arrow
bar_big image

Gilad Hekselman - 'Homes'

Ben Gray
Staff Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

There may not be any stronger melodies in jazz today than the lines flowing out of Gilad Hekselman's guitar. Hekselman's new album, Homes, displays his melodicism and songwriting as well as the continued growth of his trio with Joe Martin on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. Homes is the fourth album with this core trio, starting with 2008's Words Unspoken, and their rapport has continued to grow with time. While the previous albums from Hekselman have featured either Joel Frahm's or Mark Turner's sax, this album is strictly a guitar-bass-drums affair, though one track features both Marcus Gilmore and Jeff Ballard on drums and another substitutes Ballard for Gilmore on the drumset.

bar_big image

ACT - 'ACT II'

Ben Gray
Staff Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

ACT is Ben Wendel on sax (plus bassoon and melodica), Harish Raghavan on bass, and Nate Wood on drums. Their sophomore album, ACT II, consists of five originals from Raghavan and three from Wendel, and is a fantastic listen with strong melodies from Wendel and a rock-solid backbone from Raghavan and Wood.

bar_big image

Black Narcissus: A Critical Analysis of Covers

Ben Gray
Staff Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

Joe Henderson's 1969 album Power to the People featured a fantastic band: Herbie Hancock on keys, Ron Carter on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums (Mike Lawrence also joins on trumpet for several tunes, but sat out for "Black Narcissus"). They opened the album on a mellow note with "Black Narcissus". It's a catchy melody from Henderson's sax that floats nicely on Hancock's Rhodes chords and a simple bassline from Carter. The band plays through the melody first with almost no drums. DeJohnette begins to come in more audibly at the end of the first chorus at about 0:39, but then brings the volume back down as they play through the melody again. Henderson begins a sax solo at about 1:20 while the Rhodes continues to provide a nice cushion underneath. Carter's bass loosens up a bit underneath the sax solo while staying close to its original bassline. Wow, that sax line at about 2:00 from Henderson! Hancock's Rhodes solo begins at about 2:25. Beautiful, floating stuff with some nice bass underneath (particularly at about 3:05 when Carter plays some cool upward-swooping bent notes). The head returns at about 3:35, which the band plays through beautifully as in the opening. Very understated playing from everyone here, with the whole adding up to more than the sum of its parts. It's a truism that it's not only the notes that you play, but also the ones you don't - this version of "Black Narcissus" is a treatise on that truism, with the quartet here making something very hard sound very easy and beautiful. The strength of Joe Henderson's melody carried through to later interpretations of "Black Narcissus".

bar_big image

Luis Perdomo - 'Twenty-Two'

Ben Gray
Staff Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

Occasionally a song will grab you out of nowhere and shake out the cobwebs. Recently I had the pleasure of hearing Luis Perdomo’s "Cota Mil" on the radio (shout to WNCU). I’d been aware of Perdomo and his new album, Twenty-Two, but hearing this tune made it clear that I’d been sleeping on something that needed to be checked out much more thoroughly. After spending a bit more time with Twenty-Two and with "Cota Mil", those initial impressions were more than confirmed.

bar_big image

Syeeda's Song Flute: A Critical Analysis of Covers

Ben Gray
Staff Writer
bengray417@gmail.com

Having looked earlier at some variations on "Giant Steps" (to which I'll also add here Freddie Hubbard's "Dear John") and "Countdown", I'll take a look at some different versions of "Syeeda's Song Flute", also from Coltrane's 1960 album Giant Steps.