Best of October

October had some really strong releases. Below I briefly discuss a few of my personal favorites.

Blue Maqams : Anouar Brahem

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This album is a monster. Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Django Bates, and Anouar Brahem this is a super group of musicians. Some beautiful originals are found on here. The music is truly challenging and inspiring. Check out tracks like “Bahia” and “Bom Dia Rio” to see what I mean. Another fantastic release from the ECM label and my favorite album of the month.

 

Gregory Porter: Nate King Cole and Me

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I’ve been a of Gregory Porter for a few years now. I also had the pleasure of listening to him live at the CSO a couple years back. He has a powerful voice, and some great gospels influenced jazz music.I really enjoyed listening to this album. Check out “Quizas, Quizas, Quizas”, “When Love was King”, and “Nature Boy”.

 

Dave Douglas: Little Giant Still Life

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Fantastic album from the jazz trumpeter. It’s a very high energy and cheerful record. Fantastic grooves, and it never bores. This is some of the best rhythmic interaction within a group that I’ve heard all year. My only issue/ thing you need to consider is that you can’t stream the album anywhere. You gotta pay for this one, but trust me you’ll be glad you did.

 

That concludes the month of October. What albums do you think should’ve made the list? What albums are you looking forward to before 2017 comes to a close? Comment below and let me know.

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Top Jazz Pianists You Should Be Listening To

I’ve wanted to do a list of the top jazz pianists for a while now. As a jazz pianists myself I’m always looking for new music from others pianists to inspire me. This list will only pertain to current pianist still alive and active in music. So hear is my list of top jazz pianists you should be listening to now.

Bill Charlap

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I’m fairly new to Bill Charlap’s Music but I’ve been into his music for the last 2 years and I’ve loved everything I’ve heard. A great example of some refreshing classic jazz. Check out his album Notes From New York if you don’t believe me.
Hiromi

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One of my favorite album from last year was Spark. I love Hiromi’s compositions, solos, and overall energy she brings to each project she does. Can’t recommend her music enough.
Brad Mehldau

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A true professional pianist. Nothing else to say. Brad Mehldau is a must listen to and a must see if he’s in your town.
Tarek Yamani 

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Just started listening to Peninsular and I’m loving it. Can’t wait to dig into Yamani’s back catalog. I love this album and this pianist is a must listen to.
Vijay Iyer  

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A living legend and just an absolute monster on the Keys. Every album of his I love and his latest album Accelerando is no exception.

Craig Taborn 

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Loved Daylight Ghosts when it came out and I still love it now. Can’t wait to see what Taborn does next.
Gonzalo Rubalacaba 

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Just started listening to his music recently and I’m loving it. Recent release Minione is a must listen. One of the highlights of 2017.
Lara Downes

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My favorite album of last year came from Lara Downes. Her album America Again was a beautiful and powerful record. Can’t wait to hear more music from her in the future and will be digging into her back catalog in the meantime.

Living Legends 

Here are the jazz pianists who are living legends. I almost didn’t include these name because I figured everyone would already know them, but hey you never know. So yeah if you haven’t listened to these musicians yet. Do so immediately.
Ahmad Jamal 

Herbie Hancock 

Keith Jarrett

Cecil Taylor 

Kenny Baron 
This is not a definitive list of jazz pianist, this is not a ranking of the top jazz pianist alive. This is just a list of some of the top jazz pianist I feel everyone should be listening to. Many other pianist who are more than qualified didn’t make the list, these are just some of my favorites and it hopefully inspires you to think of your favorite jazz pianist. What pianist would make your list? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to add more pianist to my list!

First Listen: Blue Mitchell Boss Horn


Last week I did a First Listen of Boss Horn and live tweeted the experience. Today I’d like to share my thoughts on the album a week later, but first let’s look at some of my initial reactions to the album. 


So a week later has anything changed? Not really. I do enjoy the record more now than I did on the First Listen, but my overall positive experience listening to this album has only increased. If you are pressed for time I recommend listening to “O Mama Enit” and “Tones for Joan’s Bones” to see if you’d like this album. Though, if you are already a fan of jazz music I can’t imagine you wouldn’t like this album. 
That’s all folks! The next First Listen will be on November 7th. The album? I’m not sure yet, but follow me on twitter @edwingarcia88a couple days before and on the day of to be part of the experience. 

Best of September 

Let’s get right into it. Here are the best albums of September.
Cecile McLorin Salvant: Dreams and Daggers 

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I love all of Salvant’s music and this album is no exception. This is a phenomenal double disc of live music. This album has notable tracks like “Devil May Care, Never Will I Marry, and My Man’s Gone”. This might be my favorite Salvant album and definitely my favorite of September and I’m sure I’ll be revisiting It throughout the year.
Christian McBride Big Band: Bringin’ It 

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I’m not the biggest Big Band music fan, but Christian McBride Big Band always brings it. This album has some great arrangements. I especially enjoyed “I Thought About You and In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning”. The more I listen to this album the more I want to hear it. It’s a must buy.
Bill Charlap Trio Uptown Downtown

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A couple years ago I discovered Bill Charlap’s music and I’ve been hooked ever since. This is classic piano trio music so if you dig that you’ll be right at home with this one. I especially enjoyed tracks “Satellite, and Sophisticated Lady”.
That’s all for this month. Any albums you felt I overlooked? Do you have a different favorite album for September? Let me know in the comments below.

The Shape of Jazz to Come 

Where is Jazz going? Will it’s popularity increase in the coming years? What will the music sound like over the next decade and beyond? As a musician and a fan of the art form these are questions I’ve been asking myself, and while  I certainly don’t have the answers I’d like to share my thought on the possibilities for the genre moving forward.

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Jazz is going nowhere 

One thing jazz music has done better than other genres is adapt. As a whole the jazz community is very open to shifting in a different direction. We went from swing, to bebop, to fusion, to hip hop and I’ll think we’ll continue to do so. Other genres have changed but they feel more stuck in their ways. Rock comes to my mind as being a culprit of this. It feels like even when innovation is occurring it’s a smaller group and the majority of the group doesn’t embrace it. Yes Jazz has it’s cranky fans who just want to hear some Bird, but the majority are willing to branch out and that keeps Jazz alive and fresh.
Jazz will remain as “popular” as it is

Because Jazz music is being constantly innovated I think it will stay in its same “popularity” it has now. It will remain respected among musicians and have a hardcore audience that loves it. I like what I’m seeing from artists who are willing to collaborate with other more popular artists and genres. Like Robert Glasper playing with Common, Tony  Bennett with Gaga, and Esperanza Spalding playing music that’s closer to rock.  Universities also help. With Jazz music essentially being a requirement for most universities it fosters more artists and it kind of gives the genre more credibility. If it wasn’t for universities and high schools I think Big Band music would’ve died long ago.

Hip hop will take over

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I think jazz music will sound more and more like hip hop music in the coming years. Many jazz musicians worked on Common’s latest album, same with Kendrick Lamar’s Too Pimp A Butterfly and albums from Robert Glasper and Terrance Martin have so much hip hop music in them that you can even make an argument it’s an even split of jazz and hip hop. I believe the upcoming generation will do even more of this and you’ll be hearing this fusion of genres from the most popular jazz artists from now on.
What predictions do you have for jazz music? How popular will the genre be in the next ten years? What will it sound like? Let me know in the comments below and let’s continue the discussion.

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. 

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