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All That Jazz

by Andrew Elias


TERELL STAFFORD
BrotherLee Love
Capri Records

Philadelphian Terell Stafford’s loving tribute to the late great Lee Morgan, one of the greatest trumpeters of the 1950s & 1960s. Morgan joined Dizzy Gillespie’s band at age 18, played on Coltrane’s classic Blue Train album, was one of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and recorded some of the best jazz albums of all time.

Stafford doesn’t so much recreate Morgan’s sound or reinterpret his tunes as he reimagines how Morgan might play his music now. Stafford tackles classics like ‘Candy,’ ‘Speedball’ and ‘Petty Larceny’ as well as few more obscure titles, always tight and driving – just like Lee.


RAYFORD GRIFFIN
Reflections of Brownie
RazorEdge Records

Also on any short list of the greatest jazz trumpeters of all time is Clifford Brown. At the time of his untimely death in a car crash at the age of 25, Brown had just recorded, in four short years, four albums with Max Roach that still stand among the most iconic jazz albums ever.

Drummer Rayford Griffin pays tribute to the music of his Uncle Clifford, updating the music for a new audience. With the help of musicians like the late keyboardist George Duke, saxophonist Everett Harp, and trumpeter Nicholas Payton – as well as Clifford Brown Jr. and Clifford Brown III – Rayford breathes new life into gems ‘Daahoud’ and ‘Cherokee.’


CARLOS HENRIQUEZ
The Bronx Pyramid
Blue Engine Records

Bassist Henriquez has been playing with the likes of Tito Puente, Eddie Parlmieri and Celia Cruz since he was 14, and was plucked out of high school by Wynton Marsalis for his Septet and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Now, with his debut album, he masterfully mixes the varied exotic musical influences of his life, from the street beats of The Bronx to Puerto Rican and Dominican rhythms of the clubs to classical melodies. These inspirations are the musical pyramid that makes this album so rich and refreshing.


PAQUITO D'RIVERA
Paquito & Manzanero
Sunnyside Records

Paquito D’Rivera has been one of the most acclaimed jazz saxophonists for decades, still regularly winning Latin Grammys and relentlessly releasing new material. His newest album explores and celebrates the music of the great Mexican composer Armando Manzanero. From tango to waltz to bebop, D’Rivera’s beautiful arrangements and tasteful soloing make this album irresistibly romantic and soulful. Manzanero sings on three tracks and although his voice seems a bit frail, his emotional phrasing is devastatingly affecting


CHARLES LLOYD
& The Marvels
I Long To See You
Blue Note Records

Lloyd, one of the jazz icons of the 1960s, has teamed up here with Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz, two of the most innovative guitarists around to create an album that defies categorization. Mostly instrumental (Willie Nelson sings ‘Last Night I had the Strangest Dream’ and Norah Jones sings Billy Preston’s ‘You Are So Beautiful to Me’), it can just as easily be described as a jazz album as it could be described as Americana or even spiritual music.

Opening with a powerful take on Dylan’s ‘Masters of War,’ with blistering dueling guitars by Leisz and Frisell leading into a wild solo by Lloyd, makes it clear that this is no ordinary recording. The band dissects and rebuilds traditional spirituals ‘Shenandoah,’ ‘All My Trails’ and ‘Abide by Me,’ and swings through Lloyd’s originals with the abandon of musicians locked in a groove that comes along few times in a career.

An indefinable but essential album for those interested in truly new music beyond genre.


JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA
with WYNTON MARSALIS
Live in Cuba
Blue Engine Records

This two-CD set captures the excitement and phenomenal performances over a three-night stand at Havana’s Mella Theater in 2010. The band is in high gear, and joined on some tracks by Chucho Valdes’ Afro-Cuban Messengers, blowing through jazz standards, Afro-Cuban numbers and modern original compositions with equal aplomb and you can hear the crowds explode in appreciation at the end of each track.

A true celebration, these concerts reaffirmed the power of music to bring people together and this recording can be a wonderful reminder of the incredible music created on those hot nights in Havana.


GEORGE CABLES
In Good Company
HighNote Records

Renowned pianist Cables is what you would call reliable. His playing is understated, but intelligent, flavoring his bebop chops with flourishes of funk. His newest release, an excellent collection performed with a trio Essiet Essiet on bass and Victor Lewis on drums), is among his finest. Tracks like ‘Lush Life,’ ‘Love You madly’ and ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)’ are wonderful, with Cables’ solos, while not particularly innovative, are as entertaining as ever.


HERLIN RILEY
New Direction
Mack Avenue Records

Riley’s debut album finds the drummer exploring the many influences he absorbed in a music family in New Orleans. Riley takes his Afro-Cuban, jazz, and blues experiences, and shakes it into a sound that is both new yet familiar. An enticing collection of modern New Orleans music, funky jazz for folks who enjoy their musical gumbo on the hot side. •


March-April 2016