Yellowjackets, Randy Waldman, Marquis Hill + others: Five for the Road

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Yellowjackets, Randy Waldman and Marquis Hill are part of the latest edition of Five for the Road, an occasional look at music that’s been in my car lately …

MARQUIS HILL – MODERN FLOWS VOL. 2: Chicago-based trumpeter Marquis Hill, one of my Best of 2016 finalists, returns with yet another collection of inspiring compositions. Hill takes elements of traditional jazz and weaves them with hip-hop to create something fresh and wholely original. Surrounded by Joel Ross on vibes, Junius Paul on bass and Jonathan Pinson on drums, Hill directs the young band through 15 complex yet engaging songs. Guest Brandon Alexander Williams sets the tone with “Modern Flows II Intro.” Clearly this is serious business, but it’s also entertaining. The rap and jazz flow seamlessly. By the time you reach “Prayer for the People,” which features Chicago’s M’Reid Green, you’ll be totally draw in.

YELLOWJACKETS – RAISING OUR VOICE: The venerable Yellowjackets have the enviable task of producing albums which reach the heights of their passionate live shows. Raising Our Voice features vocalist Luciana Souza, a major jazz star in her own right on seven of the 13 songs. Souza’s vocal contributions are welcome and only enhance the strengths of this Los Angeles-based band. “Solitude” shows how well this fusion works as the Yellowjackets’ core of founders Russell Ferrante (keyboards), sax player Bob Mintzer and drummer Will Kennedy locked in tight with bassist Dane Anderson. Luciana Souza’s vocals only add to the electricity. Also check out the opening song, “Man Facing North.”

RANDY WALDMAN – SUPERHEROES: Randy Waldman had me from the moment he paired Carlitos Del Puerto on bass with drummer Vinnie Colaita. The strength of this album isn’t solely based in the outstanding players and there are many – such as Chick Corea, Randy Brecker and Take 6. Waldman is skilled as an arranger and player in his own right. “Superman (Movie Theme)” is just a hint of how brilliantly Waldman ties the original theme into a lovely jazz piece which is fresh and vibrant. Randy Waldman’s piano solo could go on forever, but the tasty leads and solos provided by George Benson seal the deal. “Batman Theme (TV)” is just as much fun as the original but in a totally imaginative way which allows the horn section and Waldman to stretch beyond the songs original limits.

SASHA MASHIN – OUTSIDETHEBOX: Sure, drummer Sasha Mashin knows more than a little about groove. Outsidethebox, his new album, confirms how he can incorporate his groove in an inspiring and cohesive collection of original songs. Working with fellow expatriate Alex Sipiagin on trumpet, Alexey Ivannikov on piano and Makar Nokikov on bass, Mashin’s jazz acumen is clear. Yet songs like “Ku Ku” and “Strange Party” reflect a freewheeling spirit which is rarely evident in solo debuts. Outsidethebox proves the Sasha Mashin is on to something.

CARLOS AVERHOFF JR. – IQBA JAZZ MEETS CUBAN TIMBA: Saxophonist Carlos Averhoff Jr., a native of Havana, Cuba, ties his unique combination of American funk/R&B, salsa, and Cuban grooves to a few classics written by Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter, among others. The result is a cohesive and engaging set of songs which build in complexity and promise as the album proceeds. “Yes or No” starts things off with Averhoff’s bold tenor saxophone tone from and center. The pace quicken as does the interplay with trumpet player Alexia Baro. “Raquel,” an Carlos Averhoff Jr. original, only confirms that the composer and band leader is able to seamlessly weave this complex textures which make iQba Jazz Meets Cuban Timba consistently enjoyable from start to finish.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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