Tuesday, April 16, 2024

ANSWERS - Irving Berlin Titles:

     1.    Let's Face The Music And Dance

     2.    How About Me

     3.    Cheek To Cheek

     4.    How Deep Is The Ocean?

     5.    The Song Is Ended

     6.    It's A Lovely Day Today

     7.    Change Partners

     8.    I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

     9.    Blue Skies

     10.  Alexander's Ragtime Band

Monday, April 15, 2024

Have Some Fun With George's Quiz!

Here are some songs written by Irving Berlin. Given a chunk of lyrics, how many titles can you identify?  

    1.    before the fiddlers have fled 

    2.    and maybe a baby

    3.    the cares that hung around me

    4.    how far is the journey

    5.    the melody lingers on  

    6.    whatever you've got to do  

    7.    the same fortunate man

  1.   weather the storm
  2.   smilin' at me

    10.  c'mon along

Geoffrey Dean; Foundations

Foundations is the ideal title for this Washington, DC based quartet. Why? Because they play a beautiful, much admired sense of tradition, balance, swing, and sensitivity. Pianist Gregory Dean is the leader and he is joined by Justin Copeland, trumpet; Harish Raghavan, bass; and Eric Binder, drums. Their approach is lyrical, melodic, and straight down the middle of the boulevard. This album is primarily polished originals and jazz classics like “Blue Minor” and a stirring, very slow “Naima”. Nothing flashy here. Just real deal jazz in the heart of the art form.

Amp Music & Records; 2024; appx. 43 min.

Friday, April 12, 2024


Atley King; Unconditional It seems like we don't see many CDs under the leadership of a vibraphonist these days. So you might want to check out Atley King's vibes on eight original, graceful, and lyrical creations. Brad Turner's flugelhorn adds a special luscious presence here. The one standard is John Coltrane's gorgeous classic “Naima”. Lots of sensitive content here. Listen closely. Cellar; 2023; appx. 55 min.

Sam Ross; Live At The Mira Room Vol. II

Sam Ross shows a very spirited, savvy piano style on three selections, but he and his group turn on the electricity with Fender Rhodes and electric bass on two more. On their next recording, Ross and friends might consider more than just the five tunes included here.

Self produced; probably 2023; appx. 30 min.

Ed Johnson & Novo Tempo

This is not a jazz album per se. But it features for the most part pleasant, nicely composed and well orchestrated material with generous acoustic guitar work, and both male and female vocals throughout. It has a lilting, Latin feel, maybe somewhere along the lines of Sergio Mendes from way back. A nice blend of world music and pop sensibility, and it's all very pleasant on the ears.

Cumulus Records; 2023; appx 58 min.

Doug MacDonald; Sextet Session

It seems that guitarist Doug MacDonald changes up with each new CD. This time he puts together a very swinging sextet on several originals and a few standards like “Whispering”; “You've Changed”; and believe it or not, Lawrence Welk's theme song “Bubbles In The Wine”! MacDonald is a terrific straight ahead guitarist, and his colleagues all keep this a well grooved date.

Self produced; 2023; times not indicated.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Ulysses Owens Jr. And Generation Y; A New Beat

If on occasion you're looking for a boppy, bluesy, soulful band in the spirit of the Adderley brothers, vibrant drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. has assembled a group bringing the groove directly into your welcome ears. I would assume that all of the players are young cats because all the names on this date are new to me. Cannonball's “Sticks” gets the session off to a rousing start and the power and punch never really lets up. The outstanding solo work is fiery and passionate throughout. Make no mistake about that. Most of the tunes are originals by heroes like Louis Armstrong, Jackie McLean, Roy Hargrove, Ray Bryant, George Cables, and more. This is tough guy jazz at its finest. A state of the art blowing session where every player is a star. Dig it! 

Cellar; 2024; appx. 53 min.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Vanisha Gould And Steve McCarthy

I can't explain it but I know it when I hear it. That to me is the difference between a jazz singer and a pop singer (even a good one). Without question, Vanisha Gould is a jazz singer. You can hear it from the opening of Bernstein and Sondheim's “Cool”. To this real deal singer, add the tasty, intimate piano of  Chris McCarthy, and you have something warm and personal. One look at some of the titles here and you'll understand that Vanisha Gould has done her homework. How about “What A Little Moonlight Can Do”, “No Moon At All”, “Monk's Dream”, and a couple of rarities in McCoy Tyner's “Aisha” and a stunning ballad done long ago by Billie Holiday called “No More”. Vanisha Gould is the jazz singer personified and Chris McCarthy provided accompaniment a la perfecto! Don't miss out on this one.

Fresh Sound New Talent; 2024; appx. 38 min.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Jill McCarron; Gin

If you're Jill McCarron and you're looking for something to raise your listeners' eyebrows on your CD, how about bringing in Vincent Herring on alto and tenor sax and Michael Brecker on trumpet? Well that's exactly what groovy pianist McCarron did. Of the thirteen tracks played here, Herring appears on four and Brecker on just one. McCarron herself is a bluesy, boppy, altogether terrific leader and pianist who chooses a number of rarely heard tunes by heroic players from the past. For example, there's Horace Silver's “The Jody Grind”; Kenny Dorham's “Monaco”; Gene Harris' “Blue Bells”; Bill Evans' “Waltz For Debby”; Junior Mance's “Jubilation”; plus some sophisticated originals by McCarron and various sidemen. Jill McCarron has it all at her fingertips. I'm convinced she's headed for a lengthy career, playing so exquisitely.

Jazz Bird Records; 2024; appx. 59 min.