Find a Heart Denise Donatelli

12/27/15    Albums    By Christopher Loudon

Denise Donatelli
Find a Heart

Arguably postmillennial jazz singing’s foremost late bloomer, Denise Donatelli cut her laudable debut album, released in 2005, at age 55. She started out singing mostly standards. Then, five years ago, with When Lights Are Low , she established what remains...

The Puzzle Expansions: The Dave Liebman Group

12/26/15    Albums    By Mac Randall

Expansions: The Dave Liebman Group
The Puzzle
Whaling City Sound

It takes no time at all for the five members of Expansions to demonstrate the impressive altitude of their collective musicianship. Right at the start of this album’s opening track, alto saxophonist Matt Vashlishan’s “Hat Trick,” three related melodic lines...

Press Enter Romain Collin

12/25/15    Albums    By Steve Greenlee

Romain Collin
Press Enter
ACT Music + Vision

Romain Collin’s music is cinematic. Each of the 10 songs on his third album, Press Enter , could be used at a key moment or climactic scene in a film. Given the French-born pianist’s background composing music for movies, this makes sense. His songs build...

Live in Tokyo Keiko Matsui

12/24/15    Albums    By Jeff Tamarkin

Keiko Matsui
Live in Tokyo

Keiko Matsui’s 2013 Soul Quest album was particularly important to the Tokyo-born pianist, not only because it celebrated the 25th anniversary of her debut U.S. release but also because she made it following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated...

Behind the Sky Jon Irabagon

12/23/15    Albums    By Thomas Conrad

Jon Irabagon
Behind the Sky
Inaction is an Action


There is no one in jazz like Jon Irabagon. He has mastered at least six reed instruments, and he plays them in so many styles you might think he suffers from dissociative identity disorder. In fact, all of his choices are deliberate. He is at home in left...

A Dance and a Hop Josh Berman Trio

12/22/15    Albums    By David Whiteis

Josh Berman Trio
A Dance and a Hop
Delmark Records

Chicago-based cornetist Josh Berman exemplifies the best of the current generation of young improvisers. Schooled in the entirety of the jazz tradition, he mixes influences and ideas drawn from diverse eras and genres, tweaking convention while honoring...

Let's Fly Away Molly Ryan

12/21/15    Albums    By Christopher Loudon

Molly Ryan
Let's Fly Away

A perennial favorite at chic Manhattan nightspots, Molly Ryan has been artfully recapturing the faded era of the foursquare, swinging band singer for close to two decades. In the tradition of Helen O’Connell, Helen Forrest and Kitty Kallen, she navigates...

Mauch Chunk Mostly Other People Do the Killing

12/20/15    Albums    By Bill Meredith

Mostly Other People Do the Killing
Mauch Chunk
Hot Cup

With traditional acoustic jazz instrumentation but a punk-ish name and attitude, New York City quartet Mostly Other People Do the Killing practically demands listeners expect the unexpected. Its eighth release, Mauch Chunk , features longtime members Moppa...

Live in Studio Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio

12/19/15    Albums    By Owen Cordle

Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio
Live in Studio

This album was recorded with a studio audience present and without rehearsals and formal arrangements, and it is a testimony to the power of spontaneity in jazz when favorable conditions and inspired personnel are present. With a repertoire of tunes mainly...

Wondaland: Jason Palmer Plays Janelle Monae Jason Palmer

12/19/15    Albums    By Bill Beuttler

Jason Palmer
Wondaland: Jason Palmer Plays Janelle Monae

Trumpeter Jason Palmer’s intriguing new release is the second in his planned “series of homages to singers who have produced powerful music,” which began three years ago with his Minnie Riperton tribute, Take a Little Trip . Wondaland is more contemporary...