Jazz CD reviews – late October

October 25, 2016

Alyssa Allgood Out Of The Blue (Jeru Jazz JJR-5-CD)

Among the many new young vocalists who happily label themselves as ‘jazz singers’ are just a few who truly deserve the title. Unquestionably, Alyssa Allgood is one of these few. Based in Chicago, she has gained acclaim locally and has also attracted attention further afield while studying, then working with mentors including Jay Clayton and Madeline Eastman, and taking part in the 2015 Shure Montreaux Jazz Voice Competition.alyssa Alyssa’s love of jazz is immediately apparent from her choice of material, which includes Wayne Shorter’s Speak No Evil, Hank Mobley’s Watch Me Walk Away (Dig Dis), Sam Rivers’ Beatrice, Joe Chambers Mirrors (all with lyrics by Alyssa), Only A Memory (Ceora) by Lee Morgan and Milton Suggs, Joe Henderson’s If, Horace Silver’s Peace, the Bobby Timmons-Jon Hendricks classic, Moanin’, as well as Noticing The Moment (Moment’s Notice) by John Coltrane, Peter Eldridge and Kim Nazarian. As the album title makes clear, the material and its originators are associated with the classic Blue Note label and that company’s ethos lies at the heart of Alyssa’s work. Indeed, all of the instrumentalists heard here are with the label today. These collaborators are saxophonist Chris Madsen, organist Dan Chase, guitarist Tim Fitzgerald, and drummer Matt Plaskota. All play with skill and the mutual empathy is apparent throughout, in ensemble, supporting the singer, as well as soloing with flair. The arrangements, by Alyssa and Dan, are crafted to allow ample space for inventive vocal and instrumental solos. Alyssa’s singing voice is light and true, she is rhythmically assured and has a clear understanding of the intentions of the originators of the music. As is apparent, most of this music began as instrumental pieces and in some instances Alyssa’s vocals follow the original solo lines. Vocalese is a difficult art, as is scat singing, but Alyssa displays her accomplishment in these areas. Not that these forms of jazz singing are overused; rather, they are blended into a wholly satisfying display of jazz singing. Contemporary in presentation, the blues are never far away; a comment that might also apply to Blue Note Records. Alyssa Allgood is a name to look out for and to remember.

Matthew Kaminski Live At Churchill Grounds (Chicken Coup CCP 7026)

Playing Hammond B3 organ, here Matthew Kaminski leads his quartet through a live date, recorded over two nights in Atlanta. Rounding out the quartet are Will Scruggs, tenor saxophone, Rod Harris Jr, guitar, and Chris Burroughs, drums, all of them playing with the spirit heard in Hammond-led groups of the past.kaminski Also featured here is vocalist Kimberly Gordon, who sings on If I Had You, I Love Being Here With You and So Danco Samba. Mixed in with the standards are pop songs, such as the Beach Boys’ Sail On Sailor, and jazz pieces, like Jimmy Smith’s Midnight Special, Duke Ellington’s Just Squeeze Me and It Shouldn’t Happen To A Dream, on both of which Kimberly sings, and Lou Donaldson’s Hot Dog. And then there’s the almost inevitable April In Paris, which started out as a popular song but gravitated into the world of the jazz organist by way of Wild Bill Davis (not forgetting Count Basie), here given a long workout by all five musicians. Throughout this album, the spotlight is mainly on Matthew and his solos are always interesting. So too are those by Will, playing with drive on the swingers and with sensitivity on ballads. A fine example of Rod’s playing comes on Jack McDuff’s A Real Goodun, which closes the album. A very entertaining occasion that swings from start to finish and leaves the listener wanting more. Speaking of which, this is Matthew’s third jazz release, the others being Swingin’ and Taking My Time. A footnote for those with a sporting inclination: Matthew has played organ for eight seasons at the home of the Atlanta Braves and has also released an album in this style.

Rebecca Dumaine Happy Madness (Summit DCD 687)

Singing with obvious delight in the material, here Rebecca Dumaine presents a selection that draws mainly upon the music of earlier times. Among the songs are standards but there a few from more recent times, all of them given a fresh outlook yet their treatment shows her respect.dumaine The songs include Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke’s Like Someone In Love, Harry Warren and Mack Gordon’s The More I See You, Marvin Fisher’s Destination Moon, Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer’s I’m Old Fashioned, Joe Bushkin and Joe Devries’s Nobody Else But Me and Cole Porter’s It’s All Right With Me, while the album takes its title from the song by Antonio Carlo Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes (with Gene Lees’ lyrics). Providing admirable support for Rebecca is the Dave Miller Trio, a longtime association. With Dave on piano are Perry Thoorsill, bass, and Bill Belasco, drums (Dave is Rebecca’s father). The trio is augmented on some tracks by guitarist Brad Beauthe and saxophonist Pete Cornell. Relaxed and happy music that is collectively a very pleasing set that will appeal to those who enjoy hearing good songs sung and played well by straightahead jazz performers who clearly admire this music. For details of an earlier album by Rebecca, The Consequence Of You, see my post in late-May 2015.

Joshua Breakstone 88 (Capri 74144-2)

Tributes paid by a jazz artist to others are by no means unusual, but this set from guitarist Joshua Breakstone takes an intriguing approach. One original by Joshua apart, the music heard here is written by jazz pianists and the fact that there is no pianist in the group means that an alternate view is taken of the music.joshua-88 Thus, aspects that might, perhaps, have been unobserved by the many fans of the composers concerned are revealed. Among the composer-pianists featured by Joshua are Cedar Walton, Black, Tadd Dameron, If You Could See Me Now, Lennie Tristano, Lennie’s Pennies, and Mal Waldron, Soul Eyes. Joshua’s collaborators here, collectively named The Cello Quartet, are cellist Mike Richmond, bassist Lisle Atkinson, and drummer Andy Watson. Although Joshua is the principal soloist, all make an important contribution and this is very much a collaborative venture. It is worth noting Joshua’s comment regarding the reason why he has chosen to perform pieces composed for (and at) the piano: “It’s merely the expression of one guitarist’s love and admiration for the instrument and those who happen to play the hell out of it and use it as a vehicle for composition.” Altogether, this a rewarding and entertaining album that will appeal to many.

Mili Bermejo & Dan Greenspan Arte del Duo (Ediciones Pentagrama APCD 707)

The music performed by this duo has an appealing freshness, which is, perhaps, surprising as singer Mili Bermejo and bassist Dan Greenspan have worked together for a quarter century.mili-bermejo Mili’s early years saw her move from Buenos Aires to Mexico City to Boston, where she has taught at Berklee College of Music since 1984; Dan started out in New Haven before moving to Boston where he became an in-demand session musician and more recently the couple have settled in New Hampshire. The music heard here ranges widely both stylistically and geographically with a handful of originals by Mili as well as songs by composers from Mexico, Armenia, Argentina, Uruguay and France. Melodically and rhythmically rich, this music is sung and played with emotional intensity and considerable technical expertise and will have widespread appeal.

Al Strong Love Strong Volume 1 (independent)

On his debut album, trumpeter Al Strong displays his technical skill and also his awareness of the paths taken by jazz in recent years. Although a relatively new name on the contemporary jazz scene, he plays with mature confidence.astrong Most of the music played here has been composed by Al and there is an emotional depth to the music, a quality not always present nowadays. There are also some well known themes, including Kenny Barron’s Voyage, Thelonious Monk’s Blue Monk and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s My Favorite Things. Joining Al here are several musicians, some of whom also take solos, forming groups of different sizes. Among them are saxophonists Bluford Thompson and James ‘Saxmo’ Gates, keyboard players Ryan Hanseler and Lovell Bradford, and drummers Jeremy ‘Bean’ Clemons and Iahji Hampden. Contemporary jazz, played with sensitivity and always displaying an awareness of what has gone before.

Richard Sussman The Evolution Suite (Zoho ZM 201614)

sussmanA five-movement suite drawing upon pianist-composer Richard Sussman’s wide and eclectic interest in contemporary improvised and classical music. This album is reviewed elsewhere.

For more on Alyssa Allgood, Matthew Kaminski, and Rebecca Dumaine contact Holly Cooper at Mouthpiece Music; for Mili Bermejo & Dan Greenspan and Joshua Breakstone contact Braithwaite & Katz (Ann@bkmusicpr.com); and for Al Strong and Richard Sussman go to Jim Eigo’s Jazz Promo Services site.

Albums by these artists are available at the usual outlets, including Amazon.

Jazz CD Reviews – early June 2016

June 6, 2016

Compared to the countless alto and tenor saxophone players in jazz, many of them distinguished and spotlit, those musicians who chose other members of the saxophone family often play in the shadows. I suspect that most of us would have a hard time producing an off-the cuff list of baritone saxophonists that reached far into double figures, while listing those who played bass or C-Melody saxophone would certainly be much harder. (I managed only one of each – Harry Gold, who was not a jazz man but a dance band leader, and Frankie Trumbauer, who would be on everyone’s list.)

And then there is the soprano saxophone. Of course, many saxophonists have played soprano as a second instrument to their usual clarinet or alto or tenor but it has been principle instrument for very few. Even Bob Wilber and Kenny Davern, whose Soprano Summit brought such pleasure to the mainstream of the 1970s, at other times respectively played alto and clarinet extensively. But back to making lists – pretty nearly everyone reading this will instantly note the name of Sidney Bechet, the grand master of the soprano, but might well slow down a little after having added the names of Steve Lacy and Jane Ira Bloom. It is a new album by the last named that has prompted these thoughts, although references to other players of the soprano saxophone is unfair because her great skill and profound musicianship are virtually unparalleled as is the enormous contribution to jazz she has made, and continues to make, as performer, composer and educator.

Jane Ira Bloom Early Americans (Outline OTL 142)

On this new release Jane Ira Bloom performs twelve of her own compositions, themes that range widely, touching upon aspects of America’s history, geography and culture.jane ira b Among the performances heard here are a lively Song Patrol, the darkly dramatic Dangerous Times, the deeply introspective Other Eyes, an atmospheric Mind Gray River, and an adventurous and exciting Gateway To Progress. Throughout, the sound of Jane’s saxophone is rich, drawing from the instrument’s full range and is emotionally most satisfying. Jane’s collaborators here are bassist Mark Helias and drummer Bobby Previte, both of whom are wholly attuned to the leader’s intentions and provide superb support, blending where required, soloing with flair when called upon. The closing track, the only non-original, is Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s Somewhere. Played by Jane alone, its spaciousness and hint of melancholy matches the atmosphere that imbues every moment of this set. Altogether, a lovely album that brings pleasure both intellectually and emotionally.

Lou Caputo Uh Oh! (Jazzcat 47 JC 1825)
The soprano saxophone is also heard on this album led by Lou Caputo
, who additionally plays flute, alto and mostly baritone saxophone. Leading his 12-piece New York-based Not So Big Band, on this, their third CD, Lou presents an admirable selection of compositions by several leading jazz artists.louiscaputo These include Wayne Shorter, Black Nile, Mary Lou Williams, Busy, Busy, Busy, Chick Corea, Guijira, Jack DeJohnette, Festival, Oliver Nelson, Stolen Moments, and Dexter Gordon, Fried Bananas. The arrangers are Geoffrey Burke, Jason Ingram, Mike Carubia, Chris White, Chris Rinaman, Ryan Krewer, Bill Crow, Lyn Welshman, Bill Whited and Virginia Mayhew and their spacious charts offer ample opportunities for the excellent soloists among those gathered for this date. The full band Lou directs comprises John Eckert, Dave Smith (trumpet and flugelhorn), Jason Ingram (trombone), Dale Turk (tuba), Geoffrey Burke (alto and flute) Virginia Mayhew (tenor), Don Stein (piano), Bill Crow (bass), Mike Campenni sharing with Rudy Petschauer (drums), Warren Smith (vibraphone), Eddie Montalvo (conga) and Leopoldo Fleming (percussion). The many solos are supported by crisp ensemble work, perhaps not too surprising given that Lou has had this band for about a decade. The mood is rich and varied, with a lively Latin jazz sound on Festival, an appropriately thoughtful Stolen Moments, Bill Crow’s irresistibly toe-tapping News From Blueport, and a romantic take on Tadd Dameron’s If You Could See Me Now. So much to enjoy here and lucky you if you should live in the New York area and catch Lou Caputo’s band live.

Jim Self ¡Yo! (Basset Hound BHR 114-2)

Long known as a studio musician in the film and television studios of Los Angeles, tuba player Jim Self has also made numerous albums as leader of jazz and Latin groups. The group he leads here, on his 13th album, is the Tricky Lix Latin Jazz Band, a name that hides neither its style or intentions. Much of the music of Latin America is for dancing and the forms heard here include mambo, For Charlie and Old Arrival, danzon cha cha, Poinciana, and bolero, Quiero Llegar. YoThe musicians joining Jim here are Ron Blake (trumpet, flugelhorn), Francisco Torres (trombone), Rob Hardt (tenor and soprano saxophones, flute), Andy Langham (piano), Rene Camacho (bass), and percussionists Joey De Leon, Giancarlo Anderson and George Ortiz, while the arrangements are the work of Jim, Francisco, who between them also wrote five originals, Curt Berg and Bill Cunliffe. There are numerous solos, notably Rob’s soprano on Sweetest Blue, Ron’s trumpet on Encognito and Cal’s Pals, Francisco’s trombone on Quiero Llegar on which Andy’s piano is also heard. Some of Jim’s solos are on tuba and others on the mellow-toned fluba, which looks rather like a Brobdingnagian flugelhorn. Propelled by a lively bass and percussion, the air of lightness and joy that pervades this set will bring pleasure to many.

Terceto Kali Terceto Kali (Jason McGuire Music)

Leading his dynamic trio, Terceto Kali, Jason McGuire “El Rubio” is not only a notable jazz guitarist, but also a master of flamenco. His combining of these two styles is marked both by its rarity in popular music and his striking skill and ingenuity.terceto An important aspect in much of flamenco is its dramatic intensity and that is especially notable here on pieces such as Zardoz and Ratones Ciegos, while the form’s inherent romanticism is presented on Romance. All of the music heard here is composed by Jason and reflects just a few of the numerous stylistic variations that lie within flamenco. Different dance styles are also heard with flamenco’s percussive nature apparent as drummer Marlon Aldana conveys the power of the flamenco dancer. Among the dance music heard are the tango, Ratones Ciegos, the rondeña (a form of fandango, Contratiempo, and the rumba, Mira Mira, Jason demonstrating in all of them his feeling for jazz. The third member of the trio, bassist Paul Martin Sounder, is similarly attuned to the wide stylistic range of the musical origins. Storytelling is a significant aspect of flamenco, not only through dance and the music of the guitar but also by way of a singer and this is displayed on some selections by José Cortés. Superb musicianship and always fascinating music make this an exceptional album, reflecting as it does the manner in which Jason McGuire, from Texas, has so thoroughly assimilated the traditions of Andalusia and it should appeal to lovers of music from many genres and countries.

Jocelyn Michelle Time To Play! (Chicken Coup CCP 7024)

The Hammond B3 organ has a much admired and respected place in jazz and Jocelyn Michelle, a relatively new name on this particular scene, is a valuable addition to the instrument’s roll of honor. Playing with verve and driving swing on mid- and up-tempo pieces and thoughtful depth on ballads, Jocelyn vividly displays her musical skills and a varied selection that includes six of her originals.jocelyn Playing piano from very early childhood, at the University of Miami School of Music she played guitar and also studied commercial aspects of the music business before concentrating on the organ and a career as a performer. Stylistically, there is here a wide range that encompasses Latin and gospel, rock and soul, all brought into jazz by Jocelyn and the front-rank artists with whom she collaborates. These are guitarists Bruce Forman on six tracks and John Rack on four (the latter being also Jocelyn’s life partner), saxophonists Doug Webb, five tracks, and Steve Mann, three, trumpeter Stan Martin, five, drummer Sammy K, all ten tracks, and percussionist Brad Dutz, three. Also heard on one track each is trumpeter Andrea Lindborg and vocalists Gina Saputo and Regina Leonard Smythe. The four non-original tracks are Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man, Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther Theme, Gato Barbieri’s Last Tango In Paris, and the Jay Livingston-Ray Evans standard Never Let Me Go. On one track, Sylvia’s Song, Jocelyn plays guitar and on another, The Loss, she plays piano but elsewhere it is the B3. Jocelyn Michelle is a jazz musician worthy of your attention and if you have the chance to see and hear her perform live you should certainly do so. She and John are now resident in Hawaii and if you cannot make dates there or the west coast of the mainland, then this album will be a lively alternative.

For more information on these musicians and albums see the sites highlighted above and also Jim Eigo’s Jazz Promo Services for Jane Ira Bloom, Lou Caputo and Jim Self and Mouthpiece Music for Jason McGuire/Terceto Kali and Jocelyn Michelle.

All albums are available at Amazon.

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