A TOP JAZZ RECORD OF 2014: Recently, there’s been no shortage of excellent, forward-looking jazz albums led by drummers. For jazz fans who put groove and swing in their plus columns, Grammy®-winner Terri Lyne Carrington, Kendrick Scott, Antonio Sanchez, Matt Wilson and Rudy Royston are taking music to new and satisfying heights. You can add Ulysses Owens, Jr. to this exceptional lineup – he’s a drummer determined to blaze his own trail with sonically inspired beats. Continue reading
What is it about vinyl records that cause listeners to swoon? As a recent convert myself (I’ll cop to the fact that I’ve recently invested in a Clearaudio turntable rig), I can say that despite the slight nuisance of getting up every 15 minutes to turn over the platter, the sound of vinyl captures the essence of a performance in a way that digital media cannot. The warmth of analog sound, together with the depth and dynamic range of vinyl is sonically apparent to most listeners and even non-audiophiles. A welcome resurgence of interest of vinyl has not gone unnoticed by recording labels, since most of them offer a vinyl edition and CD to accompany their current digital releases.
Out Here is a seriously entertaining and musically affecting trio record from monster bassist Christian McBride that also serves as an splendid introduction to two of the best up and coming players in jazz, pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. The Philadelphia-born McBride, whose solo career launched in 1995 with Getting’ To It (Verve,) has sideman credits on over 300 recordings in addition to 10 of his own as leader, but this is his first trio recording. Now fully acknowledged as a jazz standard bearer, an astonishing feat for the 41 year old, McBride has adroitly exploited his encyclopedic knowledge of music to find success as a bandleader, mentor, composer and producer.
Emboldened by her 2011 Grammy® winning “The Mosaic Project” (Concord) a slick, contemporary jazz and funk recording that featured a who’s who of all-female singers and musicians, bandleader and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington strikes hot and cool with the equally confident “Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue,” a reimagining of the classic Duke Ellington trio album from 1963 that featured Charles Mingus and Max Roach. Continue reading
Venezuelan pianist Benito Gonzalez’ tunes have an intentional 1960’s jazz feel – he simply likes the music from that time – but his inspiration sounds all his own. An intense musician with a keen ear for composition and flow, Gonzalez employs a tested jazz crew – Jeff “Tain’ Watts on drums, bassist Christian McBride and saxophone players Myron Walden, Ron Blake and Azar Lawrence – on eight righteous neo-bop numbers and a sole cover of McCoy Tyner’s percussive “Blue On The Corner.” Tunes like “Circles” and “Taurus” play like a series a fastball pitches where every player connects and shares the leader’s unbridled passion. An affecting tribute to drummer Elvin Jones (“Elvin’s Sight”) generates a serious groove and cleverly reconciles the past/present thing that Gonzalez is after. Hard driving but still tuneful, “Circles” is fueled by Gonzalez’ abundant talent and solid faith in the expansive power of his awesomely talented band. (12 tracks; 72:37 minutes)