Jan 24 2020
Best of 2019 #44: Joel Ross – “KingMaker”
It was just a few years ago that I was catching Joel Ross perform on the Young Lions stage at the Chicago Jazz Festival. This, after the previous night, when he was a featured soloist for Orbert Davis’s festival opening performance. It was a great show, and he and his band ripped through some tunes, whispered out a ballad, and basically reminded everyone around how high the talent level is for jazz musicians still in the nascent stage of their evolution. It is bewildering but also not surprising at all to be writing about his debut as part of the Best of 2019 countdown. The spirit of that Chicago Jazz Festival performance is captured in Kingmaker, and its bolstered by a few years of growth manifesting as some very thoughtful composing. Ross also wrote these songs about different people and events in his life to date, an attempt at encapsulating the influences that led him to this point. For most of us, however, this album is all about the future, and how much we have to look forward to as the vibraphonist continues to evolve and record and delight.
Your album personnel: Joel Ross (vibraphone), Immanuel Wilkins (alto saxophone), Jeremy Corren (piano), Ben Tiberio (bass), Jeremy Dutton (drums), and guest: Gretchen Parlato (vocals)
Released on Blue Note Records.
Music from New York City.
Jan 25 2020
Best of 2019 #43: Miho Hazama – “Dancer in Nowhere”
The compositions of Miho Hazama are a simultaneous view of the colors of a tree’s leaves and the entire forest in which it lives. Dancer in Nowhere often feels like an epic journey, a sense of an ever-changing landscape that reaches out the horizon and keeps on going. And, yet, there are so many junctions within the changes where Hazama makes it so damn easy to immerse oneself in a precise moment that its like time stops and every nuance is revealed. Her ensemble work is Exhibit A in the case of big band jazz having as much impact in the present day upon jazz as it ever has.
Your album personnel: Miho Hazama (conductor), Steve Wilson (alto & soprano saxophones, flute), Ryoji Ihara (tenor sax, clarinet, flute), Jason Rigby (tenor sax, clarinet), Andrew Gutauskas (baritone sax, bass clarinet), Jonathan Powell (trumpet, flugelhorn), Adam Unsworth (French horn), Tomoko Akaboshi (violin), Sita Chay (violin), Atsuki Yoshida (viola), Meaghan Burke (cello), James Shipp (vibraphone, guiro, shekere), Billy Test (piano), Sam Anning (bass), Jake Goldbas (drums), and guests: Nate Wood (drums), Kavita Shah (vocals), and Lionel Loueke (guitar).
Released on Sunnyside Records.
Music from New York City.
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By davesumner • Recap: Best of 2019 • 0 • Tags: Best Jazz of 2019, Miho Hazama, New York City, Sunnyside Records