Redman Mehldau McBride Blade lead a stacked Take Five lineup
Redman Mehldau McBride Blade, "Disco Ears"
Two years ago, Jazz Night in America premiered the first reunion concert by an all-star band formerly known as the Joshua Redman Quartet. This suave and superarticulate band — Redman on saxophones, Brad Mehldau on piano, Christian McBride on bass, Brian Blade on drums — mostly played music from a brand-new release, RoundAgain. Now the group has announced a follow-up, LongGone, due out on Nonesuch on Sept. 9. Another, previously unissued video from that first concert, at The Falcon in New York's Hudson Valley, posted along with the album announcement. The song, "Disco Ears," is a Redman original with a relaxed rhythmic motor and an appealing melody played on soprano (and doubled on piano). For anyone drawn to this band, it already feels classic.
Kevin Hays and Bill Stewart, "The Good"
Pianist Kevin Hays belongs to the same peer group as Redman at al, and has recorded at some point with every member of the band. His partner on a smart new duo album, American Ballad, is drummer Bill Stewart, who also hails from this cohort. Recorded in 2015 but only just released, the album consists almost entirely of freely improvised material — with the understanding that these are musicians who find structure even in spontaneous inventions. "The Good," a lively piece with a brisk backbeat and a bristling line, is a case in point: Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
Allison Miller and Carmen Staaf, "New York Landing"
The last WBGO event at Yamaha Studio NYC prior to coronavirus lockdown was a magical duo summit of drummer Allison Miller and pianist Carmen Staaf. I hosted the evening, and perked up when Miller told me they had a forthcoming album, also as a duo. That album, Nearness, will release on Sunnyside on July 29. Listen to the loose yet focused swagger of the lead single, a blues by Staaf titled "New York Landing," and you'll understand the anticipation. This is a pairing that makes every kind of sense.
Brian Charette, "Unmasked"
Hammond B-3 organist Brian Charette has a sharp instinct for assembling a band, and the one he's scrambled for Jackpot, his new album on Cellar Live, certainly raises the bar. With Cory Weeds on tenor saxophone, Ed Cherry on guitar and the aforementioned Bill Stewart on drums, it saunters in the classic organ quartet mode, which Charette has made his stock in trade. But as you can hear (and see) in this video for "Unmasked," shot at Van Gelder Studio, there's a contemporary pull in the music, too. If you'd like to feel those vibrations in a room, take note: the release party is this Friday at The Django.
Sam Gendel, "Uroko (鱗, fish scales)"
Saxophonist Sam Gendel, who also shreds on a number of other instruments, has cultivated a space at the intersection of contemporary jazz, indie-pop, hip-hop, and ambient music. Or something like that. His most recent album, Superstore, received a favorable review in Pitchfork, while a previous release with Sam Wilkes, Music for Saxofone & Bass Guitar, elicited a profile in The New Yorker. Gendel's next album, blueblue, due out on Leaving Records on Oct. 14, is almost a solo affair; the only other musician on it is drummer Craig Weinrib, who added his parts in post. Recorded in Oregon earlier this year, the album draws inspiration from the traditional Japanese embroidery tradition known as sashiko. The lead single is named after the pattern known as uroko, with a laid-back yet layered soundscape that leaves one wanting more.