Wild Dream – Swingnuts Jazz

Written by Peggy Wendel, vocalist with a vaudeville twist, these are eccentric songs to put a smile in your day. Swingnuts Jazz plays them with vintage jazz style: Spirited Swing, Samba, Bossa Nova, Tango, and Hot Jazz.” –liner notes.
Peggy Wendel, 2015

The Blue Room – Madeleine Peyroux

The nucleus of Madeleine Peyruoux’s The Blue Room is Ray CharlesModern Sounds In Country And Western Music< (ABC, 1962). It was an idea percolating in the brain of long-time Peyroux producer Larry Klein, who was considering a re-examination of the Charles classic and evolved into something more than a simple homage, something with the same intention as Charles had fifty years ago. Using only the sparest core keyboard-guitar quartet led by Larry Goldings, Peyroux re-imagines this material, giving its spirit a second generation of consideration. Peyroux’s voice is a paradox. Clearly informed by Billie Holiday, for which she has been criticised and praised, Peyroux has assimilated this influence into an instrument as unique as it is progressive.” –AllAboutJazz.

Universal, 2012

The Story of Sonny Boy Slim – Gary Clark Jr.

On this, his second major label release, Gary Clark Jr. “bolsters his reputation as a man of multiple musical personalities” (DownBeat). The 31-year-old guitarist (who has drawn comparisons to Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan) has listed his influences as blues, jazz, soul, country, and even hip hop. After more blues/rock-infused releases, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim finds the young artist more in a neo-soul, R&B, and gospel capacity, with delicious melodic and mood shifts throughout, commanding his instrument and voice in ways that fire on all cylinders.

Warner Bros., 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath

Black Light – John McLaughlin

The genius behind the Mahavishnu Orchestra continues to take the fusion between jazz and rock ever-forward with his latest album Black Light, by the 4th Dimension band; with keyboardist Gary Husband, bassist Etienne Mbappe, and drummer Ranjit Barot. Coming off of the live 2014 release, The Boston Record, this music seems a bit more controlled, yet still contains activity and movement, especially with McLaughlin’s stunning guitar riffs and the band’s precise percussion. One particularly special moment on the record comes in the form of “El Hombre Que Sabia,” a tune composed for McLaughlin’s late friend and colleague, Paco de Lucia, which plays with timbre and emotions to – much like the album itself – continually surprise the listener.

Abstract Logix, 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath

Come Fly With Me – Herb Alpert

In a career that has spanned five decades, beginning with the tremendous commercial success of the Tijuana Brass, the legendary trumpeter has released a lot of praiseworthy material. On his latest record, Come Fly With Me, Alpert crafts easy, enjoyable originals and reimagines cover songs with influences ranging from Brazilian bossa nova to reggae to classical orchestrations. One standout track is the Beatles’ Abbey Road classic “Something,” an ethereal, bare-bones cover that holds a match to George Harrison’s tenderness and emotion. Come Fly With Me is a beautiful record sure to please listeners of all ages.

Herb Alpert Presents, 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath

Live at the Village Vanguard -Christian McBride Trio

The NPR host, Grammy Award-winning bassist, and overall jazz luminary, joined once again by pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr., delivered a remarkable performance at the hallowed, historic New York City venue. The trio swings through nine tracks of originals, jazz standards, and R&B and pop selections (Car Wash!), filled with vibrancy, virtuosity, and funk. As Christian McBride said, “It’s a pretty diversified trio … the core foundation is hardcore, swingin’ blues and American songbook.”

Mack Avenue, 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath

The Silver Lining: the Songs of Jerome Kern – Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap

On this new collaboration with the pristine traditionalist pianist Bill Charlap, the venerable Tony Bennett’s voice is still quite “profound” (DownBeat). From the spine-tingling opener of “All the Things You Are” to the electrifying “Long Ago and Far Away,” The Silver Lining unites two masters in a simply great album that is perfect as “a welcome refresher course in the Jerome Kern songbook.”

Columbia, 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath

Rambling Confessions – John Herbert

New Orleans-born, New York-based bassist John Hebert (A-BARE) has honed his chops working with such masters as Andrew Hill, Fred Hersch, and Paul Bley. Backed by the ethereal vocalist Jen Shyu on several tracks, as well as pianist Andy Milne and drummer Billy Drummond, Hebert glides through re-imagined covers and textured, expansive originals with ease and a sure tone.

Sunnyside, 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath

The Evolution of Oneself – Orrin Evans

“If there was no Philadelphia sound, there would be no Orrin Evans,” writes Mark Corroto on AllAboutJazz.com. On this recording, with Detroit drummer Karriem Riggins and Philadelphia’s first-call bassist Christian McBride, the pianist evaluates his way through life and music with a diverse selection of tracks, including reworkings of “All the Things You Are,” “Autumn Leaves,” and even the folk piece “Wildwood Flower.” The Evolution of Oneself is a self-assured, masterful work by an artist who is confident of his place in modern jazz.

Smoke Sessions, 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath

The Subliminal and the Sublime – Chris Dingman

The impressive second release for the thoughtful vibraphonist Chris Dingman brings forth a work of significant ambition and impressive realization. The Subliminal and the Sublime is a through-composed five-part suite, commissioned by Chamber Music America, that was inspired by Dingman’s travels in the wilderness of the American West. “He derives a remarkable sense of scale from six instruments, and believably portrays massive Nevada mountains and vast California canyons through music,” making.. “those natural mysteries and renewals personal for us all.” (DownBeat).

Inner Arts initiative, 2015

Midnight McCartney – John Pizzarelli

Guitarist/ vocalist John Pizzarelli has released an enjoyable, capable album of Paul McCartney covers. After working together on McCartney’s 2012 release Kisses on the Bottom, the former Beatle suggested that Pizzarelli take on some songs from his discography. That idea comes to fruition with this album, which includes tracks ranging from the popular “Silly Love Songs” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” to the lesser-known “Warm and Beautiful” and “Some People Never Know.” The songs successfully reimagine McCartney’s work on a jazzed up, dignified, hard-swinging recording.

Concord, 2015
Notes by John Gilbreath