Thursday, March 18, 2010

Recommended listening: Brad Mehldau "Highway Rider"

In 2002, pianist Brad Mehldau teamed up with pop producer Jon Brion to produce Largo - an incredibly influential jazz/rock crossover album that successfully combined spontaneous improvisation with pop production values.

Eight years later the two have reconvened to produce Highway Rider - a fifteen song double album featuring Mehldau's regular trio of bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard augmented by saxophonistJoshua Redman, drummer Matt Chamberlin and a chamber orchestra.

The music melds the duo's previous jazz/pop hybrid with a decidedly classical influence featuring Redman's saxophone improvisations floating seamlessly over the top. My favorite music is the kind that takes me on a journey when I close my eyes, and this album certainly qualifies.

Take a listen for yourself - Highway Rider by Brad Mehldau

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Recommended listening: John Ellis & Double-Wide "Puppet Mischief"

Brooklyn-based saxophonist John Ellis has released a second album featuring the band he calls Double-Wide.

Puppet Mischief features the talents of Brian Coogan on organ, Matt Perrine on sousaphone and Jason Marsalis on drums, plus special guests Gregoire Maret on harmonica and Alan Ferber on trombone.

As has been the case on his past few releases, all of the compositions are by Ellis. He continues to seamlessly blend myriad influences with a great sense of humor. Seriously, how many jazz musicians do you know that would pose with two puppets on their album cover? Imagine the highbrow ethos of NYC jazz mixed with the party spirit of New Orleans street bands and you'll start to get an idea of what this music sounds like.

Check out Puppet Mischief for yourself and let me know what you think - Puppet Mischief by John Ellis & Double- Wide.

By the way, Double-Wide played to a small but enthusiastic crowd at Red Square in Albany last Thursday night. Click here for J Hunter's review, here for photos by Andrzej Pilarczyk or here for photos by Al Brooks - all on