“Fig Tree” (June Moon Productions)
Deborah Latz has one of those voices you could listen to for breakfast, for lunch and for dinner. “Fig Tree” is her latest gift to the jazz world. Latz made some wise decisions during its making. Foremost, Latz only used two special guest vocalist Abdoulaye Diabate and saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum. On “You Are,” the albums MVP, Latz voice melts over Apfelbaum’s sax like butter on hot grits. There’re 14 songs on “Fig Tree” and Latz has a personal bond with each.
“It’s Personal” Mike Wofford (Capri Records)
The jazz pianist Mike Wofford earned a name decades ago. In the 60’s, he was involved in the West Coast Jazz movement. From 1989 to 1992, the great Ella Fitzgerald entrusted him with the music director responsibilities of her band. Wofford could name drop for weeks. There're many bands led by jazz luminaries Wofford has blessed.
Wofford has a solo piano album just out titled “It Personal”. There’re many valuable selections on it and only one surface crack “Eighth Veil,” Duke Ellington’s number. It sounds uninspired in Wofford’s hands. His originals” “Cole Porter” and “Spin” are examples of otherworldly craftsmanship and Wofford’s rendering of the ballad “I Waited For You” would make a grizzly bear emotional. The standout is “Hines Catch-up,” Wofford’s ode to pianist Earl Hines. It’ll make the hairs on your neck shout.
“Relevancy” Chip Stephens Trio (Capri Records)
This is jazz pianist Chip Stephens latest trio date with drummer Joel Spencer, and bassist Dennis Carroll. It’s an aggressive jazz trio. Stephens and Spencer take turns putting a serious ass kicking on “syndrome,” “somewhere before the end” and “c hip’s blues”. On the latter, Stephens puts you in the mind of how pianists Junior Mance and Phineas Newborn Jr. played the blues on some of their well-regarded trio dates