Saturday, March 13, 2021

Jeremy Pelt - Griot: This Is Important! (2021 HighNote Records)

It is only natural that Jeremy Pelt's voracious curiosity would lead him to investigate the West African Griot tradition where stories, reminiscences and accomplishments from times past are handed down as oral histories. Researchers such as Art Taylor, William Russell and Alan Lomax have preserved interviews with older jazzmen but for his Griot odyssey, Pelt turns to his own peer group to record their thoughts on creating jazz, playing jazz and experiencing the life of a jazz musician of color in our own time.

Each brief interview is followed by a composition by Pelt which perfectly captures the sentiments and emotions of it's spoken-word prelude. To help him bring his vision to life, Pelt has assembled a hand-picked group of colleagues, featuring vibraphonist Chien Chien Lu, pianist Victor Gould, bassist Vicente Archer, harpist Brandee Younger and others. The tunes themselves run the gamut from the remarkable mixing of the sacred and the secular in "Carry Christ Wherever You Are," to the Monk-like gallumphing opening unison in "Don't Dog the Source," and the urgent, "Underdog." As Pelt himself says, "I want people to understand that this is for everybody," that the project was undertaken to perhaps help them "understand that whatever they might be going through, their perspectives might run parallel to those of people who are generations apart from them. Maybe, to a certain extent, these younger people will find themselves in these stories."

1 Griot - Intro (Words by Jeremy Pelt) (Music with Commentary)
2 Words by Paul West (Spoken Commentary)
3 Carry Christ Wherever You Are (Instrumental)
4 Words by Larry Willis (Spoken Commentary)
5 Underdog (Instrumental)
6 Words by JD Allen (Spoken Commentary)
7 Don't Dog the Source (Instrumental)
8 Words by Bertha Hope (Spoken Commentary)
9 A Seat at the Table (Words by Bertha Hope) (Music with Commentary)
10 Words by Harold Mabern (Spoken Commentary) [Explicit]
11 Solidarity (Instrumental)
12 Words by René Marie (Spoken Commentary) [Explicit]
13 A Beautiful (F*cking) Lie (Instrumental)
14 In Spite of... (Words by Warren Smith) (Music with Commentary) [Explicit]
15 Words by Ambrose Akinmusire (Spoken Commentary)
16 Relevance (Instrumental)

Jeremy Pelt – trumpet (all tracks except spoken commentary)
Chien Chien Lu – vibraphone (tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, & 16)
Victor Gould – piano (tracks 1, 3, 5, 9, 11, 13, & 16), nord keyboard (track 14),
Vicente Archer – bass (all tracks except spoken commentary)
Allan Mednard – drums (tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, & 16)
Ismel Wignall – percussion (tracks 1, 3, 9 & 11)
Brandee Younger – harp (track 13)

David Kikoski with Boris Kozlov - Shure Thing (2021 HighNote Records)

The dynamic duo of pianist David Kikoski and bassist Boris Kozlov is a triumph of musicality and virtuosity. There's some kind of magic happening between the two kindred spirits that goes beyond the notes. The musical connection between the two goes back more than 20 years. They have continued to play together regularly over the years in groups like the Mingus Big Band, in Kikoski's own trio and the all-star post-bop cooperative Opus 5. You can feel their sense of telepathy throughout Sure Thing and it is readily apparent on Kikoski's original compositions like "B Flat Tune," "E" and "Strength for Change," on the swinging version of John Coltrane's "Satellite" and the duo's faithful reading of keyboardist Keith Emerson's classically influenced "Fugue" from "The Endless Enigma". Their playful, relaxed chemistry permeates all eight tunes here and makes Sure Thing a true work of collaborative genius.

1. B Flat Tune (David Kikoski) 6:02
2. E (David Kikoski) 6:45
3. Fugue from “The Endless Enigma” (Keith Emerson) 2:31
4. Strength for Change (David Kikoski) 9:32
5. Quartet #1 (Chick Corea) 9:30
6. Satellite (John Coltrane) 6:33
7. Sure Thing (Jerome Kern / Ira Gershwin) 7:38
8. Winnie's Garden (David Kikoski) 8:39

David Kikoski (piano)
Boris Kozlov (bass)

Pierrick Pédron – Fifty-Fifty [1]: New York Sessions (2021)

It’s clear that French alto saxophonist Pierrick Pédron was inspired by Charlie Parker. After all, his first album, released in 2001 is entitled Cherokee. Now some eight albums later, we find Pédron in the company of some of New York’s finest, namely pianist Sullivan Fortner, bassist Larry Grenadier, and drummer Marcus Gilmore for the fully acoustic Fifty/Fifty: New York Sessions. The number “50” plays into a couple of contexts here. The leader just turned 50 years old and the notion of the 50/50 split indeed means that another album will be forthcoming in the Fall – the electric Fifty/Fifty Paris Sessions.

The double album concept is a product of Pédron’s collaboration with producer Daniel Yvinec, who has worked with eminent artists such as Suzanne Vega, Salif Keita, Andy Bey, Maceo Parker, Yael Naim, Paul Motian and Mark Turner. The album was recorded and engineered by the renowned James Farber, with the musicians playing live in one room in the studio.

Since his debut, Pédron has absorbed the styles of several prominent altoists. This writer hears some Kenny Garrett, but closer listening also reveals nods to Cannonball Adderley, Ornette Coleman, and even Maceo Parker. In the past two decades Pédron has “covered the waterfront” to use a jazz term, playing live or in the studio, acoustic or electric with Mulgrew Miller, Phil Woods, Roy Hargrove or Ambrose Akinmusire. Yet, at the root of it all, as one listens to these nine selections is that the seminal bebop of Bird infuses much of the material. Pédron is a highly lyrical player, equally adept with complex rhythm patterns as he is with emotive ballads. Being surrounded by some of best talent in jazz helps. Fortner is an in-demand young pianist, perhaps most famously associated with vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant and a frequent sideman in many sessions. Bassist Larry Grenadier is a pillar of the Brad Mehldau trio and vital quarter member of the fusion group Hudson. Drummer Marcus Gilmore, of Fortner’s generation, is perpetuating the magnificent work of his grandfather, Roy Haynes.
The album begins with “Bullet T,” a frenetic piece that courses that fuses bebop and a bit of the Ornette Coleman style as Fortner delivers both syncopated and flowing lines and Gilmore skitters on his kit. Immediately, you’ll be struck by Pédron’s clean tone, fluency, and use of seemingly every note on his horn in flurries. The piece goes through several changes, slowed near the end only to be revived when the leader bursts forth with yet another patented cluster of notes. “Be Ready” is a bit more angular, leaving room for crisp statements from Fortner and Grenadier as Pédron soars freely. “Sakura,” a ballad, begins with spare notes from Fortner and hushed support from his rhythm mates before the leader enters, playing gorgeously. Ballads are generally acknowledged as Fortner’s (pardon the term) forte’ so this naturally works beautifully, with a lyrical bass solo and some especially emotive notes reached by the leader as the piece builds and ends on a sublime sustained note.

The brisk “Boom” is straight-ahead bebop while “Trevise” returns to the lush ballad mode that reveals some of Pédron’s most poignant playing on the album, so focused on every nuance in each note as Fortner’s piano shimmers and the trio creates a lush backdrop. “Unknown,” as the title implies, is a meandering, searching, unpredictable piece with each member improvising as Gilmore holds it together with his steady trap work. “Origami” is an edgy piece that features some inventive piano from Fortner as the leader expresses his story rather eloquently. “Mr. Takagi” is another oddly tempoed, hard bop-free jazz excursion while the closer “Mizue,” appropriately again represents the group’s exquisite balladry, ending on a gorgeous high note.

1. Bullet
2. Be Ready
3. Sakura
4. Boom
5. Trevise
6. Unknown 2
7. Origami
8. Mr Tagaki
9. Mizue

Pierrick Pédron (as)
Sullivan Fortner (p)
Larry Granadier (b)
Marcus Gilmore (ds)

Daniel Thatcher - Waterwheel (April 30, 2021 Shifting Paradigm Records)

With his debut recording as a bandleader, Daniel Thatcher not only assembles an ensemble brimming with exceptional musicianship, but also puts forth his distinct voice as a fresh and thoughtful composer. This release, due out on Shifting Paradigm Records in April 2021, features Daniel’s band Waterwheel, a quartet consisting of guitarists John Kregor and Matt Gold, and drummer Devin Drobka. Together they weave a musical tapestry which exemplifies qualities that define Daniel and his bandmates both musically and personally: supportive, creative, selfless, and open.

The band derives its name from a reference to the Microcosmic Orbit, a pair of meridians or energy lines that store Qi, relevant to Tai Chi and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Qi is considered vital energy, an invisible force which animates, brings into balance, and heals.

Everything in the world is made up of it and it is within every one of us. Daniel’s music is inspired by and reflects this life-affirming force.

1. Odds are Even
2. Three Sages
3. Albedo
4. Viscous
5. Let's Grow Old Together
6. Big Ben
7. Im Alpental
8. Lady of the Lake
9. Naturally (bonus)
10. The Feast is Forward (bonus)

Daniel Thatcher - bass, compositions
John Kregor - guitar
Matt Gold - guitar
Devin Drobka - drums

Peter DiCarlo - Onward (March 2021 Shifting Paradigm Records)

The release of Onward marks the occasion of NYC based alto saxophonist Peter DiCarlo's first solo album release. The album is named to signify a departure from the past, and realization of what is possible in the future. Onward is the culmination of years of intention, planning and execution. As a musician, educator and father, everything seemed to be a reason to hold back and not make this album. Perseverance, sacrifice and good fortune were involved to see this project through.

1. Onward 07:41
2. Feast in the Fuar 06:54
3. Stepping Off 07:32
4. The Imposter 06:29
5. Arrival 05:51
6. Hint of Mint 07:02
7. There Will Never Be Another You 05:35
8. Feel Like Makin' Love 05:27

Peter DiCarlo - Alto Saxophone
Scott Wendholt - Trumpet (Tracks 1, 2, 6, 8)
Rich Perry - Tenor Saxophone (Tracks 1, 4, 5, 8)
Claire Daly - Baritone Saxophone (Tracks 1 & 8)
Jim Ridl - Piano
Tom DiCarlo - Bass
Keisel Jiménez Leyva -Percussion (Tracks 2, 4, 5, 7)
Chris Parker - Drums
Jerson Trinidad - Vocals (Track 8)

David Stoller - Engineer
Steve Jankowski - Mixed
Nate Wood - Mastered

Adam Booker - Lucca Live (2021 Shifting Paradigm Records)

We are excited to announce "Lucca Live," the latest recording from Adam Booker! Lucca Live was recorded at the Boccherini Institute of Music in Lucca, Italy. This exciting recording features Italian musicians, Alessandro Lanzoni and Bernardo Guerra on piano and drums.

1. Bass Intro/Sanctus 11:04
2. Orange Peanut 07:55
3. Gloria 08:02
4. Agnus Dei 08:33
5. The Tennessee Waltz 08:06
6. Kyrie 08:50
7. Agnus Dei (Rehearsal Take) 08:40

Recorded October 14 th , 2019 at the Instituto Boccherini, Lucca, Italy

Alessandro Lanzoni, Piano
Bernardo Guerra, Drums

Produced by Adam Booker
Mixed and Mastered by Pavel Wlosok, Sonic Adventures Studios

Murray Street Band - l'une & l'autre (Set of 2 albums) March 2021

Here is the complete (burning!) performance of John Heward's Murray Street Band. This is every note and sound that was played.

The classic version of one of Montreal's hardest blowing and longest standing free jazz bands, recorded on an ecstatic night at La Brique, a wonderful loft space now sadly gone from the scene. Up until 2020, this recording was the only commercially available document of this great band, and was released on the occasion of John Heward's 76th birthday party.

Originally released as a limited edition of 2x76 numbered, hand-coloured discs wrapped in pages from an undisclosed gallery catalogue, with handwritten liner notes.

Originally Released as Mr. E Records #3 & # 3 and a half.

1. l'une 34:17
2. l'autre 32:37

John Heward, Michel Bonneau drums
Nicolas Caloia, Thierry Amar basses
Sam Shalabi, Chris Burns guitars
Ellwood Epps, Brian Lipson, Eric Lewis trumpets

All music composed by the performers.
All music registered with SOCAN.

Recorded live by Dave Bryant
at La Brique, Montréal
May 18, 2007