Classic Columbia and Okeh Benny Goodman Orchestra Sessions 1939-1958

“Try to describe the Goodman sound? Easy: Pure Swing. The big band he organized for the “Let’s Dance” radio program over NBC in New York eventually matured into the locomotive that barreled through the country to its famed and often told moment of discovery and success at the Palomar Ballroom in Los Angeles. The band delivered to the youth of America a new voice that was hot, cool, progressive and inventive… Mosaic Records Classic Columbia and OKeh Benny Goodman Orchestra Sessions (1939-1958), a treasure trove of seven CDs, spans nearly 20 years of Goodman’s musical life, from the late 1930s when his popularity was already well established, throughout the 1950s when Benny would assemble the cream of the mainstream jazz world to be… The set features more than 24 tracks that are being released for the first time.” –All About Jazz

Mosaic Records, 2008

Project Freedom – Joey DeFrancesco & The People

Grammy-nominated organist/trumpeter Joey DeFrancesco delivers a gorgeous project that seamlessly blends jazz and blues, highlighting his stunning arrangement capabilities and proving, yet again, he is “one of the greatest B-3 players since Jimmy Smith,” says Quincy Jones. Opening with a prelude arrangement of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Project Freedom swells, bends, and breaks track after track with emotion, nuance, and big heart. Featuring mostly originals, the album also includes a stellar rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”

Mack Avenue, 2017
Notes by John Gilbreath

Ancient Africa – Abdullah Ibrahim

On February 18, 1973, in Toronto, after 10 years of exile from his home in South Africa, Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly named Dollar Brand) recorded two brilliant albums of solo piano; Ancient Africa is the second volume, and this record is a wonderful reissue, complete with a never-issued bonus track, “Khotso.” “Like Ellington, Mingus and Monk, [Ibrahim] has extended his career into many different pathways through the reworkings of his original themes,” wrote John Norris back in 1994. “Rarely, though, have they been so redolent of ‘home’ as in these performances.” And that still holds true over two decades later.

Sackville, 2017
Notes by John Gilbreath

The Columbia Years 1968-1969 – Betty Davis

Nearly 50 years after its recording in the Studios B and E at Columbia’s 52nd Street Studios, Seattle’s own Light in the Attic Records have unearthed Betty Davis’ landmark session, produced by Miles Davis and Teo Macero. Capturing Davis’ uniquely fresh and funky vibe, the previously unheard session highlights her futuristic capabilities that would go on to inspire modern artists including Prince, OutKast, and Erykah Badu. Featuring drummer Mitch Mitchell, guitarist John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock on keys, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and several other key players, along with rare documents and photos in the packaging, The Columbia Years is a must-need project for any jazz lover.

Light in the Attic, 2016
Notes by John Gilbreath

Danse – Colin Vallon

The Colin Vallon Trio has earned its place in the world of the piano trio by quietly challenging its conventions, never more obvious than on Danse, their third ECM album. Pianist Vallon, recently nominated for the Swiss Music Prize, leads double bassist Patrice Moret and drummer Julian Sartorius not with virtuosic solo display, but by patient outlining of melody and establishing of frameworks in which layered group improvising can take place. On this record, gentle but insistent rhythms can trigger seismic musical events.

ECM, 2017
Notes by John Gilbreath

My Foolish Heart – Ralph Towner

“If ever there was a guitar player who captures the gorgeous nuance, the magic that a nylon string classical guitar can emote in the right hands it is Ralph Towner,” writes the Huffington Post. After critically lauded projects with trumpeter Paolo Fresu and with fellow guitarists Wolfgang Muthspiel and Slava Grigoryan, Ralph Towner returns to solo guitar for My Foolish Heart, his 29th album for ECM. Towner is a former Seattle resident and founder of the group long-running third stream group, Oregon. Whether on classical guitar or 12-string, Towner’s touch is immediately identifiable. Solo music is an important thread through his rich discography and this new album follows in the great tradition.

 

ECM, 2017
Notes by John Gilbreath

Rebirth – Billy Childs

Grammy Award-winning pianist/composer Billy Childs assembles an all-star cast of saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Eric Harland on his latest endeavor, Rebirth, an album with groove, clarity, balance, and vision. The seamlessness of this group, steered by a stalwart captain, certainly renews one’s faith in the small-group format. “Even for those of us who already knew the truth about Billy Childs, it’s good to savor it anew,” says Vijay Iyer. “This album invites everyone in, so that we can all revel in his mastery and hear him keeping that flame burning bright.”

Mack Avenue, 2017
Notes by John Gilbreath

East West Time Line – Kevin Eubanks

Recorded in New York and California, this album celebrates the “energy and lifestyle” of each locale that has shaped guitarist Eubanks’ life. “This collection of songs might be considered a musical representation of two different time periods of seemingly disparate influences that I have grown to understand from living in New York, ages 20-35, and California, ages 36 to present day,” writes Eubanks in the liner notes. The New York sessions are original compositions, while the California sessions are arrangements of works by Chick Corea, Marvin Gaye, and others. Accompanied by top-tier artists, including bassist Dave Holland, drummer Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, and pianist Orrin Evans, Eubanks crafts a personal and thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.

Mack Ave, 2017
Notes by John Gilbreath

Clockwise: the Music of Cedar Walton – Ben Markley Big Band

Pianist Ben Markley releases his latest project Clockwise: The Music of Cedar Walton. Featuring special guest trumpeter Terell Stafford, Markley celebrates one of the more influential and beloved figures in jazz through this unique project, showcasing many of Walton’s most revered tunes through new arrangements for big band. Bringing together faculty members from the University of Wyoming and top-flight Denver-area musicians, Markley produces an honest, swinging recording that honors Walton, while presenting his music in a new light.

OA2 Records, 2017
Notes by John Gilbreath