Yilian Cañizares and Omar Sosa Aguas
Pianist/composer Omar Sosa
has established himself as a pioneer at the edge of Cubano-Caribbean music. Sosa teams with violinist/vocalist Yilian Canizares
for a breezy and sensual stroll through 11 original, for lack of a better term, world music
compositions that are as entertaining as they are accomplished. I think the way to out the music of Sosa into perspective is to think of it as being part of that great fertile and continually evolving loam of Cubano-Caribbean music that began with the humid rhythms and melodies of the original Buena Vista Social Club, passing through Chano Pozo
, Mongo Santamaria
, Bebo Valdes
, Chucho Valdes
, Chico O'Farrill
, Arturo O'Farrill
, Dafnis Prieto
, Bobby Sanabria
, and beyond. I hear Sosa and Cañizares as scintillating molecules creatively colliding and then spitting from the razor's edge of creativity. This is music that is approaching the need for no descriptors, highly intuitive and fully digested.
Jocelyn Michelle Live at Viva Cantina
Chicken Shack Records
Hammond B3 specialist and vocalist Jocelyn Michelle
as released a rollicking organ-jazz recital on Tony Monaco's Chicken Coup records in Live at Viva Cantina
. The performances here are slated as "serious music that doesn't take itself too seriously." That is always a plus because that is an attitude made for creating breezy, swinging music. Couple this approach with the standard jazz organ trio and only good things can happen. Organist/vocalist Jocelyn Michelle has lived on the big island of Hawaii for the past several years, but Live at Viva Cantina
finds her returning home to Los Angeles to heat up a live set of ten compositions supported by husband/guitarist John Rack
, saxophonist Bill Noble and trumpeter Andrea Lindborg as part of her Hawaii contingency and saxophonist Steve Ehrmann
, trumpeter Tony Farrell, drummer Sammy K
and percussionist Visit stanfordjazz.org for additional personnel updates
from her LA group. The band opens with a slow-burn "Grooveyard" featuring all of the principals. She spins her way through The Rascal's "Groovin,'" a humidly sexy "Last Tango in Paris," before finishing the tryptic with a circa 1970 performance of the Bacharach David "The Look of Love." Included are several originals by Michelle, including an exuberantly percolating "A Sister's Love." This....and not a speck of grease anywhere.
Norah Jones Live at Ronnie Scott's
Singer/pianist/composer Norah Jones
emerged as a most unlikely artist on Blue Note Records in 2002 with the release of Come Away with Me
. I do not know if I would consider her a jazz artist. She has proven to be an original voice in country music (consider The Little Willies
(Milking Bull Records, 2006)) as much as jazz. The DVD Norah Jones Live at Ronnie Scott's
finds the singer in the company of bassist Christopher Thomas
and drummer Brian Blade
leading a standard jazz piano trio through 17 selections from her still rather young career. In this intimate format, Jones provides spare, but intense, performances of "Sleeping Wild" and "I've Got to See You Again." The rhythm section's contributions are sensitive and insightful, providing Jones the slow-burn accompaniment that makes this music work so well and for so long.
Ran BlakeChristine Correa Streaming
Red Piano Records
Pianist Ran Blake
gets around. Besides his progressive recordings as a solo artist and combo leader, Blake finds ample time to provide support for jazz vocalists...several of them. Blake began this career trend recording with vocalist Jeanne Lee on The Newest Sound Around
(RCA Victor, 1961). Now, closing in on 60 years later, Blake teams with East Indian vocalist Christine Correa for Streaming
, the pairs' sixth recording together following Round About
(Self Produced, 1996); Out of the Shadows
(Red Piano, 2010); Tribute to Abbey Lincoln, Volume One
(Red Piano, 2012); Down Here Below
(Red Piano, 2013); The Road Keeps Winding: Tribute to Abbey Lincoln, Volume Two
(Red Piano, 2015). Like these, Streaming
is impressionistic, deeply so as is evidenced on Ornette Coleman
's "Lonely Woman" and George Russell
's Stratusphunk I, II, and III. A solid and ethereal performance by both parties sounding like the collision of two ancient but empathic traditions.
Joani Taylor In a Sentimental Mood
Sometimes one just wants to hear jazz
. Standards sung like Standards; meat and potatoes music that sticks to one's psyche with hooks set by an irresistible swing. Such is the case with Joani Taylor's "In a Sentimental Mood." Taylor, the recent survivor of a life-changing event, came to perform and saxophonist PJ Perry 2
was ready to oblige her. Together the two submit an intimate collection of 12 standards delivered by a drummerless piano trio. Of special presence on this recording is bassist Neal Swainson, whose meticulous timekeeping propels these songs, each of them, with an effortless, swinging momentum, one perfect for the initiation, maintenance and release of dramatic tension. The trio is filled out with pianist Miles Black
who provides all of the color necessary to elevate these small forces into something sounding greater than the sum of its parts. "Embraceable You" and "Love Walked In" swing with effervescence and kinetic inertia. Taylor's sturdy alto voice handles all lyrics with a sensitive and informed authority that is bound to remind the listener why the Standards are standards and are so important to who we are.
Lorraine Feather Math Camp
Award Lorraine Feather a Grammy already! Math Camp
contains the most cleverly composed original songs since, well, Feather's last recording, Flirting with Disaster
(Jazzed Media, 2015). Feather's theme is mathematics, quantum mechanics, and subatomic particle physics, as evidenced by song titles like "Hadron, Meson, Baryon," "I'll See You Yesterday," and "Some Kind of Einstein." As a lyricist, Feather favors internal rhymes that resonate with sharp edges and razor wit, as from the opening "I Don't Mean to Make a Big Deal of It:"
"You're so direct when we connect,
Often, I'm Oblique
You broach a topic, then you stop,
Afraid that I will freak.
Or, staccato alliteration, as on "In a Hot Minute:"
Your mind is on the Amtrak, no going back.
Your baggage is jammed in the overhead rack,
You hear a sound. Could be a death knell,
O the cheery clang of the conductor's bell.
Feather writes with Eddie Arkin. Support comes from Fred Hersch
, Russell Ferrante
, Shelly Berg
, and Terri Lynne Carrington
. This is perfect music.
Marsha Bartenetti ...feels like Love
The knowledge that vocalist/voice specialist Marsha Bartenetti began her career as a flower child singer in San Francisco in the late 1960s proves that even we Baby Boomers did manage to grow up and do a couple of adult things. On her third recording, ...Feels Like Love
Bartenetti continues her journey through the Great American Song Book she started with It's Time
(Self Produced, 2009) and continued in the holiday spirit with Christmas in Spirit
(Self Produced, 2015). This is grownup music made by grownups for grownups. Using top-notch musicians, Bartenetti sonically perfects well-polished chestnuts like "You Go to My Head" and "Little Girl Blue" while adding Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and Elton John's "Sorry Seems to the Hardest Word" to the new vernacular of standards.
the key critical point in this and Bartenetti's other recordings is refined arrangements coupled with fine musicians and superb sonics. The engineering alone endorses this recording, pristine and well-rendered. "Hallelujah" employs the Chimes of Freedom Singers in an all-out gospel fest that the listener never sees coming. "Heaven Down Here" sports the most layered sound in both instruments and background vocals. Plush and well considered, this is Bartenetti at her most carefully considered. On the other end, her recording "Ten Cents a Dance" is reduced to the standard piano trio demonstrating that she can produce the musical goods even with small forces. Again, this is grown-up music for grownups who want to enjoy the American Songbook without technical fireworks or something to prove. Bartenetti is beyond that.
Judi Silvano & The Zephyr Band Lesson Learned
On her standards collection Indigo Moods
(Jazzed Media, 2015), Judi Silvano
was celebrating 20 years of recording. On Lessons Learned
, the vocalist looks inward, producing 10 grown-up original compositions that remind me lyrically of Louise Van Aarsen
(Self Produced, 2012). The music to which Silvano applies words is forward-thinking and progressive, stylistically well beyond even post-bop. Producer/Husband Joe Lovano
allowed a broad latitude in approach, perhaps best illustrated on the disc's final selection, "The Music's in My Body" sporting some interesting guitar interplay between Kenny Wessel
and Adam Kolker
propelled by the assertive drumming of Bob Meyer
and percussionist Todd Isler
. This is a collection of original compositions on the other end of the spectrum from Lorraine Feather's Math Camp
Lawrence Lebo Old School Girl
On The Air Records
Lawrence "Don't Call Me Larry" Lebo is a breath of fresh air among American Roots musicians. She has recorded sporadically since 2004, releasing three previous recordings, the last, Don't Call Her Larry, Volume 3: American Roots
(On the Air Records) in 2010. Presently, Lebo updates her resume with Old School Girl
, a collection of eight songs rendered well beyond the simple roadhouse variety. The title piece is a clever piece of strolling blues given a bit of a T-Bone Walker treatment. Featured throughout, with Lebo, is guitarist Tony Mandracchia who is as capable with Walker's clean, single-note sound, as heard on "You've Got a Secret," as he is with the brushfire approach on "Bad to the Core." Lebo reprises "Happy Anniversary, Baby" with some superb Hammond B3 support by Larry David. Of note is the constant essential presence of bassist Denny Croy (Lebo's husband) who keeps everything properly tamped down in the rhythm areas. Lebo's mezzo voice is as much about '60s pop as it is '50s rhythm and blues, fully setting the singer apart from the legion of blues singers recording. Great fun by any measure.
Cécile McLorin Salvant The Window
Mack Avenue Records
The sheer invention of Cécile McLorin Salvant's previous recording, Dreams and Daggers
(Mack Avenue, 2017), makes the expectation for The Window
that much more intense. We are enjoying some groundbreaking jazz presently with Salvant's recent releases coupled with the recent state-of-the-genre Flying
(Johnygirl, 2018) by Johnaye Kendrick. Salvant and Kendrick go a long way to extending Cassandra Wilson
's early 1990s period of jazz vocals evolution properly into the 21st Century. Salvant favors instrumental support living beyond the box of contemporary jazz accompaniment, as well as a repertoire effortlessly stretched to include Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim, Stevie Wonder, gems of French cabaret, and Ur -Rhythm and Blues. Salvant's voice and vocal style are equally filled with history. "The Gentleman is a Dope" and "Trouble is a Man" are highlights as is a live recording of West Side Story
's "Somewhere." The future here is incandescent.