by: Hobart Taylor
Space Orphan - Shut Up About The Sun - (Self-Released)
Funk jazz revival stinky synths and all with a dj...veddy veddy philly and deeply cool. These guys sound like they ejected from P-Funk's Holy Mothership and their pod crashed landed in Denver. Led by keyboard meister Jon Wirtz with prickly guitar fills from Taylor Scott and Maceo derived horn choruses (tenor players Matt Pitts and Jon Hegel, and Denver fave trumpeter Gabriel Mervine).
Check out the majestic slow jam "Meeting Spot" (orchestrated ala Zappa), "Modus" a B3 driven groove with alternating tempos that massages all the right places, and the hippity hoppity "Lazy, But With Less Work", my nominee for a crossover hit headed for our top thirty. Track generated calls.
Brian Marsella's Imaginarium - Chapter One: The Clocks Have All Gone Mad - (Marseland Music)
Art house jazz, an amalgam of brilliant influences, from Central European to Indian to Cumbia to African to Gospel to American folk-country. Among the luminaries on this disc is Sun Ra alum saxophonist/multi reed player Marshall Allen who happens to be still playing at age 92, one of the world's most interesting players. Pianist Marsella has been a John Zorn protege and a frequent collaborator with Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista who is all over this disc, the "go to" percussionist for everyone from Yo Yo Ma to Paul Simon to Derek Bailey to Trey Anastasio.
This whole project is magic, lush flowering worlds bloom in your mind here if you let them. My very favorite cuts are "The Newark Triology:Heart Returns Home to JC", "Better Watch What You Wish For (In These Historic Times)" parts 1 & 2, and "Marketplace Haggling Session".
Takuya Kuroda - Zigzagger - (Concord Music Group)
Jazz funk from this Japanese trumpeter in the Miles tradition recorded up to the front of the speakers and almost all the way live. Cross fading genres (Afro Beat,Souj Jazz,Bop). My picks, the title tune, "Zigzagger", "No Sign","Do They Know","Thirteen", the real jazz ballad with Glasper touches "Little Words", and "Think Twice" featuring Antibalas.
Tierney Sutton Band - The Sting Variations - (BFM Jazz)
Sting songs with a jazz trio and a superb vocalist, Tierney Sutton. Sting was often deeply influenced by jazz rhythms and changes so it is not a big stretch to finish off the these tunes with a jazzy gloss. It's well done and a way into jazz for those who need familiar melodies to inspire close listening. Picks:
"Seven Days","Fragile The Gentle Rain",the impossibly beautiful "Fields of Gold", the innovative and almost unrecognizable take on "Fortress Around Your Heart" and best of all "Synchronicity 1".
Carol Bach Y Rita - Minha Casa/My House - (Self Released)
This Brazilian vocalist works with spare and precise arrangements, guitar and percussion, piano, bass and guitar, sometimes just voice with hand drums. She doesn't need much. Her voice is deep and full and resonantly ochre. On the standards like "You'd Be So Nice To Come To", "A Night In Tunisia" or especially "Nature Boy" (call and response verse and scat, voice and percussion) there are echoes of the great '50's & '60's singers, Sarah, Carmen, Ella, but the best cut for my money is her gorgeous minor key tune "Pra Quem Quiser Me Visitar".
Avachai Ornoy - Sneakin' In - (Jazz Family)
Israeli flautist Ornoy can be spritely in the Herbie Mann tradition "Abuyoyo", cover a minor key blues in the James Newton tradition "Altoism", but my favorite incarnation on this album is the deeply spooky and curiously intimate way he plays "Bipolar".
Steve Gadd - Way Back Home - (BFM)
Recorded live as a celebration of the all star drummer Steve Gadd's 70th birthday in his hometown of Rochester New York this CD with 2 DVDs (the concert on one, interviews on the other) is uneven. When it takes off as on "Way Back Home", "Africa" or "Cavaliero", Gadd's intense driving rhythms and Michael Landau's extraordinary jazz rock guitar playing takes you back to those thrilling days of early fusion. Trumpeter Walt Fowler writes some captivating charts here.