Each month, CapRadio’s jazz hosts bring you the tracks that have stuck with them this month to give you a peek into their own music libraries. This month, we have an Ear to Ear playlist blog full of homages to the great John Coltrane and featuring a song that our hosts loved so much, two of them picked it for their list.
We're bringing you a slew of new releases and new takes on old favorites this month, and as always, you can find the full playlist on our Spotify page.
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Gary G. Vercelli
“Naan Issue” — Steve Khan
On his new album, “Patchwork,” guitarist Steve Khan reimagines a jazz classic from Ornette Coleman, Bobby Hutcherson, and Joe Henderson in Latin tempos. But it’s Khan’s original song “Naan Issue” that stands out as a progressive portrayal of a cha-cha-cha. Khan locks in with veteran drummer Dennis Chambers and percussionist Marc Quinones to develop a danceable groove that serves as a launch pad for Khan’s fertile guitar improvisation.
Correction: A previous version of this blog misidentified Dennis Chambers. It has been corrected.
“Easy Love” — Sara Gazarek
When Don Heckman wrote that Sara Gazarek “may well turn out to be the next important jazz singer” in the Los Angeles Times, he was spot on! On her sixth album, “Thirsty Ghost,” Gazarek sparkles with effortless phrasing in delivering popular material.
On “Easy Love” — a tune she wrote with Larry Goldings — Stu Mindeman on piano and Goldings on organ provide a soulful background for Gazarek’s fresh, confident voice.
“You’re Gonna Hear From Me” — Veronica Swift
Only 25 years old, Veronica Swift has already headlined major jazz festivals and toured as a featured vocalist with Wynton Marsalis. Swift comes from a fine pedigree. Her father is pianist Hod O’Brien; her mother, jazz vocalist Stephanie Nakasian.
On her debut album, “Confessions,” her dynamic range and confident delivery bring to mind the best qualities of Anita O’Day and Betty Carter. On Andre Previn’s “You’re Gonna Hear From Me,” Swift swings hard with able support from pianist Emmett Cohen. Make no mistake, Swift is the real deal!
“Giant Steps” — Poncho Sanchez
Conguero and Latin jazz master Poncho Sanchez has just released a new album as a bandleader with Concord Recorded Music. This time, it's in tribute to one of the greatest jazz saxophonists of all time, John Coltrane. The album is called “Trane's Delight,” and it features a few of Coltrane's classic compositions re-imagined, as well as some originals.
One of those classic compositions on the album is “Giant Steps,” and it just happens to be my favorite. Normally, covers of this song don't stand out to me, but this one was very refreshing. It must be something about those wonderful, rolling congas. Watch out for solos by Andy Langham on the piano and Robert Hardt on the saxophone.
“You’re Gonna Hear From Me” — Veronica Swift
Note: Our hosts loved this track so much, they picked it twice! Jazz Music Director Gary Vercelli also picked this song as one of his favorites.
It's hard not to be impressed by jazz vocalist Veronica Swift. She performed at Lincoln Center when she was just 11 years old, after all. Her debut release on Mack Avenue, “Confessions,” proves that she certainly hasn't lost any steam.
She's backed by two separate piano trios, one led by Emmet Cohen and the other by Benny Green. That should be enough to warrant a listen by itself, but Swift remains the star the whole time. The album is full of standards, as well as a few of her own tunes.
Each one is as expressive and evocative as the next, but my favorite has to be the first track, Andre Previn's "You're Gonna Hear From Me." It's catchy and powerful at the same time, something Swift seems to do very well.
On Sept. 27 Impulse! Records released “Blue World,” a new album from jazz legend John Coltrane. Recorded in 1964 as a soundtrack for French Canadian director Gilles Groulx’s film, “Le chat dans le sac,” the album contains never before heard renditions of some classic Coltrane compositions, including “Naima” and “Like Sonny.” In celebration of this exciting new release, I am sticking to a John Coltrane theme for this month’s playlist.
“Giant Steps” – Tommy Flanagan
Tommy Flanagan was, without question, one of the great jazz piano masters of the 20th century. However, in 1959, when confronted with the revolutionary chord changes and breakneck tempo of the title track from John Coltrane’s iconic album “Giant Steps,” Flanagan was taken by surprise.
As the story goes, Flanagan went into the recording session with the expectation that the song would be a ballad. From the moment ‘Trane counted off the tune, however, Flanagan was clearly struggling. This is most apparent when listening to his infamously sparse piano solo on the original recording.
Flanagan was able to redeem himself in 1982 with the release of his tribute to Coltrane, “Giant Steps (In Memory of John Coltrane).” Having the opportunity to lead his own trio – and about 20 years to prepare – Flanagan effortlessly plays through Coltrane’s music with the poetic fluidity that made Flanagan famous.
“26.2” – Jakob Dinesen & Kurt Rosenwinkel
Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and Danish saxophonist Jakob Dinesen bring a more modern approach to this Coltrane composition on their 2002 album, “Everything Will Be All Right,” which won album of the year in Denmark.
Dinesen has a more lyrical tone compared to the ferocious confidence that came out of Coltrane’s horn. However, his exceptional improvisational skill is abundantly clear as he moves through these difficult chord changes. Rosenwinkel is one of the great modern jazz guitarists and an absolute master improviser. He fearlessly tackles this piece of music as if he had been playing it for decades, but he was only 31 years old when he recorded it. This is, without a doubt, one of the better interpretations of Coltrane’s music in the last 20 years.
“Blue World” – John Coltrane
There isn’t a great deal more to say about this. It’s the title track from Coltrane’s new album, and an opportunity to experience something new from Coltrane and his classic quartet in their prime. Enjoy!