Monday, June 01, 2020

New Music Releases From Gary Versace, Jackie Gleason, Cassowary

Gary Versace All For Now

Gary Versace's a wonderfully rhythmic player here – working on this trio date with a style that's like subtle building blocks in sound – a mode that's softly chunky, but which has a great way of snatching sonic elements out of the air and nicely building up a tune! The approach is subtle – not as much a hit you over the head mode as some of the younger, flashier piano trios out there – but maybe that's also because Gary gets some nicely sensitive accompaniment from Jay Anderson on bass and Obed Calvaire on drums, both musicians who really adapt in strong ways to Versace's shifts on each tune. Titles include "Anchors", "Ours", "Two Pease", "Backs & All", "Child's Song", and "Favorite Places" – plus a version of Bud Powell's "Celia". ~ Dusty Groove

Jackie Gleason - Riff Jazz / Lazy Lively Love

"Jackie Gleason presents 'Riff Jazz' / 'Lazy Lively Love', two "mood music" albums taking their stand-alone place on CD in carefully-remastered, full dimensional sound and with original cover art. As bonus tracks, a rare 1955 single, Capri in May (Je Me Sens Si Bien), which has never been reissued until now, plus two of Gleason's famous themes, You're My Greatest Love (from "The Honeymooners") and Melancholy Serenade (from "The Jackie Gleason Show"), are included. The 12-page booklet includes archival photos and images, a newly-written essay about Gleason's music, and a chronological sessionography with primary releases for these recordings.

Cassowary - Cassowary

A fantastic full length debut from Cassowary – aka Miles Shannon, an artist who's equally skilled as a jazz musician and a singer – working here in a really great style that's a strong hybrid of the two sides of his talents! The keyboard lines are wonderful – served up on a variety of instruments, plus piano as well – and maybe often the lead of the track, even when there's a bit of vocals – as the style of singing usually seems to fall in line with the warm glow of the keyboards, instead of the usual mode. Cassowary also plays a bit of tenor – as you might guess from his youthful image on the cover – and the whole thing's got this fantastic vibe that reminds us of some of the hip jazz/soul hybrids that have come from the LA scene in recent years. Titles include "114 Degrees", "Belt Notch", "Price Went Up", "Starlight", "Superhiro", "Roach", and "Cyclical". ~ Dusty Groove

John Blues Boyd - What My Eyes Have Seen

Born in Greendale, Mississippi in 1945 John Blues Boyd was picking cotton in the fields at the age of eight. At fifteen he was run out of town by the Klan and he joined Dr Kings Freedom March at 16. It was obvious that this record had to be about his life. A life which has witnessed the struggle and oppression of Afro Americans through the dark days of Jim Crow. The songs written for this record are snapshots from a life camera. Pivotal moments in a long life, well lived and John has inhabited them with his body and soul. 

This record is not just John Blues Boyd's story but stands as a testament to the struggle and contribution of the Afro American people who have contributed so much to make this country great. It also gives warning of what happens when racism and inequality can have voice in society. Modern politics are indeed divided and dark. In Johns songs and memories is a warning that we should all heed about what can happen when we allow evil to prosper. 

This is a great record by a man who should be regarded as a National Treasure and hopefully this record will go some way to addressing this, but the magic could only happen with the musical brilliance of Kid Andersen. You send him lyrics and he sends you back musical gold. The sweep of his imagination knows no bounds. He hears things that no other producer I have worked with hears and he makes them come alive. He is the conduit that pulled this record together and helped John Blues Boyd make one of the seminal Blues records of this or any century.


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