Guitarist/Composer/Educator Dan Pitt is one of Toronto’s brightest jazz lights. Whether he’s solo, leading his trio or now the Dan Pitt Quintet, he’s a bubbling cauldron of creative ideas and stellar improvisation. Wrongs, his third, is a self-released all-original doozy with his trio rhythm section of bassist Alex Fournier and drummer Nick Fraser. Now add woodwinds in the shape of a dynamic duo: Naomi McCarroll-Butler (alto sax and bass clarinet) and Patrick Smith (tenor and soprano saxophones). The result is an action-packed seven tracks in 43:32 with nary a note wasted. The sound goes from ambient to aggressive, and there seems to be more to hear with each succeeding listen.
Living Legends are a dying breed. That’s one reason every new Joe Lovano album is cause for celebration. Lovano, the 68 year-old tenor sax man from Cleveland, has a new album out called Other Worlds (Greenleaf Music) and it couldn’t be more aptly named. It’s by the quintet he co-leads with trumpeter Dave Douglas called Sound Prints. Dare I say it’s one of the best jazz albums of the year? It’s their third. They honed their chops with a week-long pre-pandemic gig at the legendary Village Vanguard in New York City with pianist Lawrence Fields, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Joey Baron. With this tight-as-sunburnt-skin rhythm section, the trumpet/sax front-line works wonders on nine originals. Almost all first-takes, the symbiosis between these five is startling. It’s as if they’re the five limbs of one organism. The highlight is the three-track “Other Worlds Suite” wherein each musician gets to spiral off into the stratosphere but always within orbit of each other.
Almog Sharvit should be a household name. His Get Up Or Cry (Unit Records) is a masterpiece of syncopated sound, surprising delights, adventurous progressive fusion and, ultimately, unending entertainment for the curious ear. The kick I got from this debut is akin what I felt the first time I heard Return To Forever or Weather Report. How many genres does it take to mess up your mind? One doesn’t just listen to music like this. One surrenders to it. Bassist Sharvit wrote, arranged and produced it all. He uses the colors of his palette—trumpet, guitar, banjo, piano, organ, synthesizer and drums—like Ellington used the many colors of his orchestra.
Who am I to “review” the seven-disc boxed set Columbia and RCA Victor Studio Recordings of Louis Armstrong 1946-1966 (Mosaic Records)? So I won’t. This is history of the most profound sort: the late-career artistry of Pops that includes never-before-heard alternate takes, rehearsals, even studio banter between the icon and producer George Avakian. The three hours of bonus material reveals Pops at work and how he worked. It’s the most intimate inside look yet. Guests like Dave Brubeck and Carmen McRae pop up and you can delight in it all while reading a 30,000-word essay and savoring 40+ private photos.
Sax man/Clarinetist/Educator David Angel has been a Los Angeles composer/arranger for years. Jim Self plays tuba and bass trombone. He’s spiced up the music of Sinatra, Streisand, Midler and four symphony orchestras. They’re the two principals of The David Angel Jazz Ensemble whose three-disc Out On The Coast box (Basset Hound Music) showcases Angel’s compositions as brought to flowery life by 13 musicians over 15 tracks. Now add seven “American Songbook” covers and you’ve got a stunning 22-track document that comes to life on waltzes, West Coast-styled cool-jazz, post-bop, swing, Latin and classical. Self calls it “Gil Evans Meets JS Bach.”