Fall favorites and new offerings

Samara Joy
Courtesy of Verve Records
James on Jazz

Although snow is here, we are still in fall and I’ve been thinking of my favorite version of the song “Autumn Leaves.”  

I can’t help but think of saxophonist Cannonball Adderly’s rendition with Miles Davis, Hank Jones, Sam Jones and Art Blakey. It’s the first song on Adderly’s album “Somethin’ Else.” That version is really one of the best versions that I’ve ever heard. If you’re looking for great jazz albums, this masterpiece is it.

This fall season brings a great bounty of new jazz releases and concerts to check out thus far. For example, from Savant Records there’s tenor saxophonist JD Allen’s album “Americana, Vol.2.”

Guitarist Charlie Hunter, bassist Gregg August, and drummer Rudy Royston are featured on this album. August and Royston are long-time colleagues with Hunter now joining them. Allen says, “Charlie’s music brings light to me as a listener. When we met, we found out that we grew up in different areas of the country, but our experiences happen to be very similar. That’s Americana right there. I wanted that on this record.”

Also from Savant Records is the new release from trombonist Conrad Herwig entitled, “Conrad Herwig: The Latin Side of Mingus.” Joining Herwig is special guest Randy Brecker with long-time “Latin Side” band colleagues pianist Bill O’Connell, reedman Craig Handy and the trumpet/flugelhorn of Alex Sipiagin with the rhythm section of Luques Curtis, Robby Ameen and Camila Molina. 

“Boogie Stop Shuffle,” “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love,” and “Better Get Hit in Your Soul” are among the track list.

Herwig has received four Grammy nominations for his highly successful series of recordings that “latinize” the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Horace Silver. Now that he’s turned to Charles Mingus, there’s a good chance he could earn even more Grammy glory.

Celebrating fall birthdays are a couple of my favorite jazz artists: pianist Vijay Iyer and vocalist Dianne Reeves. Both are coming to town soon. Iyer, whose birthday was Oct 26, performed at the Dakota on Nov 3. Over the years I’ve enjoyed his albums, “Solo” (Act Music), “Break Stuff” (ECM Records), and “In What Language?” (Pi Records). The Dakota with its warm intimacy and all is the perfect place to hear him.

Reeves also celebrated her birthday on Oct 23. The 66-year-old is returning to the Twin Cities on Nov 30 at Orchestra Hall for Big Band Holidays with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

The concert features Reeves, a five-time Grammy winner, along with 22-year-old emerging vocalist Samara Joy, who performed at the Dakota this past June. Expect soulful renditions of holiday classics, entertaining storytelling, and some swing for sure.

Joy’s new album is entitled “Linger Awhile” (Verve Records) and is getting plenty of praise from critics. Some think she sounds like a young Sarah Vaughan. I can hear that, too, but she’s definitely got a sound all her own. 

Joy was a jazz winner at the first annual Jazz Music Awards presented Oct. 22 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia. Visit the Jazz Music Awards website for more information.

Hopefully, you’ll get the chance to enjoy these beautiful late-autumn days by getting cozy at home and listening to new albums or getting out and experiencing some good live jazz music. Either way, you can’t lose as there’s a lot to choose from so far this season.

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