Music News 12/19/2018



Sarathy Korwar and the Upaj Collective, MY EAST IS YOUR WEST (Gearbox, 2 CDs, $15.99) – The London jazz scene is very exciting right now, and this Anglo-Indian jazz collective give their own spin on “spiritual jazz” classics written by John McLaughlin, Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Don Cherry, Ravi Shankar, Joe Henderson, Abdullah Ibrahim, and Amancio D’Silva.  The performances include Sanders and Leon Thomas’s “The Creator Has A Master Plan,” Coltrane’s “Journey In Satchidananda,” Henderson’s “Earth,” and Ibrahim’s “Hajj.”

Vikingur Olafsson, JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (Deutsche Grammophon, $14.98) – One of the best Bach albums of year, from the Icelandic pianist. He juxtaposes Bach (Aria variata BWV 989, for example) with transcriptions by Busoni, Wilhelm Kempf, Alexander Siloti (Rachmaninoff's teacher), and Olafsson’s own.



Charles Mingus, JAZZ IN DETROIT / STRATA CONCERT GALLERY 46 SELDEN (BBE Records, 5 CDs, $36.99) – Recorded on February 13, 1973, at the Strata Concert Gallery and never before issued on CD, this box set features Charles Mingus, bass, John Stubblefield, tenor sax, Joe Gardner, trumpet, Don Pullen, piano, and Roy Brooks, drums. Extensive liner notes and a poster are included.

Thelonious Monk, MØNK: LIVE IN COPENHAGEN 1963 (GBR, $14.99) – Recorded on March 5, 1963 at Odd Fellows Mansion, in Copenhagen, with Monk’s classic quartet: saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist John Ore and drummer Frankie Dunlop. Songs include “Monk’s Dream,” “Bye-Ya,” “Nutty,” “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” and “Body and Soul.”

 Sonny Clark Trio, THE 1960 TIME SESSIONS (Tompkins Square, 2 CDs, 17.98) – Pianist Sonny Clark recorded some classic Blue Note albums like Dial “S” for Sonny (1957), Cool Struttin (1959), Leapin’ and Lopin’ (1961), before his early death in 1963. In between these albums, and appearing as a sideman on other prominent Blue Note sessions, he recorded some trio tracks with George Duvivier on bass and Max Roach on drums. These sessions on the Time label are now re-issued.

More Sunnyside releases


Stu Mindeman, WOVEN THREADS (Sunnyside, $16.98) – Exploring his Chilean background, Chicago pianist focuses on songs by Violeta Parra and Victor Jara with vocalists Francesca Ancarola and Ana Tijoux singing in Spanish, and Kurt Elling with two songs inspired of Violeta Parra, with lyrics re-imagined in English by poet Tim Stiles. Guest instrumentalists include Marquis Hill on trumpet, Miguel Zenón on alto, and Makaya McCraven on drums, in the large ensembles.

Harriet Tubman, THE TERROR END OF BEAUTY (Sunnyside, $16.98) – Harriet Tubman is a trio of electric guitarist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs, and drummer JT Lewis, who can create a powerful, huge sound.

Their album from 2017, Araminta (with guest trumpeter, Wadada Leo Smith), was a standout. On their new album, they cover the sonic spectrum with originals like “Green Book Blues,” and a cover of “Redemption Song.”


My favorite new holiday album of 2018 is JD McPherson’s SOCKS (New West, $15.99), a roots-and-rockabilly set of original Christmas songs. The songs will have you dancing around the tree. Songs include “Hey Skinny Santa!” “Ugly Sweater Blues,” “Bad Kid,” and a great duet on “Claus vs. Claus” that gives equal time for Mrs. Claus.

Terry Gross had McPherson and his band on NPR’s Fresh Air with interview and live versions of some of the songs.

The group also did three songs on CBS This Morning’s Saturday Sessions, singing “Hey Skinny Santa,” “Claus vs. Claus,” and “All the Gifts I Need.”