Monday, March 7, 2016

Ingrid Racine - Concentric Circles (2016)

Label: Self Released
Source: Kick Starter

Born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI, trumpeter and composer Ingrid Racine embraces everything from early jazz to bop, fusion to folk and hip hop. After graduating from the esteemed jazz program at Community High School in 2000, Ingrid pursued a BFA in Jazz Studies at the University of Michigan, where she studied with the great saxophonist Donald Walden and Detroit Symphony Orchestra trumpeter Bill Lucas. By graduation, Ingrid was playing professionally all over Michigan with an eclectic array of ensembles including early jazz ensemble Phil Ogilvie’s Rhythm Kings, Mady Kouyate’s Heat of Africa, and the Detroit-based all female jazz group Straight Ahead, in addition to steady sideman work in local small jazz groups. She toured nationally and internationally with the group NOMO from 2003-2009, and also worked as the Music Programs Director for a non-profit youth center from 2005-2012. Ingrid returned to University of Michigan to do a Masters Degree in Improvisation, while studying with Professor Geri Allen and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen. Since completing her degree, she has worked tirelessly in the Michigan music scene, as a sideman, session player and bandleader.

1. Prelude 02:18
2. ? 1 {Self Transcendence} 06:26
3. Salient 05:40
4. Celastrus 05:50
5. Glass Box 04:46
6. Concentric Circles 07:34
7. Breathe In, Breathe Out 06:44
8. ? 2 {Cosmic Sadness} 02:28
9. When It Rains 05:38
10.Fourths 08:20
11.Stoics 06:07

Ingrid Racine, trumpet & vocals
Chuck Newsome, guitar
Ben Rolston, bass
Rob Avsharian, drums

with Ian Finkelstein, keys (tracks 1, 2, 4 & 11)
and Vincent Chandler, trombone (tracks 1 & 2)



Gary Monheit And Dan Krimm - New Shoots (2016)

Label: Another Pass Productions 
Source: Cdbaby 

Friends and bandmates since their undergraduate days at Princeton University in New Jersey during the mid 1970s, pianist Gary Monheit and fretless electric bass guitarist Dan Krimm have maintained an on-and-off working relationship over the decades that continues to this day. Now both living nearly 3,000 miles from their alma mater, in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they had been playing a regular duo at Yoshi's San Francisco branch up until the prominent jazz club closed last year, Monheit and Krimm have added the versatile Bay Area drummer Scott Amendola to the mix on New Shoots, which rekindles their longstanding indelible chemistry, but with a new twist.

"My new tunes from last year break new ground for me," says bassist-composer Krimm, a former classically-trained violinist from Ann Arbor, Michigan who picked up fretless electric bass after being inspired by Jaco Pastorius' self-titled debut album from 1976. Indeed, Krimm is now dealing with more frequent key modulations while continuing to place great emphasis on melody on his originals from New Shoots like "Meadowlark," the lightly swinging jazz-waltz that opens the collection, as well as the lovely "Awakening," the introspective "Contemplation" and the vibrant title track. "I think what Bill Evans did with 'Very Early' has some similarities with what I did with 'Meadowlark,'" says Krimm of the lilting opener. "But this is just my kind of angle on it. I love Lydian chords and so I'm doing Lydian and augmented kinds of compound chords...something more my own flavor. It's the kind of stuff that John Scofield and Ralph Towner had been doing back in the '70s. And the harmonic feel of 'Contemplation' is very Ralph Towner-ish to me. One of his old tunes he did with Gary Burton on the Matchbook duo album, the opener called 'Drifting Petals,' has a very similar kind of feel."

Keyboardist Monheit, who appeared on Krimm's 1986 debut, Sentience, along with special guests Vic Juris on guitar and Marty Fogel on saxophones, contributes four stellar compositions on New Shoots that have the highly interactive trio collectively exploring a hard driving swinger ("Misspoke"), a walking blues ("Blues for Terri"), an effervescent heartland-ish number ("Affirmed") and a loping samba flavored romp ("Rambling Green"). A consummate accompanist with a forceful left hand and a deft touch in the right hand, Monheit also shows a sense of harmonic and rhythmic adventurousness in his improvisations, as he demonstrates in his cascading solo on "Meadowlark," his daring extrapolation on the mesmerizing modal number "Misspoke" and his singing solo on "Awakening." His dazzling keyboard work on the propulsive 6/8 number "Rambling Green" is a pianist tour de force while his "Blues for Terri" (named for his wife) is old school in the best sense of the word, with just a twist of Monk coming into his earthy, Junior Mance-Ray Bryant-informed statements.

Throughout New Shoots, Krimm affects an exceedingly warm, woody tone on his Pedulla electric bass guitar along with an uncommonly lyrical penchant on his instrument, sounding like a cross between electric bass pioneer Steve Swallow and upright bass master Buster Williams. That deep-toned quality underscores all of the tracks on this appealing trio session, while his extraordinary facility and melodic ingenuity as an improviser provides a flurry of low-end highlights along the way.

Amendola's contribution cannot be overstated here. The in-demand session player and sideman (a charter member of the Nels Cline Singers as well as frequent duo partner of 7-string guitarist Charlie Hunter and leader of his Scott Amendola Band) has an uncanny ability to play just the right thing for any occasion. And his choices, whether it's his sublime brushwork on the delicate "Contemplation," his rolling undercurrent and extended drum solo on "Rambling Green," his buoyantly swinging, interactive pulse on "New Shoots" or his slick fills on the swaggering "Blues for Terri," always elevate the proceedings

"Scott's a really fine player and such a great listener," says Krimm. "We only had two serious working rehearsals for this session. We had given him a demo tape of a duet performance and the charts to look at but we only really got together twice for rehearsals before going into the studio. So he put that together on very short order. When I did my other albums in the past, usually the group would be out there gigging and settling things in for several months before going into the studio. But Scott is such a pro that he just jumped right into it and BAM...there it is!"

That this partnership between Monheit and Krimm has not only sustained from their fusion-inspired Princeton days (when they played in a band with tapping guitar sensation Stanley Jordan) but actually grown incrementally, arriving at this new level for the aptly-titled 'New Shoots,' is a triumph in these days of dwindling opportunities for jazz musicians.

"It's a very satisfying thing to finally come full circle back to this thing again," says Krimm. "Gary and I had kept in touch through a few letters and emails here and there. I ended up in Santa Monica while Gary was in Santa Barbara but he soon moved up to the Bay Area, and it took me a few years to get there myself, in 2006. It was at that point that we joined a group that was starting up called Fortune Smiles. It was good timing, right place at the right time. And it allowed us to start playing together again."

In 2010, the band recorded Fortune Smiles. And now with New Shoots they continue the next chapter of their potent partnership. Says Monheit of their indelible chemistry, "We both really appreciate the kind of modal jazz that we were influenced by when we were first learning jazz through recordings by Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and others. And we found this place where we're pretty comfortable as a duet. We figured out how to accompany each other, which is really a process of listening to each other, finding the sweet spots and providing good support for each other. And Scott Amendola just naturally fits right into that equation."

Regarding his longstanding rapport with Krimm, Monheit adds, "We've known each other for so long that even after long breaks it's kind of like we just pick up from where we left off."

And in the case of New Shoots, they pick it up from where they left off on 2010's Fortune Smiles and take it to an exciting new level.  Bill Milkowski

1. Meadowlark
2. Misspoke
3. Awakening
4. Rambling Green
5. Blues for Terri
6. New Shoots
7. Contemplation
8. Affirmed

Gary Monheit -- Piano
Dan Krimm -- Fretless Bass
Scott Amendola -- Drums (Special Guest)



Yvonnick Prene - Breath (2016)

Label: Self Released
Source: Allaboutjazz

Yvonnick Prene has called New York home since 2007, but jazz fans in and around the Big Apple and beyond can be forgiven if they lacked awareness about his harmonica skills until more recent times. His first album—the inviting Jour de Fête (SteepleChase Records, 2013)—took a while to arrive, so the only way to learn about Prene prior to 2013 was through word of mouth or a chance live encounter. Now, judging from his recent output, it appears that he's making up for lost time. Two more albums—Wonderful World (Self Produced, 2014) and Merci Toots (Self Produced, 2015)—came in quick succession after his debut, a full gigging calendar in the past few years has kept him in the public eye, and a flurry of writing and publishing activity has produced a good number of jazz harmonica educational publications from this rising star. And now there's Breathe.

Prene's fourth album finds him working within an organ-centric setting. It's a first on record for him, but it sounds as if he's been dealing with this format forever. Everything from the lively "Blues Comes Down The Seine" to the gently waltzing "As Night Falls" sounds natural as can be. Those two pieces bookend the album, but what's in between—an easy grooving rendition of pianist Monty Alexander's "Got To Go," a charged original in tribute to the Tixier brothers, a joyful calypso number dubbed "The Comedian," and several other winners—is just as interesting.

Prene's band here includes two veterans—organist Jared Gold and guitarist Peter Bernstein—and relative newcomer Allan Mednard on drums. For the most part, these four prove to be a simpatico set of players, ably supporting one another and playing off of each other. Mednard is occasionally a tad too heavy-handed for the topic at hand, evident in his crash-filled bossa nova backing on "Armorica," but that's just a small caveat. The big picture that Breathe projects—centrist sounds with enough surprises in the structure, soloing, and interplay to hold interest—is a bright one. Dan Bilawski

01. Blues Comes Down the Seine  5:46 
 02. Looking Up  7:33
 03. Breathe  5:14
 04. Got to Go  5:38
 05. Mr. Tix  5:14
 06. The Comedian  5:14
 07. Armorica  5:05
 08. As Night Falls  4:50 

Yvonnick Prené /Harmonica
Peter Bernstein / Guitar
Jared Gold / Hammond Organ
Allan Mednard / Drums



Matt Otto - Soliloquy (2016)

Label: Self Released
Source: Matt Otto

Matt Otto is currently the Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies at Kansas University (KU)  teaching Jazz Theory and Performance, Jazz Combo 1 and private lessons. Matt is also an Adjunct Professor at the Rutgers New Brunswick teaching online courses in jazz improvisation, theory and performance.

Matt Otto studied music performance and composition at Indiana University, Berklee School of Music, New School Jazz (BFA) and California Institute of the Arts (MFA). Having lived in Japan for 5 years, New York City for 7 years and Los Angels for 6 years, he has performed with a variety of artists including Anthony Wilson, Larry Koonse, Rashid Bakr, Ben Monder, Wadada Leo Smith, Willie Jones III, Alan Ferber, Mark Ferber, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Gregory Hutchinson, Jonathan Kreisberg, Charlie Haden , Joe La Barbera, Leroy Vinegar, Jimmy Smith, Paul Jackson, Ari Honig, Ben Street, Mike Moreno, Sara Gazarek, Josh Nelson, Danny Weiss, William Parker, Matt Wilson, Steve Cardenas, Bobby Watson, Bob Weir, Deborah Brown,  Larry Goldings, Jerry Bergonzi, Eric Harland, Sheryl Bailey, Darek Oles, Erik McPherson, John Stowell, Ralph Peterson, Alan Pasqua,  Kurt Rosenwinkel, Reggie Workman and many others.

While in Los Angeles, Matt co-founded of the Los Angeles Jazz Collective (  The mission of the collective (LAJC) is to help create opportunities for creative jazz composers and performers to showcase original artistic work and to set up an ongoing Jazz outreach program for young jazz musicians in and around Los Angeles.

Matt currently performs his original compositions with his Kansas City based septet with members Gerald Dunn on alto saxophone, Jeff Harshbarger on acoustic and electric bass, Shay Estes (vocals), TJ Martley on Piano/Keys, Mike Warren and/or Brian Steever on drums and Hermon Mehari on trumpet, as well as traveling several times per year to NYC and LA to perform and record with various jazz artists.

Matt has recorded and performed with the Grammy nominated Anthony Wilson Nonet (The Power of Nine, Groove Note 1035, 2006), and performers frequently in Los Angeles with the Grammy Nominated Alan Ferber Big Band as well as having recorded on over 50 CD’s as both a leader and a side man.  See below for a discography of noteworthy recordings.

1. Chibi 07:56
2. Billie 04:31
3. Brush Creek 06:52
4. Soliloquy 05:57
5. Ayler 05:44
6. Wheel 03:50
7. Shelter 06:32
8. Elocution 08:01
9. Lawrence 07:08
10.Metaphor 08:00

Matt Otto: Tenor Saxophone and compositions.
Gerald Dunn: Alto Sax
Jeff Harshbarger: Bass
Mike Warren: Drums
TJ Martley: Rhodes
Shay Estes: Vocals (1, 3, 5, 9)
Jeff Stocks: Guitar (3, 7, 9)
Molly McLaughlin: Flute (1, 2, 3, 5, 9)



John Hart - Exit From Brooklyn (2016)

Label: Zoho
Source: Cdbaby

In the winter of 1984 I first arrived in New York City. Fresh out of college, armed with a couple of guitars, I was unaware that I was about to begin a 30-year odyssey in which I would experience virtually every facet of the NY jazz scene. I soon landed in Brooklyn - Fort Greene to be exact. Brooklyn was a popular location for migrating young jazz musicians at that time, as it was difficult for many to negotiate Manhattan’s high rents. Neighborhoods such as Ft. Greene, Park Slope, and Brooklyn Heights were teaming with musicians, and the sound of jam sessions coming from inside apartment buildings was ubiquitous.
It was a different Brooklyn from the Brooklyn today. The term hipster was dormant and I would venture to say that there were very few Brooklynites who knew what a latte was. The one thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the vibrant and fertile jazz scene that has always resided there.

Brooklyn is where I first met Bill Moring and Tim Horner, the two remarkable musicians who join me on this disc. We met shortly after I moved to NY, all from different parts of the country, each with different backgrounds but all with the same goal, to play and learn. We ran into each other at some of those apartment jam sessions, found each other on various gigs together, and eventually formed a trio around 2000. This is our fourth CD together. In the late 90’s we all headed to the suburbs, raised our families, played a lot of gigs together and kept those jam sessions happening (all though this time in a house, not an apartment!)

My idea for this record was for us to convene with a minimum of rehearsal, play music that is rich in melody and explore and refine the chemistry that we have developed after all these years playing together. Read more...

1. Here's That Rainy Day
2. Exit from Brooklyn
3. The Star Crossed Lovers
4. Inside Out
5. April in Paris
6. Just Friends
7. I Mean It!
8. Ask Me Now
9. Jackie-Ing
10. Where or When

John Hart (g)
Bill Moring (b)
Tim Horner (d)



Bill O' Connell - Heart Beat (2016)

Label: Savant

Veteran New York Pianist/composer and arranger Bill O'Connell, early on developed a reputation in the post-bop/hard-bop area but, since then, is best recognized as one of the finest musicians and long-time proponents within the Latin Jazz genre. With decades as a performer and a host of albums to his credit, O'Connell presents his fourth release for the Savant label on the stellar Heart Beat where the pianist offers an exciting repertoire of seven originals and two covers of modern Latin jazz at its best. Laying down the Latin grooves and beats are O'Connell's Latin Jazz All-Stars that include some big names among them, trombonist Conrad Herwig, saxophonist Steve Slagle and young bassist Luques Curtis.

Performing in various formats throughout his career, here he uses a core four-piece rhythm and two-piece horn section augmented by vocalist Melvis Santa, percussionists Clemente Medina and Diego Lopez on a few tracks. Opening the set with one of the outstanding track of the album, "Vertigo" features the pianist introducing the tune in odd meter signature before breaking out and letting the band come in sizzling fashion with Slagle on soprano, Richie Barshay' furious drumming and Herwig's propulsive trombone solo, completes the piece in blistering style. Starting out slowly once again is the following "The Eyes of a Child," perhaps one of the most percussive pieces of the set with both percussionists Medina and Lopez weighing in on the bata drums as Slagle leads the music on the flute.

Displaying some of his right-hand finger play on the keys, the pianist helps "Awani" take off as one of the liveliest tunes of the album featuring vocal support from Singer Santa and a torrid solo from Slagle on the alto. Having a long-time affinity for the music of Brasil, O'Connell includes a gorgeous rendition of the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic "Waters of March," clearly a standout tune of the disc that features the pianist in center stage here despite some fine soprano work by Slagle. The other cover tune of the set is the Wayne Shorter standard "ESP" performed here with a lot of heat and spice from the band in an all-around burner of a track.

The percussive title track celebrates the main role the conga has as the "beating heart" of Latin rhythms featuring Cuban Conguero and percussionist Roman Diaz as O'Connell states "The rest of us do other things while Roman holds down the fort." The following "Wake Up" is symbolic of the leader's compositional brilliance in writing excellent melodies that are always appealing to everyone including those non-Latin music listeners.

The set closes on "Peace on Earth," a homage tune to Obatala and Orisha, an Afro-Cuban (deity) of the Santeria religion. The piece is spiked with vocals and bata drumming giving the tune a spiritual quality the leader was looking for as the musical embodiment of the Latin pulse. Heart Beat is a dynamic album from Bill O'Connell and his Latin Jazz All-Stars, pronouncing the Latin jazz rhythm as never before. 



Jim Rotondi - Dark Blue (2016)

Label: Smike Sessions Records

What the public misses with horn players, especially trumpeters, is they have to maintain the line while literally adding their voices to the mix. It’s not enough to blow the notes on the page, letting the instrument do all the heavy lifting, not for them and certainly not in jazz. Every breath, every contortion, is either intentional or accidental, and always brutally revealing. So save your breath with those mindless trumpeter jokes.

Now take a listen to Jim Rotondi’s vast discography as a sideman and leader. He’s nothing short of confident, commanding, and stupefyingly genius. Into jazz up to his neck, the 20-plus-year veteran plays better and differently from other trumpeters because he also understands the intricacies of the other instruments, beginning on the piano at the tender age of eight before finding his own groove on trumpet at 12 while growing up in Montana.

A devotee of Clifford Brown’s music right off, Rotondi attended the University of North Texas, in its music program, and showed early signs of that creative, ballsy genius in 1984 when he took the International Trumpet Guild’s jazz competition.

Once he made it to New York, Rotondi honed his chops and broadened his creative horizons on big bands — Lionel Hampton’s, Ray Charles, Bob Mintzer — and ensembles with Curtis Fuller, Joe Chambers, Lou Donaldson, Charles Earland. His own groups include vibist Joe Locke (Dizzy Gillespie, Mongo Santamaria, Beastie Boys), saxophonist Eric Alexander, trombonist Steve David, bassist John Webber, and pianist David Hazeltine.

Rotondi gathered all the right players for his next album, Dark Blue on Smoke Sessions Records — due for release on March 4, 2016 with a CD release March 4-6 at Smoke Jazz and Supper Club in New York City. They include frequent collaborators Locke and Hazeltine, as well as new friends, bassist David Wong and drummer Carl Allen. Read more...



Tino Tracanna Acrobats - Red Basics (2016)

Casa Parco della Musica presenta “Red Basics”, un nuovo disco registrato dal vivo all’Auditorium Parco della Musica per la serie Recording Studio. Protagonisti questa volta gli Acrobati, una formazione originale di musicisti fuoriclasse sotto la guida del sassofonista e compositore Tino Tracanna. Insieme, attenti alla tradizione ma con uno sguardo libero e curioso rivolto alla sperimentazione ed alla novità, gli Acrobati volteggiano nella babelica realtà contemporanea mettendo a contatto sostanze musicali diverse attraverso il libero dialogo dei musicisti attorno al complesso ma entusiasmante caos del mondo di oggi. Frammenti d’Africa, spasimi elettronici, eteree melodie e sanguigni grooves si intrecciano così in un acrobatico viaggio intorno al pianeta, alla velocità del pensiero.

Tino Tracanna (tenor and soprano sax) 
Mauro Ottolini (trombone) 
Roberto Cecchetto (guitar) 
Paolino Dalla Porta (double bass) 
Antonio Fusco (drums, percussion) 

01. Laudano
02. Red
03. Mr. D.P. Introduces
04. Mercato dei Pazzi
05. Pallida Iuna
06. Trimalcione
07. Incantamento
08. Sins
09. Jelly's Quantum Stomp
10. Basics



Bastian Stein (feat. Johannes Enders, Phil Donkin & James Maddren) - Viktor (2016)

Viktor is the name of trumpeter Bastian Stein's second Pirouet CD. It breaks out and into a completely new soundscape. Forgoing a harmony instrument, Stein along with saxophonist Johannes Enders, bassist Phil Donkin, and drummer James Maddren conjure up fascinating sounds with enormous latitude - sounds that have an unusually personal touch.

Bastian Stein started studying classical trumpet aged 15 at the University for Classical Music in Vienna. After his studies there he began at the Jazz Department in Amsterdam. Bastian completed his master's degree in Vienna where he lived and worked until 2013. In 2006 he received the Hans Koller scholarship to study in New York where he was taught by many distinguished musicians. Upon his return, Bastian began work with several different groups including Joris Dudli Sextet, Vienna Jazz Orchestra, NuRandom, Fagner Wesely Quartet, Martin Reiter Quartet.

He released his debut album "Grounded“ with the German label Double Moon Records in 2012. In 2013, under the name of "Bastian Stein Group" (feat. Pablo Held, Matthias Pichler and Tobias Backhaus) Stein released his second album "Diegesis“ with Pirouet Records.

In 2013, Bastian moved to Cologne in Germany where he formed his new quartet featuring Johannes Enders (tenor saxophone), Phil Donkin (double bass) and James Maddren (drums). In 2016 this quartet will release their new album "Viktor“ with Pirouet Records. Among many other projects he also works often with the WDR Big Band (concerts with Diane Reeves, Joshua Redman, Avishai Cohen, Richie Beirach among others). 

Since 2014 Bastian has been teaching Jazz Trumpet at the University of Stuttgart.

Bastian Stein trumpet
Johannes Enders tenor saxophone
Phil Donkin bass
James Maddren drums

It Seems
Off the Record
For Felician
Der Abschied