“My top ten. Full details in today’s Sunday Times [£].
1. AHMAD JAMAL: Saturday Morning (Jazz Village)
2. RADIO STRING QUARTET VIENNA: Posting Joe – Celebrating Weather Report (ACT)
3. GREGORY PORTER: Liquid Spirit (Blue Note)
4. MULATU ASTATKE Sketches of Ethiopia (Jazz Village)…”
“If Cuba could find a way to get reimbursed for their exports of Cuban musicians, their financial problems would disappear overnight. Here, we’ve got pianist Harold Lopez-Nussa from the country of Montecristos, leading a (mostly) trio with Gaston Joya/b, Ruy Adrian Lopez-Nussa/dr and, for a few songs, trumpeter Mayquel Gonzalez for an exciting collection of original tunes. Material like “A Deguello” and “Cimarron” open with intricate yet passionate finger displays on the ivories before the rhythm teams jumps into the pool to create waves and ripples of musical mirth, sound and drive. Gonzalez’s plaza filling horn on the warm “Eso Fue Hace” is filled with romanticism, and shows he and the band can change moods and flavors at the drop of a hat on the intriguing “Buenos Modales.” They all play with a freshness and enthusiasm that is infectious. Let’s see them in concert!”
- Harold López-Nussa's New Day on Jazz Weekly: http://ow.ly/rB8h4
Get it on iTunes! http://ow.ly/rB8q1
Catherine Russell is up for Best Jazz Vocalist in the 2013 Broadway World Cabaret Awards! Click image to vote for Catherine!
She performs at Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 17 and 18 with The Eli Yamin Trio and Evan Christopher: http://ow.ly/raX6r
His new band ranges thru a wide variety of music – not at all what you might expect from a Cuban jazz pianist. Music of the native Americans as well as Arabic-Andalusian culture is heavily featured, and Valdés even appears on the cover in an Indian headdress. The session also includes the influence of Cuban big bands, some hard bop, classical, African drums, and some of the type of works Valdés’ previous Cuban jazz ensemble Irakere played.
Cuban composer Leo Brouwer, who wrote some of the booklet notes, says that every Valdés album “is a collection of ‘Cubanisms,’ of clashes of inspiration and of opposite ideas united.” The classical bits come in on the tunes “Pilar,” which includes some Bach since Valdés’ mother used to like Bach, and “Caridad Amaro,” which has some of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 because his grandmother liked that. There’s also a flamenco melody and on the penultimate track, “Conga-Danza,” a tribute to the sister of Ernesto Lecuona. The session showcases some great percussionists and Branford Marsalis’ tenor and soprano saxes add much to the three tunes on which he collaborates.
(via On Sketches of Ethiopia, Mulatu Astatke draws a map larger than his homeland | Bleader | Chicago Reader)
“Ethio-jazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke returned to action recently with the release of Sketches of Ethiopia (Jazz Village), an impressive outing—cut with some of London’s best improvisers—that embraces “jazz” as more than just flavoring. It’s his first album with international distribution. His backing band here is dubbed the Steps Ahead Band, which thankfully has nothing to do with Michael Brecker’s fusion band of the same name—this one includes folks like bassist John Edwards, trumpeter Byron Wallen, and pianist Alexander Hawkins. The record opens with one of its most traditional-sounding tracks, “Azmari,” which was written by Astatke’s longtime colleague and collaborator, Boston reedist Russ Gershon of Either/Orchestra fame. The knotty track is graced by the leader’s crystalline vibraphone and the brittle twang of traditional Ethiopian string instruments like the krar and masinko (played, respectively, by Messale Asmamow and Idris Hassun). From there on out the album stretches stylistically, liberally borrowing this and that…”
The 14th Annual Latin GRAMMYs will be broadcast live tomorrow night as a pay-per-view event on the Univision Network at 8pm ET/PT (7 pm Central).
Chucho Valdés's Border-Free is nominated for “Best Latin Jazz Album”!
(via Ahmad Jamal’s Saturday Morning: La Buissonne Studio Sessions Shines On WCLK | WCLK)
Ahmad Jamal is one of jazz music’s great innovators going back to the days of Miles and ‘Trane. But don’t lose sight of the fact that his current record Saturday Morning: La Buissonne Studio Sessions sounds as contemporary as any release you can name. This record features a razor sharp quartet playing bass, drums and percussion along with Ahmad on keys that played on Jamal’s last record Blue Moon.
This latest release from the 83-year jazz giant demonstrates he is still the unassailable master of his craft, and shows no signs of retiring anytime soon. `Saturday Morning: La Buissonne Studio Sessions’ was recorded in La Buissonne near Avignon, France and features the same quartet as 2012’s `Blue Moon’ ergo Reginald Veal on bass, Herlin Riley on drums and Manolo Badrena adding additional percussive flourishes to beef out the sound. In many ways BM & SM are companion albums, very much in the same style and with the same high production values…”
(via Ahmad Jamal: Saturday Morning)
“I loved Blue Moon, Ahmad Jamal’s album from last year and Saturday Morning is a better record; livelier, it spins in different circles, there’s more flourishes, more colour, more enthusiasm, the percussive groove is fully locked down now – splashes of cymbals and conga accents dive in and around sharp cuts to the hi-hat. And in and around all of this and the warm nod of bass the fingers of Ahmad Jamal dance, his mind races – he flings aspects of so many other songs, classics he’s captured and remembered, into these new compositions. When drummer Herlin Riley wants to fire, in that New Orleans Funk School way, he will. And the intensity lifts in each piece, but Jamal still issues moments where the silence speaks boldly; he’s still in control of so much space within the tunes…
There’s no coasting here – there are wonderful moments where you can get lost in the simple, evocative phrasing, Jamal playing it straight, playing it so precisely but with so much breathing space, so much life in each line. And everything has an edge to it, a sharpness.
It’s another wonderful album from Jamal. One that’ll make you go back through his earlier years too. And good luck ever finding a dud album – this isn’t just a late-career show of form. Though it is of course also that – actually it’s more a case of a continuation, a marvellous musician still charging, still finding joy in this world and ways to communicate that across the keys. To then offer that joy, translating it, for others.
It all sounds so effortless – as the closing coda of the title track reminds us. But there’s so much heart and soul to hear here. Beautiful.”