Jazz, November 2022

hfnalbum.pngKendrick Scott
Blue Note 4552187; LP: 4552189

For busy drummer and leader Kendrick Scott, forced to stay at home in 2020, the long corridors of his city apartment building became a symbol of the way that life changed for everybody in the pandemic. He wrote the suite of pieces here originally for a fellowship commission from The Jazz Gallery in New York, and he couldn't have chosen a finer interpreter than the great saxophonist Walter Smith III. Scott describes Smith's sound as 'beautiful and inspiring' and it really is. Completing an unbeatable triumvirate is the always-communicative bassist Reuben Rogers, whose resonant tones so perfectly evoke those lonely corridors on the title track. This is Scott's third Blue Note album as leader, and a must-hear. SH


Julius Rodriguez
Let Sound Tell All
Verve 4531883; LP: 4525421

Once known as Orange Julius, the young piano prodigy and budding producer became famous (or notorious) for dropping out of Juilliard to tour with rapper A$AP Rocky in 2018, and his own debut album fearlessly mixes diverse ingredients. After a brash live piano opener comes Stevie Wonder's 'All I Do' sung soulfully by Mariah Cameron. On the psychedelic 'Gift Of The Moon' overdubbed trumpets by Giveton Gelin almost disappear in the heavy production, while 'Two Way Street' has frenetic and processed saxophone from the multi-talented Morgan Guerin. Rodriguez alone on piano accompanies Samara Joy on 'In Heaven': a lovely interlude. SH


Avishai Cohen Trio
Shifting Sands
Naïve/Believe M7594; LP: M7595

In 2020 the Israeli bassist, composer and leader had planned a special 50th-birthday, 50-nation tour. This had to be cancelled, but fortunately one special concert with the Gothenburg symphony orchestra did take place before the Covid curtain came down, as heard on last year's Two Roses album. And August 2021 saw him back in Gothenburg's Nilento studio recording this trio album, with long-time pianist Elchin Shirinov and new young drummer Roni Kaspi. From the tricksy, catchy nine-time opener 'Intertwined' to the rushing pulse of 'Videogame' the emphasis is on rhythms that build excitement, but there's plenty of impassioned soloing from Cohen too. SH


Scott Hamilton
Stunt Records STUCD 22032; LP: STULP 22021

On previous albums the supreme swing and mainstream saxophonist made Danish and Swedish ballads seem like natural vehicles for improvisation. Here with his quartet he takes on classical themes, opening with a well-known tune from Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto, almost unrecognisably jaunty here and sounding like some forgotten jazz standard. While 'Theme From Swan Lake' becomes just a vaguely familiar Russian folk song, Hamilton's line on Dvořák's Humoresque owes nothing to Art Tatum yet has an attractive lilt of its own. Hamilton's smooth sound and his graceful melodic invention always win you over. SH