I’m not a big fan of jazz fusion, so didn’t really know what to expect when Project Grand Slam’s latest long-player, “Made in New York” came across my desk a couple weeks ago. I’m happy to report that the Robert Miller-fronted collective — which includes Marcello Casagrani, Nathan Cepelisnki, Ben Sher and Joel E. Mateo — are on top of their game throughout a nine-track, 36-minute release that proved to be much more enjoyable than I expected going in.
Project Grand Slam’s secret weapon on “Made in New York” is guest vocalist Kat Robichaud, who achieved some acclaim during her 2013 stint on NBC hit “The Voice.” Robichaud lends her vocal gifts on two of the album’s best cuts in “New York City Groove” and the Jimi Hendrix cover “Fire.”
Additional keepers include “Around the Horn,” “Boston Common” and the set-closing “New York City Groove (Instrumental).” For an added treat, Project Gland Slam include a pair of live cuts — “Because She Said So” and “Cakewalk for Debra” — recorded live at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City. Good stuff. (Jeffrey Sisk)