Hear a Track by Michele Rosewoman's New Yor-Uba, Among Other Revelations in Take Five

Oct 28, 2019

Also: new music by Nicholas Payton, Michael Dease, Nels Cline with Yuka Honda, and Big Band of Brothers.

Michele Rosewoman’s New Yor-Uba, “We Need You Now (Elegguá, Oggún, Ochosi)”

Thirty-five years ago, pianist and composer Michele Rosewoman broke ground on what would become a signature achievement, the Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble New Yor-Uba. The group has evolved since then, with multiple changes in personnel, but its mission has been steadfast. On some level it’s never been clearer than it is on a new album, Hallowed, which releases this Friday on Advance Dance Disques.

Most of the album, which Rosewoman produced with Liberty Ellman, consists of a suite titled Oru de Oro, which loosely translates to “sacred room.” Inspired by the liturgical rhythms associated with Batá drumming, known as Oru del Igbodu, it’s one long statement parsed into 10 tracks, the first of which is an invocation pointedly titled “We Need You Now (Elegguá, Oggún, Ochosi).”


As on the entirety of Oru de Oro, there’s a crucial role here for the batá mastery of Román Díaz. His drumming is the first sound you hear, as a kind of hinge. It moves steadily through the rest of the track, as the rhythmic frame both constricts and uncoils. You’ll hear concise solo commentary by trumpeter Alex Norris, tenor saxophonist Stacy Dillard and alto saxophonist Román Filiú, along with Rosewoman herself.

As she puts it, the music moves from one energy to the next, “representing creation and humanity — featuring each master soloist and folklorist in a complete integration of musical forms — further reflecting on the links between these profound musical traditions.”

Michele Rosewoman’s New Yor-Uba performs at Zinc Bar on Nov. 2 and 8 , and at the Philadelphia Clef Club on Dec. 21.

Michael Dease, “Blue Jay”

Never More Here, the new album by trombonist Michael Dease, was conceived as a tribute to Charlie Parker. But it’s not a collection of Parker’s tunes so much as a mapping of his influence. Dease and his first-rate rhythm section — Renee Rosnes on piano, Lewis Nash on drums and either Gerald Cannon or Rufus Reid on bass — play a bundle of songs mostly associated with Parker’s peers or followers, like Billy Taylor, J.J. Johnson and Jackie McLean.

“Blue Jay” is the lone Dease original on the album. It’s not only a nod to Johnson, but also a celebration of bebop itself. “J.J. did for the trombone what Bird did for the saxophone,” Dease observes in his album notes. “He liberated it from a one-dimensional style and technique in the way that Parker combined and extended the innovations of Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young.” The trombone solo he fashions, over an uptempo 12-bar blues, serves as an eloquent tribute.

Nicholas Payton, “Relaxin’ with Nick”

By now it should no longer be news that Nicholas Payton has branched beyond the trumpet. In performance and on record, he has put himself forward as a multi-tasking piano player at least since 2014, when I reviewed him to that effect in The New York Times. Still, it can be a surprise to hear just how much piano (acoustic and Fender Rhodes) he plays on a new release, Relaxin’ with Nick.

The album was recorded live at Smoke Jazz & Supper Club, where Payton performs this Thursday through Sunday. As on the album, he’ll be working with Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums — the blue-chip rhythm team best known for its work in the Bill Charlap Trio. Wait, is that some kind of flex? Payton surely has an answer for that.

CUP, “Berries”

CUP is the name for an improvising duo composed of Yuka C. Honda, on keyboards and programming, and Nels Cline, on guitar. The two artists, also partners by marriage, come to the table with some noted affiliations (Wilco for him, Cibo Matto for her), but the more important factor is a common affinity for sculpturing sound.

That process finds intoxicating traction on CUP’s debut album, Spinning Creature, which releases this Friday on Northern Spy. On “Berries,” an ethereal waft of guitar chords and wordless vocals gradually morphs into a futurist vision of Afrobeat music. It’s a good indication of what Honda and Cline will be up to during an album-release show on Friday at Nublu 151.

Big Band of Brothers, “It’s Not My Cross to Bear (Feat. Ruthie Foster)”

If you’ve ever settled into a marathon concert by The Allman Brothers — or savored recordings of the band back when Duane Allman was around — you should be familiar with the argument that jazz improvisation is a secret key to its soaring magic. That notion has now yielded an album, Big Band of Brothers: A Jazz Celebration of the Allman Brothers Band, due out on New West Records on Nov. 22.

Big Band of Brothers is a brainchild of drummer Mark Lanter, who produced the album with Charles Driebe and John Harvey. Along with a 15-piece big band, it features guest contributions by trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, former Allmans guitarist Jack Pearson, and singers Marc Broussard and Ruthie Foster. The track above, a showcase for Foster, is “It’s Not My Cross to Bear,” a Gregg Allman song that appeared on the Allman Brothers’ debut album, 50 years ago.

Big Band of Brothers releases on Nov. 22; preorder here.