Posts Tagged ‘ Jazz ’

Racha Fora – Racha S’Miles: Racha Fora Tribute to Miles

Racha Fora is a merging of culture, Japanese improvisation with Brazilian rhythms. Those cultures dig into the database with Racha S’Miles: Racha Fora Tribute to Miles (2015), a celebration of the music of Miles Davis.

The group is comprised of Hiroaki Honshuku, flute and EWI; Rikea Ikeda, violin; Mauricio Andrade, nylon string guitar; Rafael Russi, electric bass; and Benhur Oliveira, pandeiro. Special guest Dave Liebman, who performed with Davis, plays soprano sax on selected tracks.

The set opens with an interesting spin on Davis’ “Milestones.” The instrumentation melds East and West with the flute and violin figuring prominently. There are also significant contributions by the sax and the guitar.

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Peter Erskine – Dr. Um

An artful, comical drawing of drummer Peter Erskine says it all. Appearing in the gatefold of Dr. Um (Fuzzy Music, 2016), it depicts Erskine wearing a lab coat, goggles and rubber gloves while he performs a “procedure” on a tom.

Personnel on this date are John Beasley, keyboards; Janek Gwizdala, electric bass; Bob Sheppard, tenor saxophone; Jeff Parker, guitar; Larry Koonse, guitar solo on “Sprite”; Aaron Serfaty, congas, bongo, cowbell (on “Lost Page”); and Jack Fletcher, voice.

Ambient sounds from a waiting room, with a voice saying, “The doctor will see you now,” is the track titled, “You’re next.” That sets us up for “Lost Page,” a cool piece composed by Beasley. Gwizdala’s bass line is just a shade this side of funk. One can hear hints of fusion-era groups like Weather Report and the Crusaders. Guitar and sax harmonize for the melody. Doctor Erskine is in a groove throughout, assisted by nurse Serfaty.

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Ernie Krivda – Requiem for a Jazz Lady

Cleveland, Ohio, is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s also a hotbed of jazz. In Requiem for a Jazz Lady, saxophonist Ernie Krivda sends a love letter to the city on the shore of Lake Erie.

Krivda plays tenor saxophone. With him are Lafayette Carthon, piano; Marion Hayden, bass; and Renell Gonsalves, drums.

“The Remarkable Mr. Black” is vintage, straightforward jazz. Krivda comes right out of the gate, blowing with vigor. The rhythm trio is firmly locked in, each player making a mark. But it’s the leader expressing freely from start to just beyond the midway point. Carthon takes point briefly. The piano is followed by a call-and-response sequence, with Krivda leading the band during the calls, and Gonsalves going it alone on the responses. It sets up a delightful ending.

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Mike Holober – Balancing Act

Work vs. play. Sharing vs. keeping. Dreams vs. realities. And so on. Pianist Mike Holober says we all have acts to balance. Expressing his personal take on this concept, he presents Balancing Act (Palmetto Records, 2015).

Performing with Holober are Kate McGarry, voice; Marvin Stamm, trumpet and flugelhorn; Dick Oatts, alto and soprano sax, flute; Jason Rigby, tenor sax, clarinet and bass clarinet; Mark Patterson, trombone; John Hebert, bass; and Brian Blade, drums.

McGarry’s whispery scat opens the tranquil “Book of Sighs.” When the musicians join in, she sings Holober’s lyrics with bass and piano responding to her calls. After a few verses, she cedes to the instruments. Oatts is first to delight the ear with a riveting, blistering tour on the alto sax, punctuated by Blade’s dexterity on the kit. As Oatts continues, Patterson joins in with overlapping lines. Stamm and Rigby add fills. Then subtly, Oatts steps back and hands the reigns to Patterson. McGarry signals a transition to the main theme with a wordless chant that matches the phrase played by Holober and Hebert. It’s an engaging piece that has many textures and moods.

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Nicole Glover – First Record

Sax legend Wayne Shorter is making his mark on the musical world in a way that doesn’t involve his playing an instrument. Instead, he’s using his wisdom to inspire others to focus their skills and share them with the world. So it is that saxophonist/composer Nicole Glover releases her debut, aptly titled First Record (2015).

Glover plays tenor and is joined by George Colligan, piano, trumpet on “Snow Dance”; Jonathan Lakey, bass; and Alan Jones, drums.

“Water Ritual” opens the set. It’s an upbeat, ambient song that hints on being a waltz. The piano sets the elegant mood while the tenor leads. Shortly into the piece, both step back for a brief bass solo. After a return to the main theme, Glover takes point for an adventurous workout. The drums stand out a bit more during this passage. After another pass on the theme, the piano opens up, bass and drums become more firmly locked in, and the tenor goes on a rambling, blistering jaunt. If the main body of the song represents a baptism or similar ceremony, the ending is a raucous celebration wherein individuals catch the spirit and let go of their inhibitions.

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David Gilmore – Energies of Change

It took five years, but the wait was well worth it. Guitarist David Gilmore releases Energies of Change (Evolutionary Music, 2015), a philosophical as well as musical journey.

With Gilmore are Marcus Strickland, soprano, alto and tenor saxes, bass clarinet; Luis Perdomo, piano; Ben Williams, bass; Antonio Sanchez, drums; and special guest Kofo Wanda, talking drum on “Dance of Duality.”

The title song opens the set. It’s a moderately paced, easygoing piece. Guitar and sax blend on the melody with each taking a turn on the lead. Strickland overdubs, bringing in the bass clarinet for depth and diversity. After a few passes, Strickland switches to the sax for a passionate solo, with the rhythm trio turning up the heat in the background. The group mellows some when it’s Gilmore’s turn to stretch out. Still firmly locked in but softer. That mood remains when Perdomo takes point. Williams and Sanchez are brilliant throughout. Intensity returns when guitar and trade phrases during the frantic closing.

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Kirsten Edkins – Art & Soul

The music has a touch of the familiar, if only in the approach to playing it straight – no gimmicks. However, the songs of Art & Soul, the debut of composer and saxophonist Kirsten Edkins (Kirsten Edkins Music, 2015) are all new.

Edkins plays tenor, alto and soprano saxophones. Her primary accompanists are Larry Goldings, piano and Hammond B3 organ; Mike Valerio, bass; and Mark Ferber, drums. Guitarist Larry Koonse appears on two tracks. Friend and mentor Bob Sheppard, tenor sax and bass clarinet, appears on three tracks. Other guests are Mike Cottone, trumpet; and Ryan Dragon, trombone.

Sheppard offers the distinctive sound of bass clarinet as part of the bass rhythm for “Good Blood.” This is an old school band piece with blended horns, Cottone and Dragon joining Edkins for the melody. Solos are by Valerio, Edkins (soprano), Dragon and Goldings (piano). The overall mood is easygoing, placid and at times adventurous. Some of the background sounds add a haunting element.

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