Come Out Swingin’ – Eugenie Jones

(Local artist and Manieri “Second Sunday” performer.) “There is nothing standard about the standards Jones chooses. “All of Me” bounces and “Bye Bye Blackbird” give feature to Anderson’s expert timekeeping and Jones’ precise phrasing. Jones proves a capable scat singer, never overdoing it. Reaching way back to “Begin the Beguine,” Jones turns in a beautifully straight performance of the Artie Shaw classic, properly accented by Ernesto Pediangco’s conga playing and Jay Thomas’ trumpet and saxophone parts.” (All About Jazz)

BMI, 2015

Zenith – Marc Copland

In a first-rate quartet that includes trumpeter Ralph Alessi, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer Joey Baron, the sublime, and oddly under-recognized pianist Marc Copeland finds the perfect balance of virtuosity and feeling; freedom and restraint. Even the one Ellington composition here is a vehicle for exploration between piano and trumpet, taking this wonderful recording into territory that is refreshingly new and reassuringly familiar.

InnerVoice, 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath

Live: an Evening with the Mel Brown Quartet

Portland drummer, and undeniable jazz master, Mel Brown, has been a solid and dignified presence in jazz for years. With impeccable swing, and a personal style that always makes him the best-dressed presence in any room, Mel Brown may represent a vanishing breed, but this date proves he’s not going anywhere soon. With Portland stalwarts Tony Pachini, Dan Balmer, and Ed Bennett, the quartet has sails full of modernism, and a keel deep in Brown’s soul-jazz roots.

Saphu, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Rise Above – Bill Evans

Saxophonist Bill Evans, who first came to light in the electric bands of Miles Davis, has issued his 24th release, Rise Above, a work of collaborations with an eclectic group of vocalists; including Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes, JJ Grey, and Murali Coryell. In addition to these powerhouse singers, the album features musicians including guitarist Mike Stern, bassist Dave Anderson, banjo player Ryan Cavanaugh, and keyboardist Marco Benevento, among others. Rise Above highlights Evans’ pedigree and love of soulful melodies with hard-hitting grooves, in solid, cohesive performances.

Vansman Records, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Peter Erskine is Dr. UM – Peter Erskine

The irrepressible drummer has successfully kept his feet on both sides of the divide between “contemporary jazz” and, what?, “straight-ahead jazz.” As the drummer in Weather Report from 1978 to 1982, Erskine established himself as a versatile master who became first call for recording dates with Barbara Streisand, Kate Bush, and Michael Buble’. He is also an educator, and, having attained the Doctoral level, has become the titular Dr. Um. Erskine is a virtuoso who knows how to have, and create, actual fun.

Fuzzy Music, 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath

30 – Trio Da Paz

Fleet Brazilian jazz by three of its top instrumentalists. Having first convened as a trio in 1985, the guitarist Romero Lubambo, bassist Nilson Matta, and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, have individually become essential to the New York scene while remaining true to their deeply wired Brazilian traditions. This collection of mostly original composition includes one cover; Baden Powell’s Samba Triste, which brings the samba feel to the front, and keeps this music grounded on the balls of its feet.

Zoho Music, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Feeling Good – Randy Crawford & Joe Sample

Smooth Jazz pioneers Crawford and Sample, who hit gold with their Street Life release of 30 years ago, are still with us and sounding, perhaps because of a maturity of approach, very much at the top of their game. The distinct timbre of Randy Crawford’s voice, that has always given her the benefit of the listener’s double take — like, “who is that?” – is still present. Sample’s hip and smooth presentation is augmented by jazz bassist Christian McBride and L.A. guitarist Anthony Wilson.

PRA Records, 2007
Notes by John Gilbreath

The Dreaming Room – Laura Mvula

From a continuum that may run from the troubled soul of Nina Simone through the R&B/jazz fluidity of vocalists like Jill Scott comes the distinctive British “neo-soul” vocalist Laura Mvula. Her second release, The Dreaming Room, is filled with lush production and clever surprise. It is almost classical in form but contemporary in style, and conveys personal experience through creative expression, just like jazz. At just 36 minutes from start to finish, this release gives up a snapshot of an artist from whom we will surely hear much more.

Sony Music, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

He Was The King – Freddy Cole

Though Freddy Cole’s refined and funky charm has always been distinctly his own, the long shadow of his late, masterful, and enormously popular older brother, Nat King Cole, has always been an unavoidable blessing and curse. On this beautiful late-career recording, the 80-year-old Freddy Cole fully acknowledges the gifts his brother gave our culture, while still remaining true to himself. This is the end of a family legacy, going out with all of the grace and style with which it has always blessed us.

HighNote Records, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Dream Man – Birch Pereira & the Gin Joints

Birch Pereira & the Gin Joints is a top-shelf unit of superb musicians that, on their new album Dream Man, explores a keenly curated repertoire of classic sounds, steeped with an obvious affinity and love for the music. Bassist, vocalist, and arranger Pereira, an active player in the Seattle jazz scene, is a versatile musician, leading a talented crop of artists as they blend Willie Dixon, Hank Williams, Fats Waller, and more into a single tasty, and timeless, brew.

GJ, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Work Songs – Jaimeo Brown Transcendence

This fascinating and powerful mix of recorded “samples” with a strong trio of saxophone, guitar, and drums, continues the work of Jaimeo Brown’s Transcendence project, begun with his Masters thesis on The Black Church and Jazz. This work takes segments of field recordings of Work Songs from the American South, as well and India and Japan, mixed with a range of musical expression, from ferocious to flowing, by Jaleel Shaw on sax and Chris Sholar on guitar and electronics. In the most important role of an artist, drummer Jaimeo Brown successfully brings issues of Social and Racial Equity to the forefront through these respectful and absolutely original creations.

Motema Music, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath