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 Tuesday, 06 October 2015
New and Notable
Lizz Wright: "Freedom And Surrender" (Concord, 2015) PDF Print
Written by Kevin O'Connor   


Another artist from the cover school is Lizz Wright, though that term is neither fair nor accurate with her latest recording, Freedom And Surrender.

Circular would be a good word to describe the career arc of Ms. Wright. She was signed by Verve Records in the early 2000’s during the late phases of the great Diana Krall fallout. Stylistically she couldn’t be more opposed. She went on to a modest career in Pop and R & B and is just now back in the jazz crossover realm at Concord Records.

John Pizzarelli: "Midnight McCartney" (Concord,2015) PDF Print
Written by Kevin O'Connor   

Though most of us balk when we hear others say it, Jazz is predominately cover music. These two words are sure to start a bar fight with practitioners and fans in the know. In truth, the music is at its best when players offer unique improvisations of works composed by others.   When it comes to the beloved music of The Beatles, many jazzers tend to play it safe and go the pure cover route. This is certainly true of John Pizzarelli in his latest Midnight McCartney recording.

London/Meader/Pramuk/Ross: "The Royal Bopsters" (Motema) PDF Print
Written by Kevin O'Connor   


ImageSometime after receiving my 11,932nd copy (unsolicited) of vocal jazz standards, I became a bit jaded. Be mindful this was the last time Bob Dole was on a Presidential ticket. While I would never discourage a musical venture of any kind, my tolerance for tuneless warbling through “I Thought About You” reached a saturation point long ago.  When a vocal venture makes it to the audition player, it’s usually because there’s a mitigating factor or two.

Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo: "Swing Zing!" (Self-Produced) PDF Print
Written by Kevin O'Connor   

ImageA good guitarist can strum up a storm in any genre. A great guitarist can sound like a one-man orchestra who seems to effortlessly glide from style to style without giving much thought to idioms.  Such a player is Frank Vignola.  For decades, Vignola has been a master of all music, especially acoustic swing, classical and jazz. He flies under the radar with much of the mainstream in spite of or maybe due to these chameleon-like tendencies. 

George and Chico Freeman/Michael Gibbs and the NDR Big Band PDF Print
Written by Kevin O'Connor   

 July is rapidly becoming a month for the books. Having cleansed myself with a trip to the Rockies, I returned to the usual piles of material on my desk. Here are just a couple I couldn’t wait to devour:


George and Chico Freeman:  All in the Family (Southport)

ImageOnce in a while, the toils of a Music Director in a jazz station present a challenge. That is, every so often a recording comes along that simply blows me away but isn’t quite, in the parlance of the industry, a “radio friendly record.” Such is the case with an intimate new tribute album from the venerated first family of jazz in Chicago, the Freemans. The focus of this gem is on revered saxophonist Von “Vonski’  Freeman, who left us in 2012. Von was a true denizen of the City of Big Shoulders, having inspired countless players from Chicago.


Robert Glasper: “Covered” (2015, Blue Note) PDF Print
Written by Kevin O'Connor   

ImagePianist Robert Glasper is that all-too rare jazz musician who manages to reel in a respectable and growing crowd of jazz fans. More significantly perhaps, he also resonates with the hip hop and electronica crowd, particularly the ones who like a little substance and grit in their pop. There’s barely anything in the way of new composition on Covered, hence the title. The glaring exception is “Got Over.” Glasper  shares writing credits with no less than Harry Belafonte, who also appears on the track. The other original clocks in at thirteen minutes: “In Case You Forgot.”  It’s an opus unlike any he’s recorded to date. He also joins the ranks of pianists like Brad Mehldau in showing reverence for Radiohead, Joni Mitchell and other pop noteworthies.  

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