So, we continue our brisk catch-up of the This Is Jazz Today columns with five more recommendations. And, yes, we still have a lot of catching up to do. It’ll be another week or two before we get to our normal weekly column of 15-20 recs. Until then, we’ll continue running some abbreviated recommendations columns.
Today, we’ve got a nice mix of different jazz sub-genres, with each album situating itself in a different spot. Some of those spots are closer to jazz center than others, which will give you a nice bit of diversity in your buying choices. As always, your budget belongs to us.
Josh Maxey – Celebration of Soul (Miles High Records)
Guitarist Maxey’s music always had an ethereal component to its sound, often bolstered by tempos that came with their own set of wings. His recent move from NYC to the higher climes of Colorado doesn’t seem to have diminished his capacity for giving the blues an airy, fluid motion… even when the tunes emit the salt of the earth. Organist Brian Charette, saxophonist Chase Baird, drummer Jeremy Noller (and a number of guests joining in on various guitars) slip in some swing while maintaining Maxey’s signature flow.
Liberty Ellman – Radiate (PI Recordings)
A rather quirky personality to each of the tracks on guitarist Ellman’s newest, with many of them presented more as sonic vignettes than actual storylines. Ultimately, it’s this odd conversation style that serves as the album’s most endearing quality, resulting in dialog that is neither conventional nor dull. Strong line-up with alto saxophonist Steve Lehman, trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, bassist Stephan Crump, drummer Damion Reid and trombonist Jose Davila (who doubles up on tuba for this session).
Juli Wood Quartet – Synkka Metsa (Origin Arts)
Wow, what a cool recording. Based on Finnish folk songs, but delivered with a post-hard bop style that sounds equally solemn and tuneful. Tenor saxophonist Wood’s quartet flirts with a spiritual jazz sound, but the deep swing of the rhythm section and the earthy blues of Alejandro Urzagaste’s guitar gives it more of a Tristano-style cool jazz sound. A real magnetic personality to this recording, which should appeal to both old-school and new-school fans alike.
Baltazanis – End of Seas (Self-Produced)
Really nice modern fusion recording from guitarist Costas Baltazanis’s quintet, plus a bunch of guests adding extra percussion, wind instruments and a sole vocal track. That polished fusion sound benefits greatly from the extra percussion, as well as the keyboard sections adding some cloudiness and opacity to the sharp, clean lines. Melodies aren’t so much a launching point as they are exposition devices used to set the scene and build a certain ambiance.
César Orozco & Kamarata Jazz – No Limits for Tumbao (Alfi)
What starts out as a relatively straight-forward Latin Jazz recording slowly reveals a dynamic array of facets… most of them nuanced, but often quite startling… much like watching the slow procession of folds of an origamist at work. Orozco’s mix of Cuban, Venezuelan and Jazz doesn’t settle in to just one point of view, and the ever-changing panorama is one of the album’s best features. The piano/keyboards of Orozco, bassist Rodner Padilla, percussionist Francisco Vielma and drummer Euro Zambrano are joined by a solid group of guest musicians, including Paquito D’Rivera, Pedrito Martinez and Yosvany Terry (among others).
Have a great time digging through the list!
And remember, it’s simple: You like what you like.