Sophisticated Ladies

Charlie Haden Quartet West – “Of the Haden-led Quartet West’s various albums in this preservationist, as opposed to revisionist, style, The Art Of The Song (Verve, 1999), made with singers Bill Henderson, and Shirley Horn, is widely considered the best, Sophisticated Ladies is every bit as good. This time out the singers are, Cassandra Wilson, Diana Krall, Melody Gardot, Norah Jones, Renee Fleming, and Ruth Cameron, who with her husband, Haden, is also co-producer… With top drawer vocals, a virtuoso jazz backbone, immaculate audio quality and engaging liner notes by executive producer Jean-Philippe Allard, Sophisticated Ladies is a delight.” –AllAboutJazz.com

Universal, 2015

Space Time Continuum

Aaron Diehl – As the title suggests, the virtuosic pianist’s latest album swings through jazz eras and styles, all with dexterity and charm. Backed by his trio of bassist David Wong and drummer Quincy Davis, Diehl also teams up with veteran saxophonists Joe Temperley (bari) and Benny Golson (tenor) on several numbers. “Mr. Golson has been inspiration beyond the legacy of music he’s created,” Diehl said. “Carpe diem while he and Joe Temperley are still around.” The pianist also utilizes the captivating vocal stylings of Cecile McLorin Salvant and Charenee Wade on the title track, and tenor saxophonist Stephen Riley on the Back to the Future-influenced Diehl original, “Flux Capacitor.” This release is a mature and modern album with great appeal.

Mack Avenue, 2015

This is the Day

Giovanni Guidi Trio – The exceptional trio of Italian pianist Giovanni Guidi, American bassist Thomas Morgan, and Portuguese drummer João Lobo is featured on this brilliant record from the revered ECM label out of Munich. With uncommon originality and reflective depth, the trio crafts thoughtful, complex ballads, which shimmer with tension and a strong balance of sounds and silence. While most tunes comes from Guidi’s hand, This is the Day also includes the standard “I’m Through With Love,” Cuban songwriter Osvaldo Farrés’ “Quizás, quizás, quizás,” and Lobo’s “Baiiia.”

ECM Records, 2015

Futuresoul

Boney James – Four-time Grammy Award nominee Boney James asserts his artistic capabilities as a top Smooth-Jazz saxman on this dynamic album. Interspersing vintage soul music with modern production, the aptly titled futuresoul is a genre-bending record of 10 original songs, written and co-written by James, with special guests Stokley of Mint Condition (appearing on “Either Way”) and trumpeter and Thelonioius Monk Competition winner Marquis Hill (appearing on album closer “Far From Home”). This album is funky-fresh spattered with classic retro sounds, creating an engaging experience for the listener.

Concord, 2015

Surrounded by Sea

Andy Sheppard Quartet – The enormously talented saxophonist Andy Sheppard last appeared with bassist Michael Benita and drummer Seb Rochford on 2012’s heralded Trio Libero project. This time around he adds guitarist/electronic artist Eivind Aarset, whose ambient drones and electronic textures allow the “free trio” to explore even further. Embracing new compositions, open improvisations, an Elvis Costello track, and the Gaeilic traditional ballad “Aoidh, Na Dean Cadal Idir” (which appears in three variations, threading the album), Surrounded by Sea is an exquisite compilation for any modern jazz collection.

ECM Records, 2015

My Favorite Things

Joey Alexander – Only a phenomenal 11 years old at the time of this recording, Alexander’s playing and phrasing are remarkably assured and accomplished. “A thoughtful musician as well as a natural one, with a sophisticated harmonic palette and a dynamic sensitivity” (New York Times), Joey Alexander is a jazz pianist from Indonesia. The young prodigy magnificently renders classics including “‘Round Midnight,” “Over the Rainbow,” and, of course, the title track, while the few originals are simple treasures that hint at a strong composing future. Keep an eye out for great things from Mr. Alexander.

Motema, 2015

Brooklyn

John Patitucci Electric Guitar Quartet – Performing with drummer Brian Blade and guitarists Adam Rogers and Steve Cardenas, vaunted bassist John Patitucci returns to his roots on Brooklyn, playing electric bass (the instrument on which he started) exclusively. Recorded at the Brooklyn studio The Bunker, Brooklyn features several tracks that introduced Patitucci to jazz, including Monk’s “Trinkle Tinkle” and “Ugly Beauty.” “While no single album can capture every angle of Patitucci’s playing,” writes AllAboutJazz.com, “Brooklyn manages to shine a light on his multifaceted electric bass work better than anything else in his leader discography. This music is electric in more ways than one.”

Three Faces Records, 2015

Sylva

Snarky Puppy w/Metropole Orkest – (1 CD & 1 DVD) – “The New York collective Snarky Puppy have made an album unlike any of their earlier ventures, with Holland’s genre-crossing Metropole Orkest. Sylva is a refined and cohesive orchestral suite rather than a collection of quirky groove vehicles, and also the band’s first work for a major label,” writes The Guardian. “There are six movements, each inspired by forests around the world that have left a deep impression on [leader Michael] League. Gliding high strings lines and a cello ostinato turn into silkily intricate horn melodies; coolly riffing groovers build to funky, Jazz Crusaders-like dances; humming string meditations pass through pensive keyboard solos into gentle waltzes; harmonies reminiscent of Marcus Miller’s work with Miles Davis colour the graceful melodic transformations of the 19-minute finale, The Clearing.”

Impulse, 2015

Now This

Gary Peacock Trio – Pianist Marc Copland and drummer Joey Baron recorded Now This with the revered bassist (and former Seattle resident) in Oslo, creating an album that features powerful new versions of Peacock compositions, a few Copland and Baron originals, and even “Gloria’s Step” by Scott La Faro, another of jazz’s great bassists. The trio captures an even balance of sonic ownership, with Peacock’s melodic bass playing consistently heard throughout each tune. Copland’s piano playing respects and highlights his fellow musicians’ compositions, while Baron drives each one home with a superior attention to detail.

ECM Records, 2015

The Bad Plus Joshua Redman

The Bad Plus Joshua Redman – Four years ago, The Bad Plus invited saxophonist Joshua Redman to perform with them at a weeklong streak at New York City’s Blue Note. The positively received collaboration led the foursome into the studio in 2014 to record their debut album, The Bad Plus Joshua Redman. The nine-track record features seven new compositions by the quartet members, while the remaining two, “Dirty Blonde” and “Silence Is the Question,” are new arrangements of Bad Plus originals. The quartet has been described by Metroland (Albany, MA), in one word, “sublime,” going on to say, “It’s as though Redman is the long-lost fourth member of the group, just waiting to be snapped snugly into place.”

Nonesuch, 2015

Creation

Keith Jarrett – This album features music, hand-picked by the legendary pianist/composer, from his improvised solo concerts recorded in Japan, Canada, and Europe in 2014. His first solo recording since 2011’s Rio, Creation takes individual songs from various performances to curate an altogether new concert experience, which AllAboutJazz.com describes as “a program that’s largely dark and brooding, heavily based on chordal constructs and sparse melodies, and the absolute antithesis of overt virtuosity…even though only a pianist with the kind of exceptional mastery of his instrument as Jarrett could create a suite such as this.”

ECM, 2015