Medeski, Martin, & Wood recently teamed up with guitarist John Scofield for their fourth album together as a quartet, Juice. As you might expect, the album features mostly hard-grooving tracks with plenty of Medeski on the organ. This time around there is more acoustic piano in the mix than in previous outings with Scofield, but otherwise these four have found a very comfortable groove and can run with it. They recently released their first video from Juice, for a tune they’re calling "Juicy Lucy" (presumably a play on "Louie Louie", which you can be excused for thinking this sounds like a cover of, even if it’s an old Cuban riff according to the artists). The video features two couples dancing in their home, one of which is Billy Martin’s parents, and intersperses some performance footage. Check it out after the jump.
There is nothing wrong with Jochen Rueckert's new album We Make The Rules. Rueckert is on the drums and is joined by a fantastic group of musicians - Mark Turner on sax, Matt Penman on bass, and Lage Lund on guitar - to round out his quartet. Rueckert has been based in New York City since 1995 and has played with many of the leading voices in jazz during that time (Kurt Rosenwinkel, Sam Yahel, Will Vinson, Mark Copland, and Seamus Blake, among others), but is a relatively low-profile name despite his top-notch chops on display here. This quartet has been together for several years and reconvened to record these songs in the studio after road-testing them and working out the kinks (in fact, Rueckert, Penman, and Turner also played on Rueckert's 2011 album somewhere, meeting nobody, along with guitarist Brad Shepik). All of the songs on We Make The Rules are Rueckert originals, and all of the tunes are very "contemporary jazz", if that is a reasonable term to use, giving the album a unified feel.
Europe is home to a thriving jazz scene and each year boasts an impressive number of fabulous jazz festivals which enable people of all ages to get involved with this popular and engaging music genre. With this in mind, here is my first-hand guide to some of the best jazz festivals to attend in Europe next year.
Houston-native trumpeter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Leron Thomas has been around the block quite a bit, and he certainly has had a busy year so far. His vocals have charmed the pants off folks singing alongside Zara McFarlane on "Angie La La" off If You Knew Her from earlier this year, and his work with Jason Moran in the Fats Waller Dance Party and Moran's latest album, All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller has been nothing if not eye-opening to how talented this man is. His voice and his horn exude a warmth and sweetness that should be celebrated all on its own. Now Thomas is doing so with the release of his new EP, Take It…. On it, Thomas is going a more experimental route, weaving and mashing his smooth voice with layers of sounds and electronic touches. It's so much more than a jazz release.