Well, that thing about “being in fashion” might be pushing it a bit or even not that welcome given how faddy mini-trends can be but Joel Ross on his new album KingMaker is certainly doing his best. I do like the album but there is a bit of a technocrat flavour to it. Or maybe this is actually why the vibes are never really quite the satisfying listen that say sax or trumpet can be. Ross to me is a Steve Nelson in approach, again a player who is quite a master but again very much a technocrat kind of player whose soloing can be a little too opaque at times.
What I am missing is the sort of blissed out touch Bobby Hutcherson brought to us on an album like San Francisco back in the 1970s. On this side of the Atlantic a player like Lewis Wright of Empirical has a similar approach to Ross but he fits in within the group sound more rather than as the lead instrument which to be frank I think is best for vibes, to colour the instrumentation rather than define it. So let’s not get too carried away but remembering that KingMaker ups Ross’ profile no end and the vibes have a little mini-moment: let’s leave it at that. SG
Swinging mainstream fare tastefully interpreted here on Influences in the debut of Leeds based trombonist Kevin Holbrough with a stellar band who include top mainstream pianist Dave Newton and the former Jamie Cullum drummer Sebastiaan de Krom. Worth checking out. More here.
New in late-June from someone who has grown to become many people’s favourite saxophonist, JD Allen — check the thunderous sample above from Barracoon (Savant), Allen in the playing company of bassist Ian Kenselaar and drummer Nic Cacioppo playing Allen originals... the title refers to a lean-to or barracks to confine slaves.
In their sixtieth year Ronnie’s has pulled off another plum booking with the rare visit by one of the greatest saxophonists, with a two-night visit by the hippie jazz legend Charles Lloyd on 1-2 August now confirmed. I cannot think of the last time the Forest Flower icon played any UK club because usually he confines his visits to big concert halls. Interesting band, a quintet that includes guitar hotshot Julian Lage, he is bringing with him too. Here’s the link for more details and tickets.
Pianist Kikoski has a legion of fans out there... they will love this because it swings like the clappers, one of his trademark skills. Taken from Phoenix Rising just released and whose other tracks besides the title track are Wichita Lineman, If I Were a Bell, Emily, Love for Sale, My One and Only Love, Lazy Bird and Willow Weep for Me.
A lot of jazz listeners I think will find this reassuring in a tradition in transition kind of way.
Aldana sounds like a classic saxophonist, maybe emerging from a Sonny Rollins or Joe Henderson type space and landing not far away from the sort of records Joshua Redman makes these days.
This Frida Kahlo-inspired quartet album is mature sounding and absorbing, pianist Sam Harris, bassist Pablo Menares and drummer Tommy Crane giving a bustling momentum to the cleverly constructed tunes, while new Blue Note signing Joel Ross on vibes adds a modernistic additional harmonic front as welcome embellishment.
On ‘Never Let Me Go’ Aldana shows how intuitive a player she is on a classic ballad and it is one of the most appealing aspects of an album that is full of interesting composition and imaginative playing.