A little night music, please. Actually, there's a lot of it to enjoy on this beautifully conceived and performed two-disc set dedicated to the art of the piano nocturne. The French word means "nocturnal" or "of the night." Though far from being lullabies, these single movement miniatures typically do begin and end softly and reflectively. But like an evening’s sleep interrupted by a bad dream or bout of insomnia, there is often much restlessness and turmoil within.
A serious-minded jazz pianist and A-list player, Orrin Evans is a strong talent from Philadelphia who joins a long line of jazz musicians that come from the City of Brotherly Love. Since his debut recording in 1994, Evans’ resume reveals an ever-growing list of ambitious achievements as a recording artist, producer, bandleader, composer and teacher. And his current numerous groups include the Captain Black Big Band, Tar Baby, LuvPark, the LikeMind Collective and more side man gigs on record and in performance than one can count.
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.