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
A beautiful tribute to the greatness of Leon Thomas – put together by one of the few cats who could get it right! Given that Babatunde Lea's other music already takes us back to the days when Thomas sang with Pharoah Sanders – his leadership on a date like this is a natural – as Lea has a way of hitting just the right sort of righteous vibe to open things up for Leon's message of peace, love, and spiritual fulfillment! The great Dwight Trible handles vocals on the date – a singer you probably already love for his work with Build An Ark – and other players include Ernie Watts on tenor sax, Patrice Rushen on piano, and Gary Brown on bass. The performance is a live one – recorded at Yoshi's in Oakland – and the double-length set features a heck of a lot of music, plus some video content on the second disc! Titles include "Prince Of Peace", "Reaching Up", "Umbo Weti", "Colors", "Sun Song", "African Fantasy", "Song For My Father", "African Tapestry", "Creator Has A Master Plan", "Boom Boom", and "Cousin Mary". CD
The first full album from Deva Mahal – a relatively young singer, but one who comes across with a power that makes us think that she's been recording for years! Deva's definitely got a contemporary soul approach, but works with a rasp in her vocals that's a bit blues-influenced too – balanced out with some occasional smoother, more fluid moments at a level that really keeps things interesting. A few tunes here are so catchy, you might think that you've already heard them – and we mean that as a compliment, given that Mahal's just getting her start. The album features guest appearances from Binky Griptite, Allen Stone, and Coco Peila – and titles include "Snakes", "Fire", "Shards", "Run deep", "Take A Giant Step", "Optimist", "Can't Call It Love", and "Turnt Up". 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
Omer Avital —
New Song ... CD Motema, 2014. Used ...
Temporarily Out Of Stock
Soaring spiritual sounds from bassis Omer Avital – a musician we love more and more with each new record, and one who only seems to be honing his vision even more strongly over recent years! The material is all original by Avital – performed by a core quintet that features sparkling trumpet lines from Avishai Cohen, tenor from Joel Frahm, piano from Yonathan Avishai, and drums from Daniel Fredman – a lineup that's often so well-fused, they've got this cohesive power that goes well beyond the individual spirit of the instruments. Avital's lines often have this flowing, buoyant quality that recalls classic lines from Abdullah Ibrahim, or maybe some of Randy Weston's more African-oriented compositions – and the set features a bit of vocalizations at points, but more than draws enough power from the five musicians in the lead. Titles include "New Song", "Hafla", "Aviskhes", "Tsafdina", "Bedouin Roots", and "Ballad For A Friend". CD
Pure brilliance from Babatunde Lea – an artist who sounds as deeply soulful in the 21st Century as he did on his first recordings from a few decades back! This time around, Lea's working with the wonderful Frank Lacy on trombone and trumpet – in a set of work that's all arranged by Lacy, with bold piano lines from Hilton Ruiz – whose playing here really takes us back to those early moments when we first discovered his genius – that unique blend of Latin and spiritual jazz roots that's perfect for a record like this. Things are plenty righteous, but very warm too – and the record stretches out magnificently without trying to hit anyone over the head – that beautiful balance you'd find in a rare Strata East record, maybe even more amazing here, given the contemporary date of the recording! Mario Rivera plays tenor, soprano sax, and flute – and titles include "Soul Pools", "Carolyn's Dance", "1055", "Round The World", "Ejercito Moreno", "Yerba Buena", and "Jackie & The Beanstalk". Also comes with a full bonus CD – Live At Rasselas – a quartet performance with Ernie Watts on tenor, Hilton Ruiz on piano, and Geoff Brennan on bass – on a 25 minute version of "Footprints". 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
Gregory Porter —
Be Good ... CD Motema, 2012. Used ...
Temporarily Out Of Stock
Wonderful work from Gregory Porter – easily one of the best new jazz singers to emerge in the past decade or so, and one whose approach is soulful enough to rival the greats of the 70s! There's echoes here of Bill Withers, Gil Scott-Heron, and Al Jarreau – and like all those artists, Gregory's a singer who really moves past simple styles and generic conventions – into a mode that's vivid and rich right from the start, and defiitely his own territory – a world of sound that's a delight to experience! Most backings are straight jazzy, but inflected with some soul modes – and the album's even better and more incredible than Porter's debut for Motema. Titles include "On My Way To Harlem", "When Did You Learn", "Mother's Song", "Imitation Of Life", "Our Love", "Be Good", and "Painted On Canvas". CD
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
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