Steve Turre, Smoke Sessions Records Succeed Through Release Of ‘Generations’

Courtesy: Smoke Sessions Records

Trombonist Steve Turre is, next to Leon Pendarvis, one of the longest-serving members of Saturday Night Live’s current house band lineup, having served with the band since 1985.  It is just one of his claims to fame, though.  He has also released more than 20 records as a band leader himself since the release of his 1987 album, Viewpoint, which was released through Stash Records.  He released his latest album as a band leader Sept. 16 in the form of Generations through Smoke Sessions Records.  The 10-song record, which runs an hour and 10-minutes, is such an enjoyable presentation what with its varied musical arrangements.  That diversity in the record’s musical content will be addressed shortly.  The background on the album and its songs provided in the record’s packaging adds its own share of appeal to the record.  It will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this album.  All things considered they make Generations yet another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Generations, the latest album from Steve Turre, is an enjoyable new offering from the veteran trombonist that will appeal widely among jazz audiences.  The record’s appeal comes in large part through its musical content.  From beginning to end of the hour-plus album, the record’s musical content is quite diverse.  Early in the album’s run, audiences get some big band ballroom vibes through the gentle, flowing, ‘Dinner With Duke.’  The richness of Turre’s trombone leads the way here while drummer Orion Turre’s gentle work with the brushes on the snare pairs with Isaiah J. Thompson to create such a rich musical picture.  Audiences can see the lights on the floor, the big band on the side, performing the song as couples slow dance on the fully waxed floor that reflects the light from above. 

The swinging blues approach of ‘Blue Smoke,’ which immediately follows takes audiences in a completely different direction, picking up the album’s energy.  It is such a fun, infectious composition that is led, once again, by Turre on trombone. 

As the album progresses, Turre and company keep the changes coming, turning to the reggae realm in ‘Don D.’  The familiar staccato style work on the guitar and the use of the horns is a toss to so much reggae.  It is sure to appeal to so many audiences in its own right while continuing to show the diversity in the album’s musical content.

Even later in the album’s run, listeners get a touch of some Afro-Latin sound and style in ‘Good People.’  The use of the drums and the horns will take audiences to the streets of Havana on those warm summer nights from the 1960s.  It is its own infectious work whose instrumentation puts the talents of the whole group on full display here.  It is just one more example of the diversity exhibited throughout Generations.  When it and the other songs examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s compositions, the whole shows even more clearly, the diversity in the album’s primary content.  The result is that said content forms a solid foundation for the album.

The foundation formed through the album’s musical content is strengthened even more through the information provided through the album.  Penned by A. Scott Galloway, the information in question is an in-depth examination of the songs’ backgrounds and how the album came about.  Galloway writes in the liner notes that Turre’s original intent was to craft this record in 2020, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its creation.  It was not until February of this year that Turre and a group of musicians finally managed to record the album in a single day.  If that really is the case, then the rush of getting things done in a single day still resulted in a fully enjoyable presentation.

In regards to the background on the songs, listeners will be interested to learn that ‘Dinner With Duke,’ for instance, was in fact named and created in tribute of sorts to legendary jazz front man Duke Ellington.  Galloway writes here that Ellington played a big role in Turre’s development and that of Galloway.  Galloway even notes Turre’s use of a plunger on the trombone opposite Wallace Roney, Jr.’s work on the trumpet makes for a certain sort of musical conversation.  Audiences really can hear that conversation, too.  It makes for even more interest here.  What’s more, understanding the influence that Ellington had on Galloway, Turre, and his fellow musicians makes for even more appreciation of the song.  That is because audiences can really hear that Ellington influence throughout the song.

Another interesting note that Galloway makes in the liner notes is that of ‘Pharaoh’s Dance.  The name itself conjures thoughts of ancient Egypt, but that could not be farther from the truth.  As Galloway points out, the song is a tribute of sorts to the influence of famed saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders.  It is also an homage to equally respected and revered pianist McCoy Tyner.  Audiences who are familiar with each musician’s work will really hear clearly, their influence.  What’s more, it shows that importance of having background information for any instrumental music.  Song titles can clearly be misleading, and having that background really offers full understanding and appreciation for said work.

Galloway’s discussion on ‘Resistance’ is another interesting way in which the liner notes prove their importance to the album’s presentation.  He cites Turre as saying that the song is a statement piece.  “I wrote ‘Resistance’ around the time of the 2016 election,” he cites Turre as saying. “I’m tired of the negativity, the division, and the lack of compassion…the greed and the selfishness, and the willful ignorance of facts, truth and science.  I don’t resist by hating.  I resist by putting positive energy out there.”  Once more, audiences get more proof of the importance of liner notes here.  Understanding Turre’s comments, the juxtaposition of the tension early in the song against the more positive vibes that are presented through the rest of the song really does well to illustrate his comments.  When this information, the other information noted and the rest of the liner notes, the whole shows without question, the importance of the liner notes featured in this album.

The liner notes that accompany the album’s primary content do plenty to strengthen the album’s presentation.  They are still not all that the album has going for it.  The record’s production rounds out the album’s most important elements.  From one song to the next, the production brings out the best of each ensemble’s work.  The horns and percussion each compliment each other so well, as do the bass lines along with everything else.  The piano line adds its own welcome touch to given songs, too.  Each musician gets a moment in the spotlight in each song and throughout by connection.  The result is that the production creates such a positive general effect throughout the album, ensuring even more, listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  When this aspect is considered along with the album’s primary and secondary content, the whole makes Generations a fully enjoyable new offering from Steve Turre and another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Generations, the new album from Steve Turre, is a successful new offering from the veteran musician.  The record succeeds for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being the record’s primary content.  The musical arrangements that make up the album’s body are diverse and so fun from one to the next.  The background on the songs (and the album’s creation) make for even more engagement and entertainment.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and puts the finishing touch to the presentation.  Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the album another welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Generations is available now through Smoke Sessions Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Steve Turre’s latest news at:

Website: https://steveturre.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/steveturre

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Katriona Taylor’s Latest LP Will Find Appeal Among A Very Targeted Audience

Courtesy: DivaDoll Records

Early this month, singer Katriona Taylor released her new album, Blind Passion through DivaDoll Records. Running 12 songs deep, Blind Passion is Taylor’s fifth album and will appeal to a targeted audience group. That is due in large part to the musical arrangements featured throughout the album. They will be discussed shortly. The lyrical content that accompanies those arrangements add to the appeal to those specific listeners. It will be examined a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make Blind Passion a unique addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Blind Passion, the latest studio recording from jazz singer Katriona Taylor, is a presentation that her established audiences will find engaging and entertaining. That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements. Even though the record is being marketed as a jazz presentation, the arrangements are more infused with Taylor’s familiar soul leanings than jazz. The only song featured in the record whose arrangement is jazz at its most basic level is her cover of Duke Ellington’s timeless song, ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).’ Coming early in the record’s run, the song is a wonderful take on the beloved jazz standard, with Taylor’s scatting right up there with that of the legendary Ella Fitzgerald. Drummer Chris Nickolls’ work on the kit is just as notable. His ability to keep time solidly on the hi-hat as he works through his fills is impressive (coming from one drummer to another). No specific lineup is noted as to the songs anywhere in the album’s packaging (including its liner notes) so it is impossible to know which of the two pianists enlisted for the album — John Crawford and John Hammond — handled the keys on this performance. Whichever musician handled the responsibility is fully deserving of his own applause.

On a completely different note, Taylor and her fellow musicians take on The Doors’ classic song ‘Light My Fire’ as part of the album’s presentation complete with soprano saxophone and soul-tinged keyboards and bass. This rendition is intriguing to say the very least. Instead of the driving rocker that most audiences know, Taylor and company take the arrangement in a more lounge lizard type direction. It really is a stark contrast from the source material that is certain to divide audiences.

Even Taylor and company’s original composition, ‘Makes Me Wanna Stay’ is more soul-tinged than jazz. The jazz leaning is there. There is no denying this. It is evidenced throughout the arrangement. At the same time, Taylor’s soul leaning’s are just as present. Interestingly enough, the choruses here are such that they lend themselves to comparison to Lionel Richie’s timeless hit, ‘Easy (Like Sunday Morning).’ Digressing here, there is another comparison here in the lyrical themes of that song and Taylor’s song. Where Taylor’s song is about someone doing things so right that it makes the other person want to stay with that person, Richie’s song is the polar opposite, about someone leaving that other person. The matter of lyrical themes will be touched on a little more a little later. Getting back on the subject at hand, the comparisons between the arrangements is unavoidable, and again definitely shows how Taylor and company lean once again in a far less jazz-oriented direction in this record than soul and R&B. Taking this song and the others examined here into consideration along with the rest of the record’s entries, the whole makes clear why this record’s musical content is of such importance. It is such that audiences will either like it or dislike it. There is not a lot of wiggle room for middle of the road feelings.

The musical content featured in Taylor’s new album is just part of what makes the record very directed in its appeal. The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements adds to the targeted appeal. That is because by and large, the record’s lyrical content centers on the all too familiar topic of relationships. Save for the one Duke Ellington cover, nearly every song on this record centers on the matter. Even The Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’ finds itself in that arena because it is about someone who is “hot” for another person and letting that person know it. So again, audiences get little variance in the album’s lyrical content from one song to the next here. To that end, it is going to find its appeal, again, very limited. That limit is among, again, Taylor’s established audiences. More casual audiences might find some appeal, but it will be found far more among those established listeners.

Having touched on the musical and lyrical content featured in Katriona Taylor’s new album, there is still one more item to examine. That item is its production. The production is worthy of at least some applause because of its ability to bring out the warmth of Taylor’s performance and those of her fellow musicians in each song. That warmth creates a sense of heart in each song, too, in turn making for reason to hear the album at least once, even among more casual audiences. From one song to the next, each performer’s part is expertly balanced with that of the other musicians, leading each figure to bring out the best in one another. Thanks to the production, again, those performances each get equal attention, and in turn creating a positive general effect. When this is considered along with the impact of the album’s overall content, the whole makes the album worth hearing at least once.

Blind Passion, the fifth album from singer Katriona Taylor, is an intriguing addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums. That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements do exhibit some jazz leanings, but at the same time also present just as much soul influence if not more. That blend of influences is very likely to divide audiences, and in turn find most of its appeal among Taylor’s established audiences. The album’s lyrical content is just as likely to appeal to Taylor’s most devoted fans. That is because it is also limited. In the case of this album, it is limited primarily to the topic of romance; love found and lost. There is not a lot of variety in the themes here. The songs’ production rounds out the album’s most important elements. It brings out the best in each musician’s performance and balances those performances just as well with one another. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the album a unique presentation that audiences will find is worth hearing at least once.

Blind Passion is available now through DivaDoll Records. More information on the album is available along with all of Katriona Taylor’s latest news at:

Website: https://www.katrionataylor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katriona.taylor.5

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Jazz Trio’s Latest LP Is A Successful Addition To 2022’s New Jazz Albums Field

Courtesy: Smoke Sessions Records

Jazz trio Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein, and Bill Stewart is scheduled to release its new album, Perpetual Pendulum Friday through Smoke Sessions Records. Recorded in July 2021, the record’s recording session also come on the 30th anniversary of the release of the trio’s debut 1991 album, The Intimacy of the Blues. The new, forthcoming record is a presentation that most jazz fans will find engaging and entertaining thanks to its blend of originals and covers. One of the most notable of the covers featured in this record is that of George Gershwin’s ‘Prelude #2.’ It will be examined shortly. The trio’s updated take of Duke Ellington’s ‘Reflections In D’ is another notable cover featured as part of the album. It will be discussed a little later. The album’s title track is a standout among the album’s originals and will also be discussed later. Each track examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the album. When they are considered with the rest of the album’s covers and originals, the whole makes Perpetual Pendulum a successful addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Perpetual Pendulum, the new album from the jazz trio of Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein, and Bill Stewart, is a successful new offering from the group that most jazz fans will find appealing. Each song featured in this record does its own part to make that clear, both in terms of the originals and the covers. Among the most notable of the covers featured in this record is that of George Gershwin’s ‘Prelude #2.’ The trio’s take on Gershwin’s 1927 composition stays largely true to its source material in terms of the sound. Gershwin’s easygoing piano line is replaced here by the pairing of Goldings on organ and Bernstein on guitar. More specifically, Bernstein takes on the main melody while Goldstein offers a backing of sorts a la a bass line with his simple chords. Meanwhile, Stewart’s subtle cymbal flourishes and work on the toms joins with Goldings’ occasional solos to enhance the group’s cover even more. The group had already stepped up their take from Gershwin’s original by increasing the tempo of Gershwin’s work. The bluesy vibe is there just as in Gershwin’s original, but it has more energy than the more sauntering sense of Gershwin’s work. The balance of the trio’s honor to Gershwin and its own updated performance makes the song here so unique and well worth hearing. It is certain to impress any Gershwin fan as those of these musicians and jazz in general.

Another cover worth noting in this record’s body is that of ‘Reflections in D.’ Originally composed by Alvin Ailey, the song gained fame thanks to Duke Ellington. Fans of Ellington and his performance will wholly enjoy the trio’s performance here. That is because of how true the group stays to the source material. Bernstein takes over for Ellington here with his performance on guitar. The gentle, flowing guitar line creates such a happy, relaxed mood as Bernstein works his way through the song. Goldings’ work on the keyboard is just as subtle with its accent to the presentation. Meanwhile Stewart’s ever so light cymbal rolls add just the right touch to the whole. The group collectively takes its performance and gives the source material an update that so many jazz fans will enjoy.

In the way of the originals, one of the most unique of the trio’s originals is its title track, which comes late in the album’s run. Bernstein takes the lead again here with his Dave Stryker-esque performance on the guitar. The easy listening style presentation alongside the almost funky organ line and subtle kick from the drums makes this song its own unique presentation. There are even some moments here of what feels like some free jazz added to the mix. The overall modern jazz approach and sound shows the trio is just as creative in crafting its own works as taking on standards from days gone by. When the song is considered along with the two covers examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Perpetual Pendulum an engaging blend of covers and originals that is a welcome addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Perpetual Pendulum, the new album from the trio of Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein, and Bill Stewart, is a successful new offering from the group. That is proven throughout the album in its covers and originals. All three of the songs examined here make that clear. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the record a presentation that most jazz fans will agree is well worth hearing.

Perpetual Pendulum is scheduled for release Friday through Smoke Sessions Records. More information on this and other titles from Smoke Sessions Records is available at:

Websitehttps://www.smokesessionsrecords.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/SmokeSessionsRecords   

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/smokejazzclub

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Todd Cochran’s New Record Is A Unique Addition To 2021’s Field Of New Covers Collections

Courtesy: Sunnyside Records

More than ten years after he released his last record, jazz pianist Todd Cochran will officially return Friday with a new album.  The record, Then and Again, Here and Now, is a 15-song compilation of jazz standards that most jazz fans will find interesting and worth hearing at least once.  That is proven in large part through the liner notes featured in the record’s packaging.  It will be discussed shortly.  The arrangements performed by Cochran and his fellow musicians tie directly into the liner notes and their importance.  They will be discussed a little later.  The sequencing of the noted performances rounds out the most important of the record’s elements.  When it is considered along with the other noted items, the whole makes Then and Again, Here and Now a positive return for Cochran and a presentation that even being a covers set, is still worth hearing at least once.

Todd Cochrane’s forthcoming covers compilation, Then and Again, Here and Now is a presentation that most audiences will agree is a welcome return for the jazz pianist.  That is proven in part through the record’s liner notes.  The liner notes in question serve as a solid starting point for the overall listening experience.  They explain how the compilation came to be in Cochran’s own words.  He explains right from the outset, the songs that are featured in this collection were chosen deliberately.  He points out that they are works connected to certain periods in his life and certain events therein.  What’s more, Cochran points out in the liner notes some background on at least a few of the covers that are featured herein.  That added background makes for added interest in said songs, and even the other songs.  That is even without background. As if all of the background that Cochran offers in the liner notes is not enough, he also waxes philosophical in the liner notes about the role of music as a cultural connector for the world.  That discussion and the discussions that it is sure to create show even more, the importance of the compilation’s liner notes. 

While the liner notes featured in Cochran’s new collection are unquestionably important to the record’s presentation, they are only a portion of what makes the record worth hearing.  As pointed out already, Cochran offers background on some of the covers that he features in his record in its liner notes.  One of those songs is ‘Foggy Day in London.’  Originally composed by George and Ira Gershwin, Cochran explains that the song made him think of his time living in London and in San Francisco.  It goes without saying that Cochran and company’s rendition of the 1937 standard is quite different from that original.  The original is a light, upbeat composition from beginning to end.  By comparison, Cochran’s rendition is split into two “movements,” the first being a subdued composition, while the second is more upbeat and along the lines of the brothers Gershwin’s rendition.  Cochran pointed out in his liner notes that the changes he made to the originals were intentional.  In this case, it is understandable.  He and his fellow musicians make it an almost original work.  That first movement does well to conjure thoughts of Cochran’s time in London while the second movement does just as well to create thoughts of fog-filled streets in San Francisco.  The whole is such an interesting take on the Gershwins’ original work. 

‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’ originally composed by Duke Ellington, is another of the songs that Cochran addresses in the liner notes.  He points out of his take here, he was only 13 when he first heard Ellington and his big band live.  Cochran adds that at the time, he was still learning about the vast world that is jazz.  Understanding this, one can understand the toned down but still so enjoyable solo performance of the Ellington standard.  The gentle tones that Cochran produces in the chords that he uses throughout the song give a unique dissonance that actually works alongside the more familiar sound of the original.  The juxtaposition of that original content and Cochran’s reserved update shows even more, the importance of the performances featured throughout the record.

‘Bemsha Swing’ is yet another song that Cochran addresses in the album’s liner notes.  The performance that Cochran and company present here is yet another example of the importance of the featured performances.  The performance by Cochran and company is about as far from Thelonius Monk’s original as could be.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, either.  As Cochran pointed out here, It was Monk’s “outlier” status during Cochran’s younger years that drew him to Monk in the first place.  He always respected Monk’s willingness to “pursue the music he heard in his head.”  That is exactly what Cochran and his fellow musicians do here.  They follow the music in their heads, presenting a wonderful improv style performance that still stays at least somewhat true to its source material.  It is just one more prime example of what makes the record’s featured performances so important to the album’s presentation.  When this performance, the others examined here, and the rest of those featured in the record are considered together, the whole enhances the listening experience even more.  That is especially when they are considered along with the background information featured in the record’s liner notes.

Having examined the liner notes and actual content featured in Then and Again, Here and Now, that content does much to make this compilation worth hearing.  It is only a portion of what makes the record engaging and entertaining.  The sequencing of that content rounds out its most important elements.  It is important because it takes into account the energies in each arrangement.  A close listen shows that from one song to the next, the arrangements’ energies do rise and fall.  At the same time though, the record remains relatively subdued and relaxed within each arrangement.  That is the case even in the slightly more upbeat works.  Cochran and company exhibit a certain control even in those instances.  The result of the attention paid to the record’s energies is that they ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment (again thanks to the sequencing) just as much as the content itself. All things considered, the content and the sequencing make Cochran’s new covers collection a record that is worth hearing, even being a covers collection.

Todd Cochran’s first new record in more than a decade is a presentation that audiences will find an interesting work.  That is because it is essentially a covers compilation.  Even being a group of covers, it still offers audiences something to appreciate, not the least of which being its liner notes.  The liner notes, which are encouraged to be read first, set the groundwork for the collection.  They offer insight into how the collection came into being and how Cochran came to create the covers in question.  Speaking of those covers, the performances thereof create their own interest.  That is because of the balance in original and new content featured in each performance.  The sequencing of the performances balances each song’s energy, ensuring even more, audiences’ engagement and entertainment.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation.  All things considered, they make the record worth experiencing at least once.  Then and Again, Here and Now is scheduled for release Friday through Sunnyside Communications/Sunnyside Records.  More information on the compilation is available along with all of Cochran’s latest news at:

Website: https://toddcochran.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toddcochranmusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CochranMusart

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.   

Otis’ New Album Is A Good Fit For Any Jazz Lovers’ Romantic Moments

Courtesy: Adrielle Music

Singer Jeannine Otis has been making her mark in the music industry for more than four decades, recording and performing with the likes of Grover Washington, Jr., Ella Fitzgerald and her cousin, famed drummer Elvin Jones.  While Otis’ resume is extensive to say the least, she herself has ironically released only one solo album, 1980’s Magic Song.  That eight-song record was re-issued twice, in 2003 and 2013.  Otis finally ended the three-decade-plus wait for her next solo album last month with the release of her sophomore album, Into My Heart.  The nine-song record, released March 5 through Adrielle Music, is a production that listeners will agree is worth hearing at least once.  That is due in part to the songs that make up the record’s body.  They will be discussed shortly.  Otis’ performances of said songs — and those of her fellow musicians – add their own appeal to the recording’s presentation.  They will be discussed a little later.  The overarching lyrical theme that accompanies the record’s musical content rounds out the most important of the album’s elements.  It will be discussed later, too.  When it is considered along with the record’s musical arrangements and related performances, the whole makes Into My Heart a presentation that will find itself a widely appealing record.

Jeannine Otis’ sophomore album is a presentation that most listeners will agree was worth the thirty year-plus wait.  That is proven in part through its featured songs.  The songs are a mix of original compositions and covers.  The covers comprise only a small portion of the songs, at only two of its nine total songs.  They are covers of Duke Ellington’s ‘In a Sentimental Mood,’ and Billie Holiday’s ‘Lover Man.’ The rest of the songs are compositions that were composed either by Otis, Otis and others, or by her fellow musicians.  That Otis and officials at Adrielle Music opted to give Otis and company’s music more presence here than the covers shows a concerted effort to really put their collective talents on display.  The covers become little more than window dressing.  That is not to say that the covers are anything bad.  It is just to say that their minimalist presence allows Otis and company to fully shine, and shine they do in each performance.

Speaking of the performances presented throughout the 44-minute run time of Into My Heart, each is unique from the others.  That is even with each song being so gentle in its presentation.  Case in point is the performance by Otis and company in ‘Touch Me Tonight.’  As the song’s title infers, the song is a song directly centered on intimacy between a man and woman.  Keeping that in mind, it would have been so easy for Otis and her fellow musicians to get way too schmaltzy.  Thankfully, that did not happen here.  The gentle piano line performed here alongside Otis’ satin-soft vocal delivery gives the song such a depth in its simplicity.  The production used to give Otis’ vocals and the piano the airy sound that they exhibit adds its own touch.  The whole makes the performance overall feel and sound like something that belongs in the soundtrack for some romance flick from the 1960s.  That is meant in the most complimentary fashion possible.

Another example of the importance of the performances featured in this record comes in ‘Brazilian Jam.’ The song’s very title leads listeners to expect a Latin-tinged composition.  That is what audiences get here, but it is not all that they get in the largely instrumental track.  Listeners also get some subtle electronic elements incorporated into the whole.  The thing is that even with everything going on, those elements and Otis’ singing are so well-balanced.  What’s more the subtlety in each musician’s part is so powerful in its own simple, subtle presentation.  That clear sharing of the spotlight so to speak shows a certain chemistry between the collective.  It also makes the song a nice respite from all of the run-of-the-mill Afro-Latin type works that are out there.  It is just one more way in which the group’s performances prove important to the album’s presentation.

Otis’ performance of ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ is yet another example of the importance of the performances overall.  Whereas the original composition is relaxed, it still boasts a full compliment of instruments, including subtle time keeping, horns, and saxophone.  Otis’ performance on the other hand features a far more relaxed take on the song.  In this case, the song is performed solely by Otis and guitarist Saul Rubin.  It is such a light work that one could easily classify it as an easy listening style jazz composition.  It is a unique take on the song, but is still its own positive performance that continues to show why the performances overall are so important to the album.  It shows the diversity in those performances and at the same time, the talents and abilities of Otis and all involved.  Keeping that in mind, it should be clear at this point why the performances featured in this album are just as important to the record’s presentation as the songs themselves.  They are just one more part of what makes the album worth hearing.  The overarching lyrical theme of Into My Heart rounds out its most important elements.

The overarching lyrical theme of Into My Heart is that of romance, as the album’s title infers.  From the album’s opening number, ‘Mood is for Lovin’,’ to ‘Lover Man,’ to its title track – which closes out the record – the songs featured in the album follow that central theme.  Yes, there are some songs (E.g. ‘Brazilian Jam,’ ‘Sweet Sad Guitar,’ and ‘Cokika’) that are not directly centered on that theme.  That aside, the majority of the album’s songs run on the noted theme.  Considering that and the mood that the performances of the songs creates, the elements overall make Into My Heart a record that couples will find a good fit for any date night soundtrack.

Jeannine Otis’ new album Into My Heart is an interesting addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.  It is a presentation that most jazz fans will find is worth hearing at least occasionally.  That is due in part to the songs that make up the record’s body.  The songs are mostly original compositions.  A pair of covers blends with the originals to make the songs their own important part of the album’s presentation.  The performances of the noted songs that Otis and her fellow musicians present here add even more to the album’s appeal.  That is because of their ability to keep listeners engaged and entertained even being so simple and subtle in their presentations.  The overarching lyrical theme that runs through the album’s body rounds out the record’s most important elements.  It works with the songs and their performances to complete the album’s presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Into My Heart.  All things considered, they make the album a work that jazz fans will find a good fit for any romantic situation.  Into My Heart is available now.  More information on the album is available along with Otis’ latest news at:

Website: https://jeannineotis.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeannine.otis.7

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Jazz Fans Will Find WMN’s New Compilation Easy On The Ears And Mind

Courtesy: World Music Network

World Music Network has played a key role in the education of some of America’s greatest musical forms in recent years with its Rough Guide to… compilations.  The records have done an impressive job of introducing audiences to the songs and artists that formed the foundations of blues, gospel, country music and even the subgenres connected therewith.  Now this week, the company will continue delving into the history of American music when it releases its latest compilation, The Rough Guide to the Roots of Jazz.  Scheduled for release Friday through World Music Network, the 26-song compilation proves itself an important teaching tool for any music history educator.  It proves itself an equally positive presentation for anyone looking to learn the history of jazz.  While maybe not the presentation that is Ken Burns’ Jazz, it is still a successful record.  That is due in no small part to its featured songs and artists.   This will be discussed shortly.  The songs’ sequencing plays into the record’s presentation in its own right and will be discussed a little later.  The record’s overall production rounds out its most important elements and will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this compilation’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the record another positive new offering from World Music Network that this time, will appeal to any lover of jazz.

World Music Network’s forthcoming addition to its ongoing Rough Guide to… compilation series is a work that any jazz fan will find appealing.  It is a presentation, additionally, that continues to show the value and importance of the series.  That is proven in part through the record’s featured songs.  Audiences will note that the songs in question focus on a very specific time frame.  The time frame in question is a decade-long time frame from 1918 to 1928.  This period, typically called “The Jazz Age,” is one of the most important eras in the history of jazz.  It is a period that saw great change and diversity in the jazz community.  The beginning of the big bands came about in this time period through the introduction of acts, such as Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, and the Ray Miller Orchestra.  Dixieland jazz also saw its earliest iterations during this era.  It was also during this age that jazz and blues started to blend even more.  Those changes and others are all exemplified in the songs and artists featured in this record.  Fats Waller’s take on ‘Muscle Shoals Blues’ for instance exhibits the way in which ragtime and blues really started to meld with jazz for a unique style of jazz in itself.  Meanwhile, the inclusion of Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra’s performance of ‘The Stampede’ is a prime example of the increasing presence of New York in the then growing jazz community.  What’s more, the upbeat rhythms and melodies serve well to show the also growing popularity of swing and big bands across America at the time.  The Original Dixieland Jazz Band’s performance of ‘Tiger Rag’ shows, on yet another hand, the influence of the New Orleans jazz community on the nation’s growing jazz scene.  The ragtime influence is there, but so is the regional Dixieland influence, creating yet another key addition to the compilation.  Between these songs, so many others from some of the most well-known and respected jazz acts (and even a handful of lesser-known but still important acts), the songs and their related acts create a solid foundation for this record.  They do well to start any discussion and soundtrack to any lesson about the evolution of jazz in its early evolution.  Building on the foundation formed by the songs and their performers is the actual sequencing of that content.

The record’s sequencing is important to examine because of its connection to the content overall.  Listeners who pay close attention will note that the sequencing shows a clear attempt to exhibit all of the forms of jazz that started appearing during the post-World War I era.  The whole thing opens with an example of the blending of jazz and blues in ‘Dippermouth Blues’ before moving on to a country music-influenced composition in ‘Eddie’s Twister’ by none other than “the father of the  jazz guitar” himself, Eddie Lang.  ‘Sud Buster’s Dream,’ performed here by Tiny Parham and his Orchestra.  The ragtime influences that he enjoyed early on in his career are evident here along with a more orchestral jazz approach.  From there, the record changes the stylistic approaches and sounds (and by connection, energies) throughout.  This ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment in its own way.  When that overall sequencing and its impact is considered along with the record’s songs, that collective gives listeners even more reason to take in this record.  Taking all of that into account, the record’s production proves itself to be the last of the compilation’s most important elements.

The production of the songs featured in this record is important because of the sense of nostalgia that it will create among listeners.  Every bit of static from the original vinyl recordings is audible in these songs.  It serves as another example of why there will always be a place for CDs.  This despite the belief among some audiences that vinyl and digital will replace CDs one day.  The ability to transfer such old recordings to CD without any loss makes this compilation just as good as any vinyl if not better.  The only real downside to the fact that the masters were transferred direct is that listeners might find themselves having to adjust the volume on their stereos at points throughout the compilation’s 76-minute (one hour, 16-minutes) run time.  Luckily, those adjustments are minor and not needed in every song.  To that end, the general effect of the record’s production is that it is just as easy on the ears as on the mind.

World Music Network’s forthcoming jazz compilation, The Rough Guide to the Roots of Jazz is a positive new addition to the label’s ongoing Rough Guide to… series of compilations.  It is a presentation that any jazz aficionado will enjoy, at that.  That is due in part to the record’s featured songs and their performers.  The songs and their  performers are a mix of the well- and lesser-known acts that made the “Jazz Age” such an important era in the history of music.  The sequencing of that content keeps said content varied from beginning to end, making sure to paint the fullest picture possible in regards to the history of the era.  The record’s production sounds just as great as any ever put to vinyl in that era, too.  It shows it is possible to transfer vinyl to CD without any loss.  That positive effect generates a welcome sense of nostalgia, even as listeners will have to occasionally adjust the volume on their stereos as the album progresses.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of The Rough Guide to the Roots of Jazz.  All things considered, they make the compilation another positive addition to World Music Network’s Rough Guide to… compilation series and a work that any lover of jazz will enjoy.  The Rough Guide to the Roots  of Jazz is scheduled for release Friday through World Music Network.

More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttps://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/WMN_UK

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Dan Rose’s ‘Last Night…’ Covers Compilation Re-Issue Is A Compilation That Is Worth Hearing At Least Occasionally

Courtesy: Ride Symbol Records

The term “solo record” is a term that has always seemed so intriguing in its use.  It is a term that seems so contradictory.  That is because when one thinks of the very word “solo” one thinks of being alone, by one’s self.  However in the music industry, it is a term that is used decidedly more liberally.  It is used in the music industry to define records released by musicians and artists who otherwise work with other acts.  Two years ago however, veteran jazz guitarist Dan Rose gave the term a whole new meaning when he released his then new record, Last Night….  Rose re-issued that album last month through Ride Symbol Records.  The approach forms the foundation for the re-issue’s presentation and will be discussed shortly.  The songs featured in the recording add to the recording’s appeal.  They will be discussed a little later. The songs’ production rounds out the record’s most important items and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Last Night….  All things considered, they make this re-issue a presentation that will appeal easily to audiences who are less familiar with Rose’s work and those established audiences who might not already own this compilation.

Dan Rose’s recently re-issued 2019 covers compilation Last Night… is a presentation that will appeal equally to jazz aficionados who might be less familiar with Rose’s work and to those established audiences who might not already own the record.  That is due in part to the approach that Rose took to this record.  The approach in question took the term “solo record” and turned it on its ear in this case.  That is because he performs…well…solo here.  Throughout the 57-minute record’s 13 total songs, audiences get here, Rose by himself with his guitar.  There are no other musicians at any point.  Obviously Rose is hardly the first musician to take the term “solo” literally for a recording.  At the same time though, actually going fully solo is not overly common in any genre across the musical universe.  To that end, the intimate performances presented in this recording gain a certain special sense, especially considering the unique arrangements that Rose presents within his performances.  That special sense makes for a positive starting point in examining the overall presentation of Last Night….  The songs that make up the record’s body builds on that foundation, making for even more appeal.

The songs that make up the body of Last Night… are, as noted, covers.  What is interesting to note is that even being covers, only a portion of those songs is familiar.  The rest of the songs are compositions that a more limited audience will recognize.  What this means is that Rose gives audiences in these songs, some variety, rather than just making the presentation another run-of-the-mill covers compilation.   Among the more familiar songs featured in the record is a medley of tunes originally composed by Duke Ellington and company, and a pair of works composed by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.  The Rodgers & Hammerstein tunes are: ‘If I Loved You,’ from the duo’s 1945 musical, Carousel, and ‘Spring is Here’ from the pair’s 1938 musical, I Married an Angel.  The Ellington songs: ‘Prelude to a Kiss,’ ‘Things Ain’t What They Used to Be,’ and ‘Sophisticated Lady’ are all joined in the noted medley.  Interestingly enough, I Married an Angel is nowhere near as well-known as many of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musicals.  To that end, it makes this song’s inclusion here all the more special because of its “rarity.”

While the songs from Rodgers &  Hammerstein, and Duke Ellington are more well-known, a song, such as ‘Say It Over and Over Again,’ composed by famed figure Jimmy McHuugh and band leader Eddie DeLange, gives audiences something lesser-known, even despite the pair’s own fame.  Much the same can be said of ‘What’s New,’ by Bob Haggart and Johnny Burke.  Taking into account that song, the others noted here, and the rest of the record’s featured works, audiences get in the record’s featured works, a healthy array of works that presents its own share of originality.  That overall unique presentation pairs with Rose’s own unique performances thereof to make clear, the importance of the songs featured in Last Night….  The songs are not the last of the record’s most important elements.  The production of these songs rounds out the most important of the record’s elements.

The production that went into the presentation of Last Night… is important to examine because of the approach that Rose took to the noted songs.  From beginning to end, each song is just Rose and his guitar.  This has already been noted.  Each song is a gentle, intimate presentation because of this approach.  That means that the utmost attention had to be paid to each smooth, gentle composition.  Those behind the glass could not just phone it in, nor did they.  The mood established here thanks to the expert production is so relaxed.  The result of that easygoing mood is that the record proves just as enjoyable for its general effect as for its content.  Keeping all of this in mind, Last Night… proves to be a presentation that despite being a covers collection, is still worth hearing at least occasionally.

Dan Rose’s recently re-issued 2019 record Last Night… is a relatively successful presentation.  That is even with the record being a collection of covers.  The fact that Rose took the approach of actually making the record a truly qualifying solo record as he takes on the noted songs is a notable part of what makes the record so interesting.  The songs themselves are of note because they offering audiences something more than the same old tried and true standards.  There is some familiar content and familiar names   featured throughout the record, but there is also plenty of content that is not as prominent among so many jazz records.  The same applies to the figures who crafted said content.  The production of the noted content puts the finishing touch to the presentation, ensuring   the general effect of the songs and performances thereof is the utmost in its impact.  Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the recording.  All things considered, they make the compilation a presentation that Rose’s established audiences an  jazz lovers in general will find largely appealing in hearing it at least occasionally.  Last Night… is available now.  More information on the record is available along with all of Rose’s latest news at https://danrosemusic.com.

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Eagle Rock Entertainment Debuts New Trailer For New Ella Fitzgerald Documentary

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment released the first new trailer this week, for its forthcoming documentary, Ella FitzgeraldJust One Of Those Things.

The new trailer, released Wednesday, features clips of Fitzgerald performing with Duke Ellington and his orchestra, new interview footage with the likes of Tony Bennett and Jamie Cullum.

The 90-second trailer also features vintage photos of Fitzgerald from early in her career and even footage of interviews that Fitzgerald herself conducted on television.

The trailer is streaming here.  Eagle Rock unveiled a clip from the documentary last month, that featured discussions on Fitzgerald’s time on the road with Chick Webb and his orchestra.  It is available to watch here.

Ella FitzgeraldJust One Of Those Things is scheduled to make its theatrical debut April 3 in select theaters nationwide.  Award-winning director Leslie Woodhead helmed the project, and Reggie Nadelson produced the presentation.

Just One Of Those Things follows Fitzgerald on and off the stage, showing how she used her musical talents and her intelligence to break down barriers and overcome great odds throughout the course of her life.  It features never-before-seen footage of interviews with Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Norma Miller and Ray Brown Jr., Ella’s son. along with many other famous figures.

Fitzgerald lost her mother when she [Fitzgerald] was 15 years old.  From there, she also endured mistreatment in reform schools.  in 1934, her life took a turn that would set her on the path of success from then on, winning a contest at the famed Apollo Theater.  She would eventually go on to work with jazz greats, such as Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman.

While she had great success on stage, Fitzgerald was very different off-stage, wanting privacy for herself and her family.  Audiences will see that dichotomy throughout the course of this new documentary.

Fitzgerald earned a number of accolades during the course of her career. Among those honors were 13 Grammy awards, record sales exceeding 40 million records and an NAACP Equal Justice Award. She also received the American Black Achievement Award.

More information on Eagle Rock Entertainment’s new Ella Fitzgerald documentary is available online at:

 

Websitehttp://www.ellafitzgeraldmovie.com

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/EllaFitzgerald

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/ellafitzgerald

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New Wayne Shorter Performance Among Four New Albums Due Out In 2020 From Blue Engine Records

Courtesy: Blue Engine Records

Blue Engine Records will release open the new year with four new jazz recordings.

The label will open the new year with the release of Inferno, the new album from saxophonist Sherman Irby.  The album was inspired by Dante Alighieri’s poem by the same name.  It is scheduled for release Jan. 17.

The Music of Wayne Shorter follows the release of Inferno on Jan. 31 from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra w/ Wynton Marsalis.  The 10-track recording finds the famed saxophonist performing some of his greatest songs alongside the JLO, such as ‘Yes Or No,’ ‘Endangered Species’ and Teru.’  The album was recorded live in 2015 at the Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Pre-orders for The Music of Wayne Shorter open Dec. 27. Marsalis spoke highly of Shorter in a recent interview about the forthcoming release.

“Wayne Shorter is at the highest level of our music — You can’t get any higher than him,” he said.  “Everybody strives to have a personal sound.  Wayne’s sound is definitive.”

The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra takes on the music of legendary composer/musician Duke Ellington Feb. 28 with the release of Black, Brown and Beige.  The album’s release marks the first time that Marsals has taken on Ellington’s famed musical masterpiece.

As spring nears, Blue Engine will release one more album to open the first part of the year. The Ever Funky Lowdown is scheduled for release March 6.  The record, which is meant to be a commentary on modern culture and society, features narration by famed actor Wendell Pierce and guest vocals from Camille Thurman, Ashley Pezotti and Christie Dashiell.

More information on these and other titles from Blue Engine Records is available online now at:

 

Website: http://jazz.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/blueenginerecords

Twitter: http://twitter.com/blueenginejazz

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PBS Revisits America’s Civil Rights Movement With New Documentary

Courtesy: PBS

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.  That is why next month, PBS Distribution is bringing audiences what is one of so many important stories from America’s Civil Rights movement.

The Jazz Ambassadors is currently scheduled to be released on DVD on June 19.  The story centers on the so-called “Jazz Ambassadors” — jazz greats Dizzie Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington Benny Goodman and Dave Brubeck — as the group  worked with the United States government to fight the Soviet Union’s propaganda war while at the same time facing the reality of Jim Crowe laws in America.

The Jazz Ambassadors is told through archival film footage, photos, radio clips, and performance clips from the musicians and their integrated bands.  The story overall shows how the Jazz Ambassadors’ work ultimately played a key role in the Civil Rights movement at a critical moment while also serving its other purpose in foreign affairs at the same time.  A trailer for the program is streaming online now here.

The Jazz Ambassadors will retail for $24.99, but can be pre-ordered online now at a reduced price of $19.99 via PBS’ online store.  More information on The Jazz Ambassadors and other PBS programs is available online now at:

 

Website: http://www.pbs.org/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pbs

Twitter: http://twitter.com/pbs

 

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