by: Hobart Taylor
Charlie Hunter - Everybody has a Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth - (Ground Up Records)
Guitarist Hunter from Wikipedia :"Hunter plays custom-made seven and eight-string guitars, on which he simultaneously plays basslines, rhythm guitar, and solos." I quoted this citation because what else can you say.
Like Jaco Pastorious , Les Paul, James "Blood" Ulmer, Stanley Clarke, Nels Cline, Robert Fripp, Bill Frizell or Jimi Hendrix, Hunter re-invents his instrument.
Joined on this release by drummer Bobby Previte, Kirk Knuffe on Cornet, and the wondrous trombonist Curtis Fowlkes (Lounge Lizards, Charlie Haden), Hunter goes to those dark places where you'd expect to find Tom Waits. This is essentially an urban blues record of the deepest sort. Brilliant.
Ana Moura - Moura - (Universal)
Produced by Larry Klein, (Joni Mitchell's mid career bassist producer and husband), Klein captures the simmering concoction of Moura's singing: burning aguardente chased by dark and smoky honey. She sings fados of her native Portugal, but also jazzpop. Delightful.
Monika Ryan and Chris White - Sketches Made in Chicago - (Self-Released)
Gorgeous Jazz Ballads sung a la Sarah Vaughn accompanied by cascading piano runs. These original tunes are superbly crafted in the Sondheim tradition. Born out of improvisations, these are definitively tone poems. Many of the tunes work together as suites and perhaps the whole record could be seen as a journey. Food for dreams.
Tony Foster - Project Paradiso - (Self-Released)
Pianist Foster leads a trio in selections of film tunes by Ennio Morricone and Henry Mancini. These are not the usual suspects. Lesser known but equal or superior to the "hits", tunes like "Deborah's Theme" from "Once Upon a Time in America" , "It Had Better Be Tonight" from "The Pink Panther, and "Nothing to Lose" from "The Party" are real standouts. The arrangements and performances are deft.
Peter Eldridge - Disappearing Day - (Sunnyside Records)
The New York cabaret scene spawns great singers' clever tunes and when that scene joins with several of the city's great young jazz players nice things happen. Last year, Billy Child's Laura Nyro tribute album "Map to the Treasure" is an example of that, and so is singer Eldridge's "Disappearing Day". Reed player Anat Cohen, guitarist Alan Hampton, and bassist Matt Arononff provide stellar support to this collection of songs mainly written by Eldridge. Check out "Mind to Fly", "Jenny Wren" (Paul McCartney) and "Around Us".
Professor Cunningham and his Old School - The Rhythm Method - (Slypig Records)
Out of Brooklyn comes this old timey jazz with a hipster vibe attached. Channeling Cab Calloway sometimes, Louis Prima at other times, bandleader Cunningham updates the selections and occasionally goes to some other places with newer tunes, i.e. a stirring cover of AC DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" and the best and only homage to menage a trois sex I've ever heard "So Nice".
Wayne Tucker - When I Was a Child - (Self-Released)
Trumpeter Tucker has a bold tone and verve. His tune "Journey Afar" points the way to a great career in the making. Really pretty is a tune sung by the great young French chanteuse Cyrille Aimee "Dream Deterred".
The Bosman Twins - When Lions Roar - (Self-Released)
They may be from St. Louis but the sound is Kansas City. A great club band, the brothers seemingly play all the reeds and are joined by erstwhile veterans. Occasionally they go astray into the realms of cool or pop jazz, but When they settle in to play like on the title cut, they can't be beat with switch.