Songstress Carol Fredette, veteran of the New York jazz scene, is out February 11 with her new album, a 14-tune collection called No Sad Songs For Me. Working with an all-star group of local musical talent, she puts her own stamp on classics from the likes of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin, in reliably cooking arrangements by bassist David Finck. Among the album’s highlights are the title song, a Finck original, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Chovendo Na Roseira,” and her take on “No Regrets,” a tune made famous by Billie Holiday, which closes the set.
The first point the liner notes of saxophonist Matt Criscuolo’s January release, Blippity Blat, make is that while Criscuolo is well known around Connecticut as the owner of a set of Italian eateries, he is nonetheless a “world class alto saxophonist.” Hyperbole aside, if his pizza is as good as his album, not only can Criscuolo play, it would be a good idea to make a reservation at one of his restaurants.
He writes some very interesting music as well. Of the 10 tracks on the new album, seven are his original compositions. The three outliers are “The Rock” by Larry Willis, Wayne Shorter’s “Dance Cadaverous,” and the Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin ballad classic, “My Ship.”
Leading a quintet that includes Willis on piano, John Clark on French horn, Billy Williams on drums, and Gerald Cannon on bass, they have a distinctive blend, a sound all their own. It is a sound I find particularly haunting in the ballads. Criscuolo’s “Inventiscovered” is a good example. But when it comes right down to it, they aren’t bad when it comes to the up-tempo stuff either.
Guitarist PJ Rasmussen’s follow up to his debut album Adventures in Flight is set for release on March 4, 2014. Adventure is the key word, as Rasmussen leads a kicking septet through an energetic set of exciting original compositions. His music can have an edge. At times it is just flat out gorgeous. He is quite willing to move in new directions. He is not ready to leave a path of destruction in his wake. This is jazz that recognizes its roots.
Highlights in the nine-tune set include “The Seven Seas,” a bolero “wannabe,” the spacey-themed “Out of Phase” and two absolutely lovely ballads—“Ruthie” and “For David” (which closes the album). This is not just a bunch of guys jamming. Individual solos are intended as integral to the whole. Rasmussen’s music is not about the individual. Rasmussen’s music, like the best in jazz, is about the ensemble.