Sounds Of Space, the title of Cuban pianist and composer Alfredo Rodriguez’ debut recording, evokes images of science fiction. In truth, it’s about a far more personal adventure. “It’s about the space that surrounds us,” he explains. “In this record I wanted to introduce myself: here are the people, the places and the sounds that have surrounded me, and made me who I am.” A key player in Rodriguez’ extraordinary story is producer Quincy Jones, who co-produced Sounds Of Space with Rodriguez.
Though it was recorded live at New York's jazz emporium, Iridium, Detroit born saxophonist Kenny Garrett makes a return home of sorts with Sketches of MD, his debut on the Motor City's own Mack Avenue Records. His quartet here, with bassist Nat Reeves, pianist/organist Benito Gonzalez, and drummer Jamire Williams, may not possess the star power of some of his studio albums, but this band is more than up for the gig. In addition, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders reprises his role from Beyond the Wall from 2006 as Garrett's foil, creating sparks aplenty.
When jazz aficionados think of Joey DeFrancesco – and they often do – they ponder his matchless talents as a modern-day avatar of the Hammond B3 organ and the Philadelphia history he shares with his principle instrument. Organ-based blues and jazz started in Philly and DeFrancesco is the first to tell you so.
2011 album from the Jazz guitarist, a release that its creator cites as his most realized project to date. Friends finds Jordan in challenging company: fellow strummers Charlie Hunter, Russell Malone, Bucky Pizzarelli and Mike Stern; saxmen (and label mate) Kenny Garrett and Ronnie Laws; N'awlins trumpeter Nicholas Payton and the renowned violinist Regina Carter. Another label mate, Christian McBride, guests on bass when not handled by Stanley's long-time trio bassist Charnett Moffett. Kenwood Dennard of his trio holds down the drum chair. Truly, a collection of Friends whose benefit push Stanley into a heightened musical reality.
Prodigious pianist Harold López-Nussa has come full circle. With numerous acclaimed recordings, and acknowledged as a seasoned performer on international stages, he returns home and records El Viaje in Havana, Cuba, offering musical insights on the world through his piano. Continuing with his established trio format, which includes his brother Ruy Adrián López-Nussa on drums and Senegalese bassist Alune Wade, he improvises upon vast classical influences while adhering to his Cuban roots, concocting an exceptional style of global jazz.
On the strength of his membership in ensembles led by Christian McBride and Aaron Diehl and his own auspicious Mack Avenue debut in 2011, Warren Wolf appears on a path to stardom as arguably the most exciting bop vibraphonist since Bobby Hutcherson. For Wolfgang, his followup collection on Mack Avenue, Wolf said he wanted to showcase his writing skills and provide more melodies that people can remember. For precisely those reasons, Wolfgang suffers by comparison with his previous work.