Now in Stores

Here is a look at five jazz releases that recently hit the shelves and are worth giving a listen to. Enjoy!

1. harryEvery Man Should Know by Harry Connick Jr. (Columbia – June 11, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Harry Connick, Jr. has built a reputation for musical and emotional honesty. Never one to rest on his ever-growing list of laurels, Connick exposes his feelings as never before on Every Man Should Know. The new CD contains twelve original songs for which Connick wrote music, lyrics and arrangements.

“No rules, no limits,” is how the multi-talented artist describes the songs in his liner notes for the new collection. “I don t recall ever reaching quite as deeply or confidently into my inhibition pool.”

2. jarrettSomewhere by Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, and Gary Peacock (ECM Records – May 28, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Now in its 30th year, the Keith Jarrett Trio is widely considered, as the NY Times recently remarked, to have set the gold standard for jazz groups, and this sparkling concert recording from 2009 is issued to mark a milestone anniversary.

The Somewhere in which the Standards trio find themselves is Lucerne, Switzerland with a performance both exploratory and in-the-tradition. The Neue Zurcher Zeitung headlined its review of the show Kontrollierte Ekstase controlled ecstasy an apt metaphor for a set that begins in improvisational Deep Space modulates into Miles Davis Solar, soars through the standards Stars Fell On Alabama and Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea and climaxes with an extended romp through West Side Story, as Bernsteins Somewhere and Tonight are bridged by the freely associative Jarrett original Everywhere.

3. terenceMagnetic by Terence Blanchard (Blue Note Records – May 28, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

“I’ve always believed that in life, what you keep in your mind is what you draw to yourself.” That’s how trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard explains the title of his 20th album, Magnetic, which finds a stunning variety of sounds and styles pulled together by the irresistible force of Blanchard’s vision.

4. peacockAzure by Gary Peacock and Marilyn Crispell (ECM Records – June 11, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Gary Peacock and Marilyn Crispell made outstanding music together in her trio with the late Paul Motian, the three kindred spirits recording the ECM albums Nothing ever was, anyway (1997) and Amaryllis (2001) each a modern classic. The New York Times called the pair two of the most beautiful piano-trio records in recent memory. The Peacock-Crispell duo project also has a history, albeit one undocumented on disc until now, with Azure. This extraordinary new album proves that these two musicians shared sense of lyricism, their distinctive compositional styles and their profound backgrounds in free improvisation make them exceptional musical partners in the most intimate of settings.

5. walterGet Thy Bearings by Robert Walter’s 20th Congress (The Royal Potato Family – June 25th, 2013) CLICK HERE TO BUY

Robert Walter performs all his own stunts. For 20 years, the San Diego native has been pulling drawbars and pushing the limits of the Hammond B3 organ. As a founding member of the Greyboy Allstars, he helped usher in the funk-jazz renaissance of the early ’90s and has continued to keep one hand comping chords in the instrument’s funky past, while the other explores ever-new melodic terrain. On June 25, his long-standing project, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, returns with, Get Thy Bearings, via The Royal Potato Family. It was a recent move from New Orleans to Los Angeles that jump-started the 20th Congress who hadn’t recorded a studio album in ten years. The nine-track effort presents Walter’s organ, piano, Rhodes and synthesizer driving an all-star line-up rounded out by guitarist/bassist Elgin Park, drummer Aaron Redfield, sax players Karl Denson and Cochemea Gastelum, and percussionist Chuck Prada.

Be an artist for Terence Blanchard

Grammy winner Terence Blanchard, in partnership with Creative Allies, is running a contest where artists can submit original artwork that will be used as poster art for the trumpeter.

The contest asks artists to design their artwork by using the style of Reid Miles as  inspiration. Reid Miles was the legendary designer of over 500 LP covers for Blue Note Records.

Artists are asked to use album covers like these as inspiration for their submissions.

The winner of the contest will be chosen by Terence Blanchard and will receive a $500 prize. Other prizes include the Editors’ Choice (chosen by Creative Allies), awarding a $100 credit to the Creative Allies store, and the Fan Favorite, determined by online voting.

Other information about the contest:

Suggested Theme & Style

If Terence Blanchard’s Brand was a:

• Color, it would be Blue, Brown, Black
• Car, it would be a Porsche and a Ferrari, both
• Type of Architecture, it would be Modern
• Flower, it would be a Rose or a Tulip
• Era, it would be the 60’s
• Cat, it would be a Panther
• Designer, it would be Hugo Boss
• Spirit, it would be Accurate vs. Wishful

Things You Need To Include

  • The words “Terence Blanchard”
  • Use of Terence’s logo is completely optional. Feel free to riff on the logo design or to not use the logo at all.

Things You Should Avoid

  • Respect copyright. DO NOT submit copyrighted work.
  • DO NOT use stock images or clip art.
  • DO NOT use photos that aren’t provided (Photos are not required).

The due date for submitting art is October 11, 2012. You can find more information on the contest and see some artwork that has already been submitted by clicking here.


10 Best Jazz Albums of 2011

I realize that there are a lot of people who do not care for the word “best” when it comes to music. To those, you may also call this list “Kevin’s Favorite Jazz Albums of 2011” if you’d like. Regardless, it is simply my opinion of 10 releases that stood out to me over the past year (with an informal ranking). Enjoy!

1. Live in Marciac – Brad Mehldau (Nonesuch, February 2, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

2. Bird Songs – Joe Lovano/Us Five (EMI Catalogue, March 21, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

3. Three Stories – Eldar Djangirov (Masterworks Jazz, April 5, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

4. Forever – Corea, Clarke, & White (Concord Jazz, June 6, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

5. Chano y Dizzy! – Poncho Sanchez & Terence Blanchard (Concord Picante, September 27, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

6. Songs From the Chateau – Kyle Eastwood (Mack Avenue, August 29, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

7. Ninety Miles – Stefon Harris/David Sanchez/Christian Scott (Concord, June 21, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

8. Dawn of Goodbye – Dominick Farinacci (E1 Entertainment, July 26, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

9. ‘Round Midnight – Karrin Allyson (Concord Jazz, May 3, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

10. Road Shows, Vol. 2 – Sonny Rollins (Emarcy, September 13, 2011) CLICK HERE TO BUY

My Top Ten Jazz Albums That You Probably Don’t Own

I recently found myself doing some cleaning of my album collection. More than cleaning, it is a chance for me to revisit some albums that have, through no fault of their own, been sitting on the shelf too long.

I came to realize that I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be a jazz radio disc jockey, as well as someone who can spend hours in jazz record stores. With the decline in jazz record sales, and the bulk of jazz album sales going to big name vocalists or timeless classic recordings like Kind of Blue, it hit me that just because I have exposure to some wonderful gems of the last thirty years, doesn’t mean that everybody has.

That being said, I decided that I wanted to share my favorite albums from the last thirty or so years that, for one reason or another, might not be sitting on your shelf. And, as always, I encourage you offer your hidden gems.

1. Pilgrimage – Michael Brecker (2007)

pilgrimageEven without the sentimental value of this album (Brecker recorded it while battling MDS and Leukemia, and never did live to release it), it is the best jazz album over the last twenty years. The writing and improvisation from Brecker is stellar, and each member of the band play to their full potential. Winner of two Grammy awards.

Recommended tracks: Tumbleweed, Anagram

Billboard Jazz Chart Peak Spot: 3

2. Trumpet Evolution – Arturo Sandoval (2003)

trumpet-evolutionMany critics called this the best trumpet album of the last twenty years. Sandoval’s ability to capture the sound and emotion of each trumpet player he honors (19 in all) is something I don’t believe any other musician has the ability or talent to do.

Recommended Tracks: I Can’t Get Started, Up Jumped Spring

Billboard Jazz Chart Peak Spot: 6

3. Beyond The Missouri Sky – Charlie Haden/Pat Metheny (1996)

beyond-the-missouri-skyTo be honest, I am not a huge Pat Metheny fan. On this album however, you are hard pressed to find a track that isn’t increadibly beautiful. The two musicians are in perfect sync, and you could have this release playing in your CD player over and over for days and continually enjoy it. A Grammy award winner.

Recommended Tracks: Two For the Road, The Moon Song, Cinema Paradiso (Love Theme)

Billboard Jazz Chart Peak Spot: 1

4. The Birthday Concert – Jaco Pastorious (1981)

the-birthday-concertJaco Pastorious decided to throw himself a 30th birthday party in the form of a concert, and what a party it was. Jaco shows why he is the best electric bass player ever, and his supporting cast (Bob Mintzer, Michael Brecker, Peter Erskine, Don Alias, and the Peter Graves Orchestra.

Recommended Tracks: Soul Intro/The Chicken, Invitation

Billboard Jazz Chart Peak Spot: 7

5. Flow – Terence Blanchard (2005)

flowAfter going through an embochure change (which just sounds painful to brass players), Blanchard came back strong with this release. Working with the likes of Herbie Hancock and Aaron Parks, this album features wonderful arrangements and performances with alot of intensity.

Recommended Tracks: Over There

Billboard Jazz Chart Peak Spot: 10

6. An Evening with Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea – Herbie Hancock/Chick Corea (1978)

an-evening-with-herbie-hancock-and-chick-coreaHerbie and Chick had both gone pretty electric during the late 70’s, so to have them come together and do a live acoustic set was somewhat of a shock. They play extremely well together, and this concert is a wonderful result of that.

Recommended Tracks: Liza

Billboard Jazz Chart Peak Spot: 8

7. Contemporary Jazz – Branford Marsalis (2000)

contemporary-jazzBranford displays a wonderfully artistic side on the first album with this quartet, which as of today has spent ten years together. While many of the compositions are complex, no member of the band struggles with them. On the contrary, each band member shines as part of a quartet that would continue to make fantastic music together. A Grammy award winner.

Recommended Tracks: In The Crease

Billboard Jazz Chart Peak Spot: 12

8. Democracy – Kenny Werner (2006)

democracyI know Kenny Werner is talented. But until this live recording, he had yet to truly move me. David Sanchez and Brian Blade are especially good on this album, and all of Werner’s compositions are especially good.

Recommended Tracks: One For Joni

Billboard Jazz Chart Peak Spot: N/A

9. Lucky To Be Me – Taylor Eigsti (2006)

lucky-to-be-meJust 21 at the time of the recording, Eigsti proved that he is the future of jazz piano (in addition to virtuoso Eldar). The performances show maturity, energy, and complexity. Even more impressive is 17 year old guitarist Julian Lage.

Recommended Tracks: Giant Steps, Woke Up This Morning, Love For Sale

Billboard Jazz Chart Peak Spot: 15

10. Earfood – Roy Hargrove (2008)

earfoodIt is wonderful when a musician can continue to put out music that demonstrates that they have yet to peak. Roy Hargrove continues to get better and better with every album, and this no doubt is his best. While Earfood was snubbed when it came to Grammy nominations, it is widely agreed upon that it was easily the best jazz album released in 2008.

Recommended Tracks: I’m Not So Sure, Speak Low, Bring It On Home To Me

Billboard Jazz Chart Peak Spot: 7

Building a “Trendy” Dream Big Band Part 1 of 2

I recently made a post talking about trendiness in jazz, and in previous posts I constructed my own personal dream big band, consisting of my favorites of all time, living or deceased.

I’ve decided to mix the two. I’ve created a big band that consists of living musicians that I consider to be some of the trendiest or hippest or most visible musicians today. Just like my original dream big band posts, this is purely my opinion, and no doubt every person out there might construct something different (which is why I always ask for you to post yours).

That being said, enjoy (or hate) this grouping of musicians that I think are doing what it takes to keep jazz entertaining, edgy, fun, exciting, trendy, hip, etc., etc., etc. In part 1, the trumpets and saxes!

The Trumpets

Lead Trumpet: Arturo Sandoval

Arturo is still the big name these days in screaming trumpet players. It is rare to attend a show of his and not be a part of a excited, roaring audience.

Watch Arturo Sandoval play Groovin’ High:

Second Trumpet: Wynton Marsalis

I don’t know if it helped or hurt his “trendiness rating” by recording with Willie Nelson recently, but appearances on shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report still make him the most visible jazz musician alive.

Wynton’s trendiness shown in an IPod ad:

Third Trumpet: Roy Hargrove

Roy represented all trumpeters in 2008 with an album that was likely the best jazz album of the year. Always with a hip band and getting better all the time.

Hargrove’s solo on Impressions with Herbie Hancock and Michael Brecker:

Fourth Trumpet: Terence Blanchard

This guy oozes cool. Someone who absorbed every minute he spent with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, and made his trendiness known by writing and recording scores for multiple Spike Lee films.

Terence in Tokyo 2005:

Fifth Trumpet: Nicholas Payton

He has a tendency to become your favorite trumpet player after you see him perform live. He is extremely versatile and his recordings show a wide range of talents.

Watch Nicholas Payton play Bags Groove:

The Saxes:

1st Alto: Kenny Garrett

Whatever it was that he picked up from working with Miles Davis, I’m happy he did. He is extremely inventive and entertaining, and has managed to soak up some of that edginess from Miles in the 80’s.

Kenny playing Wayne’s Thing:

2nd Alto: Maceo Parker

So what if he advertises himself at 98% funk and 2% jazz? Every band needs some funkiness (Just ask James Brown when Maceo was his music director). His shows are as entertaining as it gets.

Watch Maceo Parker perform Pass the Peas:

1st Tenor: Branford Marsalis

Although he might have been considered a little bit dry during his short run as Jay Leno’s band leader on the Tonight Show, it was network exposure of a great jazz musician, earning him trendy points. He also continues to produce some of the most artistic albums in modern jazz.

Branford shows off his trendiness playing Roxanne with Sting:

2nd Tenor: Joshua Redman

The coolest man holding a sax these days, and maybe the smartest. The Ivy League grad has put out some of the coolest recordings in the last decade.

Joshua Redman and Stevie Wonder pay tribute to Duke Ellington:

Baritone Sax: Ronnie Cuber

A ton of power and energy. No wimps in this all star band!

Ronnie plays Filthy McNasty:

The rest of the band next time!!!