Friday, August 19, 2011


Tennessee soul
Tennessee is not a jazz hub although some remarkable jazz sax players were born there Frank Storizer, Sonny Criss and Hank Crawford for example. Monday, I received Everyday Magic by saxophone player and Tennessee native Rahsaan Barber. (Rahsaan and his brother Roland were named after the great multi-reed player Rahsaan Roland Kirk.) Everyday Magic is Barber’s second album as the boss, and the first on his label Jazz Music City. Barber has that fat, soulful, and bluesy sound unique to Tennessee bred sax players. If you think it’s impossible for Barber chops to be up there with Storizer, Criss, and Crawford at this stage of his career pick up a copy of Everyday Magic when it's available to the public August 30th. Then play Floodsong, and Why So Blue. You will understand why I compare Barber’s chops to those great Tennesseans. 

Swingin' with the oldies
A few months back, my friend stated Kenny Garrett is the reigning king of the alto saxophone. Garrett is an awesome musician. No sane jazz fan would dispute that. But Miguel Zenon is my pick for the top alto sax player working today.  To my friend—and to anybody else who agrees Garrett is the shit—I offer to them Zenon’s new album Alma Andentro the Puerto Rican Songbook. Marsalis Music makes the album available nationwide August 30th. Zenon plays the songs of Bobby Capo, Pedro Flores, Rafael Hernandez and Sylvia Rexach. They were to Puerto Rican music culture what Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, and Jerome Kerns were to American culture. Zenon is a clever improviser with a flair for updating oldies. In Zenon’s hands, national treasures such as Incomprendido and Silencio have that fresh out the oven aroma.

Progressive smooth jazz 
Songs from the Chateau is bass player Kyle Eastwood’s second album for Mack Avenue Records. Eastwood is the famous actor and director Clint Eastwood's son. (The elder Eastwood supports jazz.) For a smooth jazz player, Eastwood has a heighten sense of swing, and he has an eye for like-minded jazz musician. On Song from the Chateau Eastwood used piano player Andrew McCormack, trumpeter Graeme Flowers, saxophone player Graeme Blevins and drummer Martin Kaine. They made an album that will be mistaken for straight ahead caustic jazz. Actually, Song from the Chateau is a progressive smooth jazz album.  Eastwood has moved smooth jazz to a new level. This album is set for release on August 30.

VIP list
For his new album, Friends, guitar player Stanley Jordan took a page for the hip-hop and R&B playbooks. Jordan loaded Friends with guest spots, and the album—his sophomore date for Mack Avenue Records—has the spirit of a family gathering. Jordan got all dolled up. There’s a photo next to the liner notes of him with his toenails painted pink. I don’t know what Jordan was getting at, but he has taken that metro-sexual shit too far. At any rate, Charlie Hunter, Ronnie Laws, Russell Malone, Bucky Pizzarelli, Regina Carter and Kenny Garrett are on the VIP list. Jordan doesn’t really have anything in common with them. Yet Friends is still a worthwhile album. It hits the streets September 27th.

Something old, something new
Dizzy Gillespie once said jazz is about keeping one foot in the tradition and one foot in the future. Piano player Armen Donelian lives by Dizzy’s statement. Donelian is known for his work with Sonny RollinsBilly Harper and Mongo Santamaria. Years ago, Donelian proved time and time again he was no ordinary piano player. On his new album Leapfrog, which goes on sale September 13th, Donelian combined old world jazz and contemporary jazz. That’s clear as day on tunes such as Rage, Behind the Veil and Bygone.
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