Jazz CD Reviews – early March 2015

March 10, 2015

Joan Chamorro La Màgia De La Veu (CODA/Jazz To Jazz JJ014008)

Four or five years ago, a friend alerted me to the astonishingly talented Andrea Motis. I was impressed then, and I am even more impressed now with this new album. This came to me for review in Jazz Journal and since then I have returned again and again and enjoy it more and more every time I hear it.magia On this set, Andrea’s fine trumpet playing is complemented by her engaging singing. But there is even more than this, because also featured on this CD are three other young singing-instrumentalists all of whom, like Andrea, come from the Catalan region of Spain and have emerged thanks in large part to Joan Chamorro and the youth program that has produced these and many other young artists who play in the Sant Andreu Jazz Band. In the course of the past few years, Joan, who is himself a multi-instrumentalist of note, playing tenor and baritone saxophones as well as double bass, has released albums not only by the SAJB but also by each of the four singers who appear here: trumpeter Andrea Motis, trombonist Rita Payés, alto saxophonist Eva Fernández, and bassist Magalí Ditzira.

All four of these teenagers are gifted instrumentalists but on the new release their chosen repertoire pays tribute to singers who have inspired their vocal aspirations: Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald.AM catalanRP catalan But there is no slavish copying, instead these singers bring to songs including, Lady Sings The Blues, Mad About The Boy, East Of The Sun, Stars Fell On Alabama, Poor Butterfly, and How High The Moon, their own always interesting conceptions and all phrase ideally while interpreting the lyrics in delightfully-accented English (except Desafinado). These exceptional young musicians are backed by the fine rhythm section of pianist-organist Ignasi Terraz, guitarist Josep Taver, and drummer Esteve Pi. It is good to know that musicians like Andrea, Rita, Eva and Magalí are around and will carry the torch of jazz playing and singing on well into the mid-twenty-first century.EF catalanMD catalan


Oh, and by the way, there’s a film about Joan Chamorro and the SAJB: Kids and Music.


Steve Cromity All My Tomorrows (Cromcake Records)

Some very attractive readings of romantic songs presented here with respect and understanding by Steve Cromity, whose vocal sound, mature and confident, is always pleasing. Steve is backed on this, his second album, by the rhythm team of pianist Marcus Persiani, bassist Eric Lemon and drummer Darrell Green.SC CD Also present, and bringing a strong jazz feel to the proceedings are three guest horns: trumpeter Kenyetta Beasley (on five tracks), tenor saxophonist Eric Wyatt, and tenor saxophonist Patience Higgins (three tracks as well as one appearance each on soprano saxophone and flute). Among the familiar yet fresh sounding songs are Old Devil Moon, How Little We Know, Without A Song, and When Lights Are Low; less familiar but of similar quality are I Was Telling Her, My Little Boat, Duke Pearson and Oscar Brown Jr’s Jeannine, and Sugar, by Stanley Turrentine and Jon Hendricks. My loss, I know, but this is the first time I have encountered Steve; given the present-day market for the nostalgia implicit in much of his material he deserves to be much more widely heard.

For more on Steve go to Jim Eigo’s site.

Chris McNulty Eternal (Palmetto PM 2176)

This return to recording after a brief spell away is not only a delight to hear, it might also be the best thing that Chris McNulty has done. Back in 2011, Chris’s son, Sam McNulty (a.k.a. hip-hop artist/songwriter Chap One) died suddenly. While I would not normally venture to touch upon a tragic personal loss such as this, I do so here because there is a connection with this new album. The spirit of Sam is much in evidence in Chris’s choice of material, and is also audible in the often deeply moving interpretations of these songs.Eternal Among the songs selected are many that are familiar but Chris’s interpretations of the lyrics, her choice of tempos, and the subtle cushioning of her accompanying musicians all contribute toward making the listener hear these songs anew. The songs include A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing, Star Dust, Nature Boy, Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life and Where Is Love. Two unfamiliar songs are Chris’s own You Are There and The Saga Of Harrison Crabfeathers by Steve Kuhn and Sherrill Craig. Despite its unpromising title, this last-named song has a striking lyric that relates closely to the feelings of anyone who has lost a loved one, especially in unexpected circumstances. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Chris’s rendition is deeply moving and her rich and full vocal sound is admirably suited for all that does here. The principal accompanists are pianist-arranger John Di Martino, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, while Steve Newcomb arranged and orchestrated for a small string and woodwind group.

For more information on Chris see either her website or contact Braithwaite & Katz (Ann@bkmusicpr.com).

To buy any of these albums, go to your favorite on-line supplier, among which is, of course, Amazon.


Jazz CDs reviewed – January 2013

January 17, 2013

Chris McNulty – The Song That Sings You Here

Challenge CR 73341

A very welcome new release by this fine jazz singer, this album finds her in good voice with an especially attractive set of songs. Some years ago, Chris McNulty kindly spent time talking to Mike Pinfold for a book he and I were writing; this was Singing Jazz: The Singers And Their Styles. The passage of the years since then (the book was published in 1997) have not diminished the value of her remarks, among which were reflective comments on the importance for young singers to find their own voice, in particular the need for an intuitive approach to the manner in which a song is sung by those who would call themselves jazz singers. This last point is most certainly not an area in which Chris McNulty leaves any room for doubt. She is a jazz singer through and through and her work is always a vital demonstration of this virtually indefinable art.

As Chris explains in her liner notes, in July 2011 her young son died and although the songs were recorded before this grievous loss the listener finds an inevitable added resonance to the sometimes introspective mood of the album, thus bringing an almost spiritual air to the overall mood. Among the songs selected are How Little We Know, Lonely Woman, The Lamp Is Low, Last Night When We Were Young, One Less Bell to Answer, and Long Road Home – The Song That Sings You Here. The latter song is an original by the singer although, as can be seen, elsewhere she shows that she has retained her love for the songs of yesteryear, a love she remarked upon back in 1997: “I’ll never stop going back to those tunes. Originals can be beautiful but they haven’t got the everlasting power of those tunes.” Throughout this album, Chris sings with always melodic power, reading into the lyrics a considerable depth of understanding, the latter a quality that, as suggested, is made even more profound through the intrusion of real life tragedy. Her accompanying musicians are pianists Andrei Kondokov and Graham Wood, who share duties, guitarist Paul Bollenback, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Marcus Gilmore, with saxophonist Igor Butman guesting on some tracks, while guest vocalist Anita Wardell also appears. Altogether, this is an engaging, thoughtful and thought-provoking release.


The deep and abiding enthusiasm for jazz that has become an important part of Japanese culture is apparent in two new releases. One of these is by UoU, a cohesive quartet, very much of today. Entitled Take The 7 Train (Tippin’ TIP 112) this is mostly original music and where established themes are used they are made new through careful thought. The musicians are Takuji Yamada, who plays alto saxophone and bass clarinet, pianist Yoko Komori, guitarist Daisuke Abe, bassist Kuriko Tsugawa, and drummer Yoshifumi Nihonmatsu.


The other album presents the compositions and arrangements of Asuka Kakitani played by her Jazz Orchestra, an 18-piece big band of New York-based mainly American musicians. Entitled Bloom (19/8 1025), this is very much a meeting of minds. The music is melodic, thoughtful, occasionally brooding. From John O’Gallagher, Mark Eckroth, Jacob Garchik and others are some very good saxophone, piano and trombone solos, notably the latter, but it is the ensemble playing that is special.


As always, these releases can be found in many places, including Amazon.


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