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Urban Jazz

LaBelle Tries On Jazz Hat To Troublesome Effect


 
Patti LaBelle
Bel Hommage
(GPE/Sony Red)
 
Patti LaBelle sits on a throne as among the greatest R&B to Pop singers recording and performing. However, the list of singers that can authentically swing between the Pop world and the Jazz world is a short one highlighted by Aretha Franklin, Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nancy Wilson (retired) and the late incomparable Natalie Cole and Teena Marie.

Norman Brown | Let It Go


 
Norman Brown | Let It Go
Shanachie Entertainment
by Peggy Oliver
 
The musical dexterity of Wes Montgomery has inspired many contemporary jazz guitarists through the years despite his early days as a hard bop musician. One of many musicians who gravitated to this icon was Norman Brown, a huge turning point in studying and performing jazz, despite his earlier influences and interest in Jimi Hendrix and the Isleys.

Bob Baldwin | The Gift of Christmas

bob-baldwin-the-gift-of-christmas
 
Bob Baldwin
The Gift of Christmas
(City Sketches)
A Record Reflection by A. Scott Galloway
 
Keyboardist/Producer Bob Baldwin eases us into the 2016 holiday season with some much needed aural relief via his 10 song offering, The Gift of Christmas. The CD opens with a pleasant jaunt through Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” then lifts off into space for a celestially reharmonized sojourn through Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time is Here.”

Celebrating the Passion of 13 Y.O. Jazz Pianist Joey Alexander

A Place for Joey: Celebrating the Passion of 13 Y.O. Jazz Pianist Joey Alexander
by A. Scott Galloway
 
There’s a very tricky tightrope that young jazz musicians come upon when thrust into the public eye. It is a hurdle that has tripped up many a prodigy over the eras. That is when a teenage or pre-teen wonder arrives at 18 or 21 and no longer has youth as a hype mechanism. Usually what happens is a player who develops or happens upon a lot of chops and ability early on winds up sounding like everybody else when they reach adulthood. What they failed to develop was individualism, adventure and heart. It’s like a young runway model that gets by on youthful freshness yet never develops a style of their own as an adult. In those cases, you just pray their parents saved her money.
 
joey-alexander-on-piano-photo-1
Joey Alexander, at 10, Lincoln Center Gala

Najee | Najee’s Theme

najee-najees-theme
 
Najee | Najee’s Theme
by Peggy Oliver
 
It is hard to fathom that thirty years have passed since the single “Najee’s Theme” and the supporting album blazed the R&B and jazz charts, which for a debut recording was a remarkable accomplishment in itself. Thanks to a series of demos through New York session work, Najee already had material at his disposal, along with a decent budget from Capital/EMI – a sweet package deal that eventually resulted in his first platinum record.

Paul Jackson, Jr. | Stories From Stompin’ Willie

Paul Jackson Jr - Stories From Stompin Willie - M&P Prod. - 2016
 
Paul Jackson Jr.
Stories From Stompin’ Willie
(M and P Music Factory)
A Record Refection by A. Scott Galloway
 
As a sideman, super guitarist Paul Jackson Jr. has been responsible for many memorable musical moments…from his enigmatic rhythmic stabs on Angela Bofill’s “Tell Me Tomorrow” to the ethereal ghosting flavor he brought to “Maputo” by Bob James & David Sanborn.

Cameron Graves | Planetary Prince

Cameron Graves - Planetary Prince - smaller
 
Cameron Graves
Planetary Prince
(Jack Junior Entertainment)
A Record Reflection by A. Scott Galloway
 
Cameron Graves is the lead piano man of the current west coast jazz revolution that has already launched luminaries such as saxophonist Kamasi Washington and Bruner brothers Ronald (drummer) and Stephen “Thundercat” (bass). All three of those cats and more are present here, showing out in chops-heavy style on Graves’ 4-song EP, Planetary Prince.

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