A WRTI CD RECOMMENDATION. Listening to Joanna Pascale sing is like getting a big hug. Her voice is warm, wise and easy to love. The Philly native has put out fine solo albums previously, but nothing like Wildflower, a deeply felt record that freely mixes pop tunes, blues and outlier standards. Read my full review at www.wrti.org
Bassist Ben Wolfe keeps a low profile on The Whisperer and his subtle presence clues you in to the album’s title. It’s as if he’s inviting you to listen to how good his band sounds. A refined musician, Wolfe stealthily defers to the vibrant soprano and tenor saxophonist Stacy Dillard to voice his compositions while rounding out his quartet with an essential Orrin Evans on piano and the surefire drummer Donald Edwards. 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
A TOP JAZZ RECORD OF 2014: Orrin Evans is a true jazz advocate. One of the busiest leaders on the scene, with more than 20 solo albums in his discography along with countless sideman appearances, Evans has a second-to-none work ethic in and around New York as well as his hometown of Philadelphia. An industrious musician with an impetuous streak (despite recognizing the economies of scale, he stated that he “can’t stand the trio format” in a July 2012 Village Voice interview), Evans thinks bigger, refusing to see limitations in presenting jazz or performing it. Pairing once again with Posi-Tone Records, Evans’ sophomore studio recording of his Captain Black Big Band is a particularly satisfying album that challenges the status quo. Leading a big band within today’s economic realities seems to defy reason, but Mother’s Touch marks a magnificent return of the CBBB and it scores in every way imaginable.