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Flux Music Essentials

Greeting’s jazz lovers, I’m back with another tasty serving of who’s who in the world of jazz from the shelves of “Flux Music Essentials.

Esperanza Spalding, Esperanza

Esperanza Spalding -|- Esperanza – [Heads Up International, 2009]

In recent memory, not many artists can claim victory to the promise land with a splash as the gifted Esperanza Spalding has conquered with her voice of duality as a bassist and vocalist. While petite in stature, as silly as it is some might let this distract them from paying attention to her music. At present, this admirable young lady retains her spot as an incomparable talent that transcends her twenty-three years beyond what jazz enthusiast’s might expect from her sophomore and debut record “Esperanza” on Heads Up International.

On these gorgeous collection of songs, Esperanza’s signature swells with detailed and rhythmic symmetry combined with her adoring voice equals utter splendor to any listener who enjoys a potent injection of jazz coupled with an abundance of Brazilian/Latin music.

Esperanza attaches herself to a core of A-list artist on this record including flamingo guitarist Nino Josele, percussionist Jamey Haddad, and drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez along with Naw-leans saxophonist Donald Harrison. —Rob Young

Roy Hargrove - With the Tenors of Our Time

Roy Hargrove -|- With the Tenors of Our Time – [Polygram Records, 1994]

… and the concept is a good one, to showcase the exciting young tenor saxophonists of Roy Hargrove’s jazz generation while complementing Hargrove’s own technically superb but affectively staid performance. In other words, all those tenors make Hargrove sound damn good. This is a “big” ensemble playing the sort of jazz that has dominated recent decades – a cocktail of be-bop, cool jazz, and just a splash of free jazz. Hargrove is tastiest as a balladeer, so most of the tracks have the smoky-romance ballad feel abou them.

The “concept” is also a fine commercial one, a “sampler” in effect of the new jazz voices on the iconic instrument of modern jazz, the tenor saxophone. One might be tempted to buy this CD just to sort through the ‘competition’ for the mantle of Lester Young or Dexter Gordon. The tenorists included are: Stanley Turretine, Bradford Marsalis, Joe Henderson, Johnny Griffin (though Griffin is a lot older, born in 1928), and Joshua Redman. You can listen, evaluate, and go find other CDs by the ones you like, right? To my ears, the clear choices would be Griffin, for his hot licks, and Redman, for his harmonic/melodic intelligence. Redman never lets his fingers do his thinking; his improvs always have a kind of melodic relevance and intentionality. Frankly, I wish he’d recorded more tracks like these, multi-instrument ensembles rather than his usual trios or quartets backed up with only piano/bass/drums. Both Griffin and Redman encourage Hargrove’s musical focus.

But the dominant impression one will get from this menagerie of tenor saxists is that John Coltrane lives and breathes. Coltrane’s influence is paramount, as most jazz fans will probably assume it should be. Giordano Bruno/Amazon.com

- Grusin and Ritenour - Harlequin -

Grusin & Ritenour -|- Harlequin – [GRP Records, 1987]

Romantic, exotic, intoxicating jazz fusion, quite a few tracks with Brazilian overtones courtesy of engineer turn musician/composer/vocalist Ivan Lins. This is not Antonio Carlos Jobim type breezy, wonderful jazz. But more passionate. Lins married a famous Brazilian beauty and she broke his heart! He turned to song writing and became a respected and popular musician. Here, he collaborates with Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour and their regulars like Harvey Mason, Don Grusin(Dave’s Brother) etc. Digitally recorded and mastered at Dave’s GRP studio, it sounds good, off course, like ALL GRP recordings. Early AM attitude is the most popular track on this disc.

Composed by Grusin, you might have heard it before on radio etc. But the Entire disc is excellent. Ritenour also wrote a few track. Lins wrote 3 and sings as well (in Brazilian, though he does sing in English in his subsequent albums). This CD is worth every penny and is a MUST have! —Lawrence Chow / Amazon.com

Gregory Porter - Water

Gregory Porter -|- Water – [Motéma Music, 2010]

Born in LA, and raised in Bakersfield, CA and currently residing in Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, N.Y. Vocal artist extraordinaire Gregory Porter has found a new dwelling place to call home and execute his unyielding talent on the New York and global music scene.

Porter’s debut “Water,” is on the internationally independent record label Motéma Music. It’s produced by the multi-facet saxophonist, pianist and composer Kamau Kenyatta. Grammy winning jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis says Porter is “a fantastic young singer.”

The opener “Illusion,” is definitely for the relationship minded folks. You’ll find Porter’s vocal presence warm, cool, and confronting. Coupled with pianist Chip Crawford, in a duo setting this jewel serves up what could easily be considered a timeless masterpiece in the making. On Illusion, Porter boldly expresses himself lyrically through the immeasurable pain that’s often felt on the imminent journey of love that is reflected in the sobering nuances that are divulge from his smooth, and elegant timbre is reminiscent of early influences including Donny Hathaway, Nate King Cole and Joe Williams. —Rob Young

- David Sanchez - Melaza -

David Sanchez -|- Melaza – [Columbia, 2000]

The very talented Mr. David Sanchez described his music this way in an interview with “Latin Beat Magazine.” ” A Jazz oriented musical interpretation of the music of Latin America today, of course, with the main emphasis being on music of the Caribbean but not necessarily always based on the percussion sounds of the Caribbean rhythms. Percussion sounds are colors in my music, the rhythmic drive of my music goes beyond the normal Afro-Caribbean or Afro-Cuban tendencies which the majority of Latin jazz bands play…”

Simply put, I like to think of David Sanchez’ music as a blend of Afro-Caribbean rhythms and Bebop taken to the highest degree. At times it is like hearing Coltrane playing riffs over Bomba and Plena rhythms! At 31, saxophonist David Sanchez has set himself apart from the average Latin Jazz band and is setting new standards and breaking new ground with every recording.

On MELAZA David comes out swinging with folkloric rhythms and progressive jazz licks that will amaze and astound. This is a departure from his last recording, OBSESION (Latin American, Brazilian and Caribbean standards with strings) and the next best thing to hearing David and his band in person. Also, the majority of the compositions are originals, composed by members of the band.

I have followed David’s career from his days with “Charlie Sepulveda and the Turnaround” and have watched him grow by leaps and bounds. The blend of raw talent and maturity that David displays is a rare thing to behold. In my opinion, David is destined to go down in history as one of the great saxophone players of his time.

Check out MELAZA. It is unique, explosive, tender, funky Latin yet straight ahead Jazz. It David Sanchez doing what he does best. —Thomas Pena/Amazon.com

..:: Source: Amazon.com | The Urban Flux ::..