Monday, May 6, 2013

Two Weeks Have Passed and Lot Has Come In

I am falling behind with my posts again and after today will be out of pocket for several days, so here is a round-up of a lot of new things I am listening to.

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Edward Simon Trio, "Live in New York at the Jazz Standard" (Sunnyside 2013): Not enough attention is given to the trio of Simon, John Patitucci and Brian Blade and the CDs they have released on Sunnyside over the past few years. This is another smashing display of lyricism, unity, and invention over five extended pieces, including three by Simon and a particularly nice take on "Giant Steps." A real winner here, and pick up their older sets on Sunnyside as well (Unicity (2006), Poesia (2009)). 

Product DetailsAllison Miller's Boom Tic Boom, "No Morphine No Lilies" (Foxhaven Records 2013): A wildly energetic outing with some special players beside Miller on drums -- Jenny Scheinman on violin, Todd Sickafoose on bass, and Myra Melford on piano, with several other guests in spots. The group plays with a lot of energy, Miller provides a steady pulse from the back, and Melford is particularly engaging on this set of 11 sometimes challenging pieces. Goes over the edge a couple of times for my taste, but mostly represents a lot of modern originality, playfulness, and joyful moments. Take a chance.

Product DetailsBomata "Aromes d'Ailleurs" (Mam 2013): A French Canadian trio of Jean Felix Mailloux on bass, Guillaume Bourque on clarinet and bass clarinet, and Patrick Graham on drums, with support from pianist Jerome Beaulieu on piano on two peices and additional percussion on others. This is a soothing outing featuring the clear and mellow lower registersof the clarinets over some nice rhythmic play from the bass and percussion, alwyas taken at a moderate pace and dynamic. Many of the pieces are named for spices and flavorings -- cumin, sesame, saffron, jasmine, cardamon -- and others have names like "At the Park" and "White Night" which are expressive of the delicate flavors that the band produces. Really pretty modern impressionism.

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J. D, Allen continues his run of impressive outings, this time it's "Grace" (Savant 2013). Unlike his last couple of CDs, this one includes a piano, played here by Eldar, in addition to Dezron Douglas on bass and Jonathan Barber on drums. With two melodic instruments in front the music is more layered and richer, with Allen's play continuing to be mellow and inventive on an entirely original set. "Chagall", "Pole Star" and "Selah" are particular standouts, but hte entire set is worth hearing. Modern mainstream.

Product DetailsDayna Stephens is another young tenor with a big, rich sound, and he demonstrates it on his new release, "The Nepenthetic Place" (Sunnyside 2013). He too has an outstanding cast with him -- Taylor Eigsti on piano, Joe Sanders on bass, Justin Brown on drums, Ambrose Akinamusire on trumpet, Jaleel Shaw on alto, and Gretchen Parlato singing on two pieces. An amazing group of outstanding young leaders, the group dynamic is fantastic and the pieces tight and original. Ten pieces, eight by Stephens, "But Beautiful" by Jimmy Van Heusen (with Parlato) and "Impressions" by John Coltrane. A bunch of young masters on top of their game playing modern mainstream music with a bit of an edge.

Product DetailsMark Lockheart is from the U.K. and has put together a septet to interpret six pieces associated with Ellington and five originals on "Ellington in Anticipation" (Subtone Records 2012). Some folks like their Ellington pure and won't like these takes, but I enjoy hearing new interpretations that are like these, not too far from the originals but with a little modern spiciness, new harmonizations, and interesting combinations among the players. Lockheart plays the tenor sax and is joined by Finn Peters on alto and flute, James Allsopp on clarinets, Emma Smith on violin, Liam Noble on piano, Tom Herbert on bass, and Sebastian Rochford on drums.  I am a sucker for Noble and Allsopp and they don't disappoint, but then again nobody here does. Very nice set and well within the modern mainstream in terms of harmonies, lyricism and the like. Really worth hearing.

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Speaking of tributes, another nice one is "The Man Who Never Sleeps: The Music of Charles Mingus" (Woodville Records 2012), another British combo inlcuding Arnie Somogyi on bass, Alan Barnes on saxes, Mark Edwards on piano, Tone Kofi on saxes, Jeremy Pace on trombone, and Clark Tracey on drums. These are some of the U.K.'s finest, and they combine to present eight Mingus tunes with elan. Modern mainstream sounds at their best driven by the strong bass leadership of Somogyi and thebeat ofTracey's kit. Barnes is a knockout as always on the tenor, and Kofi adds a nice bottom on the baritone.

Product DetailsJim Rotondi's trumpet and flugelhorn seldom disappoint and how could they when he is playing with Eric Alexander as his partner on the tenor. Along with Renator Chicco on organ and Bernd Reiter on drums, the quartet hits it hard on "Hard Hittin' at the Bird's Eye" (Sharp Nine 2013), a live set from Basel, Switzerland. Wit the organ in heavy support of the two leaders, the music has the right edge, with a bluesy sound, particularly on "Cry Me a River" and the opener "Summit Meeting." For those who sometimes criticize Alexander for being too mellow and mainstream, this is a chance for him to stretch it out and blow the heck out of the tunes. Rotondi calls the group The Loop, and hopefully this is not the last we will hear of them. A mainstream delight, even for one like me who often shies away from organ trios.  

Even briefer:

Product DetailsBoyd Lee Dunlop, "Lake Reflections" (CD Baby 2012): The story was widely written about a couple of years back, how Boyd Lee Dunlop , 85 year old brother of Frank Dunlop, was found in a nursing home in Buffalo by a videographer who got a friend to produce him. this is his second CD and a remarkable one -- the improvisations are at once beautiful and majestic at times,  with little sprinkles of stirring anthems and classical pieces along the way. Fantastic reflections and impressions delight the ear.

Product DetailsDarcy James Argue's Secret Society"Brooklyn Babylon" (New Amsterdam Records 2013): Stirring music originally performed for a multi-media event, this is an original suite of music for big band that should be listened to as a whole to feel the dramatic impact, to hear Brooklyn being built by pneumatic drills and hammers, to hear the cacophony of the streets, the sounds of transportation, and the growth of the city all represented by the ensemble's play. Intertwined are outstanding soloists along the way to relish, like Ingrid Jensen and John Ellis. A fantastic sophomore CD.

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