Saturday, April 5, 2008

New This Week - April 5, 2008

1. Ghalib Ghallab - Just Groovin'-Circa Records. The original Sultan of Smooth Jazz is back! After leaving Chicago a little more than a decade ago and settling in Las Vegas the pianist has returned with a program of 'covers' such as 'People make the World Go Round', 'Love Will Find a Way' and 'Loving You'. One day I'd love to hear him with an acoustic trio and without the big bands and overdubs. His a talented keyboardist with nothing to hide.

2. John Cooper Jazz Orchestra-Baecker Jazz Worship Service-Baecker Music Prod.
A fantastic but non imposing musical homage based on biblical themes of worship. The music runs the gamut from super swing to avant garde touches to harmonic modalism. An absolutely delightful recording.

3. Louie Bellson/Clark Terry-Louie & Clark Expedition 2 Percussion Power. Beside the likable Chicago Suite written by Bellson this is just another run-of-the-mill session. No sparks fly and worst of all no Mumblin' by Mr. Mumbles himself Clark Terry.

4. Frederick 'Shep' Sheppard - Tradition/The Habari Gani Sessions-Drum Parade. Produced by Katrina displaced drummer Chris Lacinak, this is a session led by tenor saxist 'Shep' Sheppard, who was something of a New Orleans legend. This was his last session after a career as a back-up player to many a star. One is immediately struck by his big fat tone - something akin to a Stanley Turrentine. This session is a mix of straight ahead jazz to smooth to second line back beats to reggae influences.

5. The Duke Ellington Legacy-Thank You Uncle Edward - Ren Mare Records. As far as 'ghost bands' go this is amongst the best. But then too, you've got some of the best playing in the band. Led by multi-instrumentalist Virginia Mayhew, she's joined by Norman Simmons, Joe Temperley, Wycliffe Gordon and perhaps the best kept secret in jazz vocalists, in Nancy Reed. The band is augmented by the Duke's grandson, Mercer's baby boy Edward Ellington, II. They do splendid covers of the Ellington legacy.

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