Jazz: Summer 2023

Monarch Jazz Recommendations

Aline Homzy

The gifted jazz violinist Aline Homzy spent ten years making her debut album. These eleven memorable tracks are well worth the wait. The Montreal native is backed by her group, Aline’s étoile magique, with vibraphonist Michael Davidson, guitarist Thom Gill, bassist Dan Fortin, drummer Marito Marques, and special guests accordionist João Frade and vocalist Felicity Williams. Drawing from influences including Ellington, Mingus and Monk, Homzy writes serious music imbued with a sense of fun. A range of studio effects and added instruments like the theremin enhance her vivid sound world, bringing the music into keen, exhilarating focus. Éclipse is an important debut from a seasoned artist with a singular vision taking the jazz violin into dazzling new territory.

Photo credit: Good Job Hi Five

Edward Simon
Femeninas: Songs of Latin American Women

Latin American women songwriters have long written affecting, beautiful tunes. Venezuelan pianist, composer, and arranger Simon wisely turns his attention to those creators on his beautifully performed, emotionally deep new album. Simon’s trio with bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Adam Cruz is joined by percussionist Luis Quintero, guitarist Romero Lubambo, and the great Mexican vocalist Magos Herrera, whose work on the shimmering “Gracias a la Vida” and the spirited “La Flor de la Canela” breathes new life into these classics. Simon’s deft arrangements provide solid support for Herrera’s artistry, transitioning the tunes seamlessly into a chamber jazz idiom. The album also features Simon’s stirring, three-movement “Latino Soy.” Full of artful curation, dazzling performances, and simply wonderful music, Femininas is a brilliant album, and Edward Simon is one of the most important artists exploring the intersections between jazz and Latin American folk music.

Photo credit: Goren Sarriegui-Simon

Ivan Lins
My Heart Speaks

Resonance Records delivers another wow with a release showcasing music by legendary Brazilian artist Ivan Lins backed by a 91-piece symphony orchestra. The palatial sound is enhanced by a powerhouse lineup that includes trumpeter Randy Brecker and vocalists Dianne Reeves, Jane Monheit, and Tawanda. Lins’s own fervent voice sizzles on tunes like the politically charged “Corpos” and the elegant ballad “Renata Maria.” As with all Resonance releases, the liner notes, in this case written by award-winning music journalist James Gavin, enhance the experience of the music. My Heart Speaks is a soaring, gorgeous album that gives Lins the majestic due he deserves.

August in March

“Three as one” is a good motto for this collective Brooklyn trio with saxophonist/trumpeter Caleb Wheeler Curtis, bassist Noah Garabedian, and drummer Vincent Sperrazza. With a connection that seems to verge on telepathy, the trio’s seamless interplay allows it to move as a single sonic entity. Within that extraordinary tightness, the individual voices rise to a high level of creativity and originality. Whether it’s an evocative composed piece like Garabedian’s “Snake Tune,” the ruthless pulsing bass of Curtis’s “Flotation Device and the Shivers,” Sperrazza’s tribute to soul legend “Sam Cooke,” or an intricate free improv, the music always leaves you wondering what’s going to happen next. Ember is exactly what a jazz trio should be, and August in March is a riveting album.

Photo credit: Adrien Tillmann

Javon Jackson
With Peter Bradley

Jazz-inspired painter Peter Bradley, the first Black art dealer on Madison Avenue, brings rhythm, spontaneity, and sheer creativity. Tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson does a marvelous job of reflecting Bradley’s spirited work in his original soundtrack for a documentary about the artist. Jackson’s thrilling score, performed with trumpeter Greg Glassman, pianist Jeremy Manasia, bassist David Williams, and drummer Charles Goold, veers from brawny hard bop to poignant ballads, displaying a wide compositional palette. The emotional musical portraits are flawless, and the interwoven nods to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Art Blakey, Bradley’s favorite jazz icons, are ingenious. The soundtrack alongside four tracks recorded during sessions for Jackson’s 2022 release with the great poet Nikki Giovanni make for a stunning album.