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.
Prominent jazz vibraphonists have always been relatively few and Warren Wolf has the potential to be one of the top players of his generation. Wolf is joined by bassist Christian McBride, pianist Peter Martin, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, with guest appearances by trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and saxophonist Tim Green. Wolf is a master of lyricism and restraint with his spacious interpretation of Johnny Mandel's timeless ballad "Emily." He doubles on vibes and marimba in an intricate interpretation of Chick Corea's "Señor Mouse." Six of the songs are originals by the leader. The composer takes a back seat in the sensual "Natural Beauties," showcasing Martin and Green (the latter on soprano sax) first before adding his dazzling solo.
The reference to some exquisitely dressed man in the title of this release also conveys the stylistic bent of pianist Aaron Diehl's noteworthy debut on Mack Avenue. He is among a list of rising jazz pianists which include Gerald Clayton and Aaron Parks. The recording brings to life a project that was conceived in Indianapolis after Diehl, 26, earned first place in American Pianists Association's 2011 Cole Porter Fellowship.