Posts Tagged ‘ Jazz ’

Maria Schneider Orchestra – The Thompson Fields

If you take a jazz big band and ease back off the throttle, then have a symphony orchestra that plays modern music, combine the two, you might get an idea of the Maria Schneider Orchestra. Schneider’s The Thompson Fields (2015) is the first recording she’s done with this ensemble in eight years.

A Grammy-winning composer, Schnieder has worked with many of the musicians for more than 25 years. With Schneider as conductor, the musicians are Steve Wilson, alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, flute and alto flute; Dave Pietro, alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, flute, alto flute, bass flute and piccolo; Rich Perry, tenor sax; Donny McCaslin, tenor sax, clarinet and flute; Scott Robinson, baritone sax, bass clarinet, alto clarinet and clarinet; the quartet of Tony Kadleck, Greg Gisbert, Augie Haas and Mike Rodriguez, trumpets and flugelhorns; Keith O’Quinn, Ryan Keberle and Marshall Gilkes, trombones; George Flynn, bass trombone; Gary Versace, accordion; Lage Lund, guitar; Frank Kimbrough, piano; Jay Anderson, bass; Clarence Penn, drums; and Rogerio Boccato, percussion on “Lembranca.”

“The Monarch and the Milkweed” was inspired both by the monarch butterfly and the scenic beauty of the prairie in Minnesota. The track features solos by Gilkes and Gisbert. It’s a tranquil, majestic piece.

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Najee – You, Me and Forever

Saxophonist Najee is one of the greats of his genre. On the competitive music market, this means a constant struggle for the favor of music buyers. Due to his high profile, the interest in his music is consistently great.

Accordingly costly and involving a huge variety of musicians were these recordings. You, Me, and Forever is Najee’s 16th studio-album and third release on Shanachie Entertainment.

On the starting Air Najee unfolds pure magic with the flute. Everything is directed forward and to full speed. Rod Bonner on piano, Kenny Hawkins’ guitar staccato, Daniel Powell on fast paced drums, there is no time to wind down.

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Brian Landrus – The Deep Below

Low-end instruments don’t get much exposure. Brian Landrus aims to bring them some with The Deep Below (Blueland Records, 2015).

Landrus plays baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, bass saxophone and bass flute. He’s accompanied by Lonnie Plaxico, acoustic bass; and Billy Hart, drums.

“Fly” opens the set. It’s a heady, steady piece. Landrus plays without boundaries, no desire to conform. He pushes the baritone to some low-end buzz and then to the extreme upper range. Plaxico and Hart mix up their rhythm lines, stretching out just a tad while providing the foundation upon which Landrus builds.

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Bob James and Nathan East – The New Cool

TheNewCoolAlbums just aren’t made like the way The New Cool was made. Yamaha Entertainment Group label president Chris Gero put legendary keyboardist Bob James and master bassist Nathan East in the recording studio, equipped them with state-of-the-art Yamaha gear and gave them free reign to create. Recorded entirely in Nashville, the long-time collaborators emerged with an unexpected and audacious collection of original compositions plus a few handpicked classics, an acoustic jazz outing that will make you forget everything you thought you knew about these GRAMMY®-recognized artists best known as contemporary jazz luminaries. The disc produced by Gero, James and East will be released September 18.

The New Cool unfolds much in the way the meticulously-crafted project was conceived. The germ begins organically with a couple of intimate James and East duets. Pastoral piano wanderings explore the outer perimeter of straight-ahead jazz where they peruse, mirror and engage with meandering bass lines. In fact, more than half of the record’s compositions written by James and/or East are sparsely-produced, probing piano and bass sojourns. As the seed sprouts, dramatic orchestral accoutrements added by the Nashville Recording Orchestra illuminate the piano, keyboard and bass explorations, contributing hues that are warmly rustic and autumnal or whimsically vibrant.

James challenges with deftly inventive arrangements on complex pieces like “All Will Be Revealed” while East counts off supple rhythms that are astutely measured and metered. Fluid melodies and harmonies ranging from subtle, serene and meditative to lush, exquisite and cascading blossom throughout, whether emoted by a dexterous piano, keyboard or bass or East’s celestial vocalese. An imaginatively-arranged version of Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” bops and swings in sublimely surprising style before the ultimate surprise is revealed: a serendipitous vocal from Vince Gill. The proceedings flourish in a gust of breezy Brazilian jazz when percussionist Rafael Padilla and drummer Scott Williamson appear on “Canto Y La Danza” and climax in a crashing crescendo on the explosive and intricately orchestrated “Turbulence.”
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Luis Perdomo & Controlling Ear Unit – Twenty-Two

Original music, combined with three players who bring their own passions. That’s what you get on Twenty-Two by Luis Perdomo & Controlling Ear Unit (Hot Tone Music, 2015).

Accompanying pianist Luis Perdomo are Mimi Jones, bass; and Rudy Royston, drums.

“Love Tone Poem” begins softly, as in a classical, solo piano interlude. Then, the mood sweels as the accompaniment enters. The swell is brief, as the song reverts to a more tranquil vibe, the difference being that other instruments are now involved. It gradually evolves into something more melodic, more contemporary, but never losing its haunting, classical quality.

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Phil Maturano – At Home Everywhere

You could call it a piano trio that’s led by a drummer. That’s the configuration for Phil Maturano’s At Home Everywhere (2015).

Maturano, of course, is the drummer. His accompanists appear in three combinations. The pianists are Matthew Fries and Christian Torkewitz. The bassists are Phil Palombi, Michael O’Brien and Irio O’Farrill. O’Brien performs on only one track, with Torkewitz on piano.

Wayne Shorter’s “Fee Fi Fo Fum” opens the set in easygoing fashion. Fries carries the lead during the main body, with Palombi and Maturano laying down the head-bopping groove. The song is largely a showcase for the piano, but the bass gets its moment in the spotlight, as does the drum kit. Maturano holds back until near the end, when he mixes it up during a call and response with Fries.

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Lauren Henderson – A La Madrugada (At Dawn)

Many forms of music comprise Lauren Henderson’s inspiration and vocal repertoire. And you’re likely to hear traces of all of them on A La Madrugada (At Dawn) (2015).

With Henderson are Riley Mulherkar, trumpet; Jonathan Powel, trumpet and flugelhorn; Louis Fouche, alto saxophone; Sullivan Forner, piano, Rhodes and organ; Ameen Saleem, double bass and electric bass; and Jeremy “Bean” Clemons, drums and percussion.

The set begins with a sultry rendition of “You and the Night and the Music.” Henderson’s earthy voice is complemented by a sassy horn section. The piano and percussion styling give the song a hint of flamenco, one of the styles that influenced Henderson. Saleem enjoys a tight, string-snapping solo. The highlight of the piece is the way the trumpets blare to emphasize key phrases sang by Henderson.

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