Bob Bernotas, WNTI's host of Just Jazz, makes the following four CD recommendations:
Kendra Shank: Mosaic (Challenge): Kendra Shank does things that few other singers would attempt - or imagine. She and longtime colleagues pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist Dean Johnson, and drummer Tony Moreno have transcended the familiar "singer plus rhythm" format to create a truly collaborative unit. Every track of this striking new release, some augmented by saxophonist Billy Drewes and guitarist Ben Monder, illustrates their cohesive interplay.
Helio Alves: It's Clear (Reservoir Music): This latest release by Brazilian pianist Helio Alves proves, without question, that he belongs among the top rank of today's keyboard artists. Alves and a Pan-American ensemble - Brazilian guitarist Romeo Lubambo, American bassist Scott Colley, Cuban drummer Ernesto Simpson - turn out some superior Brazilian-infused jazz, mixing original tunes with pieces by Moacir Santos, Egberto Gismonti, Tom Jobim, and others.
Bobby Sanabria & the Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra: Kenya Revisited Live!!! (Jazzheads): Conducting, and performing with, this superb conservatory orchestra, percussionist Bobby Sanabria offers a reverent and impeccably rendered tribute to one of the landmark recordings of Afro-Cuban jazz, Machito's 1957 classic, Kenya. The astounding 87-year-old conga master, Candido, who played on the original Machito sessions, adds his unique energy to several tracks.
Gina Schwarz & Richard Oesterreicher: AirBass (ATS Records): Bassist Gina Schwarz and harmonica player Richard Oesterreicher, two of Austria's most gifted jazz artists, have produced an engaging collection of tuneful pieces, most of them composed by Schwarz. At various times the ensemble includes bass clarinet, vibes, guitar, percussion, and a string quartet, generating a fresh, original sound-palette that cannot help but surprise and delight the attentive listener.