by: Hobart Taylor
A Bu - Butterflies Fly in Pairs - (Sennheiser Media)
Last summer when I was in Nanjing China I gave a talk at Nanjing University on jazz. It was a brief survey touching on musical, historical, and sociological influences on the genre and alluding to how jazz often has a symbiotic relationship with traditional musics from various cultures. What was striking to me was that I was told that jazz, particularly modern jazz (post the 1920's) had not penetrated popular consciousness in China in the ways that classical, rock and pop musics had.
The pianist Dai Liang, (nicknamed "A Bu"), 2015 winner of the Montreux jazz solo piano competition, is out to change that. His compositional style is modal, deeply rooted in the golden age of small ensemble jazz melodicism, Monk, Chick Corea, Weather Report, etc. and his playing is bluesy and full of tickling trills.
The tunes are presented in a trio format, Tom Kennedy, bass, Ryan J. Lee, drums. For a little lagniappe, saxophonist Antonio Hart joins the group for a couple of tunes. This is a most auspicious debut.
Jeremy Manasia - Metamorposis - (Rondette Records)
Pianist Manasia generously gives guitar meister Peter Bernstein lots of space, and the result in this six song EP is a vibrant dialog in the mainstream tradition which is ably supported by rhythm section Barak Mori, bass and Charles Ruggerio, drums. My faves, Dizzy Gillespie's "Wheatleigh Hall, and Manasia's tune "Withchery".
David Wise - Till They Lay Me Down - (Self-Released)
On tenor and baritone saxes, Wise is a pleasantly soulful cat, who in the Turrentine tradition stays deep in the pocket. On baritone he is seductive and mellifluous in the old ways (Pepper Adams, Sonny Stitt). Backed by the guitarist Bruce Forman Alex Frank, bass and drummer Jake Reed, this is a collection of blues and R&B tinged originals with some vocals added. Highlights: "Sylvia", "Kol Nidre" (solo and profound), "What more Could one Man Want", and "Till They Lay Me Down".
Joel Miller/Sienna Dahlen - Dream Cassette - (Origin)
Dreamy is right. Bouncy sunny melodies predominate supported by airy harmonies. Vocals backed by gorgeous ensemble playing. There are echoes of the catchiness of a Sting tune, the exuberance of Mingus, the gentle loving irony of fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell.
John Daversa - Kaleidoscope Eyes:Music of the Beatles - (BFM Jazz)
Stellar and ubercreative new big band arrangements of Beatles tunes reminiscent of Don Ellis with a touch of Zappa. Check out the brilliant arrangement of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", the majestic "Michelle", and the arrangement and vocal on "Do You Want to Know a Secret", which I prefer to the original.