While Strolling Through the Park – Nancy Erickson

Erickson is a Seattle native who has managed to surround herself with the Origin Arts musician stable and other Northwest Coast stalwarts. She beautifully duets with bassist/vocalists Clipper Anderson on “I Just Dropped by to Say Hello,”…Top notch takes on “Perdido” (at deliberate tempo…slowly revealing the genius of Juan Tizol) and a rocking-rapid “That Old Black Magic.” Erickson is smart in her song choice and arrangements.” –All About Jazz

Vital Flame, 2016

Rare Django – Django Reinhardt

Very early recordings of Django Reinhardt (banjo, guitar), working as an accompanist in Paris from 1928 to 1938, playing with a variety of vocalists and orchestras. (Some recordings are previously unissued.) Many of the recordings include his brother Joseph (guitar) and Stephane Grappelli (violin). –liner notes

DRG Records, 1990

Habana Dreams – Pedrito Martinez Group

Cuban-born, New York-based percussionist Pedrito Martinez and his group release the follow up to their 2013 self-titled, Grammy-nominated debut. Habana Dreams pushes forward the gorup’s cutting-edge sound with some of the biggest names in Latin music: Rubén Blades, Descemer Bueno, and Issac Delgado. Recorded in both Cuba and New York, the album sees a return to Martinez’s Afro-Cuban roots, and showcases the group’s impressive range, from contemplative ballads to electrifying rumbas, while his magnetic personality and dynamic musicianship shine throughout.

Motema, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

 

Americana – JD Allen

The New York tenor saxophonist and DownBeat Critics Poll Winner, hailed by the New York Times as having an “enigmatic, elegant and hard-driving style,” has released his latest album with one goal: “To become a better musician.” “Learning how to compose and convincingly play a blues feel is learning how to humanize an inanimate object or a stream of notes,” he says. “The blues is the gateway to the past and future of American music; the well from which gospel, jazz, rock, country, rhythm & blues and hip hop are drawn.” Performing alongside bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston, Allen delivers a “blend of emotive intensity balanced by workman-like diligence” (All About Jazz).

Savant, 2016

Sound of Red – Marie Rene

An album that attempts to cover the spectrum of human emotion, Marie’s Sound of Red indeed runs the gamut of joy, nostalgia, innocence, and feeling lost. The vocalist leans toward the theatrical in certain spots, but never oversells it, maintaining a sense of authenticity and relatability. She’s a clever lyricist with the vocal chops to impress many a listener. As John McDonough says in DownBeat, “There are many fine singers out there these days, and Marie is one of the best.”

Motema, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

 

Birdwatching – Anat Fort Trio

On her third record on ECM, Anat Fort invites special guest, the Italian Gianluigi Trovesi, on clarinet, alongside her steadfast trio companions Gary Wang on bass and Roland Schneider on drums. Birdwatching is a lively and bright outing, with the Israeli pianist’s improvised solos interspersing quartet music, and Trovesi’s presence elevating the musicianship to “an alert sense of joy in the playing,” says DownBeat.

ECM, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

 

Land of Gold – Anoushka Shankar

A daughter of musical royalty, Anoushka Shankar delivers a compelling, evocative, gorgeous sonic journey on her latest album, inspired by the humanitarian plight of refugees. With her compositions, Shankar evokes shades of aggression, anger, and tenderness, while incorporating elements of classical minimalism, jazz, electronica, and Indian classical styles. Featuring the likes of M.I.A., Vanessa Redgrave, Alev Lenz, and Girls for Equality children’s choir, Land of Gold is a diverse, spiritual, emotional journey indeed.

Deutsche Grammophon, 2014
Notes by John Gilbreath

 

Take Me to the Alley – Gregory Porter

Since his debut in 2010, Gregory Porter has become a celebrated jazz singer-songwriter, going on to win the 2014 Grammy for Best Vocal Jazz Album with his stunner Liquid Spirit. His first release since then, Take Me to the Alley highlights the soulful singer’s versatility and emotion, particularly on the singles “Holding On” and “Don’t Lose Your Steam.” This is a must for any modern vocal jazz lover’s collection.

Blue Note, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

 

Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny – Cuong Vu and Pat Metheny

The Grammy Award-winning guitarist/composer/bandleader finds himself accompanied by a trio led by onetime Pat Metheny Group trumpeter, Cuong Vu, now a Seattle resident and UW jazz professor. Vu, with bassist Stomu Takeishi and fellow Seattle resident Ted Poor on drums, join Metheny on this record that is comprised of five tunes written by the trumpeter, and one each from the bandleader and Andrew D’Angelo. “This project is something that Cuong and I have talked about doing for years,” says Metheny. “For as much as I loved what Cuong has brought to my bands along the way, I always wondered what it would be like to join his group for a project, to see what I might be able to offer those guys.” And the result is worthwhile.

Nonesuch, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath