10 New Jazz Albums You Need to Know About: January 2019

JAZZIZ takes a look at 10 of the hottest – and sweetest – new jazz albums that will be released in January 2019.

Greg Ward, Stomping Off from Greenwood (Greenleaf Music)
Release date: January 11

In 2016, Greg Ward established his reputation as one of his generation’s most versatile saxophonists with Touch My Beloved’s Thought, his Greenleaf Music debut that focused on the music of jazz master Charles Mingus. With Stomping Off from Greenwood, he launches his new innovative group, Rogue Parade – a quintet of heavyweight creative Chicago musicians featuring guitarists Matt Gold and Dave Miller, bassist Matt Ulery and drummer Quin Kirchner. The ensemble honed their sound on the road before heading to the studio to capture their collective energy on record. Over the album’s nine tracks, they explore their unique two-guitar instrumentation, ultimately blending the sonic worlds of acoustic and electronic.

Tommy Emmanuel and John Knowles, Heart Songs (CGP Sounds/Thirty Tigers)
Release date: January 11

Guitarist Tommy Emmanuel and John Knowles’ new collaborative album is titled Heart Songs, a term they use to refer to those melodies that can be played with the heart. Its 14-tracks were recorded at EastWest Studios in Los Angeles, California; these include new arrangements of such songs as Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart,” the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love” and Billy Joel’s “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel),” among others. Knowles explains that for this tracklist, they tried to choose songs that people have heard and may be familiar with, “so that when they hear them, even though we’re not singing or they may not know all the words, they have a connection to these songs in their own hearts.”

Mark Lockheart, Days on Earth (Edition Records)
Release date: January 18

British saxophonist-composer Mark Lockheart wraps 25 years of musical and life influences on his new album, Days on Earth, which he calls “a defining album for me, not just the scale of the instrumental forces, but also the epic culmination of many musical (and life) journeys.” The album features a heavyweight band of leading British jazz figures and a 30-piece freelance orchestra. It also draws from a vast palette of eclectic tastes – from cutting-edge improvisation to soaring strings, from African Kora harp melodies to ’70s inspired funk. In addition, as Lockheart maintains that “music is intrinsically connected to life, love and joy,” each of the six movements on Days on Earth is inspired by human traits and tendencies.

Antonio Sánchez, Lines in the Sand (Cam Jazz)
Release date: January 25

Drummer-composer Antonio Sánchez defines his forthcoming album, Lines in the Sand, as a protest, anti-Trump album about the immigrant experience. “I feel completely repulsed by what the United States is doing to immigrants,” he says, “especially to people coming from the South.” Joining him on this pulsating jazz-rock album are pianist John Escreet, bassist Matt Brewer, vocalist Thana Alexa and saxophonist Chase Baird. For the most part, Lines in the Sand‘s tracks suggest scored for imaginary films, drawing from Sánchez’s experience of working on the soundtrack for 2014’s Birdman. In some cases, he builds up on his previous album, 2017’s Bad Hombre.

Eric Dolphy, Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studios Sessions (Resonance Records)
Release date: January 25

Musical Prophet is the first official release of previously-unissued Eric Dolphy studio recordings in over 30 years. The three-disc set includes Conversations and Iron Man, captured in New York City on July 1 and 3, plus 85-minutes of previously unissued material. Released in partnership with the Eric Dolphy Trust and the Alan Douglas Estate with remastered high-resolution monaural audio transferred directly from original tapes, Musical Prophet also comes with a 100-page book with rare photos, essays and interviews with such jazz luminaries as Sonny Rollins, Henry Threadgill and Dave Liebman, among others.

John Raymond, Real Feels Vol. 2 (Sunnyside Records)
Release date: January 25

Real Feels is a small, focused ensemble with a strong band dynamic and identity. Led by brass wizard John Raymond, the band features guitarist Gilad Hekselman and drummer Colin Stranahan. Together, they released Joy Ride early in 2018 and in the process of touring for the album, they recorded a handful of live shows in hope of eventually putting out a live album together. That hope came true: with Real Feels Vol. 2, recorded at Blue Whale in Los Angeles, California, they present six compositions that evolved and took on new personas on the road. “I really believe this band is at its absolute best when heard live,” says Raymond.

Michael Wolff, Swirl (Sunnyside Records)
Release date: January 25

In the summer of 2015, pianist-composer Michael Wolff fell into a coma while battling a rare form of cancer. Upon waking from the coma, he found his personal and creative outlook had profoundly transformed. Swirl is a product of this transformation. “A lot of my priorities changed,” he says. “With my music, I still want it to be exciting, but I also really want everything to sound beautiful.” On this album, his writing and arrangement are main components, as he plays in his new piano trio with bassist Ben Allison and drummer Allan Mednard. Swirl was recorded at the Yamaha Salon in Manhattan, New York, in front of a small group of invited guests.

Que Vola, Que Vola (No Format!)
Release date: January 25

In 2012, French trombonist Fidel Fourneyron headed to Cuba to learn more about the music and culture of the country that had inspired his name. Eventually, this trip would influence the formation of Que Vola, a new French-Cuban outfit led by Fourneyron, officially launched on January 25 with the release of their self-titled debut album. Que Vola brings together a French jazz septet with three young and talented Cuban percussionists. Together, the marry dizzying virtuosity with the Afro-Cuban divinities that underpin the rich and colorful palette of Cuban music.

Swindle, No More Normal (Brownswood Recordings)
Release date: January 25

No More Normal finds UK-producer Swindle expanding on his unique sound by connecting his grime and dubstep roots with jazz, funk and soul. The eleven-track album, out via Brownswood Recordings, also features a plethora of guests – including MCs Kojey Radical, Ghetts, D Double E and P Money, instrumentalists Yussef Dayes, Nubya Garcia, Riot Jazz, and singers Etta Bond, Eva Lazarus and Kiko Bun. “It’s a class photo of 2018,” says Swindle via an official statement. “I need everyone in this picture.”

Time Grove, More Than One Thing (Wah Wah 45s)
Release date: January 25

More Than One Thing is the debut album by forward-thinking ensemble Time Grove from Tel Aviv, Israel. The group is headed by pianist Nitai Hershkovits and Rejoicer, who claim via an official statement that writing for this album had a pure, natural, symbiotic progress: “We couldn’t ask for a better variety of people to play with. Being influenced by each other, yet coming from a very different musical background, we managed to find a strong mutual idea of a new sound, in only three days in the studio. This music is a pure reflection of all of us at once. It felt effortless to sit around a piano together and unfolding the next tune, spearheaded with drums and horns to set the exact right scenery we were looking for.”

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