This Is Jazz Today: Andrew Cyrille and Bill McHenry, Cory Healey’s Beautiful Sunshine Band, Naftule’s Dream, Jane Ira Bloom, and Dave Stryker


This Is Jazz Today


Andrew Cyrille & Bill McHenry – Proximity (Sunnyside)

cyrille-mchenry-proximityThis low-key affair is nonetheless extremely engaging.  The duo of drummer Andrew Cyrille and tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry aren’t creating songs so much as giving extended life to interludes and fragmentary ideas.  There’s an intimacy to this session not unlike music, heard clearly, drifting out from a window as you stand on the sidewalk below, transfixed by every note.  A few tracks raise their voice a bit, but for the most part, this is music that keeps to restrained, thoughtful expressions.

Your album personnel:  Andrew Cyrille (drums) and Bill McHenry (tenor sax).

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  AmazonBandcampeMusic


Cory Healey’s Beautiful Sunshine Band – Beautiful Sunshine (Shifting Paradigm)

cory-healey-beautiful-sunshineConsidering how melodic this album is at heart, it possesses an unusual gruffness, abrasive even at times.  It’s as if the quintet Cory Healey’s Beautiful Sunshine Band resents the mere presence of the melody and thus quickly ushers it across the song and out the door before the next song begins.  But that’s just how the melodic treatment comes off at first blush, because with repeat visits to this interesting recording Beautiful Sunshine, it becomes increasingly apparent just how much the quintet focuses its attention on the melody.  The fact that they knock it around and warp it and treat it, at times, with more than a little violence, ultimately it’s the melody, in its battered and flawed form, that eclipses every other aspect of this recording.  And it makes those times resonate so much more strongly when, by way of comparison, the quintet nurtures the melody as if bringing a flower to bloom.  “Cheerleader” gives a hint of that before setting the damn thing on fire, but then there’s tracks like “With God On Our Side,” where the melody is allowed to dance on its own and show the album in an entirely new light.

Your album personnel:  Cory Healey (drums, electronics, AM radio), Erik Fratzke (electric bass), Zacc Harris (guitar), Jake Baldwin (trumpet) and Brandon Wozniak (tenor sax).

Artist site | Listen | Buy:  AmazonBandcampeMusic


Naftule’s Dream – Blood (Self-Produced)

naftules-dream-bloodThere’s an appealing contrast to the soaring melodies and the stomping boots tempos, as if all the uplifting feelings of hope and love were balanced out by a pragmatic understanding that life can be hard and often is.  That a parallel can be drawn between this album’s sound, the first from Naftule’s Dream in quite a while, and their contributions to the Radical Jewish Music movement of the 90s, in which they infused a heaven & earth feel to their updated take on traditional Klezmer music, adds both to the intrigue and the signposts of how they’ve developed over the course of time.  Those songs on Blood that take on a drifting ambience are plenty alluring, but their substance is locked in by the edgier pieces with punctuated rhythms that possess, in their way, a dancing flow.

Your album personnel:  Glenn Dickson (clarinet), Gary Bohan (cornet), Eric Rosenthal (drums), Jim Gray (tuba), Michael McLaughlin (accordion) and Andrew Stern (guitar).

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Jane Ira Bloom – Early Americans (Self-Produced)

jane-ira-bloom-early-americansIt’s not just that there’s a pleasant flow to the newest from soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom, but that it traverses a series of compositions that bubble with excitement and energy.  Her previous recording, 2013’s excellent Sixteen Sunsets, staked out territory in the serene and the sublime.  But with Early Americans, this is get-up-and-go music, and based on the exuberance they apply to the rhythmic attack, both drummer Bobby Previte and bassist Mark Helias seem perfectly content with Bloom’s choice of tone and tempo.  But what shouldn’t get lost in all this talk about energetic music is that the music retains a sense of intimacy, an intimation that the music, though not striving to introduce an atmosphere of tranquility, is sure to maintain a nearness to it all the same.

Your album personnel:  Jane Ira Bloom (soprano sax), Mark Helias (bass) and Bobby Previte (drums).

Artist site | Buy:  AmazoneMusic


Dave Stryker – Eight Track II (Self-Produced)

dave-stryker-eight-track-iiSo I’ll just admit right up front to having little objectivity when it comes to covers of John Barry’s theme to the movie Midnight Cowboy.  It’s one of my favorite soundtracks to one of my favorite movies, and since guitarist Dave Stryker did a very nifty rendition of the song, heavy with a cool blues and an easy-going ambiance, well, that’s why his new album of pop music covers is getting a mention in today’s column.  He hits upon a couple by Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, others by The Isley Bros. and Prince (among other well known tunes).  Those tracks where a cool groove is the method to move, everything shakes out just right.  However, when the pace picks up, like on a cover of Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” it’s not quite as successful.  That said, none of this stuff is straight-up note-for-note cover songs, and that deserves plenty of credit.  Also, you’re not gonna go wrong with a line-up of Stryker, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, organist Jared Gold and drummer McClenty Hunter.  Basically, Stryker is playing with a Posi-Tone Records house band.

Your album personnel: Dave Styker (guitar), Steve Nelson (vibraphone), Jared Gold (organ) and McClenty Hunter (drums).

Artist site | Buy:  Amazon