New and Noteworthy Music

Written by

Tom Harrell   Number Five   High Note

Tom Harrell is a veteran jazz trumpeter with many albums to his credit.  His latest shows him at his best.  It features top performers like saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, and drummer Johnathan Blake.  It is jazz at its finest.

Aha! Quintet     Freespace     Jazz Compass

Another fine new jazz cd, very straight ahead and accessible, featuring a fine pianist from the midwest, Steve Allee, along with Bob Sheppard playing reeds and flute.  Another LA-based musician, Steve Houghton, plays drums.

Heiner Goebbels          Stifters Dinge       ECM

If you want something deconstructed and far out, this is the album for you.  Veteran German avant-gardist Goebbels has put together a musical concoction featuring five mechanical pianos, water, wind, fog, rain metal, stones, ice, and texts from Claude Levi-Strauss, and Malcolm X.  It’s more of a soundscape than music,  very dada and wild.


Jaki Byard   “Two Different Worlds” from his 1964 album Out Front!        Prestige

This is one of the most beautiful and beguiling ballads I’ve ever heard.

Sathima Bea Benjamin      A Morning in Paris    Ekapa

I’ve known about this South African jazz singer for a long time, but I never heard this early album from 1963 until very recently, as I was preparing to moderate a panel with UCLA professor Robin D.G. Kelley,  author of the recent study Africa Speaks, America Answers.  This will take place at UCLA’s wonderful Fowler Museum on Thursday, August 9th.   Kelley profiled Sathima in his new stufy.  Benjamin, wife of pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand), made this album very early in her career, and she has a clear, pure, and utterly innocent vocal style and delivery.  I’m reminded of early Abbey Lincoln’s early work for Riverside Records.  With no less than Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Dollar Brand on piano.    I was smitten.