UK saxophonist Emma Johnson has released her debut album ‘Worry Not’. The original compositions are inspired by cinematic scores and a wide range of jazz music. She has formed a great band and produced a fantastic album. The music is complex, full of different elements in each song but the songs are played with effortlessness and great technical brilliance.
Another saxophone player caught my attention: Dave Mullen from New York City. The album ‘Solace’ features a stellar cast of musicians including Jon Cowherd (Piano), Hans Glawischnig (Bass), EJ Strickland (Drums), and Jim Seeley (Trumpet).
Powerful straight-ahead jazz music inspired by and referencing John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Thelonius Monk and Michael Brecker.
And finally a great voice: Jacqui Naylor’s 11th album features 14 original and nicely arranged cover versions of rock classics from David Bowie (‘Space Oddity’), Peter Gabriel (‘Don’t Give Up’) and Coldplay (‘Fix You’). My personal highlight on the album is ‘I’ll be Loving You’, a song that perfectly presents the volume, colors and nuances of Jacqui’s unique voice.
Drummer, percussionist and composer Michael Waldrop has released a fantastic album featuring the marimba called ‘Time Frames’. The 15 songs, most of them originals by Michael Waldrop, present a wide spectrum of styles and sounds, from the origin of the marimba as an African instrument to eclectic contemporary compositions.
Waldrop surrounds himself on the album with other renowned and musically diverse percussionists like Gordon Stout, Brad Dutz, Jose Rossy and Marko Djordjevic.
Here comes the full list of musicians and their instruments:
Michael Waldrop – marimba, vibraphone, drum set and keyboard sequencing
Jose Rossy – Djembe, Djun Djuns, Shekere and miscellaneous percussion
The album starts with ‘Fractals’, a songs that has a nice steady moving groove. ‘Dem Dakar’ continues in that contemplative style with a slower middle part before it picks up moving again. Both songs are harmonically supported by long notes added via keyboard sequencing.
The suite ‘Three Mediterranean Views’ composed by Jack Cooper comes next. Sound and style are more like a jazz combo with Michael Waldrop on marimba and vibraphone supported by piano, bass and various percussion.
‘Almost Beyond’ by vibraphonist and composer Nathan Daughtrey comes next. This fantastic song features Ivana Cojbasic on piano and Michael Waldorp on marimba.
‘Delineations’ returns to the African side of the marimba as we heard it in the first two songs. Definitely my favorite style on this album and so this songs impresses me with it’s nice moving groove.
‘Katrina’s Path’ is the second suite here on the album. The three songs feature Michael Waldrop on drums culminating in ‘Katrina’s Path: New Orleans’ with Marko Djordjevic on a second drum set.
‘Hollow’ is a composition for solo marimba by US-composer Jonathan Middleton, sometimes soft, sometimes harsh, this tune is full of different elements and sounds.
The next song ‘Sixth Chakra’ is definitely my favorite song on the album and the following video was the reason this album caught my attention. Michael Waldrop performs this song with six mallets:
‘Incoming’ is the next tune and it features Gordon Stout on marimba and Michael Waldrop on drums. The composition starts openly before it turns into a fantastic dialog between these two instruments, great composition and fantastic performance, with the marimba setting the pace. After an incredible drums solos both instruments return to the open theme from the beginning that is based on a chromatic movement.
‘Tortoise Efficiency’ features Brad Dutz on percussion, a tune without harmonic elements but with excellent drums and percussion sounds.
The album ends with ‘Continuity’, a song that has a similar groove like ‘Dem Dakar’ from the beginning of the album and so the circle closes with another excellent meditative tune.
‘Time Frame’ is not a typical jazz album, but it fits well into the context of groove, rhythmic elements from different sources and composed and arranged music, and it is performed with excellent musicians on an incredible high technical level. Congratulations to Michael Waldrop and the musicians on this album for this great piece of art. Please enjoy listening.