BILL ANSCHELL – “FIGMENTS” (Solo outing by this pianist, with an eclectic mix of old and new standards).
Origin Records: Throughout Figments, pianist Bill Anschell’s creative, abstract approach
takes each song to unexpected places without ever leaving his audience
behind. Self-recorded over a series of late nights, after gigs, when
Anschell’s "internal supervisor had clocked out." The result is twelve
genre-bending, near stream-of-consciousness takes covering a mix of jazz
standards and pop songs from the 60s and 70s. Highlights include Arlo
Guthrie’s protest song "Alice’s Restaurant," a meditative take on the
Rodgers and Hart standard "It Never Entered My Mind," and a
prepared-piano version of Joni Mitchell’s "Big Yellow Taxi."
BYARD – “A MATTER OF BLACK AND WHITE” (Previously unreleased solo
concert recordings of this pianist, from 1978-79 at the Keystone
AllAboutJazz.com (Charles Walker): Culled from a series of live dates at San Francisco's Keystone Korner in the late 1970s, A Matter of Black and White (the second released so far) finds Byard long since settled into his chameleonic style. In
recent years, Byard has reached many listeners in a very indirect way:
through his work as a teacher and mentor, most notably to pianist Jason Moran.
As for Byard himself, this means that he has become a central precursor
to many of the conglomerated trends that have so far defined jazz's
“PAPA” JOHN DeFRANCESCO – “A PHILADELPHIA STORY” (Mostly funky stuff, performing with his sons).
JazzLoft: 'Papa' John DeFrancesco put aside his successful playing career to watch
over his progeny, Joey DeFrancesco, who by age 17 would start touring
as a member of Miles Davis' band. But by the mid-'90s, with Joey grown
and on his own, not only did Papa resume his nights behind the B3, he
started recording again. Papa has made another trip to the Savant
studio, not only with Joey, but with his guitar-playing scion, John, to
boot. Together with tenor saxman Joe Fortunato and drummer Glenn
Ferracone, they take an un-hackneyed program of nine tunes and add
another notch in the belt of this B-3 icon.
GEOFFREY KEEZER/JOE LOCKE/TIM GARLAND – “VIA” (Outstanding trio, doing all original compositions).
AllAboutJazz.com (John Kelman): an
album that celebrates the many locations Storms/Nocturnes has
encountered, both at home and in the near-countless locales its players
have visited on the road. VIA does, however, represent a
number of changes for the trio as well. First, while Keezer and Locke
contributed material to the first two discs, this is the first album
where compositional credits are split equally amongst the trio; it's
also the first disc produced by Storms/Nocturnes, rather than Garland,
in cooperation with John Priestley, the label head of the now-defunct
DAVID LEONHARDT JAZZ GROUP – “PLAYS COLE PORTER” (Straight-ahead versions of Cole’s classic songs, with 5 vocal tracks).
Lehigh Valley Music (Jodi Duckett)
: Leonhardt often plays in an angular, choppy style and Wells tends to play hard, which adds interesting contrasts to the more traditional Reed and McKenna.
It would be nice to hear this group take on a composer lesser known than the often-visited Porter. But it is still a nice visit.DEBBIE
PORYES/BRUCE WILLIAMSON – “TWO & FRO” (Duet recording, with pianist
and reed player, performing originals, standards and jazz tunes).
LIAM SILLERY – “PRIORITE” (Trumpet-led quintet, doing all his originals. Progressive Jazz). OA2 Records
: Following a recording that Downbeat magazine declared a "masterpiece" in it's 2010 year-end edition, Sillery just proceeds on in doing what he does best - creating forward-looking, modern, articulate jazz with his tight knit ensemble of equally inspired improvisors. Downbeat on previous disc: “Trumpeter Liam Sillery’s Phenomenology is so natural that only one word can be used to describe it: perfect.
TERELL STAFFORD – “THIS SIDE OF STRAYHORN” (Quintet, doing Strayhorn tunes, most familiar, some not. Straight-ahead).
Digital Jazz Reviews1. Bruce Barth - Pianist and Arranger. The arrangements of some classic and some lesser known tunes are musical layers so structured as to rely on each musician for support. Loosely translated - this band is tight!
: "This Side of Strayhorn" works on every possible level you can imagine so let me highlight two.
2. Passion. As previously stated passion pours from Stafford as though each note played may well be his last.
The music and legacy of Billy Strayhorn and his 30 year collaboration with the great Duke Ellington is well known. From "Lush Life" to "Johnny Come Lately" this iconic selection of tunes is approached with taste, tenacity and timing.
To review a release of this magnitude is an exercise in futility.
Other trumpet players could have easily attempted a project such as this but from a more academic or theoretical perspective. Loosely translated - No passion.
The only possible "review" is to acknowledge the outstanding arrangements of Barth, the musical ability of the band and the genius of Terell Stafford.
An epic release.
LOU VOLPE – “HEAR AND NOW” (Guitarist, leading a quartet, doing originals and standards, with a couple of contemporary tracks). AllAboutJazz.com (Jack Huntley)
: On Hear And Now, he steps out into the spotlight and fills center stage with his melodic, infection playing. Backed by a superb cast of musicians, Volpe's playing straddles the line between classic jazz guitar and a more exuberant, blues-rock style. The beauty of Volpe's work is how he moves effortlessly between the two without tipping his hand. Where Volpe goes, the ear follows.
JEFF “TAIN” WATTS – “FAMILY” (Straight-ahead quartet, doing all of Tain’s originals).
: On all of the tracks you can hear Watt's conjure up the entire jazz drumming tradition with swing, nerve and verve.
“MORT WEISS MEETS BILL CUNLIFFE” (Clarinetist and pianist, in a variety of band configurations, doing standards and jazz tunes).
ANTHONY WILSON – “CAMPO BELO” (Guitarist, leading a quartet, straight-ahead with a South American flavor). LA Time Culture Monster (Chris Barton)
: Recorded with a quartet of young Brazilian musicians Wilson had met in his travels, "Campo Belo" pulls off the nifty trick of being enriched with the spirit of Brazil but not wholly consumed by it. Direct nods to the region, such as the swerving drive of "Valsacatu," pepper the album, but primarily the record stubbornly resists remaining rooted to any single tradition.