The best sort of Thelonious Monk set in our opinion – the kind of record that draws heavily from the legacy of the master, but also delivers something completely new and fresh! Let's face it, Monk would wince at the idea of folks just copying his style and ideas – and Joey Alexander hardly does that at all here, by really transforming familiar Monk numbers with this modern approach that's both fluid and chunky at the same time! Alexander's hands on the keys are amazing – and almost feel like he's grabbing chunks of sound out of the air, to sculpt these sonic shapes based on the ideas of the tunes. The structure of the tunes is subtly but greatly enhanced by the work of Scott Colley on bass and Willie Jones III on drums – and titles include "Ugly Beauty", "Rhythm A Ning", "Straight No Chaser", "Pannonica", and "Evidence". CD
Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet —
Jersey ... CD Motema, 2017. New Copy ...
That's the state of New Jersey on the cover – represented with an image that's as beautiful as the music on the set – a nicely bold statement from drummer Mark Guiliana, who works here with a mighty strong quartet! The group features some especially great tenor from Jason Rigby – a player who can soar forward on waves of sound one minute, then bring things back to carefully creative sonic territory – all in a way that's beautifully illustrative, with almost a painterly quality to his performance – but never in a way that feels forced or overly intellectual – given the organic quality of his horn. Pianist Fabian Almazan's great too – able to burst out these beautiful tones that really set the whole picture on fire – and bassist Chris Morrissey gets some great time in the spotlight, sometimes even to set the tunes up from the start – which he does wonderfully, then rolls them along as strongly as Guiliana's drums. Titles include "Our Lady", "Where Are We Now", "Big Rig Jones", "BP", "Rate", and "September". CD
Hudson (DeJohnette/Grenadier/Medeski/Scofield) —
Hudson ... CD Motema, 2017. New Copy ...
A group who take their name from the Hudson River Valley – beautifully pictured here on the front cover – and a quartet who work in an equally expansive array of sounds – all sharp elements of tone and timing from a lineup that features Jack DeJohnette on drums, John Scofield on guitar, Larry Grenadier on bass, and John Medeski on piano, Fender Rhodes, and Hammond! The Hudson influence doesn't just stop at the name, though – because all these upstate New York musicians often pay tribute to other artists who left the city for points north – Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, and The Band – each of whom gets a tribute track on the album. About half the set is originals by members of the group – and if we had to pick one instrument that seems to have the strongest voice in the group, it might be the guitar of Scofield – maybe in part because he can skirt the two different worlds so well. Titles include "Tony Then Jack", "Dirty Ground", "El Swing", "Hudson", "Lay Lady Lay", "Woodstock", "Wait Until Tomorrow", and "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall". CD
David Murray finds a fantastic new outlet for his many talents here – working with the younger songwriter Saul Williams – who delivers some fantastic lyrics throughout! Saul's as much a spoken word artist as he is a singer – and his passages on the album have this righteous power that takes us back to the hippest sort of music like this from the 70s – but also filtered through some of the lyrical possibilities of the better side of the hip hop generations, especially in the way the power of his messages come across! Murray is fantastic, too – really soulful and swinging, both on tenor and clarinet – and the songs often have Williams or Murray soloing first, then the other taking over. The rest of the group is pretty great as well – with Orrin Evans on piano, Craig Harris on trombone, Jaribu Shahid on bass, Nasheet Waits on drums, and a bit of Fender Rhodes from Jason Moran. Almost all tracks are originals – with titles that include "A Mirror Of Youth", "Kush", "Forever Brothers", "Music Of The Mind", "Deep In Me", "Positive Messages", "Obe", and "Citizens" – and the album also features a version of the Sun Ra tune "Enlightenment". CD
Oran Etkin —
Kelenia ... CD Motema, 2009. Used ...
Temporarily Out Of Stock
Donny McCaslin —
Beyond Now ... CD Motema, 2016. New Copy ...
Temporarily Out Of Stock
Reedman Donny McCaslin's been making records for many years now – but he also seems to have gotten a new sort of inspiration from his work with David Bowie on his final recording – at a level that really seems to influence his sound here! The record's still very much a jazz session – but it's also got rhythms, flourishes, and other elements that Donny wouldn't have used a few short years ago – not just a bit of keyboards, which seem used to extrapolate the Bowie/Eno themes from Berlin – but also a more angular approach to his solos, which seems to create an inherent set of rhythm in the way he blows his tenor and flute. The album's dedicated to Bowie, but is hardly any sort of Bowie tribute or cover album – although the group does do a wonderful reading of "Warszawa", which comes out great as an instrumental. Other players include Jason Lindner on keyboards, Tim Lefebvre on electric bass, and Mark Guiliana on drums – and Jeff Taylor sings briefly on "A Small Plot Of Land". All other titles are instrumentals – and include "Remain", "Glory", "Faceplant", "Bright Abyss", "Beyond Now", and "Coelacanth 1". CD
Round, warm sounds from bassist Charnett Moffett – working here on both acoustic and electric bass, always with that laidback sense of flow that always made his older work so great! Moffett seems to shape each tune in a different way – and he's joined in this pursuit by guitarist Stanley Jordan, who reminds us of his wonderful sense of tone throughout – and by pianist Cyrus Chestnut, who's on most of the tracks on the set – save for a few that feature Jordan on piano. Jeff Tain Watts handles most of the drums – and tenor legend Pharoah Sanders makes a surprising appearance on three of the album's best tracks. Titles include "Music From Our Soul", "Freedom", "We Are Here To Play", "Love In The Galaxies", "Freedom Swing", "Sound World Suite", and "Celestial Dimensions". CD