by: Hobart Taylor
Jane Ira Bloom - Early Americans - (Outline)
Here on soprano, saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom has explored a multiplicity of styles in her forty some year career. Hard bop, rock inflected, avant garde, and straight ahead jazz, it doesn't seem to matter what seasoning she adds to her stew, she always cooks. Her phrasing and tone seem to me to be always spot on. On this recording in a trio format, she is both edgy and fragmented, or resonant and deeply melodic, in turns. Five stars.
Monika Herzig - The Whole World in her Hands - (Whaling City Sound)
German born pianist/composer/arranger Herzig has gathered an all star ensemble of jazz's leading women instrumentalists from multiple countries including Canada's formidable Jane Bunnett, Australian bassist Linda Oh, Israeli trombonist Reut Regev. From a beautifully orchestrated reworking of "The Whole world in His Hands" to "The Whole World in Her Hands" to a lush and thoughtful take on Lorde's "Royals" these artists rethink genre and provide innovative approaches to their music. Highlights include Bunnett's "Song for Argentina", Herzig's hip hop flavored "istop", "The Cat Who Stole the Moon", and "A Total Non-Impossibility".
Danny Green Trio - Altered Narratives - (OA2)
From down the I- 5 comes San Diego pianist Green. Straight ahead mastery of the trio format with classic sounding originals is augmented by tracks with a string quartet. The up-tempo tunes like "The Merge" and "6 A.M." have a mid '60's bounce and slide quality, (think early Zawinul, Ramsey Lewis etc), the ballads with a string quartet have a Chopin like melodicism. Green will be appearing June 30th at the Blue Whale in L.A.'s Little Tokyo.
Andrew McAnsh - Illustrations - (Self-Released)
Canadian trumpeter McAnsh would feel right at home on ECM, the European label that specializes in neo-classical jazz and tonal and sonic purity. The tunes are often modal flights meandering between the meditative and lightning flashes of passion. At times I hear echos of the Eric Dolphy/Booker Little collaborations and sometimes there are Zappa/Don Ellis touches (check out guitarist Geoff Young). The is real deal.
Scott Neumann/Tom Christensen - Spin Cycle - (Soundfooting Records)
Drummer Neumann and sax dude Christensen joined by the tasty licks of guitarist Pete McCann and bassist Phil Palombi cruise along comfortably in swinging grooves that have a deep undercurrent of funk. The ballads are appropriately minor key spooky and skew. I likes this a lot.
Frank Catalano/Jimmy Chamberlin/David Sanborn - Bye Bye Blackbird -(Rope-a-Dope Records)
Saxophonist Catalano styles are knifelike, sometimes butter, sometimes steak. He is the has a deep and funky sound that that says Southside Chicago lounge or serrated edges that scream Albert Ayler. Like Von Freeman, an acknowledged mentor, he can do it all. Here he is joined by frequent partner in crime Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, jazz pop icon Sanborn, Nir Felder, and Demos Petropoulos in an EP of classics and classic inspired tunes. It's all wonderful.
Kenny Garrett - Do Your Dance - (Mack Avenue Records)
OK Alto player Garrett is a super star who apprenticed in the bands of Mercer Ellington and Mel Lewis, matured in Miles Davis's late ensembles, and ever since sat perched high atop the jazz mountain. His own tunes are both fun and smart, full of the twists and turns that satisfy an attentive listener. Should you play this? A no brainer.
Snarky Puppy - Culcha Vulcha - (Ground Up Records)
Like the best of KCRW, this is a hybrid of world pop musics and attitudinal jazz. Sometimes it's a little smooth, almost 70's fusion (right down to the synths), but Check out "The Simple Life" and "Beep Box".