DON ELLIS – TEARS OF JOY / CONNECTION
A pair of classics from Don Ellis – back to back in a single set! Tears Of Joy is one of the greatest albums ever from funky trumpeter Don Ellis – partly because he takes off in a whole new direction of tones and sounds! Don blows both a quarter-tone trumpet and four-valve trombone here – both instruments with a very distinctive vibe, which are then set up in a groovy large ensemble that features more trumpet and trombone, plus woodwinds and a bit of strings – and some great electric touches on Fender Rhodes, clavinet, and ring modulator! The tunes have that bold Ellis punch of a few years before, but also really hit an earthier vibe too – not just new ideas in sound, but also some rhythmic pulsation that really gives lots of the tunes a fresh sort of flavor. Titles include "Samba Bajada", "Strawberry Soup", "Euphoric Acid", "Get It Together", and "Bulgarian Bulge". Connection is a great set of electric groovers released at the same time that Don scored big with his soundtrack for The French Connection! As you'd guess from the title, the feel here is quite similar – funky electric big band jazz, with a very hip 70s action soundtrack feel – one that mixes acoustic sax and trumpet passages with some groovier keyboards and electronic bits – all wrapped up in production that's tight, but never too slick to be funky! The album features a great take on Don's excellent "Theme From The French Connection" – plus great electric jazz covers of "Alone Again Naturally", "Superstar", "I Feel The Earth Move", "Roundabout", and "Lean On Me" – as well as album originals "Chain Reaction" and "Train To Get There". ~ Dusty Groove
SUNNY WILKINSON - INTO THE LIGHT
Into The Night, the newest CD by veteran jazz vocalist Sunny Wilkinson features Wilkinson’s crystalline voice and impressive ability to convey the heart of a lyric with unadorned honesty. For Wilkinson, the CD is all about family— not just her immediate family, but her extended music family, as well. The songs she chose comprise a mix of styles that resonate with Wilkinson because they reflect, in various ways, her experiences and views on love, life, and relationships. Wilkinson wrote lyrics to five of the songs, including the title tune. “Into the Light” embodies the theme for the CD, which is that life is often fraught with challenges and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but strength and perseverance can deliver you into the light, where “wisdom and beauty abound.” The love for family and the strength and joy it brings her permeate the CD, especially in the songs written by Wilkinson and her husband, pianist Ron Newman, who composed three of the tracks. Whether singing an intimate ballad or a fast paced, bopping scat number, Wilkinson never hits a false or extraneous note. Her silky, warm voice, emotional honesty, and thoughtful approach to lyrics are the hallmarks of an experienced artist at the peak of her powers.
BONESHAKER (WILLIAMS/NILSSEN-LOVE/KESSLER) – THINKING OUT LOUD
Plenty of bone-shaking going on here – thanks to work by this heavy power trio, recording in Chicago with all the harder-burning energy of the scene! Visitor Paal Nilssen-Love is on drums and percussion – playing with all the incredible twists and turns that always make his performances such a delight – while Mars Williams plays a variety of reeds, and Kent Kessler reminds us again why his hands on the bass are always a force to be reckoned with! Despite the intensity, there's also some strongly melodic moments – especially from Williams – and titles include "Wabi Sabi", "Brain Freeze", "Puffy Fluffy", and "Salty Fruity". ~ Dusty Groove