I love any modern jazz project that has the potential to reach new audiences. Cover Art, the new recording from the NEXT Collective has interpretations of songs by Drake, Bon Iver, Dido, Pearl Jam, Kanye West and more. The collective Features rising jazz stars: saxophonists Logan Richardson and Walter Smith III, guitarist Matthew Stevens, keyboardists Gerald Clayton and Kris Bowers, bassist Ben Williams, drummer Jamire Williams, and special guest trumpeter Christian Scott (aka Christian aTunde Adjuah).
Billboard reported these as the Top Contemporary Jazz Albums of 1997:
- The Moment – Kenny G
- Sweet Thing – Boney James
- Dream Walk – Keiko Matsui
- Que Pasa – Gato Barbieri
- A Twist of Jobim – Various Artists
- Soulful Strut – Grover Washington, Jr.
- Breathless – Kenny G
- Caravan of Dreams – Peter White
- Beneath the Surface – Incognito
- Body and Soul – Rick Braun
This year’s top jazz albums are on the Billboard site. Looks like another good year for Tony Bennett.
In the earlier days of this site, I ran a top ten list of the most popular contemporary jazz at the time. This chart was based on sales and radio play. Here were the top 10 from December 5, 1997!
- Jonathan Butler, Do You Love Me?, N2K Encoded Music
- Bob James, Playin’ Hooky, Warner Bros.
- Boney James, Sweet Thing, Warner Bros.
- Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman, Black Diamond, Peak/Windham Hill
- Brian Culbertson, Secrets, Bluemoon
- Chris Botti, Midnight Without You, Verve Forecast
- Candy Dulfer, For the Love of You, N2K Encoded Music
- Joyce Cooling, Playing It Cool, Heads Up
- David Benoit, American Landscape, GRP
- Earl Klugh, The Journey, Warner Bros.
Sounds I’d expect from LTJ Bukem’s great label!
Review of the contemporary jazz recording Departure by Hiroshima by John Hilderbrand
I stopped writing reviews a few years ago. One of the major reasons is that I just didn’t have any new things to say. Fortunately, Hiroshima doesn’t have that problem. The group, led by Dan Kuramoto, continues to make their own East Meets West contemporary jazz. Departure, their 18th recording, is defined by its title. They are releasing this on their own. No record label marketing push or anything like that. They’re an indie band.
“Why Departure? Where do I begin? After more than 30 years in the recording industry — and almost four million records sold – we’ve decided to leave record companies behind and venture on our own,” Kuramoto explains. “It’s kinda scary, but given the changes in the music industry and what it’s now going to take for us to survive, we are moving toward direct contact with the community.”
A big part of reaching out to the community is putting content on one of the top three web sites in the world – Facebook. Hiroshima contributes frequently to their Facebook hub. One of the best things there is links to video commentaries by the band for every track on Departure.
What about the music? Kuramoto breaks it down: “It is a new beginning for us in many ways. The songs are all originals with just one guest artist, the incredible harmonica player Tetsuya “Tex” Nakamura, featured on the luscious opening track, “Have You Ever Wondered,” composed by June and Kimo. “Koto Cruise” is the second song and features a funky groove and a burning koto solo. “Blues for Sendai” is just that. There’s a tribute to our friend and mentor James Moody, who passed last December. It’s called “See You Again,” and there is a lot of ‘quoting’ from his “Moody’s Mood for Love.” After many years of requests, we have recorded our first full-on taiko solo ever, “Yamasong”–a live recording that really captures Shoji and Danny’s fierce interplay. “First Nation,” a composition by the Hawaiian Kimo Cornwell, is a powerhouse of a song embracing many cultures, as does our reincarnation of “Thousand Cranes.” The CD ends with a soulful version of “One Wish,” done as an acoustic trio.”
Consistent quality, a distinct sound, and longevity = win. If I were creating a Contemporary Jazz Hall of Fame, Hiroshima would certainly be an early inductee.