Bassist Brian Bromberg has come Full Circle on his new 11-track Artistry Music CD. Opening and closing with his dad’s old Tucson combo, Brian, through the magic of tape, has recorded himself playing bass with his father. (The dad, Howard Bromberg, suffered a fatal stroke prior to the son becoming such an incredible bass player.) He’s so good that the guitar sounds on the record are actually Brian playing them on a piccolo bass like Stanley Jordan. And since he used to play in Arturo Sandoval’s band, he got the Cuban trumpeter here as well as garnering three sax men, three pianists and percussionist Alex Acuna for a deeply swinging session. Highlight? Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” is a real showstopper.

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The Socrates Garcia Latin Jazz Orchestra is Back Home on its new Summit Records release. Since big-bands, by their cumbersome expense to tour, died out decades ago, the might and majesty of such has been lost to a few deprived generations. This 20-member big-band not only fills the bill but adds some downright spectacular charts—Latin Style!—to its program. Highlight? The three-track closer—“Dominican Suite For Jazz Orchestra”—snaps, crackles and pops in all the right places.

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Wynton Marsalis is, for sure, his generation’s Duke Ellington. Nowhere has that been made manifest more than on The Abyssinian Mass (Blue Engine Records) by the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis featuring Damien Sneed and Chorale Le Chateau. When Ellington’s Black, Brown & Beige came out in 1958, there were those who scoffed at the idea of combining jazz and classical with the gospel of vocalist Mahalia Jackson. Now it stands as one of America’s most cherished recordings. Marsalis wrote this Mass as an extended work a la Duke. Unfortunately, it is marred by the inclusion of Reverend Dr. Calvin Butts III whose proselytizing gets a bit much. Still, you don’t have to be a believer to enjoy this erudite mash of gospel, soul, pop, jazz and classical. The beautiful packaging comes complete with two CDs, one DVD and some great prose with pictures and a libretto. World Class.

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On Angel’s 11, Canadian blues belter Angel Forrest has written 11 songs, one each for the 11 different guitarists who flesh out her vision. It’s her ninth album in 27 years and she doesn’t have to sound like Janis anymore. Forrest found fame by emulating Joplin north of the border to the point where she just had to come out with Angel Sings Janis Live. No more. Here, she playfully goads her string-men on to heights that culminate in a bitch-fest worthy of such long-ago and far-away divas of the blues as Big Mama Thornton [1926-1984], Koko Taylor [1928-2009] and Etta James [1938-2012].

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The self-titled CD from Groove Legacy is actually more of a defrocked funk affair that robs the funk of its oomph. Sure, these guys are all professionals attuned to the groove for years. It’s just that this sounds safe…like mall funk lightly heard has you’re dying to get out of the mall while your wife keeps on shopping.

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We need more sax men like Tom Tallitsch. On Gratitude (Posi-Tone Records), with his piano/bass/drums/organ quintet, he makes great jazz out of Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman,” Lennon/McCartney’s “Because” and Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You.” Dude’s a teacher, clinician and tutor out of Princeton who works with autistic kids. Way to go.

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David Fiuczynski is the guy from Screaming Headless Torsos. The fact that SHT has been around since 1989 is testament to their underground draw. But now it’s time to really go out on a limb. Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian MicroJam (RareNoiseRecords) combines actual exotic bird calls, hip-hop producer J Dilla’s “flam beats,” French classical composer Olivier Messiaen [1908-1992], ancient Japanese court music as well as the searing tone of hotshot New York City alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa (whose Bird Calls was one of last year’s best jazz CDs). It’s certainly not easy-listening. Just cool as all hell.

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