I am writing to say that I am sorry about not posting anything lately. March has been a busy month with many jazz performances, festivals, and, of course, school. In the meantime, while I catch up on the many overdue “Jazz in Perspective” posts and reviews, I want to share with you some of the great jazz performances, interviews, and CD releases that I have discovered over the past few weeks and especially over the past few days. April has already been welcomed by the new release of Gretchen Parlato’s highly anticipated album The Lost and Found and Ambrose Akinmusire’s Blue Note début album When the Heart Emerges Glistening. Although these albums do not officially come out till tomorrow, NPR and Spinner.com has so graciously posted the complete album online in part of NPR’s First Listen and Spinner’s Full CD Listening Party. This means that you can stream and listen to Gretchen Parlato’s and Ambrose Akinmusire’s new album in its entirety. I am hoping to write a CD review soon for both albums. Anyhow, the links to the complete stream of the new releases are listed below.
Gretchen Parlato is a deceptively strong jazz singer who, on first listen, might appear to have a weak voice. Trust your ears; she isn’t Ella, or Sarah, or Betty. But listen closely, because stylistically, she isn’t trying to be. Here’s a singer with an uncommon voice and the slippery quality often abbreviated “musicality.”
The Lost and Found will be streaming online until April 5th, the official album release date. An interview with Gretchen Parlato about her latest album will also be posted online following this date. Be sure to check out the first song entitled “Holding Back the Years”. This is my personal favorite from this album and I am sure that it will soon find its away to being one of your favorite tracks.
“AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE, a 28-year-old trumpeter on the verge of jazz stardom, has a penetrating gaze, a compact frame and the wary poise of someone at home with his own thoughts. His sound is exacting, with a cutting attack offset by a smoky tone. As an improviser he strives for the unexpected, hurtling through precarious intervals.
Although I have not listened to When the Heart Emerges Glistening in its entirety, I know that anything that Ambrose Akinmusire puts out is nothing short of perfect. Playing with Walter Smith III, another great upcoming artists, Ambrose Akinmusire is known for his organic chaotic style and his unique interplay with other musicians. His music is highly energetic and dynamic. Just recently, the New York Times featured Ambrose Akinmusire in a compelling, well-thought article entitled “For a Team Player, the Solo Moments Are Secondary” by Nate Chinen. Check out the full article here.
Besides the new April album releases, I have discovered some new artists like David Binney and Avishai Cohen. In addition, Nextbop reported that Christian Scott, Stefon Harris, and David Sanchez recorded an album together in part of a project called Ninety Miles.
David Binney- “All of Time”
I stumbled upon this video a couple of weeks ago and am now officially a David Binney fan. This track is only a glimpse of Binney’s album Graylen Epicenter. Graylen Epicenter features an all-star cast consisting of saxophonist Chris Potter, pianist Craig Taborn, drummers Brian Blade and Dan Weiss, percussionist Kenny Wollesen, vocalist Gretchen Parlato, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, guitarist Wayne Krantz and others.
The reason why I like this song, “All of Time”, so much is because of its aggressive, daring melody. The melody is both rhythmically and technically challenging with a rich harmonic progression. It is also compositionally layered with the saxophone playing the melody, the vocalist singing on top, the piano embellishing with a rhythmic counter melody, and the drums creating a spacey atmosphere with occasional double time fills. Throughout the tune, Binney also finds ways to capture the audience by occasionally building up and creating complex compositional chaos followed by a sudden spacey feel.
Although, I do have to say that some of the reoccurring lines that Binney plays becomes a bit repetitive especially during the drum solo from 0:30 to 3:00. It hardly has any contrast and stays predominantly chaotic, busy, and loud. However, in next section, when the melody comes back in after a drum break, that tension is relieved and it saves it from becoming too redundant.
The next section of this tune is the solo section. Beginning with a piano solo, the drums finally settles down and establishes a strong underlying groove making it almost seem like a background instrument. Occasionally, you can hear the two drummers reacting to Taborn’s rhythmic improvisation. This relieves that tension and energy that has festered up throughout the beginning of the tune. After the piano solo, Binney enters with such a roaring line establishing yet another layer to this song. It is his solo that brings the energy back up. The song soon ends with a vocalist singing over a diminishing vamp of a reoccurring melody.
This is why I like David Binney. His composition’s are unique and are finely layered. I definitely suggest checking him out when you have time.
Avishai Cohen Live @ TSFJAZZ
This concert starts off with a phenomenal arrangement of Work Song. Avishai Cohen is quite versatile and I love how he solos like an instrumentalist in this tune. Usually, bassists are more rhythmical in their improvisation but Cohen approaches playing like a horn player. From creating lyrical lines to dynamically shaping his solo, his interpretation of this classic tune prompted me to check out more of Cohen. As for the rest of the performance, I honestly was not as interested. Nevertheless, Avishai Cohen is a great player despite what I think about the second half of this video.
The Ninety Miles Project
This project was recorded in Cuba where Christian Scott, David Sanchez, and Stefon Harris collaborated with local artists like Rember Duharte and Harold Lopez-Nussa. The recording will be released on June 21st. In the meantime, they have released two promo videos documenting about the project. I absolutely can not wait for this new release. Be sure to mark your calendars!