East meets West in this delicious fusion of jazz, world, rock, prog, soundtrack (for a movie that doesn't exist) and engaging instrumental Euro-Pop. There's no telling where it will take you until you go there...and you find yourself wanting to return. 'Istanbul Underground' (Nublu Records), by Ilhan Ersahin's Istanbul Sessions, is like walking out of your hotel room onto the main thoroughfare of the Turkish metropolis, closing your eyes and breathing it all in.
Drummer Jack DeJohnette, 73, has played on more ECM records than any other musician. Why, then, is the 'In Movement' ECM debut of his new trio with tenor/soprano/sopranino saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and electric bassist/electronics master Matthew Garrison major jazz news?
Last year, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) proclaimed Carla Bley, 80, a Jazz Master. This year sees the release of her highly-anticipated trio CD, 'Andando el Tiempo' (ECM) with bassist Steve Swallow and saxophonist Andy Sheppard, two leaders in their own right, who have kept this trio functioning for 20 years as Bley's main outlet for her compositions and piano playing.
Josh Davidson is The Mighty Orq. The Houston-based singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer/arranger/bandleader has been at it for 13 years. On his Connor Ray Music debut, he leads his band-drummer/percussionist/mandolinist Jimmy Rose, organist/pianist/accordionist Barry Seelen and bassist Terry Dry right smack dab into 'Love In A Hurricane.'
The Mark May Band just might take you to 'Blues Heaven' (Connor Ray Music). May's a ball-buster. His licks were honed by playing with Dickey Betts. Add The Soul Satyr Horns and a few special guests and 'Blues Heaven' is definitely a place you want to be.
The Blind Boys Of Alabama had been at it for 57 years before 'Spirit Of The Century' garnered them their first Grammy Award as 2001's "Best Traditional Soul Gospel Performance." Taking such popular fare as "Just Wanna See His Face" (Rolling Stones), "Way Down In The Hole" (the Tom Waits theme to "The Wire"), "Give A Man A Home" (Ben Harper) as well as classics like "Amazing Grace" and "Motherless Child," the 10-track album was a jewel, a long out-of-print jewel. Until now.
Restroy is a 10-headed monster of epic proportions. Their 'Saturn Return' (Milk Factory Productions) is an exquisite trip through modernistic experimentation that always seems to gel and come out on top. Nothing goes awry. Recorded in Chicago and Virginia, it features local players from both geographical locales. Call it pop-chamber music.
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Oklahoma drummer Scott Neumann, 54, and California saxophonist Tom Christensen, 55 relocated to New York City in the late '80s, became known by gigging out a lot, formed a quartet with guitarist Pete McCann and bassist Phil Palombi, called the band and CD Spin Cycle (Sound Footing Records), yet separated themselves from the glut by including the grunge-punk "Smart Aleck" right smack dab in the middle of nine other originals.
Singer/songwriter Cason Fentress has had a long and circuitous journey but with the self-release of 'Clear Cool,' he has finally found himself amid what could have easily been a ruined life, hampered by alcoholism, meningitis and divorce. Sure, it took him a little longer to get here but 'Clear Cool' is the type of 5-song EP that leaves one hungering for what he could possibly do over the course of a full-length.
Get ready to take off as Canada's prog-jazz trio Myriad3, for its third CD, sets its sights on the heart of the 'Moons' (Alma Records). If 2012's 'Tell' and 2014's 'The Where' were any indications, 'Moons' is where they want to be: packed with surprise, voluptuous weirdness, classical gas and an eccentric eclectic no-holds-barred vision of instrumental music run amok.
On 'Lead Belly's Gold,' Eric Bibb teamed up with French blues-harpist JJ Milteau in tribute to folk giant Lead Belly [1888-1949]. Now, 'The Happiest Man in the World' (Stony Plain), has Bibb wandering off into the English countryside with North Country Far and bassist Danny Thompson for one of the best CDs of 2016 so far.
There's no telling where Rocco John Iacovone will go. The sax man studied under Lee Konitz and Sam Rivers. In the case of the latter, John has successfully taken the Rivers dictum (if they can't understand it, go even further!) and whittled away at it, sanding it down, putting on a coat of varnish, to ultimately let his listeners alternately swoon and get excited. 'Embrace The Change' (Unseen Rain Records) is more than a CD title. It's good life advice.
Inspired by 'When We Were Very Young' by A.A. Milne, a book of poetry read to his mom by his grandmother, then read to him by his mom, then read to his daughter by him, composer/bandleader Patrick Cornelius plays alto and soprano sax plus flute in this, his sixth CD. 'While We're Still Young' (Whirlwind) consists of six wholly entertaining and highly recommended tracks stitched together as a suite.
Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista adds his snap, crackle and pop to this heavy underground dub CD of slinky beats called Sunshine Seas by New Zion on RareNoise Records. Jamie Saft-composer, producer, keyboards, guitars, electric bass-leads this quilt of a quintet through a patchwork of ancient yet futuristic sounds, glued together by electronics. It's a bumpy trip smoothed out by the blips and bleeps of what used to be known as microtonal dance music.