Tenderly is a highlight of Ben Wendel's extraordinary All One

José James' best work in a while is one of the many successful elements of Kneebody saxist Ben Wendel's All One. We loved the classic José groove monster Trouble and think that the American (born Minneapolis, 1978) is one of the great jazz attuned …

Published: 10 Mar 2023. Updated: 14 months.

José James' best work in a while is one of the many successful elements of Kneebody saxist Ben Wendel's All One. We loved the classic José groove monster Trouble and think that the American (born Minneapolis, 1978) is one of the great jazz attuned and beyond singers of our times (often inhabiting soul, R&B and funk areas in addition) particularly good on interpreting the glories of the Bill Withers songbook for instance. The setting here captures his exquisite artistry so suitably.

His best album that we know remains 2008's The Dreamer - dig the version of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's 'Spirits Up Above' with the late, great Junior Mance spectacular on piano that makes your shoulders rock side to side - on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood label.

Very memorable live we heard José most optimally and formidably at Ronnie's and scaled up over in Chalk Farm at the Roundhouse during the iTunes festival era - warm love in the room from the standing crowd that night. We also caught him with the iconic McCoy Tyner and Chris Potter at the Barbican.

Hearing 'Tenderly' on the upcoming record, the classic Jack Lawrence and Walter Gross ballad recorded in 1947 by Sarah Vaughan, it is natural to listen to Sassy's version afterwards and certainly there's continuum and individuality. The approach resonates.

Wendel's record (Edition, 21 April) from which it is drawn is overall a thrill, the voicings of the arrangement and ensemble blend alert and bright. To riff on Rahsaan there's no need at all to question feeling the spirit up above in the slightest. SG

MORE READING AND LISTENING:

Ben Wendel, photo: All One sleeve detail

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Vinnie Sperrazza, Ethan Iverson, Michael Formanek, Saturday, Fresh Sound ****1/2

Recorded at Van Gelder's in September 2021 thank your lucky stars if you find this gem. Maureen Sickler's sound is incredibly warm, the piano particularly coming over like a living breathing thing. Ethan Iverson is at his very best - go for …

Published: 10 Mar 2023. Updated: 14 months.

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Recorded at Van Gelder's in September 2021 thank your lucky stars if you find this gem. Maureen Sickler's sound is incredibly warm, the piano particularly coming over like a living breathing thing. Ethan Iverson is at his very best - go for 'Veiled Promise' for its magisterial quality and 'A Place Where Nothing Happens' which is a masterclass in stillness and repose in the initial piano solo. Drummer Vinnie Sperrazza (born Utica, New York in 1979) is very open - reminiscent of Jeff Williams here and when he goes up tempo on 'Sunday' again.

Communicative and in one of the ultimate examples of radical art (which jazz of course still is) containing the ability to use the unradical (ie sweet centre tonalities) to its curatorial advantage mainly achieved harmonically by what double bassist Michael Formanek brings to the table - his oblique sense on 'Just Forget It' is fantastic and Ethan does a rubato thing that makes you feel as if the ground has started shifting beneath your feet.

There's a lot to love here - 'Stephen Paul' at the beginning is very 1970s Jarrettonian - Formanek's arco feature on 'Hyman Arluck' is beautiful. I'll not bang on: Put it like this I couldn't wait to hear it again and again. 'Saturday' has a cheerfulness to it you gain on say a Gene Harris (The Three Sounds) record. Tunes are Sperrazza's and excellent they all are because they make sense. They all are easy to digest but are never trite. The sprawling 'Ellipsis' is a little less effective. Sperrazza says in the notes that the Motian homage 'Stephen Paul' the great drummer's first and middle names is ''a blues in D with 3 themes''; 'Don't Mention the War' is a Basil-ism from Fawlty Towers and that '''Hyman Arluck' is the name by which Harold Arlen was known at the beginning of his life. The melody tries to depict the pain of the early-20th century Jewish diaspora.''

'One Hour' is also on an earlier Sperrazza album Juxtaposition dating to 2017 on which Bruce Barth gone with the Gonz as well winningly, in recent years out and about, is the pianist. SG

Out today

Vinnie Sperrazza, photo: via Fresh Sound

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Vinnie Sperrazza on The Jon Dryden Trio's Walk Away Renee - 2021

Michael Formanek with Peter Formanek on Dyads - 2021

Ethan Iverson interviewed - 2019

Regarding 1970s Keith Jarrett referred to above given the quality of the Paul Motian homage [Motian the drummer in what is Jarrett's usually-referred-to American Quartet with Dewey Redman and Charlie Haden] there is an incredibly moving and brilliant Rick Beato video interview with Keith here as the great one continues his post-stroke recovery.