Mark Masters Ensemble - Masters & Baron Meets Blaton & Webster - Capri Records

Arranger/Bandleader Mark Masters enlists Duke Ellington Orchestra veteran Art Baron to reimagine the music of the iconic bandleader’s most revered era. Masters & Baron Meet Blanton & Webstertransforms Ellington classics through a contemporary lens with Masters’ virtuosic ensemble and special guest trumpeter Tim Hagans. That inspiration is carried forward by the brilliant arrangements of Masters, who rearranges these classic compositions with his own unique interpretation. In addition to his own virtuosic Mark Masters Ensemble, the project spotlights the legendary Art Baron, the last trombonist hired by Ellington himself in 1973. The project brings together a generation spanning summit meeting that offers a fresh perspective on some of jazz’s greatest compositions.

Bob Mintzer & the WDR Big Band Cologne - Soundscapes - MCG JAZZ

Bob Mintzer has the knack. Whether he developed it during his brief association with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, his two years with the Buddy Rich Big Band, or his time with Jaco Pastorius’ Word of Mouth Big Band is unclear. What is certain, however, is that the great tenor saxophonist has continued to perfect his instincts for orchestration and counterpoint over the years. With Soundscapes, the maestro now returns as leader of the WDR Big Band with ten newly arranged pieces. “At WDR, there is, after all, a tradition that the chief conductor implements a project of his own writing at some point during his tenure,” he explains. “So I pulled together some of the things I’ve written for the band over the last five years, as well as a number of brand new numbers, for this recording.” Soundscapes, an amalgam of moods, grooves and complex textures, not only showcases Mintzer’s work for this widely acclaimed ensemble, but he does double duty. After all, he is also featured as the main soloist on tenor saxophone and the Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI), while spotlighting other outstanding soloists – such as long-time WDR members Paul Heller on tenor saxophone, Karolina Strassmayer and Johan Horlen on alto saxophone, Ruud Breuls and Andy Haderer on trumpet, and Andy Hunter on trombone.

John Stein - Serendipity - Whaling City Sound

Serendipity is the sound of John Stein and his trio, finding a way to get beautiful music into the hearts and hands of jazz fans, despite the odds. Like many musicians, John Stein was trying to find a way to reach his audience following the Covid-19 breakout. Prior to the pandemic, Whaling City Sound’s Neal Weiss had asked Stein to bring a trio for an outdoor September show he had booked in New Bedford. But when hell broke loose, Neal moved the show inside, to the New Bedford Art Museum, and made plans to broadcast it virtually, as well as record the audio and video. “Thanks to Neal’s ability to see other possibilities,” recalls Stein, “it would be the only public concert I played the entire year.” Stein’s trio for the date, Ed Lucie on bass and Mike Connors on drums, played as they normally would in front of a packed house. The session was live. There were no second takes, no overdubs, no corrections. They simply played each tune and then moved on. It succeeded as a video, of course, because of the trio’s remarkable chemistry. The set was stellar. But that wasn’t all. “Weeks after the show,” Stein recalls, “I had some tasks to do around the house and I let the video run in the background. For the first time, I experienced the soundtrack as pure music without the distraction of the visuals.” Stein heard subtle but extraordinary details that he hadn’t noticed before. “I became aware of the superb musicianship. At that moment, I realized that the audio itself was worthy of release.” Serendipity is that release.

Dave Bass - The Trio vol.1 - Dave Bass Music

This Cincinnati Kid attended Berklee, studied with the legendary Madame Chaloff gleaning an exquisite touch on piano and an appreciation for the spirituality of music. He also opened for Captain Beefheart, studied composition with George Russell, and toured the world with Brenda Lee – all before hitting 26! A wrist injury took him out of music and put him in the world of law where he became a Deputy Attorney General working for Kamala Harris. (Ask about Kamala’s letter to Dave about his music.) Having recorded his many originals with jazz greats like Phil WoodsTed NashErnie WattsIgnacio BerroaMary Stallings, and Karrin Allyson, Dave now enters the refined world of the piano trio saluting many of the pianists upon whose shoulders he stands, including Bud PowellPaul BleyAndrew Hill, and
Thelonious Monk. The Dave Bass Trio travels from Bach to Be-Bop to Free Jazz!

The Baylor Project (Jean and Marcus Baylor) - Generations - Be a Light

Generations is the highly anticipated new album by 3 time Grammy®-nominated duo The Baylor Project. Set for release during Black Music Month and on the eve of Juneteenth, this soulful sonic story quilt celebrates the universality of the human condition, viewed through the lens of the Black experience. Married musical partners Jean and Marcus Baylor welcome listeners to their proverbial kitchen table, as they pass on stories of family and faith, and love and legacy over the course of nine original compositions, and two covers. Storytelling has always been central to the Baylor Project’s creative output, and they have shown a particular adeptness at making their personal stories universally felt. They accomplish this and then some on Generations, which shares poignant stories of the Black experience, influenced by their own unique perspective. Special Guests include: Kenny Garrett, Jazzmeia Horn, Dianne Reeves, Jamison Ross, Sullivan Fortner, and more!

Chip Shelton - Special Days Each Year - Crystal Clear

This recording of various special occasion material finds him playing Tenor, Alto, Soprano, & Sopranino Saxophones (all by Yanagisawa, which he endorses). He also expands his Flute palette incorporating the rarely-heard Bb Flute D’Amore, Eb Flute, and Piccolo, alongside his (by now) familiar Concert and Bass Flutes. Shelton’s growth is further evidenced by his inclusion here of Bass Clarinet and Vocal features.

Andre Ferreri Quintetto - Numero Uno - Laser Records

Andre Ferreri has chosen to return to his passion for trad jazz, bebop and swing and grace us with a spirited and soulful, multi-mood driven album with his “Quintetto” whose title Numero Uno promises that he and the great ensemble will be continuing this vibe for a long time to come. Full of passion, explosive jamming, touches of big band and blues, tributes to his wife Mary and Pat Martino, and a sliver of important social consciousness, this is a powerful and empowering collection that showcases what happens when a musical veteran finds fresh new purpose in his solo career and engages with seasoned players to help him realize his vision that, like he says, almost seems divinely channeled. Ferreri chose to name his group the Italian version of “quintet” because the project has a Euro-Italian feel to it and he wanted to pay homage to both his heritage and the inspiration he found during his time in Italy. Ferreri’s longtime associates that form the core “Quintetto” include tenor saxophonist Ziad Rabie, who helps bring out the intensity of the emotions throughout the project, acoustic bassist Anna Stadlman and pianists Mark Stallings, Phillip Howe and Sean Higgins. Ferreri also worked for the first time with Kobie Watkins, a well-traveled world class drummer who has skinned for everyone from Kurt Elling and Arturo Sandoval to Sonny Rollins.

Clifford Lamb – Blues and Hues New Orleans – Weber Works

Following the success of his previous live, two track recording, Blues & Hues, San Francisco pianist Clifford Lamb again teams up with producer Jeff Weber to pursue their concept of the jazz “mash up” – the process in which a Lamb composition is stirred into an existing jazz work to offer a new perspective on history and culture. This time, they took their show on the road to record in New Orleans, the storied birthplace of jazz, whose gritty majesty and bayou mystery have inspired Lamb for years. Lamb has used the mash up concept as a way of telescoping history in order to offer musical commentary on societal issues. Now, he says “This has evolved to embrace the elements of an individual city, from love to racism to the cultural events that define it – and in this case, the chance to also consider what happened to the people who migrated there, particularly Africans from different lands who, centuries ago, converged on New Orleans, a distant land they did not understand. ”On this first in a series of planned geo-musical explorations by Lamb, NOLA provides not only the backdrop but also the starring players, including such vaunted Crescent Citizens as trumpeter Nicholas Payton, drummer Herlin Riley, bassist Roland Guerin and saxophonist (and Mardi Gras Big Chief) Donald Harrison.

Janet Evra & Ptah Williams - New Friends & Old Favorites - Lotown Records

Janet Evra and Ptah Williams New Friends and Old Favorites is a joyful meeting of old and new, tradition and innovation, soul and style.  Recorded live at the world-famous Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis, this instant classic album features familiar but fresh interpretations of American songbook standards and hits by Ray Charles, Nina Simone, and The Shirelles.  Evra, a young multi-talented international vocalist and bandleader and Williams, a St. Louis jazz legend and virtuoso pianist, are supported by an all-star ensemble of St. Louis musicians – Kendrick Smith on sax, Will Buchanan on guitar, and Demarius Hicks on drums.

Keith Oxman & Frank Morelli - The Ox-Mo Incident – Capri Records

Tenor saxophonist Keith Oxman and bassoon virtuoso Frank Morelli find common ground on their new jazz-meets-classical quartet album, The Ox-Mo Incident on Capri Records. The unique project pairs the Denver jazz great with the Juilliard bassoon professor for an unprecedented outing featuring pianist Jeff Jenkins, bassist Ken Walker and drummer Todd Reid. Jazz and classical music have crossed paths myriad times over the decades, but rarely is the meeting as unconventional yet congenial as this unlikely partnership between Denver-based tenor saxophonist Keith Oxman and bassoon virtuoso Frank Morelli. On their debut release, The Ox-Mo Incident, the two gifted instrumentalists turn the novel conjunction of two strange bedfellows into an intoxicating sound and a charming conversation between like-minded souls. The pairing is a first for both Oxman and Morelli, and perhaps for jazz itself (if not, it’s beyond doubt a true rarity). The album’s title makes a playful reference to Walter Van Tilburg Clark’s 1940 western novel The Ox-Bow Incident and its cinematic adaptation starring Henry Fonda.