Stanley Cowell’s name is unfortunately overshadowed by some monster pianists (say Hancock, Corea, Jarrett), but his playing is well worth seeking out. His work on the keyboard has been sampled for some well-known hip-hop songs (admittedly, this was my introduction to Cowell), but his work in a purely jazz context more than stands up. His contribution to jazz is important for his composition and playing, but also for his founding of the Strata-East label, home to many important albums that otherwise would never have seen commercial release (though few of Cowell’s own records as a leader were released on Strata-East). In my column on "Jitterbug Waltz", I included Stanley Cowell’s mind-blowingly good solo piano version of the tune, and in this column I’ll look at Cowell’s signature composition, "Equipoise".
2013 marked the 40th anniversary of Herbie Hancock's landmark album, Head Hunters. The album made a huge splash in the jazz waters that has made ripples that continue to spread to this day. So back in December, keyboardist Jesse Fischer put together a tribue show at Brooklyn's ShapeShifter lab that was truly a night to remember, or at the very least record for posterity. Fortunately, Fischer did and he's bit by bit releasing the video footage of that evening-- the first of which popped up this week. Watch Fischer and his band featuring the great Dr. Eddie Henderson covering Hancock's "You'll Know When You Get There", completely capturing Hancock's essence of cool here, after the jump and keep your eyes peeled for more videos from this incredible evening.
Square Orange sounds like the future, though that's rather the point. Bassist Bob van Luijt's group spent over a year with this group making this album, largely made up of his three-part The Core suite, with his love of sci-fi as the central inspiration (think along the lines of Ben Allison's latest album, superb compositions, instrumentation, and theme all aligned). The result of this work is three quarters of an hour of adventurous work that's a fun listen without being jarring, interesting but accessible. It's music that tells a story more than words ever could. Take a trip with Square Orange after the jump.
The superduo of Brad Mehldau, likely one of the most influential jazz pianists of our time, and Mark Guiliana, hands down one of the best drummers around, are soon to release their new album, Taming the Dragon, February 15 on the Nonesuch label. The album marks new territory for Mehldau who spent much of last year touring with Guiliana while playing assorted keyboards and exploring new sounds, and the two certainly sound comfortable together. It's a pairing that makes a whole lot of sense and makes the anticipation for the album all the stronger. To get a taste of what this is all about, check out the new video of Mehliana performing "Just Call Me Nige" live at Los Angeles' famed Largo back in October of last year after the jump.
BADBADNOTGOOD spent much of 2013 laying in wait. After bursting onto the scene almost four short years ago and dropping banger albums on us all throughout 2012, bassist Chester Hansen, drummer Alex Sowinski, and keyboardist Matt Tavares spent much of last year working on their next release, III, letting their spacey new sounds cook and simmer. Now, after a long wait interspersed with touring and signing to the Innovative Leisure label, the Toronto trio have finally released a new song this morning-- the cloudy "CS60". It's a song that pushes these guys in a spacier direction akin to Portico Quartet or Bonobo (though not as mechanical as Dawn of Midi), a vibe that isn't stormy as it is more a gentle shower during a 73°F April afternoon with just a hint of thunder rolling in the distance. Give it some play after the jump and stay on the lookout for BBNG's third album which the group describes starkly enough as "full of different sounds" to release later this year.