July 18, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
Here's an album I'm recently checking out. Jazz trumpeter and Crescent City native Nicholas Payton has a new CD out called Into the Blue. It's been five years since the trailblazing trumpeter put out his Sonic Trance which left me, for one, looking for the next thing. That album was so different from everything he had done before, so I was really curious to see what was next (there was a tribute album in between, but I'm referring to Payton's original music). Needless to say, I'm happy he's back in the spotlight.
I checked him out at the Jazz Standard last month, playing tracks from the new record, and it was really cool. Not what I would have expected...but then again, I didn't know what to expect. What I got was a road less traveled that was paved with certainty, purpose and spontaneity all at the same time. The band included rhodes and percussion. Nicholas was singing more than a handful of tunes (yes, entire tunes) and did really interesting covers - Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out" for one (yeah 80s!).
I recently read that this is the first album Payton has recorded in his home town of New Orleans. He had always recorded in New York - far away from the distractions of home. When I listen to this album, though I don't hear overt New Orleans influence, I can still feel the inspiration of home. It's a romantic and really feel good album. Nothing contrived, or regurgitated, like some groove-oriented jazz albums. It feels fresh, even in its familiarity. My favorite tune is the ballad "The Backward Step." It almost sounds like a meditation - but with a form, which I find really interesting. The melody is extremely poetic.
I am happy to say that I am really enjoying this record. Well worth the wait.
© 2008 WBGO
July 17, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
I'm listening to Mid-Day Jazz with Rhonda Hamilton (as usual) and she decided to play Trane and Ellington's version of "In a Sentimental Mood." I thought it was a really intriguing choice of tune. Usually, this tune is associated with a sultry or romantic evening...or just relaxing at home alone, or something. Probably a bit cliché, but none the less kinda true. But at 11 AM, I think it's such a thought-provoking choice of tune...and I must say I'm loving it. It has a refreshing connotation...almost like my morning coffee, and I'm appreciating the tune all over again, as if for the first time...hearing it now, takes me to a certain time and place.
I have to start off by saying that I know this album extremely well. It's probably the 3rd earliest memory of music overall, that I have. My parents would play this album when I was just a toddler. I can still remember seeing the vinyl propped up against the baseboard. The black and orange look of the album cover with the photo of John and Duke in a circle was always magical to me. I suppose I had no choice but to fall in love with the record, as much as my mom played it, LOL! Plus, I was named after one of the tunes on the record. "Angelica" was their inspiration, though they switched up the spelling a bit. Anyway, I'm saying all of this to say that this is one of these records where I know every note...every inflection...but hearing it this morning gave me a totally new (yet subconsciously retro) perspective. That's was great music does. It allows you to rediscover it...redefine it for yourself, over and over again, decade after decade. Thanks, Rhonda!
© 2008 WBGO
July 15, 2008. Posted by Angelika Beener.
It's that time again. The DownBeat Critics Poll results are in (the August issue of DownBeat, that is). Though I am always torn when it comes to the idea of critics and their polls, I always end up looking forward to seeing who's who and what's what in the eyes of the critics and writers. This year had some very cool and surprising results. As the young folks say in my neighborhood..."I ain't mad!"
Some of the results that I was especially happy to see were Rising Star Soprano Saxophonist, which went to Marcus Strickland. This cat is definitely well-deserving in this category, though he could easily win that category for tenor as well. Which reminds me...I didn't see a Rising Star Tenor category. I can count on two hands some really killin' tenor players that could have been in that category, but that's another blog, I suppose. Anyway, kudos to Marcus, and good looks to the critics who know which end is up. I was also happy to see Eric Harland nab the Rising Star Drums category (though disappointed in not seeing Kendrick Scott on the list - that cat is just superb and his album is among one of my modern-day favorites), Gregoire Maret in the Miscellaneous Instrument category for harmonica (that cat is ridiculous). Esperanza Spaulding took the Rising Star Acoustic Bass category, which is really special. To see a woman win in a category that is traditionally very un-female makes it all the more inspiring. Lionel Loueke got his due for Rising Star Guitar, and one of my favorite artists Robert Glasper took the Rising Star Piano category. Definitely check out all of these artists, as they are truly ones to watch, and experience. It was very cool to see the critics mix it up a bit, and recognize all of the great emerging lions of this music. Nice work!
© 2008 WBGO