Rhythm Changes: New Music, July Edition

Jazz is having a moment. I start most every day here at Jazz88 reviewing music that comes in via mail and email from players all over the globe. Is it all excellent? Absolutely not. I receive some duds, and I know that, in my music career, I have definitely sent out my share of duds to media organizations. However, so much of it is great. There is a generation of jazz players working today who know their jazz inside and out, and who can combine that with a deep knowledge of rock, hip-hop, salsa, reggae, and other genres to deliver compelling projects that are more than just a tenuous bond between two distant musical siblings.

I want to make sure you know about some of the new, world-class releases we’ve been playing on Jazz88 as of late. I also recommend that you tune in at noon on Fridays for This Just In (if Theodore from your office has a standing meeting at noon on Fridays, you can always catch the program on demand right here).

Thank you for celebrating new jazz and, as always, if you have input about the music we’re playing, or ideas about what else we should be playing, let me know please! I can be reached at sean@jazz88.fm.

Brandee Younger“Brand New Life” (feat. Mumu Fresh) from her album Brand New Life Listen Here

I think it was Brandee Younger’s recent Tiny Desk appearance that pushed me over the edge into a total Younger fan. The harp gets treated like a novelty in the world because, on a statistical level, it is a novelty. You rarely hear the harp, and when you do, it’s for a particular symphonic flourish. It was the Tiny Desk performance that cemented my realization that Younger is no novelty–she is an artist, she is a visionary, and she is a joy. We’ve been playing a couple tracks off her album, and whenever they come on the radio at my house, they just stop me in my tracks. The playing, the arrangements, the ideas–she’s the total package. I had the chance to chat with Ms. Younger a while back, and you can check the conversation here.

Jamie Breiwick – “Bird Boy” from his album Awake Volume 2: The Music of Don Cherry  Listen Here

If you’ve heard of Jamie Breiwick before, chances are it is thanks to his work as a graphic designer for many stars in the jazz world, but his love of jazz goes a lot deeper than an affinity for stunning graphics. He is a talented and creative trumpet player working out of Milwaukee. He connected with the Minneapolis-based label Shifting Paradigm Records for his latest effort, Awake Volume 2: The Music of Don Cherry. The tune we’ve been playing is Breiwick’s interpretation of Don Cherry’s “Bird Boy.” I’m a sucker for a repetitive rhythmic figure dutifully rendered on a saxophone. It’s not all that common, and it just draws me in for the rest of the story–plus, it sort of tosses the apple cart for what role a sax would normally play. Those aren’t the only dashed expectations from the tune. As Breiwick and company explore the theme, I found myself riding every wave from Lenard Simpson, Chris Weller, Tim Ipsen, and Devin Drobka.

Dara Starr Tucker – “Everything I Wanted” from her album Dara Starr Tucker Listen Here

Sometimes, you don’t realize a song would make a great cover. I’m by no means a deep Billie Eilish fan, but I’ve been quite impressed with her writing and production. It was a revelation to hear Dara Starr Tucker navigate Eilish’s tune, “Everything I Wanted.” The musical support brings the chord progression into a clearer relief, and I hear something different in the lyrics. Tucker’s performance sounds so true, so intimate, and so compelling.

Krasno/Moore Project  – “Fever” (feat. Branford Marsalis) from his album Book of Queens Listen Here

I’ve been tracking the musical projects of Eric Krasno (guitar) and Stanton Moore (drums) for over 30 years now, and it’s for good reason. These two are reliable purveyors of exciting music that’s usually funky and is always rooted in a jazz sensibility. For their recent effort, Krasno and Moore took the work of women composers, or songs closely associated with a woman performer. We started spinning their rendition of Brittany Howard’s “Stay High,” and I recently added in the Peggy Lee vehicle, “Fever,” with Branford Marsalis stepping in to do the heavy lifting on saxophone. It’s a beautiful rendition, and the band sounds joyous on it, which is such an important part of making a tune like “Fever” come alive.

Yoni Mayraz– “Painkillers” from his album Dybbuk Tse! Listen Here

Believe it or not, from time to time, I check out other radio stations. I was tuning in to KMHD, a likeminded jazz station in Portland, and I happened upon this tune from Yoni Mayraz. He’s an Israeli-born, London-based piano player who is bringing some incredible grooves in on his first full-length record. I love that he has all the groove sensibility, but he channels it into a live band delivering the goods in one room. Occasionally, an overdub and a bunch of extra tracking works out, but mainly I think that groove music should be played live, and Yoni and his group are doing a great job of exactly that.

Thanks for checking out Rhythm Changes, and be sure to shoot an email over to sean@jazz88.fm if you have any input about our music programming!

-Sean McPherson

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