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Flux Music Essentials

Greeting’s jazz connoisseurs, I’m back with another intriguing palette of creative music from some of today’s most inspiring voices known and unknown coupled in the world of jazz.

Mark Turner - Ballad Session

Mark Turner -][- Ballad Session – [Warner Bros. 2000]

Tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, who at least in the photographs included in this CD bears a striking resemblance to the Indiana Pacers’ Reggie Miller, shows in this CD that he has the potential for being as big a star on the jazz circuit as Mr. Miller is in the NBA. Ballad Session features a crack lineup of Turner on tenor, Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar, Kevin Hays on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass, and Brian Blade on drums. The ballad selection is also sterling, starting off with Gershwin’s “I Loves You Porgy” and ranging over cuts such as Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti,” Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark,” Paul Desmond’s “Late Lament,” and several others.

The musicians really seem to enjoy playing these classic tunes; Rosenwinkel deserves special mention, as he is able to blend perfectly into the texture of the music, never calling overt attention to himself, but adding immeasurably to the beauty of the sound. Brian Blade has a wonderful touch on the drums, so soft and sure and deft, and of course Turner himself sets the tone, playing with a tone at once caressing and confident, and always serving the music, never once seeming to be showing off. —Karl W. Nehring | Amazon.com

Avishai Cohen Trio - Gently Distrubed

Avishai Cohen Trio -][- Gently Disturbed – [Savoy Jazz, 2008]

This CD was listed by Downbeat Magazine as one of the best jazz CD’s for 2008. I would highly recommend it for those who enjoy hearing a jazz trio play mellow, flowing sets with nice transitions between the trio members. There is also outstanding “knowledge” by each trio member, realizing what the other member is trying to play and complimenting the music making the trio sound as one unit. Some of the bass playing by Avishai Cohen really stands out on Puncha Puncha and Variations in G Minor, reminding you of other great bass players such as Eddie Gomez (played with Bill Evans).

Other songs such as Eleven Wives have a “Bad Plus” feel to them. So if you like Bad Plus, but wish you could find a more mellow and listen-able Bad Plus, then this trio CD is a must for you. Overall, every song and the whole CD weave you in and out of great interplay and transition playing by three excellent musicians. An excellent CD. —Matt H. Evans | Amazon.com

Robert Glasper - Double Booked (Blue Note, 2009)

Robert Glasper -][- Doubled Booked – [Blue Note, 2009]

Robert Glasper is a man of many talents. Certainly, he’s both an inarguably accomplished jazz pianist and a first-rate composer. But what Glasper does best is pick drummers. With 2007’s In My Element, he provided Damion Reid with a platform to record nothing less than the drum performance of the year. For this album, Glasper teams up with Chris Dave, and the results are astonishing. It’s a concept album, sort of. The first half features the Trio (Glasper, Dave, and bassist Vicente Archer) on a handful of originals and a take on Thelonius Monk’s “Think of One.” Throughout, the piano and drums intertwine with a complex integrity that sounds deceptively effortless.

Then comes the Experiment: Derrick Hodge replaces Archer with an electric bass; Casey Benjamin adds saxes and vocoder; Bilal and Mos Def drop in for vocal cameos. The Experiment’s five tracks differ in texture and depth from the Trio’s set, but the adventurousness of the performances and the gorgeous lyricism of Dave’s drumming fuse the album’s halves into a single musical statement that makes for the year’s best jazz album so far. —Jason Kirk | Amazon.com

Rudresh Mahanthappa - Codebook

Rudresh Mahanthappa -][- Codebook – [Pi Recordings, 2006]

Since the release of Mother Tongue in 2004, Rudresh Mahanthappa has moved to the forefront of the new generation of composers and alto players in jazz. The time in between has seen him take honors in the DownBeat Jazz Critics Poll, receive the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for excellence in composition, and receive a Rockefeller grant to compose music for his Dakshina Ensemble featuring Kadri Goplanath, amongst other things. The time has also allowed Mahanthappa to once again look to the outside world and draw from a system of order for his next project. The result is Pi Recordings’ new release Code Book. Mahanthappa has composed the music on Code Book stemming from ideas and concepts related to cryptography.

The varied systems provided the groundwork for him to approach the DNA of the compositions on this CD from fresh and previously unexplored angles. A well-known standard could be transformed into an entirely fresh piece, notes could be associated with words and ordered as such, and rhythms further coded and ordered. All of this is to say that another system of order has been applied to music, but has been done so with such care and thought that the result sounds in no way formulated. Instead, it is the work of a composers’ hand deftly working within a system, but creating something entirely organic. This CD is a beautiful addition to Mahanthappa’s growing catalog of releases and a mature statement from a voice that we now see scaling new heights. —Amazon.com

Kurt Rosenwinkel - Next Step

Kurt Rosenwinkel -][- Next Step – [Polygram Records, 2001]

I first got into Kurt’s music through finding an advanced promo copy of the Enemies of Energy. It totally knocked me out with it’s compositional originality and with the very strong solo voices of the quintet. I really felt a depth and vision in this music that is all too rare among the many highly competent jazz artists that record nowadays. It’s a quartet date, so Scott Kinsey’s keyboard work from Enemies is no longer part of the sound, but that is not a problem. Kurt’s brilliant guitar playing is more prominent that it was on Enemies, and on the title track he plays piano (also brilliantly), rather than guitar. The quartet is rounded out by Mark Turner on sax, Jeff Ballard on drums, and Ben Street on bass.

All I can say to a prospective buyer of the Next Step is that it is music of a very high order, and its well worth getting into. The only other relative newcomer (as a leader)on the scene that turns me on this much is Avishai Cohen. Buy this disc! —John S. | Amazon.com

..:: Source: Amazon.com | Flux Music Essentials ::..