Archive for the Video Vault Category

Best Jazz Vocals of 2017 (Part 2): A Closer Look

Posted in Best Jazz Albums of 2017, CD Reviews, Video Vault with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2018 by curtjazz

Happy New Year, everyone.

Well, this didn’t work out the way I intended.

ori dagan nathanielI posted my “Best of; Pt. 2”, list a couple of weeks ago, fully expecting to follow quickly with comments on each of the albums. This vicious strain of the flu that is out this season, had other ideas. The last thing I will say about Flu 2017/18, is I haven’t had any bug knock me out like that in at least 20 years. It’s real, it’s quick, and it’s strong; so please take care of yourselves.

Now back to the Music – The five best jazz vocal albums that I heard during the last half of 2017, in alpha order by album title:

 

Code Noir – Carmen Lundy (Afrasia)

Another brilliant work from this vocal master, Code Noir (which takes its title from the infamous French colonial slave laws) is a lush and dreamily soulful album. Don’t let the ethereal qualities lull you into a false sense of relaxation, lest you miss some of the most poignant lyrical messages of Ms. Lundy’s career. The marvelous Patrice Rushen is on the keys, reminding those who may have forgotten, that she is far more than just “Forget Me Nots”. The underrated Jeff Parker plays some dynamite guitar.  Listen once (or twice) for the lyrics, then let yourself get lost inside of the marvelous instrument that is Ms. Lundy’s voice. There’s not another one like it today in jazz.

Dreams and Daggers – Cecile McLorin Salvant (Mack Avenue)

I must keep reminding myself that she is not yet 30 years old. But that’s a frightening statement because it’s also a reminder that, as good as she is, Cecile McLorin Salvant, has still not yet reached her pinnacle. This is her first live album (mostly recorded at the legendary Village Vanguard), a two-disc set and there’s not a dud in the bunch. She is wondrously accomplished, self-assured, captivating and funny and often, she is all of these things, at once. I also loved the fact that there are very few tired old warhorses; Ms. Salvant mines the songbooks of Bob Dorough, Langston Hughes, (a hilariously raunchy) Bessie Smith, and the quirky, tongue in cheek sides of Broadway scores. And she makes them all her own. I will also no longer compare her, even favorably, to some of her legendary forbearers, for Cecile McLorin Salvant, has arrived, on her own terms.

Grace – Lizz Wright (Concord)

I would love this album, if only for the fact that it once and for all, reclaims Allen Toussaint’s wonderful “Southern Nights” from that crude and misguided megahit Glen Campbell version, after forty years. But there’s so much more here.  On her own work, Ms. Wright consistently delivers a beautiful and deeply personal amalgam of jazz, gospel and bluesy folk music. I’ve been listening intently since her impressive 2003 debut, Salt and she has never been better than she is on Grace. It is a starkly beautiful and majestic work of art, with songs by artists as diverse as Ray Charles, Bob Dylan and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. If you love the sacred or the secular, you will be completely filled with Grace.

Nathaniel (A Tribute to Nat King Cole) – Ori Dagan (Scat Cat)

There were higher profile vocal tributes to the great “King” Cole in 2017 but none were better than this surprising effort from the up and coming Canadian baritone. Ori Dagan keeps proceedings fresh by using his customary sense of humor and by adding 5 of his own compositions, most of which are quite good. In fact, a couple fit in so well, that I assumed that they were quirky, novelty rarities from the King Cole Trio’s heyday, until I read the liner notes. Mr. Dagan also wisely avoids anything that would even approach a perceived impersonation of one of the great voices and stylists of the 20th Century. So, what do we get? We have one of the unique talents of contemporary jazz singing, bringing us his interpretation of some tunes closely and not-so-closely associated with the legend. I like what he was going for, and overall, I loved how it turned out. Plus, he’s got the estimable Sheila Jordan, guesting on a delightful take of “Straighten Up and Fly Right”. Even a Cole fan like me, couldn’t ask for much more.

Rendering – Kellye Gray (Grr8)

This album by this husky-voiced vocalist has the most interesting backstory of any on this list: In 1989, Kellye recorded Standards in Gray, her debut album, for Justice Records, a small Houston area label (I loved many of their releases). It received good press and sold relatively well. However, when Justice fell on hard times, the album went out of print. In 2015, 25 years after Standards in Gray’s release, Ms. Gray gained ownership rights to her album. She decided to crowd-fund and produce a live concert/album, in tribute to the original album, including new recordings of some of the tracks on Standards… The result is the terrific Rendering, a 2 CD set, that includes the new live recordings and a copy of the first album.

Ms. Gray had escaped my notice, until this package arrived at my door. Suffice to say, I am very impressed. While Standards in Gray, is a portrait of a young, big voiced singer, with loads of promise, Rendering, shows us that in the ensuing 25 years, Kellye Gray has made the transition from earnest singer to jazz vocalist. That wonderful instrument of hers has developed nuance and a certain bit of inimitability. She has learned her way around and through a song; which makes the live album, very compelling and worthy of multiple listens.  The arrangements are first rate, as are her sidemen, including the late drummer Sebastian Whittaker, who played on the first date and poignantly, in one of his last recordings, on the live album as well. If your new to Ms. Gray (like me), my advice is to start with these two albums and work your way back. There’s a lot of fine music there.

And those are my five vocal favorites for the 2nd half of 2017.

A reminder, these were my selections for the 1st half of the year:

You can click HERE to read my post about that Fab Five.

Now that the flu is almost behind me, I’ve got a lot of posting to catch up on. Next will be the Instrumental album for the second half of the year.

Tracks from these albums and more can be heard on the new CURTJAZZ RADIO, our 24/7 jazz radio station, on the new Live365.com.

Stay healthy, my friends!

Birthday Video Tribute: Thelonious Monk is 100!

Posted in Video Vault with tags , on October 10, 2017 by curtjazz

Thelonious Sphere Monk…

The name is synonymous with jazz. His quirky and hip look (the suits! the glasses! the hats!), is synonymous with jazz, his style of speaking, his impromptu dancing, his compositional style, with its melodic dissonance and odd twists, all are the epitome the music and its singular lifestyle.

Don’t Blame Me 

IMO, Monk is jazz’s greatest composer, next to his idol, Duke Ellington. Artists of all ages and abilities have performed some of his music: “‘Round Midnight”; “Straight, No Chaser”; “Epistrophy”; “Pannonica”; “Ruby, My Dear”; “Well, You Needn’t” and so many more of the classics of jazz.

I Mean You

Thelonious Sphere Monk, Jr., was born 100 years ago, in Rocky Mount, NC on October 10, 1917. He died on February 17, 1982, at the home of his dear friend, Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter. Many others, who are far more qualified, have written so much more about Monk, so I’m just going to share four video clips of some great live performances, featuring his longtime saxman Charlie Rouse, drummer Ben Riley and others.

Rhythm a Ning

Happy 100th Birthday, Monk! Thank you for all the gifts that you gave us.

‘Round Midnight

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz: Interactive Playlist 5/18/17 (Final Show)

Posted in Charlotte Community Rado, CLTC Playlists, Jazz in Charlotte, JazzLives!, Video Vault with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2017 by curtjazz

JazzLives_Logo225Our final show on Charlotte Community Radio was Thursday, 5/18/17. I decided to have no guests that evening and just to concentrate on sharing the music with the audience one more time. It was truly, a bittersweet occasion.

Though Charlotte Community Radio is no more, JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz will be back. We are working on a couple of avenues right now and we expect to be back on the air, either terrestrially or on the web, by the fall. Until then, I will be with you in this space, stepping up my blog game again and doing all that I can to keep jazz alive.

As with the previous playlists, this one includes a recording of the show, a full list of the tracks played and some video clips of the songs played that caught my eye.

Keep swingin’, y’all!

 

TRACK TITLE ARTIST(S) ALBUM LABEL
The Common Ground Kenny Burrell Blues – The Common Ground Verve
Yes or No Wayne Shorter Juju Blue Note
Tu, Yo Y Mi Flauta Adrian Crutchfield Private Party CD Baby
Billie’s Bounce George Benson Giblet Gravy Verve
On the Sunny Side of the Street John Michael Bradford Something Old, Something New CD Baby
I Know You Know Esperanza Spalding Esperanza Heads Up
Searching Roy Ayers Evolution: Polydor Anthology Polydor
I Just Wanna Live Buff Dillard (feat. Nicci Canada) I Just Wanna Live (single) Self-Release
Dizzy’s Dashiki Poncho Sanchez / Terence Blanchard Chano y Dizzy Concord
Chitlins Con Carne Kenny Burrell Midnight Blue Blue Note
Brother Thelonious Helen Sung Anthem for a New Day Concord
Easy Going Amos Hoffman Back to the City Self Release
The Party’s Over Leslie Odom, Jr. Leslie Odom, Jr. S-Curve
Sweet Summer Love Eugenie Jones Come Out Swingin’ Self-Release
Killer Joe Quincy Jones Walking in Space A&M
Sonny’s Playground George Coleman A Master Speaks Smoke Sessions
Love You Madly Natalia M. King Bluezzin’ ‘til Dawn Challenge
I’m an Old Cowhand Sonny Rollins Way Out West Contemporary
Freight Trane Amanda Monaco Glitter Posi-Tone
This Here Theo Hill Promethean Posi-Tone
Isfahan Dayna Stephens Gratitude Self-Release
Everything I’ve Got Belongs to You Nicki Parrott Dear Blossom Arbors
Project S Jimmy Heath Big Band Turn Up the Heath Planet Arts
It’s You Or No One Joris Teepe & Don Braden Conversations Self-Release
Arietas Farnell Newton Back to Earth Posi-Tone
Song for My Father (feat. Gregory Porter) Louis Hayes Serenade for Horace Blue Note
Tell Me Something Good Deep Blue Organ Trio Wonderful! Origin
Nefertiti Joel LaRue Smith The Motorman’s Son Self Release
Blind Man, Blind Man Herbie Hancock My Point of View Blue Note
Why Don’t You Do Right? Jeanie Bryson Some Cats Know Telarc
E Preciso Perdoar Sasha Masakowski Wishes CD Baby
Doc’s Holiday Sean Jones Live from Jazz at the Bistro Mack Avenue

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz: Interactive Playlist 3/30/17 (with Amos Hoffman)

Posted in Charlotte Community Rado, CLTC Playlists, Jazz in Charlotte, JazzLives!, The Jazz Continues..., Video Vault, Who's New in Jazz with tags , , , , , on June 2, 2017 by curtjazz

amos hoffman collageOn the March 30 edition of JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz, on Charlotte Community Radio, we were fortunate to have as an in-studio guest, the brilliant guitarist/oudist, Amos Hoffman.

We discussed Amos’ influences, the jazz scene in his native Israel, New York and in the Carolinas, where he currently resides. We also played most of the tracks from his most recent album, Back to the City and as a special treat, Mr. Hoffman played some live in studio performances.

In this interactive playlist, we have included a link to the entire broadcast, the full list of tunes for the evening, clips of three of the in-studio performances and the official video for “Brown Sugar”; an infectious and compelling track from Mr. Hoffman’s 2010 album, Carving 

For more information on Amos Hoffman and his upcoming performances, visit his website: www.amoshoffman.com  To purchase a copy of Back to the City (CD Baby), click HERE. To purchase Carving (iTunes) click HERE.

 

TRACK TITLE ARTIST(S) ALBUM LABEL
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes Amos Hoffman Back to the City CD Baby
Easy Going Amos Hoffman Back to the City CD Baby
After Lazy Noon Amos Hoffman Back to the City CD Baby
Alone in South Carolina Amos Hoffman Back to the City CD Baby
Little Pigs Amos Hoffman Back to the City CD Baby
Pannonica Amos Hoffman Back to the City CD Baby
Back to the City Amos Hoffman Back to the City CD Baby
Blue Silver Pat Bianchi A Higher Standard Self-Release
Senor Blues Giacomo Gates Fly Rite Sharp Nine
The Outlaw Blue Note 7 Mosaic: A Celebration of Blue Note Blue Note
Monie (feat. Donald Harrison) John Michael Bradford Something Old, Something New CD Baby
Fortress Mark Whitfield Grace Self-Release
Soul Sister Warren Wolf Convergence Mack Avenue
My Shining Hour Tia Fuller Decisive Steps Mack Avenue
Doodlin’ Manhattan Transfer Vibrate Telarc
Homecoming Shamie Royston Portraits Self-Release
Hi-Fly (feat. Jon Hendricks) Sachal Vasandani Hi-Fly Mack Avenue
Fred’s Blues Brent Rusinow Old Guy Time Self-Release
Wake-up Call Jesse Davis As We Speak Concord
Music in the Air Jon Hendricks A Good Git-Together Pacific Jazz
Taiji Camp Keith Davis Trio Still CD Baby
Day Dreaming Roy Ayers Red, Black and Green Polydor

JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz: Interactive Playlist – 5/4/17

Posted in Charlotte Community Rado, CLTC Playlists, Jazz in Charlotte, JazzLives!, Video Vault, Who's New in Jazz with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2017 by curtjazz

Jazzmeia-Horn-A-Social-Call 225The penultimate edition of JAZZ LIVES!!! with CurtJazz on Charlotte Community Radio, featured mostly new releases. There has been a lot of great new music released in 2017 and I wanted to share as much of it as possible before wrapping it up. I had to drop in a Sonny Rollins classic and a few others, like the one from a few years back from my man, Etienne Charles and Chaka with Echoes of an Era ’cause they were totally in my head. But the majority of the love went to the new stuff, such as the sublime debut disc by Ms. Jazzmeia Horn and the striking groove of Nightintales, the latest release from that daughter of jazz royalty, Ms. China Moses.

There’s a link to the entire program below and video clips of a few of the tracks as well. Hope y’all dig it!

 

 

TRACK TITLE ARTIST(S) ALBUM LABEL
Sweet Georgia Brown Ori Dagan Less Than Three Self-Release
Karma Joey DeFrancesco Project Freedom Mack Avenue
Disconnected China Moses Nightinales MPS
I Told You I Love You Giacomo Gates Centerpiece Origin
La Cancha Eddie Palmieri Sabiduria Ropeadope
Old Men Sing the Blues Kevin Mahogany The Vienna Affair Cracked Anegg
The Aviator Bobby Watson Made in America Smoke Sessions
Take the Coltrane Kevin Eubanks East West Time Mack Avenue
Spanish Steps LCJO (feat. Jon Batiste & Wynton Marsalis) The Music of John Lewis Blue Engine
Tight Jazzmeia Horn A Social Call Prestige
Armando’s Song Christian Sands REACH Mack Avenue
Tatra Hermon Mehari Bleu Unlabeled
Soy Califa Allegra Levy Cities Between Us SteepleChase
O Pato Eliane Elias Dance of Time Concord
Black Enough Somi Petite Afrique Okeh
Take the A Train Echoes of an Era Echoes of an Era Elektra
Little Sunflower Ed Cherry Soul Time Posi-tone
Haitian Fight Song Akua Dixon Akua Dixon Self-Release
What a Difference a Day Makes Akiko Tsuruga Sakura American Showplace
Straighten Up and Fly Right Nnenna Freelon & Take 6 Soulcall Concord
Pandora’s Box Jeremy Pelt The Talented Mr. Pelt HighNote
Cinderella Poncho Sanchez Ultimate Latin Dance Party Concord Picante
Camera Eyes Behn Gillece Dare to Be Posi-tone
Surrey with the Fringe on Top Sonny Rollins Newk’s Time Blue Note
That’s Not Your Donut Champian Fulton Speechless CD Baby
Kitch’s Bebop of Calypso (feat. Lord Superior) Etienne Charles Kaiso Culture Shock
Down By The Riverside Christian McBride Trio Live at the Village Vanguard Mack Avenue
RED! Josh Lawrence Color Theory Posi-tone
Make America Great Again! Delfeayo Marsalis Make America Great Again! Troubador Jass
Breathless Terence Blanchard Breathless Blue Note
Central Line Art Hirahara Central Line Posi-tone

“Goodbye” – Jazz Musicians We Lost in 2015 (Part 2 of 2)

Posted in In Memoriam, Video Vault with tags , , , , , , on December 31, 2015 by curtjazz

As the year comes to a close, let’s remember a few more of the jazz  musicians that passed away this year. Instead of my insufficient words, we will let their artistry speak for them:

Mark Murphy (Vocals)

Lew Soloff (Trumpet)

Clark Terry (Trumpet, Vocals)

Allen Toussaint (Piano, Vocals, Composer)

Phil Woods (Saxophone)

We will be playing the music of these great artists throughout January 2016 on Curt’s Cafe Noir. Click HERE to listen.

 

“Goodbye”: Jazz Musicians we lost in 2015 – Part 1 of 2

Posted in In Memoriam, Video Vault with tags , , , , , , , on December 31, 2015 by curtjazz

As the year comes to a close, let’s remember a few of the jazz (and influential blues) musicians that passed away. Instead of my insufficient words, we will let their artistry speak for them:

Bob Belden (Saxophone, Composer, Arranger, Producer)

Marcus Belgrave (Trumpet)

Ornette Coleman (Saxophone)

Wilton Felder  (Saxophone, Bass)

B.B. King (Guitar, Vocals)

We will be playing the music of these great artists throughout January 2016 on Curt’s Cafe Noir. Click HERE to listen.