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Album Review

Julius Rodriguez: Evergreen

Read "Evergreen" reviewed by Chris May

There are two faces of Julius Rodriguez and they are opposing rather than complementary. One face is the pop-jazz one presented by multi-instumentalist Rodriquez on his own albums. The other is the adventurous, strikingly singular modern-jazz face presented by pianist Rodriguez on other people's albums. It is possible to be wildly enthusiastic about the jazz face and lukewarm about the pop-jazz one, and, presumably, vice versa. But almost certainly not both. Rodriquez has released two albums under ...

Album Review

Trachant PAP: Trachant PAP

Read "Trachant PAP" reviewed by Nicholas F. Mondello

Listener Immersion is a voluntary aural process where, to obtain the maximum aesthetic effect of the intersection and interrelation of melody, textures, and rhythm, one simply and patiently offers oneself in toto to those elements. The result can be fulfilling and most pleasurable--or not. With Trachant (which translates as “edge" or “sharp"), delivered by three of Europe's most outstanding and insightful musicians (guitarist Pablo Montagne, bassist Andrea Gallo, and drummer, Pierluigi Villani; “PAP"), the listener's experience can be sublime.

Album Review

Samara Joy: A Joyful Holiday

Read "A Joyful Holiday" reviewed by Dave Linn

It's been a whirlwind 15 months for Samara Joy. After announcing she signed with Verve, her debut for the label, Linger Awhile (2022) was released to great acclaim. She was then nominated (and won) two Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Jazz Vocal. The success of that record was followed up with Linger Awhile Deluxe Edition (Verve, 2023) containing another album's worth of material. Joy has also put out a single, “Tight," where she pays tribute to Betty Carter ...

Album Review

Samara Joy: Linger Awhile [Deluxe Edition]

Read "Linger Awhile [Deluxe Edition]" reviewed by Dave Linn

Samara Joy's meteoric rise since graduating from High School has been well documented. As a college junior, she filmed herself singing Ella Fitzgerald's “Take Love Easy" accompanied by one of her professors, pianist Pete Malinverni. The video went viral, garnering over one million views. She then put up a GoFundMe page, quickly reaching the $8,000 goal to record her debut album Samara Joy (Whirlwind, 2021). A year later, Verve Records announced her signing and the release of her label debut ...

Album Review

Nina Simone: You've Got To Learn

Read "You've Got To Learn" reviewed by Scott Gudell

Socially conscious black troubadours such as William Warfield, Harry Belafonte, Odetta and many others were challenging the U.S. government's questionable policies on numerous things including war, civil rights, equality and more, by the mid-20th century. R&B soul master Marvin Gaye would follow in the early 1970s and pointedly ask “What's Going On" while the Temptations were declaring that both the question and the answer were that we were all living on a “Ball of Confusion." There was another ...

Album Review

Nina Simone: You've Got To Learn

Read "You've Got To Learn" reviewed by Chris May

The release of this magnificent album, recorded live at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1966, is headline news for fans of Nina Simone. None of the material, all of it high grade, has been made available before. Newport promoter George Wein donated the tapes of Simone's performance to the US Library of Congress, where they lay forgotten until, following Wein's passing in 2021, Simone historian Nadine Cohodas unearthed them. Simone is in peak form, accompanied by guitarist Rudy Stevenson, bassist ...

Album Review

Julius Rodriguez: Let Sound Tell All

Read "Let Sound Tell All" reviewed by Chris May

At 23 years, New York-based keyboards player and drummer Julius Rodriguez is close to being a founder member of Gen Z and so was an adolescent when the iPad was giving way to streaming and a new, randomised perspective on jazz and music in general was being shaped. The Juillard School dropout--Rodriguez quit in 2018 to go on tour with rapper A$AP Rocky--stirs gospel, jazz, classical, R&B, hip-hop, electronica and advanced post-production techniques into the mix. It may not represent ...

Album Review

Melody Gardot: Sunset in the Blue - The Deluxe Version

Read "Sunset in the Blue - The  Deluxe Version" reviewed by William H. Snyder

Henri Matisse, the master of the use of color, said, “Art should be something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue." Melody Gardot's Sunset in the Blue: The Deluxe Version shows its mastery, in both the color of its cover design and the execution of its musicianship. Back in the day, Matisse got in trouble with some art critics for his simile. Some listeners might have a similar reaction to Melody's music, but not all. Gardot's ...

Album Review

Melody Gardot: Sunset in the Blue

Read "Sunset in the Blue" reviewed by Scott Gudell

Melody Gardot emerged from her own smoky shadows of the mid-2000s as if she were some femme fatale emanating from a film noir movie. The plot twist was that she was the good girl, but it was her body that had been damaged in an auto accident. An extensive recovery followed. Her long, lean cane only reinforced her long, lean looks. The shades added just a touch of mystery. If there was anything positive, it was that she confronted the ...

Album Review

Roy Hargrove: Nothing Serious

Read "Nothing Serious" reviewed by Russ Musto

Despite the nonchalance of its title, Nothing Serious may be Roy Hargrove's best disc yet. The first working band outing by the genre-leaping trumpeter since 1993's Of Kindred Souls features a cohesive quintet with alto saxophonist Justin Robinson, pianist Ronnie Mathews, bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Willie Jones III, augmented on three selections by special guest trombonist Slide Hampton.The opening title track, composed by Venezuelan guitarist Leo Quintero, is a melodious Latin jazz tour de force with powerful ...

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