CD of the Month
With your donation of $600 or more, you can become a member of the KUVO CD of the Month Club! Each month, KUVO Music Director Arturo Gómez selects an outstanding new release for the CD of the Month and sends it to every Club member.
Bobby Watson and the "I Have a Dream" Project: Check Cashing Day Lafiya Music
The most recent release by Bobby Watson is an inspired tribute to the theme that inspired it. Bobby Watson and the “I Have a Dream Project,” Check Cashing Day, honors the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s I Have a Dream speech.
More than just a musical homage, Bobby used discourses by Martin Luther King, Jr. to spark is creativity composing most of the songs on the CD. Not only did Mr. Watson want to pay respect to that historic occasion at the nation’s Capital, but he also wanted to show that despite the great strides made in Civil Rights, there is still so much more work to do to assure that MLK Jr’s dream is fully realized.
During the past 30 years, Bobby has collaborated with bassist Curtis Lundy, initially as part of Horizon, then in the Latin jazz group The Jazz Tribe, and more recently in a more straight-ahead quartet/quintet setting. For the Check Cashing Day project, not only is Curtis playing some sizzling bass lines, but he also displays his compositional skills by contributing two tracks, MLK on Jazz (Love Transforms) and Revival (Ovedia).
The title of Bobby Watson & the “I Have a Dream Project” derives from the reason the March on Washington was organized: to cash a check, a 100-year-old moral check that is still marked “non-sufficient funds.”
Dr. King was a jazz fan; many jazz musicians supported the Civil Rights movement. In 1964 after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, MLK wrote an essay for the Berlin Jazz Festival, “On the Importance of Jazz,” in part calling it triumphant music. Check Cashing Day is certainly a triumphant recording!
Brian Lynch "Unsung Heroes:Volume 2" Hollistic Music Works
For the first time in the 12 year history of KUVO’s CD of the Month Club we chose a sequel to a previous CD of the Month selection, Unsung Heroes: A Tribute To Some Underappreciated Trumpet Masters-Volume 2 by educator and modern trumpet master, the Grammy® Award winning Brian Lynch. This superb recording is on Brian’s own Hollistic Music Works label. Lynch has chosen some nearly forgotten trumpeters from the past and plays one of their compositions in homage with the hope of creating new fans and renewed admiration for them. Although this CD has been released in November of 2013, it was recorded at the same time, with the same accompanists in 2010 as the previous album which due to its success and high critical acclaim, Brian knew it was time to issue the remainder of those recordings and we’re very pleased to have the sequel. Among the 10 tracks, there are 2 Lynch originals and one by the late Dr. Donald Byrd who passed away in February of 2013, very serendipitous that a tribute track was performed for Donald 3 years ago and now available posthumously. The ensemble consists of Brian Lynch-trumpet, Vincent Herring-alto sax, Alex Hoffman-tenor sax, Rob Schneiderman-piano, David Wong-bass and Pete van Nostrand-drums.
In the last few years not only has Brian remained one of the most in-demand trumpet players as a leader and sideman touring around the world as well as staying busy in the recording studios as a guest, he has become a preeminent educator at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fl. Add to this, Mr. Lynch is the proprietor of his Hollistic Music Works that releases his recordings, others that he has produced and it sells sheet music too. Lynch is as agile as a highly skilled juggler handling all of his commitments and projects, worthy of admiration. It is very satisfying to see such a gifted trumpet player as Brian Lynch offer tributes to those trailblazers that have not only shaped the sound of his playing, but of the majority of all trumpeters of the past 40 years. Perhaps you’ll consider using Unsung Heroes, Volumes 1 and 2 as bookends and fill the space in between with the recordings of those trumpet masters being paid homage!
7 On 7 "Back When It Was Fun" Artist Alliance
Seven gifted musicians who have been playing together for nearly 10 years have recorded their debut album as a group; Back When It Was Fun as by 7 On 7 whose name goes beyond being a septet, All 7 members contributed a song apiece to their initial outing as well as joining forces to create their own label, Artist Alliance. 7 On 7 is an inspired session where the experience of having played together so often is reflected in the cohesiveness of the music.
7 On 7 features a solid lineup of veterans with extensive individual résumés who also happen to be good friends. All of the players are educators, 4 of whom are part of the UNC-Greely Jazz Studies faculty, they are; Dana Landry-piano, Erik Applegate-bass, Jim White-drums and Steve Kovalcheck-guitar. The other band mates are, Clay Jenkins-trumpet, Don Aliquo-tenor saxophone and Paul McKee-trombone. When these musicians combine their skills, they create joyous, soulful and captivating music.
Back When It Was Fun will ensure you’ll have fun listening to it now, and in the future!
Diego Rivera "The Contender" D Clef Records
Diego Rivera is a superb saxophonist who since 2002 has been on the faculty of Michigan State University of East Lansing, MI as an Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies, Saxophone, and Improvisation. For his second release as a leader, The Contender for D Clef Records, Diego has come out swingin’ for all eleven of the selections on the CD, eight of which he penned, he’s accompanied by 2 of his M. S. U, colleagues, Rodney Whitaker on bass who also wrote the liner notes, trombonist Michael Dease who is the proprietor of the record label and Denver’s own, the superlative trumpeter Greg Gisbert. Rounding out the group; Miki Hayama on piano and Ulysses Owens Jr playing drums.
A native of Michigan, Diego has amassed an extensive list of credits since 1999 when he toured nationally with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. His enthusiasm and commitment to education has led to his appointment as Associate Conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Civic Jazz Ensembles. However, his passion for composing, arranging and performing has never waned; he has been commissioned to write music for several major concerts and events as well as performing with the likes of Ellis Marsalis, Gerald Wilson, Christian McBride and Clark Terry-just to name several. For The Contender, señor Rivera honors his Mexican heritage with songs he wrote representing his ethnicity, moreover he composed dedications to Johnny Griffin and Rodney Whitaker in addition to performing some refreshing new takes on jazz chestnuts.
This is an outstanding CD from start to finish, featuring a variety of sounds guaranteed to please even the most discerning jazz fans. Diego Rivera’s The Contender proves that he’ll soon be harvesting a new crop of aficionados as well as contending for top honors among saxophonists.
Kenny Garrett Pushing The World Away Mack Avenue
One of the greatest saxophonists of the post-bop era is Kenny Garrett; his newest recording Pushing the World Away for Mack Avenue Records is a testimony to his versatile skills. The title is Kenny’s way of letting us know he didn’t let his many distractions and commitments keep him from producing one of the best CDs of his splendid career.
Kenny first came to prominence in the late 1980s when he was part of the young lions group, Out Of The Blue that Blue Note Records legendary owner Alfred Lion endorsed to promote the roster of his younger and most talented players, all of whom have gone on to have successful careers as leaders and accompanists. Kenny has played with the Ellington band led by Duke’s son-Mercer, Mel Lewis, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, and spent 5 years with Miles Davis, just to name a few jazz giants he has shared a stage and recording studio with. Originally from Detroit, Mr. Garrett has won a GRAMMY® and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music Degree from Berklee College of Music-Boston, MA.
Kenny’s previous release Seeds from the Underground also for Mack Avenue Records received the 2012 NAACP Image Award nomination in the Outstanding Jazz Album category. It is because of all the recent awards, accolades and accomplishments that Garrett had to push the world away in order to complete his mission of recording a new album. For his newest outing, Kenny renders homage to Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea, Donald Brown and the late Mulgrew Miller as well as including some originals and one standard, all with a varying group of seasoned accompanists. After listening to Pushing the World Away, you’ll find it nearly impossible to push it away from your player!
Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts Hang Time Tapestry/Capri Records
Both groups are piano-less, Group Giz, an octet, features 2 trumpets and a trombone, while Group Gunn, a septet, has 1 trumpet and vibraphones. Both have bass-drums-guitar-alto and tenor sax..
Paul and Chris Romaine founded the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts in 1999. Their first session had 6 students meeting weekly: ending in a single performance. Since then, CCJA has grown: now operating in 3 metro Denver locations and averaging 9 youth bands each session. Nearly 800 teens have participated!
The current curriculum includes two summer camps, a new youth JazzFest, Outreach Programs to schools, expanded public performances, guided public youth jam sessions, a peer mentoring program, and a recording and music industry program.
The new SSJA recording, Hang Time for Colorado’s own, Tapestry/Capri Records is KUVO/KVJ's CD of the Month for August, 2013. All of the student musicians involved in this project received outstanding instruction from the CCJA: mprovisation, composition, music publishing and the business side of the industry. There are 14 tracks on Hang Time, seven by each ensemble, all original songs written by various members of the ensembles urged to express their individuality. Both groups are piano less, Group Giz, an octet, features 2 trumpets and a trombone while Group Gunn, a septet, has 1 trumpet and vibraphones. Both have bass-drums-guitar-alto and tenor sax.
The great artwork of this CD is worthy of mentioning, the front cover has a clothes line with instruments hanging from it while the back cover has furniture on its clothes pins. The depictions are a fine representation of the hang time the musicians spent while honing their skills at CCJA.
Wycliffe Gordon Dreams Of New Orleans Chesky Records
Since exploding onto the jazz scene in 1989, Wycliffe Gordon has become a powerhouse, dominating the yearly polls for best trombonist. Wycliffe is from the Augusta, Georgia suburb of Waynesboro and was raised listening to gospel music until the age of 13 when he heard Louis Armstrong and since then, has been a passionate player of jazz in all of its many splendid varieties. Wy is a multi-instrumentalist, not only playing several types of trombones, he also plays trumpet, piano, tuba, the didgeridoo, sings and is a superb composer, arranger and educator as well. Here in Colorado, Gordon is held in high esteem with a strong following due to his yearly participation in the Annual Vail Jazz Party every Labor Day Weekend where he always wows the crowd with his growling ‘bone licks and inspired singing. Every Labor Day Weekend Sunday, Wycliffe returns to his childhood roots and plays in Vail’s Gospel Tent.
Due to his admiration for Louis “Pops” Armstrong whom Wycliffe considers his musical hero and main mentor, he has always had a soft spot in his heart for traditional New Orleans music, yet Gordon is a modernist able to swing and bop at the highest caliber. For his newest outing, Dreams of New Orleans for the audiophile Chesky Records label, Wy chose 15 songs from the NOLA songbook and re-energized them with his refreshing approach to the beloved evergreens such as Panama, Royal Garden Blues, Darktown Strutters’ Ball among others. Naturally, no homage to the Crescent City would be complete without When The Saints Go Marching In and Down By The Riverside. Gordon chose his accompanists wisely, he opted for the tuba instead of a bass played by the capable Ibanda Ruhumbika, trumpet by the veteran Jon Erik-Kelso, Adrian Cunningham is on clarinet and soprano sax while Matt Munisteri alternates between guitar and banjo. Closing out the ensemble are, Marion Felder on drums and a former student of Wycliffe, Michael Dease who chimes in with the trombone, tenor and baritone saxes plus trumpet! After you listen to Dreams of New Orleans don’t blame Wycliffe if you have an urge for some red beans' n rice, a muffuletta and pralines.
Kenny Barron and The Brazilian Knights Sunnyside Records
During the weekend of June 9th, 2012 two notable events took place for the gifted pianist Kenny Barron, he traveled to Rio de Janerio, Brazil to celebrate his 69th birthday and he went into a studio to record an album of samba/bossa jazz with an all Brazilian ensemble. The result, Kenny Barron and the Brazilian Knights for Sunnyside Records is an outstanding and authentic representation of Rio’s current “jazz brasiliero” scene.
The renowned producer, Jacques Muyal was having lunch with Kenny at the club Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York when he asked Kenny if he would consider going to Brazil and record a CD. Kenny had made his first bossa recording back in 1963 and many others over the years since then with a wide array of musicians, however all were made in New York City. Mr. Barron’s reply was simple and direct, “Yes, I want to do it!”
Kenny Barron is considered one of jazz’s great lyrical pianists which has made him one of the most sought out players by both instrumentalists and vocalists. Born in Philadelphia, Kenny began playing with his older brother, Bill Barron who was an esteemed saxophonist. In 1963, Bill included his younger brother on his recording, The Brasilieros which sparked Kenny’s admiration for the music of Brazil, even after the 1960s Brazilian jazz explosion had subsided. Over the years Barron played and recorded Brazilian music with Dizzy Gillespie, his own groups and several Brazilian artists based in NYC including one with the famed Trio da Paz.
Besides his Brazilian music credentials, Kenny Barron is a magnificent mainstream jazz pianist who has played with an illustrious group of jazz musicians including Stan Getz and Yusef Lateef who encouraged Kenny to get his degree in music. After obtaining his B. A. in music at Empire State College, Barron became an instructor at Rutgers University and has mentored many of the current jazz giants like Terence Blanchard and David Sánchez, just to name two. Currently teaching at Juliard School of Music, Barron keeps a busy schedule leading his own trio and his Monk tribute quartet, Sphere as well as continuing to be an in-demand studio pianist. Listening to Kenny Barron and the Brazilian Knights might have you imagining being on Sugar Loaf Mountain or at the beach of Ipanema, that’s the magic of music!
Emily Bear Diversity Qwest Records/Concord Music
Every generation produces child prodigies in various fields of endeavor, for music fans we are fortunate to have an 11 year old piano sensation Emily Bear release her first major label CD, Diversity, her previous 5 recordings have all been for charitable causes. For most, Diversity will serve as an introduction to Miss Bear who has been entertaining audiences on stage and TV since she was 5 years old. Music legend Quincy Jones has nurtured Emily for the past several years and produced Diversity on his own Qwest Records for Concord Music, a session that was conducted in the same Los Angeles Westlake Studio where Jones recorded his outstanding Back on the Block album as well as producing the mega-hit Bad by Michael Jackson, moreover Q personally selected the musicians to accompany Emily Bear.
Diversity is a collection of various music forms that reflect the many splendored skills of this remarkable young pianist. There are classical music selections, jazz, Italian and Latin songs, all of which live up to the CD’s title. Emily was born in the summer of 2001 in Rockford, IL. Even as an infant she demonstrated interest in playing the piano and was able to sing back to her mother in perfect pitch the lullabies that were sung to her. Her story is truly amazing, learn more here. This is what Quincy Jones who has seen it all in his legendary career says about his protégée: “She’s the most delightful human being I’ve ever met in my life and her music is the same way. I am at once astounded and inspired by the enormous talent that Emily embodies. With the ability to seamlessly move from Classical to jazz and be-bop, she shows as much musical prowess as pianists/composers twice her age, and I am thrilled to be working with her. She’s astounding, man ... she’s astounding”
Duke Ellington Orchestra The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse Fantasy Records
April is an important month for public radio music stations and jazz as it is "Public Radio Music Month" and "Jazz Appreciation Month". In commemoration of these dual events, jazz89KUVO launched its own creation, "Around The World In April" taking listeners to different destinations on the globe every day to spotlight the artists and music recorded at each daily location. Moreover, we included fun facts of the region covering history, culture, festivals and cuisine. To put the icing on the cake for April, the 29th is the day Duke Ellington was born in the nation’s capital and the 30th is the 2nd Annual International Jazz Day organized by UNESCO. For this historic and captivating month we chose Duke Ellington Orchestra’s landmark recording for Fantasy Records, The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse, a suite in 8 parts composed by Duke just 3 years before his passing and based on his extensive world-wide travels. In Duke’s spoken introduction to this exquisite album, he says, “…and of course, we travel around the world a lot.", a remarkable understatement that doesn’t do justice to the volume of Ellington’s journeys nor the influence of cultures that he encountered which can be heard in the music of his last decade.
The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse was recorded in 1971 at the National Recording Studio of New York City on February 17, 1971. Despite the retirement or passing of several Ellington orchestra key members and the advanced age of Duke, Paul Gonsalves, Harry Carney and Cootie Williams, the Duke Ellington sound was still compelling as the core of the band was augmented by many veteran players including Duke’s son, Mercer. Mr. Ellington was never satisfied just composing and playing the “same ol’, same ol’” songbook, even in the last stage of his glorious career so his final recordings and concerts reflected the experiences and cultural influences he and the orchestra enjoyed in their joyful journeys around the world. Duke was motivated to compose The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse after reading an article by the Canadian philosopher, Marshall McLuhan who coined the terms "global village" and "the medium is the message" as well as predicting the existence of a world-wide web decades before it was created. Over 40 years since it’s recording, The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse has stood the test of time as it doesn’t sound antiquated nor is its concept dated, in fact it sounds as if it was recorded in the 21st century, that’s the genius of Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington.
Jackie Ryan "Listen Here" Open Arts Productions
Over the past 10 years, Jackie Ryan has become one of jazz’s top vocalists, able to sing in a wide array of styles utilizing her 3 ½ octave range to amaze audiences around the world-especially in London and the West Coast of the US. Ms. Ryan’s discography also displays her talents of giving new life to standards while offering contemporary songs interpreted with originality. For her latest recording, Listen Here, Ryan’s sixth for Open Arts Productions, Jackie is accompanied by GRAMMY® award winner bassist-bandleader John Clayton and a superb cast of musicians including John’s son, GRAMMY® nominee pianist, Gerald Clayton. Already hailed as Jackie Ryan’s best CD to date, the recording features blues, ballads, samba, Gershwin, and more. My favorite track is a gospel rendition of the classic, Accentuate the Positive featuring a rare performance by Gerald on organ. As is her custom Jackie includes a Spanish language song that honors her late mother, a Mexican singer from Acapulco who would sing to Jacqueline in Spanish when she was growing up. Adding to her musical lineage is her Irish father who is a classically trained baritone able to sing in various languages. As the old adage suggests, “the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree” because like her father, Ryan sings in several languages as well
Jackie is a native of the San Francisco suburb San Rafael and still makes the Bay Area her home. Unlike other gifted singers with a range of several octaves, Ryan doesn’t engage in theatrics, she uses her voice an instrument, applying her wide range to color the song and captivate the listener, perhaps the best at that since Sarah Vaughan. Jackie has always kept in touch with her roots with frequent trips to Mexico to visit with her sister, cousins and other family members. CNN TV en Español devoted an entire 15 minute segment to Jackie which was broadcast on television worldwide. After an encounter with vocalese master Eddie Jefferson’s band, she was inspired to write lyrics to previous instrumental songs and record them in a vocalese style, utilizing these tunes for further improvisations while performing live. March is Women’s History Month and our choice this month is by a woman making history, her CD just finished a run as Jazz Week's number one most played album for 4 consecutive weeks. After you have heard Listen Here you might be sharing this recording with others telling them to listen here!
Click here to see an 11 minute clip on the making of Listen Here
Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Jazz Sextet "Cuidad de los Reyes (City of Kings)" Sapo Negro
Our February CD of the Month selection goes beyond the traditional border of Black History or African American Awareness month to include all of the Americas, so we go to Lima, Perú in South America to choose the third installment of the Gabriel Alegría Afro-Peruvian Jazz Sextet on their own Sapo Negro (black frog) recording label. Cuidad de los Reyes or City of Kings is an ideal combination of modern bop jazz with the under recorded rhythms of Perú which developed its own musical identity from a mixture of indigenous Incan and Andean traditions blended with the imported Spanish and African elements that arrived after its conquest by Europeans. For their brand new release-their most impressive to date- Gabriel and crew continue playing Afro-Peruvian rhythms with their brand of swingin’ bop. Of the 13 tunes on the CD, 12 are originals, Henry Mancini’s Moon River being the exception.
Afro-Peruvians rhythms such as landó, festejo, vals and marinera are more relaxed and less percussive than the more “in your face” Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean music styles. In fact, Afro-Peruvian music, similar to Brazilian, is not based on clave as are the rhythms of the Caribbean basin. Gabriel was born in Lima, Perú which during its Spanish colonial period was known as la Cuidad de los Reyes or the City of Kings. Since forming his ensemble in 2008, the enterprising son of a successful playwright has toured the US several times, played in festivals in many locations around the globe and has performed in his homeland. Most of the other band members are also Peruvian including fellow composer-saxist Laura Andrea Leguía and the percussionist-dancer, Freddy “Huevito” Lobatón who specializes in the Peruvian cajón or box drum, on stage he will strap a little box drum-cajita around his neck while dancing to the beat of his own drum.
The Incas and Perú gave the world potatoes and one of the planet's most marvelous sacred sites, Machu Picchu. Gabriel Alegría and his Afro-Peruvian Jazz Sextet are following the tradition of the Incan messengers, the Chasquis, and spreading music far and wide.
Damani Phillips "Reckoning" Phillips Music
As is our custom, we begin another year of selections with a Colorado connection. Our first choice for 2013 is by alto saxophonist and educator Damani Phillips, The Reckoning featuring Denverite Greg Gisbert on trumpet, former Denver resident Pat Bianchi on the Hammond B-3 organ and the always amazing Lewis Nash on the drums. Dr. Phillips received his doctorate from CU-Boulder for Musical Arts, becoming one of the first African-Americans to earn such a prestigious degree. Currently, Damani is on the faculty of Grinnell College, a liberal arts institution of Grinnell, Iowa, he directs the jazz ensemble and teaches several courses about playing jazz and its history. While at CU-Boulder, Phillips often played along the Front Range earning him the respect of his peers and developing a fan base due to his own swinging style, rooted in the past with contemporary ingredients. Not surprising that he would be steeped in jazz tradition since he hails from the fertile music city of Pontiac, MI.
The Reckoning has 4 originals compositions and 3 cover songs, all tunes were arranged by “D.P”. Besides Greg and Pat, another link to Colorado is that this recording was mixed and mastered at Jeff Jenkins’ Mile High Music in Wheat Ridge. After the opening bop number, Hank Mobley’s “No Room for Squares”, the album’s most poignant performance takes place, Damani’s “One for C.P.”, a dedication to Phillips’ recently departed father, Clarence E. Phillips. Another highlight is Kenny Dorham’s “Lotus Blossom” where Dr. Phillips makes his scatting debut. Throughout The Reckoning, musicianship reigns supreme, the quartet complement each other very well creating an enjoyable listening experience. The same players on this recording will be performing at Dazzle on Sunday, March 17th, however don’t expect them to duplicate the songbook as heard on the CD, master musicians never the play the same song twice the same way ensuring it never gets stale, always fresh out of the creative music oven
Al Hermann & The New Impressions Trio "Dream Dances" Summit Records
Looking back on 2012, I’m thrilled to see it has been a banner year for jazz recordings. We close out the year with Denver trombonist Al Hermann & The New Impressions Trio's. Dream Dances for Summit Records. Al is a gifted player who selected a variety of standards from the Great American Songbook, Brazil and Latin America played in a soothing, swinging style that results in a captivating listening experience from start to finish. Hermann is accompanied by Curt Warren-guitar, Erik Unsworth-bass and Rick Malichi-drums. Some of the musical highlights include, Dream Dancing, O Grande Amor and The Very Thought of You.
Al is originally from New Orleans and began his career playing in traditional jazz bands while being mentored by the formidable Carl Fontana at Louisiana State University. Besides being a talented musician, Al is an outstanding physicist with a national reputation for his work and educational endeavors. In 1993 Hermann played on stage with saxophonist President Bill Clinton in Vail, CO, afterwards, Clinton remarked, “One of America's foremost physicists, and an even better trombonist " When not leading his New Impressions Trio, Al co-leads a band with trumpeter Bob Montgomery which performs around Denver, the Front Range, Colorado, as well as touring, in particular to Australia, where they are very popular. After listening to Al Hermann & The New Impressions Trio's Dream Dances., I’m certain you’ll agree with me that we are closing 2012 with a golden key!
Houston Person "naturally" HighNote
Saxophonist Houston Person first came into prominence in the early 1960s and was one of the pioneers of the then emerging soul jazz movement. Since then, Houston has become one of the most recorded saxophonists and a much in demand producer. His latest CD, naturally is for HighNote Records, his home since 1996 for which he has released over 15 albums, appeared as a guest for over 20 other sessions as well as producing many more dates for the HighNote family of labels. Moreover, his association with HighNote Records’ president Joe Fields goes back to the late 1970s when Person was signed to Muse Records, Mr. Fields’ previous label. For his most recent outing Houston reunites with pianist Cedar Walton who accompanied Person in one of Houston’s earliest recordings as a leader in 1967. In addition to Cedar’s magnificent playing, Ray Drummond is rock-steady on bass and the always tasty Lewis Nash is at the drums. naturally is an ideal mix of up tempo, finger-snappin’ tunes, smooth as silk ballads, standards and lesser known songs.
A native of Florence, South Carolina, Person attended South Carolina State College where he is now a member of their Hall of Fame. Upon graduation, he joined the US Air Force Band which also featured Cedar Walton. After his duties in the Air Force and a move to New York City, Houston played with B-3 organ master , Johnny “Hammond” Smith, during his stint with Smith, he met vocalist Etta Jones which lead to a partnership that lasted over 30 years, as her saxophonist, touring band’s music director, and producer for her recordings. Person began playing sax during the era of swing specialists, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster et al. Add to this-the blues, the church and his southern roots and it’s no wonder that the soulful sounds of Houston Person’s saxophone will soothe your soul, make your toes tap and have you come back for repeated listening.
Lee Smith "Sittin' on a Secret" Vectordisc
The familiar adage, ‘the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree’ is an apt description when speaking about the outstanding bassist and bandleader Christian McBride. However, until recently even passionate followers of McBride would not know why that saying applies to him, enter, Lee Smith. For over 40 years Lee has been an outstanding bassist operating out of his hometown of Philadelphia and touring around the world. In the 1970s Smith was playing bass behind some of the “Sound of Philadelphia’s” best known artists; The Delfonics, Billy Paul, Major Harris and Blue Magic to name a few. In 1977 Lee caught the Latin jazz fever and became the touring and recording bassist for Mongo Santamaria for over 5 years. Over the past 30 years Mr. Smith has been playing the Atlantic City casino circuit as well as accompanying some of the greatest names of jazz when they performed in the Philadelphia area. His debut as a leader CD, Sittin’ On a Secret is long overdue, yet it’s been worth the wait as it contains 8 solid selections with an all-star cast of sidemen, all with a “City of Brotherly Love” connection. The record label, Vectordisc is based in suburban Philly and operated by the Philadelphian pianist, Richard Burton
Sittin’ On A Secret features stand outs, pianist Anthony Wonsey, saxophonist Tim Warfield, trumpeters Terell Stafford and Duane Eubanks as well as others. Vocalist Denise King guests on 1 track. The 8 entries in this swingin’ session are all arranged by Lee Smith who also composed 6 of the songs. The heartfelt liner notes were written by Smith’s son Christian McBride who is one of the finest bassist, arranger and bandleader of his generation. This CD continues the storied Philadelphia sound of jazz, its music and its musicians, while listening to this CD don’t be surprised if it evokes the aromas of Philly cheese steaks and Tastykake. From trumpet to electric bass to acoustic bass, from versatile sideman to bandleader, the cat is out of the bag and the secret has been revealed!
Bobby Sanabria Big Band "Multiverse" Jazzheads
Bobby Sanabria is a multi-talented musician, educator, musicologist and cultural warrior who has amassed an impressive résumé since graduating with honors from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1979.
Since 1999, Bobby has been the lead instructor for Afro-Cuban Jazz History and Ensembles at the Manhattan School of Music, considered to have one of the finest music curriculums in the USA. Sanabria and his MSM student band have previously recorded 2 CDs, both of which were nominated for Best Album of the Year by the Latin Grammy®. Bobby Sanabria and the MSM Afro-Cuban Big Band’s newest album, Multiverse for the Jazzheads label has received the highest critical acclaim and is on its way to garner numerous awards.
After a short stint with Mongo Santamaría, Bobby became a member of the Mario Bauzá Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, the “Godfather of Afro-Cuban Jazz”, Bauzá took Sanabria under his tutelage. After the demise of Mario Bauzá, Bobby formed several of his own ensembles as well as teaching and conducting the Manhattan School of Music Big Band.
One of the highlights of Multiverse, is the tribute track, The Chicken From Havana to Harlem-100 Years of Mario Bauzá. Other standout selections are the Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite for Ellington and ¡Que Viva Cándido! Bobby Sanabria’s Multiverse has taken musical creativity into the future while honoring past traditions, a truly rare and unique experience, I’d call it cosmic!
Connie Evingson Sweet Happy Life: The Lyrics of Norman Gimbel Minnehaha Music
Throughout her career spanning over 20 years now, Connie Evingson has recorded a wide array of concept albums covering many themes and musical styles. Her latest is a tribute to the gifted lyricist Norman Gimbel. Sweet Happy Life: The Lyrics of Norman Gimbel which is an ideal CD for August’s CD of the Month Club members because from its cover photo to Connie’s dress, to the inside flap, to the flowery disc and most important, the songs and music, this album exudes Summer! Lyricist Norman Gimbel is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Mr. Gimbel has penned lyrics for Broadway musicals, TV series theme songs and has won awards for his contributions to films however, Norman’s special gift is writing English language lyrics to foreign language songs.
Connie Evingson has established a strong following, in part due to her extensive discography and always captivating live performances. Connie is also a shrewd business woman managing her own career and recording label, Minnehaha Music. Unlike most first-rate jazz musicians, she prefers to keep her residence in her home state of Minnesota instead of relocating to New York or Los Angeles, yet it has not curtailed her touring to international destinations. Sweet Happy Life: The Lyrics of Norman Gimbel is a delightful recording featuring 16 tracks covering various rhythms and singing styles. The songs selected by Ms Evingson represent the spectrum of Gimbel’s lyrical talent, jazz standards, Brazilian tunes and pop songs, sung with varying group formats that showcases many skillful instrumentalists led mostly by pianist Laura Caviani, a fellow Minnesotan and leader in her own right. Sweet Happy Life will enrich your sweet happy summer well into Autumn and beyond.
Ralph Peterson "The Duality Perspective" Oynx Productions
Ralph Peterson is currently one of the most highly regarded drummer-bandleader-educator of his generation, when he was still a student at New Jersey’s Rutgers University he was chosen by the legendary Art Blakey to be his accompanying drummer! For his 15th recording as a leader, Ralph's sophomore effort for his own Onyx Productions Music Label, he chose to use both his famed Fo’tet quartet for the first 5 songs as well as expanding to a sextet for the remaining 5 songs of the aptly titled album, The Duality Perspective. Moreover, Petersons pays homage to his mentors while acknowledging both of his ensembles’ musicians on the profound artwork of the CD’s cover. The piano-less Fo’Tet featuring students of Ralph includes bass, vibes, clarinet and RP on drums while the sextet features the Curtis Brothers; Zaccai and Luques on piano and bass respectively, Sean Jones-trumpet, Walter Smith III-tenor sax and the Front Range’s own, Tia Fuller alternating on alto and soprano saxophones. Mr. Peterson also invited some of his friends as guests, seasoning the music with marimba and percussion on some of the cuts. This date not only showcases the polished skills of Ralph Peterson as a master drummer, be it his brushwork, soloing, grooving or comping, it proves he absorbed the leadership qualities of Art Blakey and is now sharing it with the new generation of jazz players, “Bu” would surely approve.
Ralph was born into a an extended family of musicians that included 4 drummers, raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Peterson began as a funk drummer practicing to the music of James Brown, The Funkadelic and other 70s funksters. After that, he began listing to the then popular fusion movement which led to his discovering jazz while studying with famed drummer Michael Carvin at Rutger’s, while there he was selected by Blakey to be his 2nd drummer and occasionally lead the Messengers while he took a break. Family is important to Ralph, The Duality Perspective has 2 of his compositions dedicated to his off springs, Princess is for his daughter while Addison and Anthony are for his grandsons. Besides his virtuosity at drums, Ralph is a fine trumpeter often playing both instruments when performing, when not on tour or in a recording studio he teaches at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, previously he was an instructor at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. In the late 1980s after his tenure with Art Blakey’s Messengers, Peterson was chosen from 35 auditioning performers to be in the Blue Note Records composite group of 7 promising new players, Out of The Blue. All of the members of OTB have gone out to enjoy brilliant careers. In 1989 Ralph began his recording discography as a leader founding a quartet he named “The Fo’tet”, since then he has recorded in various formats as a leader and sideman as well as touring the globe impressing audiences and musicians alike with his virtuosity.The two-fold formats of The Duality Perspective.will not only double your listening pleasure it will create or increase your admiration for the drumming and leadership of Ralph Peterson.
Duke Ellington Legacy "Single Petal of a Rose" Renma Recordings
The Duke Ellington Legacy lives up its name and heritage. Founded by Duke Ellington’s grandson, the ensemble takes the music of the legendary jazz master and adds some modern elements to the elegance the original orchestra was renowned for, yet keeps its swingin’ into the future. For their second outing, Single Petal of a Rose on the Renma Recordings label, the Ellington Legacy features invited guest Houston Person on tenor sax whose solos are reminiscent of the great Paul Gonsalves. Nancy Reed is the invited vocalist on 4 of the CD’s 14 entries. The veteran Norman Simmons is the pianist and primary arranger, he also contributes 2 compositions. The band’s co-leader and Music Director is saxophonist/clarinetist/arranger, Virginia Mayhew who is responsible for convincing Duke’s grandson, guitarist Edward Kennedy Ellington II to come out of a self-imposed exile from music.
Edward Kennedy Ellington II is the son of Mercer Ellington- Duke’s first born who named his 2nd son after his legendary band leader father. When Edward II was a young man, the Duke would occasionally take him on tour. After Duke passed away, Mercer who had been with his father’s band as a trumpeter, arranger and composer for decades inherited the orchestra and used his son Edward II as the band’s guitarist and “roadie” After 5 years on the road, Edward Ellington left the orchestra and music as a whole. After 20 years he returned to music and along with his sister Gayle Ellington and Ms. Mayhew founded the Duke Ellington Legacy in 2003. Not merely a “tribute” or ghost” band, the Duke Ellington Legacy is a continuum of the foundation laid down by the namesake of the ensemble, moreover it’s adding to it!
Louis Armstrong "Red Beans & Rice-ly Yours" Smithsonian
Just five months before his passing, the legendary jazz pioneer Louis Armstrong was attending an award ceremony in January, 1971 at the prestigious National Press Club in Washington DC-despite being in poor health-he proved he was still the consummate entertainer by calling his longtime band mates to the stage for an impromptu hour long performance where he showed no signs of frailty while singing and to the amazement of all playing trumpet-a difficult instrument to play even when healthy-on two of the songs from this historic concert finally made available to the public by the collaboration of the Smithsonian Institution, The National Press Club and the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation. After “Pops” performance captured on this CD, he made 2 brief TV appearances and passed away on July 6th at 69 years of age.
In addition to his insurmountable contributions to jazz as an instrumentalist and vocalist, Louis Armstrong was known to have a hearty appetite and would collect menus from the hotels and restaurants he visited around the world throughout his career. Moreover, he would write notations on the menus about his favorite dishes and comment on the other entrees. “Satchmo” was also a voracious letter writer always using his closing remark, “Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours” which now serves as the apt title of this previously unreleased concert. As a bonus, the album’s liner notes include over 30 of Armstrong’s favorite New Orleans Creole recipes. The last 2 years of his life, Louis’ doctor told him not to play the trumpet as to not aggravate his illness, Armstrong defied his physician’s suggestions and continued to play trumpet sporadically at his appearances that were mostly him just singing. This CD documents Louis Armstrong’s final recording on trumpet. According to Wynton Marsalis, “This is a great find, not so much for the virtuosity of his playing, but for the joy of his presence at that age and at that stage of his life. I'd heard those songs many times. But that he could play with this type of energy and intensity with that amount of time off. It was shocking." I agree with NEA Jazz Master Marsalis, this is a truly remarkable recording!
Jazz Soul Seven "Impressions of Curtis Mayfield" BFM Jazz
When R ‘n’ B was evolving into soul music, a multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer from the “Windy City” became one of the pioneers of the new sound and contributed several songs that became the soundtrack for the Civil Rights Movement. Curtis Mayfield was only a teenager when he began his career with the seminal vocal group, The Impressions. He made an immediate impact in various ways, Mayfield’s guitar playing had a unique sound due to his unusual tuning and he paved the way for the rise of falsetto singers that followed him after he emerged. Moreover, Curtis was a gifted composer who had his hand on the pulse of the African-American community during the struggles of the 1960s. Finally, after Mayfield went solo, he founded his own record label and produced many successful artists as well as composing songs that became hits for others. When writing the soundtrack for the film, “Super Fly”, Curtis broke away from the typical formula and turned the music into a social commentary against the story line of the film and its negative portrayal of the inner city. In 1990 a tragic accident paralyzed him from the neck down which led to his premature passing at 57 years of age in 1999. Curtis Mayfield is a member of several halls of fame as a prominent vocal group member, as a solo artist and as a composer. The album “Super Fly” and many Mayfield songs are ranked among the greatest music contributions ever!
Guitarist Phil Upchurch called on some of his friends to come together to record an album of Curtis Mayfield music re-arranged into soul jazz, all of whom jumped at the chance to pay tribute to one of the most important musicians of the 20th century. It must have been a daunting task to choose only 12 songs to represent the greatness of Curtis, however once selected, the “Jazz Soul Seven” created a masterful reworking of them without losing any of the original essence of the songs. Called in from Sweden to participate in this session was former Curtis Mayfield Band member, Master Henry Gibson, a remarkable soul music percussionist. All of the players of the “Jazz Soul Seven” performed at a high level assuring the listener a delightful experience, start to finish. Regardless, if you’re partial to Curtis as one of The Impressions, as a solo artist or are an admirer of both sides of Mayfield, I’m confident Impressions of Curtis Mayfield, will be one of your most played CDs this year
Kathy Kosins "To the Ladies of Cool" Resonance Records
In recognition of Women’s History Month, our March CD of the Month selection is To the Ladies of Cool: A Love Letter to Chris Connor-Anita O‘Day-June Christy-Julie London by the veteran Detroit vocalist, Kathy Kosins. Not only were the honorees cool ladies, they were pioneers in shaping the vocal stylings of the West Coast cool jazz movement of the 1950s. With this in mind Ms. Kosins traveled to Los Angeles to record this inspired homage for the Los Angeles based, non-profit recording label, Resonance Records. Kathy made two very astute decisions, first her choices of songs-avoiding the over recorded standards, secondly, enlisting Tamir Hendelman to be her pianist and arranger. Hendelman is to be commended for his refreshing charts and impeccable playing as an accompanist as well when soloing. Kudos to Kathy for penning lyrics to Hershey’s Kisses, previously a wordless vocal tune composed by Johnny Mandel who upon hearing the words stated; “Her lyrics melt in her mouth!”
As the subtitle suggests, it’s a musical thank you to 4 women who made an enduring impact on jazz and pop singers still felt over 50 years later. Sure, it may be the highest form of flattery but, there’s no imitation going on here, Kathy reinterprets the songs her own way. In addition to Tamir, the other sidemen shine in their roles adding seasoned sounds and solos without distracting from the vocals, a difficult task in jazz. Kosins is a native of Detroit and was raised during the golden era of Motown, her father’s store, Kosins Clothes served as the clothier for Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson and the Temptations, among others. Kathy came to prominence in the 1980s with famed producer Don Was and shortly thereafter was one of the most sought after studio vocalists garnering an ASCAP award. Searching for more freedom as a singer, Kosins turned to jazz in the 90s and has been swingin’ ever since! Kathy Kosins most recent recording maybe a tribute To the Ladies of Cool, but the CD is already hot on the jazz radio charts and as fiery as her red hair!
MCG Jazz All-Stars "Hill District Beat" MCG Jazz
Our CD of the Month selection for February-Black History Month is a special double delight, swingin’ music plus a historical collection of photographs documenting the golden era of Pittsburgh’s storied “Hill District”, the birthplace of many jazz legends and home to countless performances by visiting jazz dignitaries playing at the numerous jazz clubs of “The Hill”. The Pittsburgh based label, MCG Jazz has released, Hill District Beat: A Tribute to Teenie Harris, the photographer who chronicled life on “The Hill” in a career spanning over 50 years. The MCG Jazz All-Stars perform the music on the CD, the seven selections reflect the jazz styles of the era that Teenie “One Shot” Harris photographed. Moreover, most of the band members are Pittsburgh natives, the final track features legendary Hill native, Stanley Turrentine in his final appearance in his home town. When playing the disc in a computer, the enhanced CD displays more than 100 photographs shot by Mr. Harris accompanied by music of their period.
Charles “Teenie” Harris (1908-1998) photographed the events and daily life of African Americans for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the USA’s most important and influential black newspapers. In 2001, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh archived nearly 80,000 photographic negatives as well as displaying a collection of Teenie’s photograph for public viewing. This exquisite archive is considered one of the most important documentations anywhere of 20th-century African American life. Log on to http://teenie.cmoa.org/ to see photos from the exhibition and to learn more about Charles “Teenie” Harris.
Jazz critic and historian Stanley Crouch said it all, “This collection provides us with an epic sense of life, which is to say that a civilization and how it worked is laid out before us”.
Gary Smulyan "Smul's Paradise" Capri Records
Gary Smulyan is considered the greatest baritone saxophonist since Gerry Mulligan and one of jazz’s all-time finest. Smulyan has won the Downbeat Critics Poll for Baritone Saxophone in 2011 and previously in 2009. Moreover, Gary was named the 2011 Jazz Times Readers and Critics Poll for Baritone Saxophonist of the Year plus many other citations for his skills over the years. While still in high school in Bethpage, Long Island, NY ‘Smul’ sat in with legendary artists such as Chet Baker, Jimmy Knepper, Ray Nance and others. Upon finishing Hofstra University, Gary embarked on his professional career that landed him stints with Woody Herman, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, Tito Puente and many other prominent jazz players as well as venturing into the blues and R ‘n’ B. Besides his busy touring and recording schedule as a leader and a sideman, Smulyan lives in Amherst, MA where he’s an educator at the Amherst College as well as serving as Artistic Director of the Berkshire Hills Music Academy.
For his newest recording, Gary inked a deal with Bailey, CO’s own Capri Records which has released Smul’s Paradise. In the history of jazz, it is very infrequent that one can find a bari sax led organ trio due to the limitations of the baritone sax, however in the hands of Smulyan, these barriers are overcome due to the mastery he is known for. Recording an organ trio album has been an ambition of Gary for a long time because as a teenager it was his favorite format. To ensure this accomplishment would be of the highest caliber, “Smul’ enlisted the very talented Mike LeDonne to play the B-3, the gifted guitarist Peter Bernstein and the always tasty drummer, Kenny Washington. The 8 swingin’ selections of this CD will undoubtedly make you a toe tapper while transporting you to a jazz lover’s paradise.
Greg Abate "Horace is Here" Rhombus Records
New England’s own, saxophonist Greg Abate is considered among the highest ranking bop players of the 21st century. Horace Silver is a living legend, an NEA Jazz Master, a bebopper of the highest caliber, he is an all-time great both as a pianist/bandleader and as a composer. Like Abate, Mr. Silver is also a New Englander so it is only fitting that Greg Abate’s latest release is a heartfelt homage to “the hard-bop grand pop”. Horace Is Here: A Tribute to Horace Silver was originally released a few years ago on a boutique label with virtually no distribution for sales or radio play. Several months ago, Rhombus Records re-released the project with national distribution and radio service, what an excellent way to end 2011 because this is a recording deserving of wider recognition. A lifelong fan of Horace Silver, Greg has fulfilled a long time ambition to record his music. Abate asked trumpeter Claudio Roditi and pianist Hilton Ruiz to travel from New York to suburban Boston to accompany him for this session. Completing the quintet are, bassist Marshall Wood and drummer Artie Cabral whom have often played with Greg on live dates throughout New England.
Of the ten songs on this album, eight were penned by Horace and two were written by Greg Abate. Not content with simply covering the well known Silver songs, Abate with the help of Roditi re-arranged the selections to give them a refreshingly new sound without losing the essence of the tunes. Tragically, less than 2 years after this recording, Hilton Ruiz was found dead on a French Quarter street in a still unresolved incident, Ruiz was in New Orleans as part of a Hurricane Katrina Survivors fund raiser. The music of Horace Silver is complex, yet toe tappin’ and finger poppin’, therefore my listening experience was enhanced knowing that these compositions were recorded live in the studio on either the first or second take! In these technology driven days, where recordings are routinely over dubbed and heavily produced by engineers, it’s rewarding to hear master musicians play timeless pieces from their soul. It’s the next best thing to witnessing live music made on stage in front of you.
Horace Silver is 83 years old; sadly, he has Alzheimer's disease and is unable to attend the many tributes performed for him. So, other than Horace recording a new album, Greg Abate’s Horace Is Here: A Tribute to Horace Silver is the closest joy of new Silver music we can have.
Curtis Brothers "Completion of Proof" Curtis Brothers Music
One of the most daunting tasks of modern jazz musicians is to continue the traditions established by the jazz masters of the past, yet add originality and creativity to an almost perfect art form so as not to sound merely as copycats or becoming just another cover band. With their third release as leaders, the Curtis Brothers not only have met the challenge, they have raised the bar for other groups to follow. Completion of Proof is an aptly titled album on their own Curtis Brothers Music label in conjunction with Truth Revolution Records. Pianist Zaccai and bassist Luques have earned a well deserved reputation-individually and collectively-as 2 of the most talented young players in jazz since emerging on the scene about 6 years ago. For their newest album, the brothers Curtis decided to follow the movement of the 1960s, combining hard bop music with themes of social awareness ala their influences, Cannonball Adderley, Horace Silver and Art Blakey. Interestingly, two of the prominent sidemen of this project, trumpeter Brian Lynch and alto saxist Donald Harrison Jr are former Jazz Messengers. All eight of the songs on “Completion” are originals by Zaccai who also arranged the selections; he was inspired by courageous persons and historic events, proof that knowledge and artistic talent blend magnificently.
The Curtis Brothers are natives of Hartford, CT, a fertile area for emerging jazz musicians. Zaccai and Luques have been playing since they were adolescents, Zack is a graduate of the New England Conservatory while Luke is an alumnus of the Berklee School of Music, both have been in New York City since about 2005. The siblings’ ethnicity includes Puerto Rican heritage and they’ve always had an affinity for Latin jazz and dance music, elements of which appear on this new release. Reinaldo de Jesús plays the Puerto Rican barriles (barrel drums) on “Sol Within”, moreover, on “The Wrath” and “Manifest Destiny”, guest Pedro Martínez is heard on the Cuban batá drums. “Mass Manipulations” features Brazilian percussion provided by invitee Rogerio Boccato. Ralph Peterson is the drummer for the entire session that showcases Ft. Apache founding member, Joe Ford on Alto sax on 3 tunes. Finally, fellow Hartford native son, tenor sax Jimmy Greene appears on 3 selections as well. What a formidable line up performing innovative and provocative music at the highest level of artistry! Completion of Proof proves that the Curtis Brothers will be a force to be reckoned with for decades to come and that their growth as imaginative jazz musicians is far from complete.
Christian McBride Big Band "The Good Feeling" Mack Avenue
It’s stunning to realize that the young bassist from Philadelphia, Christian McBride has been recording and performing for more than 20 years, heck, he won’t celebrate his 40th birthday until 2012. In 1991 when Christian was only 19, he accompanied Denver’s own Javon Jackson for Javon’s CD debut as a leader, “Me and Mr. Jones”. By then, McBride had been on several other recordings with renowned jazz leaders and for the next few years exploded onto the recording and touring scene with appearances alongside jazz legends and the best players of his generation. Finally in 1994, Christian released his first CD as a leader, “Getting’ To It”, a highly acclaimed album.
Since then, McBride has led a hectic schedule, recording as a leader, sideman, touring the world over and has become an respected educator. Christian has been playing bass since he was 8 years of age, when he was just 17 he left Philly to attend the Berklee School of Music before embarking on his professional career, a lifelong fan of James Brown Christian could possibly be “The Hardest Working Man in Jazz”. Over the years Mr. McBride has recorded with a legion of musicians covering a wide array of his musical tastes, funk, rock, R’n’B, groove bands and more. In the summer of 2011, Christian was Denver’s Convergence group’s special guest at a multi-night stand at Dazzle here in the Mile High City. Moreover, he’s led his own “Inside Straight” ensemble on tour and into the recording studio.
With this impressive list of accomplishments, it’s only fitting that McBride’s latest triumph is leading a 17 piece big band. “The Good Feeling” is an impressive recording, when you take into account that it’s Christian’s first as a big band leader, it’s even more remarkable. Three of the 11 tracks are vocals by the talented Melissa Walker, of the eight instrumentals, 6 are originals compositions from the pen of Christian McBride. The band members include many leaders and the top echelon at their respective instruments. The achievements to date of Christian are a feel good story-yet he has so much ahead of him, it’s almost difficult to imagine, however, I get the good feeling that his best is yet to come.
Deep Blue Organ Trio "Wonderful!" Origin Records
The “Great American Songbook” that is so much a part of the jazz standards canon of today was the pop music of its respective eras. Songs from plays and films, sometimes called “Tin Pan Alley”, were taken by jazz instrumentalists and vocalists and given new life by adding their creativity and improvisations. That’s the beauty of jazz, that any type of music, from any other genre, epoch or region can be adapted for jazz while still retaining its original essence. Several of the outstanding pop music composers of the 1960s and 70s have begun to be a part of the contemporary jazz repertoire, one of the more recorded writers of this trend has been the amazingly talented Stevie Wonder.
Deep Blue Organ Trio officially began in 2000, however, the members of the group have known and played with each other since the early 1980s. The trio’s 4th recording, Wonderful!, for the Origin Records label, is a tribute to Stevie Wonder, a collection of 9 songs composed by the living legend who has received over 20 GRAMMY® awards. Although the group is a cooperative without a leader, its most recognized player is guitarist Bobby Broom because of his long tenure in Sonny Rollins’ touring band. Although a native New Yorker, Broom has lived in Chicago since 1984. Deep Blue is rounded out by Chris Forman on the Hammond B-3 and Greg Rockingham on drums, both from the Windy City as well. I imagine that the most difficult part of this project was selecting which of the dozens of Stevie’s songs would be performed. The trio opted for mostly 1970s tunes. Due to the magnificent playing on this album, the high critical acclaim and it reaching the Number 1 position on the Jazz Week radio charts as the most played CD in the US and Canada, I can envision a follow up album to be recorded in the near future. To paraphrase one of Stevie’s most famous songs, “Deep Blue Organ Trio’s homage has reached the highest ground!”
August 2011 CD of our Anniversary Month
August is our anniversary month. On August 29th we will mark our 26th year of broadcasting. Here’s our anniversary gift to you, this month’s CD of the Month selection includes a bonus DVD.
Three young masters of jazz, Stefon Harris-vibes, David Sánchez-sax and Christian Scott-trumpet traveled to Havana to record with a Cuban quartet. Ninety Miles is the result of that encounter. When Concord Music Group’s Chief Creative Officer heard a few of Cuba’s leading young musicians, he decided to select a few US based musicians and travel to Cuba to make a recording and a documentary about the sessions. It took over a year of jumping through hoops to obtain permission for the project from the US government, however once cleared and the crew arrived in Havana, everything went smoothly and there was an immediate bond among the musicians which turned into a creative chemistry heard throughout the CD. The album has a bonus DVD which shows a short excerpt from the PBS documentary to be aired in the Fall plus 2 performance clips.
Stefon Harris is a 4-time GRAMMY® nominated vibist with many CDs as a leader, Harris wrote 3 of the songs on Ninety Miles. The Puerto Rican saxophonist David Sánchez contributed 2 compositions and served as interpreter for the entourage when venturing on to the streets of Cuba’s capital city. Christian Scott is a brilliant young trumpeter from New Orleans-the Caribbean port of entry of the USA. His uncle is the renowned saxist, Donald Harrison Jr-“Son of Big Chief” so the poly-rhythms of Cuba are in his heritage. On the Cuban side, pianists Harold López-Nussa and Rember Duharte alternate accompany the visitors with their own quartets. This ambitious project illustrates that music has the ability to unite countries in a way that politics is not able to. It may be only 90 miles between Havana, Cuba and Key West, FL but despite the end of the Cold War, it is a difficult journey to complete. Ninety Miles proves that music and the arts can break down barriers that politicians can’t.
The H2 Big Band "You're It!" Jazzed Media
There isn’t another city besides Denver, other than New York City or Los Angeles, which could assemble such a distinguished group of musicians that is the H2 Big Band co-led by trumpeter Al Hood and pianist/composer Dave Hanson. For their second collaboration, Messrs. Hood and Hanson decided to launch a big band featuring many of the best players of the Front Range with special guest Bobby Shew, the extraordinary trumpet player from New Mexico. The H2 Big Band’s You’re It! on Colorado’s own Jazzed Media label ranks among the finest big band recordings of the 21st Century. Like their previous album, Dave Hanson wrote most of the music of You’re It!, he also arranged all eleven songs while Al Hood leads the trumpet section with the power of a solar flare!
From the moment this CD begins its musical journey to the concluding note, the band swings and swings-then swings some more! There is a variety of tempos among the entries and most of the musicians are given an opportunity to solo. Beside invitee Bobby Shew, other guests are Mike Rodríguez from NY and Jason Carder from Miami, both on trumpet. Staying closer to home, the horn section sparkles with the likes of Brad Goode, Rich Chiaraluce, Allen Herman, among other stand outs, all-stars Ken Walker and Todd Reid are on bass and drums respectively. Al Hood and Dave Hanson are faculty members of the Lamont School of Music which is why they chose Lamont’s Jazz Studies Director-Lynn Baker to be the conductor and Musical Director of The H2 Big Band. The last 10 years has seen an increase of jazz big bands, even when compared to the well seasoned large ensembles, The H2 Big Band shines brightly!
Terell Stafford This Side Of Strayhorn MAXJAZZ
Billy Strayhorn, the immortal “Sweet Pea” or “Strays”, was Duke Ellington’s musical soul mate composing or co-composing many of the Ellington Orchestra's most memorable songs. Over the decades there have been numerous re-interpretations and tributes performed to honor the gifted Mr. Strayhorn-mostly utilizing the big band format. For his most recent release, the prominent trumpeter and educator Terell Stafford with his touring quintet pay homage to “Sweet Pea” without losing the essence of the music. Stafford’s This Side of Strayhorn for the MAXJAZZ label features Terell on trumpet and flugelhorn with Tim Warfield on soprano/tenor saxes, Bruce Barth-piano and all arrangements, Peter Washington-bass and Dana Hall at the drums. The recording was produced by John Clayton who has worked with Terell for many years at the annual Vail Jazz Camp and Jazz Festival held every summer. With such a talented line-up it is not surprising that this CD ranks as one of the best memorials to Billy Strayhorn ever recorded!
Terell Stafford was born in Miami in 1966 but raised in Chicago and Silver Spring, Maryland. He received a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Maryland in 1988 and a Masters of Music from Rutgers University in 1993. He began playing trumpet when he was 13; however, he was initially attracted to classical music. While attending the University of Maryland, Stafford began his jazz career by joining the school’s jazz band. He received valuable advice about pursuing a jazz career from Wynton Marsalis which was followed by landing a stint with Bobby Watson’s Horizon ensemble and then Stafford moved on to be with the legendary Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Since the mid-1990s Terell has led his own band and recording sessions. He is currently the Director of Jazz Studies and Chair of Instrumental Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia where he has been a recipient of the University's “Creative Achievement Award.” NEA Jazz Master and piano legend McCoy Tyner says this about Mr. Stafford; “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player”.
The nine Strayhorn selections chosen by Terell include the well known Lush Life and U.M M.G. plus lesser know gems e.g. Smada and Day Dream. From start to finish, Stafford and his crew do the music of “Strays” justice, refreshingly modern playing without losing the feeling or original intent of their legendary composer and arranger, a most difficult task. Mission accomplished!
Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band "That's How We Roll" Telarc
The Grammy® Award winning pianist-saxophonist-composer-arranger-conductor Gordon Goodwin founded his Big Phat Band in 2001 after spending many years playing with various big bands. Since emerging onto the scene, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band has amassed an impressive discography of 6 recordings with their unique approach of blending traditional big band swing and contemporary arrangements. Moreover, the band displays a great sense of humor in their song selections backed up by virtuoso playing by its all-star members, most of whom are leaders of their own ensembles. For their 7th outing, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band continues their winning formula on That’s How We Roll, like their previous CDs, they bring in special guests to enhance their appeal, the a cappella group, Take 6 appears on the track, Never Enough perhaps the highlight of the album. Other invitees are Marcus Miller, Dave Koz and Castle Rock resident Gerald Albright.
Gordon Goodwin is originally from Wichita, Kansas, when he was in the 7th grade he wrote his first big band chart, a song he titled Hang Loose. After attending Cal-State Northridge in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, Gordon embarked on a busy career touring and recording with various big bands and other jazz groups. When not on tour Goodwin worked as a producer and arranger for many non-jazz artists as well as becoming immersed in the motion picture and television industry with his talented scoring and orchestrations that garnered him three Emmy® Awards as well as his Grammy® for his arrangement of Incredits for the animated film, The Incredibles.Gordon is a fan of cartoons and recorded a homage to Looney Tunes with his Christmas music album, Bah, HumDuck!-A Looney Tune Christmas. For That’s How We Roll, the Big Phat Band continues their humorous ways with the Elmer Fudd inspired composition; Hunting Wabbits 3(Get Off My Lawn).
After listening to the newest Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, you too will be saying, “that’s how we roll" !
Monty Alexander "Uplift" Jazz Legacy Productions
Despite being a small island, Jamaica has given the world a disproportionate amount of music, yet rarely does jazz come up for discussion. When the melting pot of jazz was first being prepared over a hundred years ago in New Orleans, the ingredients from the Caribbean played a vital role. Since then, artists from virtually every island of the Antilles have made a contribution to the growth and greatness of jazz. Most jazz fans think of Latin jazz and its musicians when asked about the music of the Caribbean, however, Jamaica has been well represented in jazz history. The pianist Wynton Kelly, bandleader Sonny Bradshaw, and trumpeter Dizzy Reece are a few native born standouts. Moreover, there are many others who although born in the US or the UK, are of Jamaican descent. There is no doubt though, that the most important jazz musician from “The Land of Wood and Water”-Jamaica is Monty Alexander.
As an adolescent, Monty was taken by his father to see Louis Armstrong perform in his hometown of Kingston. It was then that Monty decided to become a jazz musician. Ever since Monty arrived to the US in 1961 as a young man of seventeen, he has made heads turn with his interpretations of jazz standards alongside his original compositions and jazz versions of Jamaican folklore. For many years after moving to New York, Monty was the house pianist at the famed nightclub, Jilly’s-the favored watering hole for many celebrities and jazz giants such as Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Dizzy Gillespie, just to name a few. Mr. Alexander is a superbly gifted pianist ranking among the finest of all time; he’s a combination of many legends before him such as Art Tatum, Nat Cole, Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, and the late Hank Jones. Several times over his illustrious career Monty has taken his native riddims; mento, ska, and reggae-in particular by Bob Marley- and has reworked them into a jazz setting, often using Jamaican musicians to add to the authenticity. Recently, Jamaica has bestowed her highest artistic honor to Monty Alexander, Commander in the Order of Distinction, “for outstanding services to Jamaica as a worldwide music ambassador.”
Our April Jazz Appreciation Month choice is Monty’s Uplift, his first for Jazz Legacy Productions. Uplift is a collection of 10 tracks recorded live at different locations around the globe spanning the years 2007 through 2010. Hassan Shakur who has been with Alexander for over ten years is anchored on bass while Herlin Riley and Frits Landesbergen take turns sitting at the drums. All of the performances are of the highest caliber. It’s often said that music is good medicine, well-sit back and take repeated heaping doses of this musical elixir as it is guaranteed to uplift your spirits!
Brian Lynch "Unsung Heroes:A Tribute To Some Underappreciated Trumpet Masters" Hollistic Music
The Grammy® Award winning Brian Lynch is a versatile trumpet virtuoso excelling in the many splendid varieties of jazz and Latin music. Lynch relocated to New York City from his hometown of Milwaukee in the early 1980s. Immediately upon his arrival to NY, he began displaying his multiple skills for jazz and Latin attracting the attention of many notable band leaders which led him to acquire valuable experience with the leading big bands, bop ensembles and Latin bands. Brian toured, recorded and performed with such luminaries as Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Benny Golson, Phil Woods and Eddie Palmieri. In 1986 Lynch recorded his first album as a leader, since then he has amassed over 15 more releases including the 2006 Grammy® Award winning, Simpático that had him reunited with Eddie Palmieri.
Mr. Lynch’s latest project is a heartfelt homage to some of his fellow trumpeters, past & present whom have helped shape his sound, On Unsung Heroes: A Tribute To Some Underappreciated Trumpet Masters, Brian plays the music of Tommy Turrentine(Stanley’s brother), Ira Sullivan, Charles Tolliver, Idrees Sulieman, Donald Byrd, Howard McGhee and others. For his tribute to Brazilian rotary valve trumpeter Claudio Roditi, Brian composed a swinging samba, RoditiSamba. Over the past several years Lynch has become a mentor for many young musicians as an educator and band leader, he has also been very busy as a producer for many CDs covering the gamut of music styles. After hearing Unsung Heroes: A Tribute To Some Underappreciated Trumpet Masters I’m sure you’ll agree with my assessment that in the future, Brian Lynch will not be an unsung trumpet master!
"Everybody Wants To Be A Cat" Disney Pearl Jazz Series
Walt Disney was a jazz fan and a friend of Louis Armstrong, it was Walt who convinced Satchmo to record an album of Disney movies music in a jazz format. Kicking off the Disney Pearl Jazz Series music label is Everybody Wants To Be A Cat, a collection of instrumentals and vocal interpretations of several Disney films performed by an array of all stars that include
Denver’s own multi-GRAMMY® winning vocalist-Dianne Reeves, the legendary pianist-Dave Brubeck, several well-established jazzers such as trumpeter Roy Hargrove, vocalist Roberta Gambarini, violinist Regina Carter and saxist Joshua Redman among others. Besides The Aristocats theme song which titles the recording, the music is culled from such memorable movies as Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty & The Beast and Toy Story just to name a few.
Staying faithful to the original Disney concept of creating family entertainment for all ages, Everybody Wants To Be A Cat has artists aimed at non-jazz and younger ears by adding performances by Nikki Yanofsy, Mark Rapp, Gilad Hekselman and The Bad Plus. Moreover, the Quincy Jones discovery, Cuban Alfredo Rodríguez chimes in with an energetic piano solo of The Bare Neccesities that will have you tappin' your toes!
With the release of Everybody Wants To Be A Cat, Disney is letting everyone know that it's a jazz world after all!
Cannonball-Coltrane Project "Things Are Getting Better" Primrose Lane Music
In 2002, bassist Luther Hughes founded the Cannonball-Coltrane Project to honor two of jazz’s greatest sax men, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and John “Trane” Coltrane. In 2004 the CCP recorded its first album. Now with their fourth CD, Things Are Getting Better, the quintet has achieved the rare combination of staying true to the music of the legends they pay tribute to as well as redefining it by adding their own contemporary sound creating a most pleasing recording with one foot in the past while moving the music forward !
Luther Hughes is a noted musician, educator, broadcaster and entrepreneur. All of the Cannonball-Coltrane Project sessions have been released on Mr. Hughes’ own Primrose Lane Music label which also records other prominent jazz artists. Luther was the bassist for Gene Harris for over 20 years and has performed and recorded with dozens of the most prestigious musicians of the past 30 plus years. Currently, besides his busy performing, recording and business obligations, Hughes is a faculty member teaching bass at Cal State-Fullerton in Southern California
Things Are Getting Better begins 2011 in swingin’ fashion. Luther and the other 4 founders of the CCP include 5 selections recorded by either Cannonball or Trane and 7 others performed in their style without duplicating them. After listening to the latest gem by the Coltrane-Cannonball Project, you too will agree that things are getting better!
Bill Easley "Love Stories" American Showplace Music
Ray Charles "Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters" Concord Music
Houston Person "Moment To Moment" HighNote Records
Hadley Caliman-Pete Christlieb "Reunion" Origin Records
Craig Russo Latin Jazz Project: "Mambo Influenciado"
Junior Mance Quintet: "Out South"
Regina Carter, "Reverse Thread"
Ray Vega-Thomas Marriot "East-West Trumpet Summit"
Tia Fuller "Decisive Steps" Mack Avenue
Holly Hoffman and Bill Cunliffe: Three's Company
David Berger Jazz Orchestra: Sing Me A Love Song