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Jazz - Verschenen op 26 november 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Loved by fans but underrated or derided as a showman rather than an innovator by purists, the late Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson, who won seven Grammy Awards and released over 200 albums in his lifetime, is also often thought of as one of the great keyboard accompanists from his time backing Ella Fitzgerald. An apostle of a crowd-pleasing mainstream aesthetic, Peterson could also be an engaging straight-ahead jazz player especially when pushed, which on this unreleased "lost" recording from a 1987 European tour, is done by virtuoso electric guitarist Joe Pass. Recorded at Helsinki's Kulttuuritalo by Heikki Hölttä and Pentti Männikkö of the Finnish Broadcasting Company in clear, beautifully balanced sound, the set opens with a trio of Peterson compositions, one of which, "Love Ballade," is a long, undeniably beautiful example of Peterson the writer and player at his sweetest and soulful best. Despite the title, the three-part "A Salute to Bach," is a anything but a dry attempt to replicate the classical keyboard master although there are moments during its 20-minute run time—particularly in the Andante section—where Peterson ups the tempos and plays passages that vaguely imitate Bach's style. Pass is especially wonderful in this piece, staying alongside the pianist as the pace increases, adding exclamations and competing heat to the racing fires. Supported by Peterson's longtime rhythm section of English drummer Martin Drew and fellow Canadian bassist Dave Young, all the musicians settle into a familiar groove in the concert's all standards second half where Peterson favorite, Benny Goodman's "Soft Winds," gets a swinging reading with the pianist's fleet digits adding his trademark showy runs. Listeners can decide if Peterson's lively take on Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby," which contains a brief quote from "Pop Goes the Weasel," is either evidence that Peterson had no interest in being a serious jazz player as he frolics and improvises around the familiar melody, or the enjoyable transformation of an overly serious jazz number into an accessible showpiece. That's followed by a pair of sure-to-please showstoppers with Pass weaving his gentle way through "When You Wish Upon a Star," while the entire band joins for a rousing medley of Ellington tunes that opens with "Take the A Train." Welcoming and apparent, Peterson was the master of quartet jazz made for the masses. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 26 november 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Undeterred by having already released an album called Live at the Village Vanguard in 2015, albeit with a trio, force-of-nature bassist Christian McBride has decided to give it another go under the same title as the earlier Grammy-winning set. McBride is powered by obvious musical gifts and a big personality that revels in promoting his many ventures: he runs a jazz school in New Jersey with his wife—jazz singer Mellisa Walker and leads five different jazz groups, including a trio, big band, the New Jawn, the edgier DJ-led ensemble Christian McBride Situation, and Inside Straight—the band heard here. The biggest difference between the two albums, both recorded during the same two-week stand at the storied NYC West Village club in 2014, is that unlike the earlier set list which included jazzified renditions of mainstream pop tunes like Rod Temperton's "The Lady in My Life," (famous as part of Michael Jackson's Thriller) and Motown producer Norman Whitfield's theme to the film Car Wash, all the tunes on this new album are composed either by McBride or a member of Inside Straight. Well-played, hard-driving post-bop with plenty of room for solos by all is the method. On top of a solid rhythm section of McBride and drummer Carl Allen, virtuoso vibraphone player Warren Wolf is a breath of fresh talent accenting every tune but shining brightest in a pair of his originals including the long, propulsive "Gang Gang" where his speed and natural lyricism combine with Allen's bravura performance for the album's standout piece. In his composition "Fair Hope" McBride has a long solo that once again excels at dexterity and musicality. Generally thought of as an alto saxophonist, Steve Wilson leads a take of his moody tribute to poet Maya Angelou, "Ms. Angelou" on soprano sax. The boxing-themed, fast-paced closer "Stick & Move" is kicked off by McBride, with pianist Peter Martin taking the first solo before handing back off McBride who quotes "Old Macdonald Had a Farm," for a playful, crowd-pleasing conclusion. McBride has successfully taken his instrument out of the rhythm section and into the spotlight—no small feat. Another solid outing, this time with a lesser known setlist, from a player bent on stardom. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 12 november 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 29 oktober 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 20 oktober 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 8 oktober 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 1 oktober 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 24 september 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 17 september 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 17 september 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 3 september 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 27 augustus 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Since launching his solo career in the mid-'80s, Detroit saxophonist Kenny Garrett has been one of mainstream jazz's brightest lights. With a discography that both richly honors notions of traditional jazz while pushing it to incorporate a wide range of disparate, global influences, Garrett's approach has long been that of a man who knows the rulebook inside and out and is more than willing to discard it. That has led to a number of exciting and invigorating albums that push at the edges of the genre's possibilities while resolutely staying firmly within the tradition. At least until recently. With a few of the cuts on his last studio album, 2016's Do Your Dance!, Garrett began incorporating a sonic palette more often associated with smooth jazz: funk, Latin, and hip-hop beats undergirding melody-forward compositions that, while certainly pleasant, were perhaps not as challenging as some of the rest of his material. It certainly fit the theme of the album, and, for a player as diverse in his influences as Garrett, it wasn't even all that surprising. The smoothness continues a few years later on Sounds from the Ancestors, but instead of a more holistically fused approach, Garrett seems to be compartmentalizing tracks as "funky ones" and "jazzy ones" and the results are a little jarring and occasionally disappointing. Putatively constructed to honor the musical legacy of his hometown of Detroit, it's easy to see why Garrett wanted a more soulful, funky approach to be used on some of these tracks, and in at least one instance —the opening cut "It's Time To Come Home" blends Coltrane-esque spirituality with Afro-Cuban grooves—he's able to combine his phenomenal sax prowess with an undeniably propulsive (and seductively danceable) rhythm. Even on several of the album's more R&B-forward numbers like "When the Days Were Different," Garrett will throw in quotes from jazz standards here and there. However, for the most part, Ancestors snaps the listener's neck between glassy, turgid fuzak ("Hargrove" in particular) and fiery, riveting post-bop ("Soldiers of the Fields / Soldats des Champs" is a wildly successful exploratory jam, full of energy, adventure, and improvisation). By the time the album closes with the original (and far more sprawling) run through "It's Time To Come Home," one wishes Garrett would have made this a double-disc set with the atmospheres more clearly defined, since, as it is, Ancestors is—despite the high quality of the musicianship and compositions here—a bit too diverse to yield a consistently rewarding listening experience. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 13 augustus 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 23 juli 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 30 april 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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To attract an audience for a jazz record these days, it helps to begin with a big idea—a tribute to one (or several!) legends, a conceptual work exploring a thematic narrative, anything that can translate into talking points or (better still) marketing. The loquacious and ubiquitous bassist Christian McBride, whose resume includes longtime musically consequential associations with Chick Corea and others, has navigated these somewhat arbitrary requirements expertly in recent years. A scan of McBride's discography turns up deftly executed trio records (both in studio and live at the Village Vanguard), collections of mostly original post bop (Kind of Brown, from 2009), hard-swinging big band outings (2020's For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver, which earns double points as a three-way tribute) and a long-form work memorializing key figures and moments in African American history and the struggle for civil rights (The Movement Revisited, also from 2020). Underrepresented, slightly: something low stakes. Casual. A good old fashioned blowing session that follows an interesting constellation of talents as they go exploring. McBride's done plenty of these, and his approach to swing rhythm makes him ideal for them. This crisp EP, commissioned by Qobuz, argues that maybe there's room for more of this in his mix of projects. The "big idea" is communicated via the very first notes—a deep, deliberate bassline that walks into the relaxed confines of "Blues Connotation." It's just a few measures of an easygoing yet businesslike pulse, and all McBride needs to establish the mission: He's looking for expansive musical conversation, not perfection, and he underscores this by leaving the groove-minded drummer Eric Harland lots of room to maneuver. Guitarist Mike Stern taps into the loose atmosphere right away, crafting a solo that weaves gorgeous textural chords into single-note lines that serve acrobatically away from hard bop convention. Saxophonist Marcus Strickland does much the same, organizing his ideas into dense clusters and then arranging those into a fire-breathing peak, the kind you'd hear in the heated waning moments of a late club set. That's followed by the standard "On Green Dolphin Street," which has been subject to countless overwrought arrangements on hundreds of records. Again McBride creates a foundation that just plain feels good—thanks to the Hi-Res recording, it's possible to zone in on the steady, carefully articulated recurring notes that he uses to anchor the melody and each of the solos. Naturally that includes McBride's own dexterous and marvelously inventive improvisation, which adapts Ray Brown's still-headspinning bass techniques for the modern era. McBride's original "Brouhaha" closes the set. It was written shortly after Corea's passing, and manages the unusual trick of incorporating elements from several different realms of the pianist's work. The demanding theme, set to a syncopated post-funk rhythm, evokes the best of Corea's Elektric Band, while the open, conversational exchanges suggest the collaborative spirit of the later Corea acoustic trio, which featured McBride and Brian Blade. It's an intricate piece, and at first it sounds like another exercise in high-concept record making. Then the musicians start to stretch, and spar with each other, and suddenly it's a blowing session again. © Tom Moon/Qobuz
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Vocale jazz - Verschenen op 19 maart 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Latijns-Amerika - Verschenen op 19 maart 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 29 januari 2021 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 6 november 2020 | Mack Avenue Records

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Jazz - Verschenen op 25 september 2020 | Mack Avenue Records

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Christian McBride's latest big band session travels back to an incredible moment in 1966 when organist Jimmy Smith, guitarist Wes Montgomery and arranger Oliver Nelson gathered at Rudy Van Gelder's studio for a hard-swinging and ever-so-slightly unconventional big band summit meeting; all were operating at peak creativity. It was the first-ever collaboration between Smith and Montgomery, and the resulting albums (The Dynamic Duo and The Further Adventures Of…) were bursting with feats of highwire soloistic daredevilry. Nelson was the stealth MVP of the date. His arrangements—particularly "Down By The Riverside" and "Milestones"—discovered a lane equidistant between the hard swing of Basie and the floral voicings of Ellington, with intricate full-ensemble taunts giving way to plush pads designed to provoke the soloists. McBride's update uses those and other original Nelson charts, which, after all these decades, exude a freshness that eludes many large-ensemble projects. And it relies on a similarly sparky showdown between strong minded soloists—the organist Joey DeFrancesco and guitarist Mark Whitfield. Both clearly know they're working in the towering shadows of giants; neither seems daunted by that as they explore the hairpin turns of the big-band "Milestones" or the easygoing saunter of Montgomery's "Road Song." There are a few astonishing small-group moments, too, that offer a quick gauge on how far these soloists have evolved— check Whitfield on "Road Song," DeFrancesco's gentle and dramatic reading of the ballad "I Want To Talk About You" and McBride's capricious twenty-fingered trip through "Up Jumped Spring"). One elusive element McBride managed to transfer from the original source: The swing feel. From the opening solo, a twisty-road Whitfield foray on "Night Train," it's clear that the soloists thrive in the McBride sweet spot—everything they do, all the flashy blowing, flows directly from the crisp, uncomplicated grooves established by the bassist and his rhythm section. Big band music would be easier to love if it all felt this good. © Tom Moon/Qobuz

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