By: Dave Rogers, WTJU
“Nearly 100 years after the Harlem Renaissance shook the world, there’s a whole new cultural and spiritual awakening in that corner of the jazz world. Organized by post-bop pianist Marc Cary, The Harlem Sessions (originating at Gin Fizz and now based at Smoke Jazz Club) invites musicians, poets, artists, philosophers and dancers to build and explore a new common repertoire with original ensemble arrangements.” (https://curtisnowosad.com/bio) Composer/drummer Curtis Nowsad moved from Canada to be a part of this scene and is currently one of the leaders of the movement. “This is his third release and it covers a variety of jazz styles and covers of “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” (Skip James), “See Line Woman” (Nina Simone) and “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” (Gil Scott Heron). The group includes Duane Eubanks (trumpet), Braxton Cook (alto sax), Andrew Renfroe (guitar), Jonathan Thomas (piano, Fender Rhodes, organ) and Luke Sellick (bass). Guests include Corey Wallace (trombone), Matthew Whitaker (organ) and vocalists Michael Mayo (whose beautiful wordless vocal brings a rich humanity to “The Water Protectors” and “Song 4 Marielle Franco”) and Brianna Thomas, who brings the burning soul-blues angles and edges to “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” and “See Line Woman.” Marc Cary guests on Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer and synth.” (Liner notes) This release demands our attention and thoughtfulness.