Ben Flocks – Mask of the Muse (West Cliff) – This tenor saxophonist induced similar feelings to Charlie Parker with Strings from the ‘50s. That’s a certainly lofty company and there are no strings on this album but keyboards and guitar providing a similar ambiance in a tight quintet instead. It’s marvelously dreamy, romantic, and at times soulful. Turn off all the lights. Put on your headphones and fall into dreamland. Oh, set it on repeat. You may stay there for hours.
Brian Lynch Big Band – Omni American Book Club (Hollistic Music Works) – Lynch, one of the top and most versatile trumpeters in jazz, demonstrates an immense range and breathtaking understanding of jazz’s many idioms, as a soloist, composer, and arranger. His big band compositions and arrangements are adorned with special guests Regina Carter, Dafnis Prieto, Dave Liebman, Donald Harrison, Orland “Maraca” Valle and Jim Snidero. With these nine compositions, Lynch pays tribute to several authors with exciting big band music, some of the most fully realized you’ll hear.
Catherine Russell – Alone Together (Dot Time) – No artist has the musicologist knack for capturing the best music of the twenties through the fifties and make it sound so vital and so true to its origins. It would be difficult to find a singer of Russell’s caliber in terms of range, versatility, emotion, and unerring phrasing. She’s a master at what she loves – blues-infused jazz tunes.
Vivian Sessoms – Life II (Ropeadope) – Jazz-influenced with elements of R&B, spoken word, and hints of classical. Sessoms is a vocalist and composer who likes to push the boundaries. There is an immediate sense of urgency on this one amidst both the vibrant and mellow R&B. Sessoms is fearless, not shying away from some of the most difficult emotional subjects to write about, especially “I Can’t Breathe,” as emotional as any song you’ll hear.