John Coltrane with Eric Dolphy
Evenings At The Village Gate

When newly discovered performances by John Coltrane are released, several questions come to mind. Does the “new” music add to the innovative saxophonist’s legacy, is it well recorded, and how does the set rank with his other recordings of the era?

Evenings At The Village Gate has music taken from two nights during a month- long residency by the Coltrane Quintet at New York’s Village Gate in August 1961. At the time the Coltrane group with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Reggie Workman, and drummer Elvin Jones was joined regularly by Eric Dolphy (alto, flute and bass clarinet) and, on certain nights, second bassist Art Davis. The recording quality from these recently unearthed tapes is pretty good for a live album of the period with the five lengthy performances clocking in between 10 and 23 minutes.

While these energetic and inventive versions of “My Favorite Things” and “Impressions” pale next to the more definitive renditions, the Village Gate set also includes three numbers that Coltrane played much less frequently. “When Lights Are Low” was performed as a feature for Dolphy on bass clarinet. Happily Coltrane also stretches out on that number on soprano. His only other recording of it was with the Miles Davis Quintet in 1956. He played “Greensleeves” frequently during 1961 in a manner similar to “My Favorite Things,” stretching out at great length on a vamp. It was recorded for his Africa/Brass project at the Village Vanguard in Nov. 1961 with Dolphy, and on his Ballads album but in both cases the music was not released until years later. “Africa” was the centerpiece for the Africa/Brass album which featured Coltrane with a large ensemble but this is the only version ever released of him playing it with his working group. The lengthiest performance of the set, “Africa” has Coltrane and Dolphy creating some junglelike sounds during the theme (a device that they and several brass instruments created on the studio recording) and features a drum solo from Jones.

While Dolphy adds some variety to the music, he tended to sound more at home on his own sessions (where he could perform his own music) and with Charles Mingus where his very original conceptions could be heard sailing over fairly straight ahead chord structures.

Coltrane’s music of the time was labelled “anti-jazz” by a few of the more conservative jazz critics and, one can understand some of their criticisms since there are intense stretches where the horn solos go on a bit long and where one is waiting for something to happen. This is not bebop and familiar chord sequences are largely absent. However the chance taking aspects of the music, the often-hypnotic drones, and the sheer energy of the performers as they break the musical sound barrier are often irresistible.

John Coltrane collectors will certainly want to pick up this intriguing CD which also includes a booklet that has insightful interviews with Reggie Workman, engineer Rich Alderson (who recorded the dates), Lakecia Benjamin, and Branford Marsalis. The more general collector should acquire Coltrane’s My Favorite Things and Africa/Brass albums first since they are more accessible and concise. Becoming familiar with those studio albums from the period adds to one’s understanding of how John Coltrane’s live performances differed from his studio dates during his rapid musical evolution. Evenings At The Village Gate is available from and

Antonio Adolfo
Bossa 65

While Antonio Carlos Jobim is easily the best known of the Brazilian bossa-nova composers, he was not the only major talent in the early 1960s movement. On Bossa 65, pianist Antonio Adolfo leads a nine-piece group that interprets five songs apiece by Roberto Menescal and Carlos Lyra. Menescal, who is best known for his song “O Barquinho (Little Boat),” had a guitar school with Lyra in 1958, led one of the first bossa nova bands, and was both a record producer and a talent scout for the Polygram label. Lyra, who was also a singer, had his first song recorded in 1954 and was an early friend of Jobim’s. Both composers are still alive today.

During the past decade, Antonio Adolfo has recorded a series of rewarding Brazilian jazz albums. On Bossa 65 he is joined by tenor-saxophonist Marcelo Martins (who plays very effective alto flute on “Marcha Da Quarta-Feira De Cinzas”), trumpeter Jesse Sadoc, trombonist Rafael Rocha, altoist Danilo Sinna, guitarist Lula Galvano, bassist Jorge Helder, drummer Rafael Barata and, on some selections, percussionist Dada Costa. The musicianship is top-notch and Martins and Sadoc in particular take consistently exciting solos.

The songs, while born as bossa-novas, are not necessarily played that way on this set although the gentle Brazilian rhythms are part of the feel. Some of the music is fairly straight ahead and “Maria Moita” is Afro-Cuban jazz. Adolfo’s arrangements include plenty of mood and tempo variations. The charts and the musicians do justice to these often-obscure but rewarding melodies. Adolfo, who includes the familiar “O Barquinho” in the repertoire, sprinkles the set with concise and sparkling piano solos.

I imagine that both Roberto Menescal and Carlos Lyra are pleased with Bossa 65. This easily recommended set is available from

Sonny Clark
The Complete Blue Note Sessions

Sonny Clark (1931-63) was one of the top young modern jazz pianists to emerge during the 1950s. He was influenced and inspired by Bud Powell, Hampton Hawes and Horace Silver and was part of both the West Coast cool jazz scene during the first half of the 1950s and New York’s hard bop sessions during the remainder of his short life. Clark recorded pretty prolifically (both as a leader and a sideman) without becoming a household name except among his fellow musicians. A heroin addict by the mid-1950s, he died of an apparent overdose when he was only 31.

Clark led 11 albums in his life, some of which were released years after his death. His posthumous albums for Xanadu and Uptown were early live sets not originally meant to be released. Other than a trio studio album for Time in 1960, all of his other albums as a leader, eight in all (counting a set of singles), were made for Blue Note. All of the Blue Notes are reissued on this Mosaic six-CD Lp-size limited-edition box set which as usual for the classy label has a definitive booklet; the notes are by Bob Blumenthal. None of the performances were previously unreleased but some were originally released by Japanese labels and not put out in the U.S. for many years.

Included on The Complete Blue Note Sessions are the albums Dial S For Sonny, Sonny’s Crib, Sonny Clark Trio, Cool Struttin,’ Singles Session, Blues In The Night, My Conception, and Leapin’ And Lopin.” Other than the last album which is from 1961 were recorded during 1957-59. Clark’s groups range from trios to a sextet with the sidemen including trumpeters Art Farmer, Donald Byrd and Tommy Turrentine, trombonist Curtis Fuller, tenor-saxophonists Hank Mobley, John Coltrane (on Sonny’s Crib), Clifford Jordan, Charlie Rouse and Ike Quebec, altoist Jackie McLean, guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassists Wilbur Ware, Paul Chambers, Jymie Meritt, and Butch Warren, and drummers Louis Hayes, Art Taylor, Philly Joe Jones, Pete LaRoca, Wes Landers, Art Blakey and Billy Higgins. With that lineup of young greats, it is not surprising that the music on this box is dominated by driving forward-looking hard bop.

Balancing originals with occasional standards and including 51 songs plus ten alternate takes, the performances are often classic. Even taking into consideration the pianist’s many appearances elsewhere as a sideman, this box set essentially contains most of his musical legacy. While his early demise was tragic, Sonny Clark left behind many timeless performances that sound as exciting and inventive today as they did over 60 years ago.

There is no point in hesitating in acquiring the limited-edition Sonny Clark’s Blue Note Sessions which is available from

Freddie Bryant
Upper West Side Love Story
(Tiger Turn)

Guitarist Freddie Bryant’s recent two-CD set is an ambitious effort. The song cycle through its music and the vocals of Carla Cook tells the story of Bryant’s life living in a neighborhood in New York that is similar to the one depicted in West Side Story. It is both nostalgic and realistic, covering the joys and hardships experienced while growing up, the music that he heard, relationships, the gradual deterioration of the area, and his decision to finally move away in 2019 after 54 years.

Bryant utilizes an all-star group consisting of Ms. Cook, violinist Regina Carter, Gwen Laster on viola, cellist Akua Dixon, Steve Wilson on alto, soprano and flutes, Donny McCaslin on tenor and soprano, bassist John Benitez, and drummer Alvester Garnett. While the story is an important thread throughout the performances, most of the individual selections also hold their own by themselves. A highlight is “Always Be Aware” which is an uptempo jam session romp through rhythm changes that features a heated tradeoff between Wilson, McCaslin and Carter.

While Freddie Bryant is generous in featuring the other musicians (Wilson’s flute playing is particularly outstanding as is Carter whenever she appears) and this is one of the best showcases for Carla Cook in years, his own guitar is a strong asset throughout the set, even when it is in the background. In addition, Bryant’s occasional vocal interplay with Cook works well.

Upper West Side Love Story, which contains straight ahead jazz, Latin-flavored music, post-bop explorations, adventurous transitions, and enough unexpected moments to keep one continually stimulated, is well worth exploring. I would love to see this work (available from presented live someday.

Gunhild Carling
Good Evening Cats!

To call Gunhild Carling remarkable is an understatement. Not only is she a fine jazz singer (whether scatting or embracing a ballad), but she is equally skilled as a hot trumpet and trombone soloist who can hold her own with the best of either instrument. A real entertainer who puts on exciting and good-humored shows, she is masterful at playing New Orleans jazz, Dixieland, and swing, is a fine songwriter, and can also play recorder, flute and even bagpipes in jazz settings.

All of those elements are on display on Good Evening Cats. She is joined by pianist Billy Stritch, bassist Steve Doyle, drummer Daniel Glass and, on various selections, by two daughters (trombonist Idun Carling who also takes a vocal and soprano-saxophonist Nanna Carling), her husband Johan Blome on banjo, her niece Viggo Blome on clarinet, Jason Bellenkies on alto and tenor and, on three songs, a pair of violinists.

Gunhild Carling wrote six of the ten selections. She begins the set in spectacular fashion with “Good Evening Cats,” a rollicking number that has the same chord structure as “Moten Swing” and “You’re Driving Me Crazy.” She sings the happy vocal and contributes a colorful trumpet solo. On the slow ballad “My Lovin’ Heart Can’t Forget,” she puts plenty of feeling into the words and also makes an expressive statement on trombone. “Mack The Knife” includes a recorder solo (in the key of B!) and some rollicking ensembles. The singer sounds like Billie Holiday on the bittersweet “Love Song From The Attic” but Lady Day could never have played the hot trumpet that one hears on the romping “Million Stars Are Out Tonight.” The second half of the set, which includes “La Vie En Rose,” Jobim’s “Wave,” and two excellent originals, continues at the same high level.

Good Evening Cats is a highly enjoyable release from a unique artist who everyone should know about. It is available from and

Scott Hamilton
At PizzaExpress Live
(PX Records)

Scott Hamilton has been a major swing-based tenor-saxophonist since his arrival on the major league jazz scene in 1976. Virtually all of his recordings are excellent and his output has been remarkably consistent. His main musical goal throughout his career has always been to get together with fine musicians and play some good songs. Hamilton has never lost his enthusiasm for playing swinging tunes and he plays seven excellent ones on this 2022 live set, the very first release by the new PX label.

Hamilton is joined by pianist John Pearce, bassist Dave Green, and drummer Steve Brown for a pleasing set recorded live at the PizzaExpress Jazz Club in London where he first performed back in 1979. He used the same rhythm section 20 years ago for a recording for the Concord label. Among the highlights are a relaxed 12 ½ minute version of “Poinciana” (which of course utilizes the drum rhythm from the famous Ahmad Jamal recording), “Blue ‘n’ Boogie”

which has four-bar breaks at the beginning of Hamilton’s first four solo choruses, and a lengthy “The Girl From Ipanema” that finds the tenor good-humoredly quoting a lot of different songs.

Although he has grown and developed through the years, Scott Hamilton is quite recognizable as the young tenor who was a major force in the comeback of small-group swing in the 1970s. At PizzaExpress Live, available from, will be enjoyed by his many fans.

JM Jazz World Orchestra
Jazz Pops/Pop Swings
(Planet Arts)

Jazz has been an international music ever since at least the early 1920s when jazz recordings started becoming widely available. And from its earliest days, in addition to original pieces, it has “borrowed” songs from the commercial music world and transformed the more promising tunes into creative jazz.

The JM Jazz World Orchestra (considered the world’s premiere international youth jazz orchestra), directed by its artistic director Luis Bonilla, consists of young musicians from Brazil, New Zealand, Israel, Scotland, Austria, Germany, Finland, Spain, the Czech Republic, Croatia, North Macedonia, Costa Rica, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovenia, Italy, and two from the United States. One wonders what language they use to communicate during rehearsals!

The music on Jazz Pops/Pop Swings (which was recorded in Croatia) includes four originals by Bonilla and such unlikely material as Carl Perkins’ “So Wrong,” George Michael’s “Fast Love,” “Where Is The Love,” and “Tapestry.” However the original sources soon become irrelevant because what one hears is an excellent 21-piece big band (including occasional vibes and percussion in addition to two singers) swinging their way through inventive arrangements with high musicianship and colorful ensembles.

Five songs include vocals (four by Patricija Sko who is best on “So Wrong”), and while two of those (Greedy” and “Fast Love”) have r&bish dance rhythms and “Tapestry” is taken pretty straight, the spirit of the band and its fine soloists compensate. Among the individual stars are trombonists Joan Codina Cuso and Richard Sandra, trumpeter Miles Lujan, altoist Lucas Figueiredo Santana, and tenor-saxophonist Ori Jacobson but there are many other excellent soloists throughout the set. Particular standouts are “Where Is The Love” and the colorful arrangement of “Sco” which alternates between New Orleans brass band rhythms and cooking sections.

Since the JM Jazz World Orchestra is based in Europe, it is not that well known in the United States but it should be. Jazz Pops/Pop Swings ( shows that that orchestra can take its place among the best jazz big bands around today.

Louis Stewart & Noel Kelehan
Some Other Blues
(Livia Records)

SOME OTHER BLUES | Louis Stewart Noel Kelehan | Livia Records

While one does not think of Ireland as one of the jazz centers, it has spawned several world-class improvisers. Guitarist Louis Stewart (1944-2016) was a bop-based soloist inspired by Barney Kessel and other 1950s style players who played as well as anyone in that idiom. He recorded with top American and European players, played with Benny Goodman for three years, toured with George Shearing for several years (recording eight albums with the pianist), and also made albums with Tubby Hayes, Spike Robinson, Clark Terry, Joe Williams and J.J. Johnson in addition to making at least 26 recordings as a leader during 1975-2016.

On Some Other Blues, Stewart, plays a set of duets with Noel Kelehan (1935-2012). In addition to being a talented jazz pianist, Kelehan was the long-time conductor of the RTE Concert Orchestra.

This previously unreleased and unknown session from 1977 features the duo performing Kelehan’s beautiful ballad “I Only Have Time To Say I Love You” and eight standards. Among the many other highlights are the uptempo versions of “Yesterdays,” “Minority” and “I’ll Remember April,” a tender rendition of “If You Could See Me Now,” and a hard-swinging version of John Coltrane’s “Some Other Blues.” Also featured are “You Stepped Out Of A Dream,” “Some Time Ago” and a partly tongue-in-cheek version of “Singin’ In The Rain” which has Kelehan hinting a bit at both stride piano and Oscar Peterson.

While there are moments during this set when one thinks of the Bill Evans-Jim Hall duet albums, the music is actually more bop-oriented and filled with hot double-time guitar lines. Listening to the close communication between the two masterful players who knew each other as far back as the 1960s, it is surprising to discover that this was the only time that they ever recorded together. 46 years later, the musical magic is definitely still there from these two brilliant Irish jazz musicians.

Some Other Blues is available from

Mira Choquette
In Reel Time

Mira Choquette began singing jazz when she was 18 in Montreal, inspired and mentored by pianist-composer Andres Vial. She made her recording debut in 2015 with Something Cool but then went to law school, became a lawyer, got married, and moved to Toronto. Eventually she managed to find time to start singing again in jazz clubs, moved to Mexico during the pandemic, and has since returned to singing on a more regular basis. In Reel Time is her third and arguably finest recording to date.

Accompanied by pianist Ewen Farncombe, bassist Josh Goldman, and drummer Morgan Childs, Mira Choquette is in top form during a well-rounded set of diverse music. “No Moon At All” serves as a solid introduction to the singer. On “Just One Of Those Things” she begins with the rarely-performed verse, really cooks during the choruses, and engages in some heated scat-singing that is reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald. “Love Crime” sounds like it is a standard from the 1940s but the swinger is actually her original. Among the other selections is an uptempo “What Is This Thing Called Love,” Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed,” the Harry Belafonte calypso “Jump In The Line,” a Jacques Brel number that she sings in French, and one of Nat Adderley’s best compositions, “The Old Country.”

Mira Choquette excels on each of these pieces, consistently bringing joy, insight and honest feeling to her interpretations. She is a jazz singer well worth discovering. In Reel Time is available from

Jeff Babko & David Piltch
The Libretto Show

Pianist-keyboardist Jeff Babko has spent most of his life based in Southern California. Along the way he has toured with Julio Iglesias, drummer Simon Phillips, Robben Ford, and Larry Carlton. Babko has also performed extensively with pop artists (including Sheryl Crow and James Taylor), written film scores, and worked on television including more than 15 years with Jimmy Kimmel.

As a jazz pianist, he has led six albums. The Libretto Show is a set of acoustic duets with bassist David Piltch who, like Babko, has long been part of Los Angeles’ music scene and been involved in a countless number of projects.

The duo performs seven numbers on their CD. Babko’s soulful piano on Dr. John’s “Dorothy” is reminiscent of the New Orleans pianist’s style. “Fair Enough” is in a similar vein while Piltch is showcased on Denny Zeitlin’s “Quiet Now.” Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ballad “Ligia” has violinist Songa Lee as a welcome guest.

The program closes with three of the pianist’s originals. “Souvenirs Of Hollywood” has a complex chord structure but finds the composer effortlessly sounding soulful. “Brethren From Methren” features the duo swinging while “Blue And Red” is a bit avant-garde; it is a piece that sounds like something Ornette Coleman might have written in his early days. Babko’s melodic playing hints a bit at Keith Jarrett.

When one considers Jeff Babko’s resume, it may be a bit surprising that, in addition to everything else, he is a very skilled jazz pianist. Although it may be a temporary departure from his day-to-day activities, The Libretto Show (available from sounds like he is returning to his true love.

Alex Weitz
Rule Of Thirds
(Outside In Music)

Alex Weitz is an impressive tenor-saxophonist who is still near the beginning of his career. After graduating from the University of Miami’s Frost School Of Music, he appeared on an album with singer Ashley Pezzotti (a CD that also included pianist Emmet Cohen), recorded his first two projects as a leader (Chroma and Luma), and became an educator.

On Rule Of Thirds, Weitz is joined by pianist Tal Cohen, bassist Ben Tiberio and drummer Michael Piolet on most of the selections. Emmet Cohen guests on piano during three numbers, guitarist Yotam Silberstein and drummer Ari Hoenig are on two songs apiece, and trumpeter Marcus Printup makes his presence felt on one piece. The set consists of eight Weitz originals plus “Love For Sale.”

The opener, “The Hive,” sets the standard for what is to follow. It has a complex theme but swings and features some powerful tenor playing. “Nocturne In C Sharp Minor” is a moody medium-tempo ballad rather than a classical piece. Weitz sounds quite individual on tenor and Silberstein has a fine solo. On “Rude Awakening,” the intense music fits its title and, Cohen contributes some passionate piano. “Harlem Lullaby” is a change of pace for on that thoughtful piece, Weitz’s long tones often hint at Stan Getz; Cohen’s inventive and very expressive piano almost steals the show.

Of the other selections, the high energy “Odyssey,” a boppish “Convent Court” with Printup, and a modernized “Love For Sale” (which utilizes an eccentric rhythm several times) are among the highpoints.

Alex Weitz’s Rule Of Thirds is an excellent introduction to the promising tenor-saxophonist and a fine example of today’s modern mainstream jazz. It is available from

Mark Sherman
With Freedom
(Miles High Records)

The multi-talented Mark Sherman is equally skilled as a jazz pianist and vibraphonist, and he has also been employed as a classical percussionist. Along the way he has worked with a large number of major names including Peggy Lee, Kenny Kirkland (as a drummer), Kenny Barron, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Brecker, Larry Coryell, and Joe Lovano.

With Freedom is Sherman’s 20th album as a leader or co-leader. The modern straight ahead set features him splitting his time between piano and vibes while performing in a quartet with the impressive young tenor-saxophonist Sam Dillon, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, and drummer Johnathan Blake. They interpret five originals by the leader, one by Dillon, “I’ll Wait And Pray,” and the 1930s standard (made famous by Bing Crosby) “Love Thy Neighbor.”

While Okegwo and Blake provide solid support, the main focus is on Sherman and Dillon. They co-star on such memorable numbers as the high-powered “Third Eye Vision,” a swinging “Love Thy Neighbor,” the warm ballad “Fanny O” (which has a memorable melody), Sherman’s energetic jazz waltz “My Open Heart,” and a Tranish “Transcendence.” Sherman is quite generous in featuring Dillon throughout the set, having him take the first half of the closing ballad “I’ll Wait And Pray” unaccompanied.

With Freedom is a fine showcase for both Mark Sherman (as a pianist, vibraphonist and composer) and the up-and-coming Sam Dillon. It has many bright moments and is available from