Lucy In Blue is a new band from Iceland that plays music in a blend of the psychedelic and progressive rock of the 70's (Pink Floyd…). Creativity always goes hand in hand with inspiration and Lucy in Blue is clearly influenced and inspired by the great psychedelic progressive rock groups of the 70s. But that would not live up to the whole package alone: "The inspiration for our music is blowing in wind, constantly, under the sea, among the fish and nature, as blissful as morning sun. We aim to bring the primal nature out of people and help it reach harmonious equilibrium".
For his sixth recording, Turkish born pianist Fahir Atakoglu has gone retro, recalling the '80s contemporary New York City/Seventh Avenue South neo-bop, skunk funk, and fusion of the Brecker Brothers and Steps/Steps Ahead. Playing exclusively acoustic and not electric piano, he also employs the quite different sounding electric guitarists Mike Stern or Wayne Krantz on alternating tracks, adding Michael Brecker disciple Bob Franceschini, electric bass guitar pioneer Anthony Jackson, and the dynamic drummer Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez. Atakoglu attains the sound he seeks quite easily, a bit derivative, but exciting and refreshingly done some 25 years after the fact.
Jimmy Smith brought the Hammond organ into hard bop and jazz in the 1950s, and his piano-fast solo runs on the instrument have never been equaled. This warm set from Blue Note Records, the label where Smith built most of his impressive legacy, selects eight of his performances for the label, including a 20-minute (and ten second) version of "The Sermon," the bouncing "Back at the Chicken Shack," and a fun romp through "See See Rider," among other delights, making this a quick introduction to the peak creative era of this one-of-a-kind jazz artist's long career.
Fans of Kurt Elling have long known that his recordings, as clever and well-orchestrated as they might be, don't quite match up to the power and charm of his live performances. Years of holding court at the Green Mill and other Chicago clubs are what really have brought Elling his most devoted followers, so it is exciting to see that Blue Note's new Elling album is a document of three special nights spent recording at the legendary Uptown jazz club. And indeed, with a few small exceptions, the album shows off Elling at his best – loose, uninhibited, creative, and solid. His standard backing trio has never been tighter and more balanced, and the performance of pianist (and Elling collaborator) Lawrence Hobgood really shines.