Christian McBride & Inside Straight/Kind of Brown (Mack Avenue Records)
This music is as bouncy and witty as the name of the group and the CD. The sound of vibes played by Warren Wolf Jr. appropriately dominates the sound as the leader of the band makes his own presence felt in his customarily unobtrusive way when he solos. That the album is predominantly original material lends credence to the solidarity of the unit and their connection to traditional and modern jazz. Meanwhile, their collective savoire faire equals their joie de vivre.
Mike Mainieri-Marnix Bussier Quartet/Twelve Pieces (New York City Records)
Playing distinctly different sounding instruments, these frontmen are certainly a simpatico pair of musicians. The radiance of the former’s vibes counterpoints the pointed motion of the latter and because both men are patent improvisationalists, the numerous ways they delve into the material constitute a series of revelations. Performing unconventional material of the guitarist’s only magnifies their synergy as well as the distinct character of the songs.
Ted Kooshian’s Standard Orbit Quartet/Underdog, and Other Stories(Summit Records)
It’s a tried and true approach in jazz to pick pop tunes to embellish and what more clear-cut choices than themes to television shows? Yet if "Sanford & Son" or "Baretta" don’t sound familiar at first—or ever during the course of the performance– that’s the highest compliment to offer. And that’s equally true of selections outside the concept as well: Steely Dan’s "Aja" is a brave choice, fully redeemed.
Nick Kadajski’s and 5 Point Perspective/Remembering Things To Come (Circauisian Prod)
The ultra clean stereo separation of this recording impresses almost immediately but not before the visceral forward motion of the music itself, reminiscent of jazz-rock at its best. These musicians’ roots extend outside the fusion realm, however, largely due to the prominence of the leader’s alto sax. Still, the presence of dual guitars hearkens to Miles’ Davis later electric forays, without ever sounding truly derivative because those instruments are utilized as much for texture as straight melodic and rhythmic exploration.
Jonathan Haffner/Life on Wednesday (Cachuma Records)
A deceptively insinuating piece of work, haunting percussion interludes morph into the full roar via the guitar of Wayne Krantz and the double drummers (who elsewhere on this disc perform as if of a single mind). Keyboardist Craig Taborn’s presence can’t be underestimated either since his unconventional use of Wurlitzer, piano and especially electronics, amplifies the aura of mystery that arises from this music.