Musical Parade: New Albums from McLaughlin, Mahanthappa, Salvant

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Dan Weiss (left), Rudresh Mahanthappa and Rez Abbasi of the Indo-Pak Coalition will release a new album, Agrima, on Oct. 17.

(Photo: © Ethan Levitas)

Several of the most acclaimed, innovative artists in jazz will release albums in the next few months. Running the stylistic gamut from straightahead to fusion to the avant-garde, these albums are bound to make crater-sized impressions on the jazz scene.

Keyboardist-composer Vijay Iyer is in the midst of an artistic surge after releasing four critically acclaimed albums on the ECM label. His fifth since 2014, Far From Over, will be available Aug. 25. It finds the pianist encircled by a commanding sextet, featuring horn players Graham Haynes, Steve Lehman and Mark Shim alongside rhythm partners Stephan Crump and Tyshawn Sorey. As is typical of Iyer’s chameleonic approach, the music ranges from the explosive (“Down To The Wire,” “Good On The Ground”) to the elegiac (“For Amiri Baraka,” “Threnody”), all while placing a premium on dynamic group improvisation and subtle mood-making.

Sorey, who topped the category Rising Star–Drums in the 2015 DownBeat Critics Poll, will release a new leader album on Aug. 4. Recorded with keyboardist Cory Smythe and bassist Chris Tordini, Verisimilitude (Pi) includes a program of Sorey’s original compositions.

On Sept. 1, composer-arranger-pianist John Beasley will release the second installment of his Grammy-nominated MONK’estra project. Nodding to the past and the present, the new album, MONK’estra, Vol. 2 (Mack Avenue), will use Thelonious Monk’s work as the basis for conducting radically reconceived versions of the late composer’s music, while also prompting comparisons between the social environment of Monk’s time and the fraught cultural climate of today.

For the album, Beasley’s MONK’estra big band will be augmented by several special guests, including vocalist Dianne Reeves, violinist Regina Carter, saxophonist Kamasi Washington, trumpeter Dontae Winslow, trombonist Conrad Herwig and percussionist Pedrito Martínez. Watch Beasley lead the MONK’estra through his rendition of “Evidence” below.


Guitar hero Mike Stern will release Trip (Heads Up/Concord) on Sept. 8. It features trumpeters Randy Brecker and Wallace Roney, saxophonists Bob Franceschini and Bill Evans (the latter a bandmate in Miles Davis’ “comeback band” of 1981), bassists Victor Wooten and Tom Kennedy, and drummers Dave Weckl, Dennis Chambers and Lenny White.

Grammy-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant will release Dreams And Daggers, her third album for Mack Avenue, on Sept. 29. This latest project rides on the momentum of the young singer’s skyrocketing success. In 2013, Salvant made her Mack Avenue Records debut with WomanChild, for which she received a Grammy nomination. Her 2015 release, For One To Love, won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Dreams And Daggers will be made available as a double-CD set and as a deluxe three-LP 180-gram vinyl set.

On Sept. 15, Abstract Logix will issue Live @ Ronnie Scott’s, chronicling a sold-out, two-night stand at the London venue by John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension, recorded in March 2017. With The 4th Dimension—Ranjit Barot (drums, konokol), Gary Husband (keyboards, drums) and Etienne M’Bappé (bass)—McLaughlin has gathered a band with the technical dexterity and soulful musicality to do justice to his vast catalog. On Live @ Ronnie Scott’s, the ensemble explores everything from early Mahavishnu Orchestra classics to compositions from its most recent studio album, Black Light. Preview a track from McLaughlin’s live album below:


Fans of alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa will be excited to hear that he has reunited his Indo-Pak Coalition, which has recorded a new album and will perform at the Litchfield Jazz Festival in Connecticut on Aug. 6. The trio of Mahanthappa, Rez Abbasi (guitar) and Dan Weiss (tabla) collaborated on Agrima, which will be out Oct. 17. The album will be available in digital and vinyl formats (but not on CD).

The group’s previous album, 2008’s Apti, won acclaim from critics and listeners alike. Agrima, the long-awaited follow-up, finds Mahanthappa and the group expanding aesthetic horizons: adding a modified drumset, incorporating effects and electronics and working with a broader audio canvas overall. 

You can vote for these artists (and dozens more) in the 2017 DownBeat Readers Poll, which can be accessed by clicking here. The results will be published in our December 2017 issue. DB