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Joey DeFrancesco has stretched himself regularly throughout the course of thirty-plus albums. Just since Project Freedom(Mack Avenue, 2017) he's collaborated very productively for two albums with the Irish soulman Van Morrison—You're Driving Me Crazy (Sony Legacy, 2018) and The Prophet Speaks(Caroline, 2018). And, on In The Key of the Universe, the organist/trumpeter reaffirms his connection with jazz history through fruitful work with estimable musicians including saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and drummer Billy Hart.
DeFrancesco himself sounds effortless as he applies a light touch in play on "Inner Being," but that approach extends to the collective, incorporating the solid rhythmic presence of percussionist Sammy Figueroa. "Vibrations in Blue" is suitably atmospheric, but the ensemble swings nonetheless: on this record, metaphysics are no less important than the earthy side of life. Accordingly, the droning of sitar for the intro and outro of that latter cut resides right next to the high-stepping excursion that is "Awake and Blissed; " as with its surrounding tracks, the musicians are so fully engaged the visceral impact of this music equals the cerebral.
Valdes’ Jazz Batá was considered a departure into the avant garde when he made it in 1972. That trio recording was a preview of advances to come from the great Cuban pianist and composer. Nearly half a century later, the followup finds him as adventurous as ever, heading a quartet that concentrates on mastery of the batá tradition of West Africa, long a major component of Cuban music. In their rhythmic power and harmonic acuity, Valdes’ piano solos throughout are riveting, none moreso than his work on “Ochún,” a Haitian merengue that recalls Chucho’s father Bebo because of the elder Valdéz’s close association with Haiti.
Kenny Garrett is a Grammy award winning saxophonist originally from Detroit Michigan who started his career at the young age of 18 years old as a touring member of Duke Ellington band. He has had a legendary career which included being a member of the Miles Davis band for over five years, a Grammy-winning record and numerous with Chic Corea in 2010 and numerous recordings with many household names in the jazz world! His impressive solo career and numerous Down Beat readers poll awards have cemented his legacy as one of the greats!
Often, the term prodigy is applied with minimal context. In the case of jazz pianist Christian Sands, it is appropriate. He has studied piano since the age of four and began composing at five years old. By ten, he was performing. After years of formal music education, he became a protege of Dr. Billy Taylor. Like his mentor, Sands is devoted to playing and music education. His initial break came when he sat in with Christian McBride’s big band (Inside Straight) at the Village Vanguard. He became a member of McBride’s celebrated trio and played on the Grammy-nominated 2013 release, Out Here. Additionally he has worked with Oscar Peterson, Gary Burton, Geri Allen, Randy Brecker, Terrance Blanchard, Dianne Reeves, Russell Malone and Patti Austin to name a few. His debut on Mack Records, Reach and Reach Further established Sands as an upcoming important recording talent.
Paul and Alex Gemignani, a father-and-son conductor-singer duo, kibbitz about their long-running engagement with the composer in “the house that ‘Gypsy’ built.”
Here is what magically happens when you cross spiritual soul-jazz with bluesy soul-jazz.
For his latest album, Joey DeFrancesco chose to name it In the Key of the Universe, which is a very Pharoah Sanders type of title. Perhaps that’s because the iconic saxophonist himself is on this record: the de facto heir to the legacy of Jimmy Smith features the de facto heir to late-period John Coltrane mysticism.
A melancholy yet exuberant reflection on a love left behind, “Paper Trail,” the title track to Jesse Palter’s debut EP, is the perfect metaphor for the journey the multi-talented singer-songwriter has been on these past few years. As serendipity would have it, just as she was transitioning from being an accomplished jazz singer, Aristry Music, a division of Mack Avenue Records, was looking to expand from its jazz foundations into other genres. She is now the label’s first signed developing singer-songwriter.
Not every singer knows how to connect with a full orchestra and, certainly, not every orchestra is equipped to accompany a non-classical vocalist. But Raul Midón and the 50-pluspiece Dutch Metropole Orkest have it down. The orchestra, founded in 1945 and conducted on this latest collaborative effort by Vince Mendoza, has been working with vocalists for years.
Saxophonist Tia Fuller was crying in bed. And praising God.
She’d just received the news that she was nominated for her first-ever Grammy Award — but it’s not just any nomination: Her inclusion in the best jazz instrumental album category is a historic moment for women because they have rarely been nominated for the coveted award throughout the Grammys’ 61-year history.
And if Fuller wins, she becomes just the second women to take home the prize.
McLorin Salvant's powerful voice takes center state on her new album, a duo with pianist Sullivan Fortner. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says the music on The Window is riveting.
This year, veteran Bay Area band Tower Power has been promoting its 25th studio album, Soul Side of Town, with an expansive tour that's also commemorating the horn-driven outfit's 50th anniversary.
In the wake of Tuesday’s midterm elections, Jonathan Butler is remembering when black South Africans gained the right to vote in 1994.