Dreamcatcher – Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra

The album was recorded from February-August ’03 at four venues, including an appearance at the XIII Festival Jazz in Lima, Peru (track 10). Five tracks (1-4, 11) were taped in a studio, the others at the Tacoma Jazz Festival or Seattle’s Jazz Alley. In every case, SWOJO is squarely on top of its game, carefully burnishing every chart to lay bare its inherent radiance and charm… As Dreamcatcher suggests, SWOJO is a remarkably impressive ensemble, one whose energy and talent assuredly point toward a bright and productive future.” (Jack Bowers – All About Jazz)

OA2 Records, 2004

Two of a Mind – Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan

Altoist Paul Desmond and baritonist Gerry Mulligan always made for a perfect team during their infrequent collaborations. Both of the saxophonists had immediately distinctive light tones, strong wits, and the ability to improvise melodically. Here the two masterful reed players are featured in piano-less quartets that also include Wendell Marshall, Joe Benjamin or John Beal on bass, and Connie Kay or Mel Lewis on drums. The songs all utilize common chord changes, including the two “originals” (“Two of a Mind” and “Blight of the Fumble Bee”), and the interplay between Desmond and Mulligan is consistently delightful.” –Scott Yanow

Bluebird/RCA, 2003

When You Wish Upon A Star – Bill Frisell

Beloved Northwest guitarist Bill Frisell performs equally beloved classic film and television music on this new record, from “Bonanza” to “Moon River,” “The Godfather,” and, of course, the album’s namesake. Always adept at conveying emotion and depth in any given tune, the guitarist yet again is skillful at drawing upon how this music shapes and informs our own emotional relationships to what we see. Performing with singer Petra Haden, violist Eyvind Kang, bassist Thomas Morgan, and drummer Rudy Royston, Frisell succeeds in re-imagining these time-honored gems.

OKeh, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Songs From Afar – Lucian Ban & Elevation

On his latest endeavor, Transylvanian pianist Lucian Ban is joined by Abraham Burton (tenor sax), John Hebert (bass), an Eric McPherson (drums), plus guest appearances by violist Mat Maneri and vocalist Gavril Tarmure. The album incorporates the musicians’ collective, extensive knowledge of modern jazz and creative music, to create a program of music with a unique identity that spans continents and styles. “Songs From Afar is very personal for me because the album is intimately tied to my Romanian cultural heritage and to the jazz influences that help me find out more where I come from – and where I’m going,” says Ban.

Sunnyside, 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath

No One Ever Tells You – Seth MacFarlane

Seth MacFarlane, well-known for his turns as actor and comedian, received a Grammy nomination for No One Ever Tells You, his third album. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, the album features Frank Sinatra’s bassist Chuck Berghoffer, as well as a 65-piece orchestra. With big band and traditional pop influences, the album includes songs by Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Carroll Coates, and more. MacFarlane said of the record, “There was a time during the mid-1950s and early 1960s when popular song was stretching its creative boundaries, and experimenting with more ambitious structures and tones. During this period, a song set out to really tell a story: not just with the lyric and the vocal, but with the arrangements and orchestral interpretations. The songs on this record attempt to do just that.”

Republic, 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath

Chemical Language – Wally Shoup, Bill Horst/Paul Kikuchi

A power trio of Seattle improvisers, Shoup (saxophone), Horist (guitar), and Kikuchi (drums) delve into diverse sonics, with superlative technical skills augmented by a dazzling range of advanced extended techniques. An amalgam or genres, from nu-wave and free jazz, Chemical Language challenges listeners with its unique structures and propulsive improvisation.

New Atlantis, 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath

Memory in the Center, an Afro Opera: Homage to Nelson Mandela

Earnest Dawkins’ Live in the Spirit Residency Big Band –

Recorded live on the opening night of the 2014 Chicago Jazz Festival, this compilation is a tribute to the late Nelson Mandela, filled with elements of South African dance and music along with post-bop, swing, improvisation, and a whole lot of heart. Composer and saxophonist Dawkins, a stalwart of Chicago’s Black avant-garde, puts down his instrument to lead a 16-piece orchestra, with soloists including alto saxophonist Rajiv Halim, trumpeter Marquis Hill, trombonist Steve Berry, pianist Neil Gonsalves, and vocalist Dee Alexander. The result is a fiery, spirited, and transcendent homage to one of the most remarkable figures of our time.

Dawk Publishing, 2014
Notes by John Gilbreath

Across the Bridge – Tom Collier

The Northwest’s vibraphone sensation and long-time UW professor, Tom Collier, pairs up with other regional heavy hitters for his latest recording. Bill Frisell (electric guitar), Larry Coryell (electric & acoustic guitar), Dan Dean (electric bass & electric guitar), John Bishop (drums), and Ted Poor (drums) accompany Collier through a set of nine originals inspired by places and recollections from his early years when his family lived on the other side of the West Seattle Bridge. This record contains powerful musical imagery, as Collier “turns phrases and builds lines that set a new musical standard for the vibraphone” (Percussive Arts Society).

Origin Records, 2015

Silver – Fourplay

For 25 years, bassist Nathan East, keyboardist Bob James, drummer Harvey Mason, and (more recently) guitarist Chuck Loeb have together explored the realms of “contemporary jazz.” Their intuitive, forward-thinking work may be best represented on this new album Silver. Demonstrating compatibility and chemistry, they each give their voice – cohesively – to this record. Not as dazzling or cutting-edge as longtime fans may be used to, but it is remarkably solid release.

Heads Up, 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath

Let’s Get Lost – Cyrille Aimee

Since her joyful Mack Avenue debut It’s a Good Day, Aimee has been dazzling audiences around the world with expressive and immensely capable vocal stylings. On this new record, the singer reflects on her musical and personal growth, telling us the story of a nascent love coming to full bloom. Accompanied by two guitar wunderkinds, Adrien Moignard and Michael Valeanu, as well as an Australian rhythm section consistent of bassist Sam Anning and drummer Raj Jayaweera, she adds a pensive touch that will have listeners daydreaming for a while.

Mack Avenue, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Bactrian – David Friesen & Glen Moore

Two modern influential bassists, David Friesen and Glen Moore, both associated with the Portland, OR jazz scene, recently teamed up for a tour through Europe, culminating in this, their third duo recording over the last 40 years. Bactrian (named for the two-humped camel native to the steppes of central Asia) consistently offers surprises – and joy. As critic Nat Hentoff says, “Bassist David Friesen is a phenomenon, a player whose musicianship, tone, time and imagination are uncategorizable.”

Origin Records, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Evolution – Dr. Lonnie Smith

His first Blue Note Album in 45 years, Evolutionmarks the return of Dr. Lonnie Smith to the label where he first made a name for himself in the late 1960s. The legendary B3 organ master invites other modern heavyweights including pianist Robert Glasper and saxophonist Joe Lovano to feature on the album. Following a stellar performance at 2016 NYC Winter Jazzfest, Smith and his Evolution band are set to tour again.

Blue Note, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath