Detroit based independent Jazz label Mack Avenue Records can do no wrong these days. Not that this is really new for them… Historically Mack Avenue has brought on nothing but the best and brightest of today’s jazz musicians, from Grammy winning bassist Christian McBride (2012 Best Large Jazz Ensemble) to saxophonist Kirk Whalum, (who in 2010 was nominated for four Grammy awards, winning Best Gospel Song). In 2009, Mack Avenue announced the addition of Grammy Award winning pianist, Danilo Pérez, who in 2010 released the Grammy-nominated Providencia. But the recent streak of awesome coming out of Michigan is even more impressive.
First you have Johnnie Basset. The Florida-born, though now Detroit-local, blues guitarist has just released his fifth studio project I Can Make That Happen. Bassett has been a vital part of the Detroit music scene since the early ’50s, sharing stages with everyone from Tina Turner to Big Joe Turner. But only rarely does he release his own albums, one of the many reasons that makes I Can Make That Happen so special. Happily, Bassett and company show no interest in churning up the same old chord progressions on threadbare songs, as do hordes of blues recording artists year in and year out. Instead, the Motowners freshen up the blues using elements of Jazz, R&B and Soul on a program of superior songs mostly written by Chris Codish and his father, Bob. Bassett even refurbished Rock and Soul classics.
Meanwhile, Brian Bromberg (“The Man of a Thousand Basses”) continues his dual Jazz and Contemporary success with his newest album Compared To That which was released a couple of weeks ago. Last week, it reached #1 on Jazz Week, and this week it’s staying strong at #2. Compared To That will be followed up with the dual release of his two tribute albums; the first to Jimi Hendrix, and the second to Brazilian legend Antônio Carlos Jobim. Bromberg translating two giants of guitar in two diverse styles alone should make the listener sit up and take notice. His ability to play music at a scholarly level and make it accessible to the casual Jazz fan as well as appeal to the mainstream is unique, to state the obvious. And with these three releases, Bromberg promises to make it an interesting summer.
And last but not least is the free – yep, you heard me — free live performance by Jazz pianist and new-comer Alfredo Rodriguez. If you’re in Santa Monica this Friday 22nd at 7pm and on 3rd Street anywhere near the Apple Store, think about a quick excursion to catch a rare in-store with Quincy Jones and Alfredo Rodriguez. Quincy Jones, you exclaim? Indeed. Quincy Jones is not only Alfredo’s mentor, but the music giant produced his debut album Sounds Of Space, which came out earlier this year. Rodriguez also had the distinguished honor of playing at The 34th Annual Playboy Jazz Festival (for the second time) last weekend.