Jazziz Discover

Enjoy listening to some of the best new jazz available in hi-res audio and with information about each featured album below. For subscribers only.

Drum Alarm

“Special Mace”

(Motionless)

German drummer and composer Sy Joynet started out playing violin before switching to the drum set at the age of 16. He became adept enough to win the Grand Prix du Jury at a jazz festival in Dunkirk, France, with his trio. Pursuing a passion for Brazilian jazz, he played with Brazilian musicians in Hamburg, combining tropical influences with inspiration from progressive jazz artists such as Steve Coleman, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny and Chick Corea. Joynet, who is also quite accomplished on piano and synthesizer, came to Long Beach, California, to record an album with guitarist Allen Hinds and bassist Alphonso Johnson, and caught the ear of McLaughlin, who signed him to his Abstract Logix label in the early 2000s. Bass giants Johnson and Victor Wooten appeared on Joynet’s album Drum Alarm (Motionless), as well, alternating tracks with Joynet’s frequent bassist Ronaldo Nascimento. Joynet and Johnson team up on the thrilling “Special Mace,” a fusiony space-age track displaying Joynet’s mastery of synthesizer textures as well as his thunderous skills behind the drum set. Johnson, a former member of fusion giants Weather Report, supplies the loose and funky bottom notes on electric bass, anchoring the track in terra firma even as it soars into the stratosphere. The track further reveals the influence of Corea’s Return to Forever, whose music Joynet has also recorded.


TKMO

“TKMO”

(Jazz Mafia)

Bay Area native Lilan Kane works the soul/R&B edge of the jazz continuum, her smoky, emotive vocals inhabiting a space between old-school and new. Based in Oakland, the Berklee College of Music grad, like so many of her musical colleagues during the past year, struggled with pandemic-induced isolation, loss of performance opportunities and creative inertia. Her solution was to compose a tune dealing with those topics, simultaneously honoring the influence of soul-jazz pioneer and vibraphonist Roy Ayers. She then sent a demo track to her collaborators, who recorded their parts remotely, the seamless results of which can be heard on the single “TKMO” (Jazz Mafia), or “Time Keeps Moving On.” Chase Jackson’s vibes maintain a jazzy feel throughout the atmospheric track, offering echoes of Ayers. Bassist Marcus Philips and keyboardist Mike Blankenship further add to the chill-out vibe, over which Kane’s vocals float ethereally and effortlessly. The singer, who has performed with the Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra and opened for acts such as Hall & Oates, The Doobie Brothers and Sharon Jones, certainly evokes the milieu Ayers innovated, providing a soothing soundscape for troubled times.


All or Nothing

“Come Sunday”

(4RM Music)

Having concentrated much of her career on jazz education, vocalist Trineice Robinson is stepping out of the halls of academia with her debut recording All or Nothing (4RM Music Productions) which will be released in August. The results were certainly worth the wait, as the Princeton faculty member dives into a repertoire of jazz standards, gospel, soul and R&B, backed by stellar musicians throughout. Robinson nods to major influences such as Nancy Wilson (“Saving Your Love for Me”) and Carmen McRae (“I Mean You”), interprets Great American Songbook gems and delves into timeless classics by Wayne Shorter and Marvin Gaye. Hailing from “generations of clergy” in her native Oakland, California, Robinson is deeply anchored in gospel music, as is immediately evident in her read of Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday.” The track begins with a lilting and lovely intro by pianist Cyrus Chestnut, Robinson’s sole accompanist on the prayerful number, with both musicians’ church roots fully on display. Robinson makes a powerful, heartfelt plea for God to “see my people through,” a prayer that no doubt continues to resonate decades after Ellington recorded it with Mahalia Jackson at the height of the Civil Rights era. Chestnut’s tender, lyrical piano and Robinson’s poignant contralto cry combine for a quite moving performance.


Gary Bartz

JID006

“Visions of Love”

(Jazz Is Dead)

As a progenitor of progressive soul-jazz, saxophonist Gary Bartz has influenced generations of jazz and hip-hop musicians. Count among them multi-instrumentalist and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad, who sampled Bartz’s music on recordings with his own boundary-breaking group, A Tribe Called Quest. So it’s unsurprising that Muhammad and his partner, musician and producer Adrian Younge, invited Bartz to record as part of their Jazz Is Dead series. The saxophonist, who turned 80 last September, contributed a track to the very first album in the series, a multi-artist sampler, and returns with a full album, which represents JID’s sixth release (JID006). The music echoes the spiritual vibe and deep grooves of Bartz albums such as Harlem Bush Music and Precious Energy, even as Muhammad and Younge respectfully update his sound with subtle production touches. “Visions of Love” provides a prime example, opening with a distorted bass groove and a slippery backbeat. Bartz’s lithe soprano sax dances atop the insistent rhythmic foundation, and he’s soon joined by an ethereal chorus of background vocalists and shimmering keyboard textures. The tune ends with a rising and descending electronic swoop that sounds like a police siren, likely no accident in the Black Lives Matter era.


Azymuth

JID004

“Fall Afternoon”

(Jazz Is Dead)

The members of the Brazilian jazz and funk trio Azymuth started out as session players in 1960s Rio de Janeiro, even as they were gaining acclaim on the city’s thriving nightclub scene. The group’s forward-looking aesthetic was apparent from their 1975 debut recording (under the moniker “Azimüth”), as they blended psychedelia with samba and created a trippy, danceable modern variant of Brazilian funk-jazz. In recent years, their music was rediscovered by crate-digging DJs who’ve sampled and remixed their songs, bringing Azymuth’s music to a new generation of listeners. Continuing that trend, the original rhythm team of bassist Alex Malheiros and drummer Ivan “Mamão” Conti, and keyboardist Kiko Continentinho (who stepped in for the late José Roberto Bertrami), teamed up with Muhammad and Younge for a tropicalia-tinged album of atmospheric groove music, the fourth release in the Jazz Is Dead series (JID004). “Fall Afternoon,” our selection, showcases the band’s approach to bossa nova, its breezy melody and gentle rhythms reminiscent of a Jobim classic. As usual, Younge and Muhammad are thoughtful collaborators, adding tinges of wah-wah guitar that lend a bit of edge to the mix, but for the most part allowing Azymuth to enjoy the spotlight.


Adrian Younge

The American Negro

“James Mincey Jr.”

(Jazz Is Dead)

In a cry from the heart, Adrian Younge has crafted an intensely personal work that articulates the anguish, anger and frustration of Black America in 2021. The multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer’s recent release, The American Negro (Jazz Is Dead), closely examines racism and its roots, tackling subjects such as white supremacy; the psychological impact on the Black psyche of living in a racist society; and the horrible violence visited upon Blacks by police. This last subject hits particularly close to home for Younge and vocalist Loren Oden, whose uncle James Mincey Jr. was killed by police in 1982. Following a pursuit by Los Angeles police, Mincey was placed in a chokehold by an officer; he was the 16th person to die from this form of restraint in just seven years, which led the police commission to ban its use. Still, lethal tactics continue to be used with alarming frequency against Black suspects. Illuminating this social ill, Oden penned a track on The American Negro that bears his uncle’s name. “Sick of brothas dying, police men lying/Children in the streets/Another son is gone, ohhh,” sings Loren Oden on “James Mincey Jr.,” which she co-wrote with Younge. Recalling the work of Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye, the song carries a melancholy vibe expressed by Younge on Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3 and vibraphone, as well as a martial backbeat, also played by Younge. “It’s so sad to see that you don’t see yourself in me,” Oden laments. “Why does my skin define me?”


João Donato

JID001

“Conexão”

(Jazz Is Dead)

Facing rejection in his native Brazil, ahead-of-his-time pianist and bossa nova pioneer João Donato moved to the U.S. in 1959. During the next 14 years, he blazed a trail as an in-demand sideman, recording with Latin jazz giants Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente and Cal Tjader, and appearing on the crossover bossa classic The Astrud Gilberto Album. Donato was a close friend and associate of Gilberto’s husband, singer-guitarist João Gilberto, who had been greatly influenced by the pianist. At the age of 86, Donato remains a forward-looking musician, as heard on “Conexão,” a track he composed with and played with Muhammad and Younge on their first Jazz Is Dead recording (JID001). Donato’s rippling rhythmic flow on Fender Rhodes remains at the center of the atmospheric track, ensconced in a vibrant, colorful soundscape of synths, wah-wah guitars, saxophone, marimba and percussion, and propelled by the quicksilver drumming of Greg Paul. It sounds utterly of the moment, while saluting the vital grooves of 1970s soul-jazz with a Latin accent.


Roy Ayers

JID002

“Sunflowers”

(Jazz Is Dead)

Vibraphonist Roy Ayers was at the vanguard of 1970s soul-jazz. His deeply sensual albums with Roy Ayers Ubiquity made waves beyond the jazz world, as groove-centric tunes such as “We Live in Brooklyn, Baby” and “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” caught the ears of hip mainstream audiences. Championed by hip-hop heads such as Guru, who put him on his seminal 1993 release Jazzmatazz, Volume 1, and sampled by A Tribe Called Quest, Mary J. Blige and Dr. Dre among others, Ayers has long resided in the soul-jazz pantheon. His Jazz Is Dead recording, JID002, shines a deserved spotlight on the 80-year-old vibist, who wrote all the music for the album with collaborators Younge and Muhammad. “Sunflowers,” our selection, sounds like vintage Ayers, the melody riding a sinuous groove supplied by a liquid bass line and drummer Greg Paul’s silvery traps. Wendell Harrison’s tenor sax, Phil Ranelin’s muted trombone and the backing vocals of Loren Oden and Saudia Yasmein further contribute to the sexy soundscape, which sparkles with glints of Ayers’ understated mallet work.


Doug Carn

JID005

“Windfall”

(Jazz Is Dead)

Some of the most beautiful soul-jazz of the 1970s was crafted by organist Doug Carn and his then-wife, vocalist Jean Carn. A string of albums on the Black Jazz label, starting with the sublime 1971 release Infant Eyes, all but defined the genre. Solid grooves and a spiritual orientation underpinned Carn’s aesthetic, as he offered fresh takes on music by John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Bobby Hutcherson and Earth, Wind and Fire. The St. Augustine, Florida-born keyboardist took a years-long hiatus from recording under his own name, working for the most part as a sideman, before ascending once again as a leader at the close of the 20th century. A natural fit for the Jazz is Dead series, Carn combines forces with Younge and Muhammad on their fifth release, JID005, which features all new material co-written by the principals. Trumpeter Zach Ramacier and saxophonist Shai Golan open “Windfall,” our selection, with a fanfare that repeats throughout. Carn, 72, remains a nuanced master of the Hammond B3, his signature approach to the instrument conveying plenty of emotion. The quietly joyful tune is propelled by a subtle groove that splits the difference between 1971 and 2021.


Marcos Valle

JID003

“A Gente Volta Amanhã”

(Jazz Is Dead)

A seminal figure on the bossa nova scene, vocalist and composer Marcos Valle is celebrated as a pioneer in his native Brazil — and in London, where rare-groove aficionados revived his music in the 1980s — although he’s less well-known in the States. While he lived in Los Angeles in the 1970s, Valle never recorded his own material here until now. At the invitation of Younge and Muhammad, the singer returned to L.A. from his home in Rio and collaborated with the musician-producers on the third release of the Jazz Is Dead series (JID003). The album spotlights Valle’s melodic songcraft as well as his impassioned vocals, which remain quite poignant at age 77. Intimate and full of feeling, his delivery on “A Gente Volta Amanhã” (The People Return Tomorrow) carries a sense of urgency, bolstered by a deep and insinuating bass line over a waltz rhythm, while wah-wah guitar adds an acid-edge to the proceedings.


Brian Jackson

JID001

“Nancy Wilson”

(Jazz Is Dead)

Multi-instrumentalist Brian Jackson was a key collaborator of the late Gil Scott-Heron. Both compositionally and conceptually, Jackson helped Scott-Heron shape a musical persona that made him an underworld hero in his heyday and an icon who greatly influenced generations of hip-hop artists to come. When the team started releasing records with both of their names prominently displayed on the cover, they enjoyed quite a bit of commercial success, charting with both 1974’s Winter in America and 1976’s From South Africa to South Carolina. While Jackson might not be a household name, he is celebrated by all who revere Scott-Heron’s work, including cratedigging DJs who’ve appreciated Jackson’s memorable hooks and riffs for decades. Younge and Muhammad were certainly among his fans, and it’s no surprise that they would invite the 68-year-old Jackson to participate on their first Jazz Is Dead release, the multi-artist JID001. The three musicians co-composed the lovely “Nancy Wilson,” named for the late jazz singer, something of an icon herself. Jackson’s alto flute floats featherlike atop the insistent but not aggressive rhythms, Malachi Morehead’s drums striking just the right balance of patter and propulsion.


Roy Ayers

JID002

“Synchronize Vibration”

(Jazz Is Dead)

As opposed to recordings by Milt Jackson or Lionel Hampton, Roy Ayers’ music is less about the vibraphone than the vibe. This is certainly true of Ayers’ Jazz Is Dead recording (JID002), in which his instrument remains more of a color in the prism than the dominant hue. His minimalist approach is evident from the very first track, “Synchronize Vibration,” which he composed with Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, who also layer the track with Fender Rhodes, synths, Mellotron and clavinet. A chorus of whispery voices breeze in, as well, recalling the groovy era of early-’70s soul-jazz, while Greg Paul’s skillful drumming straddles the line between old-school and new. With its spiritual lyrics and laid-back groove, the song wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Ayers’ classic Polydor recordings, which have earned him new fans such as Alicia Keys, Thundercat and Tyler the Creator, who have sought out his talents in recent years.


Gary Bartz

JID006

“The Message”

(Jazz Is Dead)

Saxophonist Gary Bartz has been communicating themes of Black liberation, unity and universal love for decades. Less of a firebrand than a healer, Bartz fused funk, soul, African rhythms and jazz into a palatable, hard-grooving blend that frequently conveyed powerful social statements, either overtly or contextually. Musician-producers Younge and Muhammad tap into that flow on their album with Bartz, the Jazz Is Dead team’s sixth offering (JID006), which includes a tune titled “The Message.” Once again, the song rises from the rhythmic foundation, with a strong bass groove and slinky drum pattern setting the stage for Bartz’s sinewy soprano. The warm tone of Bartz’s expressive horn wends though a cosmos of rhythm and texture, as bass, drums and keyboards all support his aspirational ethos. While his sound may be subtly tweaked for 21st century ears, Bartz’s message remains the same.


Midnight Hour

JID001

“Jazz Is Dead”

(Jazz Is Dead)

Musician-producers Muhammad and Younge assembled their group The Midnight Hour in 2013, but they put the project on hold while they worked on the score for the Netflix series Luke Cage. Five years later, they finally released Midnight Hour’s eponymous studio album, which featured contributions from vocalists Raphael Saadiq, Marsha Ambrosius and Bilal; in 2019, they followed with a live recording (Live at Linear Labs). Under The Midnight Hour flag, Muhammad and Younge rounded up vocalist collaborators for a track on their initial Jazz Is Dead recording (JID001). Fittingly, the song is titled “Jazz Is Dead” and it concludes the album with its thesis statement. Muhammad and Younge play all instruments, supplying everything from drums and bass to keyboards and saxophones. Choral vocalists, including Loren Oden from both of The Midnight Hour recordings and other Jazz Is Dead projects, further stir echoes of ’70s soul-jazz.


Tony Glausi

When It All Comes Crashing Down

“When It All Comes Crashing Down”

(Oustide In Music)

Finding inspiration during challenging times can be difficult for any artist. But trumpeter and composer Tony Glausi rises to the occasion with his latest release, When It All Comes Crashing Down (Outside in Music), his music at once poignant and uplifting. The New York-based musician and educator assembled an excellent ensemble to help him realize his vision, which blends elements of jazz and chamber music in a rather personal way. The album also marks the first time Glausi has recorded his vocals, his intimate, moody delivery recalling another singing trumpeter, Chet Baker. The opening title track, a reimagined Tchaikovsky composition, has a cinematic feel, with Glausi’s echoey horn cresting a dramatic backdrop supplied by pianist Emmet Cohen, bassist Dan Chmielinski and drummer Bryan Carter. Glausi’s hushed vocals enter as the band picks up steam, the rhythmic changes cycling through different emotional states. Ambient street noise can be heard intermittently, adding yet another layer of drama and mystery.


Lyle Workman

Uncommon Measures

“Noble Savage”

(Blue Canoe)

Guitarist and composer Lyle Workman has enjoyed a long and varied career. His résumé is wildly diverse, including performance and recording credits with the disparate likes of Sting, Todd Rundgren, Tony Williams and Norah Jones — not to mention soundtrack work for movies such as Superbad and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. A demanding schedule kept him from releasing albums under his own name for the past decade, but he’s made up for lost time on his recent recording, Uncommon Measures (Blue Canoe), a project several years in the making. Workman rounded up some all-star jazz-fusion comrades for the endeavor, as well as teaming with John Ashton Thomas, who conducted a 63-piece orchestra assembled at Abbey Road Studio in London specifically for the sessions. On his composition “Noble Savage,” Workman is joined by violinist Charlie Bisharat, bassist Sam Wilkes, vibist Wade Culbreath and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., who lay down a punchy rhythmic motif before the orch sweeps in. Workman lets loose with a fanged and fiery torrent at the midway mark, truly sounding like he’s having a blast as he surfs the urgent rhythms to the song’s close.


Chad Lefkowitz-Brown

Quartet Sessions

“All the Things You Are”

(La Reserve)

At the age of 30, tenor saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown has toured the world and performed at bucket-list venues such as Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden. Having studied at the Brubeck Institute, he performed frequently with the fellowship program’s namesake, and has toured and recorded with trumpeter Randy Brecker. And the New York native certainly knows his way around the Great American Songbook. In fact, Lefkowitz-Brown has crafted a few recordings dedicated to the music that’s long entered the jazz lexicon. The saxophonist returns with another album of enduring jazz staples on his latest release, Quartet Sessions (La Reserve), leading his four-piece acoustic band through 11 numbers that span the history of the genre, including numbers by Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins and Herbie Hancock. Lefkowitz-Brown’s muscular improvisations shine brightly throughout, as heard on his joyful read of the Jerome Kern ballad “All the Things You Are.” He’s sympathetically supported by an excellent combo consisting of pianist Steven Feifke, bassist Alex Claffy and drummer Corey Fonville. Feifke and Fonville both carve out exciting solos, and the energy never flags as the band locks onto a groove and sizzles all the way to the exit.


Jihye Lee

Daring Mind

“Struggle Gives You Strength”

(Motéma Music)

South Korean native Jihye Lee enjoyed success as an indie pop singer in her homeland. Then, while studying at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, she discovered an affinity for arranging for large ensembles. While not an instrumentalist herself, Lee became skilled enough at writing arrangements to win Berklee’s Duke Ellington Prize; she went on to earn her master’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied under Jim McNeely. Lee follows up her well-received 2017 orchestral debut recording, April, with Daring Mind (Motéma), this time sharing production credits with another critically acclaimed bandleader and arranger, Darcy James Argue. In her artist notes, Lee explains that the new recording reflects her first four years living in New York and how music helped her cope with life in a large and daunting city. “Composing has been my best friend,” she writes. “We danced, cried, laughed and suffered together. Music heals me by helping to release my emotions.” Those emotions burst through the nine compositions that make up Daring Mind, including the uplifting “Struggle Gives You Strength.” As on her previous release, Lee recruited trumpeter Sean Jones, whose muscular horn leads the charge. Other names jazz fans might recognize within the 18-piece ensemble include saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff and trombonist Alan Ferber, both of whom contribute to Lee’s epic sound.


Lafayette Gilchrist

NOW

““The Midnight Step Rag””

(Self Release)

Pianist and composer Lafayette Gilchrist followed up his bravura 2019 solo release, Dark Matter, with a ripping trio recording, the aptly titled, self-released NOW. His first trio recording in more than a dozen years, the double-album at times has the urgency of journalism. “Assume the Position,” Gilchrist’s theme to the HBO series The Wire, remains sadly relevant in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the rise of Black Lives Matter, as does his somewhat elegiac “Bmore Careful,” both of which reflect violence in the streets of Baltimore, where he’s lived for more than 30 years. While the underlying message of his music may be as serious as a 911 call, Gilchrist and his trio mates — bassist Herman Burnie and drummer Eric Kennedy — certainly know how to keep listeners grooving as they cycle through styles and rhythms that resound through jazz history, from ragtime to stride to blues, all the way up to the current day. Gilchrist’s “The Midnight Step Rag” displays a deep knowledge of and affection for his forebears. His agile and elegant pianism converses with Kennedy’s dancing sticks, as the drummer tattoos an exciting cadence that could’ve emanated from a Baltimore saloon a century ago.


Pete Malinverni & Juliet Kurtzman

Candlelight: Love in the Time of Cholera

“Body and Soul”

(Saranac)

The piano-and-violin team of Pete Malinverni & Juliet Kurtzman partially reference the name of a much-adored Gabriel García Márquez classic for their recording Candlelight — Love in the Time of Cholera (Saranac). Alluding to the undying passion of true love that drives the literary classic, as well as the COVID-19 lockdown conditions under which the album was created, the duo dives into an intimate set of music that includes a few numbers by Bix Beiderbecke, dips into the songbooks of Astor Piazzolla and Scott Joplin, and spotlights a couple of pianist Malinverni’s compositions, as well. The pair also revisit the romantic standard “Body and Soul,” a song that saxophonist Coleman Hawkins made his own with his definitive 1939 rendition. Malinverni sets an appropriately candlelit ambience, which Kurtzman matches with her piquant bowing. The violinist also recreates Hawkins’ legendary solo, splitting the difference between classical preparation and jazz expression.