Lisa Engelken may not have a household name when it comes to jazz singers, but this CD proves that she is most deserving of that stature. The Kansas-born, California-based singer’s sophomore CD is a gem. Key ingredients: an intriguing voice, a great mix of material avoiding the “tired tune” syndrome that dogs so many aspiring singers, and the ability to find material that she can imbue with her own strong jazz touch and feel. My favorites: her takes on “Caravan,” “Afro Blue,” and “Detour Ahead,” as well as a bluesy remake of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.” Then there’s “From The Earth,” a rendition of Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay” that features her own intriguing lyrics. This is a winner, pure and simple. Savor it all.
Gerry Gibbs and The Electric Thrasher Orchestra Play the Music of Miles Davis 1967-1975 (Whaling City Sound)
Yes, the title is a mouthful, but drummer Gerry Gibbs, son of vibes great Terry Gibbs, didn’t bite off more than he could chew. He created what may be one of the year’s most ambitious recording projects to revisit and celebrate Miles Davis’s prolific first electric and rock-influenced phase (with 22 selections from more than a dozen Davis albums, principally from “Sorcerer” through “Bitches Brew” to “On the Corner.” Gibbs assembled a strong and talented group of top West Coast players including trumpeter Brian Swartz and saxophonist Doug Webb (plus acoustic bassist Essiet Okon Essiet). They tip their hats to Davis and carry his music forward in their own way. It is spirited and very well done.
Adriano Santos Quintet, In Session (Kingjazzad Music)
Drummer-percussionist Adriano Santos’s recording is a strong and energetic blend of works by top Brazilian composers that intertwine his homeland’s exotic rhythms with a modern jazz twist. Saxophonist David Binney adds a lot of the edgy flair, while the rhythm section teams Santos with pianist Helio Alves, bassist David Ambrosio and percussionist Dende. My favorites: their takes on “From the Lonely Afternoons” by Milton Nascimento and Fernando Brant, Toninho Horta’s “De Ton Pra Tom,” Airto Moreira’s “Xibaba” and Moacir Santos’s “Amphibious.”
Other worthy listens:
- The Britton Brothers, Uncertain Living (Record Craft)
- Nnenna Freelon, Homefree (Concord Jazz)
- Fabian Zone Trio, Keys in Ascension (Consolidated Artists Productions)