Joel Ross, Nublues, Blue Note ****

Already something of a veteran on Blue Note with this his fourth recording for the venerable label, vibist Joel Ross by dint of this and of course his considerable playing prowess can easily and already be seen as the most significant American …

Published: 1 Feb 2024. Updated: 26 days.

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Already something of a veteran on Blue Note with this his fourth recording for the venerable label, vibist Joel Ross by dint of this and of course his considerable playing prowess can easily and already be seen as the most significant American vibist of our time in the lineage of greats such as Milt Jackson, Bobby Hutcherson, Steve Nelson and Gary Burton. This new record has stand-out alto work from Immanuel Wilkins - the line-up also featuring pianist Jeremy Corren, bassist Kanoa Mendenhall, drummer Jeremy Dutton and a guesting Gabrielle Garo on flute. The album opens mournfully with 'Early' and procedes in solemn fashion leading beautifully into John Coltrane's 'Equinox' which certainly lays down its credentials fast. Most of the tunes are absorbing Ross originals and there's another Coltrane cover in 'Central Park West' and the other cover is Thelonious Monk's 'Evidence'. You can see how Ross positions himself - he's at the heart of the new tradition in transition keeping masters like Coltrane and Monk in mind, his own faith, and injecting his signal contribution into that mood, if you like a reaction to everything he knows. The blues he immerses himself in are never obvious. He's quoted as describing them as ''sort of a spirit or an energy, it's emotion, it’s expression. But I also want to stay true to the rhythmic ideations that we’ve already been developing.” He certainly does that. And once again the American delivers an album that has a lot of sophistication and makes sense in the tradition of what Blue Note Records is about. Standouts include 'What Am I Waiting For'. His best album to date? Probably - the blues, new or old, suit this remarkable player extremely well. Joel Ross, photo: Bruce Bennett. Out on 9 February. Some tracks are streaming ahead of release

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Track of the week: 'Moonray' by James Hudson

New track of the week is from singer James Hudson (above) and his new effortlessly swinging version of the Artie Shaw, Arthur Quenzer, Paul Madison classic 'Moonray' first issued in 1939. The song has been covered down the years by Shaw himself …

Published: 31 Jan 2024. Updated: 27 days.

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New track of the week is from singer James Hudson (above) and his new effortlessly swinging version of the Artie Shaw, Arthur Quenzer, Paul Madison classic 'Moonray' first issued in 1939.

The song has been covered down the years by Shaw himself with Helen Forrest and by Ella Fitzgerald, Dakota Staton and Claire Martin among many others. If you are into singers like Anthony Strong or Alexander Stewart you will be right at home with Hudson's approach and his terrific treatment of the standard has a fine, vibes, horns and rhythm section arrangement by saxist Tom Smith. It's the title track of his new album to be released in March.