Mark Turner (sax), Larry Grendier (bass), Jeff Ballard (drums) have worked together for years on each of their own albums. Their group Fly have recorded only two albums. Sky & Country is their second and finds the band in fine form. Sky & Country is an excellent introductory lesson for anyone interested in jazz. A beautiful, relaxing and magnificent performance from a group that knows each others every move.
Badi Assad has over 10 albums (including collaborations). She is an accomplished guitarists who also sings in both English and Portuguese. Her most recent album Wonderland is a real jem. Wonderland was produced by famed world music producer Jagues Morelenbaum and features a duet with fellow Brazilian superstar Seu Jorge. This isn't your typical world music record by any standard. It is a jazz pop record that is perfect for any day of the week. If you are a fan of Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Milton Nascemento and Bebel Gilberto, Wonderland is a great choice for your CD player or iPod.
Hard to believe this is Roy Hargrove's 17th album. He has been recording as leader for 20 years and hasn't made a bad record yet. Emergence is a big band album that lives up to big band standards. His choice here was to employ young sessions musicians that he has performed with over the years. So this has very fresh sound of accomplished newcomers coming into their own under a brilliant leader.
One future legend performing the music of a legend--sounds good to me. If you buy any record in the next couple of months I would highly suggest Fred Herscch Plays Jobim. This is music of Brazilian jazz legend Carlos Jobim performed for the piano in magnificent fashion. Hersch pours the usual introspective joy into this mixture of well known and lesser known Jobim compositions. A definite candidate for one the top albums of the year.
The real surprise for me so far this year is how much I'm enjoying this album. Julian Lage plays guitar like his been doing it for 40 years. He is only 19! Lage has already performed with fellow guitar greats, Carlos Santana, Pat Metheny, David Grisman and Martin Taylor. He is currently a member of New Generations led by Gary Burton (vibes). Sounding Point is his debut album and it is quite intriguing. At first I was not expecting much from a first outing but Sounding Point has blown me backwards by how impressive Lage's playing has come in just a few years on the scene--gentle, emotional and effective.