The jazz music that got us through another year of the pandemic

Jazz music can have many moods and themes, but as we soon end our second year in a global pandemic, our hosts have turned to joyful and expressive music.

Feel the many vibes of the year through the best jazz songs of 2021, hand-picked – handpicked by CapRadio’s jazz hosts.

Mike LeDonne: “It’s all your fault” Rock with you

I can’t think of a contemporary musician who tells the story of jazz to his future better than Mike LeDonne. A versatile pianist and master of the Hammond B3 organ, LeDonne performs with passion, grace and fire.

Having worked with Milt Jackson and Benny Golson, LeDonne brings the influence of jazz masters such as Wynton Kelly and Jimmy Smith to a contemporary format.

His latest CD is dedicated to Dr Lonnie Smith. Mike works in both a quartet and a big band. On the big band treatment of Michael Jackson’s hit “Rock With You”, LeDonne’s organ burns with shear intensity. The swing arrangement is by Dennis Mackrel.

– Gary G. Vercelli, jazz music director

Louis Hayes: “Crisis” arab arabic

Born in Detroit, drummer Louis Hayes arrived in New York City at the age of 19 to join Horace Silver’s jazz group.

From his promising beginnings with this jazz master, Hayes has had a 60-year career supporting an elite group of jazz masters, including Cannonball Adderley, Oscar Peterson, Dexter Gordon, Kenny Burrell, Sonny Rollins and Woody Shaw.

On his latest album, Hayes – this time as a conductor – pays homage to several of his colleagues, including saxophonist Joe Farrell, who composed the simple cook “Arab Arab”. Also, on this track, saxophonist Abraham Burton and vibraphonist Steve Nelson take worthy solos.

– Gary G. Vercelli

Ray Obiedo: “The Latin Jazz Vol. 2 “- Viva Tirado

Veteran Bay Area guitarist Ray Obiedo has composed many satisfying originals on his latest project, working with some of the area’s top players including David K. Matthews, David Belove, Sheila E and David Garibaldi.

However, it is Obiedo’s moving treatment of Gerald Wilson’s cha cha cha “Viva Tirado” that steals the show. I’m sure the late frontman of the big band would approve of Obiedo’s update of this classic arranged here for a smaller band and featuring an excellent trumpet solo by Mike Olmos.

– Gary G. Vercelli

Brandee Younger: “Somewhere Different” – Complaint

The talented budding harpist’s second full-length album, Brandee Younger, is also her debut album on the Impulse! a record company. The classic history of the instrument certainly doesn’t prevent Younger from exploring jazz, rock and hard groove. The catchy rhythm of the first track, Reclamation, is undeniably full of floating lines and rich textures.

– Avery Jeffry, Jazz Animator

Emmet Cohen: “Future Stride” – Future stride

Emmet Cohen quickly became a fixture on the New York jazz scene. Thanks to Mack Avenue Records, he kicked off 2021 with a blast from the past and one rooted squarely in the Big Apple.

The Stride Piano is a style born out of the Harlem pianists of the 1920s. Cohen’s new treatment is both solid in tradition and refreshing and innovative. Check out the title track to see how responsive and fun his trio is with bassist Russell Hall and drummer Kyle Poole.

– Avery Jeffry

Christian McBride: “Living at Village Vanguard” – Stick and move

It wouldn’t really be one of my lists without a little bit of Christian McBride. It’s not difficult either, considering the volume of output from the legendary bassist.

This time around it’s another live from famous New York nightclub, The Village Vanguard, but with his band called Right inside. Saxophonist Steve Wilson, pianist Peter Martin, vibraphonist Warren Wolf and drummer Carl Allen together form a swing powerhouse with McBride.

My favorite track is the last in the series, Stick and move, because it offers a solo swap between bass and drums that will keep you on the edge of your seat for a good 5 minutes straight.

– Avery Jeffry

Samara Joy: “Samara Joy” – Stardust

Samara Joy’s eponymous debut album is particularly striking. The singer has just turned 22 and already has the grace and poise of a seasoned veteran. In this rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s classic “Stardust”, she eloquently demonstrates why this song is timeless.

– Andrew Mills, Jazz Announcer

Alexa Tarantino: “Firefly” – Moments of mindfulness

When saxophonist Alexa Tarantino crafted her third solo album in 2020, she wanted to capture the myriad of emotions surrounding the isolation so many of us were experiencing back then. She certainly accomplished this with “Firefly”.

This cut composed by vibraphonist and band member Behn Gillece helps us remember that as difficult as it was, there were often cracks of light that shone brightly through the darkness.

– Andrew Mills

Julian Lage: “Squint” – Study

Julian Lage is my favorite guitarist. His sound. His technique. His art. the unlimited and contagious joy it comes from the fact that he’s a guitarist – It’s inspiring.

There are a lot of fantastic tracks on his first Blue Note “Squint”, but this lead guitar opening cut shows everything I love about Julian Lage and more.

– Andrew Mills

Gretchen Parlato: “Flor” – Rosa

This is singer and songwriter Gretchen Parlato’s first release since 2013, and the wait was well worth the wait as this record is simply breathtaking.

“Rosa” is my favorite piece. The counterpoint between Parlato’s voice and Artyom Manukyan’s cello creates a hypnotic texture that is not often heard on an album called “jazz”. This music is a genre challenge and beautiful.

– Andrew Mills

Ada J. Kenney