Jazz and Bossa Radio

Jazz and Bossa Radio
Jazz and Bossa Radio

lunes, 18 de abril de 2011

CD Review: Ekendra Das - Ethnomusicology

CD Review: Ekendra Das - Ethnomusicology

The tittle says it all, Ethnomusicology is an album that reflects all the music influences on percussionist Ekendra. The release is a rich study of rhythms that goes from the roots of Africa to the modern sounds of hip hop.

"Orisha (Yoruba, Ifa Palo Lukumi)" has an interesting fusion of hip hop singing over a salsa clave. The lyrics honors the americans african heritage with a religious/santeria theme. The second track, "Una Promesa" has also a religious theme, this time Christian. Maybe the message that Ekendra is trying to get across is one of unity among religions.

The funky rhythms of "Where will we go from here" brings a strong message against the war. Shane Moore adds her soulful voice to the smooth jazz piece, "Love Divine".

"Never to return" has a world music feel with a strong arabian percussion. On "Regenaration" goes back to a smooth jazz groove but this time the lyrics are in portuguese, sung by Luciana De Oliveira. The musicalized poetry of "A Word" serves as an intro to "MPM", a composition with rumba and latin jazz rhythms and powerful conga solos by Ekendra Das. All compositions, except "Una Promesa" are Das originals
including the master percussive study "Percuassion Discussion".

Tracks: Orisha (Yoruba, IfaPalo Lukumi), Una Promesa, Where will we go from here, Love Divine, Harina con Sal (Thank You), Never to return, Rgeneration, Highways, A Word, MPM, Percuassion Discussion, World Radio

Musicians: Ekendra Das (percussion, drums), Lalita Garrett (spoken word), Jon Ely (piano), Ali Chere (bass), Radha Botofasina, Sebastian Lopez, Ana Haydee, Johnny Frias (vocals), Surya Botofasina (keyboards), John Belzaguy (bass, vocals), Freddy Dunn (trumpet), Craig Alston (saxophone), Jon Ely (keyboards), Ali Chere (guitars), Shane Moore(vocals), Steve Robinson (flute, saxophone), Luciana De Oliveira (vocals), Dhiro Dhatta (guitar), Phillip Puru Sadkin (bass), Evan Marley Hegarty (keyboards, organ), Micha Shalom (trombone, trumpet)

CD Review: John Samorian - Out On A Limb

CD Review: John Samorian - Out On A Limb

John Samorian Out On A Limb starts with "I ain't what I used to be", a blues that takes you back to those earley years when blues and jazz were almost one and the same. All the songs are originals by Samorian, who also sings and play the piano. Samorian voice tone is similar to modern jazz singers like John Pizzarelli and Harry Connick Jr. The similarities are more evident in songs like "Out on a limb" and "Lonely". The rhythmic guitar on "Lonely" gives the piece a Pizzarelli sound.

Samorian compositions like the excellent bossa "Magic Morning" has an accesible sound, leaning toward a smooth jazz sound. But he also knows how to write swinging songs like "The Alphabet of Alcohol". The music on this one and in "Out on a limb" is similar to the sound of the legendary Nat King Cole Trio.

As a pianist, Samorian likes to ventures in the high registers of the piano, this gives his improvisations a bright, glimmering tone.

This album is a family affair, with Samorian's wife, Kim Shriver adding her beautiful voice to the ballads "Autumn is Here" and "Listen to the Rain", the blues "Wish I Didn't Love You" and the bossa nova influenced "When We Loved". Shriver broadway theatre experience is noticeable on her vocal style and phrasing.
This talented couple can easily make it big either in the theatre or jazz scene.

Tracks: I ain't what I used to be, Magic morning, The alphabet of alcohol, Out on a limb, Autumn is here, I wish I didn't love you, Lonely, When we loved, Singapore, You came to me, Listen to the rain

Musicians: John Samorian - piano, keyboards, vocals. Kim Shriver - vocals, Kevin Lutke - guitar, Dave Edwards - bass, Warren Odze - drums, Jon Werking - strings (2), organ (6)

CD Review: Danielle Reich - This Year's Kisses

CD Review: Danielle Reich - This Year's Kisses

A strong drum roll starts This Year's Kisses, the new release by jazz singer Danielle Reich. Tenor saxophonist Seth Paynter and trumpeter Carol Morgan, who also produced the album, exchange melody lines in a style reminiscent of the first New Orleans jazz bands in "On the street where you live" the first track in an album full of swinging music and diverse influences. In her music, Reich shows influences of french music, boleros, broadway musicals and of course jazz standards.

Reich vocal delivery has a classic movie/Judy Garland feel on "If I Love You", but the music actually feels like a Bolero. Bolero is a slow music from latin america, that can be easily fused with jazz, creating a style called Bolero Jazz. Reich sings in pretty good spanish the classic bolero "Sabor a mi" by Alvaro Carrillo. Nice to see jazz musicians including this kind of music to their repertoire.

Gershwin "How long has this been going on" starts slow and then increase in tempo into a kind of cool swing. Morgan adds another good trumpet solo echoing the early jazz trumpet players like Louis Armstrong. Paynter hardbop-like solos adds intensity to the french music feel of "Alone Together". Reich also shows her french influence singing in perfect french in Jacques Brel "Ne Me Quitte Pas". Reich interpretation brings back memories of the great french singers like Edith Piaf. "Speak Low", normally treated as a ballad, receives here a more upbeat treatment. The tempo constantly changes between latin and straight ahead jazz.

The interesting arrangements of "All or nothing at all" feel almost like a tango at the beginning but then changes into a more traditional swing groove. The album close with Reich sexy singing in the medley of "Green Chimneys" and "Softly as in the morning sunrise".

Tracks: On The Street Where You Live, If I Loved You, How Long Has This Been Going On, Alone Together, Sabor A Mi, Crazy He Calls Me, Speak Low, This Year's Kisses, Ne Me Quitte Pas, All Or Nothing At All, At Seventeen, Green Chimneys/Softly, as in the morning sunrise

Musicians: Danielle Reich - vocals, Seth Paynter - tenor saxophone, Carol Morgan - trumpet, Andrew Lienhard - piano, David Craig - bass, Daleton Lee - drums

jueves, 14 de abril de 2011

CD Review: Gretchen Parlato - The Lost and Found

Despite being completely different singers, there's a lot to connect Gretchen Parlato with the legendary Billie Holiday. Holiday was a singer with a phrasing deeply rooted in the blues, while Parlato is a jazz singer with the modern influences of R&B and pop music, but what draws them together is the uniqueness of their respective styles. Neither has the greatest vocal range, but the originality and pure feeling of their voices is what has set them apart from any other jazz singer. 75 years ago, nobody sang like Billie Holiday; today, nobody sings like Gretchen Parlato.
The Lost And Found is Parlato's third release, and possesses a more personal feel, with Parlato revealing herself as an accomplished composer. She also contributes lyrics to "Without A Sound," "The Lost And Found," "Henya," the folksy "Still" and Wayne Shorter's "Juju." Parlato also composed the music and wrote the lyrics for the bossa-influenced "Winter Wind," "Circling," "Better Than" and the funky "How We Love."

The Lost And Found also includes a remix of the title track to Parlato's In a Dream (ObliqSound, 2009), and pianist Bill Evans' "Blue In Green," one of the jazzier songs on the album, with lyrics by Meredith D'Ambrosio.

Parlato does wonderful versions of Mary J. Blige's "All That I Can Say" and Simply Red's "Holding Back The Years," two odd selections for a jazz album that reveal her modern and diverse musical influences.

Like any good jazz vocalist, Parlato is more than a singer, she is a musician. Rhythm and melody are just as important as lyrics in Parlato's interpretations. Her distinct, creative and sharp phrasing sounds, at times, like a saxophonist like on "Juju," or in the ostinato lines on "Winter Wind." On a mesmerizing version of Paulinho Da Viola "Alo Alo," Parlato turns into a percussionist—contributing all percussion and vocals on this song and, once again, showing her love for Brazilian music.

With The Lost And Found, Parlato continues to establish herself as one of the premier jazz singers of the 21th century.

Track Listing: Holdin Back The Years; Winter Wind; How We Love; Juju; Still; Better Than; Alo Alo; Circling; Henya; In A Dream Remix; All That I Can Say; Me And You; Blue In Green; The Lost And Found; Without A Sound.

Personnel: Gretchen Parlato: vocals; Taylor Eigsti: piano; Derrick Hodge: bass; Kendrick Scott: drums; Dayna Stephens: saxophone; Alan Hampton: bass.

CD Review: Audrey Silver - Dream Awhile

It is easy to tell, by the pure joy of Audrey Silver's voice on Dream Awhile, that this 2009 collection is the singer's favorite jazz standards. Silver amazing, glimmering tone shines all throughout, especially on the up-tempo, swinging tracks "I Will Wait For You," "Exactly Like You" and Irving Berlin's "The Song Is Ended." She even adds some Ella Fitzgerald-like scatting on "Falling In Love With Love."
Silver's sophisticated, classy phrasing makes her an equally good interpreter of ballads. Her delivery on "In The Wee Small Hours," "That's All" and Sergio Mendes' "So Many Stars" is beautiful and sensitive.

Johnny Mercer's "Too Marvelous For Words" receives a different treatment. with a slower and simpler, but effective arrangement, plus some melody changes by Silver that makes this a very interesting version. Silver also plays a little bit with the melody on "Exactly Like You"

Pianist Joe Barbato handles almost all the arrangements on Dream Awhile,\ including "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," where at certain moments Silver sings over just Joe Fitzgerald's powerful, swinging bass, while on "I Could Write a Book" it's an intimate duo of piano and voice. On the other hand, the cool voice, bass and percussion intro to "Falling in Love With Love"—before going into a full swing groove—and the waltz feel on Billy Strayhorn's "Day Dream," are both Silver arrangements.

With Dream Awhile Silver proves she has the talent to be included among today's best jazz female singers.

Track Listing: The Song Is Ended; In The Wee Small Hours; Falling In Love With Love; Too Marvelous For Words; I Will Wait For You; So Many Stars; Exactly Like You; That's All; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; Day Dream; I Could Write A Book.

Personnel: Audrey Silver: vocals; Joe Barbato: piano; Joe Fitzgerald: bass; Chris Bergson: guitar (3, 7, 10); Anthony Pinciotti: drums; Todd Isler: drums (3, 10), percussion (3).

CD Review: Ezra Weiss - The Shirley Horn Suite

Portland based pianist/composer Ezra Weiss' fifth release is a tribute to Shirley Horn, who died in 2005 at age 71. Horn was an excellent pianist and sensitive vocalist, and a Grammy Award-winner in 1991, for Best Jazz Vocal Performance.
Weiss is certainly an extraordinaire composer, the winner of three ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards. Five of the nine compositions on The Shirley Horn Suite are Weiss originals, including "Shirley Horn's Sound Of Love," "May The Most You Wish For," the Broadway-influenced "Now That You Mention It" and "I Wish I'd Met You."

As a pianist, Weiss' style is subtle, playing just what is necessary to accompany Shirley Nanette's heartfelt vocals, minimalist and precise on instrumentals including "The Great City," "Blues For Porgy," "Estate," "Something Happens To Me" and Gershwin's "I Love You Porgy." His improvisations lean towards the harmonic, reminiscent at times of pianist like Vince Guaraldi and Ramsey Lewis.

Drummer Steve Williams and bassist Corcoran Holt—masterful musicians, both—complete the trio on this wonderful tribute to one of the best jazz singers of the late 20th century.

Track Listing: I Wish I'd Met You; The Great City; Shirley Horn's Sound Of Love; Blues For Shirley; I Love You Porgy; Now That You Mention It; Estate; Something Happens To Me; May The Most You Wish For.

Personnel: Ezra Weiss: piano; Corcoran Holt: bass; Steve Williams: drums; Shirley Nanette: voice (1, 3, 6, 9).

CD Review: The Brian Landrus Quartet - Traverse

Jazz fans often cite Gerry Mulligan as the most recognized baritone saxophonist in jazz, but for most, the list stops there. Why the baritone saxophone is not a more popular instrument in jazz is uncertain; in the right hands, the instrument has a warmth and tonal beauty unlike any other.
Baritone saxophonist Brian Landrus is a rising star, with two Masters degrees in jazz composition and performance at the New England Conservatory in Boston, He is also a winner of Downbeat Magazine's 2010 International Critics Poll.

In Traverse, one of two albums recorded for his own label Blue Land Records, Landrus delivers a collection of outstanding compositions and jazz standard, played with technical and emotional intensity. Whether on swinging tracks like "Traverse" and "Creeper," or ballads like "Lone" and "Soundwave," Landrus displays a strong, beautiful tone, and a sublime sound, played over the strong rhythm section of bassist Lonnie Plaxico and drummer Billy Hart.

Landrus' ability to convey many emotions can be fully appreciated on "Soul and Body," a solo intro to his beautiful rendition of the jazz standard, "Body and Soul," while pianist Michael Cain adds some sensitive and flawless improvisations on "Gnosis" and "Lydian 4"

Hopefully Landrus' brilliant playing will inspire more young people to play this wonderful instrument.

Track Listing: Traverse; Gnosis; Lone; Lydian 4; Soul And Body; Body And Soul; Creeper; Soundwave.

Personnel: Brian Landrus: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Lonnie Plaxico: bass; Michael Cain: piano; Billy Hart: drums.

martes, 12 de abril de 2011

CD Review: Fred Hersch - Alone at the Vanguard

Alone at The Vanguard is pianist Fred Hersch's first solo performance at New York's Village Vanguard, after his serious illness and coma in 2008. The release was recorded during the final set on the last night of his six-day run in 2010, and the solo recital format gives the disc an intimate, almost classical music feel, engendering a full appreciation of Hersch's emotional and technical intensity.

A three-time Grammy nominee, two as a pianist and one as a composer, Hersch possesses a remarkable ability to cross from classical to jazz with ease. His classical style and lyricism are present on "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning," "Echoes" and "Pastorale," dedicated to composer Robert Schumann.

His superb interpretation of two originals, "Down Home," dedicated to Bill Frisell and "Lee's Dream," dedicated to Lee Konitz, as well as Thelonious Monk's "Work"—rhythmically reminiscent of ragtime—show Hersch's deep roots in the jazz tradition.

The performance also included the elegant samba, "Doce de Coco," the beautiful ballad "Memories of You" and, for an encore, a masterful version of Sonny Rollins' "Doxy."

Alone at The Vanguard is a clear statement that Hersch is back in top form, and that is surely good news for jazz.

Track Listing: In the wee small hours; Down Home; Echoes; Lee's Dream; Pastorale; Doce de Coco; Memories Of You; Work; Doxy.

Personnel: Fred Hersch: piano

CD Review: Michel Reis - Point of No Return

The trio on Michel Reis' Point Of No Return is a testament to the international character of jazz music, especially in the 21th century. A pianist/composer from Luxemburg, Reis studied jazz performance and composition at Berklee College of Music. Adam Cruz is a Latin American drummer, born in New York, whose experience includes playing with Chick Corea and Danilo Perez. Bassist Tal Gamlieli is another amazing musician coming from Israel. The common ground here is the international language of jazz.
There's plenty of improvisation, and harmonic and rhythmic challenging moments: the tempo changes on the lullaby-like "Sailing Away At Night"; the moderate swing on "Street Of Memories"; Vivek Patel's thoughtful flugelhorn improvisations on "It's Only Been a Dream"; and Cruz's powerful drum solo on "Point Of No Return." But the emphasis is on Reis' smart, ingenious and well-constructed compositions.

Reis plays with a good sense of melody, mixed with sophisticated harmonic and rhythmic lines throughout—and, coming from Europe, his music is sometimes relaxing yet complex, and always creative, with a distinct European classical feel. The flugelhorn and soprano sax on "The Power of Beauty" adds to the orchestral feel of Reis' music.

With musicians and composers like this, there is no doubt that the future of jazz is in good hands.

Track Listing: The Power Of Beauty; Folk Song; Sailing Away At Night; It's Only Been A Dream; Point Of No Return; Riverside Drive; Street Of Memories; Leaning In Towards Tomorrow; The Sad Clown.

Personnel: Michel Reis: piano; Tal Gamlieli: bass; Adam Cruz: drums; Vivek Patel: flugelhorn (1, 4, 6); Aaron Kruziki: soprano saxophone (1).

CD Review: Michael Feinberg - With Many Hands

Bassist Michael Feinberg is a good example of the new breed of young jazz musicians equally comfortable playing a diversity of jazz styles. On With Many Hands, Feinberg's music goes from bebop to avant-garde, and from a ballad to a funky rhythm—sometimes in the same song—with amazing ease and conviction. Surely it all comes from Feinberg eclectic taste in music that also includes rock, hip hop and bluegrass.

"The Hard Stuff" has elements of avant-garde at the beginning, before it moves into a nice, funky groove. Feinberg turns drummer Daniel Platzman's original "Temple Tales," with touches of dissonance and free improvisation, into a swinging track, while the balladic "NBD" slowly grows in intensity, and contains some of the album's best improvisation.

The duo of alto saxophonist Godwin Louis and tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger delivers inventive and thoughtful solos over Platzman and Feinberg's solid rhythm foundation, especially on "Fighting Monster" and "Lost And Found," the release's jazzier tracks, both bordering on bebop.

The creativity, high energy, and emotional intensity of these musicians, along with their outstanding compositions, makes With Many Hands, an album worth hearing.

Track Listing: With Many Hands; Temple Tales; NBD; The Hard Stuff; August; Fighting Monsters; Lost And Found.

Personnel: Michael Feinberg: bass; Noah Preminger: tenor saxophone; Godwin Louis: alto saxophone; Julian Shore: piano; Daniel Platzman; Alex Wintz: guitar.

CD Review: Suzanne Pitson - Out of the Hub: The Music of Freddie Hubbard

The vocalese and scatting tradition is alive and well in singer Suzanne Pittson. With Out of the Hub: The Music of Freddie Hubbard, Pittson continues to establish herself as one of the best singers on today's jazz scene.
Out of the Hub includes tunes written by or associated with trumpet legend Freddie Hubbard, with Pittson writing or co-writing five lyrics, which Hubbard approved just three months before his passing in 2008.

To honor Hubbard, Pittson recruited a group of extraordinaire musicians, including trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and bassist John Patitucci, who add—along with saxophonist Steve Wilson and the rest of Pittson's quintet—dazzling improvisations throughout.

More than just a singer, Suzanne Pittson is a jazz musician. With a fluid phrasing and stunning tone, Pittson use her voice as another instrument, improvising and playing with the melodies. Pittson's striking sense of melody and amazing vocal range allow her to express a vast palette of colors and textures on swinging tracks like "True Vision," "You're My Everything" and "We're Having a Crisis," and on ballads including "Bright Sun," Moment to Moment" and "Betcha by Golly, Wow!" Following in the steps of the great Ella Fitzgerald, Pittson is also a master of the scatting technique, as shown on "Our Own" and "Out of the Hub."

All the arrangements are by pianist/husband Jeff Pittson, and the cover design is a creation of their son Evan, who also wrote the lyrics to "Out of the Hub."

Track Listing: Our Own (Gibraltar); Up Jumped Spring; Out of the Hub (One of Another Kind); Bright Sun (Lament for Booker); True Visions (True Colors); You're My Everything; We're Having a Crisis; Moment to Moment; Lost and Found (The Melting Pot); Like a Byrd; Betcha by Golly, Wow!

Personnel: Suzanne Pittson: voice; Jeremy Pelt: trumpet, flugelhorn; Steve Wilson: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Jeff Pittson: piano; John Patitucci: bass; Willie Jones III: drums

CD Review: Nicholas Urie - My Garden

The combination of poetry and music is not new. Spain and Latin America have a great tradition of poetry musicalization. As part of the Nueva Trova style of the 1970s, singers like Silvio Rodriguez, Mercedes Sosa, Atahaulpa Yupanqui and Roy Brown set the poetry of some of Latin America's best writers to music.
Being that jazz is mostly an instrumental form, its fusion with poetry is not that common, which is one of the aspects that makes Nicholas Urie's My Garden so unique. Still in his mid-twenties, Urie is already a recognized composer/conductor, and has led large jazz ensembles as well as symphony orchestras.

After his critically acclaimed debut, Excerpts from an Online Dating Service (Red Piano Records (2009), Urie comes back with the equally creative My Garden, focusing on the poems of Charles Bukowski, born in Germany in 1920 but already living in the United States by1923. This poet/novelist's writing style has been described as minimalist and his poetry as sober, direct, realistic and sometimes crude. So the challenge here was to take that approach and translate it into music.

Urie—conducting a big band of great musicians—rises to the challenge, delivering arrangements with a good balance of simplicity and sophistication that perfectly reflects the mood and meaning of Bukowski's poems. The arrangements vary, from the classical feel of "My Garden" and march-like "For Crying Out Loud," to the swing tempo on "Round and Round," funky groove of "Lioness," and cinematic mood on "Slaughterhouse." With a tone reminiscent of Cassandra Wilson, Christine Correa is ideal for Bukowski' poetry, her empathy translating what Bukowski was feeling when he wrote lines like, "pain is a flower; pain is flowers blooming all the time" adds emotional depth to Urie's music.

Track Listing: Winter: My 44th Year; Round and Round; My Garden; For Crying Out Loud; Lioness; Slaughterhouse; Lean; Finality.

Personnel: Christine Correa: voice; Jeremy Udden: soprano saxophone; Douglas Yates: alto saxophone, clarinet; Kenny Pexton: tenor saxophone; Brian Landrus: bass clarinet; Albert Leusink: trumpet; Ben Holmes: trumpet; John Carlson: trumpet; Alan Ferber: trombone; Max Siegel: trombone; Frank Carlberg: piano, rhodes; John Hébert: bass; Michael Sarin: drums; Nicholas Urie: conductor.