Recent Recordings by Area Jazz Artists

It’s a nice coincidence to hear new recordings from the veteran vocalist Sheila Landis (Walkin’ After Midnight with Rick Matle) and the younger Estar Cohen (Live at Willis Sound with a quintet). While Landis has performed a great variety of material in her career, this recent date offers four originals in a studio and six other tunes live at Arts, Beats and Eats 2017, with a preponderance of pop on her plate. Cohen’s effort gives us six original searching jazz pieces with her capable quintet before an in-studio live audience.

Landis grabbed me with her special Jimi Hendrix tribute on “Little Wing” and “Jimi Poem: Bold as Love,” a heartfelt homage/collage using the outdoor Royal Oak crowd to bring a soulful, expressive Hendrix experience to life. Musicians Rick Matle (guitar), Kurt Krahnke (bass) and Karen Tomalis (drums) propelled a big sound. Her funk groove is strong on “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues” and “Walkin’ After Midnight,” with nice sax lines from George Benson.

Estar Cohen’s tunes explore a range of emotions about nature and relationships. She heads gently down a “Mountain Road” vocally exploring the uncertain terrain with Josh Silver on piano, Ben Rolston on bass,Travis Aukerman on drums, Dan Palmer on guitar and Patrick Booth on sax. “Endings” begins as Cohen ventures out alone, slowly joined by a bowed bass and other instruments. These cuts reward close listening with the risks they take.

Both Landis and Cohen display their chops in a wide variety of formats providing thoughtful and swinging listening.