Ezra Weiss describes himself as "religiously agnostic but culturally Jewish." If only we could all be courageous enough to admit that, religiously, we just don't know then perhaps we could speak across those walls that keep trying to be built between us.
Still, Ezra is musical director at a Christian church. He's not hedging his bet, mind you, he is simply and honestly finding common ground (not compromise) upon which we can rejoice. And he... read more
Gordon Lee wasn't satisfied with just one trio for his latest recording, This Path. Instead, he enlisted two bass players and two drummers, each lending their signature sounds to this collection of worldly jazz.
Lee, a respected Portland pianist, arranger, composer and educator, has explored many musical styles in four-plus decades in jazz. He's played with some of the best in the business, locally and nationally, including Bobby... read more
Clarinetist/tenor saxophonist Eddie Daniels is represented at both ends of the ensemble spectrum on these CDs: in duo with pianist Roger Kellaway on Duke at the Roadhouse and as a guest with the big band Jazz Nation led by Steve Williams, a role recalling Daniels' tenure in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra.
Duke at the Roadhouse is an adventurous chamber jazz recital recorded at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe. Eight... read more
Vocalist Kelley Johnson chooses songs that are golden, with lyrics that sparkle like diamonds. She opens with a Stephen Sondheim composition, "Anyone Can Whistle." The whistle ballad turns into a scat, and Ms. Johnson shows how smoothly she can transition from storyteller to jazzy scat singer. Surprisingly, she does know how to whistle and blows a little whistle on the fade of this song. Another plus is that Kelley Johnson knows how to swing.... read more
Chicago-based saxophonist Shawn Maxwell has produced an excellent run of straight ahead CD releases in the past decade, sets like his two self-produced discs, Originals (2006) and Originals II (2008), and Maxwell's House (Chicago Session LTD, 2010) before he changed his game up with Shawn Maxwell's Alliance (Chicago Sessions LTD, 2015), a shift away from mainstream quartet - sax and rhythm section - to a walk-on-the-mini-big-band wild side,... read more
2017 TOP TEN RELEASES Here is another great, large ensemble/big band. The Canadian trumpeter Tynan and the American bari sax player Lington have another winner in their most recent chapter of this series. Both are important educators in their respective countries. BCC5 is a very eclectic mix of compositions and arrangements from big band funk to Chinese folk tunes. It is a gorgeous walk through contemporary... read more
You can't argue with a program based on the Beatles songbook. It's been exploited by countless musicians successfully. On Strawberry Fields Forever Daria puts a mild, jazzy, country/pop twist on the classic tunes. Her voice is pleasant, crisp and inviting. Our favorites are "Come Together" and the swinging "Can't Buy Me Love". Beatles fans will enjoy yet another incarnation of their favorites while jazz fans may be enticed to expand their... read more
Seattle is a place where jazz can be treated as an experiment, and pianist/composer Pellegrin, who is getting his Ph.D. at the University of Washington, takes a studious approach to his music. This is dense jazz from note one. The opener, "Nothing Comes to Mind," is an atonal but rhythmic exploration, with trumpeter R. Scott Morning and saxophonist Neil Welch sharing an obtuse melody before Pellegrin takes over on the solo, which gets hot and... read more
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