Ralph Peterson & The Messenger Legacy Alive Ralph Peterson (Onyx Music 3)
On this homage to the Jazz Messengers, the jazz dynasty that Art Blakey built, drummer Ralph Peterson reunites members of the Jazz Messengers trumpeter Brian Lynch, saxophonists Bobby Watson, Billy Pierce, pianist Geoff Keezer, and bassist Essiet Essiet for this live double-disc. It’s incredible the level of swing the band stirs up and maintains throughout. Peterson is the leader of this wonderful piece of art, but the session’s MVP is Keezer.
Eric Alexander Leap of Faith Eric Alexander (Giant Step Arts)
For my money, Alexander is the premier jazz saxophonist of his generation. Usually, Alexander runs the streets with a quartet or a quintet, and he’s made memorable recordings with alto saxophonist Vincent Herring. This time out, Alexander records with a trio bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Johnathan Blake. The album represents Alexander at his rawest, loyal to his bop pedigree but straddling the boundaries of free-jazz.
James Carter Organ Trio: Live from Newport Jazz James Carter (Blue Note)
Carter’s organ trio has been together for 23 years with only one personnel modification the inclusion of the tasteful drummer Alex White. Over the years, Carter has made many albums. The organ trio dates rank as his best. Live From Newport Jazz is his debut for Blue Note. The trio performs music from Django Reinhardt’s catalog. Playing Reinhardt’s classics has been a pet-project of Carter’s for years now. Organist Gerard Gibbs makes Live From Newport Jazz a delightful listening odyssey. Since the trio’s infancy, Gibbs has been its centerpiece.
Confessions Veronica Swift (Mack Avenue Records)
Music journalist Veronica Johnson turned me on to Confessions Swift’s big-label debut. Johnson went on an on about how dope Swift's singing is and how her voice could fit any music genre. So, I gave Confessions a shot. Johnson's impressions were spot-on. Swift's voice held my ears hostage, and I had a mini-religious experience each time I play the album. Swift is a highly favored jazz vocalist. The spirits of Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sheila Jordan resides in Swift’s voice.
This I Dig of You Jimmy Cobb (Smoke Session Records)
This is the kind of red-blooded American jazz I could hear every day for the rest of my natural life. Cobb has been making pure jazz his entire career, which may be easy for him—at least on this session—given his partners are pianist Harold Mabern, bassist John Webber, and guitarist Peter Bernstein. Although each musician is equally yoked in terms of swing-ability, Bernstein is the obvious crowd favorite throughout the session.
Detroit Tenors Steve Woods and Carl Cafagna (Detroit Music Factory)
Steve Woods and Carl Cafagna is the Detroit Tenors. The saxophonists are household sensations on Detroit’s jazz scene. Their inaugural self-titled album is the first time their shared genius has been documented for the world to consume. Their teaming generate the same degree of excitement Eddie "Lock Jaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin's collaborations embodied. On The One Before This, ODRP Blues, Five Four Thing, Woods and Cafagna are in sync like a seasoned married couple. My favorite performance is their reworking of Blues Up and Down.
THE SECRET BETWEEN THE SHADOW AND THE SOUL Branford Marsalis Quartet (Marsalis Music OKeh)
The Secret Between The Shadow And The Soul is the Branford Marsalis Quartet’s most avant-garde album yet. There’s some exquisitely rendered abstract playing throughout. Marsalis Quartet has been going strong over two decades and the quartet is incapable of putting out music that dulls the senses. It's a powerful jazz quartet that revels in blowing up boundaries.
connections Diego Rivera (posi-tone)
Diego Rivera is a jazz educator as well as a helluva saxophonist. connections is his third album as a leader. Half the musicians in the band are former students of his. The others are veteran swingers he has collaborated with before. This album is spit-polished and is a continuation of the no-nonsense swing Rivera's reputation is built on. All the musicians contribute mightily here. However, the compositions that stick to my ribs are Rivera’s Mother Nature, Ties That Bind, and Nueva York.
Centennial Cole The Music Of Nat “King” Cole Orice Jenkins (Truth Revolution Record Collective)
2019 is Nat “King” Cole’s centennial, and jazz vocalist Orice Jenkins honored Cole by making this exquisite album, packed with songs Cole long ago immortalized. Centennial Cole The Music Of Nat “King” Cole, is my first-time hearing Jenkins. I became a fan immediately after hearing him sing Let There Be Love and Mona Lisa. He has a respectful and gentle way of handling the songs Cole made classics.
Relaxin’With Nick Nicholas Payton (Smoke Session Records)
If you enter this album expecting the Nicholas Payton of old, you’re going to be disappointed. Relaxin’ With Nick is a representation of where Payton’s heart is nowadays. Add to his track record singing, playing the Fender Rhodes and the acoustic piano. The title track shows Payton is a decent piano player. Endorsing Relaxin’ With Nick is a weird thing for me because I heard Payton perform the music months before its release at the Blue Llama in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and I didn't care for Payton's switching from the piano, to trumpet to the electric keyboard sometimes within the same tune. A lot is happening sonically on Relaxin’ with Nick, but it works for me this time around.