Alan Broadbent and NDR Big Band, America The Beautiful (Jan Matthies)If you’re a fan of big band jazz at its finest, you don’t want to miss this one. Pianist, composer and arranger Alan Broadbent teamed with Germany’s excellent NDR Big Band (the Hamburg Radio Jazz Orchestra), to record robust and intricate arrangements of eight originals plus his rigorous and very personal update of Samuel Ward’s classic title track, one that adds Broadbent’s own impressions of America’s multi-faceted beauty and spirit.. “Woody ‘n’ Me is a beautiful tribute to late bandleader Woody Herman, in whose orchestra Broadbent worked from 1969-1972. Favorite tracks: “The Long White Cloud”(featuring tenor saxophonist Christoph Lauer), “Love in Silent Amber,” Mendocino Nights and “America the Beautiful.”
Lisa Hilton, Kaleidoscope (Ruby Slippers)California-based pianist and composer Lisa Hilton’s latest CD adds the robust sound of tenor saxophonist J.D. Allen to her latest project, her 16th recording. Kaleidoscope mostly features Hilton in a trio format with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Marcus Gilmore. The session solidifies Hilton’s place as one of the finest composers working in jazz today. Favorite tracks “Whispered Confessions,” the playful “Bach/Basie/Bird Boogie Blues Bop,” her solo piano showcase on “Stepping Into Paradise” and the title track. Allen dominates the appropriately titled “Midnight Mania.” Hilton & Co. also dig into the jazz standard “When I Fall in Love” and Adele’s “One and Only.”
Pat Metheny Unity Group, Kin (↔), (Nonesuch-Metheny Group Productions)Guitarist Pat Metheny is never one to stand still musically. His latest recording expanded last year’s Unity Band (quartet) to a Unity Group (quintet) with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi. The fire in the group remains the fine soloing and interplay between Metheny and saxophonist Chris Potter, supported by Antonio Sanchez on drums and Ben Williams on bass. Metheny also fills in the gaps here and there with his Orchestrion, his synth-triggered robotic orchestra. Kin (↔) also brings Metheny’s new music the closest in sound in many years to his vintage Pat Metheny Group sessions, albeit with far more improvisation. Favorite tracks: “On Day One,” “Adagia” and “Born.” The title track is a marvel of musical intensity.
Dick Titterington / The 3 Trumpet Band, Three Trumpets, No Waiting (HeavyWood)Oregon-based trumpeter Dick Titterington put together a most unusual jazz sextet for this project: three trumpets plus rhythm section. His horn-mates are Paul Mazzio and Thomas Barber, with Greg Goebel on Fender Rhodes, Andrea Niemiec on bass and Jason Palmer at the drums. Titterington’s arrangements enable the horns to blend rather than conflict with each other on the many intricate passages. Favorite tracks: their takes on Michael; Brecker’s “African Skies,” John Scofield’s “Gil B643” and the funky Mike Stern composition “Upside Downside.”