First Listen: Back At The Chicken Shack


Earlier this months I did a First Listen of the Jimmy Smith album Back at the Chicken Shack. I live tweeted the experience which you can see below.

Now that I’ve had another week with the album I’d like to give you some more thoughts on how I feel about this album. 

Overall I’ve liked the album more with each listening of it I’ve done. Minor Chant has grown on me more especially the solo by Jimmy Smith. Kenny Burrell destroys “Messy Bessie” and I’ve appreciated his contributions to this album more and more after each listen. I still like the first two tracks more than the rest of the album, but that gap has decreases significantly. 

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this album and it has really grown on me in the past week. Still not my favorite Jimmy Smith record, but I can absolutely recommend the album and will be listening to it more and more as time goes on. 

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Best of August 

Another month of music! This month is honestly not as deep as other months this year have been, but I still found plenty of quality albums. Let’s get into the list.

 

Blind Cinema- Blind Cinema 

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Blind Cinema’s self titled album is my favorite album of August. has some of my favorite melodies and grooves of the year. Fantastic string writing on here. Highly recommend “Objectos ennegrecidos”. Simply beautiful.

 

Tyshawn Sorey- Verisimilitude  

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Tyshawn Sorey’s music is very “out”, but if you’re okay with that this album will be an enjoyable experience. Highly recommend listening to “Flowers for Prashant” and “Contemplating Tranquility”.

 

 

The Gareth Lockrane Big Band- Fistfight at the Barndance

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I’ve been a fan of Gareth Lockrane’s music for a few years now. His latest album Fistfight at the Barndance is quickly become my favorite album by the Flautist/ composer. Love the arrangements and it’s refreshing to hear him solo over the Big Band. I usually preface any mention of Big Bands  on this blog with a line like  “I’m not normally a fan of big bands, but this album…” , but recently I’ve noticed Big Band albums are making regular appearances on my Best Of lists. Maybe I’m going through a phase? Does a love for Big Band music develop over time? Are better Big Band albums being released? Who knows, but check this album out either way!

 

That’s all for this month. A short and sweet list. I really like all three of these albums and recommend each one so check them all out. Until next time, Thank you for staying in The Jazz Loop.

Favorite Record labels

I listen to a lot of jazz music. While doing so I’ve discovered that there are certain labels who have a style that I connect with/ intrigue me so I thought I’d share some of my favorite record labels releasing music today.

Okeh:

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I like Okeh because they are with Sony. Having an association with such a big company is good for jazz and ensures the economic stability for the label. Okeh definitely embraces streaming so all their music is accessible to virtually everyone. Their rosters is absolute stacked with acts such as Dee Dee Beidgewater, Theo Crocker, and Kurt Elling just to name a few. You’ve probably already been listening to some of the latest Okeh records already, but if you haven’t done so I highly recommend checking out their latest releases.

Ropeadope Records

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This is one of the most diverse and “out” labels in all of jazz. Lots of different styles of music are incorporated in virtually every  release of Ropeadope Records. Revolutionary acts such as Snarky Puppy, Terrance Martin, and Spare Parts all call Ropeadope Records home. Still skeptical? Check out their Spotify playlist which has some of their best music from 2016. https://open.spotify.com/user/ropeadope99/playlist/50xOg3jzDpXMnLz1BUuHh2?si=diV6p75Y
Blue Note

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Blue Note is iconic. Some of the most important releases in Jazz history have come from Blue Note and artists like Robert Glasper continue to carry on that tradition. If I had to ensure that one record label would be around forever this would have to be the one. Please keep supporting Blue Note Records and Blue Note artists.

 
ECM

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I like ECM and I also can’t stand them. They have some of the best releases in all of jazz, but they make it so hard to support and listen to them. The albums are all expensive with no online streaming presence. It’s so annoying and I think it handicaps the artists by not giving them maximum exposure. Still, there is something charming about resisting the digital age even if it means you are losing money.  I also like how each ECM record is numbered. So even though they can be completely different artists they are categorized and organized as part of the ECM vision. Another positive for ECM is their album covers. Every ECM album cover is a work of art and has a unique style to it. I can usually tell if an album is released by ECM just by looking at the cover. Support ECM as much as you can, but carefull. It can get pricey.

So there you have it! These are some of my favorite record labels around today. Do you have a favorite record label? Did I not mention it? Leave a comment below and let me know which record labels I should be checking out.

First Listen: The Genuis of Electric Guitar 


August 7th I did a First Listen of the album The Genius of Electric Guitar by Charlie Christian. I live tweeted the experience which you can see below. 

Now that I’ve had another week or so to listen to the album is like to give you my final thoughts. 

I’m very surprised I liked this album. I knew of Charlie Christian prior to this Listening, but only heard him on a handful of recordings. In general I’m not a fan of traditional jazz music. I don’t like Dixieland, New Orleans jazz, or big band music. However, there are always exceptions to our preferences and this album is an exception. I highly recommend this album and will absolutely be going back to it for years to come. If you’re pressed for time or skeptical, check out stand out tracks like “Grand Slam” “Six Appeal” or “Blues in B”. 

Best of July 

Here we go with the best albums from the Month of July.

Charles Lloyd New Quartet: Passin’ Thru 

My favorite album of the month. Amazing that this album consists of live recordings only. This is some top notch traditional jazz music. Only 7 tracks, but over an hour long this is sure to be an album I’ll be going back to throughput the year. 
John Pizzarelli: Sinatra and Jobim @ 50

Fantastic jazz album from the Guitarist and vocalist. You hear his authenticity and passion for this music on this record. I highly recommend this album for anyone who is even remotely interested in Sinatra or Jobim. I find his singing/ humming charming while he solos though I’m sure it will annoy others. Love the track “Agua de Beber”. 

Stanton Moore: With You In Mind

An all star cast joins Stanton Moore on this album. This album is a tribute to the late Allen Toussaint and I feel it’s a fitting one. It’s a fantastic mix of vocal and instrumental music. It perfectly captures the energy of a bumping jazz club and all that makes New Orleans great. 
The Best of the Rest:

Terrance Martin Presents: The Pollyseeds 
Benny Greb: Gregfruit2

Best of June

Although I’ve already done a Best of the year post. I didn’t focus on June yet so let’s focus on that today.
Fabian Almazan & Rhizome- Alcanza

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From the very beginning the energy and intensity of this record is evident. The Alcanza Suite is the primary focus of this album, however tunes like “La Voz de un Piano” and “La Voz de un Banjo” are not to be ignored. This album is my favorite of the month, and I can’t recommend it enough, it’s utterly beautiful.
Brooklyn Raga Tribute- Coltrane Raga Tribute

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Large ensemble music and rearrangments of Coltrane classics, what’s not to love? Tunes like “Central Park West” are done especially well on this record. It’s hard to make songs I’ve heard played hundreds of times sound refreshing and new, but Brooklyn Raga Tribute accomplish this in Coltrane Raga Tribute.
Jack DeJohnette – Hudson 

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Another great project by Jack DeJohnette. He has essentially a super group here that works together superbly. I really love Scofield’s playing on tunes such as “Woodstock” and “Wait Until Tomorrow”.
Best of the Rest: 

Ariel Pocock- Living in Twilight 

Denys Baptiste- The Late Trane 
That’s all I have for June. 3 top albums and a couple of honorable mentions. Any June releases you felt were omitted? Send me a comment below or in any of my social media sites. I’ll be sure to listen to all considerations.

Best Jazz Albums of the Year So Far

Lots of great music has come out this year and I’ve worked my tail off on shrinking this list to about 15 albums of the year candidates. The albums are not presented in any order. However, I do begin with my favorite album of the year. Let’s get into the list.

Jacopo Ferrazza Trio – Rebirth 

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This January  I absolutely adored this album. I really loved the title track “Rebirth”  and thought the arrangements and melodies were beautiful on this album. I felt this album would grow with me over time and it has. This is now my favorite album of the year so far.

 

Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau – Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau 

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Fantastic duo record, great communication and improvisation taking place here. One of my favorite tunes is “Scarlet Town”. Great combination of Americana and Jazz.

 

Kneebody- Antihero 

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Hard hitting mix of jazz, fusion, rock, and everything in between. “For the Fallen” really sets the tone for this album and the title track “Anti-Hero” is one of my favorite tunes this year. Great music for working out or starting the weekend.

 

Billy Childs- Rebirth

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The second album with the title  Rebirth to make this list. This one has a classic jazz sound. I love tracks like “Stay” just a hauntingly beautiful piano into and when the vocals come in, it stabs you in the heart.

 

Bryan and the Aardvarks- Sounds From the Deep Field 

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This album has a grandiose, larger then life feel. It’s a large ensemble with an even larger sound.  Opening track “Supernova” and “Bright Shimmering Lights” are prime examples of this.

Diego Barber- One Minute Later 

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I didn’t know anything about Diego Barber prior to this album, but he has my attention now. As many of you knwo, I’m not the biggest fan of jazz guitar, but here Diego Barber is nothing short of magnificent. Fantastic melodic development and solos that have direction and not just endless noodling. Highly recommend checking this one out. “Atlas” is a highlight for me.

 

Mark De Clive – Live At The Blue Whale EP

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Okay, so technically an EP and not an album, but this just connected with me so strongly that I had to include it. Listen to the opening track “Evergreen” and see if you agree with me.

 

Nate Smith- KINFOLK: Postcards from Everywhere

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While these albums are in no particular order I will say that this one was very close to being my favorite of the year so far. The compositions are beautiful, Nate Smith’s drumming is so refreshing, and the heartfelt meaning and overall concept for the album is well put together. I love “Mom: Postcards From Detroit/Floyd/Salem” and “Retold” being played back to back.

 

Marialy Pacheco: Duets

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This album grooves so hard. The best interaction between two musicians I’ve heard all year. Nothing else to say. Go listen to it today.

 

Anat Cohen & Marcello Gonclaves- Outra Coisa 

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Love me some Anat Cohen! This album features the music of Moacir Santos and is another fantastic duo record for 2017.

Continue reading “Best Jazz Albums of the Year So Far”

First Listen: One Step Beyond 

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Earlier this month I did a First Listen of the Album One Step Beyond by Jackie McClean. For this project I listen to an album for the first time and I live tweet my thoughts and reactions to it. Afterwards I write up a blog post showing those tweets and some closing thoughts on the album after a week or so of listening to it. Below are the tweets 

I’ve done a “First Listen” on five albums and this was by far my most enjoyable experience. I instantly connected and enjoyed this album. From front to back I was engaged, energized, and feeling the grooves. I new little to nothing about this album prior to doing this “First Listen” and I was pleasantly surprised with how good One Step Beyond” is. I can’t recommend this one enough. It’s a must buy.
Quick note that I will be releasing my “Best Album of the Year So Far” post on June 12th so be sure to check that out. I’m working really hard on it and currently have over 30 albums in contention and the list is growing by the minute. Any albums you’d like to see on the list? Let me know in the comments below. And until next time, Thank you for staying in The Jazz Loop.

Joe Henderson: Power to the People 

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I’ve been wanting to do a deep dive on this album since the first time I listened to “Black Narcissist”.  For one reason or another it’s been years and I still haven’t listened to this album from front to back. So I amended this issue this month and would like to share my thoughts on the album Power To The People.

The album begins on an incredibly high note with “Black Narcissist” definitely my favorite track on the entire album. I love the 3/4 time signature, love the slash chords and the melody cuts like a knife through this harmony. It’s just a brilliant tune, an instant classic and a jazz standard.

The following track “Afro- Centric” is  also a jazz standard and was really quite a progressive tune for the time. This tune shows where jazz was heading, lots of electronics, funky rhythms and experimental “out” soloing. I like this track, but I don’t live it. I feel like the general population embraces this tune more than I do.

This album is rather short at 7 tracks so I won’t go into every one of them in depth. I will say that all tunes fall into 2 categories. Out experiential jazz, or mother traditional jazz music. If you cut this album in half into 2 EP’s you would have two dramatically differ works. In general I’m more of a progressive experimental jazz person, but on this album I tend to like the more “traditional” songs better. My personal favorites are “Black Narcissist” and “Opus-One-Point-Five”.
Overall I have to recommend this album because of “Black Narcissist” alone. I love that tune that much. Still even looking at the other 6 tunes it’s a worthwhile listen. The album is short and sweet with a variety of different styles and sounds. It may have taken me a few years to give this album a thorough listen to, but I’ll be returning to it much sooner than that.

First Listen: Factory Girl 

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Earlier this month I did a First Listen of the Album “Factory Girl” by Corey Christiansen. I live tweeted the experience which you can check out below.

Now that I’ve listened to the album for a couple of weeks I’d like to give you some of my final thoughts on it.
Overall the album is an enjoyable experience, however I’d say it’s more like an “average” release from Corey Christiansen. It’s a good album overall, but I prefer listening to Lone Prairie and Roll With It over this album. Corey Christiansen is notorious for changing up his style with each and every release so I’m sure the next album will be a refreshing change of pace. Still, if you like American music, this will definitely be an enjoyable album to listen.