Each month, CapRadio’s jazz hosts bring you the tracks that have stuck with them this month to give you a peek into their own music libraries. This month we have debuts and old standards, and live tracks as well as studio albums. And Gary Vercelli shares a few selections from artists celebrating the people who inspired them. We hope this month's selections inspire you, as well!
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Gary G. Vercelli
"Woody Shaw (extended version)" — Brian Lynch Big Band
Aside from being a great trumpet master who has worked with everyone from Horace Silver to Eddie Palmieri, Brian Lynch is a voracious reader. On his two-CD set “The Omni-American Book Club,” Lynch dedicates his splendid compositions to the authors who have inspired him and helped to shape his perception of history. On ‘Woody Shaw,” —honoring an influential trumpet great — Lynch acknowledges authors Amiri Baraka and A.B. Spellman for hipping him to the importance of African-American music and history. Lynch's concern with justice and social consciousness shines through on all his compositions.
"Jazz On TV" — Carmen Lundy
On her new CD, “Modern Ancestors,” vocalist Carmen Lundy pays homage to the giants of jazz who helped shape her identity, including Nina Simone, Shirley Horn, Sarah Vaughan, and John Coltrane. The cynical humor of “Jazz On TV” points to the fact that Carmen is still waiting for it to happen! This is one of 10 self-penned tunes that demonstrate Carmen is growing as a composer of considerable merit.
"Eleanor" — Jimmy Cobb
Jimmy Cobb was the drummer on Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” album, recorded in 1959. Cobb is the only musician from that iconic date still alive and, at age 90, Jimmy Cobb is still swinging! He now leads an international trio with pianist Tadataka Unno from Japan and bassist Paolo Benedettini from Italy. The trio is joined by special guest Roy Hargrove on this beautiful ballad. Sadly, this turned out to be one of Hargrove’s last recordings as well as the last recording session for the legendary engineer, Rudy Van Gelder.
"But Beautiful" — Chick Corea
Given the worldwide success of his first Trilogy album, it's no surprise that pianist Chick Corea's second live effort with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade is an absolute knockout. A highlight reel of the second world tour by some of the biggest influences in jazz, it features a few standards as well as refreshing takes on Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, and even Stevie Wonder.
My favorite track on this album is one of the better known standards written by Jimmy Van-Heusen entitled "But Beautiful." Corea had recorded it before on his 2000 record, "Solo Piano: Standards." Nineteen years later it still has such incredible passion, with the added bonus of a wonderful bass solo by Christian McBride.
"Is it Love That Inspires You?" — Joel Ross
Young vibraphonist Joel Ross made his debut on Blue Note records five months ago and has already proven himself to be an incredible soloist, composer and bandleader. Ross stands out with his expressive playing while at the same time giving ample space for the other members of his five-piece group — aptly named "Good Vibes" — to shine individually.
Almost all of the tracks are original compositions by the breakout bandleader, and he even has one featuring vocalist Gretchen Parlato. My favorite cut, however, features just Ross, bassist Benjamin Tiberio and drummer Jeremy Dutton. "Is It Love That Inspires You?" really shows the vibraphonist's command of the instrument and his ability to create a superb musical narration all around. Be sure to keep your ears open for what Joel Ross has in the works next, as he's just getting started.
This past month, our community had the pleasure of hosting Kendrick Scott Oracle at the Mondavi Center. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend one of the four concerts given to us by this elite group of musicians. For this month’s playlist, I will be highlighting music from Oracle’s latest release, "A Wall Becomes a Bridge." I’ve also got something from a solo album by my personal favorite member of the band, guitarist Mike Moreno.
“>>>>>>>Don Blue” — Kendrick Scott Oracle
Released in April of this year, "A Wall Becomes a Bridge" is an album that I highly recommend you experience as a whole. With that said, “>>>>>>>Don Blue” is a tune that encapsulates Scott’s brilliance as a composer, as well as the unique sound of this band and the world class musicianship of its members.
From the haunting melody, performed beautifully by woodwind player John Ellis, to the colorful harmony offered by Bay Area pianist Taylor Eigsti and guitarist Mike Moreno, this tune tells us what Kendrick Scott Oracle is about. But still, listen to the whole album.
“April in Paris” — Mike Moreno
Kendrick Scott and Mike Moreno have been playing music together since their high school days in Houston, Texas. The level of chemistry they have with each other — one that can only be accomplished with time and hard work — is just as evident on Moreno’s solo album, "3 for 3," as it is on Scott’s Oracle projects.
“April in Paris” is a classic standard that has been performed by everyone from Louis Armstrong and Count Basie to Bill Evans and Wynton Marsalis. Moreno offers a more modern approach to the tune than most other recordings you will find. His mastery of improvisation over a clever reharmonization clearly demonstrates why he is one of the premiere jazz guitarists working today.
It also shows us that when performed by the right musicians, timeless standards like “April in Paris” can be reinvented over and over again, and remain as fresh as they were when they were composed over 80 years ago.
Listen to our full Ear to Ear: Jazz playlist below: