Chicago saxophonist/composer Greg Ward (now based in NYC) is an integral player in a number of distinct coteries of the contemporary music scene. In addition to leading his bands, Fitted Shards and The Greg Ward Sextet, Ward recently recorded with electronica artist Prefuse 73, arranged and conducted orchestra for Lupe Fiasco, received a commission from the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra (for a concerto for jazz quartet and string orchestra), and will be recording and performing with renowned rock group Tortoise. In 2002, the late saxophone legend Fred Anderson hand-picked Ward to curate the Wednesday night jam sessions at his club The Velvet Lounge. Ward has also worked with artists such as Von Freeman, Frank Wess, Al Jarreau, Carl Allen, Rufus Reid, Jeff Parker, Brian McNight and Hamid Drake, performing extensively at major venues and festivals in the States and abroad. He is currently a member of the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, Mike Reed’s People, Places, and Things, Blink, Loose Assembly, The Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble, Hamid Drake’s Bindu, and Ted Sirota’s Rebel Souls. He has recorded for the Roguart, 482 Music, Thirsty Ear, Clean Feed, and Delmark labels. Continue reading
Pianist Cyrus Chestnut is certainly the genuine article when it comes to playing jazz. Undoubtedly his unique and refreshing approach to composition brilliantly captures the virtuosity, spirit and soul of this truly gifted artist. If you haven’t hear Soul Food, his musical identity is unleashed through various imprints of his career with this amazing project. —Rob Young | The Urban Flux
Cyrus Chestnut -][- Soul Food – [Warner Bros., 2001]
One just has to look at the line up of this album to know that this will be an enjoyable listening experience.
Soul Food finds Cyrus Chestnut in four different settings, in a large group with the trio of Chestnut, Christian McBride on bass, and Lewis Nash on drums augmented by Marcus Printup on trumpet, Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, and James Carter on tenor sax. Also there is the trio plus vibraphonist Stefon Harris, just the trio, and two songs where Chestnut is solo. All of the players are extremely virtuosic and play with effortless grace and soul. Chestnut shines on every song and plays with a refreshing lack of ego. He is always playing a solo totally conducive to the feel of the song. The rhythm section, as suspected is superb. There is also an appearance by Gary Bartz, the alto player at the end of the album in a sort of epilogue. Continue reading
Spanish Harlem Orchestra -][- Viva la Tradición – [CONCORD PICANTE, 2010]
Concord Picante is proud to announce the release of Viva la Tradicón, the newest album from the Grammy winning 13-piece collective Spanish Harlem Orchestra. The 12-track collection marks the orchestra’s debut album for Concord Picante and overall fourth outing. Viva la Tradicón takes up where its three predecessors left off – stirring the pot of mid-20th century influences and keeping the salsa simmering for current and future generations.
Now in its tenth year, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra is one of the most formidable and authentic Latin jazz combos of today. Yet for all of its appeal with contemporary audiences, the group’s success is actually rooted in the past. A lively and energetic affair, Viva la Tradición draws on inspiration from the music’s history and enduring traditions. The collection is comprised largely of original compositions and arrangements of classic salsa tunes by bandleader/founder Oscar Hernandez. Hernández is one of the most respected musicians in Latin & Latin Jazz music.His track record & discography are extensive. On the new CD he enlists the support of veteran composer and arranger Gil Lopez on three of Lopez’s compositions (“Son De Corazon,” “Nuestra Cancion,” and “Regala De Dios). Continue reading
Sometimes you have to shake things up, push a little farther, reach a little higher – even when you’re a contemporary jazz foursome that’s been operating at the top of its collective game for two decades.
After twenty years and a dozen albums, in an industry that has undergone sweeping transformations in the past decade, Fourplay knows that the only thing that’s certain, in music or any other business, is change. The latest proof of that axiom is the new face in their lineup – that of guitarist Chuck Loeb, who makes his compelling debut with the quartet on Let’s Touch The Sky, the band’s new recording on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group.
Loeb completes the four-man crew that also includes the band’s founding members: keyboardist Bob James, bassist/vocalist Nathan East and drummer/percussionist Harvey Mason. Let’s Touch The Sky also includes stirring performances by guest vocalists Anita Baker and Ruben Studdard. Continue reading