This album from New York-based saxophonist Kenny Shankar, is the kind of unpretentious straight-ahead jazz record that goes down easy. Shanker’s strong, all original set hearkens back to the Prestige-era’s classic quintets—tight melodies and urbane solos are the rule here and it’s a fine combination. 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
Ace organist Brain Charette delivers equal amounts of funk and frolic on Square One, a zip line ride through mostly post bebop originals in the Jimmy Smith tradition. Charette is a frequent collaborator with saxophonist Mike DiRubbo (I reviewed his solo CD last month) and though he’s a smooth groove pianist in that group, he sure can kick up some dust on the organ. Apart from Charette’s absorbing set list, the measure of the album’s success rests directly on the shoulders of his amazing trio mates, guitarist Yotam Silberstein and drummer Mark Ferber, each of them fixtures on the NY scene. Charette’s pop-inflected strokes at the outset of “Aaight” and spacey sonic effects on “People On Trains” and “Things You Don’t Mean” give these strong tracks an unexpected buzz and root them in present day. Obsessively soulful, whether swinging through the changes on the Meters tune, “Ease Back” or exploring his own love affair on “Three For Matina,” Charette zig-zags through plenty o’ grooves with superb contrasting harmonics from Silberstein and on target beats by Ferber. Though Square One is his seventh solo record, it’s a highly recommended starting point to discover the diverse and accomplished Brian Charette. (Posi-tone Records, 11 tracks; 46 minutes)
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.