Friday, April 28, 2017

The Firebirds - Aladdin's Dream (ILK MUSIC 2017)

The critically acclaimed trio The Firebirds is releasing their second album ALADDIN’S DREAM! The album is a tribute to the Danish composer Carl Nielsen, and the trio hereby continues their work with arranging classical orchestra pieces into their own unique blend of impro, surf, blues and avantgarde. 

"Can a Jazz trio really play classical orchestra-pieces? For the three gentlemaen in The Firebirds no challenge seems big enough." (Gaffa, Live-review 2016).

1 Oriental Festive March 00:03:33
2 Aladdin's Dream 00:02:21
3 Hindu Dance 00:08:03
4 The Market Place in Ispahan 00:03:50
6 Helios Overture 00:10:40
7 Little Suite for Strings 00:07:09

Eric Schaefer - Kyoto Mon Amour (ACT MUSIC 2017)

Richie Beirach & Gregor Huebner - Live at Birdland New York (ACT MUSIC 2017)

Jimmy Greene: Flowers – Beautiful Life, Vol. 2 (MACK AVENUE RECORDS 2017)

Every musician, I assume, has a prime source for inspiration. For saxophonist and composer Jimmy Greene, that’s been his daughter Ana, who had given him that inspiration during her life and in the aftermath of her shocking, tragic death that made international news. More than four years after the Sandy Hook massacre that cut short Ana Greene’s life, Ana continues to be a muse for her father. Flowers – Beautiful Life, Volume 2 (April 28, 2017, Mack Avenue Records) finds Jimmy Greene in a better spot in his life, because he chose to turn misery and grief into music that’s a celebration of the spirit of Ana and the forces of good.

Thusly, Flowers isn’t a low key affair that A Beautiful Life was at times, but jazz through the cheerful, carefree lens of a six year old. Greene, rest assured, is still making the same polished, attenuated music that endeared himself to us back in ’09. The difference now is that he makes the music a little more playful and lighter on its feet, music that someone at both six and sixty could dance or at least bob their head to.

You can hear him having a good time recording the 6/8 Brazilian samba festival tune “Stanky Leg” or the Nola-inspired second line “Stink Thumb” (apparently putting forth a notion that if it smells bad, it must sound good). On the former, pianist Renee Rosnes spins a tastefully flowing piano solo and the latter is livened up by Ben Williams’ pocket aware bass and Otis Brown III’s jumpin’ snare drum. On both, Greene delivers a happy, prancing soprano sax.

Other songs are inspired by Ana’s own words: “Big Guy” is what she called her 6’6″ father and the song of that name swings in a unique, dynamic way. “Fun Circuits” (“Don’t let them suck your fun circuits dry, Mom!”) has complex rhythms and Mike Moreno’s guitar with Rosnes’ Fender Rhodes give it a rock-jazz flair but also characterizes childlike exhilaration and unpredictability.

“December” is a song with a multidimensional complexion to portray the range of emotions that occur at the Greene household during this month every year (holiday season without Ana, anniversary of the Newtown massacre). But even here Greene is pushing forward; the song works through the mixed emotions with vigor and Brown’s drums make sure of that.

Sometimes words are needed to fully explain the feeling, and accordingly, a couple of vocal turns are included. Sheena Rattai takes on the task on the titular “Flowers” with words inspired by Ana’s book of flower drawings intended as an expression of love to her father. Greene offers what he calls “some humble advice to parents” as conveyed by Jean Baylor on the sweet ballad “Someday” while Greene’s cool, assuring tenor sax flutters around.

The only song Greene didn’t compose came instead from Level 42. Greene had revealed to us before that there was “something about Ana” so you might say he turned this 1986 hit “Something About You” into a message about her. Greene gets really creative with the middle of it, practically making up a whole new section where he again drops down chops from his soprano sax.

There’s talent galore on this album: besides Rosnes, Moreno, Williams and Brown, there are also appearances by Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, John Patitucci, Rogerio Boccato and Kevin Hays. They all do their part to help make Flowers – Beautiful Life, Volume 2 a worthy successor to Greene’s gorgeous tribute Beautiful Life. But Jimmy Greene’s biggest help comes from within. Inside his heart, where Ana Grace Greene lives and thrives.

1. Big Guy
2. Stanky Leg
3. Flowers
4. Second Breakfast
5. Fun Circuits
6. Stink Thumb
7. Someday
8. December
9. Amantes
10.Something About You

Renee Rosnes
Mike Moreno
Ben Williams
Otis Brown III
Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts
John Patitucci
Rogerio Boccato
Kevin Hays

Ulf & Eric Wakenius - Father and Son (ACT MUSIC 2017)

Nils Wogram Root 70 - Luxury Habits (nWOG RECORDS 2017)

Released April 28, 2017 

After four "conceptual works" releases Root 70 enters the free and spontaneous space again. Luxury Habits is an album on rhythm and unexpected metric transformation. Take the risk and get surprised.

Times change, and with them, the themes and credo of all artists – as long as their antennas continue to receive signals. Even the first bars of the opener of Luxury Habits announce that Root 70 is moving differently. Indeed, the motto for the new CD could be “the party’s over.” Never before has the band sounded so serious. Although here, serious does not mean the cerebral tendency in some of contemporary jazz, but rather the seriousness with which a subject is exhibited, and the depth with which the intentions of four musicians merge. Indeed, the music on Luxury Habits did not even have a conceptual plan. On the contrary, unlike on the last records of Root 70, Wogram wanted to do in a space devoid of concepts what a jazz musician likes to do: to simply play.

Wogram, Chisholm, Penman and Rueckert combine the gift of questioning themselves. Individually and as a band, which, in this case, amounts to a close circle of friends. “The album has emerged from a band dynamic,” says Wogram. “We talked intensively about the concepts of the past few years and agreed that we wanted to take a little more risk. We needed a new challenge.” The collective risk of precise blurring is a rare commodity in an epoch so fond of the post-factual. Root 70 lean far out the window. We have enough answers. Root 70 are four individualists who merge into an inseparable identity and once again ask the right questions in their music.

1. Luxury Habits 05:37
2. To Don`t List 06:58
3. Rehearsing the Future 09:21
4. Flattery is the Strongest Weapon 07:33
5. It`s arrogant to call me arrogant 06:11
6. Rich Kid 08:04
7. Party Anxiety 05:36
8. Starting from Zero 07:25
9. Piazza 08:33

Nils Wogram (Trombone, Melodica) 
Hayden Chisholm (Alto Sax) 
Matt Penman (Bass) 
Jochen Rueckert (Drums)

Yoann Loustalot Aérophone - Atrabile (BRUIT CHIC 2017)

C'est tout d'abord un grand plaisir, à chaque occasion, de croiser le son avec celui de Glenn, unique, beau et rare, si précieux ! J'ai souhaité étoffer et colorer la musique du trio autrement, en ajoutant cette unique palette de sons dont dispose Glenn. L'histoire de ce trio devenu quartet pour cette occasion, s'est écrite à travers chacun des morceaux de cet album, et au fil du temps, qui défile parfois lentement. Il était aussi essentiel à mes yeux de graver toute cette musique après l'avoir jouée en concert. Plus que de mettre un « guest » dans un album ou un super soliste invité à la « va-vite », il fallait que Glenn puisse sentir la sonorité du groupe autant que nous, et donc en faire partie totalement ; encore une fois, cela ne se fait qu'avec du temps.

01. Atrabile 3:51
02. Spongious 6:23
03. Moustal 7:13
04. Sornette 1:50
05. Ancient Empire 5:05
06. Pousse-Pousse 4:39
07. Aspiration 3:38
08. Doloroso 6:17
09. Spontaneous Suite 7:38
10. Inspiration 3:28

Yoann Loustalot, trompette
Glenn Ferris, trombone
Blaise Chevallier, contrebasse
Frédéric Pasqua, batterie

Eddie Palmieri - Sabiduria (ROPEADOPE RECORDS 2017)

Eddie Palmieri’s influence on the world of modern music is often celebrated, but just as often underestimated. As he completes his 80th year with us, his energy and commitment seem to be increasing, as if to fully emphasize the power of not just the music but also the cross-cultural importance of the process. With no sign of slowing, Mr. Palmieri is the elder of a global culture of musicians, actively teaching young students and leading the way for the next generation. And now Mr. Palmieri brings to the world his first project since his back to back Grammy wins in 2005/2006 - SABIDURÍA. Sabiduría is the Spanish word for WISDOM, and the message is clear from the outset that wisdom is the exalted value that should guide us all. His intent with Sabidurí a, as it has been with all of his recordings, is to create art that will be analyzed and understood well beyond his time. 

Many elements of style can be found within the experience of SABIDURÍA - funk, soul, jazz and pop are all present alongside the guiding force of rhythm. This is music you can sit to, drive to, and of course, DANCE to. The album features appearances from Donald Harrison Jr, Marcus Miller, Alfredo de la Fe, Joe Locke, Johnny Rivero, Ronnie Cuber, and David Spinnoza. SABIDURÍA may well be the best Latin Jazz record ever made, and when the dance is over we will let history decide.

01. Cuerdas y Tumbao 06:44
02. Wise Bata Blues 06:39
03. Sabiduría 05:32
04. La Cancha 05:13
05. Augustine Parish 06:18
06. Life 02:52
07. Samba Do Suenho 06:37
08. Spinal Volt 05:14
09. The Uprising 07:31
10. Coast To Coast 06:47
11. Locked In 07:05
12. Jibarita y Su Son 08:02

Eddie Palmieri 
Little Johnny Rivero 
Anthony Carrillo 
Luisito Quintero 
Luques Curtis 
Jonathan Walsh 
Louis Fouche 
Jonathan Powell 
Jeremy Powell 
Camilo Molina 

With Special Guests: 

Donald Harrison 
Obed Calvaire 
Ronnie Cuber 
David Spinozza 
Joe Locke 
Marcus Miller 
Bernard Purdie 
Alfredo de la Fe 

All Compositions Written & Arranged by Eddie Palmieri 
Music Producers: Eddie Palmieri and Eddie Palmieri II 
Executive Producers: Eddie Palmieri II, Zoilo R. Torres 
Recording & Mixing Engineer: Jay Messina 
Assistant Engineer: Bob Mallory, Akihiro Nishimura, Tim Marchiafava, Avatar Studios, 
Mastering Engineer: Fred Kevorkian 
Published by: Palmas Floribe (BMI) 
Recording Company: Palmieri Music Group 
Recorded & Mixed: Avatar Studios 
Recorded: February 2012