Calling all jazz cats and kitties! Here we spin some of the jazz releases that have recently crossed our desk, contemporary jazz as well as traditional. Can you dig it?
Rick Braun - Rick Braun
Trumpet and flugelhorn player Braun is now 30-years into what has been a stellar career and this new self-titled effort is his 19th as a leader. Braun wrote or co-wrote each of the album's 10 songs so there are no covers included. Lots of guest players appear including a host of bass players, Lenny Castro on percussion and Greg Phillinganes on keys, but Braun also plays keyboards on a bunch of songs himself, like on "Turkish" which conjures images of a steamy Istanbul night, on the War-recalling groove "Da Funk" and the relaxing and sexy groove that is "Back to Mallorca." Of course Rick's horns are upfront throughout and his playing is sublime on the Latin-tinged and lightly-orchestrated "Amor De Mi Vida (Love of My Life.) A quality set from this much-beloved player.
Bill Evans - Morning Glory and Inner Spirit
These two live recordings from the 1970s had until now only been available as bootlegs; now leading independent American jazz archivist label Resonance Records gives these titles official release with the full blessing of the Bill Evans estate. Evans works in his preferred trio format on both releases and on Morning Glory, recorded in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1973 his sidemen are bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morell. The set includes several Evans originals, including "Re: Person I Knew" where Gomez picks some incredible runs on his upright bass, "The Two Lonely People" where Evans plays a manic intro to the otherwise sublime tune and the appropriately lively "Waltz for Debby." Also included are a long jam on the Rodgers/Hart composition "My Romance," a nod to the concert's Latin American venue with "Esta Tarde Ve Llover" and an eloquent interpretation of Bobbie Gentry's "Mornin' Glory." On 1979's Inner Spirit, again recorded in Buenos Aires, Evans is in the mood to tackle some chestnuts, ranging from "Stella by Starlight" and "I Loves You, Porgy" to "Theme from M*A*S*H" and a phenomenal nearly 18-minute show-closing take on the Miles Davis number "Nardis." Among the Evans originals is "Letter to Evan," a cut that Bill wrote for his son. Sidemen on this album are Marc Johnson on bass and Joe LaBarbera on drums. Both albums are 2-CD sets with booklets containing notes and essays.
Martha D. Lewis - All That You See
Lewis is not an artist that'll be subjected to pigeonholing; she's previously put out albums focusing on urban Greek blues and jazzy global music. But here she offers a killer set of vocal numbers where the jazz is flavored by other genres, like pop on "AI Man" and prog rock on "Beneath the Surface" where guitarist Leon Stenning plays counterpoint to her dreamy vocals. "In Between" is a more traditionally-structured vocal number as is the appropriately-breathy "Dawn" and the rhythmic "What If?" In an acknowledgement of the pop sensibility of "AI Man" a second version of the song, "AI Man (Radio Edit)" is appended at album's end. Many are already familiar with this amazing singer; for those who are not All That You See
makes for a grand introduction.
Harvey Valdes - Novare: J.S. Bach Lute Works on Electric Guitar
Yes these Bach compositions are technically classical music but the way Valdes performs them here using a steel-stringed electric guitar will appeal to jazz lovers. Valdes begins with the five-song "Lute Suite in C Minor" with all cuts arranged for A-flat minor. Mid album is "Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in E-flat Major," arranged for D-flat major. Closing the record are "Prelude in C Minor" and "Fugue in D Minor." A great listen anytime you want to hear virtuoso guitar playing and relax at the same time, and fans of Bach's Lute Works will relish the way these interpretations sound.