A fast-rising modernist, trumpeter John Raymond assembles a solid team of musicians for his sophomore release Foreign Territory. Anchored by the resolute Billy Hart on the drums, bassist Joe Martin (Kurt Rosenwinkel) and the gifted pianist Dan Tepfer (Lee Konitz), Raymond delivers a masterful set of multi-textured songs — they swing obliquely and pull you in with disarming ease. Continue reading
A TOP JAZZ RECORD OF 2014. An exceptionally gifted musician and leader, trumpeter Sean Jones has an accomplished track record. As a young man, he turned to jazz after hearing John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. But it was the music of Miles Davis that pushed Jones toward his destiny as a player with the capacity to lead the pack. You can track his career through six previous solo albums for Detroit’s Mack Avenue Records, each of them conceptually interesting, all of them ringing with Jones’s clear, sweet voice on the horn. That’s in addition to holding the lead trumpet chair for the LCJO until 2010, touring in Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock’s Miles Davis Tribute Band and most recently, taking a star turn on Dianne Reeve’s record Beautiful Life, with an ace solo on Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You.” Continue reading
An enthusiastic and surefire traditionalist, trumpeter Joe Magnarelli leads an ace quintet on Lookin’ Up, a rousing set of crisp hard bop originals and juicy jazz covers – their precise, fired-up “Suddenly It’s Spring” and “In Walked Lila” are surely leapin’ and lopin’, Sonny Clark-style. Magnarelli learned the ropes in a variety of big bands like Harry Connick, Jr’s orchestra, which make his tunes richly entertaining. As a trumpeter, he’s no show boater, preferring a muted horn or flugelhorn and sticking to the middle registers where he runs self-assured and nuanced lines. Continue reading
A TOP 10 JAZZ RECORD OF 2014: For listeners who want to put the usual standards and post bebop swing on pause, the 33 year-old trumpeter Takuya Kuroda stands tall on his Blue Note debut, Rising Son, a polished set of jazz tunes with retro R&B riffs and de rigueur hip hop sonics. Produced by singer/songwriter José James whose own records, particularly 2013’s No Beginning, No End (Blue Note), smartly braid jazz with pop-glazed rhythm and blues, Kuroda’s album sets an after-hours party mood that starts with the rousing title track and flows throughout. Kuroda’s compositions fuse infectious urban rhythms with in the pocket Afro-centric grooves inflated by keyboardist Kris Bowers (an artist blowing up on the national scene with his Concord Jazz debut CD, Heroes + Misfits), electric bassist Solomon Dorsey, drummer Nate Smith and the satiny tones of trombonist Corey King. Kuroda and King redefine the classic two-horn frontline architecture that Blue Note built their reputation on. As a player, the trumpeter falls somewhere between Lee Morgan’s sound and Art Farmer’s supple capacity for storytelling, especially on the closing track, “Call,” an opus of sorts characterized by a classic CTI-style arrangement melded with a Prince-like jam coda.
Innovative trumpeter Taylor Haskins skillfully toggles between jazz and everything else, most recently on his terrific electro-kissed album Recombination (2011, Nineteen-Eight) and his playing catches you off guard in a most wonderful way. A member of Guillermo Klein’s ‘Los Gauchos’, flutist Jamie Baum’s Septet+ and Dave Holland’s Big Band, Haskins thinks and plays outside the box, the opposite of free form improvisation actually, with welcoming compositions and a sweetly emotive tone that sets him apart.
Fuzzy Logic is both a surprise and welcome next step in his process as a musician and artist. Haskins has written for film and commercials for 15 years, so the record has a cinematic sweep with high-grade melodies and lush harmonics courtesy of a trio of string players that Haskins added to his quartet. The strings add color, drama and a confident beauty to his compositions, which are textural and involving. There’s a hint of Ennio Morricone and Nina Rota in this music that I credit to Haskins’ deft use of strings and his own grounded, magisterial tone that airbrushes the songs with a native emotionality. Continue reading
The kinetic energy on alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo’s 8th solo project, Threshold, pops like a Roman candle. This is thrilling modern bop, enriched by DiRubbo’s appreciation of the art and teachings of legendary Blue Note alto-saxophonist Jackie McLean. He sheds notes as fast as Jackie Mac, soloing with gratifying intensity and a hint of swagger that’s in lockstep with his quintet.