Here are five more recent jazz releases worth giving a listen to:
1. Fellowship by Lizz Wright (Verve Forecast – September 28, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY
Fellowship continues Lizz Wright’s celebrated collaboration with acclaimed singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon, who co-produced the new album and wrote/performed on a number of tracks on Wright’s previous release. The record features several traditional songs that Wright grew up with in church including “Amazing Grace,” “Sweeping Through the City,” and a gospel medley featuring “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Power Lord.” Wright also covers a number of songs by noted writers including “Presence of the Lord” by Eric Clapton and “In From the Storm” by Jimi Hendrix. Bernice Johnson Reagon performs on two tracks, including “I Remember, I Believe” which she composed. Lizz Wright, whom The Wall Street Journal calls “a thoughtful, sensitive soul,” has received critical praise from Time Magazine, NPR, Ebony, Essence, New Yorker and Billboard, and her music is featured in several major television shows. Wright was born in the small town of Hahira, Georgia, to a local minister. She grew up traveling through the South singing with her parents and siblings. She first came to national attention in 2002 when she performed in a series of Billie Holiday tribute shows. Since then, she’s released Salt (2003), Dreaming Wide Awake (2005) and The Orchard (2008), all three critical and fan favorites.
2. Chucho’s Steps by Chucho Valdez (Four Quarters Ent, Aug 31, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY
Born in Quivicán, Cuba in 1941, Chucho Valdés is one of Cuba’s most famous pianists, bandleaders, composers and arrangers. Perhaps best known for founding the famous Latin jazz band Irakere in 1972, Chucho’s illustrious career has also garnered him 6 Grammy wins and 16 nominations over the past three decades. His most recent win, a 2009 Latin Grammy for the record Juntos para Siempre, saw him collaborate with his father, Bebo Valdés, a major player on the Cuban jazz scene in his own right. Chucho Valdés has recorded over eighty CD’s and performed with everybody who is anybody in the world of jazz; from Herbie Hancock and Dizzy Gillespie, to Wynton Marsalis and Chick Corea. His reputation as one of the greatest living Cuban jazz pianists has earned him appearances on the great stages in music, including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center and The Hollywood Bowl. Chucho’s new album with the Afro-Cuban Messengers, which will extensively tour the USA in October 2010, marks Chucho’s return to the US for the first time in 7 years.
3. Solo by Vijay Iyer (Act Music & Vision, August 31, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY
By now, there can be no doubt that pianist-composer Iyer stands among the most daringly original jazz artists of the under-40 generation,” writes Howard Reich in the Chicago Tribune. The American-born son of Indian immigrants, VIJAY IYER (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) was described by The Village Voice as “the most commanding pianist and composer to emerge in recent years,” by The New Yorker as one of “today’s most important pianists… extravagantly gifted,” and by the L.A. Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star.” After the phenomenal success of The Vijay Iyer Trio’s 2009 release “Historicity” – the `800-pound gorilla on year-end best-of lists’ (L.A. Times), Iyer returns with Solo. The document of Iyer’s continuing dialogue with history, both his own and that of the music to which he has dedicated his life, Solo encapsulates both Iyer’s career and his distinctive approach to his instrument. The diversity of Iyer’s experience infuses each note of Solo. The first section of the record centers on music of the past, presenting Iyer’s interpretation of music from the jazz canon. In this way, the disc might be viewed as an extension of 2009’s Historicity. His own compositions, dominating the album’s second act, demonstrate how completely he has assimilated and brought his own vision to creative music. For Iyer, the new album embodies both departure and return. It is a monumental step forward and a defining moment in Vijay Iyer’s artistic life. With this powerful, subtle homage to Monk, Ellington, Taylor, Hill, Muhal Richard Abrams and Randy Weston, Iyer joins the ranks of these and many other artists who have recorded great, enduring, original solo piano statements.
4. Vitoria Suite by Wynton Marsalis (Emarcy – October 19, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY
Emarcy is pleased to announce the release of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis’ Vitoria Suite, available on October 19th. The two disc set is a new extended work by Marsalis that uses the impulse of the blues as a foundation to jointly explore the music of two worlds and two cultures: the jazz and blues of North America and the indigenous music of the Basque region and flamenco of Spain.
Vitoria Suite is a 12-part work, inspired by the 12 measures of the blues, and also includes a bonus “Making Of” DVD. Composer Wynton Marsalis’ seamless usage of both Spanish and American styles shows how much the two locations have in common, musically if not geographically. “As outsiders,” says Marsalis, “it’s not possible for us to play this music in the same way that a Spanish musician would, so instead I’ve tried to take elements of the music of the region and translate that into the sound of jazz.”
The Suite isn’t only about American musicians experimenting with Spanish forms – it is also about collaborating with leading Spanish players, specifically the legendary flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia, whose contribution is a testament to the power of inter-cultural collaboration.
5. When Larry Met Harry by Larry Goldings and Harry Allen (Palmetto Records – September 14, 2010) CLICK HERE TO BUY
Harry Allen’s effortless phrasing meets Larry Goldings’ impeccable piano playing, with a gorgeous Vince Mendoza string arrangement of Goldings’ composition ‘Benny’s Dream’ performed by the Metropole Orkest.
Best known as a leading jazz organist, this is Goldings’ first record to predominantly feature him as a pianist since 2006’s ‘Quartet.’ Drummer Andy Watson (from Jon Hendricks’ band) joins the fun. Bassists Doug Weiss (Chris Potter / Al Foster) and Neal Miner (Jane Monheit / Stacey Kent) trade duties on various tracks.