10 New Jazz Albums You Need to Know About: December 2018

10 New Jazz Albums You Need to Know About: December 2018

JAZZIZ takes a look at 10 of the hottest – and sweetest – new jazz albums that will be released in December 2018.

Kelly Green Trio, Volume One (self-produced)
Release date: December 5

Pianist, vocalist and composer Kelly Green is at home playing with her long-standing trio consisting of bassist Alex Tremblay and drummer Evan Hyde on her new album, Volume One. The album was recorded “live” in the studio after a month-long tour to capture the most authentic sounds and emotions “in the moment,” and its tracklist includes a collection of well-known standards, such as Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer’s “I’m Old Fashioned” and Maybel Wayne and Kim Gannon’s “I Understand,” each performed in her own personal way. It also features one new original composition, “Daily Lies,” which Green wrote as a commentary on the state of the world and the current political climate while hoping for a bright future.

Me and My Friends, Look Up (Split Shift Records)
Release date: December 6

UK-based quintet Me and My Friends are known for their soulful, poignant, danceable and genre-defying music that references many genres, including vintage Ghanaian highlife and Afro-Brazilian folk. Their new album, Look Up, draws heavily on early ’70s acoustic soul, as well as the modal “Ethiopiques” of Mulato Astatke (the father of Ethio-jazz), and the minimalism of the Penguin Café Orchestra. The tracks on Look Up are built deceptively on simple yet satisfying grooves that explore such timeless themes as friendship, commitment and nostalgia, but also draw on the personal experiences of songwriter Nick Rasle, who worked in a volunteer kitchen on the Greek island of Lesbos at the height of the 2016 refugee crisis.

Eddie Palmieri, Mi Luz Mayor (Uprising Music)
Release date: December 7

Multi-Grammy Award-winning pianist Eddie Palmieri’s new big band album, Mi Luz Mayor, is his second salsa album of the year released on his newly launched imprint, Uprising Music. It was recorded in honor of Palmieri’s late wife Iraisa and features new recordings of music that the two enjoyed in their youth. “Ultimately, these songs represent our love story,” he explains via an official statement. “Selecting each composition and writing new music helped me work through my grief after she passed away in 2014. Because this music is in her honor, everything from start to finish had to be of the highest caliber, and I am proud to say that it is just that.” Mi Luz Mayor is also enriched by special guests, including Gilberto Santa Rosa, Herman Olivera and Carlos Santana.

Fred Hersch Trio, ‘97 @ The Village Vanguard (Palmetto Records)
Release date: December 7

Acclaimed pianist-composer Fred Hersch handpicks his favorite moments from his first stint as bandleader at The Village Vanguard, New York’s iconic nightclub; eight tracks that are a mix of Songbook standards, classic jazz compositions and original pieces. ‘97  @ The Village Vanguard features never-before-released recordings from 1997 of Hersch playing with the much-loved ’90s incarnation of his trio, with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Tom Rainey. It is also the only live material of this trio to have ever been released to the public, as well as a documentation of what Hersch considers to have been one of the most important moments of his life. Speaking of his first week at the Vanguard, he says: “It meant everything. For me, it’s equivalent to the first time a classical musician plays at Carnegie Hall. It’s the greatest jazz club in the world.”

Gil Evans Orchestra, Hidden Treasure Monday Nights, Volume One (Bopper Spock Suns Music)
Release date: December 7

Gil Evans was one of the most respected orchestrators in jazz history and the Gil Evans Orchestra continues to pay tribute to the key role he played in the development of cool jazz, modal jazz, free jazz and jazz fusion to this day. Hidden Treasures Monday Nights, Volume One is the ensemble’s first release in 40 years and will be followed by two forthcoming volumes. The concept of this magnum opus is to feature compositions that the Orchestra played live in the late ’70s and early ’80s, particularly at a series of Monday Night engagements at the Sweet Basil, a club in Greenwich Village, New York, that resulted in a number of successful live recordings. Here, the spirit of the group is kept alive by Evans’ sons, trumpeter Miles Evans and his brother Noah, and by such special guests as Paul Shaffer and Vernon Reid.

Jacob Collier, Djesse, Vol. 1 (Hajanga Records)
Release date: December 7

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier’s follow-up to his acclaimed 2016 debut album, In My Room, is an ambitious project: a three-volume magnum opus titled Djesse. Each of these three volumes, the first of which is released on December 7, traces Collier’s life in 2018 and finds the artist exploring a different musical fabric and feel. The music from Djesse was also recorded with the Grammy Award-winning Dutch ensemble Metropole Orkest, marking the first time Collier ever scored for an orchestra. Djesse also features notable guest appearances from such artists as Laura Mvula, Take 6, Voces8 and the Moroccan Gnawa musician Hamid El Kasri, among others.

James Suggs, You’re Gonna Hear From Me (Arbors Records)
Release date: December 7

James Suggs began playing the trumpet at the age of 9 and has been touring internationally since the age of 16. Throughout his career, he has shared the stage with such greats as Kenny Burrell, Robin Eubanks, Chuck Mangione and Maria Schneider to name but a few. He is joined on You’re Gonna Hear From Me by soul-jazz sax legend and producer Houston Person on 12 tunes, as well as a “dream team” band featuring Lafayette Harris on piano, Peter Washington on bass and Lewis Nash on drums. The tracklist includes fresh takes on such classic tunes as “Laura,” “The Night We Called It a Day” and “It Shouldn’t Happen to a Dream,” all showcasing Suggs’ inventive phrasing, remarkable breath control and spontaneous creativity.

Lisa Hilton, Oasis (Ruby Slippers Productions)
Release date: December 7

Pianist-composer Lisa Hilton is known for her expressive technique, warmth and storytelling both in the recording studio and at live performances. While composing the music for her 21st album, Oasis, she realized that she felt the need for an antidote during these tumultuous times. Indeed, the music she explores on this record along with her trio mates, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Mark Whitfield Jr., seems to offer the listeners just that – a safe haven to counter the effects of the surrounding chaos. Oasis, out via Ruby Slippers Productions, is at times tender yet emotionally intelligent and well-conceived, as well as pulsing with a West Coast cool energy.

Van Morrison, The Prophet Speaks (Caroline International)
Release date: December 7

The Prophet Speaks marks the 40th album of singer-songwriter Sir Van Morrison. Featuring trumpeter-organist Joey DeFrancesco, the new LP includes six new original Morrison compositions, one of which is the previously released lead single “Got To Go Where the Love Is.” The other tracks are covers of songs written by Sam Cooke, John Lee Hooker and Solomon Burke, among others. “It was important for me to get back to recording new music as well as doing some blues material that has inspired me from the beginning,” Morrison said via an official statement. “Writing songs and making music is what I do, and working with great musicians makes it all the more enjoyable.”

San Jose Jazz Collective, SJZ Collective Reimagines Monk (self-produced)
Release date: December 14

On the eve of the 30th anniversary of San Jose Jazz’s annual Summer Fest in 2019, the SJZ collective, featuring the cream of Silicon Valley jazz musicians, releases its debut EP, SJZ Collective Reimagines Monk – a collection of new arrangements of four Thelonious Monk compositions, featuring drummer Wally Schnalle, trumpeter-flugelhorn player John L. Worley, organist Brian Ho, guitarist Hristo Vitchev, saxophonist Oscar Pangilinan and bassist Saúl Sierra. The project debuted at the San Jose Jazz Winter Fest 2018, celebrating Monk’s centennial. The SJZ Collective is the brainchild of Schnalle, and each of its members is on the staff of San Jose Jazz Summer Jazz Camp, a two-week learning lab led by some of the region’s best teaching artists.

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