January to March 2023
A few words about recent releases / reviews:
Apart from where they are included in articles on this website, I don't have a 'Reviews' section for a number of reasons:
I receive so many requests to review recordings it is impossible to include them all.
Unlike some publications/blogs, Sandy Brown Jazz is not a funded website and it is not possible to pay reviewers.
Reviews tend to be personal opinions, something a reviewer likes might not suit you, or vice versa.
It is difficult to capture music in words, so much better to be able to listen and see whether the music interests you.
For these reasons in particular I just include a selection of recent recordings below where I share the notes issued by the musician(s) as an introduction and links to samples so you can 'taste' the music for yourselves. For those who like to read reviews, these, of course, can be checked out on other sites.
Some albums are priced in dollars or other currencies. These are marked ^. There are currency options if you proceed to order.
Featured in February 2023
Featured in January 2023
Dave O'Higgins and Rob Luft - Pluto
(Ubuntu Records) - Released: 4th November 2022
Dave O'Higgins (saxophone); Rob Luft (guitar); Ross Stanley (piano); Misha Mullov-Abbado (bass); Rod Youngs (drums)
'Saxophonist Dave O’Higgins & guitarist Rob Luft now present their 2nd co-led recording three years after “O’Higgins & Luft Play Monk & Trane”. Where the first album clearly did what it says on the tin, “Pluto”, as the title suggests, comes from another place. Seven of the nine songs are originals, and the remaining two are Monk & Trane hits from the 40-plus date tour in 2019 that evolved on the road. The sonority has changed a little, too, with the Hammond organ of before replaced with piano and bass. This is straight-ahead modern jazz in the African-American tradition, clearly coming from the Monk and Trane lineage, but not bound to emulating it. You will hear Luft easily morphing Wes Montgomery with Bill Frisell, his own trademark soundscapes and worldly influences, while O’Higgins’ emotive melodies evoke Dexter, Trane, Joe Henderson and Brecker, with a melodic logic of his own.......'. (album notes).
Helena Kay's Kim Trio - Golden Sands
(Sulis Records) - Released: 7th October 2022
Helena Kay (tenor sax); Pete Johnstone (piano); Calum Gourlay (bass); David Ingamells (drums).
'Following their 2018 debut ‘Moon Palace’, multi-award winning Scottish saxophonist Helena Kay proudly presents KIM Trio’s ‘Golden Sands’, a musical reflection inspired by their formative years on New York and London’s vibrant jazz scene. Raised in Perth (Scotland) Kay’s primary inspiration lies in the sounds being produced around them by their peers and heroes. Made up entirely of original compositions, many of which were composed during their stay in New York, ‘Golden Sands’ brings together the lush harmony and contemporary grooves of British Jazz with the attitude, grit and tradition of the American sound. “I wrote ‘Tuesday Club’ for my friends John and Amy – we would go to the Village Vanguard every Tuesday and hang out with the musicians after the gig... It was so special being in that venue, where so many great musicians have performed before, and where innovations are still being made in the music now.” - Helena Kay'
'From the first track, Amor y Amargo, Kay demonstrates their love for the melodic, song-based tradition of jazz’s roots with a composition that could be mistaken for a standard if it weren’t for moments of undeniably modern harmony. Xian Impressions then surprises the listener with an energetic, drum’n’bass inspired groove and an aggressive, angular melody. In this way, Kay and their trio steer their audience through their cultural influences with musical nods to the past, present and future. Feeling that their recent writing employed denser harmony and required the support of a chordal instrument, Kay extended the otherwise chord-less KIM trio with friend and previous collaborator, pianist Peter Johnstone. The resulting ensemble, composed of some of London’s most in-demand musicians, weave through changes in feel, energy, dynamic and texture with ease and fluidity'. (album notes).
Tim Garland and Jason Rebello - Life To Life
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 17th January 2023
Tim Garland (tenor, soprano, sopranino saxophone, bass clarinet); Jason Rebello (piano)
Life to Life documents the culmination of three decades worth of respectful colleagueship between two of the UK’s most revered jazz musicians – keyboardist Jason Rebello and multi-reedist Tim Garland. Rebello and Garland are both lauded musicians who between with them have worked with luminaries such as Sting, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter and Jeff Beck. Also long-time friends, the pair felt the it was time for their duo format to blossom at this point in their careers: “I just feel that we have to make music together,” says Rebello, “it's a natural outcome of two people that have known each other for a long time. It's also a learning experience,” he adds. “For me, it’s Tim's composition and creative abilities and ideas that I've really learned from.” Garland agrees, “the thing about learning from each other - it's pretty crucial. When you're playing in a duet situation, you need that solid grounding. Every single thing you do, every part of the piano, every part of the horn is so evident. That grounding helps my more cerebral side to lock in with the now of the music and that's why it's so good for me to be working with Jason.” (album notes).
Details and Sample ^: Listen to The Missing Ingredient :
Rebecca Nash - Redefining Element 78
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 6th January 2023
Rebecca Nash (piano); John O'Gallagher (saxophone); Nick Malcolm (trumpet); Jamie Leeming (guitar); Paul Michael (bass); Matt Fisher (drums); Chris Mapp (electronics 4,6); Nick Walters (electronics 5)
'Redefining Element 78' presents a new work by British pianist-composer Rebecca Nash – a distinct musical voice with a deep musical identity. Commissioned by Bristol Jazz Festival, this suite - a collection of eight pieces inspired by confluence of sound and science, is centred around precious metals; Platinum, Osmium, Rhodium, Iridium, Ruthenium, and Palladium. The music emerged following Nash’s encounter with the writings of legendary New York alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher, who joins her on the album, alongside guitarist Jamie Leeming, trumpeter Nick Malcolm, bassist Paul Michael and drummer Matt Fisher. Electronics are provided by Nick Walters and Chris Mapp. This album signals both a shift in direction, and a distillation of Nash’s 2019 release 'Peaceful King' (Whirlwind Recordings) – an album admired for it its rich harmonic language and sound worlds, that echo those of late Scriabin, Debussy, and Tavener. She explains: “I was reading John O’Gallagher’s book - a method for using tone rows in jazz - and by exploring how I could use his approach on the atomic numbers of the six metals, I found this new and exciting musical terrain .....(album notes)
Dezron Douglas - Atalaya
(Irternational Anthem Recording) - Released: 18th November 2022
Dezron Douglas (basses); George Burton (piano and rhodes); Joe Dyson Jr. (drums); Emilio Modeste (saxophones)
Melvis Santa (vocals and percussion on “Wheeping Birch”)
ATALAYA is new work by bassist Dezron Douglas, and it is alive. That is, ‘alive’ in all the ways that jazz is at its best – as a pure and personal expression of Black Music channeled through time-honored traditions by a group of musicians who practice sonic coherence through musical unity. As Dezron puts it in the opening statement of his liner notes for the album: “Mysticism, Magic, Faith, Love, Power, Discernment! These are words that embody the creative process of Music.” Followers of contemporary jazz might recognize Dezron for his bass work behind Pharoah Sanders, Louis Hayes, or Ravi Coltrane. Others might know him as the newest full-time member of the Trey Anastasio Band. Steady International Anthem listeners might remember him from the New York side of Makaya McCraven's Universal Beings. More recently we presented Force Majeure, Dezron’s sublime duo record with harpist Brandee Younger, which compiled the best of livestream performances from their Harlem apartment during the original covid lockdown. That album, which came out in December of 2020, reflected the speed and feeling of the moment while somehow simultaneously distracting from the harsh reality of it. It also captured a very vulnerable, intimate, and real impression of Dezron on double bass, sharing his power and truth without abandon. ATALAYA, similarly, wasn’t processed in the lab, but rather, captured in the room. The realness factor is once again forefront in the sound; but the difference is in the energy and ambition of the music, which reaches for the stratosphere. Again, let’s defer to Dezron here: “Welcome to the Black Lion rocket ship.”
Will Vinson - Tripwire
(Whirlwind Recordings) - Released: 16th September 2022
Will Vinson (saxophone); Matt Penman (double bass); Eric Harland (drums); Melissa Aldana (saxophone 4, 6)
Recorded in just one day, Tripwire is the latest album from saxophonist and composer Will Vinson. Realising a long-held ambition to record a chord-less trio album, Vinson is joined here by bassist Matt Penman, one of today’s most adventurous bass players, and drummer Eric Harland, known for his impressive work with the world’s jazz luminaries. Special guest tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana also joins for two tracks. The record captures the energy of returning to the studio and playing for the first time since the Covid-Pandemic lockdowns, and further cements Vinson’s reputation as a virtuosic risk-taking leader. Tripwire is the third Whirlwind Recordings release from Vinson, following his 2020 release Four Forty One and collaborative album TRIO GRANDE with Antonio Sanchez and Gilad Hekselman.......Title track ‘Tripwire’ opens the record. A Vinson original, it’s based around a blues form with a triplet undercurrent and a strong anchoring bassline. There’s a kinetic trippy energy to the song that sets the rest of the album up perfectly. ‘Blue And Sentimental’ is an old favourite of Vinson’s that he wanted to lay down here in a different format. Employing a bluesy vocal sax tone, Vinson demonstrates the beauty of his instrument and how effective the chord-less line-up can be...... (album notes).
Michael Marcus - Abstractions In Lime Caverns
(ESP-Disk) - Released: 28th October 2022
Michael Marcus (soprano sax (1, 5, 8), tenor sax (3, 6), alto tarogato (4, 7, 10), G clarinet (2), bass flute (9), gong (6)
Frank Lacy (French horn 1, 4, 5, 8);Tarus Mateen (Marcoustico acoustic bass 1, 4, 8, 9); Jay Rosen (drums, percussion 1-10)
'The recording is dedicated to François Grillot. After paying his dues with bluesmen Albert King and Bobby “Blue” Bland and jazzman Jaki Byard, Michael Marcus had his first album released in 1991, when he was 39. He’s been much more prolific since then, co-leading Cosmosamatics with Sonny Simmons, SaxEmble with Frank Lowe and James Carter, Blue Reality Quartet with Joe McPhee, Warren Smith, and Jay Rosen, and Duology with Ted Daniel as well as Marcus’s many albums as sole leader. Frank Lacy moved to New York in 1981 and soon established himself (primarily as a trombonist) as Art Blakey’s music director, a member of the Mingus Big Band, sideman with Lester Bowie, David Murray Big Band, McCoy Tyner, and Roy Hargrove among others, and a leader in his own right............' (album notes)
Connie Han - Secrets Of Inanna
(Mack Avenue Records) - Released: 23rd September 2022
Connie Han – piano (all tracks except 6, 7; Fender Rhodes 1, 6, 12); Bill Wysaske (drums all tracks except 5); John Patitucci (bass all tracks except 3, 5, 7); Katisse Buckingham (piccolo 1, 12); alto flute 1, 12); Rich Perry (tenor saxophone 4, 5, 8, 10)
'Rising star pianist/composer Connie Han brings the ancient Sumerian culture to the present day by channeling Inanna — the ancient Sumerian goddess of love, beauty and war — on her third release for Mack Avenue Records. Featuring Katisse Buckingham (alto flute and piccolo), John Patitucci (bass), Rich Perry (tenor saxophonist) and drummer Bill Wysaske, Secrets of Inanna creates a new world open to interpretation, harkening back to the ethereal soundscapes of 1970s spiritual jazz with the modern composition Han has received praise for since her 2018 debut, Crime Zone, creating a truly unique soundscape of great depth.' (album notes)