Black Art Jazz Collective, Armor of Pride (High Note Records)
Half of the Collective’s members are leading lights among jazz artists in their forties and early fifties. They include trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery and pianist Xavier Davis. The younger trombonist James Burton III, bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Jonathan Blake blend into a modern mainstream sextet inspired, at least in part, by Wayne Shorter’s writing during his Art Blakey period (and since) and by Miles Davis’s pre-electronic bands. Among the highlights are Escoffery’s title tune alternating intricate passages with floating ones and featuring his burly tenor solo. Throughout, Pelt’s trumpet solos soar and dip. Increasingly impressive as a composer, Pelt contributes a pair of ballads: “And There She Was, Lovely As Ever” and “Pretty,” which lives up to its name. With his witty improvisation on Davis’s “When Will We Learn,” trombonist Burton reinforces his growing reputation. On the same piece, Davis reminds us what a substantial piano soloist he is, and has been since his 1990s debut with singer Betty Carter.
Lynn Arriale Trio, Give Us These Days (Challenge)
Attention to this superior piano trio album may go to Arriale’s covers of pieces by Joni Mitchell, Lenon & McCartney and Tom Waits. Using “Woodstock,” “Let It Be” and “Take It With Me” as bases for her interpretations makes musical and promotional sense, but her title tune, the accurately named “Slightly Off-Center” and the delightful “I Got Rhythm”-ish original called “Over And Out” demand equal, if not greater, attention. Dutch bassist Jasper Somsen and drummer Jasper Van Hulten complement Arriale’s rhythmic flexibility and harmonic imagination. The album was recorded in Belgium except for the final track, a quiet, reflective version of Waits’s “Take It With Me” sung by Kate McGarry accompanied only by Arriale’s sensitive piano.
I keep going back to “Over And Out” and enjoying the fun that Arriale, Somsen and Van Huten have with it.
More Listening In Brief to come. Stay tuned.