Reviews by J Hunter
EDITOR’S NOTE: J Hunter’ Jazz2K columns are leaping off your computer screen and onto the airwaves with his new “Jazz2K” radio show, heard weekly on Skidmore College’s WSPN-FM at 6pm on Tuesdays… including tonight.
Now that you get to hear this stuff as well as read about it, here are five discs that I’ve played before or will be playing soon:
He’s baaaaaaaaak! Skidmore’s favorite visiting scholar (and all-around monster musician) releases his first disc in four years, and from the sound of it, the trumpeter hasn’t been hanging about. The first notes of the title track bubble and squeak with the dark energy Blanchard’s been pumping out since he made writing soundtracks a secondary occupation. Tenorman Brice Winston makes a triumphant return to Blanchard’s front line, and his work on the bouncing closer “Time to Spare” and the aptly titled “Hallucinations” is like hearing an old friend walk through the door. Winston’s not doing all the saxy work, though, as Blanchard fulfills his wish to play with Ravi Coltrane on “Don’t Run” and Fabian Almazan’s classical gas “Pet Sitter’s Theme Song.” Almazan has not only grown into the piano chair once populated by Aaron Parks, but he may soon be another graduate of the Terence Blanchard School for Genius Musicians, taking his place next to cutting-edge alums like Parks, Lionel Loueke and Eric Harland. (Loueke’s ghostly guitar returns to spice up – and space out – “Pet Sitter” and Kendrick Scott’s drum opus “No Borders, Just Horizons.”) Almazan’s brilliant “Jacob’s Ladder” not only gives Blanchard a platform to shine as in days of old, but it gives guest bassist Ron Carter the best outlet he’s had to get phat in some time. With Blanchard, it’s always the whole and the sum of its parts, and Magnetic is another brilliant calculation that leaps off the blackboard and moves jazz forward once again. NOTE: The Terence Blanchard Group makes a tour stop at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall in Lenox at 8pm on Friday (June 28), making the concert the perfect warm-up for this weekend’s Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival at SPAC.