All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Multiple Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Jazz Legacy Productions: Sprucing up the Old School

J Hunter By

Sign in to view read count
At a time when most entrepreneurs blanche at even a mention of the economy, bassist John Lee has damned the torpedoes and gone full speed ahead with his new label, Jazz Legacy Productions. Structured as an artists-for-artists'-sake venture, JLP gives established, non-"flavor of the month" players a place to be heard again. What's more, for every three JLP records by veterans, the label will give one rookie a chance to make a mark on the genre. JLP's first releases have hit the streets, and from the sound of things, the label's off to a promising start.

Cyrus Chestnut
Jazz Legacy Productions

A clue to how good Spirit is can be found on pianist Cyrus Chestnut's generally-misunderstood tribute disc Cyrus Plays Elvis (Koch, 2007). Closing the date with the traditional hymn "How Great Thou Art," Chestnut eschews Presley's trademark dramatics in favor of a more intimate, personal approach. Church music is definitely personal for Chestnut—his father was a church organist, his mother a choir director—and that connection runs through this revelatory mixture of the sacred and the secular, all of it communicated through Chestnut's brilliant solo piano.

Despite Chestnut's obvious affection for the material, he doesn't let that affection hinder his renowned sense of interpretation...but he doesn't go overboard, either. Chestnut brings the blues out of "I Surrender All" and puts the stride into "Wade in the Water," and he takes "Old Time Religion" out for a lovely waltz. But primarily, Chestnut uses traditionals like "Oh How I Love Jesus" and "All Creatures of Our God and King" like a preacher uses a Bible passage in a sermon: it's a touchstone, a jumping-off point that lets Chestnut expand on his feelings about the piece and its message.

While the gospel classics are all triumphant, the secular music's success is about 50/50. Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday," Chris Potter's "All by All," and Horace Silver's "Peace" fit Chestnut's concept perfectly, but Bill Withers' "Lean on Me" and Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" seem like square pegs stuffed in round holes. While the latter tunes can be interpreted to have sacred ties, Spirit proves there's nothing like the real thing.

Visit Cyrus Chestnut on the web.

Heath Brothers
Jazz Legacy Productions

When saxman Jimmy Heath formed the Heath Brothers Quartet in 1976 with bassist Percy Heath and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath ("Tootie"), this royal family of jazz already had musical history that stretched back over three decades. Trad jazz was unfashionable in '76, but that didn't stop the group from playing trad over the next three decades. Endurance is their first recording since Percy passed away in 2005. In the words of Keith Jackson: "And the legend continues."

Jimmy's tenor is butter-smooth throughout this set, with most of the material written by himself. His interplay with pianist Jeb Patton is outstanding on "Changes," Patton's own "Dusk in the City" is right in line with the Quartet's musical mission statement, and Jimmy jumps on soprano sax while Patton bounds about like a spring lamb on "Two Tees." Bassist David Wong draws the unenviable duty of stepping into Percy's slot, but Wong performs like a champ on his lead lines for "You and Me," and his bowing on "From a Lonely Bass" is top-notch. Albert pretty much stays in the background, but that's consistent with the role he played in the Modern Jazz Quartet: maintain the foundation, and let the front line do its thing.

The saying goes, "It's not the years—it's the miles." But there's also something to be said for how much is left in the tank. The Heath brothers' gas gauge is nowhere near "E," and they've got many miles to go.

Visit Heath Brothers on the web.

Steve Davis
Jazz Legacy Productions

If there's anyone who's tailor-made for a label dedicated to the legacy of jazz, trombonist Steve Davis is the man. JazzTimes did a write-up on One For All, the unapologetically trad sextet that features Davis, tenor man Eric Alexander, pianist David Hazeltine, and drummer Jim Rotondi. Drummer Joe Farnsworth keeps time for OFA, and Davis brought him along for Eloquence, a standards-heavy date that Davis' band mates must surely approve of.

And why not? Manning the piano chair is none other than Hank Jones, who will only appear on a fdisc if somebody samples him. The 91-years-young Jones is simply luminous on "How Deep is The Ocean," and he couldn't be brighter on Rodgers & Hart's "Have You Met Miss Jones" if he tried. Davis is one of the trombone section's best improvisers, which he amply demonstrates on the swinging opener "Yardbird Suite," and his partnership with Jones shows a wonderful give-and-take that puts both players in the best light.

That said, Eloquence only reaches its full potential when Davis has more foils to joust with. Trumpeter Roy Hargrove and vibes master Steve Nelson join the front line for Jones' "Minor Contention," pump up the date a little more on Davis' "T.H.E. Blues," and add serious juice to a wild "It Could Happen to You." Nelson stays for two more tracks, including an exquisite take on John Lewis' "Django," but Hargrove is definitely missed. Overall, Eloquence is a fine effort, but it's also like a soufflé: it needs the right conditions to really rise.

Visit Steve Davis on the web.

Sharel Cassity
Jazz Legacy Productions

A few years before she got her Masters degree from Juilliard, multi-instrumentalist Sharel Cassity was a college student scrabbling for places to play jazz in her native Oklahoma. But while it's a safe bet that Jimmy Heath owns saxophones older than she is, Cassity has the chops, the sound, and the material to stand proudly next to her label mates.

The opening track is titled "Say What?," apparently named for the reaction Cassity's ear-grabbing opening salvo should garner, and not just because she plays fearless, unerring soprano sax. Like all her originals, "Say What?" feels like it's been around for years, and yet it's got the brightness and energy of a newborn colt. Cassity does most of her work on alto sax, building solos with riveting designs. This cracking, substantive jazz gets great support from drummer E.J. Strickland and bassist Dwayne Burno. And Cassity incorporates hot professionals from the generation in front of her: reedman Don Braden switches to alto flute for "Still," trombonist Michael Dease (who penned the title track) is a perfect partner for Cassity's alto, and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt makes "Love's Lament" a little more forlorn.

Maintaining a legacy (of jazz, or anything else) doesn't stop at repeating the deeds of the past. It also requires finding people to learn from—and then build on—that past, so that the future is even better. While Chestnut, Davis, and the Heath Brothers are prime examples of jazz' past, Sharel Cassity has the potential to be one of the leaders of this genre's next generation. If John Lee can find more where she came from, the future's going to be pretty cool.

Visit Sharel Cassity on the web.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Oh How I Love Jesus; Lift Every Voice and Sing; Blessed Assurance; Wade in the Water; Lean On Me; I Surrender All; Gospel Improv #1; Old Time Religion; Bridge Over Troubled Water; Come Sunday; All by All; All Creatures of Our God and King; Peace; The Lord's Prayer.

Personnel: Cyrus Chestnut: piano.


Tracks: Changes; Wall to Wall; You or Me; Ballas from Leaderhsip Suite; Dusk in the City; Two Tees; Autumn in New York; From a Lonely Bass; The Rio Dawn.

Personnel: Jimmy Heath: tenor sax, soprano sax (5, 8); Jeb Patton: piano; David Wong: bass; Albert "Tootie" Heath: drums; Claudio Roditi: shaker (9)


Tracks: Yardbird Suite; How Deep is The Ocean; Minor Contention; T.H.E. Blues; It Could happen to You; My Ship; Have You Met Miss Jones; Django; Road Song; Peedlum; Lament.

Personnel: Steve Davis: trombone; Hank Jones: piano; Nat Reeves: bass; Joe Farnsworth: drums; Roy Hargrove: trumpet, flugelhorn (3, 4, 5); Steve Nelson: vibes (3, 4, 5, 7, 8); John Lee: electric bass (9, 10, 11)


Tracks: Say What; Still; Relentless; Call to Order; Love's Lament; Song of Those Who Seek; No Turning back; On the Nile.

Personnel: Sharel Cassity: alto & soprano sax, flute; Orrin Evans: piano; Dwayne Burno: bass; E.J. Strickland: drums; Michael Dease: trombone (2, 3, 5, 6, 8); Jeremy Pelt: trumpet (4, 6, 7); Thomas Barber: flugelhorn (2, 6, 8); Andres Boyarsky: tenor sax (3, 6, 8); Don Braden: alto flute (2)


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Piano Trios: 3x3 Multiple Reviews
Piano Trios: 3x3
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Iluso Records: DIY from two dreamers Multiple Reviews
Iluso Records: DIY from two dreamers
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 17, 2018
Read Iglooghost Takes Brave Step Forward With Electronic EPs Multiple Reviews
Iglooghost Takes Brave Step Forward With Electronic EPs
by John Bricker
Published: September 17, 2018
Read Nouveau Fusion: Superette And Visitors Multiple Reviews
Nouveau Fusion: Superette And Visitors
by Doug Collette
Published: September 8, 2018
Read Two on Umlaut Records with bassist Sébastien Beliah Multiple Reviews
Two on Umlaut Records with bassist Sébastien Beliah
by John Eyles
Published: August 28, 2018
Read Forward Into The Past Multiple Reviews
Forward Into The Past
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 19, 2018
Read "Kasper Staub: Slow Music for Fast Times" Multiple Reviews Kasper Staub: Slow Music for Fast Times
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 13, 2018
Read "Iain Matthews: Redefining Eclectic" Multiple Reviews Iain Matthews: Redefining Eclectic
by Doug Collette
Published: March 24, 2018
Read "Brazilian Brilliance: Kassin and Domenico Lancellotti" Multiple Reviews Brazilian Brilliance: Kassin and Domenico Lancellotti
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: May 12, 2018
Read "The Pianist as Director: Ryuichi Sakamoto and August Rosenbaum" Multiple Reviews The Pianist as Director: Ryuichi Sakamoto and August...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 13, 2017
Read "Two Sides of Marc Copland: Quartet and Solo" Multiple Reviews Two Sides of Marc Copland: Quartet and Solo
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: February 25, 2018
Read "Joe Rosenberg's Ensembles" Multiple Reviews Joe Rosenberg's Ensembles
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 2, 2017