Milt Jackson & Ray Brown – Norman Granz Jazz in Montreux presents Milt Jackson and Ray Brown ’77

Of all the vibists in jazz – and there have been a number who have played with much elan, swing, and ingenuity – none has equaled Milt Jackson for his combination of blues-rooted emotional directness and simultaneous lyrical, relaxed, graceful phrasing.” –Nat Hentoff, June 2004

DVD

The New Breed – Jeff Parker

Multi-instrumentalist and a pillar of Chicago jazz and experimental music scene, Jeff Parker has been through many iterations as sideman, companion, and leader; each project he touches he helps bring to life with creativity and motion. On New Breed, a title taken from a clothing store owned by Parker’s late father, the musician finds himself in a funkier, soulful sphere, rooted in jazz and funk with some experimental beats. “The whole time I was working toward trying to fuse all my interests in a recording,” he told Aquarium Drunkard. “It’s a record I always wanted to make.”

International Anthem Recording Co., 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Plays Duke Ellington’s Far East Suite – Slavic Soul Party

For the raucous party band that they are, Slavic Soul Party has conceived and executed a more-than-credible covering of one of Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington’s most distinctive, and prescient, creative projects. This Far East Suite has its own distinctive flavor, but SSP brings considerable musical talent to bear on clever, and even poignant arrangements, once again creating a recording that brings the jazz canon into new territory. As it should.

Ropeadope, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Classic! Live at Newport – Joe Lovano Quartet

His 25th album on Blue Note, saxophonist Joe Lovano’s Classic was recorded at the Newport Festival in 2005 and released on the eve of the 2016 festival (at which he performed with John Scofield). Featuring the late Hank Jones on piano, George Mraz on bass, and Lewis Nash on drums, the album is of typical Lovano magic, and includes melodies and rhythms that made All About Jazz declare, “If your foot isn’t tapping, your body isn’t moving, and your head isn’t bobbing along…you may be suffering from some form of paralysis.”

Blue Note, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Harlem On My Mind – Catherine Russell

New York jazz vocalist Russell pays tribute to the Golden Age of Harlem jazz, celebrating the legacies of Ethel Waters, Billie Holiday, Etta James, and Dinah Washington, as well as iconic compositions of Benny Carter, Fats Waller, and Irving Berlin. The 12-song record swings with soulful interpretations, befitting the daughter of jazz musicians. “My mother was born and raised in Harlem, and my father led one of the leading orchestra in Harlem, which was part of the inspiration for this album,” she told DownBeat. “It’s about not forgetting your roots.”

Jazz Village, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Expansions Live – Dave Liebman Group

Soprano saxophone master, David Liebman, has never been content to rest on the laurels of his important side-man contributions to the Miles Davis “electric” period. This two-disc set has him in the company of a stunning new ensemble of players, taking whole new harmonic approaches to some familiar, and some not familiar, musical statements for both acoustic and electric live performance. Three of the acoustic pieces were recorded live at the Earshot Jazz Festival event at Cornish College of the Arts.

2 CDs
Whaling City Sound, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Live in Sant’anna Arresi, 2004 – David S. Ware & Matthew Shipp

The late tenor sax titan David S Ware always had one of the most distinctive sounds of New York’s Black avant-garde, and this beautifully recorded live concert captures it at its full glory. Ware seems absolutely at ease, and perfectly in synch with his long-time collaborator, pianist Matthew Shipp, who is another prolific modern master. The music is adventurous, but so passionately performed and beautifully recorded that it can speak to any listener.

AUM Fidelity, 2016

Notes by John Gilbreath

The Westerlies – The Westerlies

While it is not unusual for the New York jazz world to be impressed by the young talent coming out of Seattle, the charming and virtuosic brass quarter, The Westerlies, have taken the equation to a whole new level. This second Westerlies release is a beautifully presented two-disco offering of mostly original compositions, with the only “covers” being, tellingly, Duke Ellington and Charles Ives. It is pristine, engaging, virtuosic, and utterly charming music for two trumpets and two trombones.

2 CDs
Songlines, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath