Dennis Gonzalez Jnaana Septet | The Gift of Discernment | Not Two Records

Trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez has been responsible for some beautifully realized music on record in the past and this is a worthy addition to the canon. The music’s full of that often difficult to define quality called life, shot through with a group conception which makes for a realization which is simultaneously both tight and loose. The presence of percussionist Alvin Fielder provides a kind of link with the percussive workouts of the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, and it’s that aesthetic which pervades the first four minutes of the opener, “Raise The Spirit,” before Chris Parker’s piano strikes out for territories new with Aaron Gonzalez’s bass hinting at harmonic possibilities. Singer Leena Conquest adds a further facet when she comes in and the gradualism of approach has the effect of enticing the listener in on the promise of new vistas. They come to the fore on “Ganesha The Spy,” where Parker’s piano sounds slightly portentous, only for the mood to disperse in the wake of percussion before Gonzalez maintains the stately, quietly reverential mood. Again the percussion is deftly handled in terms of deployment. The lyricism of the piece is perpetually foreboding, but in a manner that’s the opposite of off-putting. Not for these guys is the use of volume and instrumental screaming in pursuit of spurious spirit summoning. — Nic Jones, AllAboutJazz Continue reading

Curtis Clark Trio | Taagi | No Business Records

Recorded on successive nights during May 2009 performances in Dallas and Austin, this album represents a great collaboration between jazz veteran and great piano maestro Curtis Clark and young, but very talented Gonzalez brothers – Aaron and Stefan. Piano trio at it’s best. Taagi – which takes its title from the Apache word for “three” – is his first trio recording with bassist Aaron Gonzalez and drummer Stefan Gonzalez. The piano trio is a time-honored jazz institution. Trio recordings have been among the most commercially, as well as artistically, successful in the music – one need only think of Ahmad Jamal’s Live At the Pershing, Erroll Garner’s Concert By the Sea, Bill Evans’ Portrait In Jazz, or Duke Ellington’s Money Jungle. Pianist Curtis Clark previously added to the canon with 1994’s Home Safely, in the company of Dutch master percussionist Han Bennink. For this outing, he’s joined by a pair of fiery young brothers from Dallas for a cross-generational meeting of minds. Continue reading