As part of Blue Note's 60th anniversary gala, Benny Green was invited to record a selection of his favorite tunes from the label's venerable catalog. Green picked eight songs previously recorded by the likes of Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Joe Henderson, and Dexter Gordon, then he recruited bassist Christian McBride and guitarist Russell Malone. Together, they recorded These Are Soulful Days, a splendid tribute to the glory days of Blue Note, when excellent hard bop musicians ruled the roster. Like the classic albums from the late '50s and early '60s, These Are Soulful Days clocks in at an economical 45 minutes and feels intimate. All eight songs were recorded directly to two-track, giving the music an immediate, vibrant feel.
Guitarist Stanley Jordan (the master of tapping, making his instrument sound like two or three at once) has a wide definition of standards, ranging beyond jazz. His second official Blue Note release therefore not only includes "Georgia On My Mind" and "My Favorite Things," but Paul Simon's "The Sounds of Silence," "Moon River," the Beatles' "Because," and "Silent Night." But no matter what the tune, the main reason to acquire this set of unaccompanied guitar solos is to hear how here remarkable and versatile Jordan's technique is.
Swing and Soul is an album by jazz saxophonist Lou Donaldson recorded for the Blue Note label and performed by Donaldson's Quintet with Herman Foster, Peck Morrison, Dave Bailey, and Ray Barretto.
So Far So Close is the fourth studio album by Brazilian jazz artist Eliane Elias. This album is great. It is mainly straight ahead jazz with touches of fusion due to the use of synthesizers along with her fantastic piano playing. Like most of her earlier albums her signing is minimal and mainly adds another musical sound more than anything else. Surprisingly, this album has barely a hint of Latin or Brazilian flavor.
This concert was originally intended to be a video release showcasing Stanley Jordan in acoustic, electric and solo settings. His tight rhythm section – including Jeff "Tain" Watts on drums, Kenny Kirkland on piano and Charnett Moffett on bass – drives his complex and moving guitar playing through the standout acoustic tracks "Impressions" and "Cousin Mary," both by John Coltrane. But concert highlights are Jordan's two solo pieces, the bluesy "Willow Weep for Me" and classic show tune "Over the Rainbow," where he performs with an exhilarating freedom and virtuosity. Jordan resists the temptation to slip into the then-ubiquitous smooth jazz sound, making this a timeless release.
This trio set with bassist Charnett Moffett and drummer Kenwood Dennard features the tapping guitarist Stanley Jordan during a typical live show from 1990 playing many songs that he had previously recorded. While "Stairway to Heaven" is treated as very credible rock and "Lady in My Life" gets funky, "Autumn Leaves" really cooks and Jordan fares well on "Stolen Moments" (during which he does a strong imitation of a keyboard) and "Impressions." Jordan's lone original, the rock-ish "Return Expedition" is, at 15 minutes, way too long and serves primarily as an opportunity for his two fine backup players to take lengthy solos. Jordan's unaccompanied display on the concluding "Over the Rainbow" compensates. An interesting program.
Magnetic marks Terence Blanchard's return to Blue Note Records after an eight-year sojourn in which he wrote and performed large scale works for film, and cut smaller group offerings for Concord. He utilizes his fine live band in the studio here – tenor saxophonist Brice Winston, drummer Kendrick Scott, dazzling pianist Fabian Almazan, and 21-year-old bassist Joshua Crumbly. Bassist Ron Carter guests on a pair of tracks, as does saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, while guitarist Lionel Loueke plays on three. Blanchard composed four tracks here, and the members of his quintet all contributed selections – Almazan even has an unaccompanied solo piece on the record.
Successful instrumental debut session from the electric violinist who was a dominant figure at Blue Note in the late '70s. Pointer could at times churn out a surprisingly riveting solo, but he spent more time plugging into rigidly arranged, heavily produced and orchestrated structures and supporting background vocalists.