A really powerful solo album from JD Allen – maybe the first we've ever heard from the tenor saxophonist, and a set that's got a very different vibe than some of his recent outings with groups! Allen recorded the music during the height of lockdown in 2020, at a time when he'd had to step back from performing live and collaborating with others – a moment he used to get back to basics on his instrument, and begin to re-explore all the things that first made being a saxophonist so important to him. There's definitely a sense of isolation and melancholy here – as you might expect – but there's also a feeling of hope and new inspiration, a quiet message from a dark time that's great to have on record. Titles include "Nyla's Sky", "Maude", "OTR", "Vernetta", "Queen City", "Gem & Eye", "Kristian With A K", and "Wildwood Flower". CD
A really sweet take on the music of Stevie Wonder – one that takes the tunes in all sorts of directions we didn't expect! Part of the vibe is in line with the organ work of Pat Bianchi – more of a 60s soul jazz mode, of the sort that was big in the years before Stevie penned most of these classics – but the guitar work of Paul Bollenback in the group also makes for a bit of a change too – a style that's sometimes fuller and fuzzier than you'd hear in a more traditional organ trio, at a level that changes up the vibe in a really fresh way. Byron Landham is on drums, Wayne Escoffery plays tenor on two cuts, and titles include "If It's Magic", "Go Home", "Superstition", "Moon Blue", "Isn't She Lovely", "Ribbon In The Sky", and "Until You Come Back To Me". CD
Louis Hayes —
Crisis ... CD Savant, 2021. New Copy ...
The great Louis Hayes has been giving us incredible records for decades – and this recent set still has the drummer very much at the top of his game – working with a soulful conception that few folks can match, and really getting the best out of the wonderful group he's got on the set! The lineup is fantastic – Steve Nelson on vibes, Abraham Burton on tenor, David Hazeltine on piano, and Dezron Douglas on bass – all artists we love in other settings, but who seem to sparkle even more strongly here under the guidance of Hayes! Camille Thurman sings on two cuts – "Where Are You" and "I'm Afraid The Masquerade Is Over" – but the real strength of the album comes from the many instrumental tracks, on titles that include "Crisis", "Arab Arab", "Desert Moonlight", "Creeping Crud", "Roses Poses", and "Oxygen". CD
A warmly well-rounded set of organ jazz from Bill Heid – maybe not the biggest player on the Hammond B3, but one who's been slowly building up an excellent legacy of records like this! There's an understated grace to the way that Bill handles the instrument – he's not out to blow the top off the Hammond, but has this command of color, tone, and timing that's really wonderful – served up in mostly trio format with Perry Hughes on guitar and Randy Gelispie on drums! Heid has a way of going deep right at the start of a tune, then continuing to keep things crisp and cool – a special sort of tone that's very much his own. He also sings a bit on two tracks, Kevin Bujo Jones joins the group on percussion on three cuts, and titles include the originals "Dealin Wid It", "Four To One", "It's A Living", "Minor Worm", "Naughty Little Puppy", and "Samba Cat". CD
One of the coolest, grooviest settings for the Hammond of Mike LeDonne that we've heard in years – a set that mostly features him working with a larger ensemble, at a level that brings back some of the great 60s sessions from Jimmy Smith and Oliver Nelson! Yet given Mike's touch on the keys, and the more contemporary mode of the groove, there's a nicely different vibe here – not just retro jazz organ with big band, but a new chapter in the book – balanced here with work from LeDonne's Groover Quartet – which features work from Eric Alexander on tenor, Peter Bernstein on guitar, and Joe Farnsworth on drums. All three of those players are also in the larger group – and if you're keeping track, the set features five big band numbers, and three quartet tunes. Titles include "Matador", "It's All Your Fault", "Bags & Brown", "Blues For Jed", "Rock With You", and "Party Time". CD
Pianist Bill O'Connell keeps it nice and lean here – working in a core quartet that moves its instrumentation around, but always in ways that maybe bring more of an edge to the record than some of O'Connell's previous records – yet all without losing the soulful charms that make him so great! Bill himself plays acoustic piano, but switches to Fender Rhodes on two cuts – a theme that's followed as Craig Handy plays soprano sax on three, and tenor on two more – while bassist Lincoln Goines shifts between acoustic and electric basses. Steve Jordan handles drums, and Pedrito Martinez adds percussion on a few tracks – exploring some of the Latin currents that Bill sometimes adds to his records – on titles that include "Moment's Notice", "Sun For Sonny", "A Change Is Gonna Come", "A Prayer For Us", "Sweet Peanut", "Enough Is Enough", and "Chaos". CD
Jim Snidero —
Strings ... CD Milestone/Savant, 2003. New Copy ...
Out Of Stock
A really fantastic record from reedman Jim Snidero – one that hints at its sound with the "strings" in the title – even though that's just a really tiny part of the overall picture! There's lots more going on here than just a saxophonist with strings – this isn't a laidback ballad session, with Jim blowing familiar tunes in a late nite mode – and instead, his work on alto (and a bit of flute) is very firmly ingrained in the larger charts on the set – strings handled by Laura Seaton, but set to tunes that are almost all originals by Jim himself – and given this great core energy from a quartet that includes Renee Rosnes on piano, Paul Gill on bass, and Billy Drummond on drums. Titles include "Slipping Away", "Theme For Ernie", "Forever Gone", "Ventura", and the three-part "River Suite". CD