Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Interplay Jazz Orchestra "On The Sunny Side"

Here is yet another big band to turn your head. The Interplay Jazz Orchestra is based out of Long Island, New York and has earned high marks for its invigorating arrangements and its exciting sound. Co-led by trumpet ace Gary Henderson and trombone maven Joey Devassy, this sixteen-piece juggernaut presents an eleven-tune display of well crafted musicianship and impressive arranging and solo work. Most of the tunes are enduring standards like the title tune, "On The Sunny Side Of The Street", as well as evergreens such as "Caravan", "Time After Time", "Tangerine", "Invitation", and a personal fave, "I'll Close My Eyes". Among the originals, I was most impressed with Devassy's sensitivity on his ballad called "Broken". All in all this CD provides further proof that there are exceptional though under recognized players virtually everywhere.
Self-produced; 2018; times not indicated.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

On! Jordon Dixon

Tenor sax man Jordon  Dixon leads an energetic quartet through its paces on eight compositions, adding trumpet player J.S. Williams on two additional selections. All ten are Dixon's originals. He provides very nice balance in tempos with high wire swinging material and some thoughtful ballad work as well. Clearly, it should be noted that Dixon takes a cue from the soulful segment of alto AND tenor players---names like Cannonball Adderley, Stanley Turrentine and Eddie Harris, to name a few. As a result it follows that while this music has more than a hint of hard bop in its offerings, there is also the ever present blues on board here as well. No pretense, no overkill here. Instead you'll find the soul-drenched Dixon in fine company, in what might be called a modern day blowing session.
Self-produced; 2019; appx. 58 min.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Rich Walker "Lazybird Revisited"

Once in a while I encounter a recording from the past that I was previously unaware of. And when they're as good as this one, I like to bring them to the attention of my readers, hoping of course that they can score a copy floating somewhere on the internet. Formerly a resident of Orlando, Rich Walker is now a Portlander, and you should watch out for local gigs starting to materialize. On this session Walker joins forces with a bevy of Orlando cats for a Blue Note-like gathering of originals featuring mind blowing soloists, excellent "real deal" writing, and a high spirited, hard bop approach. Walker at times displays his profound leaning toward the blues, and even sings a bit here and there. Put simply, Rich Walker's guitar is right there alongside the best in the business.
Self-produced; probably 2003; times not indicated.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Five Play, featuring Sherrie Maricle "Live From The Firehouse Stage"

If you're a student of jazz history you're probably aware of the female bands that dotted the landscape, mostly in the heyday of big bands. Well, that phenomenon survives to this day. In fact, Sherrie Maricle has led such groups for quite some years. Before you dismiss this as some kind of novelty, give these gals a listen. These are well-honed players with experience and massive chops. And they swing big time. The tunes are primarily originals by various band members. Melodies are well stated, solos are spot on, and there's a joyful feeling throughout in this live performance. Incidentally, the standards here are Duke's "Just Squeeze Me"; Van Heusen's hit for one Frank Sinatra, "Nancy With The Laughing Face"; and an etched in marble standard, "I Can't Give You Anything But Love." Solid sounds all the way. That's the order of the day, and Sherrie Maricle and friends fill it with pleasure for all.
Self-produced; 2019; appx. 66 min.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Philadelphia Heritage Art Ensemble "Crossing The Bridge 2"

The city of Philadelphia has contributed numerous outstanding jazz musicians over the course of many years. This superb sextet is led by trumpet master Fred Adams. The trippy thing is that these guys succeed in combining the bop tradition with a wholesome lyricism and first class arranging. Of the seven selections heard here four are Adams originals. The solo work is always ear-catching, distinguished and often quite unique. For the record two of the remaining tunes are from the great tenor hero Hank Mobley, and the remaining one is by trumpet icon Lee Morgan. The Philadelphia Heritage Art Ensemble may be traveling a familiar road but they find fresh and new ways to take us on their journey.
Heritage Sound; 2018; times not indicated.