Having performed in Paquito D'Rivera's group since 2007, Alex Brown (The Pianist, as his album title declares) appropriately records his first album under the aegis of The Clarinetist/The Saxophonist. Indeed, Brown records on D'Rivera's label, Paquito Records, thereby receiving a no-doubt much appreciated boost from his mentor. Though top-notch jazz musicians from Jane Bunnett to Jon Faddis have worked with Brown, not to mention Brown's involvement with D'Rivera's Grammy-Award-winning album, he has escaped wide-spread public awareness. He shouldn't remain under-recognized much longer.
Volume 3 of influential trumpeter Dave Douglas's "Portable Series" casts yet another perspective of the artist's resiliency and broad vernacular. The premise behind the three volumes, featuring different ensembles is based on informal gatherings, hearkening back to the olden days where musicians would align for pick-up sessions. Otherwise, Bad Mango is not simply a high-octane bashing session, but offers a polytonal soundscape, spanning a diverse mix that is a nicely balanced package containing equal parts jazz and world music. Neither genre supersedes the other, although an indigenous setting is laid out via the percussionists' multifunctional approach to the program.
Ten Tunes is a loose and playful recording. The band hints at a multitude of styles; they touch on rock, country and funk, as well as Middle Eastern and Latin music, all within a jazz context. Despite the group's eclectic influences, Ten Songs works well as a cohesive whole. This can be attributed to two reasons. First, the group assembled here—leader Bill Barner on clarinet, Stan Smith on guitar, Roger Hines on bass and Danny Aguiar on drums—establish in the pocket grooves on each track, so that each song has an easy rhythmic appeal. Secondly, though the context of the songs may change, Bill Barner always writes around simple, singable melodies.
Beppe Di Benedetto is a trombone player, composer and arranger born in Italy. Beppe's passion for music began at the age of 12 when one day his father came home with a strange black suitcase in his hand. Inside was a shiny instrument. His constant curiosity in capturing the secret language of music has accorded Beppe many opportunities in sharing the stage with such famous musicians as Eumir Deotado, Solomon Burke, Bob Mintzer, Paul Anka, Burt Bacharach, Mario Biondi, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hengel Gualdi, Jovanotti, Antonella Ruggero, Fabrizio Bosso, Lorenzo Tucci, Daniele Scannapieco, Giovanni Amato, Claudio Filippini, Andrea Tofanelli, Massimo Manzi, Ellade Bandini, Christian Meyer, Michael Rosen, Ernesstico, Mark Harris, Luca Mannutza, Tullio De Piscopo and many more.
In a day and age when most musical artists become prisoners of stilted genre-defining labels, Argentinean Florencia Ruiz eschews categorization. On her first U.S. release Luz de La Noche (Light of the Night), a studio recording from Adventure Music, Ruiz blends rock, jazz, and MPB elements to forge a truly original sound. Be forewarned: If you were expecting tango nouveau, then you're on the wrong train.
Donovan Mixon has seen some of the world in the last two decades, and the influences show in Culmination. After teaching at the Berklee College of Music, the guitarist spent seven years in Italy, then ten in Turkey, bouncing between freelance work and teaching. Now he's back, with a group of mostly Turkish musicians, and the result is a mix of chamber jazz, world music, and bop that is intense, yet quiet and film-like in atmosphere.
Psychedelic pranksters M'lumbo return with the amusingly titled Celestial Ghetto. The title of the album is quite fitting as M'lumbo draw from many sources, and can alternate seamlessly between the gritty and the ethereal. With M'lumbo, there is no distinction between high and low art where refined soloing is juxtaposed against a sense of nutty humor. This might be irritating to some (why obscure a perfectly good solo with seemingly random samples?) but this recording is refreshingly free from intellectual pretenses.
"Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."
Sometimes you just need to get away... Oscar Peñas lives the musical irony having left his native Spain and come to what is fast becoming the epicenter of global jazz in order to compose for From Now On. While indeed a musical melting pot of a variety of cultures and influences, it is an introspective reflection on his own cultural heritage that transforms From Now On into such an intoxicating work.
The newly released Rae Ann Perez CD "Midnight In Paris" has hit the scene. A fresh take, it showcases Rae Ann Perez abilities as a fluent songwriter, pianist and vocalist. The eight originals and four expertly arranged favorites are " world jazz" music with touches of classic standards, funk, and highly influenced Latin sounds and grooves.