From the opening moments of its recent CD Thrum, the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet throws its cards on the table. Attitude and refined sound are the driving forces here. Even the first percussive beats that herald the strut through Harlem—the first movement of Daniel Bernard Roumain’s Ghetto Strings—are nuanced, a combination of tap, stroke, and pound. This is delicious playing.
The proficient fusion master and boss guitarist John Scofield has been perfecting his brand of jazz/rock and fusion for more than 40 years, beginning with his early association with Miles Davis, who Scofield credits for keeping his sound both current and accessible.
Out Here (Mack Avenue) is a seriously entertaining and musically affecting trio record from monster bassist Christian McBride that also serves as a splendid introduction to two of the best up-and-coming players in jazz, pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. The Philadelphia-born McBride, whose solo career launched in 1995 with Getting To It (Verve), has sideman credits on over 300 recordings in addition to ten of his own as leader, but this is his first trio recording.
Johannes Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem Berlin Philharmonic, Thomas Quasthoff, Dorothea Röschmann, Simon Rattle
It starts in regions below your feet where basses and cellos and violas dwell, this irresistible lava-stream of a requiem. With none of the thundering fear of Verdi’s, it begins in blessing and ends in comfort. Brahms chose the biblical texts himself, in German, and told a friend it might simply be called a “human Requiem.” Emphasizing peace over judgment, only Death is judged, leaving all else to glow with life.
Creole Soul flaunts a polished groove, heavy on the beats and the bass, that dares you to try to sit still. Trinidad-born trumpeter Etienne Charles is the man behind the sound, a uniquely fired up combination of calypso and modern jazz that reflects his musical upbringing.
Many people hear the word "Creole" and immediately think of New Orleans. So it's easy to look at bandleader/trumpeter Etienne Charles’ new album, Creole Soul, and assume it's full of traditional jazz or New Orleans-style trumpet. This is not the case, as Charles’ background (and playing) is actually the true epitome of Creole.
The Wunderkind has come of age! Gustavo Dudamel, the young, Venezuelan conductor known for his flashy and energetic performances with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, and, since 2009, as music director with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has turned in a deeply considered performance of Gustav Mahler’s profoundly personal symphonic statement. The recording captures the 32-year-old (31 at the time of this live concert recording) tackling repertoire conductors 20 years his senior are just now finding themselves ready to take on.
Noah Preminger is a saxophonist of consequence, fully deserving of the positive critical response and appreciative audiences that flock to his appearances around New York and elsewhere. His relaxed, low-key leadership style on the bandstand offers up an easy-going vibe and he hosts his gigs with an affable charm. As a performer, Preminger is all in, sporting a sweetly burnished tone that smacks of classic tenor out of the Ben Webster or John Coltrane tradition, but Preminger speaks his own modern language that’s fresh and exciting.