© 2024 WBGO
Discover Jazz...Anywhere, Anytime, on Any Device.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Take Five: Kenneth Whalum, George Cables, Ben Goldberg, Emma-Jean Thackray, Simon Moullier

Kenneth Whalum, "Party"

In some circles, Kenneth Whalum is still best recognized as a saxophonist gliding through the overlapping spheres of contemporary jazz and R&B; it was in this capacity that I first saw him, on tour respectively with Maxwell and Jay-Z. But Whalum has also established himself as a compelling vocalist and songwriter in his own right, and that's the foot he puts forward on a forthcoming album, Broken Land 2.

"Party," a bittersweet lead single, features no saxophone at all — just Kris Bowers on piano and synths, Adam Agati on guitar, Pino Palladino on bass and Jamire Williams on drums. Whalum (who does wield his tenor elsewhere on the album) sings in both a wounded falsetto and a soulful chest voice, describing a situation of romantic miscommunication and errant judgment. In the chorus, he offers an exhortation that could well be his mantra: "Get yourself together / Nobody's gonna do it for you."

Broken Land 2will be released on July 16. Kenneth Whalum will perform at the Mercury Lounge in New York on July 22 (purchase tickets here).

George Cables, "Too Close For Comfort"

At 76, pianist George Cables has eased into his stature as an elder statesman. But that doesn't mean he's taking it easy. His longtime trio, with Essiet Essiet on bass and Victor Lewis on drums, has become one of the great torch-bearing bands in the swinging post-bop tradition — releasing a series of soulful albums, the latest of which is now out on HighNote Records. Listen to the title track, a version of the songbook standard "Too Close For Comfort," and notice the slick modulations Cables applies to the tune.

Too Close For Comfort is available now on HighNote Records.

Ben Goldberg, "Everything Happens to Be"

Somewhere in between daily affirmations for his Plague Diary, a project that ran almost without interruption from March 2020 through Feb. 2021, clarinetist Ben Goldberg conceived an ambitious new studio album for a handpicked assembly of brilliant peers. They are tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara — and the album is Everything Happens to Be, out this Friday on BAG Production Records. The title track, which not only riffs on a standard but also alludes to a reflective state of mind, features Goldberg first on E-flat clarinet before tossing to Halvorson (inquisitive, quavery) and Eskelin (soulful, grainy).

Everything Happens to Be will be released on June 18 on BAG Production.

Emma-Jean Thackray, "Spectre (Live at the Church Studios)"

Emma-Jean Thackray - Spectre (Live At The Church Studios)

Emma-Jean Thackray has been garnering breathless acclaim in her native England for several years now — building steady momentum ever since the release of WALRUS, her 2016 EP. Her forthcoming album, Yellow, marks a confident step forward, with Thackray on vocals as well as an array of instruments. The second single from the album is "Spectre," a song that personifies a struggle with depression. "There's a specter in my house," Thackray sings, with penetrating understatement. "He haunts me." In the video above, filmed at The Church Studios in London, she's joined by partners including Ben Kelly on sousaphone and Lyle Barton on Fender Rhodes.

Simon Moullier, "Countdown"

"Countdown," the quicksilver John Coltrane étude, has a reputation fearsome enough to rival its more famous familial counterpart, "Giant Steps." To record the song at any point in the post-Coltrane continuum is to plant a flag — as have a handful of ambitious souls, from Kenny Garrett to Brad Mehldau to Joey Alexander. Now here's vibraphonist Simon Moullier with an album, his second, named after the tune. What are we to think?

Simon Moullier, "Countdown"

Well, listen first. You'll hear that Moullier has an ingenious set of strategies for breaking up the theme, and the proficiency to make it flow when he so desires. His trio, with Luca Alemanno on bass and Jongkuk Kim on drums, matches every flicker without missing a beat. "I was always curious to find way to create within the confines of these great tunes," Moullier tells Ted Panken in the liner notes. Throughout Countdown, which also includes pieces by Mingus, Monk and Dameron, that curiosity pays off, with interest.

Countdown is available now on Fresh Sound New Talent.

Nate Chinen
[Copyright 2024 WRTI Your Classical and Jazz Source]