by: Hobert Taylor
Troy Roberts - Secret Rhymes - (Inner Circle Music)
Australian tenor saxophonist Roberts along with some of New York's best sidemen, (Jeff 'Tain' Watts, drums, Chris Smith, bass, and pianist Silvano Monasterios), channels the golden age of small ensemble playing, late 60's early 70's with a sort of updated V.S.O.P. containing the same freshness and chops. They even covered V.S.O.P.'s Freddie Hubbard's tune "Up Jumped Spring". While the covers are imaginative and surprising ( a re-working of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto #2), it is the original tunes that float my boat. "Eyes Pie", the free jazz delight, "Trip" and the title tune "Secret Rhymes" all are truly substantial compositions, played with flair and elan.
Javier Vercher - Wish You Were Here - (Musikoz)
Spanish tenor saxophonist Vercher along with some of New york's best sidemen, (recognize a trend here)... Like Roberts he reaches back into the traditions of the compositional/improvisational fine balanced mix with influences From Coltrane to Turrentine. Where Vercher differs is that he adds acid jazz/hip hop elements to his playing similar to that of his sometime collaborator Robert Glasper. He also juxtaposes melodic fragments in collages made up of various styles,rhythms, and timbres... akin to William Burroughs cut up style of fiction writing.
Occasionally it feels a bit forced to me, but it made me sit up and listen.
Jack DeJohnette (With Muhal Richard Abram, Larry Gray, Roscoe Mitchell, and Henry Threadgill) - Made In Chicago - (ECM)
DeJohnette is one of the most famous jazz drummers ever. He played with seemingly everyone from Miles Davis to Sonny Rollins, Keith Jarrett to Charles Lloyd. A Chicago native, his earliest collaborations were with some of the musicians who are on this live set recorded at the Chicago Jazz Festival in 2013, notably pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and multi-reed player Roscoe Mitchell. They play with an intimacy of folks who've known each other for fifty plus years and an immediacy of improvisers who are comfortable with constant re-invention.
Kermit Ruffins - #imsoneworleans - (Basin Street Records)
Kermit Ruffins, trumpeter and a founding member of the Rebirth Brass Band, is part of the mid-life aged wave of NOLA traditionalists that keep that city's music gloriously preserved in crawfish aspic. On this home cooked release, Ruffins, who is famous for barbecuing before his Thursday shows at Vaughns Bar in the Bywater, trots out some local favorites, "Titpatina", "Jock-A-Mo (Iko-Iko)", some standards , "At Last" and "I Can't Give you Anything But Love", but what makes this release stand out are his originals, "Put You Right Foot Forward" and the title tune, "I'm So New Orleans", done twice... at the start and finish of the record... like the french bread on the top and bottom of a po' boy sandwich. The bottom slice is slathered in hot sauce.
Hailey Niswanger - PDX Soul - (Self Released)
Playing alto and soprano sax is Portland's Nishwanger. This young woman belts out Maceo Parker like solos with ease and aplomb. Focusing on soul jazz and soul tunes from the golden age and her own compositions that hearken to same she is ably supported by a full roster of Portland's finest club musicians including jazz meister pianist George Colligan.
Tom Collier - Alone In the Studio - (Origin)
Playing all the instruments on this is vibraphonist/marimba virtuoso Collier. He joins himself on piano, synthesizer, and drums. Nuanced light and shadow is the feel here. He gently de-constructs classic melodies from the likes of Lennon/McCartney and Brian Wilson to Gerry Mulligan and Larry Coryell. His own compositions are rich and satisfying.
Kevin Stout/Brian Booth - Color Country - (Self Released)
Trombones and Saxes up front supported by a gently swinging rhythm section paint an aural portrait the area around Arches National Park. Very generic, very pleasant, jazz for people who like it simple and swinging.
Rachel Caswell - All I Know: Duets with Dave Stryker & Jeremy Allen
- (Turtle ridge records)
Vocal/guitar or vocal/bass duets the weave and snake like delta streams crisscrossing a marsh. Caswell's singing is casual and precise and the accompaniment is seemingly lovingly supportive. Simple and pure, this is a release that I know will grow on me, one I will probably re-discover time and time again.
David Chesky & Jazz In The New Harmonic - Primal Scream
- (Self Released)
Low key and full of minor key spookiness, this has the early 60's feel of mellow Coltrane or Thelonious Monk. Every tune is compelling and hypnotic. This is very cool, "cool jazz". This is tailor made for one of our great jazz programs, The Mason Show, Thursday night 10 to 12.
Ben Wolfe - The Whisperer - (Positone Records)
While on the subject of minor key masterpieces with a little post bop in the mix, let's consider bassist Ben Wolfes' compositions which troll the dark byways of a film noir universe. The compositions often pull apart like taffy being stretched to allow for soaring solos or quiet Ben Webster like meditations by ace soprano/tenor sax player Stacy Dillard before coming back together.