Tierney Sutton is a singularly modern chanteuse. She pairs the bright, articulate pitch of a cabaret vocalist with the guts of a jazz singer, one with a strong instinct for improvisation and rhythm. On her tenth recording, a tribute to singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell, After Blue stands out as one of Sutton’s most personal and revealing projects. She divulges that Mitchell’s Both Sides Now album is an important and favorite recording and considers it to be equal in stature to Sinatra’s Wee Small Hours album and Billie Holiday’s Lady In Satin.
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.
There’s a matter-of-fact dignity to the bass saxophone, a horn of magnificent size and heft that produces the lowest notes from a brass instrument, that makes for a comfortable fit for the six foot, seven inch saxophonist Brian Landrus. A prodigious writer and bandleader originally from Reno, Nevada, the saxophonist started playing tenor sax in his teens with the Coasters and the Drifters, two bands that schooled the young Landrus in R&B, soul and pop music styles.
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.