Trio Latino - Mayan Suite - Bacalao Records

Drummer Brian Andres unleashes an electrifying new project with Mayan Suite, the inaugural recording of his Trio Latino, on Bacalao Records. Though it finds Andres stepping back from his longtime leadership of the eight-piece Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel, the new trio (featuring pianist Christian Tumalan and bassist Aaron Germain) shows itself to be every bit as musically rich as the larger ensemble. What’s more, the album’s striking originals and zesty interpretations find the band equaling that richness with audacity. Indeed, Andres created the trio in the hope of finding just such an emboldened style. With fewer voices, he says, “There’s much more space to explore, for creative expression, and with that freedom there’s greater responsibilities for all three of us.” In fact, Tumalan and Germain fulfill both their freedom and their responsibility in supplying all of Mayan Suite’s original compositions. It’s not happenstance that all three are rhythm players: Trio Latino’s prowess on Mayan Suite, collectively and as soloists, comes in the service of irresistibly kinetic grooves drawn from the Afro-Latin jazz canon.

Ute Lemper - Rendezvous With Marlene - Jazzhaus Records

This album presents Ute’s personal collection of Marlene Dietrich’s most celebrated songs from all chapters of her career, including the German, American and French Songbook. With a gentle reference to Marlene’s style Ute interprets with an authentic and playful approach and always inflict her own imagination and musicality. Rendezvous with Marlene is based on a 3-hour phone call and exchange between Marlene and Ute in 1988 in Paris. After receiving the French Moliére Award for her performance in Cabaret in Paris, Ute had sent a postcard to Marlene, who had lived at 12 Avenue de Montaigne since 1979, essentially apologizing for all the media attention comparing her to Marlene. Ute was just at the beginning of her career in theater and music, whereas Marlene looked back on a long, fulfilled life of movies, music, incredible collaborations, love stories and stardom. What a secret gift to hear Marlene talk about her life, her work and style, her love for the poet Rilke, her complicated relationship with Germany, her sorrow and her fascinations. Ute tells us Marlene’s story, along with singing songs from all the chapters of her own life, from the Berlin cabaret years to her fabulous Burt Bacharach collaborations.

Pasquale Grasso - Solo Masterpieces - Sony Masterworks

Sony Masterworks is proud to release the latest addition to Pasquale Grasso’s digital showcase series, Solo Masterpieces. The series – which includes the 2019 releases Solo Standards, Vol. 1, Solo Ballads, Vol. 1, Solo Monk and Solo Holiday- all emphasize the guitar virtuoso as he displays his intensive studies of the guitar masters, both bebop and classical. Available now, Solo Masterpieces represents the first full length member of the digital series; as a compilation it acts as both a retrospective of the previous albums and also an insight to a handful of previously-unreleased tunes from the upcoming 2020 EP releases. With Solo Masterpieces, Grasso has gathered music from each of his first solo guitar EPs and melded them. The result is a masterful collection that allows audiences to revel in Grasso’s previous work whilst simultaneously creating an air of excitement for the music yet to be released.

Jim Robitaille Trio - Space Cycles - Whaling City

After a brief interlude in a group format, Jim Robitaille is back inside the sparse and generous spaces of his trio. Flanked by Bill Miele on bass and Chris Poudrier on drums, Robitaille sounds as if he returned home after being away for a while. The colors throughout these arrangements pulse and glow, embracing a spectrum of musical emotion, while Robitaille’s guitar tone also explores the range of what is possible within the framework, he’s set for himself. Miele and Poudrier buttress Robitaille’s work with sturdy, confident rhythm and gentle explorations of their own. From the moody opener, “Natural Selection,” the delicate and profound melancholy of “When We Passed,” all the way through to the closing, quietly epic ensemble jam “Chance Meeting,” the recording session is dazzling, understated, beautiful, at times even sublime. There’s an unwritten story here on “Space Cycles,” lurking somewhere in the satisfying jams like warm toes under a blanket. We’d ask a few questions about those stories, find out where they come from, and what the reasoning behind it all is, but the sounds are all we need, and we’d rather just enjoy the warmth anyway.

Lakecia Benjamin - Pursuance: The Coltranes - Ropeadope

The indisputably dynamic, charismatic saxophonist/bandleader, Lakecia Benjamin releases a 13-track collection of tunes originally penned by two of the most influential jazz figures of the 20th and 21st century: Alice and John Coltrane. With the highly-anticipated release of Pursuance: The Coltranes, the New York City native is not only honored to pay homage to this tour-de-force pair, but is thrilled to do it in the company of what can only be described as sheer jazz elite: Reggie Workman, Ron Carter, Gary Bartz, Dee Dee Bridegwater, Meshell Ndegeocello, Regina Carter, Bertha Hope, Last Poets, Greg Osby, Steve Wilson, John Benitez, Marc Cary, Marcus Gilmore, Keyon Harrold, Marcus Strickland, Brandee Younger, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Jazzmeia Horn.

Amina Figarova - Persistence - AmFi Records

After 20 years at the helm of her acclaimed acoustic sextet, Amina Figarova gathers an electric band grooving somewhere in the sweet spot between jazz fusion, classic R&B, inventive hip-hop and progressive funk. Figarova couldn’t have assembled a better band to enliven this thrilling new sound: supplementing her own piano with an array of keyboards, she’s joined by guitar great Rez Abbasi (Rudresh Mahanthappa, Kiran Ahluwalia), bassist Yasushi Nakamura (Christian Sands, Toshiko Akiyoshi), drummer Rudy Royston (Bill Frisell, JD Allen) and her partner in music and life, flutist Bart Platteau, who here also wields the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument). The album also features guest vocals by singer Paul Jost, rapper JSWISS, and poet/singer Skye’s World. Persistence is in one sense a single word autobiography for Figarova.  “In the past, when it came time for the next record I would sit down at the piano and write,” she recalls. “Here I was just asking musicians to bring some of their own music over and try some of my mine, trying out different things without thinking about recording. It was fun every time and led to a lot of surprises.”

Brian Melvin - Shapes - Yama Records

Shapes is a new project featuring Brian Melvin on Drums along with Matt Renzi on Sax and Mart Soo on Guitar. The CD reflects a deep maturity in composition as well as dynamics, listening and improvisation. The music is played and designed to take the listener on an inner voyage. The album consists primarily of original music along with a composition by Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden. Shapes gives it’s listeners a very soft and warm feeling with an array of wonderful improvisations.

Keith Oxman - Two Cigarettes In The Dark - Capri Records

Saxophonist Keith Oxman Collaborates with revered veteran Houston Person for the classic-minded two-tenor album Two Cigarettes in the Dark. Oxman and Person present a mix of originals and standards, playing alongside a simpatico rhythm section: pianist Jeff Jenkins, bassist Ken Walker and drummer Paul Romaine. In addition to tunes by vintage tenors Hank Mobley (“Bossa for Baby”) and Johnny Griffin (“Sweet Sucker”), the album includes a relaxed, grooving take on the title track and two songbook ballads featuring the beautiful phrasings of vocalist Annette Murrell: “Everything Happens to Me” and “Crazy He Calls Me.”

John Stein - Watershed - Whaling City Sound

There’s really something to the idea that experience helps you see things more clearly. On the transcendent Watershed, guitarist John Stein’s 15th recording and 11th for Whaling City Sound, Stein, and his simpatico band realize this set of deep grooves with remarkable clarity. Aided by the considerable talents of his band, including Frank Herzberg (bass), ZéEduardo Nazario (drums), Daniel Grajew (keyboards), and Teco Cardoso (flute and saxes), Stein manages to reveal the magic hiding in these grooves and rhythms. Recorded in São Paulo, Brazil, Watershed features John’s compositions, jazz classics by Jim Hall, Joe Henderson, Pat Martino, and a timeless gem by Henry Mancini. The exceptional band of musicians is fully committed, achieving stylistic variety, deep grooves, and authentic feeling on all the tunes. Watershed is suffused with lyricism and artistic clarity as he raises the bar for his own future visions.

Gloria Reuben & Marty Ashby - For All We Know - MCG Jazz

Gloria Reuben and Marty Ashby perform a collection of tunes, intimately exploring the beautiful, sometimes painful, oftentimes mystifying nature of love and relationships. All of the songs on For All We Know, soon to be released on the MCG Jazz recording label, carry the listener through the myriad of emotions that entwines the heart while one wishes for a love, wins a love or loses a love. The song titles alone tell a powerful story that contains a message, a memory or a desire that anyone who has ever been in a relationship can connect with. All of the songs evoke in the listener the question: how do you face the denial, sorrow, anger that arises from a break-up, a lost love, and pick yourself up to start over and celebrate love once again?