Jazz Prospecting: October 2013

Dave Askren/Jeff Benedict: It's All About the Groove (2013, DaWay Music): Guitar and alto sax, leading a quartet with John Belzaguy on bass and Ramon Banda on drums. Askren has three previous albums, starting with a guitar trio take on Bill Evans. Benedict has two previous albums. Forget the title's suggestion of pop jazz. This is mainstream, maybe even a little retro-swing, so yes there's a groove, just not standard groove music. Reminds me more than a little of the group Dave Stryker and Steve Slagle ran, and those are pleasant memories. B+(**)

The Jamie Baum Septet +: In This Life (2012 [2013], Sunnyside): Flute player, studied at Manhattan School of Music and New England Conservatory, fifth album since 1992. Septet offers a lot of options including French horn, with John Escreet on keyboards and, most valuably, Brad Shepik on guitar. The "+" adds a second trumpet on three tracks and percussion on four (Samuel Torres on congas, Dan Weiss on tabla). B

Jim Beard: Show of Hands (2012 [2013], Sunnyside): Pianist, b. 1960 in Philadelphia, sixth album since 1990, side credits with Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, David Liebman, Mike Stern, Peter Erskine, Michael Brecker. Solo, 12 originals (several named after Haiku), 8 covers including "But Beautiful" and "Honeysuckle Rose." B+(*)

Dave Bennett: Don't Be That Way (2013, Mack Avenue): Clarinet player, from Michigan, an unabashed Benny Goodman fan -- his two previous albums are Dave Bennett Salutes 100 Years of Benny and Clarinet Is King: Songs of Great Clarinetists. Mostly stays with the classics here: "Slipped Disc," "Begin the Beguine," "Sing, Sing, Sing," "Woodchopper's Ball," and reaches back even further for "St. James Infirmary" (with a vocal) and the closing "When the Saints Go Marching In." Even the one faux pas ("Yesterday," normally a kiss of death) is flat out gorgeous. With Tad Weed on piano, and Reg Schwager on guitar. A-

Randy Brecker: The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion (2011 [2013], Piloo, CD+DVD): The Brecker Brothers were a popular band 1975-81, with Heavy Metal Be-Bop their conceptual coup although I never heard them as more than a middling funk band. They reunited for two 1992-94 albums, and dissolved irreparably when saxophonist Michael Brecker died in 2007. He's replaced by Ada Rovatti here. Only bassist Will Lee returns from the original band, but Mike Stern (guitar), George Whitty (keyboards), and Dave Weckl (drums) were on The Return of the Brecker Brothers and possibly older records. They and Oli Rockberger play on the DVD. The CD shuttles some other musicians in, with more emphasis on vocals. Some fine trumpet here, and some of the funk grooves start to win me over, but the CD ends on a down streak. B

Wilford Brimley With the Jeff Hamilton Trio (2012 [2013], Capri): Veteran character acter specializing on old West coots, b. 1934 in Salt Lake City, got into movies as a stunt man, had a recurring role in The Waltons, and has appeared in dozens of movies, most often in in roles "Sheriff" or "Grandpa." Cut a record in 1990 called I'm Old Fashioned, and another recently with Riders in the Sky, Home on the Range. This one is with a drummer-led piano trio -- Tamir Handelman is the pianist -- songbook standards with no country/western identity. Neither slick nor deep, but he's nimbler than you'd expect, even on a too-slow ballad like "This Love of Mine." B+(*)

Jeri Brown: Echoes (2013, Jongleur Productions, CD+DVD): Singer, b. 1952 in St. Louis, wound up in Canada (Montreal, I think, but this label is based in Nova Scotia). Thirteen albums since 1991. This one was recorded live at Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles, backed by a piano trio with Mon David joining as a second singer on 6 (of 11) cuts. Standards -- aside from the title cut by Leon Thomas and two originals with "Echo" in the title -- most upbeat, with both singers slinging an awful lot of scat. DVD presumably the same show. B+(*)

David Buchbinder's Odessa/Havana: Walk to the Sea (2013, Tzadik): Trumpet player, joined with pianist Hilario Duran for a Cuban-Jewish fusion album in 2007, Odessa/Havana, returns for more here. Duran wrote one piece and adapted two trad. Ladino songs. With John Johnson on clarinet/sax/flute, Roberto Occhipinti on bass/guitar, Aleksandr Gajic on violin/viola, various oud and trés players, dumbeq and bata, one vocal by Michal Cohen, three by Maryem Hassan Tollar. B+(**) [advance]

Marco Cappelli Acoustic Trio: Le Stagioni del Commissario Ricciardi (2013, Tzadik): Guitarist, b. 1965 in Naples, Italy; has at least seven records since 2002. This is a string trio with Ken Filiano on bass and Satoshi Takeishi on percussion -- sort of a proto-soundtrack based on detective novels of Maurizio De Giovanni (collectively, "the four seasons of Detective Ricciardi"). B+(**) [advance]

Chaise Lounge: Dot Dot Dot (2013, Modern Songbook): Small swing band, fourth album, Charlie Barnet is the main force, writing most of the songs and playing guitar, piano, accordion, and tenor banjo, while Marilyn Older is the singer, Gary Gregg plays tenor sax and clarinet, Joe Jackson trombone, Pete Ostle bass, and Tommy Barrick drums. Covers like "Let's Face the Music and Dance" are most immediately appealing. B+(**)

Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts: Hang Time (2013, Capri): No way I can do justice to this album, which seems to feature two groups of CCJA students, a Group Giz and a Group Gunn. I can't read the voluminous fine print, can't find much of use on the web, and the one spin I gave it didn't make me want to give it another. Soft, slippery postbop, for the most part, with some vocals, as best I recall. B

George Cotsirilos Trio: Variations (2013, OA2): Guitarist, originally from Chicago, based in/near San Francisco, was in a group called the San Francisco Nighthawks; fifth album under his own name, third Trio, backed by Robb Fisher on bass and Ron Marabuto on drums. Seven originals, one of the covers from Ivan Lins. B+(**)

Elton Dean/Paul Dunmall/Paul Rogers/Tony Bianco: Remembrance (2004 [2013], NoBusiness, 2CD): Alto saxophonist Dean died in 2006, after a career that started up in the 1960s with the prog rock group Soft Machine but moved ever further into avant-jazz. He plays on three (of four) long cuts here, the first in a trio with Rogers on bass and Bianco on drums; then in a quartet that adds Dunmall on tenor sax; and finally a second trio. The sax here, and Dunmall only adds to this, is relentlessly probing and engaging throughout. The other track is a 28:29 duet with Rogers and Bianco, starting the second disc off a bit obscurely but interesting in its own right. B+(***)

Shauli Einav: Generations (2012 [2013], Posi-Tone): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1982 in Israel, studied at Jerusalem Academy of Music & Dance, then moved to US to Eastman School of Music, landing in New York for seven years before eventually relocating to Paris. Third album, cut in New York with a group that includes Don Friedman on piano and Itai Kriss on flute, plus bass and drums. Two Einav originals, one from Friedman, covers favor saxophonists and include two pieces by Harold Land. The tenor sax has some zip and depth, and Friedman has occasion to remind you what a fine pianist he is. A fourth album, recorded in France, is due any day now. B+(**)

Harris Eisenstadt: Golden State (2012 [2013], Songlines): Drummer, b. 1975 in Toronto, has been prolific with 15 albums since 2002, mostly original compositions with a wide range of lineups. This is an unusual two-horn pianoless quartet: the "horns" are bassoon (Sara Schoenbeck) and flute (Nicole Mitchell), and the bassist is Mark Dresser. One thing the weak horns do is to return focus to the drummer. B+(**)

The Elec Tet: Shiny Metal Objects (2013, Blujazz): Fusion group, or "a 70's fusion 'tribute' band" as drummer Ben Scholz puts it in his liner notes. Scholz is listed first in the credits, but Greg Spero (piano, keyboards) wrote most of the pieces, with two each from James Davis (trumpet) and Alex Beltran (tenor sax). The best known group member is guitarist Oz Noy, a reasonable choice for such a project. The horns can make an impression, at least when they don't get tripped up by the keybs. B

Amir ElSaffar: Alchemy (2013, Pi): Trumpet player, b. 1977 in Chicago, father Iraqi, studied classical music at DePaul and still tends to orchestrate his albums -- this is the fourth since 2007 -- as suites. Quintet with Ole Mathisen on tenor sax, John Escreet on piano, François Moutin on bass, and Dan Weiss on drums. B+(***)

John Escreet: Sabotage and Celebration (2012 [2013], Whirlwind): Pianist, fifth album since 2009, seems to be an exceptional player and ambitious composer. This is a stellar quintet -- David Binney and Chris Potter on saxes, Matt Brewer on bass, Jim Black on drums -- plus guests plus, at least part of the time, a string section and/or a brass section. Starts off with a really dreadful string intro, and the strings never get better, but when they lay out the group is every bit the powerhouse you imagine. B+(*)

Sérgio Galvão: Phantom Fish (2013, Pimenta): Tenor/soprano saxophonist, b. 1965 in Brasilia, Brazil. Debut, piano split between Leo Genovese and Aruán Ortiz, guitar between Leni Stern and Alex Nolan. Upbeat, exhuberant even, reminds one of Gato Barbieri long ago but less willing to rough it. B+(***)

Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio: Dream a Little Dream (2012 [2013], Whaling City Sound): Drummer, son of vibraphonist Terry Gibbs, released an album called The Thrasher in 1996 and has kept the handle through various group projects (Thrasher Band, ELectric Thrasher Orchestra, etc.) His Dream Trio is Kenny Barron on piano and Ron Carter on bass, and it's hard to quibble over that. Four Gibbs originals, including dedications to McCoy Tyner and Don Pullen. One song each from the others, and a long list of covers including one Monk, two Hancocks, and a bit of Stevie Wonder. B+(***)

Enrico Granafei: Alone and Together (2012 [2013], CAP): Plays chromatic harmonica, DB guitar, and sings on two cuts -- very effectively, not that I follow. From Italy, studied classical guitar at Conservatory of l'Aquila, later got a masters at Mahnattan School of Music under Toots Thielemans; now owns a jazz club in Montclair, NJ. With Amina Figarova on piano and Billy Hart on drums, guest spots for Vitali Imereli on violin, Vic Juris and Dave Stryker on guitar, Wallace Roney on trumpet. The harmonica is rich and vibrant, Imereli's violin turns even "Yardbird Suite" into romantic fare, and, as I said, the vocals are touching. B+(***)

Brian Haas/Matt Chamberlain: Frames (2013, Royal Potato): Piano and drums, respectively. Third album under Haas' name, most of his work having appeared as the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. Chamberlain has done a lot of (mostly rock) session work since Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians in 1990, including some things that lap over into jazz, like Bill Frisell's Floratone group. Repeating patterns, improvisations in riddim. B+(*)

Tom Harrell: Colors of a Dream (2013, High Note): Postbop trumpeter, b. 1946, has about 35 albums since 1978, has impressive chops but in recent years I've had problems with his compositions and combos. Not so here -- even though it doesn't strike me as a good idea to have Esperanza Spalding sing and (mostly) scat along with most of this, the rhythm section of Ugonna Okegwo (bass) and Jonathan Blake (drums) hurries her along (looks like Spalding also plays bass on most of this), and saxophonists Jaleel Shaw and Wayne Escoffery give Harrell quite a run -- best moments are the ones without Spalding, but she actually does a marvelous job of filling in for the missing keyboard. B+(***)

Diane Hubka: West Coast Strings (2012 [2013], SSJ): Standards singer, has a half-dozen previous albums since 1998. The strings here are guitarists, rotating with a couple cuts each (some overlap, including Hubka playing guitar on three tracks: Anthony Wilson, Ron Eschete, Mimi Fox, Larry Koonse, John Pisano, Peter Sprague, and Barry Zweig. Starts with Wes Montgomery's "West Coast Blues," with Wilson but it sets the tone for everyone who follows; then "Moondance," a Jobim, one from Horace Silver, on to "It Ain't Necessarily So" and "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing" and ending with another blues. Voice is clear and fits the guitar especially well. B+(***)

Scott Jeppesen: El Guapo (2013, Creative Bottle Music): Saxophonist (credit plural plus bass clarinet, pictures show a tenor), based in Los Angeles, first album, with Larry Koonse (guitar), Josh Nelson (piano), bass, drums, and John Daversa (trumpet, flugelhorn) on two tracks. Wrote 8 (of 10) tracks -- one cover from Richie Beirach, the other a romp through "Don't Fence Me In." Has especially good feel for ballad tempo. B+(***)

Mike Jones Trio: Plays Well With Others (2012 [2013], Capri): Pianist, b. 1962, sixth album since 1993, trio with Mike Gurrola on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums. Two originals, rest standards with "Besame Mucho" leading off and "Corcovado" midway, the rest songbook fare like "It's a Wonderful World" and "I'm Old Fashioned." Doesn't push any boundaries, but all rather delightful. B+(**)

Adam Lane Trio: Absolute Horizon (2010 [2013], NoBusiness): Bassist, justly known for his compositions but decided to wing it here with a full set of spontaneous improv. Trio includes Darius Jones on alto sax and Vijay Anderson on drums. Jones is an imposing player in his own right -- still disappointed that AUM Fidelity stopped sending me new records, especially Jones' latest -- and does a nice job of threading the rhythm here. Seems too easy, but that's what talent does. A-

Mary LaRose: Reincarnation (2011 [2013], Little(i) Music): Singer, based in Brooklyn, fifth album since 1995, one on avant label CIMP with Steve Swell, Jeff Lederer, and Dominic Duval. Lederer (clarinet, tenor sax) appears on three cuts here, with Kirk Knuffke (cornet) on three more, but the band is dominated by strings (2 violin, viola, cello, bass) for an arch chamber feel. Mostly jazz pieces by Coleman, Mingus, Dolphy, or Ayler with lyrics by LaRose -- the odd song out is Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." B+(*)

Jeff Lederer: Jeff Lederer's Swing n' Dix (2012 [2013], Little(i) Music): Saxophonist (tenor, alto, plays some clarinet too), second album, side credits mostly with Ted Kooshian and Matt Wilson. Wilson is drummer here, with old-fashioned brass -- Kirk Knuffke on cornet and the redoubtable Bob Stewart on tuba. Starts with "Honeysuckle Rose," includes pieces by Duke Pearson and Pee Wee Russell, also a trad Shaker hymn, plus originals by Lederer, Knuffke, and Wilson. Mary LaRose sings the Shaker hymn, and the group semi-sings the closing title piece. But all through it's the tuba that keeps this moving. B+(***)

Todd Londagin: Look Out for Love (2013, self-released): Standards singer, also plays trombone; second album after one in 2003. Band includes Pete Smith (guitar), Matt Ray (piano), Jennifer Vincent (bass), David Berger (drums). Songs like "Pennies From Heaven" and "I Concentrate on You" have seen better days, and the genre twist on Jazmine Sullivan's "Bust Your Windows" is exactly wrong. B-

Luis Lopes/Humanization 4tet: Live in Madison (2011 [2013], Ayler): Guitarist, from Portugal, has several albums with this quartet, mixing it up with tenor saxophonist Rodrigo Amado, backed by Texan brothers Aaron and Stefan González. Leads off with Arthur Blythe's "Bush Baby" where the see-saw leads are especially infectious. Rest are originals, three from Lopes, one from Amado, and a roughhousing blues from Aaron G. A-

Bill Mays Inventions Trio: Life's a Movie (2012 [2013], Chiaroscuro): Pianist, b. 1944, AMG lists 18 albums since 1982; he has dabbled in classical, and done a lot of LA studio work. Trio adds Marvin Stamm on trumpet and Alisa Horn on cello, a small group that covers a lot of instrumental range without much harmonic depth. Starts with a "Homage to Bill Evans" and ends with a "Monk Tribute." In between there's a 4-part Mays original, "Life's a Movie: 4 Cues in Search of a Film," and short takes of "Concierto de Aranjuez" and Chick Corea's "Spain." B

Mike McGinnis + 9: Road Trip (2012 [2013], RKM): Clarinet player, b. 1973 in Maine, moved to New York in 1997; has two new albums out, three in total, plus group records with the Four Bags (four since 1999) and others. Near big band here -- four reeds, three brass, piano, bass, drums, nearly all names I recognize. Two long multi-part pieces (21:16, 23:27), a "Concerto" by Bill Smith and the title piece by McGinnis. Both feature clarinet, and McGinnis makes the most of that. B+(**)

Mike McGinnis: Ängsudden Song Cycle (2012 [2013], 482 Music): Clarinet/bass clarinet player, two new albums out, a previous one from 2000 as well as membership in the Four Bags (four albums 1999-2012). This project started out as a set of paintings and poems in Tagalog by visual artist MuKha. They were translated into Swedish and English, and are sung here by Kyoko Kitamura to McGinnis' music, arranged for clarinet, bassoon, cavaquiño, guitar (Sean Moran), viola (Jason Kao Hwang), bass, and percussion (Harris Eisenstadt). Slow, abstract, arty, interesting. B+(**)

Myra Melford: Life Carries Me This Way (2013, Firehouse 12): Pianist, very important, one I occasionally vote for in Downbeat polls over dozens of worthy competitors; AMG lists 16 albums since 1992, which for practical purposes is short as she often turns a side credit into a tour de force. But this is solo, so it only occasionally blows you away -- the rest is first-rate dancing around the melody or sneaking up on her next surprise. B+(***)

Justin Morell Dectet: Subjects and Compliments (2012 [2013], Sonic Frenzy): Guitarist, studied at UCLA and got his Ph.D. at University of Oregon; currently teaches in Atlanta. Don't know how many records he has released -- a Quartet in 1999, The Music of Steely Dan in 2002, several others possibly lapping into classical music (at at least "smaller chamber works"). Dectet has four reeds (including Bob Sheppard and Ben Wendel), three brass (trumpeter John Daversa and two trombones), guitar, piano, bass, and drums. Titles are like "Fugue in B-flat, in three voices" and "Fugue in E, in four voices" -- but the voicings are often remarkable, and the guitar adds some silk to the rhythmic flow. B+(***)

Carol Morgan: Retroactive (2012 [2013], Blue Bamboo Music): Trumpet player, fifth album, mostly with guitar-bass-drums, Rhodes added on three cuts. The guitar, split between Chris Cortez and Mike Stern, is often striking. Four Morgan originals, plus one by Cortez, and give covers, ranging from "Jitterbug Waltz" to "Tea for Two" to "When the Levee Breaks -- the former especially enchanting. B+(**)

Chris Parker: The Chris Parker Trio (2013, GPR): Drummer-led piano trio, with Kyoko Oyobe on piano and Ameen Saleem on bass. Parker has at least one previous album under his own name, a group called Toph-e & the Pussycats, plus many side credits going back to 1969 (Earl Hooker), more with rock singer-songwriters (Don McLean, Bonnie Raitt, Todd Rundgren, Phoebe Snow, Lou Rawls, Sinead O'Connor, Loudon Wainwright III, Natalie Cole) than in jazz contexts. Oyobe has a previous album, Cookin' at Smalls. She contributes two songs here, Parker three, plus six scattered covers. B+(**)

Houston Person: Nice 'n' Easy (2013, High Note): Tenor sax legend, follows in the tradition of Ben Webster and Stanley Turrentine -- a progression which also means less vibrato, but no less soul -- approaching his 80th birthday next year. He takes this one exceptionally easy, a bit of Chuck Redd's vibes splashing over John di Martino's piano, with Ray Drummond and Lewis Nash barely needed to nudge things alone. Nice? Of course! B+(**)

Frank Potenza: For Joe (2012 [2013], Capri): Guitarist, b. 1950, studied at Berklee, 10th album since 1986. "Joe" is Joe Pass; bio describes Potenza as a Pass protégé, and this trio-plus-extra-guitarist (John Pisano) hits the mark. Three of the first four songs are Pass originals (the other is Pisano's "Blues for Joe"), then then go into standards: Ellington, Reinhardt, Gershwin, Hines, "Voce," "Beautiful Love." Pass died in 1994, but lives on. B+(**)

Project Them (2013, Miles High): Bob Franceschini (tenor sax, flute) and Mark Sherman (vibes) are the leaders, with Mitchell Forman or Paolo Di Sabatino (piano), Martin Gjakonovski (bass), Adam Nussbaum (drums). Everyone in the group (save Forman) contributes songs, plus one Johnny Mandel cover. Upbeat, more hard bop than postbop, especially impressed with Franceschini -- b. 1961, nothing under his name but makes a strong impression. B+(*)

RED Trio: Rebento (2012 [2013], NoBusiness): Piano trio from Portugal: Rodrigo Pinheiro (piano), Hernani Faustino (bass), and Gabriel Ferrandini (drums). Their eponymous debut (on Clean Feed) was one of the most exciting piano trios of 2010, and they've since recorded albums with John Butcher and Nate Wooley. Here they're back to trio form on an LP/download deal. First side is sharp as ever, but the slower second is harder to hear. B+(*) [CDR]

Ed Reed: I'm a Shy Guy (2013, Blue Shorts): B. 1929, grew up in Watts, joined the army, became a junkie, did four stints in San Quentin and Folsom, at one point singing in a combo with fellow inmate Art Pepper, got out in 1985 and finally decided to straighten up and fly right. Cut his first album at 77 in 2006, and this is his fourth, "A Tribute to the King Cole Trio & Their Music." Randy Porter plays piano, Jamie Fox guitar, Arkira Tana drums, and he's expanded the trio to include bass (John Wiitala) and tenor sax (Anton Schwartz). Reed sings those old songs about as well Freddy, and it's a delight to hear them. B+(**)

Resonance: Introductions (2013, Mandala): San Francisco group, led by pianist Stephen McQuarry (also composer of the two originals here). First album. Group includes Georgianna Krieger (sp. Kreiger on back cover) on various saxes, Laura Austin Wiley on various flutes, a set of strings (violin, viola, cello, bass), and drums -- the strings the dominant motif. Starts with "Eleanor Rigby" -- never a good idea -- and gets worse, turning Ellington into moldy elevator music, and sometimes not even faring that well. C

Howard Riley: Live With Repertoire (2011 [2013], NoBusiness): Pianist, b. 1943 in England, cut some remarkable albums 1969-70 (Angle, the Penguin crowned The Day Will Come). He has a large pile of records since then -- AMG shows a gap 1971-88 but my database shows six albums in that gap and I doubt that it's anywhere near complete. (The Penguin Guide authors are huge fans, but I hadn't heard anything from Riley except the early albums.) This is solo, three original pieces with most of the others Monk tunes. B+(*)

Rent Romus' Life's Blood: Truth Teller (2013, Edgetone): Avant-saxophonist (alto/soprano), from San Francisco, studied at UC Santa Cruz in the late 1980s, drifted through various Bay Area groups (e.g., the Lords of Outland); at least eight albums since 1995. Mostly trio, with bass (Kim Cass and/or Markus Hunt) and drums (Timothy Orr), plus Rhodes on one cut. The rough stuff is sharp, engaging, and the softer spots draw you in. Hadn't recognized him before: seems like a potential SFFR. A-

Adam Rongo: Tell Your Story (2013, D Clef): Alto saxophonist, from Michigan, studied at MSU and has a couple of his professors on board for his debut album -- Etienne Charles (trumpet), Rodney Whitaker (bass) -- as well as Michael Dease (trombone), Emmet Cohen (piano), Behn Gillece (vibes), Ulysses Owens Jr. (drums), and various guests. Three originals, two pieces from the band (Dease, Gillece), a couple standards and pieces by other saxophonists (Jimmy Heath, Johnny Griffin, Steve Wilson). Upbeat, a little busy but closer in spirit to original bebop than to academically fashionable postbop. B+(*)

Idan Santhaus: There You Are (2008-11 [2013], Posi-Tone): Big band arranger, born and raised in Israel, moved to New York in 2001. First album under his own name, but has a couple of arranger credits, including A Different Porgy & Another Bess for Brussels Jazz Orchestra. His instrument is flute, but he only plays on one cut here. Recorded in two sets with a minority of overlapping musicians. The solos feel composed through, but he has a remarkable knack of drawing them out. A-

Nicky Schrire: Space and Time (2013, self-released): Singer, second album, wrote 4 of 12 songs, covers about half standards and half less standard (not sure where "Here Comes the Sun" goes); does them with the barest of piano accompaniment, rotating Fabian Almazan, Gerald Clayton, and Gil Goldstein. Back cover looks like it was printed in invisible ink, another example of how she shies away from contrast. Not bad, but strains my ability to discern. B

David Sills: Blue's the New Green (2013, Gut String): Tenor saxophonist, mainstreamer, has at least nine records since 1997. Group here is a quintet with Larry Koonse (guitar), Chris Dawson (piano), Darek Oles (bass), and Jake Reed (drums). Nice as long as he sticks to basics, and Koonse makes his usual fine contribution. Last track Sills switches to flute, not his strong suit. B+(*)

Ricardo Silveira/Vinicius Cantuária: RSVC (2013, Adventure Music): Two Brazilian guitarists, Cantuária also provides percussion and sings. This edges a bit back into Cantuária's MPB turf as opposed to the more jazz-centric Silveira; still, lovely within its limits. B+(*)

Gary Smulyan/Dominic Chianese: Bella Napoli (2013, Capri): I've always heard that the pizza on the cover is primarily an American invention, but the vintage Italian (or should I say Napolitano?) songs are old country, and Chianese -- best known for his role as Corrado Soprano -- sings them as classics. Can't find any instrument credits, but Smulyan plays baritone sax, the sturdy backbone of the songs, the nontraditional turn that holds everything else together. With Gary Versace, Matt Wilson, Jeff Lederer, and someone [Joe Brent] on violin. [Also Martin Wind on mandolin.] B+(**)

Tierney Sutton: After Blue (2012-13 [2013], BFM Jazz): Singer, grew up in Milwaukee, studied at Boston University and at Wesleyan, based in Los Angeles; tenth album since 1998. Most of her recent albums emphasized the band, but this dive into the Joni Mitchell songbook emphasizes guest stars -- eight named on the front cover, counting Turtle Island String Quartet as one. There isn't much new or different here, some minor twists -- like the mash of "Free Man in Paris" with "April in Paris" -- that are nice enough but nothing to get worked up about. B

Swing Fever Presents Clark Terry/Buddy DeFranco/Terry Gibbs and Guest Vocalist Jackie Ryan: Grand Masters of Jazz (1998-2001 [2013], Open Art, CD+2DVD): Swing Fever is a band led by trombonist Bryan Gould, usually five horns plus guitar, bass, and drums. Not sure if they have any albums on their own, but in the four concerts these cuts were selected from, they form the sturdy backup for guest stars Terry (trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals), DeFranco (clarinet), Gibbs (vibes), and Ryan (vocals). This comes from four sessions, two with Terry, one each with DeFranco and Gibbs -- Ryan appears in all four. The DVDs add some patter like Gibbs' story about Benny Goodman not being able to memorize any names, and it's worth watching Clark Terry work off a lyric sheet in his "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" duet with Ryan. The audio CD hits the highlights -- about half vocal pieces -- with brief intros. The Gibbs set appears to be the same on both DVDs. B+(***)

Gavin Templeton: In Series (2013, Nine Winds): Alto saxophonist, grew up in Reno, NV, where he studied and wound up backing oldies acts like Wayne Newton and the Temptations; moved to Los Angeles in 2006 and got a Master's at California Institute for the Arts. Second album, side credits include Plotz!, Nels Cline, and Vinny Golia. This is a postbop quintet, both guitar and piano as well as bass and drums -- no one I recognize but that's probably because I hear so little from Golia. All Templeton originals. He can push the sax out front if need be, or fill in making good use of guitar or piano leads. B+(***)

The Ian Torres Big Band: January (2008-13 [2013], Blujazz): Chicago-based trumpeter, composes and arranges; album is subtitled "The Birth and Development of the Ian Torres Big Band" -- the "birth" a set of cuts from 2008, the "development" more from 2013. Latter adds a vocalist (Ledie Beukelman). Neither strike me as all that snappy. B

Diego Urcola: Mates (2013, Sunnyside): Trumpet player (flugelhorn too, goes without saying), b. 1965 in Buenos Aires, Argentina; studied at Berklee and CUNY/City College-Queens, remaining based in New York. Fifth album since 2003. A cycle of duets, rotating between Avishai Cohen (bass), Dave Samuels (vibes & marimba), Edmar Castañeda (harp), and Juan Dargenton (bandoneón) -- the latter instruments he has some cultural affinity to, but the bassist is the most effective. B+(*)

Ben Wanicur: The Excluded Middle (2012 [2013], Middle Path): Bassist, based in San Diego, first album, with Ian Tordella on sax, Peter Sprague on guitar, and Charlie Weller on drums. Wanicur wrote five originals, added five covers including two from Wayne Shorter. Mainstream postbop, nothing you haven't heard before, but it's very nicely done. Tordella has a couple recent albums I haven't heard. Sprague cut his first in 1979 and has a lot of records I haven't heard, although I run into him often enough to recognize the name. B+(***)

Phil Woods & the Festival Orchestra: New Celebration (2013, Chiaroscuro): Alto saxophonist, learned bebop at Bird's feet, but outgrew it and is still active at 82, often showing up as the featured soloist in gigs like this. The COTA Festival Orchestra started out as the Al Cohn Memorial Orchestra in 1988. Can't say as I recognize anyone here, nor does any instrument other than alto sax stand out. They do eight Woods tunes and close with two covers, the last an Al Cohn arrangement of "You Don't Know What Love Is" with a vocal by Najwa Parkins. B-

From Rhapsody Streamnotes

The Harry Allen Quintet: Plays Music From the Sound of Music (2011, Arbors): Following up on previous discs of songs from Guys and Dolls and South Pacific, the tenor sax great and his old fashioned swing group -- Rossano Sportiello, Joe Cohn, Joel Forbes, Chuck Riggs -- move on through the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook. Rebecca Kilgore and Eddie Erickson sing, not as witty as Guys and Dolls but still "as corny as Kansas," and the sax leads are sublime. B+(***)

Dave Bennett: Clarinet Is King: Songs of Great Clarinetists (2010, Arbors): Clarinet player, first record was a tribute to Benny Goodman and this sequel doesn't fall far from the tree. Without the booklet I'm not even sure how all of these fit into the canon -- Artie Shaw and Barney Bigard, of course, and "Stranger on the Shore" was a hit for Acker Bilk, but "Where or When" and "You Are My Sunshine" could have been anyone. Backed by Tad Weed's piano trio, taking a much more reserved, or reverent, tone than Bennett's new album. B+(*)

Joe Fiedler's Big Sackbut: Sackbut Stomp (2013, Multiphonics): Second album for Fiedler's "low brass" choir -- three trombones (Fiedler, Ryan Keberle, Luis Bonilla) and Marcus Rojas on tuba, plus they've nabbed Steven Bernstein (slide trumpet) as featured guest. After the title stomp, "King of the Road" comes off as the novelty it's meant to be, establishing the band's limits -- not much speed or sizzle, but over album length the pumping humor comes out, and liabilities turn into assets. B+(***)

Chris Flory: The Chris Flory Quintet Featuring Scott Hamilton (2012, Arbors): Guitarist, only a half dozen albums since 1988, first two on Concord, rest on Arbors -- not a unique career path, reunited with the tenor saxophonist who led the "young fogey" movement -- Flory was on eight Hamilton records, so this hook up is about as comfortable as can be. B+(***)

Gordon Grdina/Mark Helias: No Difference (2012 [2013], Songlines): Guitar- and oud-player from Vancouver, always inventive, in duets with bassist Helias and quartet tracks with tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby and drummer Kenton Loewen -- the former remain sketchy, the latter ramp up into real power. B+(**)

Marty Grosz & the Hot Winds: The James P. Johnson Songbook (2010 [2012], Arbors): Guitarist, plays banjo and sings some, son of legendary anti-Nazi satirist Georg Grosz. Now in his eighties, playing music originating from the great pianist, mostly from the decade before Grosz's birth. With a terrific trad jazz band: Jon-Erik Kelso (trumpet), Scott Robinson (saxes), Dan Block (clarinets), James Dapogny (piano), Vince Giordano (bass, bass sax, tuba), and Arnie Kinsella (drums) -- the '20s roar again. A-

Hera/Hamid Drake: Seven Lines (2013, Multikulti): Polish avant-jazz band, best known member (at least the only one I was aware of) is clarinetist Waclaw Zimpel, with a lineup that includes tenor/soprano sax, guitar, hurdy-gurdy, bass, and drums -- the latter redundant given the special guest. But rather than push the edge of modernism, they globetrot, with the first three songs namechecking Asian spots -- Baluchistan, Kyoto, Tibet -- with much of the music settling into fierce grooves. Recorded live, so you get a Drake drum solo too. B+(***)

Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet: In a World of Mallets (2012 [2013], Basin Street): Youngest son of the Marsalis clan, started on drums, moved on to vibes (not sure when; at least by 2009), plays some xylophone, marimba, and glockenspiel here, backed by piano-bass-drums. Nothing particularly interesting, the waltzes least of all. C+

Ted Nash Big Band: Chakra (2013, Plastic Sax): Alto saxophonist, second big band album, the commission coming from a man whose life had evidently been saved by a Chinese chakra healer, the task to write seven movements corresponding to the points in the symbolism. Powerful piece, lots of movement, not a lot of solo definition although the 16-piece band doesn't lack for star power. B+(*)

Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile (2013, Constellation): Alto saxophonist, newcomber to Chicago's AACM tradition, still in pursuit of "great black music" -- this with its share of history lessons and a dicey, shifty abstractness to the jazz, at odds with Jeremiah Ablah's stiff, operatic "tenor vocals"; Roberts' own vocals are fine (cf. "Thanks Be You"). B+(**)

Bryan Shaw and the Hot Shots: The Bluebird of Happiness (2013, Arbors): Trumpet player, not to be confused with the Brian Shaw who teaches baroque trumpet at LSU; this one has led a sheltered career in California, occasionally appearing in trad jazz outfits like High Sierra Jazz Band or South Frisco Jazz Band, or appearing with trombonist Dan Barrett, who brokered Shaw's 2000 debut and this belated sequel, a septet with Barrett, Evan Amtzen on clarinet and sax, Ehud Asherie on piano, and Brad Roth on guitar and banjo. Old-fashioned swing ably done. B+(**)

Rossano Sportiello/Nicki Parrott/Eddie Metz: Live at Jazz Corner (2012, Arbors): Piano-bass-drums trio, also known as the Eddie Metz Jr. Trio or the Ed Metz Jr. Trio -- the drummer may be coming out on his own since Ed Metz Sr. (a notable pianist) died in 2009, but also Sportiello and Parrott have a couple of fine duo albums and at this point are probably better known. Parrott sings two tunes, "Besame Mucho" and "Fever," and goes for smoldering. The pianist goes for fast ones, except for that Chopin thing he learned back in the old country. B+(**)

Chucho Valdés & the Afro-Cuban Messengers: Border-Free (2013, Jazz Village): Cuban pianist, for speed and flair one of the few you might ever be tempted to compare to Art Tatum, at his best with bass, drums, and extra percussion, but can get tripped up on the cuts where he brings in a horn or two -- Reinaldo Meilan on trumpet and/or Branford Marsalis on tenor and soprano sax. Maybe "tripped up" isn't the right verb -- more like he ducks for cover. B+(*)

Bob Wilber: Bob Wilber and the Three Amigos (2012, Arbors): The leader is closing in on 85 here, playing soprano sax and clarinet, as are amigos Pieter Meijers and Antti Sarpila, backed by a fine group of early jazz afficionados -- Rossano Sportiello, Bucky Pizzarelli, John Cocuzzi (vibes), Nicki Parrott, and Eddie Metz Jr. They play three Ellington tunes from the 1920s, Bechet, Jolson, Waller, "The Best Things in Life Are Free." B+(***)

 September, 2013 November, 2013