Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band
Season of Changes
(Verve). The vibe here is overwhelmingly a newer jazz. This sextet led by drummer Brian Blade has a big-plains feel, yet also dips into modernist jazz soloing, strutting rock, and classical patterns, creating a sound of its own.
(Tzadik). This mash-up of Jewish and Cuban music is exhilarating, combining klezmer keenings with slinky rhythms. Toronto-based trumpeter David Buchbinder joins with Cuban emigre pianist Hilario Duran for one rum-soaked matzo of a recording.
Pass It On
(Dare2) Wherever jazz is going, bandleader and composer Dave Holland will be among the first to get there. His progressive palette here ranges from soulful groove to free jazz, and he gives his players free rein, including the great pianist Mulgrew Miller, a welcome addition.
(Telarc). Japanese-born Hiromi Uehara, a crystalline pianist, pulls off a monster of a recording, focused largely on standards. The climax is her startling solo interpretation of "I've Got Rhythm," which argues convincingly that jazz lives.
(Blue Note). Guitarist Lionel Loueke is that most unusual of jazz musicians: the uncategorizable. The West African-born Loueke was soaked in samba from the Portuguese influence of his mother's village, while absorbing influences from King Sunny Ade to native Pittsburgher George Benson. The vibe of his Berklee-trained trio is leopard-light and Afrocentric with an overlay of modern influences.
Brad Mehldau Trio
(Nonesuch). It takes an air traffic controller to follow the pianist's flights on this live two-disc recording. Mehldau proves he can weave a groove as well as anyone. He finds intense lines in some remote corner of a long tune or piles on one note repeatedly.
Into the Blue
(Nonesuch). The first poignant tones make it clear that trumpeter Nicholas Payton is hitting a sweet spot, with a quintet that sounds as if it should be coming from the FM dial, late at night. The CD combines dreaminess with some serious playing.
Return to Forever
(Concord). Chick Corea's Return to Forever had three lineups from 1972 to 1977. It's the more popular, electric second group that is anthologized here. Think of it as an eminent progressive-rock band on soloing steroids.
The Remedy: Live at the Village Vanguard
(artistShare). Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and his working quintet of two years ago are captured at New York's Village Vanguard, making the kind of jazz that can change the way you think about the world - if only for the moment.
One for Shirley