[NOTEWORTHY]… With “Dedications” pianist, Alan Pasqua accomplishes the challenging task of leaving his unique and masterful imprint on this homage to the giants of the tradition.

Thoroughly satisfying and enjoyable. . . .From bop to swing, Alan Pasqua & Co. (in trio, quartet, and quintet settings) joyously explore many facets of the jazz tradition, adding zest and their own voices to every one of Alan’s excellent compositions. — The Music Advocate, May 1996

Pianist Alan Pasqua has dedicated his second Postcards CD to the incredibly rich tradition of jazz. On Dedications, his compositions cover the whole stylistic spectrum from swing and bebop through today’s polytonality and modality and are heard in the trio, quartet, and quintet settings. Building from a core trio featuring Dave Holland and Paul Motian (who have rarely recorded together) on four tunes, Pasqua adds Michael Brecker (on seldom-heard soprano saxophone) on one tune, and then creates two different quintets, one with both Michael and Randy Brecker, and one with Randy Brecker and Gary Bartz. From the lush, ducal “Ellingtonia” through the ethereal modality of “San Michele,” Alan Pasqua accomplishes the challenging task of leaving his unique and masterful imprint on this homage to the giants of the tradition. “Dedications,” says Pasqua, turning to his 1996 CD, “is my way of paying tribute to the positive influences on my life. Art, music, spirituality, family . . . I draw upon all of these whenever I’m playing or composing.

I wanted to take tradition and put my own stamp on it,” he continues, describing how he approached the compositions. “I found myself going back to my roots in jazz, back to an earlier perspective on jazz, to the styles I grew up with musically, and then reshaping the traditions, embellishing them — finding my own voice, making a more modern statement. It was like taking one step backward to take two steps forward.” ~Editorial Review | Amazon

Original Release Date:  October 21, 2006

At your leisure, spin “DEDICATIONS” by Alan Pasqua

[NOTEWORTHY]… Maroon Cloud, a powerful eight-part suite by Afrofuturist & celebrated flutist Nicole Mitchell, is a paean to the human gift of imagination

Maroon Cloud, a powerful eight-part suite by celebrated flutist Nicole Mitchell, is a paean to the human gift of imagination and its ability to foster resistance in our dystopian times. It features a drum-less quartet with Mitchell, cellist Tomeka Reid, pianist Aruán Ortiz, and vocalist Fay Victor, recorded live at National Sawdust in Brooklyn as part of John Zorn’s Stone Commissioning Series (March 29, 2017).

In part, Maroon Cloud refers to the realm of creativity that we can enter simply by closing our eyes — an ability no one can take away from us. Imagination, especially black imagination, is a really vital and undervalued resource, the composer states. It’s very clear that we can’t continue in the same direction that we’ve gone, but we need to return to where imagination and creativity come from, because if we don’t have another vision then we can’t make a different future. What makes us special as human beings are our ability to imagine things that don’t even exist yet. Those future-seeking visions, for now, exist in what we might call the cloud. Maroon, meanwhile, has a number of meanings: it ties into the theme of resistance by referencing the Maroons — those Africans who escaped slavery in the Caribbean and banded with indigenous people to form their own communities as early as the 16th century. Mitchell also cites the alternate meaning of marooned, i.e., people being abandoned to their fate. And then there’s maroon, the rich dark color we might see with eyes closed, imagining social and political renewal. Nicole Mitchell, a longtime Chicagoan, and professor of music at the University of California-Irvine, recently received a Champion of New Music Award from the American Composers Forum. She has been hailed for her Afrofuturist vision and credited as the most inventive flutist in the past 30 years of jazz by The New York Times. Her varied projects and leadership as the first woman to chair the AACM have widened the scope of improvised music. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

[What the Jazz Funk?]… Organ-based trio Soulive’s Blue Note debut album Doin Something

Doin’ Something, Soulive’s Blue Note debut and second album overall, sees the organ-based groove-jazz trio creatively stretching beyond their heralded debut, Turn It Out. Where that session was a lean, live cooker that cemented the trio’s appeal to the acid-jazz and jam-band crowd, Doin’ Something reaps the rewards of time spent in the studio–there are overdubs and, more importantly, an ambitious, varied overall vision. Rather than just rattling off a dozen jams based on a single line, the tunes here are actual songs with memorable melodies that draw upon hip-hop, soul, funk, and pop to go along with the rump-shaking jazz grooves.

Furthering the funk foundation, the trio–guitarist Eric Krasno and brothers Neal and Alan Evans on organ and drums, respectively, also brought in James Brown-veteran trombonist Fred Wesley to lead a four-piece brass section (and contribute horn arrangements) on a few tracks. This is the sound of a hot young band putting its best foot forward, and the great thing is, you won’t be able to keep your foot from bouncing along. ~Tad Hendrickson | Amazon

Originally Released: March 13, 2001

At your leisure, check out this jazz-funk gem “DOIN SOMETHING” by Soulive

 

[NOTEWORTHY]… dynamic and virtuosic sound of Finnish-born guitarist-composer Olli Hirvonen’s second album New Helsinki is unrivaled

He’s great! He’s a big talent. He has a natural talent.” John McLaughlin

Olli Hirvonen is a dynamic and virtuosic Finnish-born, New York-based guitarist. Winner of the Socar Montreux Jazz Electric Guitar competition in 2016 (the jury was presided over by John McLaughlin), Olli releases his second album, New Helsinki on Edition Records.

New Helsinki is an album that promises to ignite the attention of the international media and fans worldwide with its deft infectious melodies, irresistibly bold grooves, and intense inventive soloing. A musician with a larger vision and a commanding spirit, Olli Hirvonen, is a supremely gifted guitarist and composer. With New Helsinki Hirvonen has thrown down his calling card and demonstrated the promise that will inevitably thrust his career and profile on an upward trajectory towards international acclaim. ~Bandcamp 

[NOTEWORTHY] …Barefooted Town from the skilled, artistic and progressive voice of alto saxophonist and composer David Binney

Considered one of the finest and most individualistic alto saxophonists and composers on the jazz scene, David Binney continues his ascending artistic evolution with Barefooted Town.

Joined by rising trumpet star Ambrose Akinmusire and longtime collaborator, tenorist Mark Turner on the front line, Binney turns in another fine example of his skills as a distinctive player, composer of music both intellectual and emotionally powerful and seeker of a new jazz expression. On the piano are the young Cuban, David Virtelles, Eivind Opsvik on bass, and the great Dan Weiss on drums. ~Editorial Reviews | Amazon

Original Release DateMarch 7, 2011

At your leisure, spin “BAREFOOTED TOWN” by David Binney

[NOTEWORTHY] …E.S.T. SYMPHONY an enduring and entirely fitting monument to a much-missed and highly inspirational contemporary jazz trio.

With their all-embracing vision of jazz, Esbjorn Svensson Trio (pianist Esbjorn Svensson, bassist Dan Berglund, and drummer Magnus Ostrom) was, without doubt, one of the most widely admired and influential European instrumental ensembles in the first decade of the new millennium. E.S.T., as they came to be known, rode the crest of a wave with their combination of highly singable themes, mesmerizingly chilled grooves, and visually stimulating, high-energy ‘live’ performances.

They filled large rock stadium venues and reached out to non-jazz audiences in a way that has not been equaled in the history of European jazz. Unfortunately, their fame was cut short in 2006 when pianist Svensson died suddenly in a diving accident. The roots of this project go back as far as 2003 when Esbjorn Svensson decided to create a chamber orchestral canvas for his compositions for a series of live international performances. “This was the initial inspiration for E.S.T. SYMPHONY,” says Hans Ek. By both imaginatively expanding upon and saluting the broad-based contemporary sonic universe created by E.S.T. in the first decade of the new millennium, Hans Ek has created on E.S.T. SYMPHONY an enduring and entirely fitting monument to a much-missed and highly inspirational contemporary jazz trio. ~ Editorial Review | Amazon

Original Release Date: September 24, 2016

At your leisure, spin ” E.S.T. SYMPHONY” by Esbjörn Svensson Trio

 

[NOTEWORTHY]… Puerto Rican saxophonist-composer Miguel Zenón sophomore album Ceremonial explores the vital elements of his musicial influences

Recorded after a successful European tour, Miguel Zenón’s quartet is engaged in both the material and with another on this album. The seven original tracks and two covers offer a bracing mix of Latin rhythms and melodic sensibilities with jazz phrasing and harmonics. From the celebratory bearing of the opening “Leyenda” (by Silvio Rodriguez) to the closing spiritual “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” emotional vitality runs through it all.

On “Transfiguration,” Zenón’s alto saxophone runs wonderful lyrical circles around the evocatively reverbed and wordless vocals of guest Luciana Souza. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, his homeland lies at the heart of his compositional sensibilities. He writes ballads of staggering beauty (“A Reminder of Us“), as well as post-bop, inspired workouts (“Ya”). Pianist Luis Perdomo is a forceful rhythmic player, as well as being cordially inventive. ~David Greenberger | Amazon 

Original Release Date: December 4, 2004

At your leisure, listen to “CEREMONIAL” by Miguel Zenón

AJE’S BEST JAZZ RELEASES, 2021

AJE’S BEST JAZZ RELEASES, 2021 in alphabetical order…

Aakash Mittal, NOCTURNE

Adam O’Farrill, VISIONS OF YOUR OTHER

Adi Meyerson, I WANT TO SING MY HEART OUT IN PRAISE OF LIFE

Amaro Freita, BAQUAQUA

Amir ElSaffar, RIVERS OF SOUND

Andrew Cyrille Quartet, THE NEWS

Archie Shepp, Jason Moran, LEY MY PEOPLE GO

Arnan Raz, 7 DAYS

Artifacts, PLEASURE PALACE

Arturo O’Farrill, …DREAMING IN LIONS…

Belmondo Quintet, BROTHERHOOD

Ben Tiberio, RARE PEACE

Benoît Delbecq, ANAMORPHOSES

Brandee Younger, SOMEWHERE DIFFERENT

Brian Lynch, SONGBOOK VOL. 1 BUS STOP SERENADE

Cassie Kinoshi SEED Ensemble, BALLETBOYZ: BRADLEY 4:18

Charles Lloyd, TONE POEM BLUE NOTE POET SERIES

Chelsea Carmichael, THE RIVER DOESN’T LIKE STRANGERS

Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble, NOW

Dave Holland, ANOTHER LAND

Dave Meder, UNAMUNO SONGS AND STORIES

David Tixier Trio, BECAUSE I CARE

DeAndre Lettsome, IMPETUS

Dr. Lonnie Smith, BREATHE

Edward Simon, SOLO LIVE

Elephant9, ARRIVAL OF THE NEW ELDERS

Enrico Rava, ROMA

Florian Arbenz, CONVERSATION #1

Gabriel Gosse, CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

Gregory Porter, STILL RISING – THE COLLECTION

Gretchen Parlato, FLOR

Hiromi, SILVER LINING SUITE

Irreversible Entanglements, OPEN THE GATES

Jaimie Branch, FLY OR DIE LIVE

Jalen Baker, THIS IS ME, THIS IS US

James Francies, PUREST FORM

James Brandon Lewis, CODE OF BEING

Jazztronik, UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE

Jeremy Pelt, GRIOT: THIS IS IMPORTANT

Jihye Lee, DARING MIND

Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints, OTHER WORLDS

Joe Lovano, GARDEN OF EXPRESSION

John Pope Quintet, THE RIGHT-HAND PATH

Jonas Sorgenfrei, ELEPHANTS MARCHING ON

Kazemde George, I INSIST

Keith Brown Trio, African RIPPLES

Kenny Garrett, SOUND FROM THE ANCESTORS

Kurt Elling w/guitarist Charlie Hunter, SUPERBLUE

Lewis Wright, THE COLOUR OF INTENTION

Lionel Loueke, CLOSE YOUR EYES

Magnus Lindgren, BIRD LIVES

Makaya McCraven, DECIPHERING THE MESSAGE

Malcolm Jiyane Tree-O, UMDALI

Marc Cary, LIFE LESSONS

Mareike Wiening, FUTURE MEMORIES

Marques Carroll, THE ANCESTOR’S CALL

Matt Ridley, THE ANTIDOTE

Matthew Shipp, CODEBREAKER

Menagerie, MANY WORLDS

Michael Mayo, BONES

Milho Hazama, IMAGINARY VISIONS

Nate Smith, KINFOLK 2: SEE THE BIRDS

Nick Mazzarella Trio, WHAT YOU SEEK IS SEEKING YOU

Obed Calvaire, WHOLE LOTTA LOVE: THE MUSIC OF LED ZEPPELIN

Orrin Evans, THE MAGIC OF NOW

Pat Metheny, SIDE-EYE NYC (V1. IV)

Prism Quartet, HERITAGE/REVOLUTION, VOL. 2

Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows, ARCHITECTURE OF STORMS

Roberto Olzer Trio, NOTTURNO

Sebastian Noelle, SYSTEM ONE

Shai Maestro, HUMAN

Simone Blasioli, CONVERSATION

Sons of Kemet, BLACK TO THE FUTURE

Tamill Rogeon, SON OF NYX

Terence Blanchard, ABSENCE

The Baylor Project, GENERATIONS

Theo Croker, BLK2LIFE || A FUTURE PAST

Thommy Andersson, WOOD CIRCLES

Timothee Robert, QUARKS

Victor Gould, In Our Time

Vijay Iyer, UNEASY

Will Glaser, CLIMBING IN CIRCLES

William Parker, TABASCO

*Playlist coming soon to Spotify

[What are you listening to?] … guitarist/composer Miles Okazaki’s inventive voice on Trickster is uniquely shaped with abstract, riveting, and stimulating cutting edge jazz

Trickster is guitarist Miles Okazaki’s debut on Pi Recordings, having previously been featured on six other releases for the label. Perhaps best known as a member of Steve Coleman and Five Elements, with whom he has played for the last eight years, Okazaki has also built a solid reputation for himself as one of the most adventurous composers and guitarists on the current scene. The New York Times says of Okazaki, “Even by the standard of his hyper-literate post-bop peer group, Mr. Okazaki is an unusually calculating musical thinker” and as a guitarist, “exceedingly skilled with a head for rhythmic convolution.”

His new album is inspired by ancient trickster figures: characters who use mischief and magic to disrupt the state of things, breaking taboos and conventions, while opening new doorways. He chose the stories of Eshu, Raven, Krishna, Heyoka, Thoth, and Hermes, with their themes of mischief, disguise, paradox, chaos, illusion, and balance as the basis of musical structures and improvisations. Joining Okazaki is pianist Craig Taborn, perhaps the most widely-admired pianist on the cutting-edge of jazz, who brings a supremely inventive musical sense to everything he does. It s also a rare opportunity to hear, in a different context, the unique chemistry between bassist Anthony Tidd and drummer Sean Rickman the long-running rhythmic engine behind Steve Coleman and Five Elements. Together they spin the yarns of these musical tales with conviction and aplomb. ~Editorial Reviews | Amazon

Originally Released: January 25, 2017

At your leisure, check out “TRICKSTER” by Miles Okazaki 

 

[Just in case, you missed it] …pianist/composer Frank Kimbrough’s introspective, original compositions and improvisations encompasses his voice perfectly throughout Ancestors

It is hard to listen to a posthumously released recording without reflecting on what the world has lost in their absence. Pianist and composer Frank Kimbrough was an individual who was beloved by all who knew him. A true musician’s musician and mentor to many, Kimbrough’s legacy lives on in his work and the lives that he touched.

His passing in 2020 has left a hole in the heart of the jazz world. // Kimbrough’s Ancestors is a recording that encompasses much of the leader’s personality, depth, and approach to music-making. Assembling a drummer-less trio with cornetist Kirk Knuffke and bassist Masa Kamaguchi, Kimbrough brought his spontaneity and introspection to the fore on a collection of original compositions and improvisations. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

Original Release Date: July 16, 2021