by: Hobert Taylor
Rich Pellegrin Quintet - Episodes IV-VI - (OA2 Records)
University of Missouri prof Pellgrin's second album is a masterwork The pianist is joined by an extraordinary cadre of musicians, especially tenor player Neil Welch in a Coltrane like exploration of ascending enlightenment. Basically these compositions are meditations on scales....American ragas. This record will certainly make my top 10.
Jason Roebke Octet - High red center - (Delmark)
The Chicago scene is so rich and fresh, and the Delmark label crew of innovators keep producing non-derivative compositions by demonstrating mutual respect and admiration and taking turns as leaders and composers. This time bassist Roebke's out front, and his band featuring Greg Ward, Keefe Jackson, Jason Stein, Jason Adasiewicz, Josh Berman,Jeb Bishop, and Mike Reed evokes the spirit of the more experimental Mingus ensembles while doing their own thing. They play both in and out, which is to say that they listen to each other and come together like fingers in a fist, and yet they can free float as well.
Jason Adasiewicz's Sun Rooms - From The Regions - (Delmark)
Vibe player Adasiewicz is joined with drummer Mike Reed (also on Jason Roebke's previously reviewed release) and bassist Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten in a dreamy and sometimes jagged series of meditations. There are lots of fast and furious snap crackle and pops off a walking bassline, but there is a lot of color here too. Adasiewicz has carved out his own sound as a premier innovator of his instrument, and his work continues to amaze and engage me. You know, listening to this music is like studying the negatives of a extraordinary photographer. That is you can re-compose these minor key broken tempo melodies in your head and hear timeless classical jazz.
Bob Lark - Sweet Return - (Jazzed Media)
Trumpeter Lark has a big band. The big band begins to sound like well a big band. then something wierd happens. Like Woody Herman you think this is going to be well played and safe, and then a left turn is made. Not quite as innovative as Adam Meckler, or as complex as Igor Butman, but like them Lark is dragging big band music kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Pay careful attention to "Narrow Path", "The Peacocks", "Just you just Me/Evidence".
Jamila Ford - The Deep End - (Skinny Chick Records)
EP from this jazz singer. Her tone is clean and clear, analogous to the perfection known as Nancy Wilson (no not the singer from Heart!). Her version of "All Blues" is up tempo and has acid jazz elements (piano stylings like Kris Bowers). "Silencio" is the required Brazilian/Latin Jazz cut but it's a catchy ditty. The highlight is the deeply etched ballad "Wild Is The Wind".
Storm Large - Le Bonheur - (Heinz Records)
Pink Martini collaborator Large has big pipes and picture perfect arrangements... sort of a contemporary Peggy Lee. Basically standards with clever updating and orchetration. But damn, she can sing.
Johnny Griffin - Dance With The Lady - (GB Records)
Late bop early cool jazz in the miles tradition from this Canadian Alto/Tenor player. Griffin leads a five piece band in mellow perambulations through his re-write of the canon. I like ""Syrah", "The Kuleshascope", "The Mile Walk" and the herky jerky "That night under The Bench so Long Ago".
The Evergreen Classic Jazz Band - Early Tunes 1951-1932 - (Delmark)
Delmark has occasionally assembled bands to play early jazz as it supposedly played in the early days. So in ways it feels like you got in the wayback machine and brought along modern recording technology... but not really. It a little too precious for my tastes, no rough edges. Still I suppose it had to be done. I think I'll just put on my Preservation Hall Jazz Band records and hear the less archival versions of these tunes.
Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet with Richie Cole - Vocal Madness - (HouseKat)
Sort of like the Pied Pipers...lite... This lounge act would be perfect for a charity cocktail party or art opening. They sing well, but the songs are for the most part boring. What saves the project is the collaboration with Richie Cole. The bay area alto player is a master of tone and phrasing,and he underscores the gentle brilliance of the Bricusse/Newley tune "Pure Imagination" and sparks humor and inventiveness into the "I love Lucy" theme song cover.