In the first two months of this year, circumstances have made it difficult for this writer to produce any full reviews of the fine albums that have been released up to this point. So, here’s a quick look at some of the best.
Don’t forget to look for these recordings at Twist and Shout, Denver’s best independent record store. And when these artists come to town, see them at Dazzle, the place I’d rather be than anywhere else on earth.
Miles Davis Quintet, “Live in Europe 1969 – The Bootleg Series, Volume 2”
The so-called “Lost Quintet” of Miles Davis is heard and seen changing the history of jazz, without the benefit of an “official” release. Until now.
Chris Potter, “Sirens”
Tenor sax master Chris Potter leads a stellar lineup on a journey through his own compositions. Oh, and a composition from his “piano team” of Craig Taborn and David Virelles. Taborn and Virelles? How lucky can a guy get? On his ECM debut, yet!
Jose James, “No Beginning No End”
A new voice with a terrific, heartfelt delivery. This young man is no “Flavor of the Week” phenomenon. He sounds like the real deal.
Matthew Shipp, “Greatest Hits”
The piano genius in a variety of settings also scores huge points for the most ironically hilarious album title so far. This underrated master is right on all marks.
Joe Lovano UsFive, “Cross Culture”
Flash! Big surprise! Joe Lovano put out a great album! This all-star lineup gives you everything. And it couldn’t come from a nicer guy.
Eberhard Weber, “Resume”
The bass playing composer as musical recyclist. This writer’s original ECM favorite (from 1977 to this day) takes solo improvisations from live shows and adds the ingredients to make a delicious album of wit and sagacity.
Wayne Shorter Quartet, “Without a Net”
“Mr. Weird” returns to Blue Note in triumph. Shorter gives performances that are as great as anything a man one-third his age could manage. And his cohorts, Mr. Perez, Mr. Patitucci, and Mr. Blade (particularly Mr. Blade) show what staying together awhile can do for a band. A wonderful orchestral piece is included.
Keith Jarrett, “Hymns/Spheres”
Jarrett’s organ masterpiece from 1976 is finally available in its full glory. An improvised solo album on a Gothic abbey’s organ. Who else but Keith Jarrett has this under the hood?
Terri Lyne Carrington, “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue”
Once again, Carrington throws herself into the breach. Her version of the Ellington/Mingus/Roach classic is a modern tour de force, using today’s headlines to prove that jazz can predict the future.
Charles Lloyd/Jason Moran, “Hagar’s Song”
Lloyd, rising 75, chose these compositions to celebrate the birthday. He chose the partner because he really knows how to pick musical associates. The duo melds through the simple principle of musical brilliance.
Jonathan Kreisberg, “One”
Don’t worry; the big number from “Chorus Line” is not a part of this challenging but surprisingly listenable album. Kreisberg has a deft touch, wit, a melodic gift, and great taste in cover tunes. Any record that puts Wayne Shorter and Leonard Cohen compositions side-by-side is okay with me.
Kevin Eubanks, “The Messenger”
The former “Tonight Show” bandleader can stop acting like Leno is funny anymore, and get back to business. His current working quartet reminds one of Wes Montgomery’s turns with the Wynton Kelly Trio in the mid-sixties. He brings his brothers in to play, which is always nice. And, it was released on my mother’s 76th birthday.
Yelena Eckemoff Trio, “Glass Song”
This one sneaks up on you, and all of a sudden you’re under its spell. Eckemoff, a Moscow-born pianist and composer, has given us a suite-like tribute to the time between winter and spring. Just in time, too.