August 2005

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McCoy Tyner
Counterpoints: Live in Tokyo
Milestone
2004

Recorded in Japan in 1978 at the Live Under the Sky Festival, this title could quite conceivably go directly into the must-hear category of the great pianist's discography just by dint of his collaborators: bassist Ron Carter and the late Tony Williams on drums. But this previously unreleased set includes two solo piano pieces by Tyner in addition to some startlingly fluid interplay by the trio.

Wayne Shorter Quartet
Beyond the Sound Barrier
Verve
2005

The enigmatic saxophonist/composer's return to regular performing and touring is one of jazz's most welcome events in the past few years. This CD, recorded at various concerts over an eighteen-month period, features a catholic selection of songs, including classical pieces and film scores, but more importantly, showcases an increasingly tight bond between Shorter and the band he's worked with since his return to activity (pianist Danilo Perez, drummer Brian Blade, and bassist John Patitucci).

John Scofield
That's What I Say: John Scofield Plays the Music of Ray Charles
Verve
2005

Leave it to the eclectic guitarist to take a project that could potentially be the definition of hackneyed and turn it into a joyous event for all involved and the listener(s) too. This tribute to the late Ray Charles contains tunes even the average music fan will recognize (even if not in relation to Ray) but the presence of a tight core band, including keyboardist Larry Goldings, bassist Willie Weeks, drummer/co-producer Steve Jordan and some exciting/excited guests, like guitarist/vocalist Warren Haynes and pianist/vocalist Dr. John, makes everything that is old new again.

Johnny Griffin
Bush Dance
Galaxy
2004

This CD combines two albums released on Fantasy's custom Galaxy label recorded by the great saxophonist upon return from his hiatus in Europe some twenty years ago. Griffin just as effectively sets the table for his sidemen as he sets the pace for them, percussion popping in the background as electric guitar flows smoothly over and around piano and the rhythm section. Griffin's own playing is, not surprisingly, distinguished by vigor as well as virtuosity.

Terence Blanchard
Flow
Blue Note
2005

If the production credit for Herbie Hancock isn't pedigree enough for this album or its author, give it a listen and see how it lives up to its title. Dense in both atmosphere and detail of arrangement, there is an abundance of passion in the playing as well which, combined with the flair invested in the material(most of it written by various members of the band as well as the leader), may elevate the CD to 'Best Of' lists as 2005 closes.

Billy Martin and Socket
January 14 and 15 2005
Amulet
2005

The Medeski, Martin and Wood drummer's side project, recorded live at Tonic in New York City, is a spontaneous mix of jagged dissonance (some from the human voice) and exotic beats. It is not for the faint of heart (or mind for that matter) but if you relish the impromptu interaction of brave musicians, this CD will find a place in your play pile.


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