New Jazz Releases
There have been so many fine recent jazz releases that I wanted to add a few more to our Playlist for June.
Melody Gardot’s newest, My One And Only Love (Verve), is a breakthrough release for this artist. While her previous Verve release, Worrisome Heart, is highly recommended, this new Larry Klein-produced outing really showcases her voice. It’s jazz, but with a modern new twist. The lush musical setting is the perfect backdrop to her breathtaking voice. What really make the album so exceptional are her compositions. Every composition of hers here sounds like an American songbook classic. Gardot had better be prepared to hear these songs covered by other great jazz and even pop singers. There has not been a jazz album by an artist in a long time (or ever) that features such great vocals by the same person who wrote the compositions.
Madeleine Peyroux, like Gardot, can’t be considered just a jazz artist; she is also an accomplished songwriter. She also enlists Larry Klein to produce, with the same excellent results on her latest, Bare Bones (Rounder). It also helps having such heavyweights as Vinnie Colaiuta, Dean Parks and others to add musical support. Peyroux just gets better with each new release.
Brian Blade has also followed what was a great album, Season of Change (Verve), with one that confirms that he is one of the most important jazz artists in music today. Mama Rosa (Verve/Forecast) includes many of the same musicians from Season of Change, but it boasts a more thematic framework. Whether Blade is supporting other musicians in jazz or rock or leading his own group, he is an artist who reminds us that jazz indeed does have a bright future.
Cassandra Wilson has just released a best-of release, Closer To You: The Pop Side (Blue Note), which should give non-jazz fans a chance to rediscover the great music she has made recently. As she is a living legend among jazz fans, Wilson’s previous Loverly (Blue Note) should not be forgotten. Featuring covers of the great American songbook, blues, and film music, the album would make a nice companion to Gardot’s recent release.
Patricia Barber’s The Cole Porter Mix (Blue Note) covers some of the same ground that Wilson does, by breathing new life into mostly older songs, with a twist.
Also on Blue Note is Two Men With The Blues from Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis. As odd as that pairing sounds, this live album is a thrilling recording that has a decidedly bluesy feel. It is absolutely one of the most enjoyable albums of the past ten years and one that makes for great party listening.
Elaine Elias is back with yet another Brazilian masterpiece, Bossa Nova Stories, which is another excellent Blue Note release.
John McLaughlin and Chick Corea are back together again with their new group and self-titled album Five Peace Band Live (Concord). This double live CD also features the aforementioned Vinnie Colaiuta, Christian McBride and Kenny Garrett. Along with McLaughlin, Corea and Garrett, another alumnus of the famed Miles Davis groups, Herbie Hancock, guests on “In A Silent Way/It’s About That Time.” Along with some of the members of Return To Forever, it’s great to see some of the Miles Davis alumni, who made some of the seminal jazz fusion music from the 70s, reuniting.
Two recent Bill Frisell releases that continue to show him to be able to reach fans of disparate musical styles are History, Mystery and The Best of Bill Frisell, Vol. 1/Folk Songs, both from Nonesuch.
Other recent jazz releases not to miss include: Phola (4Q/Times Square Records) from Hugh Masekela; To Jobim with Love (Resonance Records) from Toninho Horta; PiaNOLA Live (Basin Street Records) from Henry Butler; On The Real Side (4Q/Times Square Records) from Freddie Hubbard & the New Jazz Composers Octet; Silence (Justin Time) from David Murray and Mal Waldron; Back In Havana (Sony Classical) from Tiempo Libre; and State of Nature (Mack Avenue) from Stanley Jordan.
Verve continues to reissue classic jazz masterpieces. It’s also nice to see the label issue more actual CDs and not just downloads. Three releases from their Originals series that simply can’t be missed are Goin’ Latin from Ramsey Lewis, Bobo Motion from Willie Lobo, and Jimmy Smith Trio Live At The Village Gate. From the series there is also I Got A Woman And Some Blues from George Benson on A&M.
From Columbia’s Legacy Edition series is the 50th anniversary reissue of Kind of Blue from Miles Davis. This reissue of the biggest selling jazz album of all time includes many additional takes, studio sequences and a full bonus disc of additional tracks.
Another Legacy Edition is the just-reissued Sketches of Spain from Davis, another collaboration with Gil Evans. The original 1959 recording is included here with a bonus disc of material featuring the only officially released live recording of Davis and Evans.
Another Legacy Edition is Mingus Ah Um from Charles Mingus. There are many bonus tracks and the complete Mingus Dynasty album, along with a digital booklet.
The final new Legacy Edition reissue is the popular Time Out from the Dave Brubeck Quartet, which includes the original album on disc one, Live at Newport on disc two and a complete DVD featuring an interview with Brubeck, live performances, an interactive piano lesson and an animated photo gallery.
From Fantasy is another reissue, but in this case of two classic jazz masterpieces in a two-CD set, with a rich abundance of alternate takes. The Complete Tony Bennett Bill Evans Recordings includes the original self-titled album and the follow-up Together Again. This often overlooked era for the two music giants has been a favorite of jazz insiders, but now can be rediscovered by a whole new generation.
Another great two-CD set is The Very Best of Prestige Records from Concord. Prestige has also recently revived the Rudy Van Gelder Remasters series. The latest batch includes two from Miles Davis: Collectors’ Items and Miles.
There are also two from John Coltrane: Coltrane and Standard Coltrane. The other two are Worktime from Sonny Rollins and At The Five Spot, Vol. 2 from Eric Dolphy.
Also from Concord are releases from Cal Tjader, Dave Brubeck, Art Blakey, Jimmy Witherspoon, Tito Puente and Shirley Horn as part of the Monterey Jazz Festival Records series.
Some other jazz reissues not to be missed include two from the Columbia/Legacy Beautiful Ballads & Love Songs series from Miles Davis and Billie Holiday; Live at Newport ‘58 (Blue Note) from Horace Silver, and Piano Stars Here Live At The Shrine from Sony Masterworks.
John McLaughlin seems to be in a very rich period in his long and eclectic career. He has several recent releases out, including the album Floating Point (Mediastarz Monaco/Abstract Logix), a return to his fusion roots. Equally as enthralling as the CD is the DVD John McLaughlin Meeting of The Minds: The Making of Floating Point. This diary-styled documentary offers an insider’s look at McLaughlin’s making of the album at his home studio in Monaco.
Also from Mediastarz Monaco/Abstract Logix is a live DVD from McLaughlin and his band: 4th Dimension Live @ Belgrade. Fusion fans will also be thrilled at the return of Return to Forever with Return to Forever Returns Live at Montreux 2008 (Eagle).
There is also a two-CD companion set from Eagle, Returns, that features mostly performances recorded in America. Another Montreux DVD from Eagle not to be missed is Wayne Shorter Live at Montreux 1996.
They have also just put out Diana Krall Live In Rio, the perfect companion to her new Verve CD, which includes interviews and a short film. Eagle has also just released the DVDs That’s What Happened Live in Germany 1987 from Miles Davis, and Epitaph from Charles Mingus.