January is generally a slow time for new recordings, so it gave me a chance to catch up with some purchases over recent months that I have not written about but which am finding highly enjoyable. Since I am quickly falling behind the pile, I thought that I would do a rundown of eight CDs by lesser known artists who deserve some attention.
Stockton Helbing's "Crazy Aquarius" (Armored Records 2012) is exactly that, a bit crazy but incredibly joyful. This is a sextet that included Helbing on drums, Paul Tynan on trumpet/flugelhorn, David Lown on tenor sax, David Braid on piano, Noel Johnston on guitar (three tracks only), and James Driscoll on bass. Braid is the name I recognized, from last year's outstanding solo piano effort, and he contributes in equal parts with the horn frontline in creating some vibrant melodies and counter melodies, all of which are Helbing originals. There are some moments of craziness at times, but overall this is just a great romp through some wonderfully melodic modern jazz. When three songs in a row are "The Night Before", "The Morning Of" and "The Day After" you know you are in the hands of a fun-loving leader, and that is the case throughout this infectous trip.
Everyone of these is highly enjoyable and recommended.