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Articles by Jack Bowers

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Marie Goudy 12tet: The Bitter Suite

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Toronto-based trumpeter / composer Marie Goudy, who could plausibly be described as a child prodigy musically, wasted little time after earning a master's degree in music performance from the University of Toronto in 2017, recording soon afterward The Bitter Suite as leader of a twelve-piece ensemble in which her trumpet, compositions and arrangements underscore the seductive voice of rising star Jocelyn Barth. The album's over-arching them is young love as exemplified by its arrival ("Son for Sunshine"), ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sam Dillon: Out in the Open

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One thing that must be said for Cory Weeds, the head man at Canada's Cellar Live Records: he knows talent when he sees and hears it. Tenor saxophonist Sam Dillon, who leads an excellent quartet on Out in the Open, his debut recording for Cellar Live, is a case in point. While Dillon is essentially unknown at present outside his New York City base, this laudable album should if nothing else help to widen his audience and enhance his visibility. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marshall Gilkes / WDR Big Band: Always Forward

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This is the second album on which Maryland-born trombonist Marshall Gilkes (pronounced “Jilks") has collaborated with Germany's superlative WDR Big Band, a world-class ensemble with whom he has also served as a member of the trombone section. This time around, Gilkes not only gets to solo but to conduct, compose (eight numbers including the three-part “Denali Suite") and arrange (all of the album's ten selections). If that calls to mind a tour de force, give yourself a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The DIVA Jazz Orchestra: 25th Anniversary Project

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To mark the DIVA Jazz Orchestra's twenty-fifth year as one of the world's leading jazz ensembles--male or female--drummer / music director Sherrie Maricle gave herself and eight members of the all-woman orchestra a homework assignment: to compose and arrange each of the ten numbers on the group's eleventh CD, the bright and exhilarating 25th Anniversary Project. Now that the task has been completed and the grades compiled, it should come as no surprise that everyone's work--not to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wesley Johnson & Friends: Jazzamenco

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The well-traveled and now New Mexico-based guitarist Wayne Wesley Johnson pulls out all the stops on the generally engaging double-CD set Jazzamenco, using (at various times) no less than seven guest guitarists, saxophone, Latin percussion, pan flute, charango and Chinese pipa to amplify the rhythm section of keyboards, bass and drums (which is present and accounted for on an indeterminate number of the session's thirty tracks, fifteen on each disc). As the saying goes, with friends like these . . ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stan Kenton and His Orchestra: Jazz Journey

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For those who thought that reissues of albums by the Stan Kenton Orchestra had faded away as the well ran dry, think again: from Sounds of Yesteryear comes a welcome and invigorating Jazz Journey, traversing half a dozen concerts by the superb Kenton Orchestra that consist for the most part of unissued material from the years 1953-60, more than half of it recorded by famed engineer Wally Heider. As author and Kenton scholar Michael Sparke observes in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Chris Monson: Seldom in the Well

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Canadian guitarist Chris Monson's debut album, Seldom in the Well, is seldom strident or uninteresting, thanks in large measure to Monson's fluent compositions and arrangements, an able rhythm section, and a talented front line consisting of trumpeter Kevin Turcotte and tenor saxophonist Kelly Jefferson. On the other hand, the studio session seldom catches fire, as its disposition is for the most part genteel and even-tempered. Among the more unforeseen surprises is that Monson seldom shines the spotlight ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble: From Maxville to Vanport

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From Maxville to Vanport is music with a purpose, saluting the courage and resilience of black Americans who helped build those cities in the '20s and '40s in the face of unrelenting prejudice and hostility and in so doing helped make the state of Oregon what it is today. The music is by Ezra Weiss, the lyrics by poet S. Renee Mitchell, the performance by the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble featuring vocalist Marilyn Keller. As a part of the score ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Houston Person & Ron Carter: Remember Love

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Saxophonist Houston Person and bassist Ron Carter, now in their eighties, have been performing and recording as a duo for almost three decades now (Remember Love marks their seventh album in that format since Something in Common was released on Muse in 1990). Remember Love was recorded in March 2018 at the renowned Rudy Van Gelder Studio in Englewood, New Jersey, which has a number of good points (clarity is a given) and others that some observers ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Greg Diaz & The Art of Imagination Jazz Orchestra: Begin the Agora

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At a time when many contemporary big bands are eager to brush aside the past and “break new ground," it's always a pleasure to welcome an ensemble that honors and espouses jazz tradition with no appreciable loss of savoir-faire or, well, imagination. Begin the Agora, the debut recording by saxophonist Greg Diaz's Florida-based Art of Imagination Orchestra, embraces a customary point of view that in no way encumbers the leader's resourceful compositions (three) and arrangements (all). In other words, this ...