Here are five more recent jazz releases worth giving a listen to:
1. Standing on the Rooftop by Madeleine Peyroux (Decca, June 14, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY
On Standing on the Rooftop there’s one very interesting collaborator that may have the key to opening new doors is the Rolling Stones’, Bill Wyman, whom Peyroux met at the Nice Jazz Festival while waiting to hear B.B. King, and the two then began writing together. A strong point for Peyroux this year was performing their song for the children of a displaced persons’ camp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti this summer. The song, entitled ‘The Kind You Can’t Afford’, Peyroux says, is a testament to owning what money can’t buy. About the visit, she recounts, “I’ve had a sincere desire to be in Haiti ever since I started reading Edwidge Danticat, but never did visit before the storm. It was a life-changing experience which I’ll always remember, and the songs I performed there will now always have that flavor of pure music and joy in my memory.” Other current collaborators include Jonatha Brooke, David Batteau, Andy Rosen, and Jenny Scheinman. The new album is due to be released June 14th, 2011, and Peyroux plans to begin touring again in the US and Europe in early spring. “I think my fans are eager to hear something different,” Peyroux says, and pauses with restraint before adding, “Music has grown into another place in my mind… I am the same singer that I was as a teen, that wants to grow into music, wherever it comes from. I don’t believe I’ve given up anything. I’ve added to myself.” Let’s hope that that little air of restraint doesn’t hold her back.
2. Forever by Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Lenny White (Concord Records, June 7, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY
Pianist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White – each a powerful force of nature in his own right – have done more in recent decades to redefine jazz-rock fusion and push the limits of its potential than any other musicians today. Together they formed the core of the classic, most popular and successful lineup of Return to Forever, the legendary seminal electric jazz fusion band. After reclaiming the jazz-rock world in 2008 with the triumphant return of Return to Forever, Corea, Clarke and White decided to revisit where it all began, to get back to basics and the soul of their relationship.
The result is Forever, a two-CD set of 18 quintessential tunes. Recorded live, disc one of Forever is a best-of sampler from Corea, Clarke and White’s “RTF-Unplugged” world tour in 2009. Highlights include jazz standards “On Green Dolphin Street,” “Waltz for Debby” and “Hackensack,” exquisite Corea-classics “Bud Powell” and “Windows,” Clarke’s beautiful new “La Canción de Sofia” and even RTF pieces “Señor Mouse” and “No Mystery.” Disc two is a bonus CD with its own story.
3. Ninety Miles by Stefon Harris, David Sanchez and Christian Scott (Concord Picante, June 21, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY
All distance is relative, especially where geopolitical borders and ideologies are involved. We speak one language, they speak another. We follow our system, they follow theirs. When we focus on the differences, a relatively short stretch of land or water starts to look like a yawning chasm. But when we look at each other as individuals and focus on the similarities, that “chasm” is actually a very short distance. Less than a hundred miles. Musicians – especially jazz musicians, whose craft is in many ways an improvised form of communication – understand this principle inherently, perhaps better than any politician or diplomat could ever hope to. Vibraphonist Stefon Harris, saxophonist David Sánchez and trumpeter Christian Scott cross that divide in their new recording, Ninety Miles.
Recorded entirely in Havana, Cuba, with the help of some highly talented Cuban players – pianists Rember Duharte and Harold López-Nussa, each leading their own quartets – the nine-song set is an experiment that examines the fascinating chemical reaction that takes place when musicians from different cultures come together and converse in a common language that transcends mere words. The set also includes a DVD that is a sneak peek of the forthcoming documentary of the same name that chronicles the recording process of the album in Cuba. It will also include two bonus live performances of “City Sunrise” and “La Fiesta Va.”
4. Songs of Mirth and Melancholy by Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo (Marsalis Music, June 7, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY
It may have taken just three days to record, but this new duo recording from sax player Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo has 13 years of music-making behind it, dating back to when Calderazzo replaced the late, great Kenny Kirkland in the Branford Marsalis Quartet in 1998. We’ve come to expect a superabundance of imagination from both these players, but in Songs of Mirth and Melancholy Marsalis and Calderazzo seem to tap into even deeper levels of musical empathy and intuition.
5. Voice by Hiromi (Telarc, June 7, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY
Pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara, whose passionate and incendiary keyboard work has been a shining light on the jazz landscape since her 2003 debut, believes that the voice that never speaks can sometimes be the most powerful of all. Her newest release, a nine-song trio recording simply titled Voice, expresses a range of human emotions without the aid of a single lyric.
Although a mesmerizing instrumentalist in her own right, Hiromi enlists the aid of two equally formidable players for this project – bassist Anthony Jackson (Paul Simon, The O’Jays, Steely Dan, Chick Corea) and drummer Simon Phillips (Toto, The Who, Judas Priest, David Gilmour, Jack Bruce). Jackson had previously played on a couple tracks from each of Hiromi’s first two albums – Another Mind in 2003 and Brain in 2004 – but they had never recorded an entire album together. “I’ve always been a huge fan of his bass playing,” she says. “I’ve always liked playing with him, and I was very happy that we finally had the chance to make an entire album together.”