Tag Archives: Christian McBride

The Royal Bopsters Return (DownBeat, Jan 2021)

I recently had the pleasure of talking to singer/arranger Amy London of the Royal Bopsters for Jazziz Magazine, then reviewing their new album Party of Four for DownBeat. The Bopsters – soprano London, alto Holli Ross, tenor Pete McGuiness, and bass Dylan Pramuk – specialize in the vocalese of the bebop era and beyond. On the new album, they perform songs by Billy Strayhorn and Tadd Dameron, standards and more modern stuff, including one by Wayne Shorter. They all get the Bopsters’ treatment: twisty, 4-part close harmonies and effervescent scatting.

Since the DownBeat review had rather strict space limits, here’s the full, unabridged version.

The Royal Bopsters

Party of Four

Motéma Music MTM0372

(Four Stars)

No jazz vocal group in the 20th century cast a longer shadow than Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. They had so many things going for them: their skill as arrangers and entertainers; their ferocious swing; their ability to channel horn or sax sections; and Jon Hendricks’ ingenious way with vocalese lyrics.

All those qualities are echoed in the work of The Royal Bopsters. Their first album, which included guest appearances by Hendricks, Annie Ross, and three other all-time jazz vocal greats, Mark Murphy, Sheila Jordan, and Bob Dorough, conveyed the sense of a torch being passed. Now, after a five-year hiatus, the Bopsters – Amy London (soprano), Holli Ross (alto), Pete McGuiness (tenor), and Dylan Pramuk (bass) – are back, and their sophomore release is an entertaining gem.

The new CD is like a master class for jazz arrangers and vocalists, with Pramuk and McGuinness steering the artful arrangements, while London, Ross and Pramuk contribute clever lyrics. The album is dedicated to the memory of Ross, whose life was tragically cut short last May after a three-year battle with cancer.

Ms. Jordan and the late Mr. Dorough (in one of his final recordings) return as guests, with delightfully free-spirited vocals. Uber-bassist Christian McBride, who presented the group at the 2019 Newport Jazz Festival, adds his deep pocket to two tracks. Pianist Steve Schmidt, bassist Cameron Brown, drummer Steve Williams, and percussionist Steven Kroon, provide first-rate support throughout.

Among several extraordinary tracks, Pramuk’s arrangement of Tadd Dameron’s classic “On A Misty Night” is a standout. It’s based on two previous records: Dameron’s big band arrangement from his The Magic Touch album; and a lyric written by British singer/keyboardist Georgie Fame to a Chet Baker trumpet solo from yet another recording. The whole album is peppered with such Easter eggs for jazz and vocalese fans.

The late Ms. Ross’s version of Tito Puente’s hit “Cuando Te Vea (When I See You),” for which she translated the lyric with the permission of the iconic Latin bandleader, is another highlight. It features McBride’s compelling tumbao and an uncanny mouth-trombone solo by McGuiness, but they don’t overshadow Ross’s impassioned vocal, a fitting valediction for a terrific singer gone too soon.

Party of Four: But Not For Me; On A Misty Night/Gipsy; How I Love You (Let Me Count The Reasons); Lucky To Be Me; Why’d You Do Me The Way You Did; Day Dream; Cuando Te Vea; Baby, You Should Know It; Our Spring Song; Rusty Dusty Blues; Infant Eyes; My Shining Hour. (58:42)

Personnel: The Royal Bopsters (Amy London, Holli Ross, Pete McGuinness, Dylan Pramuk), vocals; Steve Schmidt, piano; Cameron Brown, bass; Steve Williams, drums; Steven Kroon, percussion (7,11); Bob Dorough, vocals (8); Sheila Jordan, vocals (4); Christian McBride, bass (2, 7).

Ordering info: Motéma.com

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Filed under Amy London, Bob Dorough, Dylan Pramuk, Holli Ross, Royal Bopsters

Congratulations to the 2021 Grammy Nominees!

I’m excited that so many of my favorite artists and interview subjects are nominated for 2021 Grammys! The list includes John Beasley; Kurt Elling, featuring Danilo Perez; Kenny Washington; Becca Stevens; Chico Pinheiro; Maria Schneider; Alan Broadbent; Chick Corea; Christian McBride; Brian Blade; Terri Lyne Carrington, and Jacob Collier (album of the year, no less!). Big congratulations to all. And stay tuned for my upcoming portrait of John “Killer Beas” Beasley in JazzTimes.

General Field

2. Album Of The Year
Award to Artist(s) and to Featured Artist(s), Songwriter(s) of new material, Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s), Mixer(s) and Mastering Engineer(s) credited with at least 33% playing time of the album, if other than Artist.

  • CHILOMBO
    Jhené Aiko
    Fisticuffs & Julian-Quán Việt Lê, producers; Fisticuffs, Julian-Quán Việt Lê, Zeke Mishanec, Christian Plata & Gregg Rominiecki, engineers/mixers; Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo, Julian-Quán Việt Lê, Maclean Robinson & Brian Keith Warfield, songwriters; Dave Kutch, mastering engineer
     
  • BLACK PUMAS (DELUXE EDITION)
    Black Pumas
    Jon Kaplan & Adrian Quesada, producers; Adrian Quesada, Jacob Sciba, Stuart Sikes & Erik Wofford, engineers/mixers; Eric Burton & Adrian Quesada, songwriters; JJ Golden, mastering engineer
     
  • EVERYDAY LIFE
    Coldplay
    Daniel Green, Bill Rahko & Rik Simpson, producers; Mark “Spike” Stent, engineer/mixer; Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion & Chris Martin, songwriters; Emily Lazar, mastering engineer
     
  • DJESSE VOL.3
    Jacob Collier
    Jacob Collier, producer; Ben Bloomberg & Jacob Collier, engineers/mixers; Jacob Collier, songwriter; Chris Allgood & Emily Lazar, mastering engineers

     
  • WOMEN IN MUSIC PT. III
    HAIM
    Rostam Batmanglij, Danielle Haim & Ariel Rechtshaid, producers; Rostam Batmanglij, Jasmine Chen, John DeBold, Matt DiMona, Tom Elmhirst, Joey Messina-Doerning & Ariel Rechtshaid, engineers/mixers; Rostam Batmanglij, Alana Haim, Danielle Haim, Este Haim & Ariel Rechtshaid, songwriters; Emily Lazar, mastering engineer
     
  • FUTURE NOSTALGIA
    Dua Lipa
    Koz, producer; Josh Gudwin & Cameron Gower Poole, engineers/mixers; Clarence Coffee Jr. & Dua Lipa, songwriters; Chris Gehringer, mastering engineer
     
  • HOLLYWOOD’S BLEEDING
    Post Malone
    Louis Bell & Frank Dukes, producers; Louis Bell & Manny Marroquin, engineers/mixers; Louis Bell, Adam Feeney, Austin Post & Billy Walsh, songwriters; Mike Bozzi, mastering engineer
     
  • FOLKLORE
    Taylor Swift
    Jack Antonoff, Aaron Dessner & Taylor Swift, producers; Jack Antonoff, Aaron Dessner, Serban Ghenea, John Hanes, Jonathan Low & Laura Sisk, engineers/mixers; Aaron Dessner & Taylor Swift, songwriters; Randy Merrill, mastering engineer

JAZZ

31. Best Improvised Jazz Solo
For an instrumental jazz solo performance. Two equal performers on one recording may be eligible as one entry. If the soloist listed appears on a recording billed to another artist, the latter’s name is in parenthesis for identification. Singles or Tracks only.

  • GUINEVERE
    Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah, soloist
    Track from: Axiom
     
  • PACHAMAMA
    Regina Carter, soloist
    Track from: Ona (Thana Alexa)
     
  • CELIA
    Gerald Clayton, soloist
     
  • ALL BLUES
    Chick Corea, soloist
    Track from: Trilogy 2 (Chick Corea, Christian McBride & Brian Blade)

     
  • MOE HONK
    Joshua Redman, soloist
    Track from: RoundAgain (Redman Mehldau McBride Blade)

32. Best Jazz Vocal Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new vocal jazz recordings.

  • ONA
    Thana Alexa
     
  • SECRETS ARE THE BEST STORIES
    Kurt Elling Featuring Danilo Pérez

     
  • MODERN ANCESTORS
    Carmen Lundy
     
  • HOLY ROOM: LIVE AT ALTE OPER
    Somi With Frankfurt Radio Big Band
     
  • WHAT’S THE HURRY
    Kenny Washington

33. Best Jazz Instrumental Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new instrumental jazz recordings.

  • ON THE TENDER SPOT OF EVERY CALLOUSED MOMENT
    Ambrose Akinmusire
     
  • WAITING GAME
    Terri Lyne Carrington And Social Science

     
  • HAPPENING: LIVE AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD
    Gerald Clayton
     
  • TRILOGY 2
    Chick Corea, Christian McBride & Brian Blade

     
  • ROUNDAGAIN
    Redman Mehldau McBride Blade

34. Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new ensemble jazz recordings.

  • DIALOGUES ON RACE
    Gregg August
     
  • MONK’ESTRA PLAYS JOHN BEASLEY
    John Beasley

     
  • THE INTANGIBLE BETWEEN
    Orrin Evans And The Captain Black Big Band
     
  • SONGS YOU LIKE A LOT
    John Hollenbeck With Theo Bleckmann, Kate McGarry, Gary Versace And The Frankfurt Radio Big Band
     
  • DATA LORDS
    Maria Schneider Orchestra

35. Best Latin Jazz Album
For vocal or instrumental albums containing at least 51% playing time of newly recorded material. The intent of this category is to recognize recordings that represent the blending of jazz with Latin, Iberian-American, Brazilian, and Argentinian tango music.

  • TRADICIONES
    Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra
     
  • FOUR QUESTIONS
    Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
     
  • CITY OF DREAMS
    Chico Pinheiro

     
  • VIENTO Y TIEMPO – LIVE AT BLUE NOTE TOKYO
    Gonzalo Rubalcaba & Aymée Nuviola
     
  • TRANE’S DELIGHT
    Poncho Sanchez

COMPOSING/ARRANGING

62. Best Instrumental Composition
A Composer’s Award for an original composition (not an adaptation) first released during the Eligibility Year. Singles or Tracks only.

  • BABY JACK
    Arturo O’Farrill, composer (Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra)
     
  • BE WATER II
    Christian Sands, composer (Christian Sands)
     
  • PLUMFIELD
    Alexandre Desplat, composer (Alexandre Desplat)
     
  • SPUTNIK
    Maria Schneider, composer (Maria Schneider)

     
  • STRATA
    Remy Le Boeuf, composer (Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly Of Shadows Featuring Anna Webber & Eric Miller)

63. Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella
An Arranger’s Award. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

  • BATHROOM DANCE
    Hildur Guðnadóttir, arranger (Hildur Guðnadóttir)
     
  • DONNA LEE
    John Beasley, arranger (John Beasley)

     
  • HONEYMOONERS
    Remy Le Boeuf, arranger (Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly Of Shadows)
     
  • LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING
    Alvin Chea & Jarrett Johnson, arrangers (Jarrett Johnson Featuring Alvin Chea)
     
  • URANUS: THE MAGICIAN
    Jeremy Levy, arranger (Jeremy Levy Jazz Orchestra)

64. Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals
An Arranger’s Award. (Artist names appear in parentheses.) Singles or Tracks only.

  • ASAS FECHADAS
    John Beasley & Maria Mendes, arrangers (Maria Mendes Featuring John Beasley & Orkest Metropole)
     
  • DESERT SONG
    Erin Bentlage, Sara Gazarek, Johnaye Kendrick & Amanda Taylor, arrangers (Säje)
     
  • FROM THIS PLACE
    Alan Broadbent & Pat Metheny, arrangers (Pat Metheny Featuring Meshell Ndegeocello)

     
  • HE WON’T HOLD YOU
    Jacob Collier, arranger (Jacob Collier Featuring Rapsody)

     
  • SLOW BURN
    Talia Billig, Nic Hard & Becca Stevens, arrangers (Becca Stevens Featuring Jacob Collier, Mark Lettieri, Justin Stanton, Jordan Perlson, Nic Hard, Keita Ogawa, Marcelo Woloski & Nate Werth)

11. Best Contemporary Instrumental Album
For albums containing approximately 51% or more playing time of instrumental material. For albums containing at least 51% playing time of new recordings.

  • AXIOM
    Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah
     
  • CHRONOLOGY OF A DREAM: LIVE AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD
    Jon Batiste

     
  • TAKE THE STAIRS
    Black Violin
     
  • AMERICANA
    Grégoire Maret, Romain Collin & Bill Frisell
     
  • LIVE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL
    Snarky Puppy

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Filed under Alan Broadbent, Becca Stevens, Brian Blade, Chico Pinehiro, Christian McBride, Danilo Perez, Jacob Collier, Jazz Times, John Beasley, Kenny Washington, Kurt Elling, Maria Schneider, Music Writing and Clips, Terri Lyne Carrington