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 Jazzwise Choices, Jazzwise Editor's Choices - February 2023

Lakecia Benjamin
Pictured: Lakecia Benjamin (Photo by Elizabeth Leitzell)

Jazzwise Editor's Choices from the February 2023 issue include new music by Lakecia Benjamin, Xhosa Cole and Rebecca Nash, as well as reissues and archival releases from Monty Alexander, Benny Goodman and Masahiko Togashi.

New Releases

Lakecia Benjamin

"Rhythmically, Benjamin’s songs move coherently from heavy, funky backbeats to zestful swing to Dolphy-like avant-blues, and her punchy, high-energy attack and growling, rasping tone lend authority and momentum to the material, which is helmed by a fine rhythm section."

Available Format: CD

Lakecia Benjamin

Available Format: 2 Vinyl Records

Xhosa Cole

"Difficult second album syndrome? Not for Xhosa Cole, the multi-award-winning Birmingham-based saxophonist whose bold artistic vision was given wings on his 2021 debut K(no)w Them, K(no)w Us and soar to even greater heights here."

Available Format: CD

Xhosa Cole

Available Format: 2 Vinyl Records

James Brandon Lewis Quartet

"There is an added intensity to what the group does on stage, especially when they take the tempo down, primarily because there is such a carefully paced, tightly controlled energy in the life cycle of each piece, and Lewis proves himself to be a master ballad player many times over."

Available Format: 2 CDs

Dave Liebman

"Liebman is not trying to prove anything, but plays with the accumulated wisdom and experience of a saxophone master and that is enough, with Monder and Herbert there to support him this could indeed be his best album yet."

Available Formats: MP3, FLAC

Rebecca Nash

"Inspired by saxophonist John O’Gallagher’s tone-row theories of 12-tone improvisation the pianist used the combination of mathematics, science and music as the basis of compositions derived from the atomic numbers of various chemical elements. Far from a dry exercise in musical structure, however, the result is a deeply satisfying and diverse series of pieces combining a strong melodic integrity with fine solo performances."

Available Format: CD

Rebecca Nash

Available Format: 2 Vinyl Records

Courtney Pine

"Courtney's Pine's Spirituality comes at us like a soul-cleanse, a reminder to take stock and practice gratitude. Supported in part by a string quartet and throughout by the elegant piano stylings of Zoe Rahman – with whom he collaborated on 2015's similarly stripped back Song (The Ballad Book) – Pine's bass clarinet playing is a masterclass in control, nuance and authenticity."

Available Format: CD

Sebastian Rochford, Kit Downes

"The drummer’s memorable succinct child-like themes are fertile springboards for the outstanding pianist Kit Downes, another current UK artist on the ECM roster, who delicately investigates them with a sharpened spatial awareness and calmly imaginative poise while the drummer-leader takes on a modest supporting role for the large part."

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Jason Rebello & Tim Garland

"The exposition of each original composition is orchestrated in a way that often sounds more than two voices, and on occasion a closely voiced piano chord with Garland’s sax evokes the sound of an old polyphonic synth. The duality of the written and the improvised is powerfully exploited, though contrast or blurring the distinction between the two so that the written seamlessly gives way to the improvised and vice versa."

Available Format: CD

Reissues & Archive

Monty Alexander

"Opening with a stunning 1995 solo performance of Alexander’s original ‘The Serpent’, there’s immediately no doubt that this latest Montreux collection lives up to the standard of previous collections by other artists from the festival that appeared under the aegis of its late founder Claude Nobs."

Available Format: CD

Monty Alexander

Available Format: 2 Vinyl Records

Benny Goodman Orchestra

"The result is an exciting melange of old and new, quintet pieces alongside full band items, familiar material versus new stuff, swing mixed with bebop, the clarinet boss sounding animated and interested throughout, even as he sits out a few numbers."

Available Format: CD

"Recorded in Paris in a trio setting, this is a contemplative session, with Togashi adopting a textural rather than an overtly rhythmic position, and more than holding his own alongside two free jazz A-listers."

Available Format: CD

Available Format: Vinyl Record