CD of the Month
“Long Live the King"
Allan Harris is one of the great baritone jazz vocalists currently performing and recording, through out his career he has been compared to the legendary Nat ‘King’ Cole. Since he was a young man, Harris’ voice has taken him to the far corners of the world singing and interpreting songs of love and romance. As the years rolled by Allan developed as an artist, he began receiving numerous requests from friends, fans and critics to do a recording that pays tribute to Nat. So when the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington DC asked his manager to have Harris perform a tribute to Nat ‘King’ Cole for two nights, Allan knew that a live recording would be the best way to capture the intimacy of the songs he wanted to sing, he felt confident that his voice and stature as a vocalist had matured and developed enough to do justice to one of the most beloved singers of the 21st century.
With his new CD “Long Live the King”, Allan Harris finally pays homage to one of the most recognizable vocalists on the planet. Harris' romantically appealing voice reaches out with a heartbreaking depth that caresses the songs. By combining the best of the past with his unique gift to create something fresh and distinctive. Allan comments “this is my most heartfelt recording to date and a culmination of years of love and appreciation to those who were gracious enough to compare me to this remarkable man, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Long Live the King!”
Now in his 89th year of youthfulness, Gerald Wilson is the dean of big band leaders and composers. For his latest masterpiece Gerald has written and recorded a musical tribute to the Monterey Jazz Festival on occasion of their 50th Anniversary season. Mr. Wilson has appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival 10 times, going back to 1963. He was commissioned by festival founder Jimmy Lyons to compose themes for Monterey's 20th, 40th, and now 50th anniversary celebrations. At this year's festival before a record-breaking, sellout crowd, Gerald Wilson premiered "Monterey Moods” to the delight of the standing room only audience.
For this commemorative recording Wilson employed his NYC all-star band, and some of the major stars in it include: Jon Faddis, Antonio Hart, Hubert Laws and his son Anthony Wilson. On Monterey Moods, he presents a seven-part suite featuring different elements of jazz, all in modern big-band style, based on three notes signifying the evenly paced word "Mon-ter-ey." Each segment sings and swings in its own way, yet has similar characteristics, much as a cohesive fashion collection might. There’s something about Wilson’s arrangements and compositions that is not avant or weird but makes them uniquely Gerald Wilson. As always Gerald injects a bit of Latin and calypso in his writings as well as blues and waltz, regardless of tempo, the band is always swinging! This session is quite comparable to Wilson’s 1998 Grammy®-nominated Theme for Monterey recording, it accurately reflects the ambience of the festival and the surrounding Monterey Bay area in picturesque Central California. Monterey Moods should be shared with anyone who thinks that big band music is dead.
Kansas City guitarist Charles Gatschet’s goal is “to make music that is enjoyable for both the listener and the musician” On his second release, “Step Lightly”, Charles has achieved his goal. A fine blend of Gatschet originals and evergreens, Charles’ outstanding guitar playing is accompanied by some of the finest musicians to be found along the Front Range. Fast or slow, new or classic-there is music for every jazz fan on “Step Lightly”
Charles’ playing is drawn from bebop, blues, country, Brazilian and more. According to the veteran jazz writer and radio host, the famed Dr. Herb Wong, “every cell of Charles’ body feels and dances to the glow of the music”. Legendary guitarist Jim Hall states “ a great listening experience: beautiful guitar sound, tasty music, new to my ears, let’s hear more!”
Gatschet is accompanied by pianist Eric Gunnison, bassists Ken Walker or Mark Simon, drummer Paul Romaine, Greg Gisbert-trumpet with invited flutist Ali Ryerson. Half the recording are provocative Gatschet’s originals including “The Chief”. a tribute to fellow Kansas Citian the immortal “Yardbird” Parker and “Caracas” a bossa nova named for Venezuela’s capitol city. The standards chosen have not been done over and over, Charles and the ensemble’s takes of “Born To Be Blue” and “Delilah” are sure to delight the most discerning ears. “Step Lightly” is one giant step forward in jazz guitar recordings.
A Tale of God’s Will
There are only a handful of jazz artists today who have earned consistent accolades for performing and writing music at a high level for an extended period of time, trumpeter, composer and film scorer Terence Blanchard is one of them. It is not easy for a jazz musician to be from New Orleans, birthplace of jazz. This is particularly true if you are a trumpeter because you carry the additional legacy of Louis Armstrong wherever you perform and whatever you do. Since August 29th, 2005 there is also the extra burden of representing the Crescent City because of the devastation inflicted upon it by a natural disaster-Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Blanchard’s most recent recording is “A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina)”, it’s emotive, powerful and a showcase for Terence’s solo trumpet playing accompanied by his touring group and his brilliant composing for strings.
For Blanchard, writing music to reflect the images of destruction of his birthplace and city where he was raised was an experience unlike any of his previous albums or film score projects. Utilizing his touring ensemble, along with The Northwest Sinfonia, Blanchard’s music speaks of suffering, yet conjures up the strength of the human spirit to move forward and rise beyond adversity, a testament to the greatness Terence Blanchard’s artistry has become. From the opening song, “Ghost of Congo Square,” a homage to the gathering place for African descendents of the French Quarter, to the closer “Dear Mom” based on the scene from Spike Lee’s documentary, “When The Levees Broke”, showing Terence’s mother return to her home flooded by the raging waters, “A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina)” will have you reflecting on the power of Mother Nature and the resiliency of people to recover and rebuild.
On The Brink
Bob Montgomery and Al Hermann are internationally known touring artists and educators, best of all, they call the Front Range home. Bob’s trumpet and Al’s trombone are accompanied by a formidable trio, Ken Walker-bass, Dave Corbus-guitar and Chris Lee-drums. Throughout this recording the quintet shines with their interpretations of 12 standards and obscurities adding another jewel in the Colorado treasure chest of jazz recordings. Bob's reputation as an educator has earned him many awards, including "Teacher of the Year", "Jazz Educator and Performer of the Year", and "Colorado Jazz Educator Of The Year". In 2004 he was inducted into the Garden City, KS (his home town) Hall of Fame. Al Hermann is a native of New Orleans who has made Colorado his home for many years now. A gifted trombonist, Al played for President Clinton’s 2nd inauguration ceremonies and recorded an album with the great Carl Fontana. Hermann has been described as "One of the finest trombonists ever heard." and "A great trombonist with traditional roots." by the New Orleans Times-Picayune and New York Times respectively.
Denver and the Front Range are fortunate to count on numerous fine jazz musicians, ensembles, venues and recording labels, the Bob Montgomery-Al Hermann Quintet live and recorded stand out as one of the best. Here’s what the renowned veteran jazz radio, producer, educator and writer of the S F Bay area has to say about them, "A ubiquitous group in the Mile High region worthy of attention is the Bob Montgomery-Al Hermann Quintet, essentially an articulate and special jazz voice that rings and swings from the Rockies, carrying the jazz tradition forward." Amen, brother!!
“For Sentimental Reasons”
When playing hard and fast it’s easy to overlook a mistake behind the cascade of notes, when you’re playing melodic ballads and medium tempos there is nowhere to hide, on his latest recording vibe maestro Bobby Hutcherson shines throughout with his velvety and satiny playing on “For Sentimental Reasons”, his debut for the new Kind of Blue Records label and his first studio recording in over 7 years.
As we age, the lure of the beautiful gets harder to resist, just like the title of Bobby’s newest effort implies, Hutcherson isn’t immune to the call of the heart, a quartet project featuring pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Al Foster.
The jazz faithful know many sides of Bobby Hutcherson. There’s the Blue Note sideman of the 1960s sprinting with the hard bop young lions Hank Mobley, Grant Green and Freddie Hubbard. Then there is the rebel, accompanying Andrew Hill, Eric Dolphy, Harold Land and Jackie McLean. Certainly some of you will have a few dated fusion LPs he made tucked away in the attic, basement or garage. The focus throughout is mainly on Hutcherson's understated power and apparently effortless grace, but Ms. Rosnes also impresses; as Bobby says: 'Renee knows so well how to keep things open and flowing just by all the varied harmonic suggestions and implications of what she plays.' Another worthwhile album from Kind of Blue Records, a new label already making its mark among musicians and hard-core aficionados.
NEA Jazz Master Paquito D’Rivera debuts his own Paquito Records label with his new album, Funk Tango, under the group name “The Paquito D’Rivera Quintet?”. The “Quintet” piece of the name refers to his touring group.This experience shows on the recording, lifting them beyond the “sideman” roles into musical equals, composers, and creative instigators. The “?” piece of the name refers to the flexibility of the group to adapt to additional musicians or smaller configurations. In addition to the core quintet, we hear a fine array of guest sidemen. The assured playing of the core quintet, complimented by these additional colors makes for a diverse and exciting album.
The tango reference in the album name reflects a mixture of Argentinean music and jazz found throughout the album. The rest of the material covers a variety of approaches exploring the worlds of Latin jazz, Brazilian samba, Cuban contradanza, Peruvian landó and a Latin-bop rendition of Coltrane’s classic Giant Steps. Paquito’s love of jazz and Latin American musical traditions shine through every moment of this recording. After 50 years in the music business, D’Rivera plays with the finesse of a seasoned pro and the eager energy of a child. This is a beautiful balance, one that we probably all should aim for in our musical aspirations. It is refreshing and invigorating all at the same time, and once you catch hold of the fire from The Paquito D’Rivera Quintet? you’ll be listening again and again.
Trumpeter Jack Cortner has been an integral part of New York City’s vibrant music scene for over forty-five years, primarily as a composer and arranger writing for Broadway, commercials and television. While you may not be familiar with his work, you have probably heard his music if you’ve ever seen the popular TV soaps “The Edge of Night” or “As The World Turns”, Cortner also wrote the theme song for “Monday Night Football”.
His strong love for jazz and his several decades friendship with fellow trumpet player Marvin Stamm has led to his first big band recording featuring Stamm as the principal soloist. The CD, “Fast Track” also features first-rate soloists prominently showcased, pianist Bill Mays, saxophonist Dave Tofani, drummer John Riley and trombonist Jim Pugh. As with most recording sessions all the musicians came and sight read the charts without a rehearsal, however since the charts were so outstanding, there was no need for any practice run.
All in all 26 musicians combine their talents for this explosive, powerful and swinging big band album on Colorado’s own Jazzed Media label which has been releasing many fine albums receiving national airplay and critical acclaim across the country and around the world over the last 2 years, including a series of recordings featuring Grammy® nominee, Phil Woods. The 11 compositions on “Fast Tracks” are all arranged by Jack Cortner, 5 of which are of his own writing, After listening to this album you’ll be making a fast track to your CD player in order to play it over and over again.
Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis
We hope that for April JAM, Jazz Appreciation Month, we increase your appreciation for the classic tenor sax/organ combo with this legendary soul jazz session finally out on a remastered CD. Guaranteed to make you snap your fingers and tap your toes!!
Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis' quartet with "The Queen of Organ" Shirley Scott, bassist George Duvivier, and drummer Arthur Edgehill was one of the swinging wonders of the late 1950s. For Very Saxy, Davis added three fellow tenor saxophonists, but not just any three, they were Coleman Hawkins, who reinvented the tenor as a jazz instrument; Buddy Tate, star of the Basie band and later his own Celebrity Club orchestra; and Arnett Cobb, the uninhibited "Wild Man of the Tenor Sax" who enlivened Lionel Hampton's band for five years. The album is full of chases, challenges, chesty solos, full-bodied sax ensembles, and an overall feeling of joyful celebration. During a heated moment, one of the musicians yells, "Yow!" That's a fair summation of this happy date of soulful ear candy and smiling music.
The Ultimate Diva Collection
Since the beginning women have made a profound contribution to jazz in many areas, pianists, composers, arrangers, instrumentalists as well as club owners and impresarios, however it is as vocalists where they have garnered their greatest glory. In honor of Women's History Month jazz89KUVO proudly offers its CD of the Month Selection: "The Ultimate Diva Collection".
The word diva may not be easy to define, but the great divas are easy to recognize. Here are sixteen of the greatest -- from Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn and Billie Holiday to Anita O'Day, Shirley Horn and Ernestine Anderson -- captured in peak form, in performances that were recorded as long ago as 1954 and as recently as 2001, but that in their dramatic impact and depth of feeling are truly timeless.
Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life
Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life, the companion soundtrack to the PBS bio-film, features 15 Strayhorn compositions performed by several of today's jazz greats including Denver’s own Dianne Reeves, Bill Charlap, Joe Lovano and piano legend Hank Jones.
Billy Strayhorn's 29-year collaboration with Ellington produced a body of work that has no rival in originality and range -- from unforgettable popular songs and jazz compositions to orchestral suites and theatrical scores. From the opening track, Bill Charlap's sparkling solo piano version of “Fantastic Rhythm,” an early composition from a Cole Porter-style musical revue of the same name written in 1935, the vitality of Strayhorn's timeless music is evident. The following performances display the remarkable breadth and depth of his writing as well, with compositions that span more than 30 years.
Charlap also offers a solo piano version of one of Strayhorn's early classical works, “Valse,” and on one of the album's highlights joins the legendary pianist Hank Jones for a spirited four-hands rendition of “Tonk” (which was originally performed four-hands by Strayhorn and Ellington). Jones also makes several more appearances, including a showcase solo piano performance of “Satin Doll.
Vocalist Dianne Reeves, who also plays the most prominent musical role in the film, performs six songs on the album, including some of Strayhorn's most defining works such as “Lush Life,” rendered here as a stunning duet with guitarist Russell Malone, and quartet versions of “Something to Live For,” “Day Dream,” “My Little Brown Book,” as well as the lesser-known “The Flowers Die of Love” and “So This Is Love.”
Lovano and Charlap also lend support to special guest vocalist Elvis Costello on one of the most striking performances on the album, a haunting version of Strayhorn's final composition “Blood Count,” which was written from a hospital bed shortly before he died in 1967. Here the tune is given lyrics penned by Costello and retitled “My Flame Burns Blue.” Lush Life is an ideal addition to any music library, especially in February, “Black History Month”
Remember: A tribute to Wes Montgomery
After one listen to Pat Martino’s “Remember: A Tribute To Wes Montgomery”, you’ll know why it was the most played album on jazz stations across the US in 2006, by far! Philadelphia native Pat was highly influenced by Wes Montgomery in his formative years when he helped popularize soul-jazz and elevate the status of the guitar in jazz. In 1980 Martino suffered a brain aneurysm that forced him to relearn how to play the guitar.
Since then Pat has released some outstanding recordings, perhaps none better than this impressive tribute to Montgomery that is not a duplication of Wes’ style, but rather a heartfelt re-interpretation of the music that inspired Pat to a higher level of virtuosity. “Remember” is a remarkable listening experience and demonstrates what it means to “get inside” another musician’s head and heart. Martino has resurrected Montgomery into new life, but from his own perspective as one who knew-indeed worshipped-him and continues to be inspired by him, like a comet that returns to its star.