by: Hobert Taylor
Robert Glasper - Covered - (Blue Note)
Pianist Glasper is a link between young (black and otherwise) musicians.. and trad jazz... deeply rooted in the blues jazz. His improvisations skitter between deeply melodic explorations and pastiches and staccato interjections. His playing is fluid and furiously fast. His changes are deeply surprising and satisfying. Like Kamasi Washington, Vijay Iyer, etc. he is the future of jazz...post generic. This record seems to say "Jazz is not a style, it is an attitude". Recorded live in the studio with a small audience. No OPI.
Jerry Granelli - What I Hear Now - (Addo)
Drummer Granelli's compositions feature a horn choir, three saxes and trombone and a bowed three string basetto. If you liked "Conference of the Birds" (Dave Holland, Sam Rivers, Anthony Braxton, and Barry Altschul) you'll dig this. Serial improvisations based on close listening... deep interplaying. Yet another great Canadian record.... thank them for government support for the arts.
Steve Johns - Family - (Strikezone Records)
Drummer Johns along with wife saxophonist Debbie Keefe Johns and bassist son Daryl Johns are a swinging family. They play with the casual grace of the well rehearsed and genetically connected. Guitarist Dave Stryker supplies tasty fills.. This is mainly straight ahead and soul jazz. My favorite cut is "Shadowboxing".
Terence Blanchard - Breathless - (Blue Note)
Trumpeter Blachard begins this CD with a raucous retake on "Compared to What"...funky like the noriginal but slightly hip hop like those 90's re-mixes of Blue Note Classics. It continues in this '90s vein with Fender Rhodes and synth backings for sonic dreamscapes. I love "See Me As I Am" which is smoooth but not dumb. Where vocal pop up it gets a little corny, but this is a fine outing.
Gillian Margot - Black Butterfly - (Hipnotic Records)
In the Abby Lincoln tradition, smart vocal jazz with an all star backing band (keep an eye out for soprano saxophonist Roxy Coss). Her song selection is impeccable. She can embrace a Curtis Mayfield tune with Aretha like authority or take on a Simply Red tune or Joni Mitchell's "Conversation" a capella. A glorious voice.
Priscilla Badhwar - Mademoiselle - (Self released)
French jazz beautifully sung.
ZOFO ZOFO - Plays Terry Riley - (Sound Limnus)
Piano music for four hands. Riley was the precursor. His "In C" was influential in the development of the music of composers like John Adams, Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, and Max Richter. On this record the melodies are more elaborate and connected to both folk and classical traditions. There are tangos, lullabies and rags. This is a little Nancarrow, a little Debussy. The counterpoint is stimulating, and the performances are dynamic and engaging.
LQ Bucket - Martyr's Limb - (Self-Released)
Minimalism can be less and less or more and more. With Bucket three note picking patterns with occasional synth swells rest as canvass, blank and smooth for the palette of grays and browns that is his poetry and the flat brush strokes, the resonant authoritative drone, that is his singing.
".the sky was drunk"..."his flesh was raw - a snake with it's tail in it's jaw..." " before the world was smoke- he kissed her good bye" (Shake The Dust). Like an accident in peripheral vision, this collection of 5 songs can either not register in your consciousness or it could astonish you and alter your perception of what is happening around you.
Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard - Django and Jimmie - (Sony Legacy)
Cleanly produced and tastefully and cleanly played as to be expected.
The novelty songs are just clever enough for rousing sing alongs at the inevitable upcoming tour "It's All Going To Pot", "Driving The Herd" (think "On The Road Again"), but what floats my boat are the stone cold country classics new and old, "Swinging Doors", "Live This Long", and the lost love twanger "Somewhere Between". Love that weepy pedal steel and Willie's wry guitar commentary. OPI # 4 "Missing Old Johnny Cash".
Kail Baxley - A Light That Never Dies - (Forty Below Records)
This record starts out with Baxley's rich baritone wailing plaintively backed by bass singers going "wo.. wo...wo ...wo", rolling train rhythms, harmonica vibrato, and neo-gospel lyrics... you know deep Memphis stuff. This is soulful, contemporary and traditional, horn sections and electronica both. The themes are Southern, delicious sin and sweeter redemption. No OPI.
Hunters - We All Go Up The Mountain Alone Together - (Self Released)
Rosa Del Duca is a singer/songwriter and calls her band "Hunters." so this is not the Canadian band or the NYC punk band. This CD is uneven, but shows promise. The songs and arrangements are ambitious but pretty rough in execution. The violin parts are right on and point to a sound that often is captivating. The songs are heartfelt and emotionally wise. Check out "Ghost Town Blues" "Snake Charmer" "Wild Lonely" and "Orion"