"Sonny Please "
Sonny Rollins shines brilliantly in his first studio recording in five years, Sonny Please is on his own label, Doxy named after his song which he famously recorded with Miles Davis in 1954. He had been with Milestone Records for 35 years, but after the death of his wife and long-time manager, Lucille in 2004, Sonny saw that jazz recordings were going in the direction of artist-owned labels, so he started his own.
Rollins' parents were natives of the Virgin Islands. By the time he was out of high school he was already playing with people such as Bud Powell and Fats Navarro. He is known for his legendary breaks from music performing. Once was when he wanted to better himself, practice and get out of environments full of smoke, alcohol and drugs, he would practice on NY’s Williamsburg Bridge at night. Another was spent studying Zen Buddhism in Japan and yoga in India. Sonny even considered leaving music totally to pursue the spiritual life, but his guru convinced him that music WAS his spiritual life.
Sonny, Please was recorded after the band had just returned from a sold-out tour of
Japan and Rollins felt the group had really come together after the string of performances. The album’s title was the late Mrs. Rollins’s pet phrase used to get Sonny’s attention. The seven tracks are a mix of originals by Rollins - Sonny, Please; Nishi; Remembering Tommy (Flanagan); Park Palace Parade - plus three rarely recorded standards. After listening to Sonny, Please you’ll understand why Theodore “Sonny” Rollins has been referred to as “The World’s Greatest Living Saxophonist!”
Ray Charles / Count Basie
"Ray Sings, Basie Swings"
Ray Charles never performed with the late Count Basie when the two music legends were alive, but now they are being united in death. Ray Sings, Basie Swings combines archival, never-before-heard Ray Charles vocal recordings with brand-new performances by the Count Basie Orchestra.
While looking through a record company vault in late 2005, one of the Genius Loves Company producers came up with tapes marked "Ray/Basie." The producer, John Burk, thought he'd found something to rewrite history. While the acts had shared concert bills, it was believed they had never performed together.
The tapes turned out to contain a copy of Charles singing accompanied by his own orchestra, although the music was recorded so poorly it could barely be heard. Burk had the idea of pairing the vocal recordings with new instrumental backing. So Mr. Burk brought in Gregg Field, a producer and engineer who also happens to be a former drummer in bands led by Basie and Charles. And through a painstaking process that Mr. Field has often compared to “painting the Sistine Chapel with a Q-tip,” the producers managed to create a nearly seamless studio accompaniment for croons and cries last heard onstage some 30 years ago.
Sure, "Ray Sings, Basie Swings" may have started out like just another pipe dream. But thanks to modern technology now it sounds just like a dream.
"Findin' The Groove"
Terry Gibbs is without question a legendary jazz vibraphonist. Terry Gibbs is also without contest the personification of exuberance-a quality embodied in his roles as a gifted, indefatigable swinging jazz musician and astute bandleader. His joyous persona expressed on and off stage is such an infectious influence that his collaborators are driven to approach his super energy level.
The idea for Terry Gibbs' latest CD, “Findin' The Groove” came after special guest, flautist Hubert Laws, joined Gibbs and his band for a club performance at Steamers, a southern California jazz club. Their shared positive experience that night lead to the idea of recording a joint CD in the studio Whether it's the blues of Wednesday at Two, where Laws cuts loose, the title cut with its lilting Caribbean melody, or the Gershwin standard, But Not for Me, arranged for vocalist, Joan Carroll, this is feel good music.
The Benny Golson standard, Killer Joe, is played initially as a bossa nova and then more straight ahead. Gibbs has 5 self penned tunes on the CD Dance with the Brushes, a feature for Laws and Terry's son, drummer Gerry Gibbs; or Samba Wazoo, where Laws and the senior Gibbs are off to the races are 2 brilliant examples of Terry's compositional skills. The band also has a ball with Gibbs' arrangement of of Jimmy Giuffre's Four Brothers, where Gibbs rearranges the original Woody Herman 1947 big band Giuffre chart.
After you hear “Findin' The Groove” not only will you be smiling, snapping your fingers and tapping your toes, you will certainly agree that Terry and the band found all the grooves.
On “Standards Rican-ditioned” (Zoho Music), the legendary Ray Barretto presents a straight-ahead project with musicians like he, of Puerto Rican descent well versed in jazz. The objective was to show that they could play in the popular style of Blue Note and Prestige dates of the 1950s and 60s that helped launch the soul jazz movement. Ray Barretto was the most important percussionist of that era and sound which is why he was named NEA Jazz Master in January 2006, just a few weeks prior to his unexpected passing. Recorded in December 2005, it is a brilliant yet fitting farewell by the great percussionist lovingly nicknamed “Hard Hands” - no doubt the crowning jewel in the musical legacy of Ray Barretto.
Ray Barretto completed and approved the mixes of all but the last track, "Strange Music". Ray's 20-year-old son Chris Barretto– whose alto sax on two tracks thrilled his proud father– stepped in to oversee the completion of the project. Barretto had assembled some of his favorite musicians, who shine here: tenor saxophonist David Sánchez, trombonist Papo Vázquez, bassist John Benítez, drummer Adam Cruz, and Hilton Ruíz. This session was also the last studio recording by the great pianist Hilton Ruíz, who passed away in June 2006 from injuries received under mysterious circumstances during a visit to New Orleans. On that last track, unfinished at Ray's death, the scatting Barretto is captured on a “scratch” track, imitating the conga he was to have added. The sound of the hard bop era's heyday is brilliantly captured here, and we're reminded of Barretto's contribution on hundreds of classic recordings on this wonderful and poignant finale.
The Joe Gilman Trio
"View So Tender: Wonder Revisited"
Another great theme for a jazz album, recording Stevie Wonder songs! . Pianist Joe Gilman was the first recipient of the Brubeck Institute's Brubeck Scholar Award, so it was only fitting that Joe's trio previously recorded two albums of all Dave Brubeck tunes, thus conceiving an all Stevie music CD was not an off-the-wall idea for them. But this isn't so much a tribute album, it was never imagined that way. The trio approached Wonder's music as a dialog between the genres of jazz and R&B, delving deep into the catalog and finding ways to creatively re-assemble the music into vehicles for improvisation. Only a few of the things that are so great about the possibilities of the art form we respectfully call jazz.
Lennon & McCartney tunes are being heard more and more in the jazz world as musicians realize how musically original and effective they are, Stevie Wonder's joyful songs are often in the same class. This seems to be a good time to bring them into the jazz genre since much jazz is being infused with elements of soul and funk.
Dr. Joe Gilman has a master's in jazz and contemporary media from the Eastman School of Music and a doctorate in education from the University of Sarasota. He has performed with Eddie Harris, Bobby Hutcherson, George Duke, Chris Botti and Slide Hampton. His rhythm section is both former Brubeck Institute students, Joe Sanders-bass and Justin Brown-drums. So don't you worry ‘bout a thing, just place the CD in your player and enjoy the swinging jazz sounds of Stevie Wonder hits and lesser known album cuts performed by the Joe Gilman Trio on Colorado's own Capri Records Ltd.
"I'll Be Seeing You"
Regina Carter's latest recording pays tribute to the memory of her late mother, Grace Carter who passed away in 2005. “I'll Be Seeing You” is a swinging journey through some of the classic songs of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s that her mother loved during her youth.
For this album her special guests are vocalists Dee Dee Bridgewater and Carla Cook, Paquito D'Rivera on clarinet, and Gil Goldstein on accordion. “I'll Be Seeing You” instantly captivates from the album's opener, “Anitra's Dance”, by classical composer Edvard Grieg, in which Carter and her violin swing mightily. The brilliant unison interplay of Carter's violin, Gil Goldstein's accordion, and Paquito D'Rivera's clarinet vividly establishes the album's period feeling. This line-up continues in a high-octane “Little Brown Jug”, a swinging hoe-down featuring more dazzling passages and playful solos from the three. Throughout the album, Carter's stand-out rhythm section is unfailingly inventive, and hard-swinging.
The irrepressible Dee Dee Bridgewater is featured on a rollicking vocal on the Yiddish tune that became an Andrews Sisters hit “Bei Mir Bist Du Shoen,” Bridgewater also performs the Rodgers and Hart gem “This Can't Be Love”, and scats in exuberant call-and-response to the band. Carter's fellow-Detroiter, Carla Cook, one of the today's most accomplished jazz vocalists, turns in stand-out performances on “You Took Advantage of Me”, the W. C. Handy classic “St. Louis Blues”, and an elegant “There's a Small Hotel.”
Regina Carter is the most celebrated jazz violinist of our day. On her previous recording, Paganini: After A Dream, Carter made history as the first jazz violinist ever to play and record on Paganini's historic Guarneri violin. In remembering her mother, Regina recalls, with unfettered swing and virtuoso abandon, the primal joys of a classic era in American music. Simultaneously celebratory and reverent, this disc is both a loving tribute and musical therapy; “I'll Be Seeing You” is a fitting tribute to Grace Louise Carter.
Ray Mantilla is one of the most respected percussionists in both jazz and Latin music circles. From his initial collaborations with the late NEA Jazz Master Ray Barretto through his work with diverse artists encompassing a variety of styles like Josephine Baker, Herbie Mann, Sonny Stitt, Freddie Hubbard, Tito Puente and numerous others, Ray is always up to the task. Señor Mantilla has also been an excellent bandleader fronting his famed Space Station ensemble and the Jazz Tribe. Never one to follow tried and true formulas, Ray injects his personal vitality into every musical selection on which he performs.
For his sophomore effort on Savant, Ray continues to raise the bar and presents another musical delight with many surprises sure to please the most discerning ears and nimble feet since no Latin jazz recording is complete if it doesn't provide happy music for the dancers. Good Vibrations starts with a Latinized rendition of Flying Home and concludes with the amazing original Bari Con Batá with its myriad of rhythms and blaring baritone sax played to perfection by Enrique Fernández while Ray leads the group through the twists and turns of what is the album's tour de force.
As is his custom, Ray surrounds himself with quality band mates. Not to be overlooked is the fine producing of Cedar Walton who, as usual, makes invaluable contributions to yet another recording. On Good Vibrations Ray Mantilla once again proves that exquisite music comes from the heart as well as from the wealth of experiences he brings with him. There's nothing left for you to do but place this disc in your nearest player and get your ration of good vibes that'll make you feel like snapping your fingers, tapping your toes and dancing the mambo!
"Legends of Jazz "
On the heels of Jazz Appreciation Month we present the Legends of Jazz PBS TV Series' accompanying CD and DVD-Showcase hosted by Ramsey Lewis. This double album will be a welcome addition to the most discerning fans as it is jam packed with great performances by the living legends of jazz and the brightest stars of jazz future.
LRSmedia announces the release of Legends Of Jazz Showcase from the PBS television series aired on both Denver affiliates, KBDI and KRMA every Sunday night, 10:30 and 11PM respectively. This all-star package features jazz greats Benny Golson, Chick Correa, Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, Dave Brubeck, Al Jarreau, David Sanborn, Chris Botti, Jane Monheit, John Pizzarelli, Kurt Elling, Phil Woods and many more.
The DVD features 13 unique performances from the Legends Of Jazz series hosted by Ramsey Lewis. The much-anticipated program began airing nationally in April in conjunction with Jazz Appreciation Month. The state-of-the-art CD/DVD set presents the stunning visuals of the series shot in HD and recorded in 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound.
When discussing the artistic dynamic of the series, Ramsey Lewis remarked, “What is so compelling about our ‘Showcase' release is the unique musical performances like Al Jarreau and Kurt Elling burning up the jazz classic ‘Take Five.' David Sanborn and Phil Woods jammin' on ‘Señor Blues,' and Clark Terry's classic ‘Mumbles.' The music is exciting and the look and sound are impeccable.”
Other outstanding tracks include “Armando's Rumba” by keyboard master Chick Corea, “The Island” by Brazilian star Ivan Lins, “ They Can't Take That Away From Me” by vocalists Jane Monheit and John Pizzarelli, the blues classic “12 Year Old Boy” by stars Keb' Mo' and Robert Cray, and a stellar performance of John Coltrane's classic, “Dear Lord” by host Ramsey Lewis.
Beginning in July LRSmedia will release the full programs from the series, highlights will be episodes:
NEA Jazz Masters 2006 with Tony Bennett, Chick Corea, and Ray Barretto
The Killer Bs with Joey DeFrancesco and Dr. Lonnie Smith
Latin Jazz with Eddie Palmieri and Dave Valentín
The Tenors with Benny Golson, Chris Potter and Marcus Strickland
Brazilian Jazz with Ivan Lins and Oscar Castro-Neves
To learn more about the Legends Of Jazz Showcase log on to HYPERLINK "http://www.legendsofjazz.net" www.legendsofjazz.net
"Basquiat Salutes Jazz "
A perfect Jazz Appreciation Month CD that will be a welcome addition to any jazz library. “Basquiat Salutes Jazz” is a collection of a dozen vintage tracks by some of the greatest names in jazz history with a fabulous original portrait on the album's cover by Basquiat.
Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960 - 1988) was a celebrated NY painter who died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27. Beginning as a graffiti artist at the age of 17, spray painting subways cars and buildings, and using that foundation as he developed his output into avant-garde paintings, Basquiat (pronounced "BAS-KEE-AH"), became internationally known before he was 25. He only painted for 8 years, but during that time, he was in the spotlight. He became friends with Andy Warhol in 1983 until Warhol's death. He was quite a paranoid and dated Madonna before she was famous. He was the subject of the 1996 film, Basquiat, which starred David Bowie, Benico Del Toro, Dennis Hopper, Willem Dafoe, Christopher Walken, among others.
He found inspiration in jazz and this CD is a compilation put together, with the input of his father, of several of the bebop musicians who influenced Basquiat's paintings. Some of the artists of note include Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, and Thelonious Monk.
In 1996 Jean-Michel Basquiat's meteoric rise to fame and tragic demise was made into an outstanding movie, “Basquiat”, now available on DVD. Highly recommended!
Keith Oxman - Curtis Fuller Ensemble
"Dues in Progress"
“Keith Oxman is a young man of great consequence. He has learned to function with one foot in the present and the other in the future, while leaning quite heavily in the direction of the future.” - Benny Golson
The jazz hall of famer Benny Golson's assessment of Denver's own Keith Oxman is quoted from the magnificent liner notes he wrote for the 6th release of saxophonist educator Mr. Oxman. Keith is another performer influenced by the endlessly inspiring power of John Coltrane. Like many who have fallen under that master's spell, he was drawn in his youth to Coltrane's recording produced for the Blue Note record label, "Blue Train," from 1957. The trombonist on that date was Curtis Fuller, a soulful and challenging player who, at 71, can still hold his own.
"I think there's something when you hear certain guys at a young age," Oxman said of the impression that Fuller's trombone had on him as a student. "I heard that album, and he had that beautiful big sound in everything he did."
The East High School jazz bandleader found himself in the position of recording with the same man who contributed to Coltrane's sound at a certain period in his development, and now there's a new CD documenting the session. "It was magic, one of the greatest experiences of my life," Oxman reflected on the recording date with Fuller that resulted in "Dues in Progress" on the Colorado-based Capri Records label.
"Dues In Progress" contains mostly originals including Curtis Fuller's "Cap'N' Kidd" which is a calypso-bop tune he wrote in honor of his parents who hail from Jamaica. There is also the interesting C.H.O.C. by trumpeter Marcus Hampton based on a real life incident on Denver's Colfax Ave. The CD also has the ensemble performing 4 jazz standards.
Keith Oxman and Curtis Fuller are joined by a fine cast of The Front Range's musicians such as Ken Walker, Todd Reid and Al Hood along with pianist Chip Stevens who returned to Denver to be a part of this wonderful recording session.
There's no doubt that this new album with Fuller will enhance Oxman's national reputation. Moreover, it doesn't hurt that Benny Golson, a tenor sax institution himself (and Fuller's onetime employee in the great '60s collective The Jazztet) penned the liner notes for "Dues in Progress."
John La Barbera
"Fantazm” John La Barbera's follow-up to his 2004 Grammy nominated "On The Wild Side" CD, is a collection of standards and originals inspired by something Duke Ellington once said: "... a little thing that the theme is taken from... the kind of a dream that you have about that kind of a girl...it's called Fantazm."
John La Barbera's Big Band features brothers Pat La Barbera on sax with Joe La Barbera on drums. The title track, "Fantazm" is a Duke Ellington rarity played in his ”jungle jazz style”. Other selections include Woody Shaw's “Moontrane," David Raksin's "Apache" love theme-"My Love & I" and 4 originals by La Barbera and his brother Pat. On “Pythodd Fellows,” inspired by a social club in Rochester, New York, “the first place,” John writes, “that my brothers and I ever heard live jazz,” places an organ trio (the amazing Bill Cunliffe, moving from the piano, Larry Koonse on guitar and brother Joe on drums) in the center of a bluesy big band arrangement that cooks from start to finish.
“Fantazm” is a high-energy big band production with sizzling solos, great rhythm work and a brass section that delivers the big band sound with fire. An enjoyable, powerful, bold and brassy big band session that delivers a roaring musical experience and star performance from a swinging band.
We start the new year with one of Colorado's home grown music projects as our January CD of the Month, "Triple Play" featuring Colorado musicians on a Colorado label recorded in a Colorado studio.
If a city has any type of jazz scene, it no doubt has some musicians who are well known locally but not nationally or internationally. The city could be Seattle, Boston, or Atlanta — for that matter, it could be Oslo, Madrid, Rome, or Prague. In Nat Yarbrough's case, the city is Denver. Over the years, drummer Nat Yarbrough set the groove for alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson's band as well as organ trios led by Big John Patton and Freddie Roach. He was also a member of Gene Harris' Three Sounds. While Yarbrough isn't nationally famous, he has kept busy in the Denver area. Originally from New York, The veteran drummer has been around the Denver jazz scene since 1966 but it wasn't until he recorded El Yabah in 1999 that he finally provided his first album as a leader. Before he took up drums in high school, Nat was known as a singer.
On his latest release, "Triple Play," his talents as a vocalist are
showcased in duets with Ellyn Rucker, Marguerite Juenemann of Rare Silk and Julie Monley. Yarbrough sings in a smooth, relaxed style that reflects the influences of Billy Eckstine and Nat Cole. The virtuouso pianist, Chip Stephens, and the imaginative bassist, Bijou Barbarosa, join Nat on this recording. Mr. Yarbrough's latest album is sure to please the most discriminating listener, stimulating vocal duets and swinging trio instrumentals that Nat always wanted to record because it was the music that grabbed his ear as a youngster. As Rocky Mountain News and Downbeat jazz writer Norman Provizer states about Yarbrough, "there is too much music in his bones to go unrecorded and too much spirit to go unrecognized"