by: Hobert Taylor
Daniel Rosenboom - Live at the Blue Whale Vol. 1 - (Orenda Records)
This two disc set has an extended improvisation, (Disc 1: Astral Transference), and a suite (Disc 2: Seven Dreams). Los Angeles trumpeter Rosenboom and his colleagues have the spark in them, the connection to that nexus where head, heart, and spirit collide. His improvisations flow with an undisputable internal logic so that every turn seems as inevitable upon hearing as it was unpredictable moments before. Whether his music shifts from a trumpet march to an electric guitar loop, from frenzy to quiet breath, from tight ensemble to bickering solos, I feel smarter and somehow better for having heard it. Great music teaches ... trains the brain. Coltrane, Dylan, Hendrix, Carla Bley, Leroy Jenkins, Bach all do this. So does Daniel Rosenboom. I wanted to make sure that the station had his entire catalog, so I wrote him and I am adding the following earlier releases: Fallen Angels, Fire Keeper, and Book of Omens.
Larry Coryell - Heavy Feel - (Wide Hive Records)
If there were to be Mount Rushmore of Jazz /Jazz Rock guitarists, Coryell's craggy countenance would loom above the void there. Like John McLaughlin or Roy Buchanan his virtuosity transcends genre and on this disc elements of acoustic blues, middle eastern ambiance, jazz expression and rock heaviness all are combined.
Tigran Hamasyan - Mockroot - (Nonesuch Records)
Armenian composer/pianist Hamasyan weaves folk tunes, jazz progressions, and heavy metal into a tightly knit scarf which sometimes comforts, sometimes chafes, sometimes chokes. Playing rapid serial figures like Phillip Glass with occasional vocalese /synth duets for counterpoint, Hamasyan's music is pop and innovative and in turns meditative and evocative of some distant and exotic past.
Helen Tzatzimakis - Soulfully - (Cobalt Music)
Singing in Greek, English, Spanish and French, and accompanied by perfectly balanced trio, piano, bass and trumpet, Tzatimakis's voice is a smoky topaz in a gorgeous setting. Every element meshes seamlessly and the songs lope along with the grace and casual ease of the daddy long legs crossing my desk as I write this. Whether covering Jacques Brel, Billie Holiday, Willie Nelson, or Marianne Faithfull, she gets to the heart of the songs with grace, simplicity, and occasional revelatory accents. My favorite selection is her rendering of Violetta Parra's "Gracias A La Vida".
Little Helen Rose - Live at the Monkey Room - (Self-Released)
This is a lot of fun. Produced by Marvin Etzioni (Lone Justice, Peter Case), Rose plays tenor sax and sings soulfully on some Etzioni originals and kills it on the traditional tune ,"In My Time Of Dying". I bet the live show is a real hoot.
Twin Danger - Twin Danger - (Decca)
Singer Vanessa Bley along with former Sade guitarist Stuart Mathewman has made a smooth jazz highly accessible record that feels like an extended soundtrack for a fragrance commercial to me. Having said that, it is bound to be somebody's favorite, seductive, expertly played.