Greetings jazz aficionados, I’m back once again this time with five spellbinding jazz titles from the shelves of Flux Music Essentials! The following recordings fit perfectly into the mold of what I view as being the usual suspects … at least from my perspective. Pull’em off the rack and take them for a spin. Although similar in context, these gems where originally recorded to create an atmosphere with just enough complex nuances and innovation painted on the canvas to make these jewels a worthwhile listening experience.
Joshua Redman Quartet -|- Moodswing – [Warner Bros, 1994]
This recording in my opinion is the freshest and finest work that Joshua Redman has produced. Considering that the band make-up of Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride and Brian Blade are three of the baddest young jazz musicians today, they have also become major band leaders in their own right. I think this was the recording that set them all on their way. The songs vary from melodic to sonically intense. McBride and Blade blaze a rhythmic trail followed by the creative yet subtle piano stylings of Mehldau, all giving way to the superior improvisational skills of Redman. The songs seem almost lyrical in their expression. Whether you are a Joshua Redman fan, or someone who has never experienced his music before, this is the beginning (although he had two prior quality releases prior) of the spectacular career of one of the finest tenor sax players of these times…
Christian Scott -|- Yesterday You Said Tomorrow – [Concord Records, 2010]
First off let me say that I’m a devoted Christian Scott fan. I believe Christian is forging a new path in jazz music, one that blends elements of hip hop,alt rock and funk or basically he’s a artist who is making music that’s influenced by the times in which he lives & in my opinion you can’t get much more real than that. Onto the music.
Yesterday you Said Tomorrow is in my mind a slightly different direction for Christian. First off Scott has come with a new bassist & pianist two guys that are new names to me. He’s also scaled his band down from a sextet to quartet for the first time not recording with Walter Smith iii on tenor sax. This album was recorded at the historical Englewood Cliffs NJ studio, by the legendary engineer Rudy Van Gelder who many fans of blue note era jazz should recognize. The sound of this recording is very live, alot more so than his previous Anthem album or Rewind That which both had a more modern sleek production aesthetic. This records sound is a return to a more live in the studio band sound of the classic blue note era albums of the 50s & 60s, which is a welcome bit of nostalgia for me. If I had to describe the music herein with few words I would say this batch of tunes has a Miles Davis melodic simplicity & elegance with a radiohead influenced song structure with a more guitar & drum heavy sound that is intense but not bombastic or overbearing.
Robert Glasper -|- Canvas – [Blue Note, 2005]
Robert Glasper is a pianist with a unique sound all his own and yet, intriguingly, his refined technique and sensitivity remind me of the best of the legends. The opening “Rise and Shine” has probably the most distinctive melody on the album, and has moments that will remind you of McCoy Tyner, while his soloing has a kind of a Bud Powell cleverness and inventiveness. His slower themes such as “Canvas” and “Enoch’s Medi-tation” are very contemporary and very bebop at the same time. His artistry is in ability to do this so smoothly and effort-
lessly. “Portrait of an Angel” is almost solo piano, so pure and expressive, it carries you along with beautiful
phrasing. One of my very favorite tunes on the entire album is “Jelly’s da Beener” with its distinctive left hand piano bass line in the intro which is picked up by the bass player. His soloing always is interesting yet unpretentious. The album beginning to end is a journey that keeps you on your toes, awakening you to his fresh and upbeat ideas and marvelous phrasing which are a pleasure to kick back and enjoy. I definitely hope we’ll be hearing much more from this new generation artist!
Steps Ahead -|- Steps Ahead – [Elektra Musician, 1983]
Years ago, I confided in a friend who played in a jazz band that I was looking for jazz CDs with good vibraphones, and he recommended this. He added, “Listen to the first cut, `Pools,’ it will blow you away.” Well, I listened, and it did. Mike Mainieri’s vibraphone soloing on “Pools” is the best kind of free-flowing improvisation from this beautiful instrument, yielding an absorbing pleasure trip. Tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker amazingly matches Mainieri in quality on “Pools” to make this 11-minute plus composition magnificent from start to finish. The second song, “Islands,” is almost as good. Mainieri’s vibes sparkle again on this track, as well as on “Skyward Bound” and “Northern Cross.” Brecker time and again displays a great technical proficiency on the sax, and the rhythm section is great. The group is really together except on the oddball improvisation finale “Trio.” Fans of pianist Eliane Elias should note she made her first album appearance here, before she launched her very successful solo career. Her radiant improvisation work on “Islands” is her highlight. Beyond my predilection for the great vibraphone work, this eponymous U.S. debut is one of the best modern jazz albums I know.
Joe Sample -|- Invitation – [Warner, 1993]
We are all Joe Sample fans because of a distinctive style of piano playing that is catchy, charismatic, and sometimes remarkably impressionistic with his gift to musically illustrate the places and memories that have most affected his life. In this album, we are delighted to hear him appreciate standards, his acoustic piano woven with some of the most beautiful orchestration I have ever heard. This is the album to make you feel good, relaxed, the one for the Sunday afternoon, or the cozy late night in front of the fire with favorite people. All of the selections are wonderful, the album is first rate from beginning to end. I have just rediscovered it again, and am totally mesmerized by it!! Outstanding!!
** The above album reviews where written by customers at Amazon.com. I agree with their comments. The above jazz titles are available “now” on both CD & MP3 format. **