Posts Tagged ‘ Jazz ’

Avery Sharpe – Sharpe Meets Tharpe: A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Among the superstitious, jazz is considered “the devil’s music.” Avery Sharpe joins the chorus of musicians who defy that line of thinking by showing that jazz, like any other genre of music, can be used for inspiration and to praise God. Sharpe Meets Tharpe: A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe (JKNM Records, 2016) presents the acclaimed bassist with The New England Gospel Choir and special guest Meli’sa Morgan.

Sharpe plays double bass, six-string electric bass and uses his voice. Meli’sa Morgan is lead vocalist on the songs that have lyrics. The other musicians are Charles Neville, tenor sax with solos on “Shout Sister Shout” and “Miss Nubin”; Michael King, piano and Hammond B-3 organ; Cory Cox, drums; Charles Langford, tenor and soprano saxophones; Jeremy Turgeon, trumpet; and James Messbauer, trombone. The New England Gospel Choir consists of Kevin Sharpe, director, tenor and bass; sopranos Heather Lord, Tania Greene and Shaina Paris; altos Wanda Rivera, Sofia Rivera and Linda Turner; tenor Heshima Moja, who leads on “Lonesome Road”; bass Robert Rivera; and rehearsal pianist Michele Feldheim.

“This Train,” a traditional spiritual, opens the set. Sharpe and Cox lay down the groove as the horn section warms up. Morgan sings in a style similar to Mavis Staples, blending gospel spirituality with soulful toning. King takes point during the middle break, with the choir adding a haunting, ethereal element. Sharpe then licks his chops on the electric, striking a series of high notes that make you wonder if it’s a bass or a guitar.

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Leslie Pintchik – True North

A stew whose ingredients include straight jazz, sassy blues and classic soul might be a good way to describe what pianist Leslie Pintchik cooks up with True North (Pintch Hard Records, 2016). With original titles that play on common sayings, like “Just Sayin’” and “Crooked as a Dog’s Leg,” and a small assortment of covers, Pintchik serves up a delicious meal for the ears.

Performing with Pintchik are Scott Hardy, bass; Michael Sarin, drums; Satoshi Takeishi, percussion on all but the closing track; and Steve Wilson, alto and soprano saxophones, and Ron Horton, trumpet and flugelhorn on selected tracks.

“Tumbleweed” is a moderately paced, ambient piece. One can visualize the Nevada desert, where the piano represents traveling the countryside, with the soft play of the horns being the wind that causes the tumbleweed to roll across the landscape. Bass and drum rhythms add just a touch of samba, and the percussion suggests an animal or two that come across the tumbleweed’s path. Horton and Wilson contribute solos.

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Rata-tet – Arctic

When one thinks of woodwind, or reed, instruments in jazz, the thoughts usually are centered around saxophone, flute or clarinet. Ratatet believes otherwise. The bassoon can be as effective. The group proves this with its debut, Arctic (Ridgeway Records, 2016).

Drummer Alan Hall is the leader, who also is arranger and composer. The other members are Paul Hanson, bassoon and tenor sax; John Gove, trombone; Dillon Vado, vibraphone; Greg Sankovich, organ, acoustic and electric piano; and Jeff Denson, acoustic bass, fretless and fretted electric bass, and vocals. Additional musicians who join for “Returning” are Paul McCandless, English horn, oboe and soloist; Joseph Hebert, cello; and Jonathan Alford, keyboard.

Vado carries the melody for the moderate, easygoing “Father’s and Sons.” The horns play overlapping phrases during the introduction and chorus. Denson lets his fingers do the walking on the acoustic bass, stretching out a bit during the middle break. Sankovich follows on piano, in turn followed by Gove. Throughout, Hall keeps it together, complementing each soloist while allowing himself a few moments to shine.

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Kenny Wright Experience – Jazz Expressions

Bass player Kenny Wright is one of the underestimated icons of the contemporary jazz genre. Performing with legends such as Stevie Wonder, The Whispers, Michael White, The Temptation’s Review, The Supremes, Bobbi Humphrey and others should be award enough.

He also excelled with his solo albums Fresh Focus (1993), Comin’ at Ya (1995), Bottle of Wine (1998), Herbie, Miles and Me (2006) and My Roots (2010).

After a long hiatus he returns with his new album Jazz Expressions (2016). He performs on this album with proven players like Charles Etzel, Camarra Kambron (piano), Wendall Shepherd (trumpet), Eric Kennedy, Bobby Ward, Larry Bright, Steve Onheiser (drums), Jacob Yoffee, David Smith, Kelly Shepherd, Steve Carrington (sax), Seitu (piano and keyboards), Kevin Porter, Carl Filipiak, David Cosby (guitar) and George Spika (celeste). Kenny plays on this album six string bass, guitar, and drum programming.

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Henry Robinett – I Have Known Mountains

For his fifth outing as a leader, guitarist Henry Robinett composed a diverse array of music. The result, I Have Known Mountains (Nefertiti Records, 2016), is an eclectic mix of sounds.

Performing with Robinett are Joe Gilman, piano; Tom Brechtlein, drums; Joshua Thurston-Milgrom, acoustic bass; Rob Lemas, electric bass; and Dominic Edward Garcia, congas and timbales.

“Crush” is an easygoing, moderately paced selection. After two passes of the melody, Robinett stretches out. The accompaniment is subtle, yet firmly engaged. After lulling the listener in with notes on the beat, Robinett shift gears to a high-speed series of picks before smoothly working back to the main theme. Timely cymbal splashes enhance this tune.

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Rhythm Future Quartet -Travels

No piano and no drums, but it works. The Rhythm Future Quartet brings a different approach with Travels (Magic Fiddle Music, 2016).

The musicians are Jason Anick, violin; Olli Soikkeli, lead guitar; Max O’Rourke, guitar; and Greg Loughman, bass. The group gets its name from the Django Reinhardt composition, “Rhythm Futur.”

Loughman composed the opener, “Iberian Sunrise.” It sets the tone for this gypsy jazz offering. With one guitar carrying the rhythm, the other pairs up with the violin for a delightful duet. Then, the gear shifts. The guitars and bass accelerate to a frantic pace. A while later, the violin rejoins. The sound conjures a visual of time-lapse photography of a city with commuters going to work as the sun climbs into the sky. Another shift changes the view from wide angle to close-up of the hustle and bustle.

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Peggy Duquesnel – In The Garden

INTheGardenAfter teaming to write an award-winning original score for a web series, pianist-composer-arranger Peggy Duquesnel reunites with orchestrater and woodwind man Billy Martin for a newly released outing that explores the spiritual side of her creative muse entitled In The Garden. Containing over an hour of tranquil piano and woodwind selections issued on the Joyspring Music label featuring originals penned by Duquesnel along with classics and traditional hymns, the recording also includes a pair of long-revered hymns from the late pianist and Piano Orchestrations brand creator Steve Hall, whose 25-year-old, two-million-selling Bankbeat Productions imprint recently came under the Joyspring Music umbrella.

Continuing her varied recording career that spans a dozen instrumental and vocal jazz and devotional albums, “In The Garden” is a soothing session featuring Duquesnel’s lyrical piano poetry and enhanced by Martin’s woodwinds. The pianist wrote nearly half of the record and conceived of fresh arrangements for the timeless hymns with the lion’s share of the lush orchestrations deftly handled by Martin. Setting the mood for reflection, Duquesnel’s spacious production allows her poignant, uplifting and communicative piano melodies to occupy the fore while sweeping orchestral woodwind backdrops underscore the exquisite orations.

A companion “In The Garden” DVD is also now available, pairing the album’s tracks with stunning nature videos that are currently in rotation at the recently launched Radiant TV network. Lensed by Creation Scape’s Gary Hanson in high definition, the cinematic images marry the music to the divine splendor of colorful carpets of floral fauna, majestic mountain ranges, placid streams and babbling brooks, verdant rainforests and oceanfront vistas. Continue reading

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