Jazziz Discover

Editor-curated albums available on LP (Vinyl), CD (Compact Disc) and Streaming, so that you can enjoy some of the best music from around the world and learn about the recording artists on each track.

Mike Miller


“Reindeer Glue”

(Blue Canoe)

As a young man growing up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, guitarist Mike Miller was thunderstruck after hearing Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew. Fusion became an obsession, as he delved into the music of Chick Corea, Weather Report and John McLaughlin. In Denver, he’d play alongside fusion touchstones Larry Coryell, Bill Frisell and even Corea himself, with whose Elektric Band he recorded. A treasured sideman in and out of the jazz world — he’s toured with Boz Scaggs since 2014 — Miller also leads his own bands, as heard on his recent release Trust (Blue Canoe). Actually, Miller leads four separate bands on the album, including the remarkably deft ensemble that plays on lead-off track, “Reindeer Glue,” included here. The guitarist’s textured riffing serves as a rhythmic scaffold for bassist Jimmy Earl’s quickstepping bass solo in the song’s intro, and the pair are soon joined by excitable drummer Gary Novak. The tune settles into a laid-back groove with the addition of Jeff Babko’s Fender Rhodes and a sunny horn section comprising trumpeter Walt Fowler and saxophonist Brandon Fields. Miller stretches out with some gently burning leads, and both Babko and Fowler distinguish themselves with generous solos. The dazzling musicianship, as throughout, is all in service of Miller’s captivating melody.

ARC Trio feat. The John Daversa Big Band



A founding member of the contemporary-jazz powerhouse Yellowjackets, bassist Jimmy Haslip continues to find intriguing avenues of expression since leaving the band more than a decade ago. On his latest release, ARCecology: The Music of MSM Schmidt (Blue Canoe), Haslip and his ARC Trio team up with The John Daversa Big Band on a program of tunes by German-based keyboardist and composer Michael Schmidt. Trumpeter Daversa, who chairs Studio Music and Jazz at the Frost School of Music in Miami, provides sweep and color via his mighty South Florida ensemble, while high-octane guest stars — guitarist Steve Khan, saxophonist Seamus Blake and Hammond organ wizard Brian Auger among them — bring additional firepower. Haslip and ARC trio mates Scott Kinsey and Gergö Borlai, on keyboards and drums respectively, hold the center, as they navigate the variety of styles within Schmidt’s songbook. The self-explanatory “Swing,” our selection, swaggers with swing-era muscle even as it sounds wholly contemporary, thanks to Haslip’s growling electric bass lines, Kinsey’s fiery keyboards and a dynamic, rhythmic arrangement, which makes room for exciting solos by Blake and Daversa. If the song puts you in mind of Jaco Pastorius’ Word of Mouth big band, that’s no accident: Jaco was an enormous influence on Haslip.

Marilyn Scott

The Landscape


(Blue Canoe)

Since her days singing backup for Tower of Power, then lending her chops to contemporary jazz and blues artists from Spyro Gyra and the Yellowjackets to John Mayall and Etta James, Marilyn Scott has established herself as a first-call talent on the L.A. music scene. For some 40 years, the vocalist and songwriter has built a distinguished discography under her own name, the latest entry in which, The Landscape  (Blue Canoe), she developed during the pandemic. A dire concern for nature and the environment are expressed throughout the album, with tunes such as “Irreplaceable” and the title track voicing the inconvenient truth of humankind’s poor stewardship of the planet. The former, included here, carries an anxious, melancholy vibe as Scott observes the devastation all around her in her native California. Scott’s sad and lovely vocals are set against a poignant backdrop provided by the all-star ensemble of guitarist Michael Landau, pianist Russell Ferrante, keyboardist Scott Kinsey, bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.

Thomas Heflin

Morning Star

“The Moon Singer”

(Blue Canoe)

On his recent recording, Morning Star (Blue Canoe), trumpeter Thomas Heflin creates the vibe of a late-night radio program, complete with a cool-talking DJ who informs listeners that they’re tuned into station WHEF. The music touches on jazz and neo-soul that one might hear in the wee hours, starting with the introspective and hopeful title track. Songs carry personal significance for Heflin, who relates in the press that “Morning Star” is the translation of his wife’s Slavic name; he also titles a selection for his daughter, Anna, and includes a composition by the late pianist James Williams (“Self-Esteem”), with whom he studied at William Patterson University. “The Moon Singer,” our selection, was inspired by a children’s book about a lonely boy who sings to himself in the forest. The lovely tune features wordless vocals by Ariel Pocock, as well as evocative leads and unisons by Heflin and tenor saxophonist Gregory Tardy. Propelled by the rhythm section of bassist Steve Haines and drummer Xavier Ware, with additional colors from Aaron Matson’s guitar and Peter Stoltzman’s keyboards, the tune bears a mysterious, slightly menacing tone that’s overcome by the bright, heroic horns.

Mark Kibble and Steve Khan

Island Letters

“Island Letter”

(Blue Canoe)

The inspired pairing of vocalist Mark Kibble and guitarist Steve Khan unfolds on Island Letter (Blue Canoe), a recent release by two innovators in their respective fields. A founding member of vocal powerhouse Take 6, Kibble is credited with shaping the group’s signature sound via his tenor leads and arrangements, which have become a standard for close-harmony singing over the past few decades. Khan, fresh from UCLA, headed to New York City in 1969, where he established himself as a distinctive voice alongside the likes of Larry Coryell and the Brecker Brothers. Both Kibble and Khan were sought out by the stars, with the singer producing albums for Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, and the guitarist working with Miles Davis, Steely Dan and Freddie Hubbard, to name a few. Their skills and sensibilities are in full evidence on the title track to Island Letter, which was penned by soul legend Shuggie Otis. Khan’s pristine picking and Marc Quiñones’ tropical percussion emphasize the Latin rhythms at the heart of the tune, providing a solid springboard for Kibble’s intimate vocals and silky harmonies.

D. Mark Owen


“In Between”

(Blue Canoe)

On Respite, D. Mark Owen’s recent release for Blue Canoe, the pianist, keyboardist and composer creates cinematic soundscapes that draw inspiration from his vast and varied life experiences. One tune pulls memories of his working his way through college as a commercial fisherman, another evinces the anxiety of a working musician struggling to pay the bills, while yet another evokes the complex feelings of raising a child. But not all of Owen’s inspiration happens in his waking hours. At times, he relates in track notes to the album, he explores fertile creative territory while on the edge of sleep and consciousness, a state of being he conjures on the track “In Between,” included here. Owen’s romantic, crystalline piano waltzes dreamlike and mysterious, entering into a fantastic realm that unfolds and builds dramatically with lush, orchestral sounds adding to the ever-shifting ambience. “I’ve always been fascinated with dreams,” he writes in the album notes. “In fact, I’ve gotten a fair amount of compositional material by waking up and singing an idea into my phone, going back to sleep and then taking that recording to the studio and fleshing it out.”

TriTone Asylum

The Hideaway Sessions


(Blue Canoe)

An assemblage of seasoned contemporary-jazz vets, TriTone Asylum draws on its members’ collective influences and experiences to create a definitive L.A. jazz sound. The band formed in 2009, following some informal jamming by trumpeter Philip Topping, guitarist Andy Waddell and bassist Peter Sepsis, who discovered they shared similar artistic touchstones — namely Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Pat Metheny and other artists on the ECM label. While initially conceived of as a trio, the group expanded to a sextet — all the better to express their electro-acoustic aesthetic — its sound swirling around Topping’s electric valve instrument. On TriTone’s sophomore recording, The Hideaway Sessions  (Blue Canoe), Topping is joined on the frontline by saxophonist-flutist Ian Vo and guitarist Waddell on “Grasshopper,” our selection, its sunny Latin groove fattened by pianist and keyboardist Mitch Forman, bassist Sepsis, drummer Dave Johnstone and percussionist Billy Hulting.

Iwan VanHetten

Parabbean Tales

“Djoel and Knippa”

(Blue Canoe)

U.K.-based trumpeter and composer Iwan VanHetten blends the sounds of his Caribbean heritage with well-honed contemporary jazz sensibilities on his latest recording, Parabbean Tales  (Blue Canoe). And he does so in excellent company, recruiting members of the Yellowjackets past and present — saxophonist Bob Mintzer, keyboardist Russell Ferrante, bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Will Kennedy — as well as bassist Melvin Lee Davis, percussionist Lenny Castro and steel pan master Andy Narell. The results are a sunny amalgam of jazz and island textures and rhythms, as heard on the lovely “Djoel and Knippa,” included here. Beginning with just trumpet and piano, the tune starts on a tender, introspective note before a shimmering tide of drums washes ashore. The piece then picks up its feet to a steady stream of percussion, with tantalizing keyboard touches evincing both jazz and tropical feels. Throughout, VanHetten’s trumpet rings true and he unleashes a dazzling solo toward the song’s conclusion, which winds down to just brass and keyboards — as it began. A longtime member of Sister Sledge and Brooklyn Funk Essentials, VanHetten shows off his seasoned chops and soulful writing on his debut release for Blue Canoe.

Rafael Greco

Signs of Life

“Once Upon a Time”

(Blue Canoe)

Man finds harmony with machine on Rafael Greco’s Blue Canoe debut Signs of Life (Blue Canoe). The Venezuelan saxophonist and vocalist has constructed a unique and highly personal framework within the chilled-out groovescape of the Blue Canoe aesthetic, using rhythms of Caribbean music — from salsa and merengue to joropo and calypso — to prop up a canopy of silky, Milesian synths. “Once Upon a Time,” our selection, takes the amalgamation a step further, pitting a winding, harmonically liberated keyboard solo by Santiago Bosch against a heavily churning montuno. The effect is like a building storm, whose developing center is never entirely predictable. Synth stabs pierce through the clouds and vanish into thin air, while Greco’s voice is the ibis flying calmly amidst the swirling clouds and musical thunder.

Cody Carpenter

Balance of Extremes

“Hold On”

(Blue Canoe)

Cody Carpenter’s Balance of Extremes (Blue Canoe) is a fitting title for an album that tilts the scales between the far-flung limits of the jazz-rock spectrum. The keyboardist — whose father is film director John Carpenter, of Halloween fame — had already made inroads in the synthwave and scene under the alias Ludrium, releasing three acclaimed albums that showed off his solid songwriting and synthcraft skills. Balance of Extremes has a decidedly harder edge, harnessing the most potent elements of prog-rock, power metal, glam-rock and Eric Johnson-esque guitar artistry and channeling them into a united front. Our selection, “Hold On,” is the album’s opening track, launching the proceedings with boosters at full thrust. Marco Sfogli’s guitar rips across the song with laser precision, and Jimmy Haslip’s bass adds a supercharge to the momentum. For jazz-rock fans who like their jazz and rock in at full measure, this is the album for you.


Parallel Motion

“Parallel Motion”

(Mack Avenue)

Jazz-fusion innovators Yellowjackets prove they have plenty to add to the game with the release of Parallel Motion (Mack Avenue), their 27th album in a remarkable 40-year career. Though the band is still capable of ripping into a hard-charging groove — as tunes like “Early” and “Onyx Manor” certainly demonstrate —  there’s a spaciousness to Parallel Motion that lends the album a refreshing lightness and bounce, all the better for its members to spread out and get comfortable. The title track perfectly exhibits this open-aired feel. Its ethereal cymbal groove (laid down by the impeccable Will Kennedy on drums) is the jetstream along which Russel Ferrante’s pulsing keyboard chords and Bob Mintzer’s feathery plumy tenor saxophone intertwine and exchange. Toward the song’s end, however, the energy begins to solidify and become dense. Led by Dane Alderson’s thumping bass, the song hurdles to its conclusion like a sonic boom.

Emmet Cohen

Uptown in Orbit

“My Love Will Come Again”

(Mack Avenue)

Pianist Emmet Cohen was a hero of the pandemic era in jazz, launching a web series, Live from Emmet’s Place, that served as both a lifeline for jazz fans yearning to experience live jazz and a haven for musicians to convene and make music during lockdowns. What began as a loose jam session between roommates livestreamed from his Harlem apartment became an internet sensation that drew millions of viewers and musicians ranging from Christian McBride to Sheila Jordan. Still riding that artistic wave, Cohen has released Uptown in Orbit, his sophomore album for Mack Avenue Records. The disc features a few Emmet’s Place regulars, including battery mates Kyle Poole on drums and Russell Hall on bass, and rounding out the frontline are saxophonist Patrick Bartley and trumpeter Sean Jones. Stylistically, the album runs the gamut from early jazz standards to modern impressionistic fare. The Cohen original “My Love Will Come Again” is of the latter sort, a romantic, breathy affair that finds Bartley and Jones (on flugelhorn), whispering back and forth in lovely melodic phrases. Poole’s feathery bass drum is the song’s pulse, Hall’s bass rings with pristine clarity and Cohen, as always, plays with the kind of precision and grace that allows his bandmates to shine.

Jane Monheit

Come What May

“I Believe In You”

(Club 44)

With the release of Come What May (Club 44) in 2021, vocalist Jane Monheit celebrated more than 20 years as a recording artist in what has become an ever-evolving jazz landscape. Despite the genre’s incessant changes, Monheit’s M.O. has remained the same: bringing an undeniable sense of swing and suavity to jazz classics and mid-century pop gems. Come What May is an emphatic testament to that point, as its brimming with tunes that sparkle and shine with the kind of polish only Monheit can provide. Our selection, the Frank Loesser-penned “I Believe in You,” comes from the 1961 Broadway hit How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. In Monheit’s hands, it’s a supremely swinging affair, driven by the luxurious cymbal work of Rick Montalbano and featuring a lean-and-mean piano solo from Michael Kanan. Monheit’s scatting embellishments, laced throughout the second half of the song, are treasures.

Connie Han

Secrets of Inanna

“Prima Materia”

(Mack Avenue)

With a nod to the hyper-cool jazz fusion of the 1980s, pianist Connie Han has released Secrets of Inanna on Mack Avenue Music. The album, which takes its name from an ancient Sumerian goddess, seems duly inspired by the electro-acoustic stylings of Chick Corea, Gary Burton and others of the Return to Forever ilk. The album is a winning showcase for Han, who proves just how gifted she can be behind an electric piano or Fender Rhodes. A clear standout is “Prima Materia,” our selection, which derives much of its energy from the tension between a stepwise acoustic bass motif (laid down by the meticulous John Patitucci) and Han’s fluid chord work. Drummer Bill Wysaske (who also composed the tune) is a stellar timekeeper, making it all the more magical when flutist Katisse Buckingham weaves herself in and out of the song’s rhythmic swirl.

Troy Roberts

Nations United


(Toy Robot)

Australian-born saxophonist and composer Troy Roberts’ fourth album with his Nu-Jive five-piece, Nations United (Toy Robot), is a multi-national affair drawing from the cultural heritage of each of its members and the countries they represent. Lead-off track “Funkafarian” introduces this concept by opening with a deep groove recalling the funk and modern jazz fusion of the bulk of the band’s previous outings. However, it switches gears about halfway through by introducing a rousing reggae element. Such is the spirit of Nations United, an album that with crafty compositional skills and exceptional musicianship represents a coming together of worlds through the universal language of music.


Another Life

“The Dawn Wall”

(S/N Alliance)

Keyboard masters Dan Cavanagh and James Miley explore new avenues for expression on Another Life (S/N Alliance) In their hands, the two-piano format — occasionally augmented by electronics — sounds like a full orchestra. Add the renowned drumming of John Hollenbeck to the mix and you’ve got yourself one of the most unique sounding trio projects of the year. “The Dawn Wall,” one of the record’s originals, is a fine balance of virtuosic nuance and compositional focus. The track is packed with dramatic suspensions, dense harmonies and a touch of cinematic mystery; a crescendo building up to a cascading finale. Elsewhere, the three musicians apply their craft to wide-ranging material, from Radiohead to Jerome Kern and beyond.

Jennifer Hartswick

Something in the Water

“By the River”

(Brother Mister)

“My music is blossoming,” says vocalist, trumpeter and composer Jennifer Hartswick in a press release accompanying her recent release Something in the Water (Brother Mister Productions). Listening to the track “By the River,” it’s hard to disagree. The song gleefully reflects the current moment in her evolution as an artist, building on a career that includes her tenure as a founding member of the Trey Anastasio Band. An upbeat celebration of childlike wonderment, it marries inspirational lyrics with the vitality of New Orleans’ signature second line sound and serves as a sanguine centerpiece to Something in the Water. The album reprises Hartwick’s collaboration with bassist Christian McBride, whose Brother Mister Productions imprint released the record in collaboration with Mack Avenue.

Michael Orenstein


“Ode to Manuel”


Michael Orenstein’s debut album as a leader, Aperture (Origin) feels like the affirmation of a promising young talent of piano jazz to come. His music matches theory, practice and invention, drawing from an impressively wide range of influences and styles. Among them, an exploration of the temporal organization of the Cuban clave on “Ode to Manuel,” written by Orenstein in tribute to pianist Manuel Valera. This track is a vigorous showcase of style and groove, as well as the tight chemistry between the California-based musician and his core trio members, bassist Logan Kane and drummer Myles Martin.

Cameron Graves

Live From the Seven Spheres

“Sacred Sphere”

(Mack Avenue)

Visionary keyboardist Cameron Graves created “thrash-jazz” by blending classical, jazz, fusion and heavy metal. He continues to propel this unique music forward on his new live album, Live From the Seven Spheres (Mack Avenue). The record features reimaginings of selected tracks from his previous studio outings, Planetary Prince (2017) and Seven (2021), performed with his powerhouse quartet. Among them, “Sacred Sphere” from the latter album that, despite clocking in at around the three-minute mark, unravels with great intensity and packs a mean punch. A manifestation of focused virtuosity, this version features guitarist Colin Cook’s shredding acrobatics in an even more prominent role.

Christopher James

A Rose in the Canyon

“Blue in the 2nd Degree”

(Val Gardena Music)

For his latest project, composer Christopher James assembled a cast of some of New York’s finest first-call instrumentalists and talented orchestrators. Each of its tracks feels like a journey. The title of the record, A Rose in the Canyon (Val Gardena Music), suggests imagery that is strongly poetic. It draws attention to the evocative nature of its music, which originated as a set of piano improvisations and eventually evolved into a final, beautifully orchestrated coup de maître. On ”Blue in the 2nd Degree,” an elegant and breezy composition with exotic flourishes, James tiptoes around the blues scale with explorative purpose. And when Jim Beard breaks free to take his glorious piano solo, he sounds like the manifestation of insatiable musical wanderlust.