by: Hobert Taylor
Stockton Helbing - Patina - (Armored Records)
Dallas based drummer Helbing releases a contemporary re-working of blues based jazz compositions. They vary stylistically between Kansas city jump blues and mellow tones (Jay McShann, Joe Turner), and the later elaborations on that style like Mingus'. All the compositions are originals and all are melodically full and beautifully played.
Various Artists - Supreme Sonacy vol. 1 - (Revive/Blue Note)
Blue Note under the direction of Don Was is expanding its purview to include hip-hip based jazz working with the likes of Raydar Ellis, Igmar Thomas, Marc Cary, and Brandee Younger. This CD is almost a radio show in itself. While the result is uneven stand out cuts include "Trane Thang", "Water Games (Ravel-Re-imagined)", "808S In France", "1 for My DJ", and "Drop Confetti Then We Jetti".
Bret Higgins - Atlas Revolt - (Tzadik)
Twangy minor key film noir jazz with Latin and Middle Eastern touches... late night radio in Tirana Albania. Bass player/composer Higgins produced, with executive production from John Zorn.
Ben Williams - Coming of Age - (Concord)
Bassist Williams is a part of the next generation of jazz masters. Like Robert Glasper, Williams mines black popular music for inspiration. For my money he sticks too close to slick, sometimes mellowing out into smooth jazz, but the edgier stuff kills. Marcus Strickland on sax propels every tune he plays on and Williams' bass work is passionate and precise. Tunes that work for me include "Half Stepping", "Toy Soldiers" (like a Ron Carter tune), "The Color of My Dreams" and the title cut, "Coming of Age". There is a cover of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for those so inclined.