In polls and reviews, readers and critics have converged to name Kurt Elling the most accomplished male jazz vocalist of his generation. So now it comes down to how good he’ll ultimately become–a question only partly answered on the new Nightmoves, due April 3 on Concord. The disc brims with his best pure singing yet: […]
Charles Mingus was a paradigm-shifting bassist, a volatile bandleader, and a quite readable author. But it’s his skill as a prolific and visionary composer, of everything from tough and tender ballads to rollicking jazz anthems, that has allowed the Mingus Big Band to remain fresh and viable for the past 15 years. Though Mingus did […]
What do these four albums have in common? Organ genius Gary Versace.
Among the wind instruments typically used in jazz, the trombone–essentially a giant slide whistle–might be the most challenging when it comes to intonation. Luckily for trombonists, jazz listeners have learned to accept a degree of imprecision from the instrument–which makes the pinpoint virtuosity of Conrad Herwig stand out all the more. In every generation there’s […]
When Green Mill owner Dave Jemilo bought a second Hammond B-3 last year, he must have had nights like this in mind: the city’s two leading jazz-organ men going head-to-head, pedals to the metal. Dueling organs come up a lot less often than almost any other instrumental matchup, since a single B-3 (with its multiple […]
Even when he plays in a straight-ahead band, virtuosic twentysomething trumpeter Maurice Brown can’t turn his back on the electric funk and hip-hop that have shaped his generation of jazz players. And when he sails outside the mainstream–as he does with this new sextet–those influences make the trip intoxicating. Soul’d U Out gives full vent […]
Chicago guitarist Henry Johnson’s Organ Express–a tight-as-Scrooge quartet that includes organist Chris Foreman, saxist Peter Roothaan, and drummer Greg Rockingham–is the perfect band for the first week of winter: nothing says heat (let alone sweat) like organ jazz, which took root in the chilly urban soil of Philadelphia, Buffalo, Detroit, and Chicago. For Sunday’s New […]
Over the course of four decades, protofusion guitarist Larry Coryell has made some extraordinarily dynamic music, some extraordinarily unfocused music, and some music that managed to be both at once. But he’s aged gracefully: playing songs from the Great American Songbook, folk-blues standards, and his jazz-rock originals, he brings a unique phrasing–brittle on the surface […]
With a style at once massive and ornate, McCoy Tyner easily commands a place among the ten most influential pianists of postbop jazz. Both Tyner and Impulse Records came of age through their association with John Coltrane: Tyner played in Coltrane’s classic quartet, and the label released Coltrane’s pioneering records of the early 60s (an […]
Middle-of-the-road doesn’t have to mean middling.
Kali Z. Fasteau first got noticed in the mid-70s while working with her husband, Chicago-born bassist Donald Rafael Garrett (who died in 1989), but she’s since made a name for herself on her own. Though primarily a saxophonist, she plays piano, cello, percussion, and various Asian instruments too–and also runs Flying Note, the label that’s […]
The May-December collaboration between tenor saxist Eric Alexander and veteran pianist Harold Mabern, 32 years his senior, began more than a dozen years ago, and it remains one of the most fruitful relationships in mainstream jazz. (It probably helps that both spent their early 20s in Chicago, absorbing the city’s hard-charging, blues-inflected approach to improvisation.) […]
Though he only just turned 22, pianist Taylor Eigsti can almost pass as a jazz veteran. His latest CD, Lucky to Be Me (Concord), is his fifth release, and on it he does what veterans do: tries out different material and new approaches that refresh what has already become a distinctive instrumental voice. The album […]
Take a mix of funk and hip-hop rhythms laced with New Orleans street beat, slather it in tried-and-true harmonies for five horns, and keep it airy enough to incorporate Basie-style riffs and Balkan counterpoint. Voila, Skerik’s Syncopated Taint Septet–a hearty hybrid of latter-day rhythms grafted to jazz melodies and chords. Anchored by Hammond organ and […]