Patricia Barber, Smash (Concord Jazz)This lady is a musical triple threat. In her latest CD, her debut on the Concord Jazz label, Barber’s music is an equilateral triangle comprised of her ethereal voice, her piano touch and the intellectual feminist-poetry nature of her original material. Her Chicago-based quartet-mates - bassist Larry Kohut, drummer Jon Deitmeyer and fiery guitarist John Kregor - provide strong support and help dig deep into the emotions for each tune. Favorites: “Smash,” “Redshift,” “Missing” and the lone instrumental “Bashful.”
Ian Carey is a trumpeter-composer from California’s San Francisco Bay area. He is also a very talented graphic artist. His latest CD is a marvel for its lush and intricate music and musical concepts, as well as Carey-designed packaging and illustrations that make it a clear favorite to win the year’s cleverest design. His originals are interspersed with jazz interpretations of three of his favorite pieces by Neil Young (the soundtrack theme from the film “Dead Man"), Igor Stravinsky (the first movement of “Suite No. 1 for Small Orchestra”) and Charles Ives (“West London”). Carey’s longtime quintet is joined by alto saxophonist Kasey Knudsen. Favorites: “Rain Tune,” “Nemuri Kyoshirō,” “The Thread” and “West London.”
Clayton Brothers, The Gathering (artistShare)Hard bop, the blues, and funk. With that sort of intermingling do any of today’s jazz bands come closer to The Adderley Brothers band in sound and feel than the Clayton Brothers? I think not. Brothers Jeff (alto sax) and John Clayton (bass) are joined by John’s son Gerald on piano, trumpeter Terell Stafford and drummer Obed Calvaire, along with two musically energetic guests – trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and vibraphonist Stefon Harris. Favorites: “Friday Struttin’,” “This Ain’t Nothin’ But a Party,” “Stefon Fetchin’ It,” “Coupe de Cone” and “Blues Gathering.”
Scott Hamilton, Remembering Billie (Blue Duchess)So much angst and heartache marked Billie Holiday’s recordings and performance in the 1950s, that it is easy to forget the pre-WWII Billie, whose sound was imbued with fun, joy and a lighter take on life before her demons took their toll on her voice and her stamina. Tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton digs into the earlier Holiday sound on his fine new tribute recording, Remembering Billie. He’s backed by a New England trio on this session: pianist Tim Ray, bassist Dave Zinno and drummer Jim Gwin, with session Duke Robillard aboard on acoustic guitar on two tracks – “Fooling Myself” and “I’ll Never Be the Same.”Hamilton’s gently swinging swagger is on great display here. This is a dandy. Savor it all.