An Afternoon In Gowanus (Jazzkey Records), by the Frank Perowsky Jazz Orchestra, is a father/son affair. Frank, the father, 83, is a rock star, so to speak. Besides playing an elegant clarinet (dig that solo on the 1940 Ellington classic, “Do Nothing ‘Til You Hear From Me”), and a silk tenor sax, he wrote four and arranged all nine. The son, drummer/producer Ben Perowsky, solos briefly but madly on Dizzy Gillespie’s 1947 “Two Bass Hit.” Frank played for 40 years in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra besides putting time in with Chico O’Farrill and Woody Herman. He came to New York City from Iowa in 1953 and after graduating Juilliard never stopped working.
Frank loves pianist Bud Powell (1924-1966) who he used to go see regularly at Birdland. His sax solo on “Bouncin’ With Bud” is the result of two harmonized Powell piano solos and, as such, is the album’s highlight.
In 2015, drummer-composer Vinnie Sperrazza released Apocryphal. Juxtaposition followed, but now the far-reaching drummer-composer has taken the same musicians from 2015 for Hide Ye Idols (Loyal Label), a complex, dense, meandering adventure of avant-garde proportions. A patchwork of influences permeates the project by the Vinnie Sperrazza Apocryphal. Not all of them are musical. Loren Stillman (alto sax), Brandon Seabrook (rock star guitar), Eivind Opsvik (Jaco bass) and those ever-present Sperrazza drums punctuate this free-wheeling devil-may-care carnivalesque funhouse of a CD.
The music is as clear and accessible to hear as his cover picture is to see. Opener “Sun Ra” is for the visionary bandleader who claimed a trip into outer space changed his music forever. “People’s History” is for the Howard Zinn book of the same name that brought Americans together through their common experiences through the decades. Sperrazza felt that after the surrealistic 2016 presidential election, his music had to reflect the “disturbing” times we live in and “the rising tide of right-wing fascism” resulting in what he feels in this track “is the sound of resistance.” That sound is brought to the fore via producer Geoff Kraly’s modular synthesizer programming.
Little Giant Still Life (Greenleaf Music), by trumpeter/composer/producer/arranger Dave Douglas, is a worthy addition to his 50+ albums as a leader. Douglas is yet another musician horrified by what happened in last November’s election. The music conveys the feelings of amazement, fear, disgust, resolute resistance and ridiculousness, all in 12 original instrumentals. The sound is spectacularly creatively original: five brass players plus drums.
Philadelphia drummer Anwar Marshall is constantly pushing, prodding and poking the music forward. His has a daring syncopation. He also has the kind of chops where one can only marvel how far out he’ll go before returning to the beat like a surfer saved from crashing into the shore by a whoosh of wave. Listening to Marshall in this context is positively invigorating.
The Westerlies are a brass quartet of two trumpets and two trombones. They are preternaturally attuned to each other’s every tic, breath and stutter to the point of profound chemistry. Douglas takes full advantage of this as his own trumpet shimmies, wiggles and wags throughout their avant-march to create a sense of the unexpected.
Inside Turnabout by the Lupa Santiago & Anders Vestergard Quartet on Drum Voice Records is a nine-track, two-country symposium. Brazilian guitarist Lupa and Swedish drummer Anders have each brought a friend from their home country: sax man Rodrigo Ursaia (Brazil) and bassist Mattia Hjorth (Sweden, where this was recorded). The result is a challenging change-of-pace, 49:23 of left turns, super-cool unexpected rocky bumps in the road (which always seems to occur when a drummer leads or co-leads a band), swirling rhythms and intoxicating solos. The follow-up to their 2015 Lisbon Sessions, Inside Turnabout mixes up salsa and samba in a Latin blender of percolating poly-rhythms that move and groooooooove in true jam-band glory.
Lyn Stanley’s effervescent voice can adjust to modes of sultry, yearning, in-charge or vulnerable depending on the song. The Moonlight Sessions: Volume #2 (A.T. Music LLC) succeeds even more than its predecessor because of her 14 song choices. While she’s not above opening with Eddie Cantor’s 1928 “Makin’ Whoopee,” she’ll throw a curve ball into the mix by imbuing Janis Ian’s 1975 “At 17” with the kind of world-weary cynicism yet hopeful aplomb that only one who has experienced alienation first-hand can deliver. Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 “Smile” might be overly sentimental, but “The Summer Knows,” from one of 1971’s best movies, The Summer Of ’42, is right on time. In Stanley’s hands, such beloved chestnuts as “The Very Thought Of You,” “That Old Feeling,” “Over The Rainbow,” “How Deep Is The Ocean” and “Since I Fell For You” are well-constructed and satisfyingly conveyed.
Yeah, man, those Saints Are Still Marching, according to The Eric Byrd Trio featuring Terell Stafford & Tim Warfield on their new self-released, co-self-produced nine-track jazz-gospel CD sub-titled “Sacred Music Volume #1” (their eighth over-all). The trio — Eric Byrd, piano; Bhagwan Khalsa, bass and Alphonso Young, Junior, drums — have been gigging around the world for 20 years as Kennedy Center/United States State Department Jazz Ambassadors for the U.S. Embassy. They deal out the swing, bebop and blues as naturally as they draw breath, and with the addition of two mighty horn men (Stafford on trumpet and Warfield on sax), do justice to pieces like “Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho” (1865), “Ain’t That Good News” (1940) and “When The Saints Go Marching In” (1896). These are heavyweights, the trio has collectively played in the bands of Wynton Marsalis, Randy Brecker, Fathead Newman, Sonny Fortune and Boston’s own Rebecca Parris (one of America’s secret vocal treasures, check her out).