Lee Pilzer - Strunkin
Blame it on jazz titans like Lester Young and Dexter Gordon that Lee Pilzer never pursued the cello. By the end of high school, she was firmly entrenched in traditional jazz and had switched from the cello to the saxophone. On "Strunkin," Pilzer not only wields an immensely large baritone sax, she is, for the first time, the leader of an all-female jazz band. Of the eight original songs, Pilzer wrote six and Amy Shook, who plays bass and Jen Krupa who plays trombone contributed one work each. Stylistically, all eight tracks are straight up traditional jazz done in a swing style that I'm certain would please both Young and Gordon. Hailing from Washington DC, Pilzer completed her undergraduate degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging and is currently working on her PhD in music theory. Don't be worried that "Strunkin" is performed by an all-female band. Because these five women lay down some really "cool tracks, man..."
Nancy Apple - Just Love- A Tribute To Audrey Auld
Label: Reckless Records
Settling in Memphis, TN, Nancy Apple is a performer of a hybrid country, blues, bluegrass and to some degree, rock and roll types of music. Additionally, she formed and manages Ringo Records who has produced CD's and DVD's for not only herself but also for other artists. She has even worked events for performers like Springsteen and U2 and has hosted a weekly radio show for seventeen years. "Just Love" is a two CD set in tribute to Audrey Auld-Mazera who lost her battle to cancer in 2015. Auld-Mazera was an Australian - American singer / songwriter who released eleven albums on her own. While most of the twenty-eight tracks are ballads, some also lean towards Apple's hybrid rock and roll style. She is also joined by a collection of guest artists who contribute vocals. One song titled "Missin Mez" was actually sung by Auld-Mazera herself. "Just Love" is a tribute album sure enough, but also, it is very listenable and has enough variety stylistically, all within the country / bluegrass / blues banner to be very highly enjoyable.
Jimmy O'Connell - Arrhythmia
Label: Outside In Music
Normally, I'm not given all that dramatically to the trombone, especially as a featured instrument in a jazz setting. I typically prefer the saxophone. And while O'Connell's latest release didn't especially cause me to have heart problems, I can say that I happily discovered it to be rewardingly enjoyable. O'Connell has performed at NYC venues such as Smalls, the Blue Note and even the prestigious Carnegie Hall and shared the stage with the likes of Randy Brecker and Paquito D'Rivera. His debut work consists of eight original tracks all composed by O'Connell. In case you may be wondering, the CD's title has a personal meaning for O'Connell. He was born with a heart condition called supraventricular tachycardia. All straight ahead jazz, this release is very well done and is something I enjoyed from beginning to end.
Larry Corban - Corban Nation
Label: Nabroc Records
Corban described the energy on his latest release as capturing lighting in a bottle. I'd say I have to agree with that assessment. Corban's chops on guitar are sometimes very melodic and, quite frankly, more often peppered with a sharp edge. Joined by both electric and strand up bass, piano, Hammond B-3, Fender Rhodes, drums and saxophone, "Corban Nation" is partly traditional jazz, and part get-em-goin' high octane. Of course he can be soft and mellow as well, as superbly demonstrated on the fourth track, "Child's Tune." If there is some tangible link between what is typically considered traditional jazz and something more cutting edge, this release is probably it - and is one I really enjoyed.