Jazz Rising Edition: Greg Ward Presents Rogue Parade, Ilhan Ersahin, Brandee Younger & Theon Cross
Greg Ward Presents Rogue Parade: Stomping Off From Greenwood
As we get into the summer months, it always feels like a good time to take stock of the excellent jazz releases of the year so far. The genre continues to get twisted into new shapes by a host of up-and-coming talent pushing the boundaries. In that light, a great place to start this week is with Chicago saxophonist Greg Ward who has assembled the band Rogue Parade filled with equal talents. The group makes some serious magic on Stomping Off From Greenwood, showing off a progressive sound of guitars, bass and drums to go along with Ward’s sax. It’s an ecstatic blend, spiritual and rocking, utterly accessible while still excitingly exploratory. Like the best of ‘em, the Rogue Parade transcends genre — this is just great music, period — on a must-listen record.
Ilhan Ersahin: Silver
From Chicago to New York City, where there is no shortage of excellent musicians pushing the boundaries of the genre on a nightly basis. Head to Nublu in the East Village and you might find club owner Ilhan Ersahin on stage in a deep, late night improv. Part space voyage, part groove, his new album Silver captures that anything-goes improvisation quite nicely, Ersahin’s saxophone augmented with a killer band of Eddie Henderson on trumpet, Juini Booth on bass and Kenny Wolleson on drums. The group just clicks the way you want them to, finding a pocket one moment and a direct trajectory off the planet another. A+ jams, get you some.
Brandee Younger: Soul Awakening
While we’re in NYC, let’s check out one of the more exciting young voices in jazz today. I had the opportunity to catch a set from harpist Brandee Younger this past weekend and she kind of blew me away. Her newest release, Soul Awakening captures her spirit and her voice nicely, even though it was recorded several years ago. The harp is such a magical instrument and Younger manages to invoke the ethereal wonder in the sound while bringing it to a really interesting and irresistible place. Backed by drums and bass, and a selection of horns throughout, Younger is a revelation of composition, beauty and groove. This is not one you’ll want to miss. I think you’ll dig.
Theon Cross: Fyah
As great as the jazz scenes in New York and Chicago are, perhaps the most exciting new jazz (or “jazz”) continues to come out of the U.K., a veritable firehose of phenomenal new groundbreakers. So, when I say this is the best album from a tuba player you’ll hear this year, I’m not just being cheeky. Theon Cross delivers one nasty record in Fyah, a raging groove-rock that fits in with collaborator Shabaka Hutching’s output quite nicely. Cross is a revelation of genre-mashed sound, rocking and funky and altogether electric. Seriously, you don’t want to skip this one, he’ll make a tuba lover out of you, no doubt. Enjoy!