“On the Turntable” — May, 2019 edition

May 4th, 2019

.

.

Technics SL 1200, c. 1972

.

.

___

.

.

 

Portland is alive with the promise of spring.  My early morning walks in the local park and within my northeast neighborhood are a respite from the ongoing madness of our world (and the “stress” of the NBA Playoffs!), have been mostly sun-blessed, and are always hopeful and inspirational – especially when stellar new jazz recordings make their way into my ear buds (and eventually into my living room).  Life is indeed good…

Here is what stood out for me during my April strolls.

.

.

 

(In addition to listening to the recordings via the Youtube and/or Spotify apps embedded within this piece, this playlist is also available in its entirety on Spotify, and can be accessed by. clicking here)

.

.

_____

.

.

 

 

Branford Marsalis Quartet: The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul (Okeh)

Let’s kick this playlist off with a heavyweight. The revered ensemble – led by the technical brilliance of its leader – is made up of the classic jazz ensemble of saxophone (Marsalis), piano (Joey Calderazzo), bass (Eric Revis), and drums (Jason Faulkner), and offers up a tasty array of seven compositions (five original) ranging from the muscular and brash (“Dance of the Evil Toys”) to the tender and poignant (“Conversation Among the Ruins”) to the Monk-like (Andrew Hill’s “Snake Hip Waltz”) to the joyful (“The Windup”). Marsalis is, again, clear and bright and often strikingly intense, but Calderazzo’s playing is what makes this session particularly notable. His work on “Conversation” and “The Windup” — and his interplay with Marsalis — are the album’s scene-stealers.

Check out these four tunes from the album…

.

.

.

.

.

.

_____

.

.

 

Joe Martin:  Étoilée (Sunnyside)

This is a sneaky-good recording, filled with clever and enduring compositions and tantalizing performances, led by the bass of New York-based Martin, who over the years has worked with a wide array of top-tier talent, including Chris Potter, Brad Mehldau, Rudy Royston and Mark Turner, whose tenor play on this album is (predictably) breathtaking. Though finely supported by Turner and the pianist Kevin Hays and the drummer Nasheet Waits, Martin’s play sets the recording’s tone throughout – witness the introduction to “Malida” (the album’s best piece) and the effortless, comfortable pace he lays down.  In addition to “Malida,” “Two Birds” is an impeccable conversational ballad between Martin and his band mates, while the ensemble’s virtuosity glows on “Safe.”

 

.

.

 

..

 

.

.

_____

.

.

Scott Robinson: Tenormore (Arbors)

.

There is so much terrific music to recommend on Scott Robinson’s exciting new album, “Tenormore.”   Robinson’s voice is familiar as a standout multi-instrumentalist and key member of the Maria Schneider Orchestra, whose baritone play within that ensemble is sensational — he frequently contributes its most memorable moments.

On “Tenormore,” Robinson devotes the entire album to the tenor, and while I miss the sound of his baritone and clarinet, this is a wonderfully diverse album, whose highlights are two bright hard bop tunes, “Tenor Eleven” and “Tenor Twelve,” the sentimental standard “Put on a Happy Face,” (see if you don’t hear Ben Webster in this one), and “The Good Life,” a relaxed, serene tune (most famously recorded by Tony Bennett in 1962) that drips an appropriate amount of sentimentality.  Another reason to like this record is the fine play of those supporting him, in particular the pianist Helen Sung.

.

.

.

.

.

.

_____

.

.

Allison Au Quartet: Wander Wonder (Self Release)

This is an outstanding album to recommend — the group’s third, and first since their 2016 Juno Award winning Forest Grove.  Led by Au, an innovative and splendid alto player/composer/arranger who calls Toronto home, this is an impressive ensemble.

Au’s play can be understated and refined, but often notable.  “Future Self” is a favorite – Au’s alto is noir-ish and steamy, with a terrific piano interlude by Todd Pentney (who frequently stands out throughout the recording).  The drummer Fabio Ragnelli especially makes himself known on “The Rest is Up to You” – tasty accompaniment (great cymbal work) behind Au’s seemingly effortless play.  The interplay between Au and Pentney on “Looking Up” will get you listening to it more than once (great drumming, again, by Ragnelli), and “Morning” is an exquisite and innovative ballad.  These four songs are linked below for you to check out, but man, do yourself a favor and unpack the entire album.  It’s that good.

.

.

 

.

..

 

.

.

_____

.

.

 

Warren Vache: Songs our Fathers Taught Us (Arbors)

 

 

My dad would have loved this album.

Coming of age during the Depression years, his world was filled with the trumpets of Louis Armstrong and Harry James and Bunny Berigan.  He fell in love with the instrument, enough so that he learned to play it himself, leading a big band in Sacramento as a young man and eventually playing professionally (albeit on a “second income” basis) for the rest of his life. He loved sharing his interest in trumpet players; he had a 1930’s friendship with Roy Eldridge, was open minded about Dizzy’s bebop, followed with interest the changes in Miles’ career, and of course loved Wynton, who we often listened to and marveled together during my visits with him.  He didn’t buy many CD’s late in his life — he bought Wynton’s.

He would have loved Vache’s warm, pure tone, and I can hear him rave about his vibrato on “Warm Valley,” his muted runs on “My Melancholy Baby,” the sheer romantic longing of “Love Locked Out,” and his nod to Dizzy on “Birk’s Works.”

Vache has been an accomplished trumpeter since the 1970’s, when he played in Benny Goodman’s orchestra, and has since recorded 20 CD’s as a leader, and with the likes of George Shearing, Woody Herman, Scott Hamilton, Rosemary Clooney, Gerry Mulligan, and Bill Charlap.

So…yeah…my dad would have loved this record – and I am betting you will also.

.

.

.

 

 

.
.
.

“On the Turntable” – May, 2019

“On the Turntable” – April, 2019

“On the Turntable” — March, 2019

“On the Turntable” — February, 2019

“On the Turntable” — January, 2019

.

.

.

Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

Jeffrey Stewart, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, is interviewed about Locke (pictured), the father of the Harlem Renaissance.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 19 recommended recordings by five jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 19 recently released jazz recordings, including those by Branford Marsalis, Joe Martin, Scott Robinson, Allison Au and Warren Vache

Poetry

In a special collection of poetry, eight poets contribute seventeen poems focused on stories about family, and honoring mothers and fathers

The Joys of Jazz

In this new volume of his podcasts, Bob Hecht presents three very different stories; on Harlem Stride piano, Billy Strayhorn's end-of-life composition "Blood Count," and "Lester-ese," Lester Young’s creative verbal wit and wordplay.

Short Fiction

We had many excellent entrants in our recently concluded 50th Short Fiction Contest. In addition to publishing the winning story on March 11, with the consent of the authors, we have published several of the short-listed stories...

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art

Art

“Thinking about Homer Plessy” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #128

Although he was famous for modernizing the sound of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra -- “On the Sunny Side of the Street” was his biggest hit while working for Dorsey (pictured) -- this arranger will forever be best-known for his work with the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. Who is he?

Great Encounters

In this edition, Bob Dylan recalls what Thelonious Monk told him about music at New York’s Blue Note club in c. 1961.

Art

Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland's photographs and stories feature Stan Getz, Sun Ra, and Carla Bley.

Interviews

Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Coming Soon

Michael Cuscuna, the legendary record producer and founder of Mosaic Records, is interviewed about his life in jazz...Award-winning photographer Carol Friedman, on her career in the world of New York jazz photography

In the previous issue

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, talks about her book, and the complex life of her late husband.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

Contributing writers

Site Archive