Billy Robinson – Evolution’s Blend
A fantastic album from overlooked Canadian tenorist Billy Robinson – a hell of a player, and one who might have been huge if this album were issued on a regular label in the US – instead of as a project by Radio Canada up north! Robinson has a wonderful vision here – gently spiritual, but in a more straight ahead way – working in this relaxed soulful combo that really sparkles with piano from Pierre Leduc and guitar from Peter Leitch – the latter of whom is a chromatic genius, in the Sonny Greenwich school – and really finds a great way to illuminate the tunes! Robinson's tone dominates, but the album's also got rock-solid rhythms from Erroll Waters on bass and Jim Norman on drums – on original tunes that include "Quebec On My Mind", "Evolution's Blend", "The Family", "It's Raining Ashes", and "Homing". ~ Dusty Groove
Justin Morell – Concerto For Jazz Guitar And Orchestra
On Concerto For Jazz Guitar And Orchestra, three master musicians have joined forces to create a project of great beauty and depth. The music is composed by Justin Morell and presented with virtuosic performances by guitarist Adam Rogers and the Frost Concert Jazz Band under the direction of John Daversa. The Concerto For Jazz Guitar And Orchestra incorporates elements of concertos by Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, and also the great concertos of the Romantic period, while drawing on the musical languages of contemporary classical and jazz music. The Concerto is in three movements (fast, slow, fast). Although it uses the classical sonata form as the outline for two of its movements, it does require the soloist to improvise much more extensively than a work by Haydn or Mozart, and unlike classical concertos, it has moments of backbeat grooves, Brazilian rhythmic influences, and harmony that is typical of modern jazz or classical music.
Something Blue – Maximum Enjoyment
A record that definitely lives up to its promised title – as the whole thing brims over with excellent work from players you might know from other albums on the Posi-Tone label! The group name doesn't get at the heart of the sound, though – as there's a sharp, soulful focus to the music throughout – kind of a classic hardbop approach, but with maybe a more contemporary sense of freshness, especially on the solo voices – which is no surprise, given that the sextet features Nick Finzer on trombone, Alexa Tarantino on alto, Sam Dillon on tenor, Art Hirahara on piano, Boris Kozlov on bass, and Rudy Royston on drums! The album's also brimming over with original material – tunes composed by group members or their labelmates – with tracks that include "Coppertone", "Slick", "New Directions", "Why Aren't You Excited", "Breeze", "Vast", and "Overcooked". ~ Dusty Groove