10 Albums You Need to Know: August 2019

An exploration of the connection between jazz and modern art; the first album as co-writing collaborators of two of the indie-jazz scene’s foremost instrumentalists; invigorating celebrations of the jazz traditions of Brazil and Philadelphia. All this and more on this month’s list of ten albums you need to know about.


Jenny Scheinman and Allison Miller, Parlour Game (Royal Potato Family)

Release date: August 2

Violinist Jenny Scheinman and drummer Allison Miller, two of the indie-jazz scene’s foremost instrumentalists, have worked side-by-side on several projects for nearly two decades. However, Parlour Game marks their first album as co-writing collaborators. Here, they present eleven original compositions that celebrate American musical traditions at a time of great unrest in the country and prevail as a respite from the daily chaos of the modern world with their hopefulness. Parlour Game also features Carmen Staaf on piano and Tony Scherr on acoustic bass, and the title of the album refers to the way each band member has equal input in how the songs manifest.


Vince Mendoza, Constant Renaissance (BCM&D)

Release date: August 2

Celebrated composer/conductor was at Temple University and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts earlier this year for a week-long residency with students at the Boyer College of Music and Dance. The residency culminated with the performance and recording of his new work, Constant Renaissance, commissioned by Temple University. This is a three-piece suite written by Mendoza in honor of Philadelphia’s history with jazz, and particularly inspired by three of its most universally celebrated luminaries – Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and John Coltrane. Constant Renaissance was written with trumpeter Terell Stafford and alto saxophonist Dick Oatts in mind and features them as well as the Temple University Studio Orchestra.


Jimmy Cobb, This I Dig of You (Smoke Sessions)

Release date: August 16

Being 90-years-old and not showing it. Drum legend Jimmy Cobb shows no sign of slowing down on his new album, This I Dig of You, out via Smoke Sessions. The new LP features him with a band of his longtime collaborators, including pianist Harold Mabern, guitarist Peter Bernstein and bassist John Webber. Together, they perform new versions of songs from the repertoire of Cobb’s first working band, Cobb’s Mob, including the title track by Hank Mobley. Other songs on This I Dig of You include Dexter Gordon’s “Cheese Cake,” the heartfelt ballad “My Old Flame” and the evergreen standard “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” (that he recorded with Earl Bostic in 1951), among others.


Taylor McFerrin, Love’s Last Chance (AWAL)

Release date: August 16

Love’s Last Chance is Taylor McFerrin’s follow-up to his 2014 debut Early Riser, and it marks a fascinating turning point in his music. Having already showcased his talents as a musician, composer and producer on his previous LP, here he explores a different approach – one he discovered while working with supergroup R+R=NOW – which aims to capture the feelings of the moment instead of opting for a more meticulous search for perfection. In addition, Love’s Last Chance is his first album to feature him on lead vocals. “Over the years, I’d learned how to convey myself well through my instrumentals,” says McFerrin, the son of legendary vocalist Bobby McFerrin, via a statement. “But singing brings me closer than ever to being able to share everything that’s going on inside of me.”


Jazzmeia Horn, Love & Liberation (Concord Jazz)

Release date: August 23

Love & Liberation is Jazzmeia Horn’s follow-up to her celebrated 2017 debut, A Social Call. It marks a formidable leap for Horn as a singer, bandleader and songwriter – eight of its tracks are originals both breathing and bending jazz tradition. The LP is also the result of an almost non-stop touring schedule that followed the release of her debut album, which benefited her vocal chops as well as her band sound. “Love & Liberation is a concept and mantra that I use consistently in my everyday life,” she explains via a press release. “For me, the two go hand in hand and they both describe where I am in my life and career right now. An act of love is an act of liberation, and choosing to liberate – oneself or another – is an act of love.”


Duduka Da Fonseca and Helio Alves featuring Maucha Adnet, Samba Jazz & Tom Jobim (Sunnyside)

Release date: August 30

Drummer Duduka Da Fonseca and pianist Helio Alves come from two different parts of Brazil but have done much over their careers to keep the tradition of Bossa Nova and Brazilian jazz alive. On their new collaborative record, Samba Jazz & Tom Jobim, they pay tribute to the legendary music of composer Antônio Carlos Jobim, also known as the father of Bossa Nova and one of the greatest exponents of Brazilian music of all time. Here, they perform a program highlighting the beauty of his music alongside Maucha Adnet, who was a member of Jobim’s ensemble during the last ten years of his life. Samba Jazz & Tom Jobim also includes a stellar cast of musical greats and special appearances by trumpeters Wynton Marsalis and Claudio Roditi.


Eliane Elias, Love Stories (Concord Jazz)

Release date: August 30

Brazilian music artist Eliane Elias showcases her mastery as a vocalist, pianist, composer, arranger, lyricist and producer on her new orchestral project, Love Stories. “The idea for this album,” she explains, “was to bring to life various stories of love and loving through this collection of songs.” The program includes three new original compositions, along with new versions of songs from Bossa Nova’s golden age and songs made famous by such artists as Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Love Stories also marks the return of the lush orchestrations by Rob Mathes (on his fourth recording with Elias), some of Elias’ favorite Brazilian rhythm section players – Marcus Texeira on guitar and Edu Ribeiro, Rafael Barata and Celso Almeida on drums – plus her core collaborators, co-producers bassist Marc Johnson and Steve Rodby.


Iiro Rantala, My Finnish Calendar (ACT)

Release date: August 30

Acclaimed pianist/composer Iiro Rantala is arguably the most internationally acclaimed Finnish jazz musician of his generation. On his new album, My Finnish Calendar, he finds a way to represent a complete year in his home country and to explain the significance of each month through music. He does this via the technical prowess and mastery that he has perfected over the years, as well as melodic inventiveness, melancholy and humor. The music on My Finnish Calendar is improvised, and each track exists as an independent, artistic statement. The album also comes with liner notes by Rantala, providing greater insight into the inspiration for the music and the narrative, which is told from a very personal and very Finnish point of view.

Veronica Swift, Confessions (Mack Avenue)

Release date: August 30

Confessions marks the proper breakout debut of vocalist Veronica Swift, who won second place at the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition in 2015. It is also her first album for Mack Avenue. Far from it being the usual album of covers, Confessions highlights twelve oft-overlooked songs that hold a special meaning in her life. “It presents a story of my history and why I play music,” she explains via a press release. “But what I really hope people get out of this record is that no matter what happens, just stay focused, stay on your course and everything will turn out OK.” Helping Swift carry that message across are backing bands led alternately by two of contemporary jazz’s greatest pianists: Benny Green and Emmet Cohen.

James Carter Organ Trio, Live from Newport Jazz (Blue Note)

Release date: August 30

James Carter Organ Trio: Live from Newport Jazz marks saxophonist James Carter’s debut album as a bandleader for Blue Note and his first new release since 2011. The new album combines his interest with Gypsy jazz, which he had already explored on his acclaimed Chasin’ the Gypsy LP from 2000, and his fascination with the organ that, as he explains via a press release, “has always been a part of the African-American diaspora.” Live from Newport, in fact, documents Carter’s take on six compositions written by or associated with guitar legend Django Reinhardt, performed in an organ trio alongside Hammond B-3 virtuoso Gerard Gibbs and drummer Alexander White at the storied jazz festival. This, he describes as a willful attempt to “give Gypsy jazz a hood pass, or urbanize it, if you will.”


BONUS: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Jazz and Art (Blue Engine)

Release date: August 2

Jazz and Art is a new collection of studio recordings of original compositions by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis inspired by the works of modern art masters, such as Romare Bearden, Stuart Davis, Sam Gilliam, Winslow Homer, Wilfredo Lam, Norman Lewis and Piet Mondrian. The LP displays impressive musicianship and a range of musical styles, from modern jazz to Gospel, American pastoral music, Afro-Cuban, spirituals, New Orleans, Indian chants, avant-garde and more. “Music and paintings share so many characteristics: colors, layers, line, form, shape,” explains saxophonist and Orchestra member Ted Nash. “No wonder they are such agreeable collaborators. When these two art forms come together, they create a new medium.”

Featured photo by Emmanuel Afolabi.

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