Posts Tagged ‘ Jazz ’

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.

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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.

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Afro Bop Alliance Big Band – Revelation

Call it an audible adventure. The Afro Bop Alliance Big Band goes deep with Revelation (OA2 Records, 2016).

Joe McCarthy is the leader, and handles drums and percussion. Rolando Vazquez conducts three songs. The rhythm section is comprised of Harry Appleman, piano; Jim Roberts, guitar; Tom Baldwin and Oscar Stagnaro, bass; Samuel Torres, congas on three tracks; Ed Fast, vibraphone on three tracks; and Robert Quintero, percussion on four tracks. On trumpets are Brian MacDonald, lead, Rich Sigler, Mark Wood, lead on “Creencias”, Chris Walker, Dan Orban and Tim Stanley, with Alex Norris appearing only on “Family of Four.” Trombonists are Matt Niess, lead, Rhoades Whitehill, Joe Jackson, Jeff Cortazzo, Victor Baranco, Dave Perkel and Matt Neff. Saxophonists are Vince Norman, lead, alto and soprano, Bill Mulligan, alto, flute and piccolo, Pete Barenbregge, alto and flute, Joseph Henson, tenor and flute, Matt Stuver, tenor, Luis Hernandez, tenor, and solo on “Dialed In”, and Darryl Brenzel, baritone and bass clarinet. On steel pans are Victor Provost, lead, Josanne Francis, tenor, Khandeya Sheppard, double seconds, and Adam Grise, cello.

“No Rest for the Bones of the Dead” opens as a moderate, mellow piece that quickly warms into something more fiery. The horns and percussion set the mood. Hernandez takes off on a sunny romp, with the other horns doing some interesting things underneath. When the full band comes back in, the different horn groups each are seemingly in their own zones, yet working together as a unit. Stagnaro gets a moment to stretch out before passing the baton to the saxophones, with the piano and percussionists setting the same groove behind both passages. The song goes through several changes throughout, making it an epic.

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Rebecka Larsdotter – Whirlwind

It’s a marriage of light jazz and Scandinavian folk music. Swedish-born singer-songwriter Rebecka Larsdotter weaves the forms together with Whirlwind (Losen Records, 2016).

Larsdotter mixes and matches her accompanists, depending on the needs of the songs. The musicians are Aaron Parks, piano; Dayna Stephens, saxophone, arranger; Ben Street, bass; Nate Wood, drums; Shai Maestro, piano; Rick Rosato, bass; Ari Hoenig, drums; Oz Noy, guitar; Dennis Hamm, keyboard; Hadrien Feraud, bass; Gene Coy, drums.

“Kvar,” a Larsdotter original, is a tranquil piece written in her native tongue. The title translates to “left” in English. It reflects her concept of the language being left behind and its parallel to being in a relationship where the person doesn’t know where she stands. Bass and piano solos assist.

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Fred Hersch – Sunday Night at the Vangaurd

In Sunday Night at the Vangaurd (Palmetto, 2016), pianist Fred Hersch finds himself mentioned alongside such greats as Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea and Henry Threadgill.

There’s a mindset that jazz is defined either by young artists creating something new, or veteran artists playing what they’ve played – the way they’ve played it – for decades. Hersch and the others defy that kind of thinking as they continue to create sounds that are fresh and invigorating.

Performing with Hersch are bassist John Hebert and drummer Eric McPherson.

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lhan Ersahin’s Istanbul Sessions – Istanbul Underground

There’s a tendency to categorize any instrumental music played by a small ensemble, that’s not chamber, as jazz. This can lead to confusion. Is it pop or R&B without lyrics? Is it jazz that’s meant to sound like pop or R&B? Is it something else? Those questions are presented in full force by Ilhan Ersahin’s Istanbul Sessions. Their third release, Istanbul Underground doesn’t bother trying to answer the question. The group delights in asking it as they play.

The ensemble consists of Ersahin on tenor saxophone; Alp Ersonmez, bass; Turgut Alp Bekoglu, drums; and Izzet Kizil, percussion. An uncredited electric guitar appears in some tracks, adding fills, a touch of funk or supplementing the other sounds. There also appears to be a keyboard adding some ethereal or space travel effects.

“Falling” begins with a low, brooding bass line with a percussive backdrop. The tenor comes in and warms things up a bit. The song shifts gears several times, from the moody vibe of the opening sequence, to something upbeat and rhythmic. A highlight is near the end, when Ersahin puts the tenor through a series of upper-register phrases, with an echo giving it an outer space feeling.

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Bob Holz – A Vision Forward

Drummer and percussionist Bob Holz has formed a new group, whose name inspires the title of their new release, A Vision Forward (MVD Records, 2016).

Holz is accompanied by a variable lineup comprised of the following: Larry Coryell, guitar; Mike Stern, guitar; Randy Brecker, trumpet; Ada Rovatti, sax on “A Vision Forward”; Billy Steinway, keyboards; Steve Weingart, keyboard solos on “Shooting Range” and “The Stand Up”; Bob Wolfman, guitar; John Viavattine Jr., bass on all tracks; Jesse Collins, alto sax; Tori Higley, vocals; John Viavattine Sr., flute, tenor sax and soprano sax; and Ethan Wojcik, trombone on “The Stand Up.”

“A Vision Forward” is an upbeat groove. A three-instrument panel leads the bright, sunny melody. Solos are by Brecker, Rovatti and Steinway. The trumpet is muted in sections. The song has elements of fusion and funk, moving seamlessly between the two.

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