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Archive for the ‘Great Jazz Performances’ Category

Benny Reid new album “Escaping Shadows”

December 21st, 2009
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Benny Reid

Benny Reid, 29, is an saxophonist, composer, teacher, and recording artist who studied at Indiana University and now resides in New York. (Find him on Twitter, All About Jazz, Myspace, or Youtube).

He recently released his second album, Escaping Shadows, on the Concord Jazz label.

It features Benny Reid (alto saxophone & keyboards), Richard Padron (acoustic and electric guitars), Pablo Vergara (piano, Fender Rhodes, keyboards), Daniel Loomis (bass and electric bass), Kenny Grohowski (drums), Jeff Taylor (vocals), and Ryan Fitch (percussion).

For a sample of the music on the CD, check out the video below (or on Youtube).

One of Benny Reid’s main influences is Pat Metheny, and many of his compositions have parallels in some of Pat Metheny’s earlier works. The title track, Escaping Shadows, reminds me of Metheny’s Minuano Six Eight.

I’m a big fan of Pat Metheny so Benny Reid’s compositions immediately appealed to me. His work is similar in style and interpretation to Bob Curnow’s (who did a recording of Metheny’s earlier works in a big band style). Benny Reid’s arrangements make use of the smaller ensemble well and move between a contemporary, abstract style and an almost smooth-jazz sound for some of the melody lines and musical effects.

I especially enjoy Kenny Grohowski’s sensitive, nuanced, and very active drumming (which tends on the busy side but is very musical).

Benny Reid has a great sound on the alto sax – a very clear, expressive and pure tone. He avoids repeating the often quoted licks of bebop and instead forges his own way, with easily recalled and infectious melodies that seem almost derivative in their simplicity, but taken in the context of the band and compositions are obviously original.

Escaping Shadows is available as a Mp3 download or a physical disk from Concord Music Group.


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Song of the Week – Kurt Elling “Where I Belong”

November 20th, 2009
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Kurt Elling, jazz vocalist

Kurt Elling, jazz vocalist (photo credit: Christian Lantry)

One of my all time favorite jazz vocalists is the inimitable Kurt Elling. He has been voted Male Vocalist of the Year for 10 years in a row by critics in Downbeat magazine and for 5 years by the Downbeat readers’ choice awards.

Kurt Elling has done some really incredible recordings, and I am definitely going to go out and try to complete my collection and get all 8 of his albums.

The current JazzPianoCafe song of the week is Kurt Elling’s recording of his very romantic original song, Where I Belong. It’s from his 1998 album This Time It’s Love. Here are the lyrics, courtesy of Kurt Elling’s website:

Lyric by Kurt Elling

I hear the woman like a song / dancing down a long corridor
Reminding me I belong where I am

I see the singing in the rain/ the rhythm at my windowpane
Reminding me I belong where I am

There is a light in the silence of loving things
And when I look in my baby’s hopeful eyes
It’s like the sound just before ever morning horizon
Light comes to life

It’s like a magnet of loving sound / turning me rightside down
Keeping my two feet firmly planted on the ground
Reminding me I belong where I am.

You can listen to the song on iTunes for 99 cents, or listen for free on imeem (free account registration required). You can also purchase the CD or MP3’s online from Amazon.

Kurt Elling - This Time It's Love - Where I Belong

This recording of Where I Belong features the following stellar musicians: Kurt Elling voice, Laurence Hobgood piano, Rob Amster bass, Michael Raynor percussion, Dave Oderdonk guitar, Paul Wertico drums, and Brad Wheeler soprano saxophone.

The track opens with burst of warm sound. A simple riff on the soprano sax is echoed by the piano, accompanied by drums, acoustic bass and guitar. The riff is repeated once and then Kurt Elling enters with his sparkling and luscious baritone. A hypnotizing bossa nova ensues, with an exciting and tasteful soprano sax solo well shaped to a gentle climax before the final vocal melody restatement. The outro is a vamp on the original intro riff, ending with a bit of Kurt Elling’s whistling on the fade out.

Highly recommended! Hope you enjoy this song and check back again next week for another JazzPianoCafe “Song of the Week”.

-Geoff Peters (Birds in the House Productions)


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Song of the Week: “Your Amazing Grace” by Marcus Miller feat Chaka Khan

September 28th, 2009
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Marcus Miller

Marcus Miller

The JazzPianoCafe song of the week is “Your Amazing Grace” by Marcus Miller featuring Chaka Khan.

It’s from Marcus’s 2001 album M2 (find Marcus Miller M² on Amazon.com).

The song features a stellar cast of musicians:

The track starts off with a soft synth patch and a triangle wave lead that repeats a catchy little riff, which is echoed by Marcus Miller’s bass clarinet as it enters. The bass clarinet then plays the familiar melody from Amazing Grace, still over top of the synth pad. A drum and bass rhythm programming begins, but it is low in the mix (although it is well textured and contoured using cutoff filters). Chaka Khan’s soulful voice enters and after introducing herself musically, begins on a totally different melody that is “Your Amazing Grace” – Marcus Miller’s original composition. Kenny Garrett plays a killer alto-sax solo, and the song modulates keys, adding even more energy. An extended outro section keeps the music happening right ’till the end.

Listening to this song can excite something spiritual within me. I love how it’s a fusion of electronic and acoustic, of jazz, soul and drum and bass. (Marcus Miller even adds a reggae-style bass line in the outro.)

The track is available on Imeem (free account registration required), or you can purchase the CD which it’s on, M2 (“M Squared”), from Amazon. I’ve also included a streaming player below which should play the full version of the song.

Your Amazing Grace – Marcus Miller feat.Chaka Khan

Stay tuned for another great Song of the Week from JazzPianoCafe.com!

If you have any suggestions on a future song of the week, please email me at geoff@gpeters.com.

Take care and until next time,
Geoff Peters

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Song of the Week: Stars by Kate McGarry

September 2nd, 2009
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Kate Mcgarry. Photo credit: Matteo Trisolini

Kate Mcgarry. Photo credit: Matteo Trisolini

I just discovered the music of jazz vocalist Kate McGarry (view her page on All About Jazz, her website, or her myspace).

She has a really contemporary and modern sound, a bit similar to Bjork but with the passion and intensity of some of the classic “old school” vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.

For the Jazz Piano Cafe “Song of the Week”, I’ve picked Kate McGarry’s track Stars off her 2005 album, Mercy Streets. Stars was composed by pianist Fred Hersch who also performs on this track. The track also features Steve Cardenas (electric and acoustic guitars), Keith Ganz (myspace, acoustic guitar), Sean Smith (bass), and Kenny Wollesen (drums).

You can listen to Stars at Imeem (streaming only, provided you register for a free account). It’s also on iTunes (full song for 99 cents), and available directly from the record label, Palmetto Records, or by using the player below.

Stars – Kate McGarry

Stars is a wistful and beautiful song. The impressionistic glittering of Fred Hersch’s gentle yet insistent piano explorations makes me imagine looking at a sky full of stars. Wollesen’s drums and Smith’s bass eventually reveal the hints of a sophisticated and pulsing bossa nova, that underlies McGarry’s clear, sensitive, and nuanced vocal lines. The track progresses at a meandering walking pace through many harmonic directions into a thoughtful and motion-filled piano solo, and returns again to the original groove. My favorite part of the track is the line ending in “skies are friendless” at 2:15.

Here is an excerpt from the lyrics:

It’s so much harder
I find
without the light
of endless stars.
Clear the wondrous winter sky
that casts its spell.
Warm your hand in mine.
Do you recall
who can tell
I wish I knew what I could do
to forget your face. What to do when nights are endless
and skies are friendless.
Not a star, bring back the stars, the endless stars.

I hope you enjoy this track! Stay tuned for more great songs of the week.

Geoff Peters at Jazz Piano Cafe.com

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Video: Jamie Cullum performs “Just One of Those Things”

July 9th, 2009
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Here is a video of young British jazz sensation Jamie Cullum performing the Cole Porter tune “Just One of Those Things” on July 7th 2009 at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Watch on Youtube or use the player below.

I really like his piano solo!

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Three Little Bops – awesome jazz cartoon

June 13th, 2009
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I stumbled upon a wonderfully jazzy and funny Looney Tunes cartoon video, thanks to my Facebook friend and jazz singer Jennifer Scott! From the Wikipedia article on this cartoon (click here to view):

Three Little Bops is a 1957 Looney Tunes cartoon directed by Friz Freleng, with voices by Stan Freberg and music by jazz composer/trumpeter Shorty Rogers. It is a takeoff on The Three Little Pigs, told as a hip, jazzy musical.

View the Three Little Bops on Youtube by clicking here or use the player below.

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Live Concert Recording: Phil Dwyer Trio at the Jazz Cellar

May 17th, 2009
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Phil Dwyer TrioHere’s a treat for jazz piano lovers. I’m really excited to share a live recording of the Phil Dwyer Trio, featuring Phil Dwyer (piano), Ken Lister (bass), and Jesse Cahill (drums) performing at the Jazz Cellar in Vancouver BC Canada on May 15th 2009.

Here is a little bit more about the musicians (from their Web Sites which are linked below).

Phil Dwyer:

Musician Phil Dwyer has been a force on the international jazz scene for over two decades. A critically acclaimed composer, arranger, and musical director, as well as gifted, intuitive perfomer on both saxophone and piano , Dwyer has performed with everyone from Aretha Franklin, Ian Tyson, and Gino Vannelli to jazz greats like Red Rodney, Ingrid Jensen, Randy Brecker, Tom Harrell, Jim Hall, Dave Holland, Don Thompson, and many others.

Before returning to his west coast roots on Vancouver Island in 2004, Dwyer spent 15 years as one of Toronto’s busiest studio musicians appearing on hundreds of recording sessions, and working as a commercial composer and arranger. He also was a regular performer at Toronto clubs Top O’ The Senator and Montreal Bistro, with Dave Young, Marcus Belgrave, Renee Rosnes, Carol Welsman, Moe Koffman, Randy Brecker and many others.

Doubling on tenor sax and piano, Dwyer was a member of the Hugh Fraser Quintet when they won the Alcan Jazz Competition in 1987 and the Juno Award for Looking Up in 1988. A long-time partnership with bassist Dave Young has produced a pair of recordings including 1993 Juno Award-winner, Fables and Dreams. Phil was also arranger, composer, and conductor on Guido Basso’s 2003 Juno Award-winning recording, Lost in the Stars. Dwyer has also made three recordings with Robert Occhipinti and was a featured soloist on the bassist’s Juno-nominated Yemaya.

Ken Lister:

Ken Lister has been playing jazz bass professionally since 1983. He is currently based in the Vancouver and Vancouver Island area, where he performs and teaches. Ken has extensively toured, both within Canada and internationally; including Australia, the British Isles, Cuba and South America.

Ken is a member of the Hugh Fraser Quintet and VEJI (the Vancouver Ensemble of Jazz Improvisation). As a member of the Hugh Fraser Quintet, Ken won a Juno Award for the Best Mainstream Jazz Album of 1997.

Ken also performs with the legendary jazz guitarist Pat Coleman in his trio, with Juno Award winner Buff Allen on drums. In addition to leading his own Sextet, he has performed with many great musicians including Slide Hampton, Chucho Valdes, Kenny Wheeler, Joshua Redman, Herb Ellis, Charlie Byrd, Rob McConnell, Ian McDougall, P.J. Perry, Sam Noto, Don Thompson, Tommy Banks, Carol Welsman, Kirk MacDonald, Bob McLaren, Jerry Fuller, Lorne Lofsky, Phil Dwyer, Ingrid Jensen, Misha Piatigorsky, Guido Basso and many others.

Jesse Cahill:

Jesse Cahill is known and respected as one of the foremost drummers on the Canadian jazz scene. He started playing drums at a young age and worked his first professional gigs at 16 in restaurants and clubs in his hometown of Victoria, British Columbia. In 1993 Jesse moved to Montreal to study music at McGill University, graduating in 1999 with a Bachelors Degree in Jazz Performance.

Influenced by the jazz and R&B Greats of the 1940s, ’50s and ‘60s, Jesse has worked with jazz legends like David “Fathead” Newman, George Coleman, Red Holloway, Dr. Eddie Henderson and Charles MacPherson, as well internationally recognized artists such as Eric Alexander, Joe Magerelli, Jim Rotondi, Ryan Kysor, George Colligan and Bobby Shew. He also performs regularly with top Canadian artists including Tilden Webb, Jodi Proznick, Brad Turner, Phil Dwyer, P.J. Perry, Mike Allen, Neil Swainson, Bill Coon, Ken Lister, Miles Black, Roy Styfe and many others.

Jesse is a member of the Juno nominated and National Jazz Award winning Jodi Proznick Quartet. His recording resume includes sessions with Phil Dwyer’s Sax Summit, the Brad Turner Quintet, the Tilden Web Trio and the Chad Makela Quartet. He also has two recordings in his own name: the first, “Night Crawlers: Presenting” on Cellar Live, was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2007 National Jazz Awards, and the second (which Jesse also produced) “Featuring: Red Holloway” is due out in early 2009.

Now on to the music… Phil and the band have generously given me permission to share these recordings with jazz piano lovers and music students on this blog. In his description of the concert, Phil wrote that they would be “saluting some of our favourite piano trios, including Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Errol Garner, Ahmad Jamal and others”. The concert was fabulous!

Rhythm-A-Ning (Thelonious Monk) – version inspired by an album called Trio Music by Chick Corea:

Dolphin Dance (Herbie Hancock):

Misty (Errol Garner) – featuring a new “hip” contemporary arrangement by the band (I really like this version):

It’s Only a Paper Moon (Harold Arlen) – arrangement inspired by jazz pianist Geoff Keezer‘s album World Music:

Days Gone By (Don Thompson) – a beautiful ballad:

Holy Land (Cedar Walton):

Two Bass Hit (Miles Davis) – inspired by Sonny Clark‘s trio recordings:

Hope you enjoy the concert (this was the first set). Please support live music in your community and check out these musicians’ live performances when they come to your area!

Also if you liked the music you can purchase the musicians’ CD’s by contacting them through their web sites: Phil Dwyer, Ken Lister, Jesse Cahill.

Phil Dwyer Trio performing live at the Jazz Cellar in Vancouver Canada on May 15th 2009.

Phil Dwyer Trio performing live at the Jazz Cellar in Vancouver Canada on May 15th 2009.

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Ambrose Akinmusire – Trapped in a Dream

May 13th, 2009
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I discovered an amazing track entitled Trapped in a Dream by jazz trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. In this article on San Francisco Bay Area jazz musicians, David Rubien writes:

Akinmusire – a graduate of Berkeley High School’s renowned jazz program with degrees from the Manhattan School of Music, the University of Southern California and the Monk Institute in Los Angeles – seems to be the most academically inclined of the bunch, but the opposite is true. He’s actually an iconoclast who’s thrived just because he’s made everyone come around to seeing things his way.

Feel free to use the player below to listen to Trapped in a Dream, and visit Ambrose Akinmusire’s web site or CDBaby to purchase his album Prelude to Cora.

Trapped In A Dream – Ambrose Akinmusire

The thing that strikes me about Trapped in a Dream is how the music really suits the name of the song. While I am listening to it, I feel like I am dreaming. There are flashes of insight: at times the chords seem to be leading somewhere purposeful, but then return back to the comfort and lull of a deep dream-filled sleep. The way it ends is with a hypnotic drum sequence which suggests to me that I am soon going to wake up and face reality again.

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Piano Practice on Lee Morgan’s Ceora (and the original Lee Morgan recording)

May 9th, 2009
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On of the tracks that I have been listening to on my cell phone lately is Lee Morgan‘s tune Ceora (you can listen to the recording on Imeem by clicking here or by using the player below). Jazztrumpetsolos.com has a transcription of Lee Morgan’s solo on Ceora.

Ceora – Lee Morgan

Anyways, tonight I practiced for about half an hour on the tune Ceora. I hadn’t had a practice for almost a whole week, so for a good part of the practice I was focusing on getting some fluidity and strength back into my fingers while soloing. A few more hours and I will be getting back into things again.

Click here to download my practice of Lee Morgan’s Ceora in Midi format.

Since it’s in midi the sound quality will depend on what kind of synthesizer your computer has.

If you have a Disklavier piano it may sound even better than how it sounded while I was practicing!

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Chick Corea and Hiromi play Windows

May 1st, 2009
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Found a nice recording of Chick Corea and Hiromi Uehara playing Chick Corea’s wonderful tune, Windows. Click here to listen on Imeem or feel free to use the player below.

Windows – Chick Corea & Hiromi

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