Archive for savant records

My Best Jazz Albums of 2018 – The Complete List

Posted in Best Jazz Albums of 2018 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 28, 2018 by curtjazz

Yeah. I know. I’ve been away from the blog since, well, since my last year-end review.

It’s been quite a year folks. A lot of time on the road and a lot of “spare” time devoted to getting CurtJazz Radio back up, running and viable. But you didn’t come here to hear my problems. In the midst of it all, I did manage to hear a good amount of music. Some not so good and some that was very good, to excellent. Those in the latter category are included in the list below.

They are in alphabetical order, by album title. I’ve divided the projects into Instrumental and Vocal. I also wanted to recognize a couple of outstanding EPs, so I did. Each title includes a link that will take you to a place where you can purchase the music, if you feel so moved.

At the bottom of the post are three CD length Spotify playlists, which will give you a chance to sample a track from most of the albums/EPs on our list.

Tracks from all of these albums and EPs will be featured on CurtJazz Radio, from now, through the end of January 2019. CurtJazz Radio, on, is always on and always FREE. Click HERE to listen.

I will try to not be such a ghost in 2019.


Album Title Artist Label
All in My Mind Dr. Lonnie Smith Blue Note
Armor of Pride Black Art Jazz Collective HighNote
Both Directions at Once John Coltrane Impulse
Christian McBride’s New Jawn Christian McBride Mack Avenue
Concentric Circles Kenny Barron Quintet Blue Note
Diamond Cut Tia Fuller Mack Avenue
Exiled Thandi Ntuli Ndlela Music Co.
Future is Female Roxy Coss Posi-Tone
Get It How You Live Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra Ropeadope
Heaven and Earth Kamasi Washington Young Turks
In Common Walter Smith III; Matthew Stevens Whirlwind
In Real Time John Bailey Summit
In the Moment Pat Bianchi Savant
Interstellar Adventures Theo Hill Posi-Tone
Introspection Roni Ben-Hur and Harvie S Jazzheads
Jazzland Tim Warfield Criss Cross
Live from San Pedro Jeff Hamilton Trio Capri
Love Stone JD Allen Savant
Master’s Legacy Series; Vol. 2Emmet CohenCellar Live
Modern Flows; Vol. 2 Marquis Hill PR
Movement Kobie Watkins Grouptet Origin
Origami Harvest Ambrose Akinmusire Blue Note
Pardes (Orchard) Amos Hoffman & Noam Lemish CD Baby
Remember Love Houston Person and Ron Carter HighNote
Straight Forward New Faces Posi-Tone
Telepathy Christopher Hollyday CD Baby
Warriors for Peace E.J. Strickland Quintet JamminColorS


Album Title Artist Label
Art Market Sasha Masakowski Ropeadope
Genius of Eddie Jefferson Allan Harris Resilience
Looking at the Moon Allegra Levy Steeplechase
Math Camp Lorraine Feather CD Baby
My Mood is You Freddy Cole HighNote
Some of That Sunshine Karrin Allyson CD Baby
Sung with Words Helen Sung CD Baby
Unbroken Tiffany Austin Con Alma
Waiting for the Sunrise Camille Thurman Chesky
The Window Cecile McLorin Salvant Mack Avenue


Title Artist Label
Alfred Sergel IVtet Alfred Sergel Self-Release
G8S Giacomo Gates 9th Note

Best of the Carolinas

Title Artist Label
Cola Jazz II Cola Jazz Jangly
The SeekerThomas TaylorSelf Release
Shanghai Decade Sean Higgins Trio Self Release
Playlist #1
Playlist #2
Playlist #3

Album Review: J.D. Allen – Grace

Posted in CD Reviews with tags , , , on July 8, 2013 by curtjazz

The following review first appeared in the July 2013 issue of Eric Nemeyer’s Jazz Inside Magazine.

J.D. Allen

j.d. allen

GRACE – Savant Records SCD 2130  Mass; Load Star; Chagall; Luke Sky Walker; Grace; Detroit; Cross Damon; Pole Star; Papillion 1973; Selah (My Refuge); The Little Dipper

PERSONNEL: JD Allen, tenor saxophone; Eldar Djangirov, piano; Dezron Douglas, bass; Jonathan Barber, drums

By Curtis Davenport

On Grace, his seventh album as a leader, saxophonist J.D. Allen has made a few changes. He has a new bassist and drummer with Dezron Douglas and Jonathan Barber replacing longtime cohorts Gregg August and Rudy Royston. He also has expanded the group from a trio to a quartet with the addition of the celebrated young Russian-born pianist Eldar Djangirov. What thankfully, has not happened is a change in the quality and style of the music. Douglas and Barber have fallen right into place as if they had been playing alongside Allen for years. And Djangirov has done something that many pianists cannot, that is, blended with the group’s musical style rather than alter it.

Allen has been recording without a pianist since 2008. His output over that time period has been consistently good; marked by his inventive bursts on the tenor on tunes that averaged about 3 ½ minutes. His discs were high energy affairs that stretched the boundaries of tradition to their breaking point without bursting them. I find him to be the best sax player in the trio format since Sonny Rollins. But if you’ve got to add a pianist, young Mr. Djangirov proves to be the one for the job. I had my doubts since in his own recordings, Djangirov has so far shown a proclivity for playing long albeit technically impressive solos designed to display his speed and dexterity. Fortunately, he has brought those tendencies under control here. He gets where Allen is going and he then enhances what is happening. Djangirov solos are relatively brief and pointed but no less striking than those in his solo work. The pianist appreciates that less is often more and when he is not soloing, he is as likely to lay out as he is to comp behind Allen. The result is an exciting young group with a sound that recalls the Classic Coltrane Quartet circa 1965, just before their breakup. Allen, like Trane, is at times almost begging to go “out”. Djangirov, like Tyner, is helping to keep the saxman grounded and Douglas and Barber create incredible rhythms. The result is exhilarating for the listener, with very little excess. Tracks still clock in at an average of 5:30. There has been a little expansion for the additional instrument but Allen and company still manage to avoid the self-absorbed meandering that plagues many of today’s recordings.

The selections, all Allen originals, are divided into two “acts”, as if a play or musical. Though the liner notes explain the significance of each composition to the overall “narrative”, I never got the feeling that this “story” was essential to the performance or the subsequent enjoyment of the music. Grace is a fine piece of modern jazz, whatever the back story.

I did have a number of favorite tracks; “Chagall”, a piece which moves around skittishly as if it is one of its namesake’s paintings come to life. I love Djangirov’s comping here, which recalls McCoy behind Coltrane on “My Favorite Things”. “Luke Sky Walker” featuring some energetic playing from Allen as he is being “chased” by Djangirov is also strong.  “Cross Damon” which with its mournful beginning, suggests Coltrane’s “Alabama”, before Barber kicks it into high gear and Allen joyfully follows his lead; as if to say “the time for mourning is over, let’s celebrate”. Barber is a terrific young drummer. I had never heard him before this album but I will pay attention from now on. “Papillion 1973” is a favorite for two reasons: Djangirov’s solo which is one of his strongest on the album and also that it evoked memories of one of Steve McQueen’s finest performance on film. Finally, “Selah (My Refuge)”, is the most traditional piece on the album. Allen’s tenor is bluesy is gorgeous and Djangirov provides appropriately understated counterpoint. It’s a calming place to come and reflect after being taken on an exhilarating ride.