COUNTING BEATS

Reviews and Recommended Jazz by Nick Bewsey

Tag: Saxophone

JD Allen, Americana: Musings On Jazz and Blues

JD Allen, an authoritative saxophonist who plays with a distinct Coltrane vibe, makes consistently great albums, most in a trio setting. Americana: Musings On Jazz and Blues (Savant) is a passion project that’s rich and affecting, and it’s likely Allen’s best. His seven originals (and two others) are steeped in tradition yet filtered through Allen’s progressive interpretation of the form. His horn sports a vintage sound on “Tell The Truth, Shame The Devil,” testifying over a loping, walking bass line and the kind of busy, talking-book percussion Elvin Jones used to back Trane with. Having worked on previous records with bassist Gregg August and the jubilant drummer Rudy Royston, the trio plays as a tight, free-flowing unit with endlessly inventive phrasing. Allen’s stories are a mix of hard truths (a sobering 1930s standard “Another Man Done Gone”) and good times –“Lightnin” swings brightly, as persuasive a blues dance track as it can be. Notably, this deftly engineered album is recorded up-close and personal, which gives the music a warm, vivid intimacy. (9 tracks; 45 minutes)

KENNY SHANKER, ACTION CITY

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

SONNY ROLLINS, ROAD SHOWS, VOL. 3

A TOP JAZZ RECORD OF 2014. They say Sonny Rollins still practices three hours a day, and I wouldn’t doubt the stamina of this jazz nobleman who at 83 continues to perform at sold out concert halls all over the world. He still plays faster and with more finesse than players half his age. If you’ve been fortunate enough to see Rollins in concert, you’ve experienced that charismatic energy radiate from the stage. A live setting puts his legendary reputation in context. For the last decade, he’s been remiss to produce a studio recording for a reason common to all great artists – there’s nothing comparable to playing to an audience. For Sonny Rollins, the rewards that flow from listeners far outweigh the concern that you or your band will hiccup on stage. Continue reading

ADAM SCHROEDER, LET’S

Baritone saxophonist Adam Schroeder is one fortunate jazz cat, mostly because his sophomore record, Let’s, features a dream team of collaborators – guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton, and also because this recording is a gift to audiophiles. Like all of Capri’s releases, the sound is uncommonly warm, punchy and vivid. That doesn’t mean that Schroeder rides shotgun. He’s an assertive talent with hard-hitting chops and plenty of good taste. Continue reading

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