Logo of Half Notes


Photo of CD cover

The wonderful singer Sharon Jones passed away last year. She was a dynamo on stage, singing and dancing around the stage with her band, the Dap Kings. She was immediately a fan favorite and was booked constantly for gigs. She was a hit at the Playboy Jazz Festival when she kicked off her high heel shoes to be more comfortable on stage. Her career began later in her life but she managed to accomplish a lot before she became ill with cancer. She had been working on a new recording and now it’s available, titled Soul of a Woman . Look for it in a record store or ask them to order it for you.

Photo of CD cover

Pianist Yuko Mabuchi has a CD out which is titled Yuko Mabuchi Trio. She‘s accompanied by Del Atkins on bass and drummer Bobby Breton. Mabuchi is very talented and has a genuine feel for the way jazz is structured yet free. The recording was done at the Brain and Creativity Institute’s Cammilleri Hall at USC. Mabuchi is accompanied by Del Atkins on bass and Bobby Breton on drums. Her taste in music is impeccable. The material on the CD include “What Is This Thing Called Love,” “On Green Dolphin Street,” “St. Thomas.” There is a medley of tunes which includes “All the Things You Are,” “Take the “A” Train, and “Satin Doll,” all very popular jazz tunes. That medley is complimented by another, Japanese Medley, which includes “Hazy Moon,” “Cherry Blossom” and “Look at the Sky. “ Mabuchi can swing like crazy, as needed. She also embraces her Japanese roots with polished tunes that mean a lot to her. Randy Bellous is the Executive and Billy Mitchell served as Associate Producer. Mabuchi is at the beginning of her career here in L.A. but we hope that she will be making more appearances around town because she knows what she’s doing.

Photo of CD cover

Just in time for the holidays is David Ian’s new CD titled Vintage Christmas on Prescott Records. Ian produced and arranged all the material. Ian plays piano and his cohorts are Jon Estes on upright bass, drums & percussion are handled by Josh Hunt. The trio format is almost sacred in jazz. So much can happen in a trio and it’s the base for adding other musicians & instruments. There are ten classics on the CD, most are very popular and amenable to being “jazzed up” by the trio. You can’t go wrong with such tunes as “Joy to the World,” “White Christmas,” “Deck the Halls,” “Silver Bells” and “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” This CD is a fine addition to any jazz collection. We enjoyed this one a lot.

Photo of CD cover

Some CD’s to consider: Jane Ira Bloom plays the soprano saxophone, lives in the East Coast and consistently finds inspirations for new CD’s. Her latest is Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson. She’s also the producer of the CD so it’s exactly the way she wants it. Joined by Dawn Clement-piano, Mark Helias-bass, Bobby Previte-drums and Deborah Bush-voice, Bloom is ready to explore new ideas with her own original compositions, except one, which is “It’s Easy to Remember” by Richard Rogers & Lorenz Hart. Poetry is not always easy to understand so the brain has to work harder to feel it. But, sometimes the clarity is breathtaking. Musicians and vocalists can make something new, different, compelling. “How many Flowers fall in Wood, or perish from the Hill-Without the privilege to know That they are Beautiful….”Creativity from talented artists is beautiful.




Photo of CD cover

Most big band fans know and adore arranger/composer Sammy Nestico. He’s been an icon, an inspiration for many musicians over the years. A Cool Breeze is a new issue by the SWR Big Band. From the liner notes: written in German and English, “The music he wrote for the SWR Big Band sounds funky, has elements of fusion, but by the same token has elements of swing, a pinch of soul and the emotionalism of orchestral expression.” The project took place because of the modern day miracles of computers and Skype. At age 92, Nestico was not keen to travel to Europe, so recorded pieces were sent to his computer in San Diego. Nestico was thrilled with the outcome. He said, “We have already made four records, but this one here is the best, without a doubt!” That’s good enough for fans of big band jazz. We bet that the recording could be ordered on the internet!.





Photo of CD cover

The Eric Ekstrand Ensemble has recorded Standard Delivery for Perserverance Records. The CD is jam packed with sturdy editions of well-known, well-loved tunes. Ekstrand sings, plays piano and arranged 16 classic tunes with three ensembles. His core team of himself, drummer Frank Wilson and Mark Rowland on alto sax & flute are joined by different sidemen for different tunes. This becomes high level swing, jump and blues. There’s plenty to enjoy: “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Beyond the Sea,” “What a Wonderful World,” “ Hey, Good Lookin,’” “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “Up a Lazy River” “Knock Me a Kiss” plus more. A very enjoyable example of great American classics, that make dancing hard to resist. For more info see ericekstrandmusic.com .




Photo of CD cover

Tenor saxophonist Adam Larson calls New York City his home base now, but his roots are in the midwest so he travels to the Second City, Chicago to work. He met some good people there, including bassist Clark Sommers, who introduced him to pianist Rob Clearfield. Drummer Jimmy McBride was a long time associate. The Title of Larson’s new CD is Second City. Larson has written seven original tunes for the group, based on everyday inspirations. His young son inspired “Out the Window.” The band gives out a lot of energy on the aptly titled “Breakout.” As a teenager Larson did hear “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at a jazz festival, but never realized that it was a tune by Nirvana. He had to arrange the tune into a jazz anthem. There are eight tunes on the CD and Larson has done a good job of expressing his ideas clearly with strong support from his sidemen. It’s on the Inner City Music.




Get out and hear some good music…