Along with some duo magic from Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch, and a ray of sunshine from Matt Wilson.
Georgia Anne Muldrow (as Jyoti), “This Walk”
The singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow has a major profile along the bohemian fringes of R&B. But she hails from a jazz lineage, and has carved out a parallel space as Jyoti, a name bestowed by Alice Coltrane. Working as Jyoti, Muldrow has previously released two albums on her SomeOthaShip label: Ocotea (2010) and Denderah (2013). Mama, You Can Bet! will be released on the same imprint in partnership with eOne Music on Aug. 28. Its lead single is “This Walk,” which features a chantlike vocal over a heartbeat cadence. In her words, it's a song about how "violence can both ignite and snuff out a voice."
Muldrow plays all of the instruments on the album, with just one exception: on a track called "Ra's Noise (Thukumbado)," she features saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin. She also includes a couple of remixes of Charles Mingus music: vestiges of the Muldrow Meets Mingus program commissioned by Jason Moran for The Kennedy Center, and featured in a 2017 episode of Jazz Night in America. This is music for our troubled moment, restless but determined.
Gerald Clayton, “Rejuvenation Agenda”
Two summers ago, pianist Gerald Clayton played a week at The Village Vanguard with an eye-catching group of peers: saxophonists Logan Richardson and Walter Smith III, bassist Joe Sanders, and drummer Marcus Gilmore. Clayton recently signed to Blue Note Records, and his first album out of the gate was recorded during that run. The label has just released its first single, a composition titled "Rejuvenation Agenda," which features the sort of flowing eighth-note groove that Clayton and his cohort have made into a calling card.
"The idea of having a recording of a live concert takes on a new meaning now that we're unable to actually gather anymore," Clayton says in a press announcement for the album, which he's titled Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard."I would hope that, when we do return to some kind of normalcy, people are more inspired than ever to recognize that this music is happening, that it's a living art form. We need to actually go to those shows. We need to be in those rooms and be part of that experience. I hope this album can offer people a little bit of an escape from this isolation, that it transports them back to the time when we were all able to congregate and celebrate our shared love."
Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard will be released on July 10; preorder here.
Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch, "But Not For Me"
Speaking of timely dispatches from the Vanguard: Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch have just released a five-song collection from one of their duo sets there in 2018. Live at the Village Vanguard: Rough Mix EP is available on Bandcamp only during the month of June, with all proceeds going to the Jazz Foundation of America's COVID Musician Relief Fund.
Spalding is on vocals (but not bass) throughout the set, which opens with a sparkling take on the standard "But Not For Me." (Listen for how she playfully pokes fun at some of Ira Gershwin's more high-flown lyrics around the two-minute mark, a la Ella Fitzgerald.) Her rapport with Hersch couldn't be sunnier, and his solo piano work is as impeccable as you'd expect. All this and a noble cause: what more could you want?
Charles Tolliver, "Blue Soul"
The august trumpeter and composer Charles Tolliver has covered a lot of ground over the last half-century, and it would be fair to say he has nothing left to prove. Why, then, is there still so much driving urgency in his music? Consider "Blue Soul," the first single from a forthcoming album, Connect.
A hard-boppish tune with a backbeat groove, "Blue Soul" finds Tolliver at the helm of an all-star band with Jesse Davis on alto saxophone, Keith Brown on piano, Buster Williams on bass and Lenny White on drums. Recorded for the British label Gearbox Records, the album also features a guest turn by saxophonist Binker Golding, a mainstay of the London scene.
Matt Wilson Quartet, "Hug"
Finally this week: could you use a hug? We posed this question a little over a month ago, when we featured the title track of Matt Wilson's new album in one of our first quarantine-era editions of Take Five. Now there's a video to accompany the song, and we thought it was too sweet not to share, as a WBGO premiere.
Matt Wilson’s Hug will be released on Palmetto Records on Aug. 28; preorder here.