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January 31st, 2022

Blue Moods – Myth & Wisdom (Posi-Tone)

Posi-Tone Records has put together an impressive stable of artists, both for albums as leaders, and for collective efforts featuring the label’s stars in varying ensembles. The latest of these is Blue Moods and their album Myth & Wisdom, which celebrates the Charles Mingus centennial this year, and the Charles Mingus songbook. The band that’s been assembled is impressive: Diego Rivera on tenor saxophone, Art Hirahara or David Kikoski on piano duties, Boris Kozlov playing bass, and drummer Joe Strasser. As WDCB’s resident Mingus nut, I was excited for this one, and it doesn’t disappoint. They’ve picked out songs that run the gamut, from no-brainers (“Better Git It In Your Soul”) to somewhat famous (“Nostalgia in Times Square,” “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love”) to some less obvious choices (“Portrait,” “Tonight at Noon”) and at least one song that made me do a double take when I saw it on the track listing (“Pithecanthropus Erectus”). They’ve succeeded in putting together a program that will please the Mingus fans, and hopefully introduce Mingus’ music to some new ears, too!

New Standard Quintet – Another Time, Another Place (self-produced)

Ken Partyka’s New Standard Quintet has just released a new album, Another Time, Another Place. Boasting a lineup filled with some fantastic musicians from the Chicago area, the New Standard Quintet is Tom Vaitsas on keys, Pat Fleming on guitar, Curt Bley on bass, Todd Howell on drums, and of course, Partyka plays the saxophone. They’re joined by Kaylan Pathak on a few tunes, and they sound great. Pat Fleming and Ken Partyka do all of the writing here, and they’ve both got some winners here. Fleming’s “Go Down Gamblin’” is a nice, grooving song in an odd meter, and Partyka’s “Mr. Jones, I Presume” swings nicely, with great solos from Fleming, Partyka and Vaitsis. Those are just two highlights on an album full of them. I think you’ll like this one as much as I do.

Jazzmeia Horn and Her Noble Force – Dear Love (Empress Legacy Records)

Of the three female Jazz vocalists who have exploded onto the scene within the last few years (Cecile McLorin Salvant and Veronica Swift being the other two that come to mind for me), Jazzmeia Horn has been the one who has seemingly followed her muse wherever it feels like taking her. She wears her influences, like Betty Carter, Chaka Khan and a little bit of Sade, too, right on her sleeve. She’s more than happy to turn in a top-notch performance of a standard or a pop hit, but she’s right at home writing her own songs as well. And now, she’s followed that muse straight into a big band where she wrote 10 of the 14 songs, and arranged 13 of them (the one shared arranging credit is for “Where We Are,” which she wrote). The standout track here is “Where is Freedom.” Every single time I have listened to that song, it has stopped me in my tracks. It’s one of my favorite new songs I’ve heard in at least a couple of years.


Night at The Jazz Showcase - June 2023