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John Beasley has arranged the brass brighter and brasher, the low horns to be more growly and his tasty keyboard parts to be artfully highlighted on his third far-reaching album with MONK’estra. Extending marvelously synchronized section motifs—those indelibly quirky Monk phrases—into swelling backdrops that balance freely impassioned soloists, Beasley as a pianist and composer, too, draws out even more melodic, harmonic and rhythmic implications in music by Monk, Bird and Duke.
The intricate recasting of “Donna Lee” contains several thrills, but the motifs throughout are colored vividly, etched with fine yet robust lines and graceful in their surprising twists. The large ensemble’s performance seems flawless and the small group Beasley’s assembled for a few tracks with longtime colleagues such as bassist John Patitucci, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and soulful harmonica player Grégoire Maret is bonded in camaraderie. Among the virtues of Beasley’s charts is that they never outstay their welcome; instead, they leave us wanting more. And with the abundance of details to absorb here, that’s really saying something. Beasley has a brilliant musical mind and warm yet exploratory touch, and his originals fit sweetly amid the time-honored repertoire. Jazz history is beautifully served here by Beasley leading his orchestra to embody his own unique vision.
Havana-based pianist and composer Harold López-Nussa captures the joyous, dancing, vibrant music of today’s Cuba with an exhilarating marriage of jazz and Cuban pop music, defiantly standing up to the doubters who failed to share his radical vision. To understand the title, many didn’t think he could pull off such a marriage on this, his ninth album and third for Mack Avenue. Much like its near equivalent in English, “I told you so,” the Spanish phrase “Te lo dije” can be deployed as a boast or a put-down – often both at once. López-Nussa throws down that gauntlet on Te Lo Dije, featuring the pianist’s core quartet of drummer Ruy Adrián López-Nussa, bassist Julio César González and trumpeter Mayquel González, bolstered by a number of special guests including Afro-Cuban funk superstar Cimafunk; French accordionist Vincent Peirani; famed Cuban reggaeton vocalist Randy Malcom; and vocalist Kelvis Ochoa.
In a recent interview with Bob Mintzer in the Winter 2020 edition of the Jazz In Europe magazine, Bob Mintzer spoke at length about the Yellowjackets collaboration with Germany’s WDR Big Band. In November this year, the band will release the album documenting the collaboration titled Jackets XL. This album is the fourth album on Mack Avenue and marks the bands 25th release. The project combines the shapeshifting quartet with the renowned big band, re-imagining well-known band originals with dynamic new arrangements that feature twists and turns, textures and colours, moving harmonies and bold solos.
Billy Childs has more than an armful of diverse talents. As a composer he has received five GRAMMY® Awards and 16 nominations, many for composition and arrangement. Presently in continual demand for symphonic and chamber commissions, he has also innovated a collection of compositions for jazz instrumentation and strings that is unique in the American music lexicon: a genre he refers to as jazz/chamber music. His second Mack Avenue release, Acceptance, though is not about that but rather as leader of a small combo playing piano for his jazz compositions. His small ensemble, of course, has large stars – saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Eric Harland.
Billy Childs, Acceptance (Mack Avenue)
Keyboardist Billy Childs won a Grammy for his 2018 album Rebirth, and he’s returned with the same band on this release: saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Eric Harland, accompanied on some tracks by vocalists Alicia Olatuja, Aubrey Johnson, and Sara Gazarek. Flutist Elena Pinderhughes, who’s worked with Christian Scott, is on one track, and percussionists Rogerio Boccato and Munyungo Jackson show up here and there, too. Most of the album is acoustic, except for “Leimert Park,” the track spotlighted here. On that one, Childs switches to Fender Rhodes and synths, and Glawischnig picks up the electric bass. It’s named for the area of Los Angeles that holds the World Stage, an arts center and performance space where Kamasi Washington and Thundercat got their start as teenagers. Childs originally recorded it with Paul Jackson and Mike Clark of the Headhunters, and that’s clearly audible — it’s a strutting, funky retro fusion tune with a head-nodding groove, layers of keyboard, and some sharp soprano sax work from Wilson.
Stream “Leimert Park”
Brian Bromberg dishes on his album 'Bromberg Plays Hendrix' and plays an exclusive playthrough of "Purple Haze"
To mark the 50th Anniversary of Jimi Hendix’s passing, Brian Bromberg is re-releasing his 2008 tour-de-force tribute to the iconic guitarist, Bromberg Plays Hendrix, on Sept. 18, 2020. Bromberg, who played nine different basses in tandem with drum great Vinnie Colaiuta on the album, reports that the updated version contains a new mix and a bonus track from the original sessions, entitled “Jimi.” Album pre-sale begins Friday, August 14th. We asked Brian, who provided Bass Magazine with an exclusive play-along video of “Purple Haze” [below] about both versions.