"Thinking Out Loud" is the latest introspective from guitar-stunner Trey Wright. Mr. Wright assembles a trio for this rendering of eight originals and two bold covers of current rock artists.
"Thinking Out Loud" captures the magical interplay that drummer Marlon Patton (Universal Music Group's Heavy Mojo) and bass-ace Marc Miller have developed live. The strong melodic bass lines braid through modern jazz/rock drum rhythms and provide a unique, fresh foundation for Mr. Wright's contemplative voice. Recorded mostly live and with minimal overdubbing, there is a dynamic interplay captured by Mr. Wright and producer/drummer Marlon Patton. The raw energy and often dark mood of the songs from "Thinking Out Loud" make it one of the more compelling releases this year.
"Rat Race" starts off the album and sets the tone perfectly. It's mood is a reflective and utilizes multiple time signatures while the melody that Mr. Wright floats deftly on top cuts perfectly against the counter melody of the bass. Mr. Wright also chose to include Soundgarden's "Blow Up The Outside World". This adventurous cover contrasts a somber with romantic melody. This creates a captivating tension between that which is familiar and something that is shadowy and hidden. It is quite a unique take on a traditional rock song.
Trey Wright and his trio have created an intriguing contrast of sorts with "Thinking Out Loud". It is both dark and hopefully melodic while modern with traditional instrumentation. "Thinking Out Loud" keeps the listener on edge and at the edge of their seat until the end...anticipating more from this rising star.
Phenomenal Guitarist Dan Baraszu and multi-talented bassist/producer Joseph Patrick Moore offer fresh inspiration to twelve Christmas classics on the latest Blue Canoe Records release "Christmas Time is Here". The duo strikes a touching balance between the complex reharmonization of these standards and the simplistic, stripped down interplay between guitar and bass. This musical conversation is especially notable in the sweet, lullaby-infused melodic bass part of "Silent Night". The trading of melody between Mr. Baraszu and Mr. Moore strikes images of a mother gently singing the little ones to sleep as the snow gently falls outside.
The pair jump in with "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", an up-tempo number featuring a jumping, rhythmic groove and haunting guitar melody. "Jingle Bells", offers up a unique coloring of another holiday classic. Again, Mr. Moore's creative groove and use of open space provides the perfect backdrop for a truly fresh version of such a seasonally routine melody.
Baraszu and Moore conclude their holiday creation with the traditional, "Angels We Have Heard on High". The bouncing bass line and almost reggae-like rhythmic feel is a sublime counter to Mr. Baraszu's contemporary version of this timeless melody.
"Christmas Time is Here" is an inspirational rendition of Christmas standards that offer a rare perspective unheard during this season. The interaction between these two notable artists is emotive and relevant long after the season is over. Mr. Baraszu and Mr. Moore converse in a beautifully woven and unique accord that's rare in a holiday release.
"Look What the Cats Drug In" opens with ripping guitar work from Dan Baraszu on "Neutron Star", a song inspired by Stevie Wonder's "Too High". There is no slowing down with the complex harmonies by Eugene Maslov on "Last Ray". Blue Canoe's stable of talented artists is further exposed in "Symmetry 1" with the fluid, highly polished lines of virtuoso trumpeter Thomas Heflin. The album continues with unimaginable horn players Bryan Lopes and Ron Westray as well as the stellar compositional and orchestral arranging of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra. The compilation brings it home rhythmically with percussionists Philip Smith and Jimmy "Junebug" Jackson. Listen for the famous Jimmy Smith on the B3 on the final tune by Junebug, "Save Your Love For Me (live)".
"Look What the Cats Drug In" is a vibrant exploration of the post-bop gems in Blue Canoe Records' vast and ever-growing catalog. Quite literally, "Look What the Cats Drug In" displays the finest musicianship of modern jazz.
The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra’s debut cd for Blue Canoe Records, “Blues Man from Memphis”, is a most adventurous big band effort featuring the work of Donald Brown. The recording also highlights the prodigious talents of three other world renowned artists: bassist John Clayton, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, and saxophonist Greg Tardy.
Pianist Donald Brown (who also produced the cd) is considered to be one of the most innovative composers in the field of jazz today. Among the many accolades Brown has received, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis says: “Donald Brown is a genius.” Bassist Ron Carter adds: “For those who look around and ask, ‘Where is the next great jazz composer? Who is going to lead the music into the twenty-first century?’ Look no further. Donald Brown is here.” Brown’s compositions have been recorded by many artists. Wynton Marsalis’ recording of “Insane Asylum” on “J-Mood” was nominated for a Grammy, as was Donald Byrd’s recording of “Theme for Malcolm”.
As a testimonial to Donald Brown’s expertise as a piano player, the late Art Blakey professed: “Donald Brown is one of my favorite accompanists with The Jazz Messengers since Cedar Walton and Walter Bishop, Jr.”
The KJO is a supercharged, motivated ensemble formed in 1999 by trumpet player/arranger Vance Thompson. Although a large group (17+ members), they perform regularly and have played prestigious venues such as The Montreaux Jazz Festival. The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra has a wide fan base, largely due to the enthusiasm incurred by compelling and exciting arrangements and famous guest artists.
All of the compositions on this cd are by Donald Brown. The arrangements and orchestrations are by Vance Thompson and Bill Mobley, respectively.
“Blues Man from Memphis” is an ingenious, inspired work for the contemporary jazz big band. Twenty-first century jazz is alive and thriving.
"Symmetry", the debut of jazz trumpeter Thomas Heflin, explores the vast possibilities of contemporary post bop jazz through a carefully balanced program of original compositions and thoughtfully selected cover tunes. The self produced cd admirably showcases Heflin's brilliant, highly praised improvisational skills as well as the formidable talents of his band, including four tracks featuring the late world renowned pianist James Williams.
A rising star in the jazz world, Heflin made waves on the international jazz scene in 2005 when he placed second in the prestigious Carmine Caruso International Trumpet Solo Competition in Seattle. One reviewer described his playing as "a very fluid approach... generating lines in a seamless, highly polished manner that is really a joy to experience."
Among the original compositions are "Symmetry", the title track which opens and closes the album; "Salutation", a piece based on Kalidasa's poem "Salutation to the Dawn", and the ballad "Eastern Star", dedicated to James Williams. Heflin also covers material ranging from Louis Armstrong's anthem "When It's Sleepy Time Down South" to Cole Porter's "Night and Day" to Stevie Wonder's "Ma Cherie Amour".
"Symmetry" is aptly titled: Thomas Heflin has achieved a fine sense of proportion through his original pieces and covers. And though it is one of the last recordings James Williams made before he passed away, perhaps a new jazz legend, Thomas Heflin, is emerging in his own right.
Jazz Pianist Eugene Maslov's CD, "Where the Light Comes From" (Blue Canoe Records) is an imaginative endeavor which not only shows off Maslov's extraordinary talent as pianist but demonstrates his remarkable abilities as composer, arranger and producer as well.
Eugene Maslov has been an active touring and recording musician over the past decade: he has recorded and performed with Shirley Horn; Toots Thielmans; Gary Burton; Eddie Gomez; Omar Hakim; Pearl Bailey as well as many others. Maslov now brings his prolific experience and encyclopedic knowledge of jazz form and improvisation to a format with a balanced concept, astutely and poetically rendered within the tight chemistry of his backup musicians which include guest appearances by Hubert Laws (flute) and Vinnie Colaiuta (drums).
The strength and entertainment value of this effort lie in Maslov's unique musical ideas, deeply rooted in contemporary post-bop jazz: "The irony of 'Where the Light Comes from'," says Maslov, "is that in my arrangements and compositions I am actually trying to touch upon the different shadows of the listener's feelings."
"Where the Light Comes From", by Eugene Maslov displays a sense of timelessness with an eye bent towards the future. Eugene's original composition's as well as his arrangement of the Miles Davis classic "Nardis", demonstrate the true beauty and originality of this extraordinary jazz artist.
On My Way Home is the long awaited solo release by drummer/vocalist Jimmy "Junebug" Jackson. It is a swinging tour de force of a cd echoing the spirits of the hard bop era while remaining firmly entrenched in contemporary jazz.
Jimmy Jackson's association with jazz is a profound experience in itself. For over 20 years Jackson toured the world with legendary organist Jimmy Smith, and during the course of this prestigious tenure he also performed with other such masters as McCoy Tyner; George Benson; Carlos Santana, and Christian McBride (who refers to Jimmy as "swinging Jimmy Jackson"). Having shared the stage for so many years with these and other giants of jazz - and the list is extensive - makes Jackson a icon in his own right.
On My Way Home features arrangements inspired by a 1961 collaboration between Cannonball Adderley and Nancy Wilson. There are several original tunes as well that keep the musical dialogue between past and present alive and intact. There is also a previously unreleased track recorded live in Tokyo featuring the late Jimmy Smith.
Whereas many musicians who have spent their careers as sidemen have difficulty shifting their status to center stage, Jackson's soulful vocals and commanding personality allow him the opportunity to front his talented quintet as well as maintaining his status as a world class drummer. "The collaboration between Cannonball Adderley and Nancy Wilson, was a record that really set me on fire about playing jazz when I was young," says Junebug, now 49: "On My Way Home is my way of paying tribute to them and all the other great artists who've inspired and guided me over the years."
A well meaning journalist once asked a famous trumpet player to define jazz. The response was "Man, if you don't know by now, you ain't never gonna know!" A definition of jazz is indeed elusive, but On My Way Home, by Jimmy "Junebug" Jackson, is jazz. Period. It displays a sense of timelessness and universality, a link between past and present, and that is what great art is all about.