Tamir Hendelman, Destinations (Resonance)
If you love jazz piano trios, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better example of their results among the recordings released so far this year. Israeli-born pianist Tamir Hendelman (a longtime resident of southern California), Italian bassist Marco Panascia and New York drummer Lewis Nash have produced a gem in Destinations. The players’ comfort level, adventurous approach to the classic, contemporary and original material - and depth of playing - combine to make this a winner. Gems: all 12 tracks.
Omar Hakim and Rachel Z, The Trio of Oz, Ozmosis Records
How do you draw younger, eclectic pop- and rock-based listeners to jazz? Drummer Omar Hakim, pianist Rachel (Nicolazzo) Z and bassist Maeve Royce have one solution. In this new project, they have taken 10 musical standards from the rock world - and used them as launching pads for their own deconstruction, reconstruction and improvisation.
The music is wide ranging, retaining enough melodic meat to satisfy both casual and adventurous listeners while fueling their own imaginations as players and arrangers. The “covers,” if you can call them that, include “Angry Chair” by Alice in Chains, Coldplay’s “Lost,” Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart,” Depeche Mode’s “In Your Room,” Morrissey’s “There is a Light” and Sting’s “King of Pain” hit for The Police. In these talented hands, the results are electric - and fascinating. (This is a September 8 release.)
Brandi Disterheft, Second Side (Justin Time)
Brandi Disterheft is a marvelous bass player and a charming singer, and she puts both skills to great use on her second recording project as a leader, following up 2007’s aptly titled, Juno-winning, Debut. Disterheft’s talents shine on the beautiful “Combien de Chances” (How Many Chances), “Sketches of Belief,” “Second Dawn” (which features her on kalimba), and the hard-driving “My Only Friends are Pigeons.” Her Joni Mitchell-like approach to lyrics is beautiful on “Twilight Curtain.” Two fellow Canadian singers, Holly Cole and Ranee Lee, join the project - with Cole providing lyrics and singing the country-tinged “He’s Walkin’” and Lee adding her imprint to the lone standard, “This Time the Dream is on Me.” There’s nothing at all wrong with their performances, but to my ears, their inclusion detracts a bit from the leader’s stunning effort.