This Portrait LP was vibraphonist Dave Pike's second recording as a leader. Pike is joined by bassist Herbie Lewis, drummer Walter Perkins, and most notably pianist Bill Evans. It was one of the pianist's first sessions after the tragic death of his bassist, Scott LaFaro, and gives listeners a rare opportunity to hear Evans this late in his career as a sideman. The music is fairly spontaneous, consisting of two ballads, "Besame Mucho," "Vierd Blues," and Pike's "Why Not" (inspired by Miles Davis' "So What"). An excellent if generally overlooked straight-ahead set.
The Epic is saxophonist Kamasi Washington's aptly titled, triple-length, 172-minute debut album for Brainfeeder. He is a veteran of L.A.'s music scene and has played with Gerald Wilson, Harvey Mason, Flying Lotus, and Kendrick Lamar (his horn is prominently featured on To Pimp a Butterfly), to name but a few. Most of his bandmates have played together since high school, and it shows. There are two drummers (including Ronald Bruner), two bassists (including Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner on electric), two keyboardists, trumpet, trombone, and vocals (Patrice Quinn). In various settings, they are supported by a string orchestra and full choir conducted by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Washington composed 13 of these 17 tunes; he also meticulously arranged and produced them. At just over six to nearly 15 minutes, the jams leave room for engaged improvisation. The Epic is based on a concept, though it's unnecessary to grasp in order to enjoy. The music reflects many inspirations – John Coltrane, Horace Tapscott's Pan-African People's Arkestra, Azar Lawrence's Prestige period, Donald Byrd's and Eddie Gale's jazz and choir explorations, Pharoah Sanders' pan global experiments, Afro-Latin jazz, spiritual soul, and DJ culture.