbinder (2016).

Shrieve first appeared with Carlos Santana in 1969 at the age of 19. He reunited with Santana in 2015 to record Santana IV. That event reunited the lineup of Shrieve, Greg Rolie, Neal Schon, Mike Carabello and Santana. In a way, that served as the springboard for Spellbinder. For this project, Shrieve is accompanied by Joe Doria, keyboards; Danny Godinez, guitar; Farko Dosumov, bass; and John Fricke, trumpet.

“Pop Raladrao” opens the set in dynamic fashion. This fast-paced, high-energy piece features a driving bass line, engaging rhythm guitar and keyboard lines. The trumpet leads mostly, augmented by effects. Going into the final quarter, Shrieve licks his chops, working out the kit as the others throw in some fills. It’s a thrill-a-second start to the album.

Read more …