Nina sings Ellington – but as always, she makes whatever she sings all her own! The album's a bit straighter than later efforts – with large backings by Stu Phillips that also feature vocals by the Malcolm Dodds Singers – but Nina also conceived the whole thing herself, as an effort to bring a new level of spiritualism to Ellington's work. The result is a masterpiece – proof that even in her early years, Nina could completely transform anything she laid her hands on – and unlock a soulful depth that even the original recordings might have missed. Titles include "I Got It Bad", "Solitude", "The Gal From Joe's", "It Don't Mean A Thing", and "I Like The Sunrise". ~ Dusty Groove
Arranger and bandleader Mark Masters reimagines the music of iconic jazz composers Charles Mingus and Gerry Mulligan on Blue Skylight featuring the Mark Masters Ensemble with veteran players Putter Smith, Gary Foster and Gene Cipriano. Both Mulligan and Mingus would no doubt approve of the reimaginings that Masters has made of their compositions. The word "arrangements" doesn't quite do justice to Masters' approach; these eleven pieces are vivid acts of recomposition, each vividly rendered and finely tailored to fit the gifted and distinctive players of the Mark Masters Ensemble. "Mark Masters is an accomplished arranger who comes up with hip, unusual ideas for jazz concerts and recordings." - Thomas Conrad, JazzTimes / / "Masters is leading the charge as one of the great arrangers of our time." - Brent Black, CriticalJazz.com.
KEITH OXMAN – EAST OF THE VILLAGE
Tenor saxophonist Keith Oxman leads a burning organ trio on his 9th Capri release. The recording features Oxman and his Denver-based trio with drummer Todd Reid and Hammond B3 player Jeff Jenkins on a set of little-known standards and newly-penned originals. As carefree and finger-snapping as this music may be, it wasn't achieved without its share of struggle. The trio's first attempt at recording was marred by equipment mishaps and had to be scrapped. When they reconvened last April, less than a month had passed since the passing of Oxman's mother, which almost precipitated another cancellation. "My father encouraged me to proceed with it," Oxman recalls. "I was barely in a frame of mind to play, but something happened when we got together. Six out of ten of those tracks are first takes." " If anyone still needs convincing that outstanding jazz players live and work in places other than on the East and West Coasts, they should check out Denver-based Keith OxmanŠ an excellent improviser with a fine sound, agile technique and sure harmonic sense. He also exhibits a thorough knowledge of the hard bop language and can swing like crazy." - David Franklin, JazzTimes