Jazz, May 2021

hfnalbum.pngCameron Graves
Artistry Music ART7066; LP: ART7066LP

Graves came to prominence as keyboardist on Kamasi Washington's 2015 breakthrough, The Epic, and followed up with his own 2017 debut, Planetary Prince. He's since formed a new quartet with drummer Mike Mitchell, a bandmate when touring with Stanley Clarke, Berklee-graduate bassist Max Geri, who'd joined him on his own tours, and innovative rock guitarist Colin Cook, to play what he aptly calls 'thrash jazz'. With jaw-dropping speed, precision and attack, Graves turns his acoustic piano into a metal/rock instrument, while his compositions reflect the title and his penchant for complex time signatures. Apart from one gentle, wistful piano solo called 'Fairy Tales', the pressure never drops. SH


Gary Bartz, Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge
Gary Bartz JID006
Jazz Is Dead JID006 (also LP)

Earlier collaborations of hip-hop DJ/producer Muhammad and R&B producer/composer Younge include the Luke Cage movie soundtrack and The Midnight Hour album, mixing '80s soul in a contemporary production. Last year, working with LA producer Andrew Lojero and choosing a provocative title (they weren't the first to use it), the duo launched a series of recordings with older-generation artists whose work they'd sampled. Successive albums have featured Roy Ayers, Marcos Valle, Azymuth and Doug Carn, and now it's the turn of revered saxophonist Gary Bartz, still sounding great despite his 80 years. SH


Nervy Nigel Records NERVYCD 002

Taking inspiration here from the great Oscar Peterson/Ray Brown/Joe Pass trio of the 1970s are British virtuoso pianist Craig Milverton, guitar wizard Nigel Price and hard-working bassist Sandy Suchodolski. The group name comes from an Oscar Pettiford tune which they covered on their first album, Fingerbustin', in 2013. And this second album's title doesn't signify a genre but refers to another old bebop theme, written over the chords of 'Out Of Nowhere' by trumpeter Fats Navarro and played here with aplomb. There are also a couple of Peterson tunes along with some songbook favourites and though the sonics are rather cramped, a good time was had by all. SH


Yoko Miwa Trio
Songs Of Joy
Ubuntu Music UBU0057

Originally from Kobe, Japan, Miwa has been based in Boston since 1997, having auditioned at Berklee 'for a lark'. Today she's a professor there, with a string of albums and awards to her credit. Saturated with the influence of Ahmad Jamal, this one blends her own pieces with others that are dear to her, including Billy Preston's 'Song Of Joy'. Richie Havens' 'Freedom' makes a thunderous opener, but then come her dancing, Latin-tinged 'The Rainbirds' and a fine uptempo re-work of Duke Jordan's 'No Problem'. Bassist Will Slater and drummer Scott Goulding are unobtrusive but at times bring a foot-tapping, organ-trio-like groove to Miwa's warm, engaging music. SH