Verve’s New Coltrane LP Is The Cream Of 2018’s New Albums Crop

Courtesy: Verve RecordsVer

From the mainstream to the underground, from the worlds of jazz and blues to the worlds of pop and rock, audiophiles have been given quite a bit this year to appreciate.  Up-and-coming blues-rock band The Record Company and veteran jazz outfit Yellowjackets joined World Music act Yiddish Glory to prove to be some of this year’s best new music.

Experience Hendrix, LLC’s new Jimi Hendrix album Both Sides of the Sun, composer Klaus Schultz and veteran performers Elvis Costello & The Imposters also provided some memorable new music along with Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Ry Cooder and Femi Kuti.

Considering how many top notch records were released this year, developing this year’s list was not easy by any means.  The acts noted previously all turned out some very impressive offerings.

After much analysis and consideration, this critic has placed atop the year’s top new albums list is the long-lost album from John Coltrane, Both Directions At Once.  The record stands out as a shining beacon that music lovers across the board should hear at least once, regardless of their familiarity with Coltrane and his body of work.

Second in this year’s list is taken by Yiddish Glory’s new album The Lost Songs of WWII.  Listeners learn some very important history about Jewish music, culture and history through this album that should be in so many listeners’ libraries.

Third place in this year’s list goes to composer Klaus Schultz and his new album Silhouettes.  The otherworldly compositions featured in this record are stunning in their presentation.  They conjure thoughts of some of Nine Inch Nails master mind Trent Reznor’s most powerful instrumental works crossed with just a touch of John Williams sensibility.  It really is a powerful presentation that crosses genres and deserves so much attention.

The remainder of this year’s list features new albums from the likes of Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Femi Kuti and The Record Company just to name a few acts.  As always, the list’s top 10 titles are the best while the five that follow are honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2018 Top 10 Albums of the Year.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS

  1. John Coltrane — Both Directions At Once
  2. Yiddish Glory — The Lost Songs of WWII
  3. Klaus Shultz — Silhouettes
  4. Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite — No Mercy in this Land
  5. The Jamie Lawrence Sextet — New York Suite
  6. Jimi Hendrix — Both Sides of the Sky
  7. Femi Kuti — One PeopleOne World
  8. Ry Cooder — Prodigal Son
  9. Yellowjackets — Raising Our Voice
  10. The Record Company — All Of this Life
  11. Billy Gibbons — The Big Bad Blues
  12. Elvis Costello & The Imposters — Look Now
  13. Onyx Collective — Lower East Suite Part Three
  14. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats — Tearing at the Seams
  15. Joe Bonamassa — Redemption

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Coltrane’s “Lost Album” Is The Best Find Of 2018’s Jazz, Blues Offerings

Courtesy: Verve Records

Jazz and the blues are among the great genres of music to ever grace the world’s airwaves.  From the days of the “chitlin circuit” that featured so many of the greatest blues musicians of all time, to the fusions sounds of Weather Report, Yellowjackets and others to the more modern jazz and blues of Joe Bonamassa and The Jamie Lawrence Sextet, both genres have produced an infinite number of timeless, influential albums and songs.

That is why as with past years, Phil’s Picks is featuring again, a list of the year’s top new jazz and blues albums.  The two genres are being combined as they are invariably connected to one another.  It has not made crafting this year’s list any easier than in year’s past.  Keeping that in mind, there are no bad albums here.

Taking the top spot in this year’s list is the long lost studio recording from John Coltrane, Both Directions at Once.  Up until this year, the recording had been long thought lost to time, and its “resurrection” of sorts this year is welcome.  The arrangements show a unique side of the famed saxophonist and his fellow musicians featured throughout.

Second Place in this years list goes to Yellowjackets’ new album Raising Our Voice.  This record is everything that the jazz outfit’s fans have come to expect with a little something extra thanks to the record’s guest vocalist.

Third Place belongs this year to The Jamie Lawrence Sextet and its debut album New York Suite.  The record’s arrangements throw back to some very interesting influences while also using those influences to generate an identity of their own in the process.

Also featured in this year’s list are new releases from the likes of Joe Bonamassa, The James Hunter Six, The Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band and Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite just to name a handful of other acts.

As always, the list features 15 total acts and titles.  The first 10 records are the Top 10, while the five that follow are honorable mention titles.  Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks’ 2018 Top 10 New Jazz & Blues Albums.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW JAZZ & BLUES ALBUMS

  1. John Coltrane — Both Directions at Once
  2. Yellowjackets — Raising Our Voice
  3. The Jamie Lawrence Sextet — New York Suite
  4. Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite — No Mercy in This Land
  5. Ry Cooder — The Prodigal Son
  6. Onyx Collective — Lower East Suite Part Three
  7. The Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band — Poor Until Payday
  8. Joe Bonamassa — Redemption
  9. Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa — Black Coffee
  10. James Hunter Six — Whatever It Takes
  11. Tony Bennett & Diana Krall — Love Is Here To Stay
  12. Gary Moore — Blues & Beyond
  13. Brian Bromberg — Thicker Than Water
  14. Kamaal Williams — The Return
  15. Victor Wainright & The Train — Victor Wainright & The Train

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Franti’s Latest LP “Rocks” Phil’s PIcks 2016 Albums Of The Year List

Michael Franti and Spearhead Soulrocker Cover Art

Courtesy: Fantasy Records

The time has come.  Today is New Year’s Eve eve.  That means 2016 is nearly in the books.  With that year right at it’s end, it’s time for the last two of this year’s Phil’s Picks best of lists.

Rounding out this year’s lists are the year’s top new albums overall and the year’s top new overall movies.  The year’s top new albums list is up first.  It was not an easy list to assemble either as there were so many stand out records released from across the musical universe’s many genres.

This year’s top albums list is represented by music from the jazz community, the world of children’s music, rock, blues, and even reggae in the form of Michael Franti and Spearhead’s new album Soulrocker.

As with every previous Phil’s Picks list, this list features Phil’s Picks’ top 10 new titles plus five honorable mention titles, bringing the total count to 15.  Having noted that here for you is Phil’s Picks 2016 Top 10 new albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW ALBUMS

 

  1. Michael Franti & SpearheadSoulrocker

 

  1. Santana IV

 

  1. Joe BonamassaBlues of Desperation

 

  1. YellowjacketsCohearance

 

  1. FoghatUnder The Influence

 

  1. The Okee Dokee BrothersSaddle Up

 

  1. Songs of the Night: Dance Recordings by the Joseph C. Smith Orchestra 1916 – 1925

 

  1. Marian HillAct I

 

  1. Love and a .38Nomad

 

  1. Red Hot Chili PeppersThe Getaway

 

  1. Rich RobinsonFlux

 

  1. Charles Lloyd and the MarvelsI Long To See You

 

  1. Logan Richardson Shift

 

  1. Tedeschi Trucks BandLet Me Get By

 

  1. Mountain HeartBlue Sky

 

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

Bonamassa’s New Blues Record Is No Desperate Act From The Veteran Performer

Courtesy J&R Adventures

Courtesy J&R Adventures

Phil’s Picks has focused a lot lately on rock and other genres of music in the vastness of the musical universe.  Today, the focus shifts away from those genres to something a little bit less mainstream.  In today’s list, Phil’s Picks presents the year’s best new Jazz and blues records.  This year’s list presents a wide variety of acts, from more well-known acts such as The Rolling Stones, Joe Bonamassa and Yellowjackets to perhaps lesser known, but still talented acts such as Hazmat Modine, Takuya Kuroda and others.  It wasn’t an easy list to work up, either.  That’s because there was so much great material out there this year.  Combining jazz and blues into one list didn’t make things any easier.  But it got done.

As with every other list, the Top 10 New Jazz and Blues Albums features the year’s top 10 new jazz and blues albums.  It also includes five honorable mention titles for a total count of 15 albums.  That is not to take away anything from those honorable mention titles.  They are enjoyable in their own right and deserved to be noted, too.  Enough rambling.  Here, for everyone’s consideration, is Phil’s Picks’ 2016 Top 10 New Jazz and Blues Albums.

 

PHIL’S PICKS 2016 TOP 10 NEW JAZZ AND BLUES ALBUMS

 

  1. Joe Bonamassa – Blues of Desperation

 

  1. YellowjacketsCohearance

 

  1. Joseph C. Smith OrchestraSongs of the Night

 

  1. John Coletrane – Trane 90

 

  1. The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome

 

  1. James Hunter SixHold On!

 

  1. Takuya KurodaZiggerzagger

 

  1. Fela Ransom Kuti & His Koola LubitesHigh Life: Jazz & Afro Soul (’63 – ’69)

 

  1. Gregory PorterTake Me To The Alley

 

  1. Quinn SullivanMidnight Highway

 

  1. Charles Lloyd & The MarvelsI Long To See You

 

  1. Logan RichardsonShift

 

  1. Hazmat ModineExtra – Deluxe – Supreme

 

  1. Keely Smith – The Intimate Keely Smith

 

  1. Jazz Haunts & Magic Vaults – The New Lost Classics of Resonance

 

 

 

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ESPN Family Of Networks Covering Entire Men’s 2014 NIT

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The 77th annual National Invitation Tournament (NIT) tips off tonight and the ESPN family of networks will have exclusive coverage of the entire tournament.

Every game of the annual NIT will be carried across the ESPN family of networks and online on ESPN3 via WatchESPN.  Round One tips off tonight at 7pm with games on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU.  The Mountaineers of West Virginia will take on the Georgetown Hoyas on ESPN, while the Florida State Seminoles will face Florida Gulf Coast on ESPN2.  The third of the 7pm games sees Robert Morris on the road against St. John’s on ESPNU.  St. John’s is making a record 30th appearance in this year’s NIT and is one of six teams in this year’s tournament that also made an appearance in the 2013 NIT.  The other five teams on that list are: Florida State, Indiana State, Louisiana Tech, Robert Morris, and Southern Miss.

Illinois and Boston University lead off coverage of Day Two at 7pm on ESPN2 with Iona and Louisiana Tech following at 7:30pm on ESPN3 at 7:30pm ET.  Florida Gulf Coast reached the NCAA Tournament’s “Sweet Sixteen” round in 2013.  This year marks the first time that the school will play in the NIT.  It is one of three schools that will make its first ever appearance in the NIT this year.  The other two schools making their first appearance in the NIT this year are High Point and Utah Valley.

Round Two of the NIT is March 20th – 24th.  Quarterfinals are scheduled for March 25th – 26th.  Semifinals are April 1st and the NIT Championship follows April 3rd.

The complete NIT First Round coverage schedule is listed below.

2014 NIT First Round Schedule:

Date Time (ET) Game Network
Tue, March 18 7 p.m. NIT First Round: West Virginia at Georgetown
Mike Patrick & Dan Dakich
ESPN
7 p.m. NIT First Round: Florida Gulf Coast at Florida State
Mark Jones & Darrin Horn
ESPN2
7 p.m. NIT First Round: Robert Morris at St. John’s
Dave Pasch & Tim Welsh
ESPNU
8:15 p.m. NIT First Round: High Point at Minnesota
Clay Matvick & Mark Wise
ESPN3
8:15 p.m. NIT First Round: Belmont at Green Bay
Jim Barbar & Sean Harrington
ESPN3
9 p.m. NIT First Round: Indiana State at Arkansas
Brad Nessler & Jimmy Dykes
ESPN
9 p.m. NIT First Round: Davidson at Missouri
Bob Wischusen & Malcolm Huckaby
ESPN2
9 p.m. NIT First Round: Georgia State at Clemson
Tom Hart & Bob Valvano
ESPNU
11 p.m. NIT First Round: Utah at St. Mary’s
Dave Flemming & Sean Farnham
ESPN2
Wed, March 19 7 p.m. NIT First Round: Illinois at Boston University
Sean McDonough & Tim Welsh
ESPN2
7:30 p.m. NIT First Round: Iona at Louisiana Tech
Brett Dolan & Daymeon Fishback
ESPN3
8 p.m. NIT First Round: Vermont at Georgia
Joe Davis & Dino Gaudio
ESPNU
8:30 p.m. NIT First Round: Toledo at Southern Miss
Roy Philpott & Joe Dean
ESPN3
9 p.m. NIT First Round: UC Irvine at SMU
John Saunders & Fran Fraschilla
ESPN2
10 p.m. NIT First Round: LSU at San Francisco
Roxy Bernstein & Bill Walton
ESPNU
10:30 p.m. NIT First Round: Utah Valley at California
Trey Bender & Jon Crispin
ESPN3

 

More information on the ESPN family of networks’ coverage of the NIT is available online at http://www.facebook.com/ESPNCollegeBasketball and http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Yellowjackets Take The Top Spot As The Year’s Best New Album Overall

Courtesy:  Mack Avenue Records

Courtesy: Mack Avenue Records

A Rise in the Road, the latest release from the pioneer jazz-fusion group Yellowjackets has been largely met with mixed reviews.  This is an album that fans either have loved or hated.  There seems to be little to no grey area at all with this album.  But in this critic’s own personal opinion, the band has never sounded better.  This latest record takes audiences back to the days of Blue Hats and other similar previous Yellowjackets releases.  Gone are the electric additions used in so many of the band’s other albums.  This is a fully acoustic record that is perfection from start to finish.

The band writes in the liner notes of its new album, “It’s hard to believe that Yellowjackets is now thirty-two years old.  No thirty-two year journey is one long stretch of level highway.  Along the way, one invariably encounters a rise in the road…We now find ourselves moving purposefully with renewed energy up that rise in the road.”  That could not have been better stated.  Right from the album’s opener, ‘When The Lady Dances’, one gets images of a high class jazz club, and people dancing happily, while others enjoy a drink at the bar.  One can almost see a camera panning and zooming slowly, focusing on one woman in particular.  She is dressed quite well, dancing quite happily with her male partner.  Being the album’s opener, it is a perfect first impression from the band, whose most recent album, Timeline, was released two years ago.  Founding member Bob Mintzer has never sounded better as he presents the main musical storyline on his sax.  And drummer Will Kennedy, who returns after being absent from the band for many years, keeps a solid backbeat offering a certain extra “seasoning” where needed.   Much the same can be said of longtime keyboardist Russell Ferrante.

The band members offer listeners plenty of energy in the first half of its new album.  So it’s just fitting that when it reaches its mid-point, the band slows things down quite a bit.  ‘Longing’ is another of those pieces that is so fittingly titled.  Again, Ferrante shines here.  This time, he partners with new bassist Felix Pastorius to paint a fully encompassing and touching musical picture.  Listeners get in ‘Longing’ perhaps a Central Park scene in early Fall.  Someone is standing on a small bridge over a stream, leaves falling around them, a cool breeze blowing.  This person could be a man or woman.  And the person in question is contemplating perhaps a missed chance at love or another social situation.  Ferrante’s gentle strains on the keyboards present that deep emotion and the setting alongside Pastorius’ bass lines.  Kennedy’s drumming and cymbal work serve to finalize that picture.  It all comes together to make ‘Longing’ one of the highest of highs on this record.   For those wondering why Pastorius’ name sound familiar, it should.  He is the son of the late great Weather Report bassist Jaco Pastorius.  As the band writes in its liner notes, its members had been friends with Jaco for many years before his passing.  So it was just fitting that he filled the shoes of longtime bassist Jimmy Haslip.

The musical pictures painted through A Rise in the Road run the gamut.  Regardless of the scene and emotion, those pictures are so rich and vivid.  And just as the band can paint some rich musical pictures and textures, it can also pain quite the thought provoking picture, too.  A prime example of the band’s ability to do so comes in ‘An Amber Shade of Blue.’  One could argue that the bizarre musical tapestry painted in this near seven-minute song harkens back to the golden era of bop.  Ferrante’s piano licks, Kennedy’s polyrhythmic patterns, and the trumpet playing of guest musician Ambrose Akinmusire feels entirely improvisational here, versus the more structured vibe of the album’s other songs.  A comparison to music from Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool could be made with this song.  It is one more example of what makes A Rise in the Road such an outstanding album from this group of highly talented veteran musicians.  It’s an example of why any fan of this veteran jazz act should give this record at least one listen.  Many might find after one listen that it’s worth well more than just one listen.  It’s worth every listen every time.

European fans of the band will get to see the band live this month as it makes its way across the continent.  It will perform in Copenhagen two nights on October 18th and 19th before heading to Germany on the 21st, 22nd, and 25th.  The band will wind down 2013 with a performance in North Carolina’s “Queen City” on December 14th.  The band will be at the Knight Theatre in Charlotte at 8pm that evening.  Information on other tour dates and more is available online at http://www.yellowjackets.com and http://www.facebook.com/yellowjacketsmusic.  And to keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Family Of Networks Add ACC Football Games To 2013 Schedule

ACC Football Graphic

Fans of both college football and of the ACC will get a big treat from the ESPN family of networks beginning this fall.  ESPN has officially announced that it will broadcast no fewer than twenty additional ACC college football games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, and ESPNU during the course of the 2013 season.  The first three weeks of the upcoming college football season will see every home game from specific ACC teams, as well as a road and neutral site matchup across the ESPN family of networks.  This is in addition to five previously released ACC games.

As an added bonus for ACC football fans, the new deal between the ACC and the ESPN family of networks means that they will get to see the Dr Pepper ACC Championship from Charlotte, North Carolina and the previously announced quartet of Thursday ESPN College Football  Primetime telecasts.  Also, the deal has guaranteed at least one game on “Black Friday.”

The whole schedule kicks off with a matchup between the University of North Carolina and SEC #8 South Carolina.  The game is the first of the four scheduled Thursday ESPN College Football Primetime telecasts.  The game is currently scheduled for Thursday, August 29th at 6pm on ESPN.  Virginia Tech and two-time defending BCS National Champion Alabama follow on August 31st at 5:30pm on ESPN.  The game, the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Game is scheduled to be played in Atlanta.  Miami will face #11 Florida on September 7th at noon on ESPN.  Also expected to be broadcast that day is a matchup between Virginia and 3 Oregon at 3:30pm on ABC and ESPN2.

The current schedule of games is listed below.  More games will be announced as the season moves forward.

The 2013 ACC schedule as of May 23 (additional selections to be announced):

 

Date Time (ET) Game Network
Thu, Aug 29 6 p.m. North Carolina at No. 8 South Carolina * ESPN
  6:30 p.m. Presbyterian at Wake Forest ESPN3
Fri, Aug 30 8 p.m. Florida Atlantic at Miami (Fla.) ESPNU
Sat, Aug 31 Noon Villanova at Boston College ESPN3
  Noon Elon at Georgia Tech ESPN3
  12:30 p.m. Louisiana Tech at NC State ESPN3 ^ / ACC Network
  12:30 p.m. Florida International at Maryland ESPN3 ^ / ACC Network
  3:30 p.m. BYU at Virginia ESPNU
  4 p.m. North Carolina Central at Duke ESPN3
  5:30 p.m. Chick-fil-A Kickoff: Virginia Tech vs. No. 2 Alabama (from Atlanta) * ESPN
  8 p.m. No. 7 Georgia at No. 12 Clemson * ABC
Mon, Sep 2 8 p.m. No. 14 Florida State at Pittsburgh * ESPN
Fri, Sep 6 8 p.m. Wake Forest at Boston College * ESPN2
Sat, Sep 7 Noon No. 11 Florida at Miami (Fla.) ESPN
  12:30 p.m. Middle Tennessee at North Carolina ESPN3 ^ / ACC Network
  12:30 p.m. South Carolina State at No. 12 Clemson ESPN3 ^ / ACC Network
  1:30 p.m. Western Carolina at Virginia Tech ESPN3
  3:30 p.m. No. 3 Oregon at Virginia ABC & ESPN2
  4 p.m. Old Dominion at Maryland ESPN3
  6 p.m. Richmond at NC State ESPN3
Sat, Sep 14 12:30 p.m. New Mexico at Pittsburgh ESPN3 ^ / ACC Network
  12:30 p.m. Louisiana-Monroe at Wake Forest ESPN3 ^ / ACC Network
  3:30 p.m. Nevada at No. 14 Florida State ESPN or ESPN2
  3:30 p.m. Georgia Tech at Duke ESPNU
  4 p.m. Wagner at Syracuse ESPN3
Thu, Sep 19 7:30 p.m. No. 12 Clemson at NC State * ESPN
Thu, Sep 26 7:30 p.m. Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech * ESPN
Thu, Oct 17 TBD Miami (Fla.) at North Carolina * ESPN
Thu, Nov 14 7:30 p.m. Georgia Tech at No. 12 Clemson * ESPN
Fri, Nov 29 TBD Miami (Fla.) at Pittsburgh * ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
Sat, Dec 7 7:45 p.m. or 8 p.m. Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game (from Charlotte) ABC or ESPN

For all the latest ACC news, fans can follow the conference on its official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/theACC and its official website, http://www.theACC.com.

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