Chris Washburne and the SYOTOS Band, "Fields of Moons," (Jazzheads, Inc.)
Touted as being the most important trombonist today, Chris Washburne not only leads SYOTOS but has toured throughout Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean, and is an establishing member of NYNDK. NYNDK is a Trans-Atlantic group uniting musicians from New York (NY), Norway (N) and Denmark (DK).
Washburne has always rebelled against being typecast, and you’re likely to hear the result of that on this album, which is built of Latin jazz with a postmodern mix and dissonance to create lullabies, ballads and love songs. The title song is the most dreamy, with drowsy horns and sleepy percussion – not the sort of song to listen to on your drive to work. Then there’s "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans," in which the listener gets drawn into a sad parade with a touch of humor, a song that tries to get energetic but lacks the heart – a clever and skilled composition.
Washburne has more than 150 recordings under his belt and is an associate professor of ethnomusicology at Columbia University as well as the founder and director of Columbia’s Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program.
Aside from several articles on salsa, jazz, and Latin jazz, he has written a book called "Sounding Salsa: Performing Latin Music in New York City" by Temple University Press. He also co-edited "Bad Music’ by Routledge Press.
For music samples, visit www.chriswashburne.com and click "Projects."
Susie Hansen, "Representante de la Salsa" (Jazz Caliente)
Chicago native Susie Hansen brings a new version of Cuban Charanga (a predecessor of salsa, often featuring the violin) to yet another CD, this her third, in a blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms and jazz. The CD showcases piano, bass, timbales and other instruments, but there’s no doubt that the star is Hansen’s electric violin, which is particularly engaging in "Vehicle."
A student of classical violin, Hansen also studied jazz and bebop with Charles Banacos, a legend in his field. She enjoys creating dance music or "aiming for the feet," as she likes to call it, and this CD is no exception. Working with her co-producer and co-writer Erich Bulling, she has put together a lively and upbeat selection.
Aside from those songs she co-wrote herself, there are some American classics in this mix ("Vehicle" and "Frank Sinatra Cha Cha Cha" – a medley of four hits) that manage to be true to the originals as well as finding their own distinct Latin sound.
Apart from Hansen, some of the notable contributions to this album are David Stout’s arrangement of Frank Sinatra tunes and Kaspar Abbo’s range – from mellow to rousing, he nails each song he sings.
-- For more information, visit www.susiehansen.com, click on "buy CDs," then "MP3 sound clips" for free samples of this CD and others
Yelena Eckemoff, "Cold Sun" (L & H Production)
Born and raised in Moscow, Russia, Eckemoff began playing the piano by age 4, and at the age of 7, she began attending a Gnessins 10-year school for musically gifted children.
She studied with Anna Pavlovna Kantor (who trained renowned pianist Evgeny Kissin) as well as Galina Nikolaevna Egiazarova; her studies were extensive.
In 1991, Eckemoff started living ermanently in the United States, where she continued playing concerts and composing music.
She sits at the piano with pencil and paper to compose, improvising as she goes.
With a background in classical style and further studies in rock, jazz, and world music, Eckemoff has joined her talents on this CD with Mads Vinding (double-bass) and Peter Erskine (drums).
Eckemoff reveals her love of nature on this album with an in-depth look at winter, which she captures in many facets.
The title song, which ends hauntingly, is a good introduction to "After Blizzard," while the brilliant "Stubborn" puts Vinding’s double-bass to truly creative use.
The less edgy "Romance by the Fireplace" is upbeat, even playful, a stark contrast to the ominous, moody "Silence" and the more cautious, sometimes capering dissonance of "Snow Bliss."
-- Street date for "Cold Sun" is Aug. 3. For more information, visit www.yelenamusic.com and click on "discography" for free MP3 samples of this and other CDs.
LEE AND J.J. MACFADDEN are twins living in Bristol, Tenn. E-mail them at email@example.com