Finnish saxophonist Timo Lassy may not be a familiar name to American jazz fans yet, but if there is any justice, that will change with the release of this debut album. Lassy is part of the turn-of-the-millennium group of truly fantastic jazz musicians from Europe in general and Finland in particular, who have embraced both the "mainstream" hard bop and soul-jazz traditions as well as the more sophisticated aspect of club culture (sans hip-hop or house music) and come up with a new palette of colors and textures to draw from.
The Microscopic Septet is one of those rare groups that have been able to take a unique and enduring approach to various forms of popular music, be it jazz, blues, R & B, rock, pop, and so on, by balancing respect with irreverence, namely such outfits as Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, the New Rhythm and Blues Quintet (NRBQ), the Sun Ra Arkestra, the Jazz Passengers, the Vienna Art Orchestra, and Mostly Other People Do the Killing.
This collection on the U.K.'s Soul Brother imprint is a very compelling look at a big slice of Freddie Hubbard's long career as a leader, and one that gets ignored for the most part. Hubbard recorded over 20 records between Backlash, his Atlantic debut in 1966, and Ride Like the Wind for Elektra in 1982, with lengthy stops at Columbia and CTI (as well some straight hard bop and post-bop outings for labels Fantasy and Pablo). In many cases, some of these original recordings were not only disregarded by more traditional jazzheads, they were regarded with outright hostility. It didn't matter to Hubbard, however, because at the time, these were among his best-selling albums and connected with the public deeply.
Really wonderful work from pianist Bobby Scott – a perfect showcase not just for his young talents as a composer and arranger, but also for a host of key solo performers as well! This full album brings together two previous 10" LP sessions – both of them brilliant, and graced by some of the most modern talents Bethlehem Records had to offer – which makes for extremely fresh sounds from Scott's wonderful music – jazz that's at a level that's really hard to peg – neither west coast cool, nor east coast arranged – but a really special space of its own!
Celebrating a decade of making music, The Best of Down to the Bone collects 11 of the soul-jazz/fusion band's biggest songs – at least one from each of their six albums – into one neatly compiled collection. Released by Narada, who Down to the Bone has been with since 2004's Cellar Funk, this best-of is a superfluous addition to anyone who has most, or many, of the group's records, but for someone who just wants to learn what Down to the Bone is about, this hits the spot.
Wonderfully sweet work from trumpeter Charlie Shavers – a set that has Shavers blowing on ballads over larger orchestrations – in a style that's really our favorite side of his music! Charlie's horn already has a long legacy by the time of this record – a slightly mature style that sounds wonderfully as he drifts magically over string-heavy backings from Sy Oliver – in a mode that's warm and lush, yet also beautifully soulful, and manages to really personalize the familiar tunes in the set. Titles include "Stella By Starlight", "Ill Wind", "Stormy Weather", "Out Of Nowhere", "Stardust", and "I Cover The Waterfront".