Jazz

Forgotten series: Gonzalo Rubalcaba – Imagine (1993)

NICK DERISO: Cuban sensation Gonzalo Rubalcaba entered the U.S. not yet a legend, but discovered by one, Dizzy Gillespie. Rubalcaba (very Corea, but with some Hancock mixed in) made a splashy debut on both the Blue Note and Messidor labels in the early 1990s — reinvigorating the Afro-Cuban jazz movement. But he didn’t actually make it to America until aRead More

Something Else! Interview: Emerging jazz star Sam Yahel

by S. Victor Aaron Whether it’s for gigging with Joshua Redman, opening for Steely Dan, sessioning with Norah Jones or forging a new approach to the jazz organ, Sam Yahel deserves your notice. Find out what sets Yahel apart from other Hammond B-3 players and get his insights on why his just-released CD ‘Truth And Beauty’ isn’t just for jazzRead More

Dave Kikoski – Persistent Dreams (1991)

NICK DERISO: Skid past the first few tracks — an overcooked original, then a couple of snoozers that are just too obvious in their modern cliche — and Dave Kikoski began to live up to his producer’s persistent tips of the hat. That would be Steely Dan guitarist Walter Becker, who wrote the liner notes. He stumbled across Kikoski doingRead More

Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers – Art Collection (1992)

Funky and tough, the Jazz Messengers were, until the very end, a group best heard blasting away on stage as vital, hard bop pioneers. That made this the definitive late-period release from Art Blakey. “Art Collection” features two celebrated tracks with Wynton and Branford Marsalis, as well as one with Bobby Watson and Wynton Marsalis, and another with long-tenured tenorRead More

Marcus Roberts – As Serenity Approaches (1992)

NICK DERISO: Before going out on his own, pianist Marcus Roberts learned an important thing from former bandleader Wynton Marsalis: This ability to use standards to create a context for original compositions. Marsalis had, at this point, moved away from all-original content into a tight embrace of the repertoire — and this album by Roberts, featuring solo and duet pieces,Read More

George Gershwin – Gershwin Performs Gershwin: Rare Recordings (1931-35)

NICK DERISO: Dug up from some old dusty box in brother Ira’s attic, this scratchy, other-worldly epiphany issued by BMG is remarkable for its ethereal emotion, ageless grace and surprising reliance on (gasp!) commercialism to push art. The first 12 tracks are acetates from “Music by Gershwin,” 15-minute radio programs recorded in 1934 to help underwrite George Gershwin’s signature folkRead More

Forgotten series: Sir Charles Thompson – Takin’ Off (1947)

The hard-punching Charles Thompson is best known, if he’s known at all now, as a deep-background member of the Coleman Hawkins/Howard McGhee band from this period. On “Takin’ Off,” however, Thompson’s frisky rhythm and round-house experimentation are a constant reminder of just how underappreciated he remains. Thompson wasn’t simply a link between the swing era and bebop, having first playedRead More

Something Else! Interview: Vocalist Heidi McCurdy

A little more than a month ago I covered a self-released album by a Vancouver, British Columbia-based jazz-pop vocalist by the name of Heidi McCurdy. Heidi’s music is a prime example of the great singing and composing talent out there still unsigned and undiscovered by a record company. Fickle Mind is a fine document of such talent, a document thatRead More

Gimme Five: Say what?!? Jazz’s most surprising albums

“Jazz is the sound of surprise”–jazz critic Whitney Balliett, 1926-2007 Sometimes you think you know a musician and his tendencies, or that he’s always played the kind of music you’ve known him to play. Over the course of pursuing my curiosity about certain artists, I’ve stumbled upon some rather peculiar recordings that went totally against my preconceptions of the artistRead More

Forgotten series: Bill Evans – The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings (1961)

by Nick DeRiso The pianist, of course, got all the press. But Scott Lafaro, this tragic genius in a unique counter-melodic style, is the one who so often gets forgotten. If you care anything about bass (rock, jazz or blues) you will find his recordings with Bill Evans at New York City’s Village Vanguard … and you will study them.Read More