Monday, June 13, 2011


Last week, I Dig Jazz received four upcoming jazz albums "Ninety Miles," "State of Art," "Born to Be Blue," and "Monty Alexander Harlem-Kingston Express Live! at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, NYC. Each album is worth the sticker price and will be on the market in late Junes.

Saxophonist David Sanchez and vibraphonist Stefon Harris are survivors of the jazz youth movement of the late 90's when many jazz record labels only singed musicians under 25-year-old such as saxophonists Mark Turner, Teodross Avery, Mark Shim and a host of others. The movement was short-lived, and many of the musicians—who were pretty good—got canned when record companies closed their jazz divisions. Sanchez and Harris were the exception, and now are label-mates. For Concord Records, Sanchez, Harris and new jazz lion trumpeter Christian Scott are the co-leaders of “Ninety Miles”. I predict “Ninety Miles” will be favorite among jazz writer's. ”Ninety Miles” takes off running and never stops. Scott has experimented with different forms of music lately. I figured he'd completely forsaken his jazz upbringing. And I questioned if Scott would ever play hardcore jazz again. “Ninety Miles” is the first hardcore jazz album Scott has been an integral force on in years.

I first heard jazz bassist Ben Williams play with rising jazz vocalist Jesse Palter. And I liked Williams—a student of the accomplished jazz bassist Rodney Whitaker—right away. Since graduating from Michigan State University, and winning the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Competition for double bass, Williams has become an in demand bassist, playing with many of today's leading jazz musicians. On June 28, Concord Records offers to the public Williams' debut album “State of Art”. The album is a cogent example of the fusion course some new jazz lions are traveling these days. Williams was influenced by jazz, hip-hop, R& B and classical music. Williams successfully blends those forms, which is a lot of calories to consume on a debut album. 

Jazz singer Ed Reed was a self-destructive junky most of his adult life. And Reed was in and out of jail also for various drug related offenses. Reed never gave up on himself, and the one thing he loved more than anything, singing. Reed is 82-year-old now. The hard knocks phase of his life is behind Reed. He's buried  that monkey on his back two decades ago. When Reed is not recording and performing around the Bay Area , he helps other addicts change their lives. Reed has put out two acclaimed albums “Ed Reed Sings Love Stories and “The Song Is You” since getting his act together. On June 21, Blue Shorts Records debuts his third album “Born to Be Blue,” which finds Reed wailing on some blues tunes. Reed has a slow conversational manner comparable to the great Andy Bey’s style but not has lucid. Anyway, Reed can sing his ass off and he seems at home with the blues tunes he picked for “Born to Be Blue”.

Jamaican born jazz pianist Monty Alexander has been in the jazz business for 50 years. Alexander started celebrating that milestone in March when Retrieval Records released the wonderful trio album “Uplift” (one of I Dig Jazz's all time favorite Alexander trio albums). Alexander has more than enough seniority to call it quits . But instead of kicking back, propping his feet on his laurels—or at least slowing down some—on June 14, Motema Records will make available for purchase Alexander's second album this year “Monty Alexander Harlem-Kingston Express Live! at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, NYC”. The album is a Reggae jazz album that only Alexander could pull off. The albums has Bob Marley covers as well as familiar jazz staples "Freddie Freeloader" and a Reggae tinged version of "Sweet Georgia Brown".
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