Thursday, December 20, 2012

Top 10 of 2012

Here are ten albums I enjoyed this year:

1. Romain CollinThe Calling (Palmetto)
The French pianist blends the sounds of an acoustic piano trio with subtle electronic effects/samples on a set of original compositions and songs by Horace Silver and John Mayer.

2. Pat MethenyUnity Band (Nonsuch)
A collection of nine original songs by the celebrated guitarist in a quartet setting featuring saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Antonio Sanchez. This is the first time Metheny has released a recording featuring tenor saxophone since 1980's classic 80/81 which showcased the talents of the late Michael Brecker and Dewey Redman. Here's hoping he doesn't wait another thirty years to do it again.

3. Donny McCaslinCasting for Gravity (Greenleaf)
An incredible hybrid of jazz and contemporary electronic music, this album sounds like nothing I've heard before.

4. Kurt Rosenwinkel Star of Jupiter (Wommusic)
A double album of the guitarist's original material featuring a quartet comprised of pianist/keyboardist Aaron Parks, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Justin Faulkner. It's great to hear Revis and Faulkner, best known for their work in saxophonist Branford Marsalis' quartet, in a completely different context.

5. & 6. Brad MehldauOde/Where Do You Start (Nonesuch)
This year the pianist and his long-standing trio released two albums culled from the same recording sessions. Ode is a collection of eleven Mehldau originals while Where Do You Start features jazz classics by Clifford Brown and Sonny Rollins interspersed with pop songs made famous by Jimi Hendrix, Soundgarden, Sufjan Stevens, Nick Drake and others.

7. Dave Douglas Quintet - Be Still (Greenleaf)

A beautiful collection of hymns and folk songs with a personal connection to the trumpeter. Vocalist Aoife O’Donovan is featured on several tracks including the touching opener "Be Still My Soul."

8. Mike Moreno - Another Way (World Culture Music)
The guitarists second release of all original composition features pianist Aaron Parks, vibraphonists Warren Wolf & Chris Dingman, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Ted Poor & Jochen Rueckert.

9. Ben Wendel - Frame (Sunnyside)
Kneebody saxophonist's second release features nine original tunes - as well as a duo arrangement of "Con Alma" - performed by pianists/keyboardists Gerald Clayton, Tigran Hamasyan & Adam Benjamin, guitarist Nir Felder, bassist Ben Street and drummer Nate Wood.

10. Christian Scott - Christian aTunde Adjuah (Concord)
The trumpeter continues to develop his own compositional style with a lengthy collection of original music that melds multiple musical genres.

What were your favorites this year?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Tribute to Michael Brecker 5

This morning I went on Bill McCann's "Saturday Morning Edition of Jazz" on WCDB 90.9 FM to pay tribute to Michael Brecker. Today's four hour program marked the fifth year of annual tributes to the late  saxophonist.

This year I broke the program into four segments featuring Michael's playing with the Brecker Brothers, his work with Steps (Ahead), his solo albums and his work as a sidemen in the 70's, 80's and 90's.

Here's what was played:

“D.B.B.” (4:51) 
CD:  Brecker Brothers - The Brecker Brothers (1975)
Track:  #9
Composer:  Randy Brecker
Randy Brecker (trumpet), David Sanborn (alto sax), Bob Mann (guitar), Don Grolnick (keys), Will Lee (bass), Harvey Mason (drums), Ralph McDonald (percussion)

“Grease Piece” (5:50)
Brecker Brothers - Back to Back (1976)
Track:  #7
Composer:  Randy Brecker
Randy Brecker (trumpet), David Sanborn (alto sax), Steve Khan (guitar), Don Grolnick (keys), Will Lee (bass), Christopher Parker  (drums), Ralph McDonald (percussion)

“Squids” (7:45)
Brecker Brothers - Don’t Stop the Music (1977)
Track:  #4
Composer:  Randy Brecker
Randy Brecker (trumpet), Steve Khan, Hiram Bullock (guitar), Don Grolnick, Doug Riley (keys), Will Lee (bass), Steve Gadd (drums), Ralph McDonald (percussion)

Inside Out” (9:31)
Brecker Brothers - Heavy Metal Bebop (1978)
Track:  #2
Composer:  Randy Brecker
Randy Brecker (trumpet), Barry Finnerty (guitar), Neil Jason (bass), Terry Bozzio (drums)

Tee’d Off” (3:44)
Brecker Brothers – D├ętente (1980)
Track: #4
Composer: Michael Brecker
Randy Brecker (trumpet), Hiram Bullock (guitar), George Duke (synth), Mark Gray (fender Rhodes), Neil Jason (bass), Steve Jordan (drums)

“Bathsheba” (6:00)
Brecker Brothers - Straphangin’ (1981)
Track:  #3
Composer:  Michael Brecker
Randy Brecker (trumpet), Barry Finnerty (guitar), Mark Gray (keys), Marcus Miller (bass), Richie Morales (drums), Don Alias (percussion)

“Sperhical” (5:58)
Brecker Brothers - Return of the Brecker Brothers (1992)
Track:  #9
Composer:  Michael Brecker
Randy Brecker (trumpet), Mike Stern (guitar), George Whitty (keys), Will Lee (bass), Dennis Chambers (drums), Don Alias (percussion)

“The Nightwalker” (8:44)
Brecker Brothers - Out of the Loop (1994)
Track:  #8
Composer:  Michael Brecker
Randy Brecker (trumpet), Dean Brown (guitar), George Whitty (keys), James Genus (bass), Steve Jordan (drums), Steve Thornton (percussion)

“Not Ethiopia” (10:59)
CD:  Steps Ahead Smokin in the Pit (1980)
Track:  Disc 2, Track #2
Composer:  Michael Brecker
Mike Mainieri (vibes), Kaumi Watanabe (guitar), Don Grolnick (piano), Eddie Gomez (bass), Steve Gadd (drums)

“Kyoto” (6:59)
Steps Ahead - Step by Step (1980)
Track:  #2
Composer:  Mike Mainieri
Mike Mainieri (vibes), Don Grolnick (piano), Eddie Gomez (bass), Steve Gadd (drums)

“Patch of Blue” (7:50)
Steps Ahead Paradox (1982)
Track:  #3
Composer:  Mike Mainieri
Mike Mainieri (vibes), Don Grolnick (piano), Eddie Gomez (bass), Peter Erskine (drums)

“Islands” (6:23)
Steps Ahead Steps Ahead (1983)
Track:  #3
Composer:  Mike Mainieri
Mike Mainieri (vibes), Eliane Elias (piano), Eddie Gomez (bass), Peter Erskine (drums)

Original Rays” (9:04)
Michael Brecker – Michael Brecker (1987)
Track: #6
Composer:  Michael Brecker, Mike Stern, Don Grolnick
Pat Metheny (guitar), Kenny Kirkland (piano), Charlie Haden (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Chime This” (7:50)
Michael Brecker – Don’t Try This At Home (1988)
Track: #2
Composer:  Don Grolnick
Mike Stern (guitar), Don Grolnick (piano), Charlie Haden (bass), Adam Nussbaum

Never Alone” (5:36)
Michael Brecker – Now You See It … Now You Don’t (1990)
Track:  #4
Composer:  Michael Brecker
Jim Beard (keyboards), Victor Bailey (electric bass), Omar Hakim (drums), Don Alias (percussion)

Slings and Arrows” (6:20)
Michael Brecker – Tales From The Hudson (1996)
Track:  #1
Composer:  Michael Brecker
Pat Metheny (guitar), Joey Calderazzo (piano), Dave Holland (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)

How Long ‘Til the Sun” (7:39)
Michael Brecker – Two Blocks From The Edge (1998)
Track:  #7
Composer:  Michael Brecker
Joey Calderazzo (piano), James Genus (bass), Jeff “Tain” Watts (drums)

Arc of the Pendulum” (9:00)
Michael Brecker – Time Is Of The Essence (1999)
Track:  #1
Composer:  Michael Brecker
Pat Metheny (guitar), Larry Goldings (organ), Elvin Jones (drums)

Incandescence” (5:21)
Michael Brecker – Nearness of You – The Ballad Book (2001)
Track:  #6
Composer:  Michael Brecker
Pat Metheny (guitar), Herbie Hancock (piano), Chalie Haden (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Night Jessamine” (5:23)
Michael Brecker Quindectet – Wide Angles (2003)
Track:  #5
Composer:  Michael Brecker
Alex Sipiagin (trumpet), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Peter Gordon (french horn), Steve Wilson (flute), Iain Dixon (clarinet & bass clarinet), Charles Pillow (oboe & English horn), Mark Feldman (violin), Joyce Hammann  (violin), Lois Martin (viola), Erik Friedlander (cello), Adam Rogers (guitar),
John Patitucci (bass), Antonio Sanchez (drums), Daniel Sadownick (percussion)

Loose Threads” (8:34)
Michael Brecker – Pilgrimage (2007)
Track:  #8
Composer:  Michael Brecker
Pat Metheny (guitar), Herbie Hancock (piano), John Patitucci (bass), Jack DeJohnete (drums)

Freight Train” (11:28)
Jack Wilkins – Merge  (1978)
Track:  #9
Composer:  Tommy Flanagan
Randy Brecker (trumpet), Jack Wilkins (guitar), Phil Markowitz (piano), John Burr (bass), Al Foster (drums)

Ethereggae” (8:23)
John Abercrombie – Night (1984)
Track:  #1
Composer:  Jan Hammer
John Abercrombie (guitar), Jan Hammer (keys), Jack DeJohnette (drums)

Thieves in the Temple” (17:42)
Herbie Hancock – The New Standard - Live in Japan (1996)
Track:  #2
Composed by Prince
John Scofield (guitar), Herbie Hancock (piano), Dave Holland (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), Don Alias (percussion)