Posts Tagged ‘ Jazz ’

Dafnis Prieto Sextet – Triangles and Circles

Three horns and a rhythm trio can make for some of the most engaging jazz, especially when there’s cohesiveness and original music. That’s what you’re in store for with the Dafnis Prieto Sextet’s Triangles and Circles (Dafnison Music, 2015).

Drummer Dafnis Prieto is supported by Johannes Weidenmueller on acoustic and electric bass; Peter Apfelbaum on tenor and soprano saxophones and melodica; Felipe Lamoglia on alto saxophone; Mike Rodriguez on trumpet; and ever-present pianist Manuel Valera.

The title song begins with Prieto offering some tom rolls and working other elements of the kit. After he’s sufficiently warmed up, piano and bass signal the start of something. The horns may be the triangle of this piece. They blend during parts of the main theme, but then they split, each representing one side, playing nearly identical phrases in turns. The effect is like a rolling wave. Then Lamoglia goes on a jaunt with the alto, followed by Apfelbaum’s tenor. The horns then join as a unit, complementing Valera’s almost solo. Almost because while he’s doing his thing on piano, Prieto shows off a little on the side. It’s an interesting arrangement wherein the background players appear to be on equal footing as whoever has the lead.

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Janice Friedman Trio – Live at Kitano

The piano-led trio is a staple of jazz. And when it’s presented with freshness and energy, the results can be wonderful. So it is with Janice Friedman Trio’s Live at Kitano (Consolidated Artists Productions, 2015).

Pianist Janice Friedman is joined on this date by drummer Victor Lewis and bassist Ed Howard. The songs are recorded from a July 20, 2011, performance at Jazz at Kitano in New York City.

On your mark, “Get Set” begins the show in delightful fashion. This brief selection showcases Friedman’s ability to get the audience engaged from the first note. One of three Friedman originals, it’s a promise of things to come. Think Bill Evans, Erroll Garner or any of several other classic jazz pianists. About midway through is a playful call and response between Friedman and Lewis.

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Manuel Valera Trio – Live at Firehouse 12

Five albums in less than two years, including four as a leader? Unheard of. But pianist Manuel Valera has done it.

In late 2013, with his band, New Cuban Express, Valera released Exectativas. In early 2014, he released Self Portrait, a solo piano effort. Later in the year, he joined his father, Manuel Valera Sr., for Recuerdos. And again in 2014, with New Cuban Express, he released In Motion.

Valera is clearly a musician who loves to play, and he loves to share what he’s playing. The Manuel Valera Trio now releases Live at Firehouse 12 (Mavo Records, 2015). With Valera are bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer EJ Strickland.

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Carey Frank – Keep Smiling

As a long-time Jazz fan it is always great to realize that there is a new young and fresh generation of musicians, who dedicate their great talent to that musical genre.

One of them is pianist Carey Frank from Los Angeles who recently released his debut CD. Frank mentioned that he named the CD ‘KEEP SMILING’, because his grandfather was always saying that. And you can feel that positive message on every single track

Frank, who holds a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California, presents his music in a classical trio with himself on the piano, Sezin Ahmet Turkmenoglu on bass and Jamey Tate on drums, only in two tracks a saxophone (played by Bob Mintzer) is added.

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Benny Sharoni – Slant Signature

With a style compared to that of Sonny Rollins, Benny Sharoni delivers a beauty in Slant Signature (Papaya Records, 2015). It’s a set that simultaneously showcases his mastery of the tenor saxophone and the elegant side of jazz.

Accompanying Sharoni are Jim Rotondi, trumpet; Joe Barbato, piano; Mike Mele, guitar; Todd Baker, bass; and Steve Langone, drums.

“Minor City,” one of five original songs in the set, starts in dynamic fashion. Sharoni and Rotondi share the lead during the opening sequence. Then the two take turns out front, delivering high-energy, rapid-fire phrases. The rhythm section is locked in throughout. Barbato also gets to stretch out. Sharoni and Rotondi then alternate in call-and-response passes with Langone.

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Chris McNulty – Eternal

The love a mother has for her son is the driving force behind Chris McNulty’s Eternal (Palmetto Records, 2015). Combining her charming voice with a chamber ensemble and a jazz trio, she honors Sam McNulty, who died in 2011.

Sam was a hip-hop artist and composer, whose artist name is Chap One.

The core trio is comprised of John DiMartino, piano; Ugonna Okegwo, bass; and Gregory Hutchinson, drums. Paul Bollenback, guitar; and Matthew Jodrell, flugelhorn, also contribute. Steve Newcomb provides orchestration, arrangements and conducts the chamber ensemble. The chamber players are Mazz Swift, Josh Henderson and Amanda Lo, violins; Trevor New, viola; Meaghan Burke and Marika Hughes, cello; Jodie Rottle, flute and alto flute; Ivan Barenboim, clarinet and bass clarinet; John Morgan-Bush, French horn; and Ben Wendel, bassoon.

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Gil Evans Project – Lines of Color

Big band with a twist. That’s the nature of the Gil Evans Project album, Lines of Color (Blue Note/Artist Share, 2015).

Conducted by Ryan Truesdell, the orchestra is comprised of woodwinds: Jesse Han, Jessica Aura Taskov, Steve Kenyon, Steve Wilson, Dave Pietro, Donny McCaslin, Scott Robinson, Brian Landrus, Tom Christensen and Alden Banta; French horns: Adam Unsworth and David Peel; trumpets: Augie Haas, Greg Gisbert and Mat Jodrell; trombones: Ryan Keberle and Marshall Gilkes; bass trombone: George Flynn; tuba: Marcus Rojas; guitar: James Chirillo; piano: Frank Kimbrough; bass: Jay Anderson; drums: Lewis Nash; voice: Wendy Gilles; and viola: Lois Martin.

“Time of the Barracudas” has a deceptive opening. Soft sounds, led by the flutes, it has a slight symphonic edge. The other horns come in, with Gilke taking lead. The mood shifts to a moderate, cheerful sound. Gradually, the piece picks up energy behind the throaty trombone. McCaslin follows on tenor, going through several mood changes as he takes the instrument to its depths, then brings is it back to mid-range with a few high notes sprinkled in. The pace shifts from up-tempo to easygoing to near frantic. The band goes silent while Nash gives the kit a brief workout, before the song reverts to its symphonic beginnings.

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