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. 

Top class piano trio jazz as we have come to expect from Alexi Tuomarila over the years, here with bassist Mats Eilertsen and forward looking drummer Olavi Louhivuori. There is a dazzling, ferocious work ethic at play, more a maximalist than a minimalist vision and yet Tuomarila is not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve darting in and out of the modern mainstream traditions. With trumpeter guest Verneri Pohjola stark and striking on three tracks the trio spread out into a new bigger panorama on these tracks but to be honest the trio is enough, whether tender on ‘Origins’ or full of feverish enchantment on opener ‘Shapeshifter’. Eilertsen’s contribution is a hefty one and the intertwining lines he and Tuomarila create make their forays together a continual fascination to unpick. Sphere goes straight to the top of my favourite releases at the moment. SG 

I had an over riding sense of déjà vu when hearing Shalosh for the first time. Not only do they inhabit similar terrain to EST certainly on the surface they appear for Onwards and Upwards on the same label as the great piano trio.

But there are as many differences as there are similarities. Certainly the trio push and play with the idea of a piano trio and fold in a wide variety of influences spanning jazz, rock and electronica. But they also go their own way. Formed of pianist Gadi Stern, bass player David Michaeli and drummer Matan Assayag they have been around for a while largely known mainly back home in Israel but now projecting to an international audience via the bigger reach of their new label although their earlier releases have appeared on small international labels already and they have toured widely.

Shalosh bring a sense of drama, heat and engagement to their tunes and the trio manage to carve out a space that has appeal to jazz audiences but can also exist simply as modern sounding rock or whatever inspired instrumental music. I enjoyed what I heard especially when there is a little more depth to the tunes (say ‘Children of the 90s’ or the pick of the album ‘Meditation’) but the pop covers (You’ll Never Walk Alone, Take On Me) left me a little cold. Worth discovering.   

A previously unreleased live recording of Stan Getz at New York’s Village Gate is to be released in June in a 2-CD, 3-LP treatment. GETZ AT THE GATE: THE STAN GETZ QUARTET LIVE AT THE VILLAGE GATE, NOV. 26, 1961 features Getz with pianist Steve Kuhn, bassist John Neves, and drummer Roy Haynes. The show was professionally recorded, possibly for eventual release, but was extraordinarily forgotten about for oh a mere 57-plus years. 

One of the most imaginative jazz trombonists around, Ryan Keberle has a new album The Hope I Hold on Dave Douglas’ label Greenleaf out next month, the Maria Schneider Orchestra member with his own seasoned band, Catharsis. The title relates to the album’s theme of optimism in the face of political and cultural corruption and features lyrics drawn from a 1935 Langston Hughes poem. Listen from the album to ‘Despite the Dream’, which has the spirit of Carla Bley and Charlie Haden hovering somewhere in the ether about it.