Loose ends

New albums from Barry Harris, Jeff Antoniuk and the Jazz Update, Tom Lagana, and Anaïs Mitchell are worth checking out.

There have been lots of great releases coming in that are worth sharing. Some are relevant to things that are going on around here and others are just great new albums. Check them out and let us know what you think in the comments.

Barry Harris – Live in Rennes (Plus Loin 2010)

Listen to “Tea For Two”:

http://rvanews.net/sounds/Jazz/july2010/16%20Tea%20For%20Two.mp3|titles=Tea For Two|artists=Barry Harris]

The 80-year-old Detroit native is a living master of jazz piano. Coming up in the time of bebop and moving to New York City in 1960, Harris was surrounded by greats like Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, even living with the latter. Here in a live concert at Jazz a l’Ouest Festival in France, he not only puts his spirited playing on display, but also proves to be an expert at involving the audience, whether it’s by clapping along (Nascimento) or by having them compose and sing a melody (6, 5, 7, 3). Charm at its best.


Personnel: Barry Harris (piano), Mathias Allamane (bass), Philippe Soirat (drums).

Jeff Antoniuk and the Jazz Update – Brotherhood (JAJU Records 2010)

Listen to “Meet Me At The Ponderosa”:

http://rvanews.net/sounds/Jazz/july2010/03%20Meet%20Me%20At%20The%20Ponderosa.mp3|titles=Meet Me At The Ponderosa|artists=Jeff Antoniuk and the Jazz Update]

You might know Ponderosa Steakhouses as a staple of cross-country ventures and greasy food joints. “Meet Me At The Ponderosa” represents the transculturation one might experience while navigating the buffet. Ok, that’s a stretch. But what you do get here is a little New Orleans street beat, a little instrumental wackiness, an odd metered turn-around, and an interesting tune. The local hook: Formed in 2004, Antoniuk’s Jazz Update features VCU professor Tony Martucci on the drum throne.


Personnel: Jeff Antoniuk (tenor and soprano saxophones), Tom Baldwin (bass), Wade Beach (piano, rhodes), Tony Martucci (drums, cymbals, bata, congas, percussion).

Tom Lagana – Schematic (Harvest Time 2010)

Listen to “W. W. H. D.”:

http://rvanews.net/sounds/Jazz/july2010/01%20WWHD.mp3|titles=W. W. H. D.|artists=Tom Lagana]

After hearing Jason Scott talk about studying with George Garzone at NYU, I was attracted to this album by guitarist Lagana, which features Garzone on a few tracks. Jazz Update bassist Tom Baldwin appears again here, swinging along with drummer Todd Harrison. “W. W. H. D” is a new melody over rhythm changes harmony, one of the most common progressions for jazz compositions. The band jumps to it without delay, and the energy never dies. There’s nothing groundbreaking about it, but if it speaks to you, then it’s worth your attention.


Personnel: Tom Lagana (guitar), George Garzone (tenor saxophone), Tom Baldwin (bass), Todd Harrison (drums), Dave Ballou (trumpet and flugelhorn).

Anaïs Mitchell – Hadestown (Righteous Babe 2010)

Listen to “Wedding Song”:

http://rvanews.net/sounds/Jazz/july2010/01%20Wedding%20Song.mp3|titles=Wedding Song|artists=Anaïs Mitchell featuring Justin Vernon]

Hadestown will take you places: to depression-era America and into the underworld, spanning the emotional spectrum with the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Advertised as a folk-opera, lovers Eurydice (Mitchell) and Orpheus (Justin Vernon aka Bon Iver) navigate their complex fates while a cast of unique voices help (Ani DiFranco as Persephone and Ben Knox Miller of The Low Anthem as Hermes) or deter (Greg Brown as Hades) them. It’s a story of temptation, love, and betrayal, and the music stimulates nonstop. Drummer Jim Black (AlasNoAxis, Tim Berne, Dave Douglas) is an interesting addition to the band, which also at times includes jazz musicians trombonist Josh Roseman and Nate Wooley.

In “Wedding Song,” we’re introduced to the protagonists as Orpheus tells Eurydice that their wedding will go on despite the hard times. Vernon performs in September with Richmond’s own Fight the Big Bull and North Carolina’s Megafaun at Duke University (Buy tickets).


Personnel: Anaïs Mitchell (Eurydice, acoustic guitar), Justin Vernon (Orpheus), Greg Brown (Hades), Ani DiFranco (Persephone), Ben Knox Miller (Hermes), The Haden Triplets (Fates), Jim Black (drums), Todd Sickafoose (producer, bass, piano, pump organ), Josh Roseman (trombone), Nate Wooley (trumpet), et al.

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Dean Christesen

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