June 2023


James Brandon Lewis

Subverts Protocol

This year, James Brandon Lewis will turn 40 and his restless sense of creativity shows no signs of slowing. He just released Eye of I, his 10th album since 2010’s debut, Moments, and has a forthcoming project celebrating the work of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, For Mahalia, With Love.

  • Ricky Lee Jones

    Of Intimacy and American Standards

    Meeting to discuss Pieces of Treasure, Jones and writer Cree McCree continued a conversation that’s been going on for several years — ever since Jones became a fellow New Orleanian. On the last deep dive, Jones had just released her compulsively readable memoir Last Chance Texaco (Grove Press UK, 2021). But Pieces of Treasure is about a series of characters she created to get inside the skin of every song on the album.

  • Walter Smith III

    The Casual Side of Art

    Walter Smith III finds compositional inspiration in unexpected — and amusing — places. As an example, consider the opening track of the 42-year-old tenor saxophonist’s Blue Note debut, Return to Casual, a whirling line called “Contra,” after the 1980s Nintendo video game he played as a child in Houston, Texas.

  • Taj Mahal

    The Jazz Side of Taj Mahal

    It may come as a surprise to find that the artist known as Taj Mahal — born Henry Fredericks Jr. —has officially jumped into the realm of jazz for his new album Savoy. Classic tunes from the jazz standard book are treated with Mahal’s gravelly-yet-sweet vocals, delivered with a supple sense of swing and marinated with choice scatting interludes.

Blindfold Test

At 68, Joey Baron has been a lifelong connoisseur of the nuances of groove and melody-oriented drumming. Over his half-century in the trenches, he’s covered a 360-degree spectrum of stylistic expression — a resume that includes, as a very short list, Carmen McRae, Hampton Hawes, the Vanguard Orchestra (when Mel Lewis was incapacitated), Bill Frisell, Tim Berne, John Zorn, Ron Carter and Dave Douglas. Based in Berlin in recent years, Baron often plays with MixMonk, a collective trio with pianist Bram de Looze and saxophonist Robin Verheyen, which performed in March at the Bergamo Jazz Festival, where he sat for his second DownBeat Blindfold Test.

  • Walter Smith, III: “Amelia Earhart Ghosted Me” from Return To Casual (Blue Note, 2023)
  • Tyshawn Sorey Trio: “From Time To Time” from Mesmerism (Pi, 2022)
  • Jean Michel Pilc/Francois Moutin/Ari Hoenig: “Bemsha Swing” from YOU Are The Song (Justin Time Records, 2023)
  • Larry Goldings/Peter Bernstein/Bill Stewart: “FU Donald” from Perpetual Pendulum (Smoke Sessions, 2022)
  • John Patitucci Trio: “Three Pieces of Glass” from Live In Italy (Three Faces, 2022)
  • Terri Lyne Carrington: “Unchanged” from new Standards, Vol.1 (Candid, 2022)
  • Aruan Ortiz/Andrew Cyrille: “Golden Voice (Changui)” from Inside Rhythmic Falls (Intakt, 2020)
Also in this Issue
  • An homage to Bitches Brew — London Style
  • Ralph Towner
  • Omer Klein Trio
  • Rachel Eckroth
  • Wayne Escoffery
  • Gretchen Parlato/Lionel Loueke, Lean In
  • Artemis, In Real Time
  • Brandee Younger, Brand New Life
  • Michael Dease, The Other Shoe
  • Champian Fulton
  • Janiece Jaffe
  • Lizzie Thomas
  • Hailey Brinnel
  • Dorian Holley + Nayanna Holley
  • Brötzmann/Leigh/Lonberg-Holm
  • Matt Mitchell
  • Scatter
  • Steve Swell's Fire Into Music
  • Classic Jazz At The Philharmonic Jam Sessions (1950-1957)
  • Leon Lee Dorsey
  • Margherita Fava
  • Vince Ector

PLUS: Dozens of album reviews, product reviews and much more!