by: Hobart Taylor
Andrew Downing - Otterville - (Self Released)
Cellist Downing has been featured on several Canadian jazz, classical, folk and world releases, and like many of his contemporaries is genre flexible in his own compositions. This CD is primarily down tempo and orchestral in timbre, and yet it swings and sways with the deep rhythms of antique jazz, located somewhere between New Orleans and Kansas City. It is gorgeous. Key components of this 2 CD set's sound include the alto saxophonist Tara Davidson often joined by trumpet and trombone in horn choruses, and the scudding cloud atmospherics provided by lap steel player Christine Bougie and vibraphonist Michael Davidson. Oh yeah, Downing has some idiosyncratic tunings on his cello that help create the amorphous vibe that predominates.
Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra (Arrangements by Carla Bley) -Time/Life (Songs for the Whales and Other Beings) - (Impulse)
When Charlie Haden walked this earth, soul and genius, and a loving and generous spirit plucked grace from thin air every time his fingers moved across a bass.
This is music he intended to record in the studio before his passing, and pianist, composer, arranger Carla Bley joined by her life partner the graciously profound bassist Steve Swallow, and a panoply of extraordinary musicians who are the current iteration of the LMO continue the expanding diffusion of the positive life forces represented in the music they choose to play and the ways they choose to play it. There are five pieces here two recorded before Haden's death, Miles Davis' "Blue in Green" recorded live in 2011, three of Bley's rich and densely packed effusions, and culminating the disc recorded live as well before Haden's passing, Charlie Haden's "Song for the Whales".
Alex Levine Quartet - Towards The Center - (Polyfold)
Guitarist Levine, saxophonist Marcus Elliot, double bassist Ben Rolston, and drummer Stephen Boegehold are a group mind. The elements are in perfect balance in their musical universe. The melodies such as they are are a series of carefully controlled explosions, often synapse clearing.
Moutin Factory Quintet - Deep - (Jazz Factory)
Paris based Drummer Louis Moutin, along with his brother bassist Francois, pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, guitarist Manu Codjia, and saxophonist Christophe Monniot echo the Wayne Shorter Jaco Pastorious John McLaughlin expansive melodicism of the '70's. Easy on the ears, this music still has substance and finesse.
Andrew Vogt - For Free - (Self Released)
Saxophonist Vogt's tunes have the subtle sheen of the smartest pop, like Steely Dan. The arrangements are crisp and compelling. This one can sneak up on you before you are aware, and dominate your moods.
Parker Abbott Trio - Elevation - (Self Released)
Teri Parker and Simeon Abbott play a wide variety of electronic and acoustic keyboards, backed by drummer Mark Segger. The various timbres march in sequence across bluesy tunes both majestic and snappy, ballads and meditative melodies.
Various Artists - Jazz Loves Disney - (Verve)
This is better than it might sound. Several of the next generation of jazz standard balladeers keep this project on a higher level. Jamie Cullum's take on "Everybody Wants to be a Cat", Stacy Kent's version of "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo" (sung in French), and "When you Wish Upon a Star" performed by Gregory Porter, stand out.