Thursday, June 30, 2022

Another gem from Randy Despommier

New Orleans-based OffBeat magazine has published my review of saxophonist Randal Despommier's latest CD, A  Midsummer Odyssey, in its July issue. 

The Louisiana native's duo project with guitarist Ben Monder explores  compositions written by Swedish baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin. Click on the hyperlink to check out my review.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

CD of Note

Jo Harrop, The Heart Wants (Lateralize)

London-based singer and songwriter Jo Harrop has a winner here. Her lyrics are intelligent and her voice is stunning, sure, smoky and playful as required on the baker's dozen tracks. It includes nine originals, written with a solid team of frequent collaborators, and four covers.

She explores the vagueries of life, loss, romance and renewed purpose. She even touches on the frustrations of the pandemic on “Everything's Changing.” The project includes covers of Duke Ellington's “All Too Soon” (a duet with bassist Christian McBride) and Tom Waits' “Rainbow Sleeves.”

Favorite tracks: her duet with pianist Jason Rebello as they recast Lerner and Loewe's “If Ever I Should Leave You” from Camelot and the anthemic closing track “Weather the Storm,” featuring guitarist Jamie McCredie, Nicky Brown on Hammond organ and a robust backing chorus.

Released last year in Europe, The Heart Wants was an April 25 U.S. release.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

A month for saxophonists

In my mind, June is a month for saxophonists. At least this June. For this jazz journalist.

Let me explain.

The June issue of Hot House jazz magazine, which covers the New York City jazz scene, as well as select venues in neighboring states, includes my profile of tenor saxophonist Harry Allen

I've known Harry since he was a junior in high school back in 1983. It is always great to hear and talk with this musician whose high-quality recording output in the U.S. and abroad is prolific to say the least. 

The June issue of JazzTimes includes my extensive profile of saxophonist Greg Abate

Greg Abate
He talks about his early-career road stint with Ray Charles, his evolution into a hard-bop ambassador, his important collaborations with late alto sax master Phil Woods, and much more. 

Greg was a natural fit for this issue, which spotlights a variety of sax players. They range from early 30s players Marcus Elliot, Julieta Eugenio and Melissa Aldana to Preservation Hall Jazz Band veteran Charlie Gabriel, who is just out with his first recording as a leader at age 89. The others include Eli Degibri, Kenny Garrett, Walter Smith III and Mark Turner, as well as the late Steve Lacy.

Greg and Harry came out of the Rhode Island jazz scene, where I got to know them well over the years. Harry is 55. Greg turned 75 on May 31.