Sunday, May 03, 2015

1 Sem 2015 - Part Ten

Bobby Hutcherson
Enjoy The View

By Andy Boeckstaens
Vibraphone master Bobby Hutcherson first recorded for Blue Note Records in 1963. As one of the great survivors from that classic era, it is appropriate that he was asked to lead a session to coincide with the label’s 75th year. “I’ve had a long-term association with the label”, he enthuses. “I’m thrilled to be back here”.
The president of Blue Note Records, Don Was, had the idea for this CD after he heard organist Joey DeFrancesco and saxophone legend David Sanborn at the (unrelated) Blue Note club in New York. “I just sat there and the set was so relaxed and grooving”, he remarks. “I loved what I heard.” As the common link between the participants - and having known Hutcherson for several years - DeFrancesco set the ball rolling by coralling the musicians and writing material for an album.
DeFrancesco created two new pieces: Don Is, a swinging tribute to the Blue Note boss, and You. These, along with Sanborn’s Delia were actually taped at the rehearsal on the day before the official session in Hollywood. The saxophonist says that he chose his tunes (the other is a delicate Little Flower) because “I could hear Bobby playing them. They end up feeling looser and freer than the first time I recorded them.” Sanborn had worked with neither Hutcherson nor drummer Billy Hart before, but it is no surprise that his impassioned cries complement the thoughtfully-crafted work of his colleagues.
Hutcherson brings three compositions along: the rocking Hey Harold; Montara, and the memorable, restless Teddy, yet his instrument is rarely the dominant voice. He modestly observes, “You can’t play over the organ or the saxophone, which have more power, so I play softer...what I play on the vibes always seems to be the cherry on top of the sundae.” Hart recognises that this is more than confectionery, and says of the leader, “He’s a magician and a musician. When he hits the mallets on the vibes, something special happens”. The drummer himself shows customary artistry and sensitivity throughout the date.
Although I’ll be surprised if Enjoy the View becomes a Blue Note classic, Hutcherson’s latest outing is a melodic and enjoyable collaboration. The last words go to Sanborn: “It was like we were having a four-way conversation. When that happens with no egos, everyone talks....that experience was worth everything to me.”

Neil Cowley Trio
Touch and Flee

By Richard Rees Jones at
On Touch And Flee, their fifth album, the Neil Cowley Trio reinforce their position as one of Britain's brightest jazz ensembles. London-based pianist Cowley gained considerable acclaim for his contributions to both of Adele's multimillion-selling albums, but he's clearly happiest when fronting his own group. Sharpened by constant gigging and trading on significant word-of-mouth popularity, the trio have built up a formidable reputation with their powerful, energetic piano workouts. Cowley also has a nice line in dry humour, which saw him title his second album Loud…Louder…Stop in sardonic acknowledgement of his compositional style.
The kernel of truth contained in that description goes some way towards explaining Cowley's status as a rising star of the British jazz scene. Cowley is a prodigiously talented, yet resolutely unflashy pianist; like the late, much missed Esbjörn Svensson, he has a gift for memorable hooks and crescendos allied to a driving, restless quality in his playing. The combination makes Cowley that rare animal, a jazz musician for people who don't like jazz. Purists may baulk at his preference for tight, concise compositions over lengthy improvised excursions, and certainly you won't hear much of Keith Jarrett or Brad Mehldau in his bold, unfailingly direct melodies. It's that very boldness that makes Touch And Flee such a smart and lively pleasure.
The new record represents a stylistic shift away from the trio's last album, 2012's The Face of Mount Molehill, an ambitious outing which saw them add strings and guitar to their core line-up. Touch And Flee is both a more stripped down effort than its predecessor and the trio's most sheerly enjoyable statement to date. Joined by Rex Horan on bass and Evan Jenkins on drums, Cowley presents nine shortish pieces that move effortlessly between fluid, uncluttered tunes, warm humour and passages of tense, spiky abstraction. On opener 'Kneel Down', pensive piano chords and unobtrusive rhythms resolve into a spare and graceful melody. 'Sparkling' is even better, a blissful evocation of the piece's title with a surging, dreamlike mood.
Elsewhere, Horan and Jenkins prove themselves to be anything but, on the bouncily attractive 'Couch Slouch'. Spurring each other on in expressive interplay, the bassist and drummer lock into Cowley's relaxed and flowing grooves. Meanwhile there's a gently simmering power to a track like 'Gang Of One', with Cowley's vigorous harmonies laid over Jenkins' crisp snare and cymbal work. A couple of other tracks reveal a more introspective side to the trio than has been shown on previous outings. 'Queen', at six-and-a-half minutes the longest piece here, sees Cowley sketch haunting half-melodies to stunning effect, while on 'Bryce', Horan's sensitive bass perfectly sets off the wintry, filmic tone of Cowley's playing.

Peter Bernstein
Guitar Solo - Live At Smalls

By JazzLives
If you know jazz guitar in its truest sense, the news of a new Peter Bernstein solo CD is cause for delight, especially because it is his first solo recording.
I don’t know at what point the guitar became the most popular instrument in the world — surely it has been so for the last half-century and more. It looks easy: all the notes are visible, laid out in logical ways; there is nothing to blow into, no reeds to fuss over, but the neophyte finds out in the first half-hour that the guitar is a trap for the unwary. Yes, one can walk up and down one string at a time; one can move simple chord patterns up and down the fretboard, but making music from the guitar — beautiful music — is a far more treacherous affair.
Peter Bernstein has long since become a Master of that instrument, and a Master of sweetly elongated melodies. He doesn’t affect a hard-edged tone; he doesn’t need many notes to show us how vigorously he has practiced his scales; his solos don’t leave us exhausted. Rather, he has a sweet, temperate sound on the instrument, but it’s not aural wallpaper: his notes ring and chime; his chords shimmer. On this disc, he explores medium-tempo classics and ballads in a leisurely manner, but his approach is full of surprises: he plays orchestrally, so that a single-line statement will be punctuated by pulsing, mobile chords, with harmonies that offer new ways of hearing the familiar. At the end of a Bernstein performance of the most familiar song, one feels it has been revisited lovingly, its virtues shining, its faults (if it has any) tenderly concealed.
A Bernstein solo at first seems like a collection of delicate traceries, an iridescent spiderweb in the sunlight. Then you realize that although his playing is easy to listen to, it is never Easy Listening, a lullaby for the half-conscious listener. Heard attentively, one realizes that Bernstein’s delicacy is based on assurance and strength — a strength that isn’t expressed in volume or power, velocity or granitic chord-clusters, but a certainty: he is exploring but never indecisive, never tentative. One listens to a small symphony unfolding, chorus after chorus, building structurally from note to note, phrase to phrase, until the whole improvisation has its own shining three-dimensional shape.
The CD was not a thing of splices and patches, not created in the laboratory of the recording studio, but performed “live” in front of a quiet audience at Smalls (183 West 10th Street) in downtown Manhattan on October 16 and 17, 2012. The songs are a deliciously melodic mix:
DJANGO / I LOVE YOU / CREPUSCLE WITH NELLIE / PANNONICA / STAR EYES / YESTERDAYS / DON’T BLAME ME / GIANT STEPS / WISE ONE / THE TENDER TRAP / TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS / AUTUMN IN NEW YORK / GONE WITH THE WIND / PUT YOUR DREAMS AWAY — a welcome emphasis on medium-tempo saunters and deep romantic ballads. Even if you feel you’ve heard these songs a thousand times, you will make room in your memory for these new interpretations.
The disc is well-recorded, with empathic notes by pianist Spike Wilner . . . and I believe that profits from its sale benefit not only Peter but the club itself, a small quirky landmark of the world jazz scene. It is an honor to hear Peter Bernstein go his own way as he does on this CD.
All albums (I believe the label has issued forty so far) are currently available through iTunes, Amazon (CD only), HDtracks (high-resolution) and at
May your happiness increase!

George Mraz/David Hazeltine Trio
Your Story

George Mraz, the Czech native and master of jazz acoustic bass, has joined up with pianist David Hazeltine and drummer Jason Brown to create the George Mraz/David Hazeltine Trio album, Your Song.
The record features the players’ interpretations of classics like Rogers & Hart’s “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” and Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” alongside Mraz’s works, “For B.C.” and “Wisteria” and Hazeltine’s “Barbara.”
1. Around the Corner (Barry Harris)
2. Turn Out the Stars (Bill Evans)
3. Barbara (David Hazeltine)
4. For B.C. (George Mraz)
5. You Must Believe in Spring (Bergman/Demy/Legrand)
6. Your Story (Bill Evans)
7. I Didn't Know What Time It Was (Rogers/Hart)
8. Wisteria (George Mraz)
9. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye (Cole Porter)
George Mraz bass; David Hazeltine piano; Jason Brown drums

Eliane Elias
Made In Brazil

By Jeff Winbush
If you've never been to Brazil, consider Eliane Elias as a goodwill ambassador with Made In Brazil. It is a triumphant return for the pianist/vocalist to her native land to record her first album there since relocating to the United States in 1981.
There is a delicacy to how Elias chooses and approaches the material. There is no genuflecting to pop music as there was on Light My Fire (Concord, 2011). Here Elias is all about adult emotions and days of "wine and roses" gorgeously captured on her original, "Searching." Elias called upon Rob Mathes to handle orchestral arrangements on seven of the 12 tracks which were recorded in London at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. Never overbearing or overblown, Mathes utilizes the strings to enhance the dreamily romantic atmosphere of Made In Brazil.
You might think by now Elias would have covered the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic "Aguas de Marco (Waters of March)." After all she dedicated a tribute to her countryman, Eliane Elias Sings Jobim (Blue Note, 1988), but somehow she bypassed "Waters of March." That oversight is remedied by inviting the vocal group Take 6 to join in with some R&B sweetness as Elias deftly provides a sparkling solo on the Fender Rhodes.
When a musician is wearing as many hats as Elias is here as a producer, composer, lyricist, arranger, musician and vocalist there is an inherent risk of coming up short somewhere, but there are no notable lapses. Whether Elias is dueting with daughter Amanda Brecker on "Some Enchanted Evening" with band mate and husband Marc Johnson on acoustic bass or joined by composer Roberto Menescal who adds his vocals to "Você" and guitar on "Rio," the results are nothing short of blissful perfection.
Switching gracefully between English and Portuguese, Made In Brazil is a sensual, sexy, swaying journey through Elias' native heart. Beyond any doubt it proves you can go home again.
Elias has firmly established herself as an consummate talent whether she is behind the keyboard or in front of the microphone. The artist presented in these twelve tracks is an assured and polished professional who brings a subtle delicacy to this music. Made In Brazil is another glittering gem in Elias' crown as the luminary leader of contemporary bossa nova, samba and Brazilian jazz.
Track Listing: 
Brasil (Aqualera do Brasil); Você; Aguas de Marco (Waters of March); Searching; Some Enchanted Evening; Incendiando; Vida (If Not For You)l Este Seu Olhar/Promessas; Driving Ambition; Rio; A Sorte du Amor (The Luck of Love); No Tabuleiro da Baiana
Eliane Elias: vocals, piano, keyboards; Take 6: vocals (3); Mark Kibble: vocals (3, 6, 9); Amanda Brecker: vocals (4); Ed Motta: vocals (7); Roberto Menescal: vocals (2), guitar (2, 10); Marcus Teixeira: guitar (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 12); Marcelo Mariano: electric bass (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 12); Marc Johnson: acoustic bass (2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11); Edu Riberio: drums (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 12); Rafael Barata: drums (2, 4, 5, 10); Mauro Refosco: percussion (1, 3, 5, 7, 9); Marivaldo dos Santos: percussion (5, 9); Rob Mathes: orchestral arrangement.

Friday, May 01, 2015

1 Sem 2015 - Part Nine

Harold Mabern
Live At Smalls

By Jeff Tamarkin at JazzTimes
Pianist Harold Mabern, at age 77 more than five decades into his career, remains a regular presence at some of the city’s more intimate rooms, often in the company of his trio mates here, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth. He’s a remarkably agile and astute player with a penchant for taking on seemingly unlikely repertoire and molding it effortlessly to his easy-rolling postbop style. At this Smalls date, he brings depth and sophistication to Fats Domino’s R&B classic “I’m Walking” while retaining its trademark NOLA swing, and his take on Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro Blue” manages to simultaneously straddle dark and edgy and cheerfully upbeat. The Sesame Street theme is utterly transformed into a showcase for the three players, and Erroll Garner’s “Dreaming” is appropriately laconic and contemplative.

Fabio Giachino Trio
Jumble Up

By John Riley
Fabio Giachino , widely regarded as one of the greatest talents appeared on the scene in the last few years. In a short time has earned a reputation as an excellent pianist and composer excellent . His trio seems like a perfect poster for the contemporary jazz scene : The title, Jumbe up , it indicates a willingness to think outside the box while remaining anchored to the Afro-American tradition . All members of the trio have made academic studies ( Conservatory ) , they love the rock / pop and play jazz proposing standards, but at the same time inserting elements such as R & B , hip hop and other sounds coming from urban areas without losing sight of the sense of swing.
"The group is really close-knit , never falls into the obvious ... Finally a real band !
Antonio Faraò".
“JUMBLE UP”. an alchemical mix of free , fascinating and creative energy which results in Music respectful of tradition and who lives in the present with an eye to the future..
GeGè Telesforo".
In their latest record production the "Fabio Giachino Trio" has found the right balance of music, you will appreciate both the users of both jazz lovers a more contemporary sound. Check it out!
Davide Liberti : drums; Ruben Bellavia : doublebass; Fabio Giachino : piano

Dave Slonaker Big Band

By Jack Bowers
Don't be put off by the name. Intrada, composer / arranger Dave Slonaker points out, is "a musical form often composed as a prelude, overture or fanfare," one whose upbeat phrases give rise to an exhilarating curtain-raiser on Slonaker's initial big-band recording. Rest assured this is a world-class ensemble and there's no doubt whose steady hand is at the helm: Slonaker wrote every number save the standard "It's Only a Paper Moon" and arranged the complete package.
If Slonaker's name is new to you, that's probably because he has spent much of his career as a composer, arranger and orchestrator in films and television. Film credits include Spider-Man, Air Force One, Oz the Great and Powerful, Alice in Wonderland and A Night at the Museum, and he has written for the TV series J.A.G., Murder She Wrote and others. Slonaker has also taught at USC and the Eastman School of Music, while his jazz works have been performed by Clark Terry, the Woody Herman and Count Basie orchestras, and many others.
All of which leads to this consistently impressive album in which Slonaker's vibrant and graceful themes are precisely and eloquently animated by a phalanx of the Los Angeles area's most talented and sought-after musicians. Noteworthy c.v. aside, it's clear from the outset that Slonaker has a jazz musician's soul and a sure command of the music's language and history. His music is contemporary in the best sense of the word, harmonically sophisticated yet always accessible thanks to an unswerving reliance on time-honored melodies and rhythms. In other words, this is big-band jazz that quickens the pulse, swings hard and enhances the tradition.
"Intrada" and "Paper Moon" are followed by eight more of Slonaker's inspired compositions, each of which provides a malleable springboard for the ensemble's resourceful soloists. Those who rise to the occasion include saxophonists Bob Sheppard, Adam Schroeder and Rob Lockart; trumpeters Clay Jenkins and Ron Stout, trombonists Bob McChesney trombone and Alex Iles, bass trombonist Bill Reichenbach, pianist Ed Czach, bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer par excellence Peter Erskine. There's no point in singling out any particular song for immoderate praise, as every one is outstanding, as is the ensemble.
The same can be said for Intrada itself, a splendid debut by an extraordinary musician who it is hoped will devote even more of his time to leading a band. Well done!
Track Listing: 
Intrada; It’s Only a Paper Moon; Nite Lites; Nowhere Is a Sometime Thing; Point of Departure; Timelessness; Labyrinth Suite, Part 1 (Labyrinth); Labyrinth Suite, Part 2 (Flight Time); If and Only If; Remembering.
Dave Slonaker: composer, arranger, conductor; Wayne Bergeron: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dan Fornero: trumpet, flugelhorn (1-4, 7, 8, 10); Rick Baptist: trumpet, flugelhorn (5, 6, 9); Clay Jenkins: trumpet, flugelhorn; Ron Stout: trumpet, flugelhorn; Bob Sheppard: alto, soprano sax, flute, clarinet; Brian Scanlon: alto sax, flute, piccolo, clarinet; Rob Lockart: tenor sax, clarinet; Tom Luer: tenor sax, clarinet; Adam Schroeder: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Alex Iles: trombone; Bob McChesney: trombone; Charlie Morillas: trombone; Bill Reichenbach: bass trombone, bass trumpet; Ed Czach: piano; Edwin Livingston: bass; Peter Erskine: drums.

Larry Fuller

By Dan Bilawsky
Bassist Ray Brown sure knew how to pick his pianists. While each player who manned the 88s in Brown's trio displayed a different personality, all had Swiss watch timing and shared an affinity for the blues and effulgent swing. It didn't take more than a few seconds to hear that when Gene Harris was on the bench, delivering church-y proclamations and earth-shaking tremolos, and it was equally noticeable when Benny Green put his hands to good use, displaying the Oscar Peterson-esque athleticism that remains his calling card. And while there isn't very much recorded evidence to cover pianist Larry Fuller's time with Brown, it's clear that he possesses all of those traits that Brown looked for in a pianist.
Fuller's time with Brown was relatively short—lasting a bit over two years, from the dawn of this century until the bassist's passing in the summer of 2002—but he made an impact on Brown's music during that time. More importantly, Brown made an impact on him. So much so, in fact, that Fuller's two leader sessions to date are essentially made from the Ray Brown Trio mold. The first—Easy Walker (Pony Boy, 2005)—found Fuller working with a trio that included Brown and drummer Jeff Hamilton, who worked extensively in Brown's trio and employed Fuller in his own trio during the '90s. The second—this eponymous date—finds Fuller delivering wonderfully showy material balanced out by thoughtful breathers. For this one, he teams up with veteran bassist Hassun Shakur and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, another Ray Brown Trio alum.
The opening salvo of "At Long Last Love," "Parking Lot Blues" and "Daahoud" immediately makes it clear that Fuller doesn't mess around. Chops, class, and in-the-pocket ensemble play are all on full display. There's plenty to marvel at on those three, with Fuller's sprinting right hand runs, commanding left hand, and mastery of independence running high on the list. And just when it seems that this is a date built on full-out swing and high-spirited romps, Fuller starts throwing change-ups. Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" gives everybody a chance to calm down and reflect; "Django," starting and ending in semi-MJQ fashion, really swings in the middle; and "C Jam Blues," which follows an appropriately-measured "Reflections In D/Prelude To A Kiss," is a rollicking solo piano showcase.
There's virtually nothing missing here. Looking for something poignant and romantic that still manages to move along? Try "Close Enough For Love." Want to hear some burning bop? Look no further than the album-ending "Celia," a smoking performance that gives Hutchinson some well-deserved space to shine and finds the leader in fine form. Ray Brown may be gone, but the legacy of his trio is safe in the hands of people like Larry Fuller.
Track Listing:
At Long Last Love; Parking Lot Blues; Daahoud; Both Sides Now; Django; Hymn To Freedom; Reflections In D/Prelude To A Kiss; C Jam Blues; Old Folks; Old Devil Moon; Close Enough For Love; Celia.
Larry Fuller: piano; Hassan Shakur: bass; Greg Hutchinson: drums.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

1 Sem 2015 - Part Eight

Sergio Rossoni Grupo

By Dicionáriompb
Grupo fundado em 1997 por Sérgio Rossoni (guitarra), juntamente com Aldo Barreto (bateria e percussão), Mário Carvalho (piano e teclado), Marcelo Mainieri (contrabaixo) e José Penna (flauta). Lançou nesse ano o CD “Sérgio Rossoni Grupo”. O disco recebeu indicação para o Prêmio Sharp.
Em 2000, gravou o CD “Pescadores”. Em 2003, lançou o CD “Fogo Cerrado”, que teve show de lançamento no Supremo Musical (SP), com a participação especial do percussionista Jorge Marciano.
1-Um Passo; 2-Três Marias; 3-Pescadores; 4-Catedral; 5-Serra da Canastra
6-O pequeno circo do sertão; 7. Reflexos; 8-Olhos de Deborah; 9-Folia de Reis

John Stetch
Off With The Cuffs

Off With the Cuffs

By Tom Twain 
This Cd is simply amazing. It combines great classical works with improvisation and jazz and keeps your interest every moment.
It stimulated my mind, body, emotions, and soul. Each composition is like going on a journey where the beginning is somewhat known but then you take a road never traveled and that is where the mystery, intrigue and excitement begins.
On another level this music can be meditative and relaxing to the mind and body....John's TOUCH and inflections on the piano a first rate and professional. He is a classical AND jazz pianist. So he knows how to play the instrument and improvise on a high level.
I highly recommend this CD to pianist, classical musicians, jazz musicians, and anyone who loves music. 

Luigi Martinale Trio
Strange Days

By Amazon
“Bitter-elegant touch, communicative fluent melodies on perfect harmonization, and a pinch of Soul Music” – The next Piano Trio Masterpiece by Turinese pianist Luigi Martinale, accompanied by international top bassist Reuben Rogers and his old friend Paolo Franciscone on drums.
Strange Days; Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered; The Electric Blue Flight Case;
Christmas Eve; Oops, A Pop One; Passaggio Ad E.S.T.; Invitation;
Gentle Touch; What Is This Thing Called Love; The Magic In Looking Back;
Anyway A Good Day.
Luigi Martinale (p); Reuben Rogers (b); Paolo Franciscone (ds)

Jimmy Cobb
The Original Mob

By C. Andrew Hovan 
As the Smoke Sessions list of titles continues to grow, so too do we get to check out some of the country's greatest drummer. The much in-demand Joe Farnsworth has been featured on the label's releases by Harold Mabern and David Hazeltine. Furthermore, one of the most recent titles is a headlining date for the legendary Louis Hayes. Now, comes along a new set that puts the spotlight on renowned drummer Jimmy Cobb, a gentleman that for most of his career worked almost exclusively as a sideman. However, since the late '90s, Cobb has had more than several occasions to step out as a leader with several versions of an ensemble he calls Cobb's Mob.
So the story goes, the original line up of Cobb's Mob mentioned in the title goes back some 20 years when the drummer worked with pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist John Webber, and guitarist Peter Bernstein at The Village Gate. Since each musician is a leader in their own right and quite busy, it's no surprise that the opportunities to work with Cobb have been limited in the ensuing years. That's what makes this album so special.
It should be noted that unlike all the previous releases from Smoke Sessions, this date was not recorded before a live audience. Instead, the tables were removed and things were set up like a studio session. Cobb mentions in the liners that it reminded him of recording in the home of Rudy Van Gelder back in the '50s when the living room served as the studio. The overall sound seems lazar etched, but with a sense of warmth and just the right amount of reverberation to make things sound natural. In fact, Cobb's drums have rarely sounded better.
The repertoire is nicely balanced between choice standards and originals by Cobb, Bernstein, Mehldau, and Webber. There are also some fine solos from Cobb and he trades fours on occasion, sounding particularly musical on "Sunday in New York." It is also a treat to hear Mehldau away from the introverted type of performances that constitute much of his work as a leader. On his original piece, "Unrequited," Bernstein drops out and the pianist delivers a piquant bossa that ever so tastefully integrates bebop lines with classically-inspired runs.
Bernstein finds his own time in the spotlight, sounding particularly fine on "Composition 101," where he delivers the melody in the Blue Note style of Grant Green, then goes on to weave some wonderful lines that span the upper and lower registers of the guitar. The guitarist's own "Minor Blues" is the type of engaging waltz tempo that has become somewhat of his own trademark. It is set off nicely against the rest of the program, which is made up of medium to brisk swingers.
Much has been made lately of the idea that jazz has to somehow eschew key elements of its identity to mature and advance itself. Cobb and crew create the kind of timeless and rewarding jazz that satisfies on so many levels and yet is accessible enough for even the most neophyte listeners. If that isn't advancing the art form, then I don't know what is.
Track Listing: 
Old Devil Moon; Amsterdam After Dark; Sunday in New York; Stranger in Paradise; Unrequited; Composition 101; Remembering U; Nobody Else But Me; Minor Blues; Lickety Split.
Peter Bernstein: guitar; Brad Mehldau: piano; John Webber: bass; Jimmy Cobb: drums. 

Clovis Nicolas
Nine Stories

By Gabriel Medina Arenas
Ron Carter's judgment regarding the talent of a fellow double bassist can't be wrong. The acclaimed musician, who has recorded more than 2,500 albums and was a fundamental member of the Miles Davis Quintet, highly praises the sound and compositions of Clovis Nicolas.
Carter wrote the liner notes to Nicolas' Nine Stories, the first solo album from a young but experienced double bassist born in the Ivory Coast, who earned a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Music at the distinguished Juilliard School.
Before recording his individual debut, Nicolas cultivated a good reputation after playing with eminent musicians like Branford Marsalis, Brad Mehldau, Andre "Dede" Ceccarelli, Michel Legrand, Stephane Belmondo, Baptiste Trotignon and, more recently, at the tribute show "Ron Carter at 75" on March 2012 at the Alice Tully Hall of Juilliard School.
The musician who has proven his impressive skills at world famous jazz festivals like Montreux, Marciac, Montreal and Vienne makes a brilliant arrangement of "The Bridge," a 1962 melody from celebrated tenor saxophonist, Sonny Rollins. If the listener closes his or her eyes it is not so difficult to imagine the Williamsburg Bridge in New York City, where Rollins practiced day and night before the birth of his comeback album, also titled The Bridge.
Nicolas and his men do a respectful but exciting homage to the sax giant by playing with their heart and soul. The double bassist masters his instrument and creates a perfect atmosphere for young Seattle trumpeter Riley Mulherkar and Swiss saxophonist Luca Stoll to show why they were handpicked by Nicolas for this record.
"Thon's Tea" is another of the album's stimulating themes. Its speed and rhythm changes seem to be linked to the mood of the band. Alex Wintz melancholic tone on the guitar is contrasted by energetic drummer Jimmy Macbride.
"Pisces," the first melody of the album, sets the bar high with its impeccable sound and flawless double bass execution. Riley Mulherkar also shows his depurated trumpet technique. It's a perfect melody to listen to live at Birdland, Blue Note, Dizzy's or any other noted New York City jazz club in which Nicolas has played for more than a decade.
"You and the Night and the Music," a 1934 standard composed by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, is dusted off, reinvented and included in Nine Stories by the young jazz band and its leader, who grew up in Provence, France. One of the piece's most interesting moments comes when guitarist Alex Wintz, saxophonist Luca Stoll and Nicolas play the same notes and chase each others' sound.
"Sweet Lorraine" is the last theme of the album and it's an emotive duo between Clovis Nicolas and Alex Wintz, who studied first at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston and then at the Juilliard School.
Nine Stories is a formidable album for double bass enthusiasts and music lovers alike. Clovis Nicolas is a young but mature jazz artist who's ready to fly high.
Track Listing: 
Pisces; None Shall Wander; Juggling; Mothers and Fathers; Thon's Tea; The Bridge; Tom's Number; You and the Night and the Music; Sweet Lorraine.
Clovis Nicolas: bass; Riley Mulherkar: trumpet; Luca Stoll: tenor and soprano saxophone; Alex Wintz: guitar; Tadataka Unno: piano; Jimmy Macbride: drums.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

1 Sem 2015 - Part Seven

Vijay Iyer Trio
Break Stuff

By Thom Jurek
Though Break Stuff is Vijay Iyer's third appearance on ECM in less than year, it is the debut offering from the longstanding trio on the label. The pianist and composer has been working with bassist Stephen Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore for more than a decade. They've issued two previous recordings together. Iyer usually works conceptually, and Break Stuff is no exception. In the press release he states that "a break in music is still music: a span of time in which to act." We hear this all the time in modern music, whether it be the sounds that emerge from composer Morton Feldman's extended silences, breakbeats by funky drummers or hip-hop samples of them, or instrumental breakdowns in heavy metal and bluegrass -- they follow a moment where everything previous seems to stop. The Iyer Trio illustrate their concept in a 71-minute program that works from a suite of the same title: three works named for birds were adapted from his multi-media collaboration with author Teju Cole on Open City (illustrating in performance the novel of the same name), three standards, and works that deliver directly on the premise, including the stellar "Hood," which was inspired by Detroit techno DJ Robert Hood. The head patterns are all single-note and chord pulses, fractioned by Gilmore's precise skittering beats, breaks, and martial fills, and accented, stretched, and fragmented again by Crump. Despite its staggered parts and shifting dynamics, it is quite organic. The reading of Thelonious Monk's "Work" commences straightforwardly, following head-solo-head formula, but moves toward the margins in both the pianist's and bassists's solos. The trio's interplay offers a very pointillistic illustration of the composer's coloristic and rhythmic invention. John Coltrane's "Countdown" is taken further afield. While it retains the composer's sense of energy and flow, the pianist breaks down and reassembles its melody and sections with funky snare drops, stop-and-start legato runs, and an exceptionally syncopated bassline. The tune remains utterly recognizable despite their liberties. While opener "Starlings" is the most consciously lyric of the bird pieces, and the band begins to open up into a decidedly internal sense of swing, "Geese," with its arco basslines, intermittently placed choirs, and brushed snares is almost wholly abstract until its lyric side comes into view little more than half-way through. Billy Strayhorn's "Blood Count" is performed as a piano solo and played with a lyricism, spaciousness, and taste that would make the composer smile. The title track opens briskly with fleet statements, yet gradually reveals an inherent lyricism via Crump's solo. Break Stuff is modern jazz on the bleeding edge, a music that not only asks musical questions but answers them, and it does so accessibly and immediately, no matter the form or concept it chooses to express. This trio aims at an interior center, finds it, and pushes out, projecting Iyer & Co.'s discoveries.

Ellis Marsalis Trio
On The First Occasion

By Jim's Jazz Notes
Anytime Ellis Marsalis releases a new CD it’s likely to get my attention. This brand new release was no exception, but it wasn’t until I started reading thru the liner notes that I fully understood. This CD is being released on ELM music, the resurrection of a self-made label dating back to 1974 when Marsalis self-released a solo piano recording. Now, close to 40 years later his youngest son and resident drummer Jason has produced this CD, but the featured music was actually recorded in 1998 and wasn’t mixed until five years later, in 2003. And now it is finally being reissued on ELM. What I’m not sure of is whether this music was actually released in some other format previously, thus making this a reissue, or whether it sat dormant all this time. The liner notes are sort of hard to figure out. Ellis talks about this CD being the second chapter of the resurrected ELM label. But then Jason talks about reissuing old masters under the ELM label and also mentions ELM releasing new recordings as well. Yet the liner notes clearly list the recording date as October 5-6, 1998 and he never makes it entirely clear if this is a reissue, and if so, what and when the original release was.
So enough of the background. This is a collection of standards and in his typically refined manner the senior statesman of the New Orleans Jazz world gives us an impeccable performance with trio members who provide a very tight, cohesive and smooth sound. This kind of music really is pretty timeless… and for an older recording, the sound quality is quite nice. Jason was still in his early twenties at the time of this recording but already displays a very light touch that is just perfect a repertoire that goes from lush ballads to uptempo bop with irresistible elements of swing and New Orleans second line. New or old, this music is welcome in my home any day!
Ellis Marsalis: piano; Bill Huntington: bass; Jason Marsalis: drums

Aaron Goldberg
The Now

By Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph 
Aaron Goldberg is one of that younger generation of super-aware and self-conscious American jazz pianists. They’re terribly serious, and tend to harp on about things we know already, such as the fact that jazz "lives in the moment". They know the tradition inside out, but can’t help coming at it from a distance because they know so many other things too.
The PR blurb tells us Goldberg graduated from Harvard, "with a focus on Mind, Brain and Behaviour". There are signs Goldberg knows the tougher end of classical music as well, such as the strict canon he inserts in Parker’s Perhaps. When he takes a familiar chord-change pattern, like the one from Joe Henderson’s Serenity, he cuts one bar from it just to keep us on our toes, and makes a whole new number out of it.
So for all Goldberg’s stated emphasis on ‘risk’ this is a very polished album, divided between his own compositions, a few jazz standards, and some delightful reworkings of Brazilian songs. The best of these is Chico Buarque’s gently sad Trocando Em Miudos Buarque, which Goldberg makes into something interestingly dark. Like everything on the disc it shows a fleet quality which goes beyond a delicate touch, though Goldberg has that too. It's a speed of both finger and brain, which in Warne Marsh’s Background Music in particular is astounding.
Bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland are old sparring partners, and they can certainly more than keep up. On the final track guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel joins the trio for Goldberg’s own One Life, a beautifully sad, subtle number that only reveals its heart on a second or third hearing.
It’s a marvel in so many ways, but if only there were more sign of the risk Goldberg prizes so much. There’s a certain coolness about everything, partly due to the oppressively beautiful recorded sound, but also Goldberg’s constantly soft touch gets frustrating. This oyster would have made a better pearl, with some grit inside.
Track List:
1. Trocando Em Miudos; 2. Yoyo; 3. The Wind In The Night; 4. E-Land
5. Perhaps; 6. Triste Baía Da Guanabara; 7. Background Music; 8. Francisca
9. One\'s A Crowd; 10. One Life
Aaron Goldberg - piano; Reuben Rogers - bass; Eric Harland - drums
Kurt Rosenwinkel - guitar (track 10)

João Donato
Live Jazz In Rio, Vol. 1

By Galeria Musical
Com o mote de celebrar os 80 anos de João Donato – que serão comemorados em 17 de agosto de 2014 -, acaba de sair pelo selo Discobertas os discos “Live Jazz In Rio Vol.1” e “Live Jazz In Rio Vol. 2”, que juntos trazem a apresentação feita por Donato em dezembro de 2013, que encerrou o “Festival Jazzmania 30 Anos” em Ipanema.
A forma como os discos foram lançados é bem interessante. Ao invés de acomodar a apresentação em um CD duplo, o que seria o natural na maioria dos casos, Donato colocou no mercado, para ser vendido em lojas, apenas o disco chamado “Vol.1”, enquanto o “Vol.2”, só poderá ser adquirido nos shows do artista, conforme sugere a inovação criada pelo diretor da gravadora Discobertas, Marcelo Fróes.
Tal fato é ainda motivado por um convite presente em ambos os encartes dos CDs, ou seja, no “Vol.1” há o convite para ir comprar o “Vol.2”, enquanto no “Vol.2” há o convite para adquirir o “Vol.1” nas lojas.
Em ótima forma ao piano, João Donato é acompanhado por seu trio, composto por Robertinho Silva (Bateria), Luiz Alves (Contrabaixo) e Ricardo Pontes (Sax e Flauta), e juntos divertem os presentes com canções como as divertidas “Bananeira” (João Donato, Gilberto Gil), “Nasci Para Bailar” (João Donato, Paulo André Barata) e “Suco de Maracujá” (João Donato, Martinho da Vila), além dos ótimos números instrumentais como “Song For My Father” (Horace Silver), “Paradise Found” (Shorty Rangers), todas do primeiro CD, apelidado de “O Couro Tá Comendo”.
Já o segundo disco, alcunhado de “O Bicho Tá Pegando”, traz como destaques as instrumentais “Minha Saudade” (João Donato, João Gilberto), “No Clube do Choro” (João Donato), além de “Bolero Digital” (João Donato, Nelson Motta) , “Por Aí...” (João Donato, Moacyr Luz) e “Menina do Cabelão” (João Donato, Gabriel Moura), mas cabe também apontar “Amazonas” (João Donato, Lysias Enio), faixa de incríveis dez minutos, como apropriado encerramento (antes da faixa bônus) do segundo volume.

Paulo Francisco Paes
Chão de Nuvens

By: Isabella Pedreira at Conexão Jornalismo
A música instrumental brasileira ganha um sopro de renovação: Paulo Francisco Paes. Pianista e compositor de apenas 30 anos já ganhou alguns prêmios e concursos, como o "Magda de Tagliaferro" e o título "Melhor intérprete de Bach". Além disso, está se destacando como autor de trilhas sonoras originais para o cinema e teatro. O lançamento do seu primeiro Cd, "Chão de nuvens", aconteceu na quarta-feira (10) no Espaço Tom Jobim no Rio de Janeiro.
A paixão pela música começou aos 11 anos, quando ao escutar seus tios tocando piano, decidiu estudar o instrumento. Aos 15 já estava decidido internamente que seria músico profissional. A composição veio só mais tarde, depois de um longo período de estudo para se formar como instrumentista.
"As composições todas sempre vieram de uma maneira muito natural enquanto eu tava tocando ou estudando alguma coisa. De repente vinha uma melodia, eu parava para escrever, desenvolvia para uma peça para piano, ou uma canção. É muito difícil dizer de onde vem a fonte de inspiração, acho que vem da paixão pela música mesmo", explica Paulo Francisco.
Alguns músicos consagrados estão no repertório de influência do pianista: Betthoven, Villa lobos, Tom Jobim, Piazzola, Egberto Gismonti, Chico Buarque, entre outros. Paulo Francisco mistura os ritmos de uma forma natural criando seu próprio estilo. "É engraçado como essas influências aparecem de uma maneira muito inconsciente, é muito interessante porque não é uma coisa racional. Eu vou compondo e de repente quando eu vou ver aparece um ritmo de baião, que eu não tinha pensado ou um tango."
1. Poema; 2. Giz; 3. Chão de Nuvens; 4. Quem Dera; 5. Valente; 6. Naquela Tarde
7. Improviso; 8. Chora Coração; 9. Madrid; 10. Marés; 11. Sempre Perto; 12. Sens

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Lew Soloff 1944 - 2015

By Jeff Tamarkin at JazzTimes
Lew Soloff, a fixture on the New York jazz scene for a half-century, and best known for his association with Blood, Sweat and Tears, died this morning, March 8, in New York City. His daughter, Laura Solomon, confirming Soloff’s death, stated on her Facebook page that he suffered a massive heart attack while returning home after eating dinner with his family. Soloff was 71.
Soloff was best known for his five-year stint with jazz-rock pioneers Blood, Sweat and Tears, which he joined in 1968. He was present on the group’s Grammy-winning self-titled second album, performing at Woodstock with the group and contributing prominently to the hit “Spinning Wheel.” He remained with BS&T until 1973, recording five albums in all with the band. He also contributed regularly to recordings by Gil Evans and Carla Bley and served as a sideman for many other artists, as well as recording several albums as a leader.
Born Lewis Soloff in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 20, 1944, Soloff was raised in Lakewood, N.J., where he first studied piano. He switched to trumpet at age10 and developed an interest in jazz. He attended Juilliard Preparatory, then the Eastman School of Music beginning in 1961, followed by a year in graduate school at Juilliard.
Soloff’s first professional association was with the Latin bandleader Machito, and in 1966 he joined Maynard Ferguson’s outfit. Soloff also played during this time in a big band co-led by Joe Henderson and Kenny Dorham, as well as with pianist/arranger Gil Evans, with whom Soloff would continue to collaborate until Evans’ death in 1988. Soloff also spent time during the late ’60s working with Tito Puente, Clark Terry, Eddie Palmieri and others, but it was his role as a core member of Blood, Sweat and Tears during that band’s commercial peak that brought him his greatest and most lasting recognition.
During the 1980s, Soloff was a member of the group Members Only and, beginning in 1983, the Manhattan Jazz Quintet, with which he recorded more than 20 albums (most for the Japanese market, where the group was extremely popular). He recorded nine albums as a leader, beginning with Hanalei Bay in 1986; the last was 2004’s Air on a G String.
Soloff’s contributions to the discography of Carla Bley occurred between 1988 and 2008. Other artists with whom Soloff record or played, according to a bio on his website, were Roy Ayers, Bob Belden, George Benson, Benny Carter, Stanley Clarke, Paquito D’Rivera, Miles Davis/Quincy Jones, Mercer Ellington, Grant Green, Lionel Hampton, Bob James, Herbie Mann, Tania Maria, Carmen McRae, Laura Nyro, Jaco Pastorius, Mongo Santamaria, Little Jimmy Scott, Wayne Shorter and Stanley Turrentine. The site also states that Soloff accompanied many well-known vocalists, including Tony Bennett, Elvis Costello, Marianne Faithfull, Aretha Franklin, Lou Reed, Frank Sinatra, Paul Simon and Barbra Streisand, and also appeared on projects by Phillip Glass, Kip Hanrahan, John Mayall and Dr. John. Soloff also contributed music to numerous film soundtracks.
As an educator, he was on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music for nearly 20 years and served an adjunct faculty member at Julliard and New School.

Orrin Keepnews 1923 - 2015

By Rolling Stone
Orrin Keepnews, an NEA Jazz Master, Thelonious Monk producer, record exec and four-time Grammy winner, passed away today at his home in El Cerrito, California at the age of 91, one day shy of his 92nd birthday. Keepnews' son Peter, an editor for the New York Times, confirmed his father's death to the newspaper. No cause of death was given.
After starting out his career as a journalist and editor while moonlighting as the head of the jazz magazine The Record Changer, Keepnews teamed with Bill Grauer to form Riverside Records in 1953. Jazz legend Thelonious Monk, one of the musicians that Keepnews profiled while at Record Changer, soon joined the label in 1955.
It was on Riverside that Monk, with Keepnews serving as producer, crafted some of his most revered albums like 1956's Brilliant Corners and 1957's Monk's Music and Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane. Ironically, trumpeter Clark Terry, one of the two surviving musicians (Sonny Rollins being the other) to appear on the Grammy Hall of Fame-inducted and Keepnews-produced Brilliant Corners, also passed away last week.
Keepnews' Riverside Records would also be home to essential jazz recordings from the Bill Evans Trio, Cannonball Adderley, Randy Weston and Charlie Byrd. Following Riverside's bankruptcy midway through the Sixties, Keepnews was briefly the head of Milestone Records before he segued into an A&R position at Fantasy Records. He would later found Landmark Records, home to artists like Kronos Quartet, Buddy Montgomery and Yusef Lateef.
Keepnews frequently returned to his writing roots, penning album notes for some of the LPs he had worked on; the compilation Thelonious Monk: The Complete Riverside Collection earned Keepnews a pair of Grammys – Best Album Notes and Best Historical Album. Keepnews would win another Best Historical Album Grammy in 1999 for The Duke Ellington Centennial Edition: The Complete RCA Victor Recordings (1927-1973).
In 2011, Keepnews was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment of the Arts for his "significant contributions" to the field of jazz. He also received a lifetime achievement award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 2004.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

1 Sem 2015 - Part Six

Chick Corea Trio

By Bill Meredith
After half a century as a preeminent jazz composer and musician, 73-year-old keyboardist Chick Corea is in a rare place as an artist who can release practically whatever he wants. In recent years, his incredibly prolific output has included everything from solo-piano outings to duos to sets by reshuffled iterations of Return to Forever. Even the releases themselves, like this three-CD live collection clocking in at nearly three and a half hours, are bursting with material. Overkill? Perhaps. But fortunately Corea’s band here features bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade, forming a trio worthy of comparison to Corea’s great acoustic threesomes from Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes to Eddie Gomez and Paul Motian.
Five years ago, McBride played electric bass and Blade subbed for Vinnie Colaiuta on tour in Corea’s Five Peace Band, co-led with guitarist John McLaughlin and also featuring saxophonist Kenny Garrett. So the chemistry within this trio is evident from the outset. Corea’s opening composition, “You’re My Everything,” immediately spotlights the interactive ears of the swinging Blade, who answers the pianist’s phrases with both drumsticks and brushes as McBride provides the glue with accents and walking lines.
Corea then covers four pieces: Joe Henderson’s “Recorda Me,” Thelonious Monk’s whimsical “Work” and delightful new reads of “The Song Is You” and “My Foolish Heart,” the lattermost captured in Madrid with Spanish guest stars Niño Josele (guitar) and Jorge Pardo (flute). They both return for a barnburning 18-minute version of Corea’s “Spain.
The recording sites are as wide-ranging as the songwriting credits, from Washington, D.C., and Oakland, Calif., to Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Turkey and Japan. Disc two intersperses American Songbook material (“Alice in Wonderland,” “It Could Happen to You,” “How Deep Is the Ocean”) with another rousing Monk number (“Blue Monk”), Corea’s lone original, “Armando’s Rhumba,” and a couple of surprises. Kurt Weill’s “This Is New” is a highlight thanks to Corea’s exquisite touch, McBride’s take-no-prisoners break and Blade’s melodic approach. And Scriabin could never have imagined this trio’s take on his “Op. 11, No. 9,” a democratic call-and-response showcase for all three musicians.
Disc three closes with something old after two very long pieces of something new. Corea’s “Homage” is dedicated to the late flamenco guitar genius Paco de Lucía, and the pianist captures his essence through a darting unaccompanied intro and sections ranging from somber to spirited. And Corea’s previously unrecorded “Piano Sonata: The Moon,” clocking in at a half-hour, is a shell-game of written and improvised sections filled with starts and stops, crescendos and space. Its impeccable follow-up is the chestnut “Someday My Prince Will Come,” sung by Corea’s wife, Gayle Moran, which causes the crowd in Sapporo, Japan, to erupt. The couple starts the tune as a duet before McBride and Blade enter, playfully accenting Corea’s subtleties before Moran sustains a 22-second upper-register note to close (she was, some may forget, a vocalist and keyboardist for both Return to Forever and the Mahavishnu Orchestra in the 1970s).
This expansive three-CD set offers a lot to digest, and may even come across as self-indulgent on paper. Then again, chances are that nearly every listener at these concerts left the venue wanting more. With Trilogy, they don’t have to.

Baptiste Trotignon

Posted by Irwin Block 
There is an overwhelming sense of joy and playfulness in this latest album by French pianist Baptiste Trotignon, who has never sounded better.
Perhaps it’s the recurring company on this all-original outing: the big tone and melodic voice of French compatriot Thomas Bramerie on bass, and the tuneful ears, experience and technique of American drummer Jeff Ballard.
Ballard gives just the right touch to enhance and accentuate the verve in Trotignon dynamics, as he has done so effectively with pianist Brad Mehldau. Trotignon roams over the keyboard with purposeful abandon on the tone poem Choral, closing with a revisit to that theme.
Abracadabra is a more percussive and up-tempo excursion, more rhythmically complex, while Paul is lyrical in varying tempi and modes, with even an Eleanor Rigby reference! It defies definition.
This CD is a lot of fun to listen to and an uplifting musical session.

David Hazeltine
For All We Know

By C. Andrew W Hovan
While many of today's jazz pianists are looking to make a name for themselves by morphing their jazz chops with shades of hip hop, the avant-garde, or world music, David Hazeltine avoids these pitfalls altogether. His individuality is achieved through commitment to his craft and an immediately recognizable composing and arranging style that has a clear and refreshing sense of purpose. Even while he pays tribute to Cedar Walton on For All We Know, Hazeltine's music speaks with a decisive quality that marks him as one of the true piano greats of his generation.
There's much to be said for the cohesiveness that comes from musicians sharing the stage together on a regular basis and in the case of Hazeltine, bassist David Williams, and drummer Joe Farnsworth, you'd be hard pressed to find a rhythm section that is more in tune with itself. Providing the 'yin' to the trio's 'yang' is tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, making his first appearance here with Hazeltine and crew.
If you're familiar with Hazeltine's music, you know that he's become somewhat of an icon when it comes to rearranging standards. He has a knack of making everything he touches sound like his own work, breathing new life into standards like "My Ship," "Imagination," and "For All We Know." His own pieces are no less interesting, with him doubling melody lines with Blake on "Pooh" or reprising the funky excitement of "Eddie Harris," a tune first heard several years ago on a One For All set. All in all, this is another solid addition to Hazeltine's catalog and his first live recording as a leader.
Et Cedra; My Ship; Pooh; Lord Walton; For All We Know; Eddie Harris; Cheryl; Imagination; A.D. Bossa.
David Hazeltine: piano; Seamus Blake: tenor sax; David Williams: bass; Joe Farnsworth: drums.

Diana Krall

By Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Diana Krall paid tribute to her father on Glad Rag Doll, the 2012 album sourced from his collection of 78-rpm records, and, in a sense, its 2015 successor Wallflower is a companion record of sorts, finding the singer revisiting songs from her childhood. Like many kids of the 20th century, she grew up listening to the radio, which meant she was weaned on the soft rock superhits of the '70s -- songs that earned sniffy condescension at the time but nevertheless have turned into modern standards due to their continual presence in pop culture (and arguably were treated that way at the time, seeing cover after cover by middlebrow pop singers). Krall does not limit herself to the songbook of Gilbert O'Sullivan, Jim Croce, the Carpenters, Elton John, and the Eagles, choosing to expand her definition of soft rock to include a previously unrecorded Paul McCartney song called "If I Take You Home Tonight" (a leftover from his standards album Kisses on the Bottom), Bob Dylan's "Wallflower," Chantal Kreviazuk's "Feels Like Home," and Neil Finn's "Don't Dream It's Over," a song from 1986 that has been covered frequently in the three decades since. "Don't Dream It's Over" slides into this collection easily, as it's as malleable and timeless as "California Dreamin'," "Superstar," "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," or "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)," songs that are identified with specific artists but are often covered successfully. Krall's renditions rank among those successes because she's understated, never fussing with the melodies but allowing her arrangements to slink by in a deliberate blend of sparseness and sophistication. It's an aesthetic that helps transform the Eagles' "I Can't Tell You Why" and 10cc's "I'm Not in Love," singles that are as successful as much for their production as their song, into elegant torch songs, yet it doesn't do much for Kreviazuk's pedestrian "Feels Like Home," nor does it lend itself to the loping country of "Wallflower," which may provide the name for this album but feels like an uninvited guest among these majestically melodic middle-of-the-road standards. These stumbles are slight and, tellingly, they put into context Krall's achievement with Wallflower: by singing these songs as sweet and straight as the dusty old standards on Glad Rag Doll or the bossa nova on 2009's Quiet Nights, she demonstrates how enduring these once-dismissed soft rock tunes really are.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

1 Sem 2015 - Part Five

Billy Childs
Map To The Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro

By Matt Collar
A technically adroit pianist with an ear for sensitive, emotive accompaniment, Billy Childs has built a career primarily around backing other artists, including trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, vocalist Dianne Reeves, and trumpeter Chris Botti. Although he's recorded a number of superb solo dates, on 2014's Map to the Treasure: Reimagining Laura Nyro, Childs once again sets himself just outside of the spotlight as he gathers various musical friends to pay homage to his longtime idol, the late singer/songwriter Laura Nyro. Having discovered Nyro's emotive and lyrically thoughtful genre-crossing folk recordings in his teens while studying jazz and classical music at the University of Southern California's Community School for the Performing Arts, Childs would eventually get to work with Nyro prior to her death from ovarian cancer in 1997. One gets the sense that in an ideal world, Childs might have recorded this album with Nyro herself as a kind of retrospective anthology. In lieu of that poignant fantasy, here Childs, along with producer and former USC Community Schools classmate Larry Klein, have reinterpreted a handful of Nyro's songs, taking an ambitious, cross-genre approach that balances the intimate folk of her original recordings with a layered jazz and symphonic pop sound. Along with the aforementioned Reeves and Botti, Childs is joined by such like-minded luminaries as vocalist Renee Fleming, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, singer/songwriter Rickie Lee Jones, bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and others. Ultimately, with Map to the Treasure, Childs doesn't simply reimagine Nyro's songs as elevate them in a spiritual and heartfelt celebration of her life and music.

Peter Zak
The Disciple

By C. Michael Bailey
Pianist Peter Zak had a transcontinental shift from Los Angeles to Columbus and Kent Ohio and, finally, to New Your City, where he has remained since 1989. He has released critically well-received CDs for the Danish SteepleChase label: The Eternal Triangle (2012), Nordic Noon (2011) and Down East (2011). He returns with the present trio recording, The Disciple.
The jazz market is a small land finicky one. It is really no longer possible to simply put together a piano trio recording of original and standards that stands out from the battlefield clotted with the same. The smarter artists, like Zak, add a program or theme to their recordings, something that gives an otherwise disparate collection of pieces some continuity or integrity. In the The Disciple, this integrating factor are compositions by pianists Zak has be influenced by, and that list is impressive.
Zak opens The Disciple with a circular performance of Chick Corea's "The Loop." He follows this with one of three originals he peppers the recording with. Representing Elmo Hope, Zak selects "Barfly," Hope's "'Round Midnight." Zak and his responsive trio of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Willie Jones III give the piece its necessary crepuscular after-hours spirit.
Horace Silver's "Nutville" is provided a solid minor-key accompaniment over which Zak waxes poetic with hard bop riffs and roars. Truly inspired is Zak tossing in a Scriabin Prelude (Op. 35 #2) into the mix making this quite an interesting collection. Performances of Herbie Hancock's Requiem," Hampton Hawes' "Jackie" and Thelonious Monk's "Criss Cross" amp up the drama.
Track Listing: 
The Loop; Montserrat; Barfly; Nutville; Prelude, Op. 35 #2; Requiem; Jackie; Criss Cross; Nightfall in Kandy; The disciple.
Peter Zak: piano; Peter Washington: bass; Willie Jones III: drums.

Geoffrey Keezer
Heart Of The Piano

By Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The title Heart of the Piano makes it plain: after over a decade of collaborations, pianist Geoffrey Keezer has returned with a solo acoustic piano session. Perhaps the title also suggests something sentimental -- and he does dedicate four of the songs to individual members of his family -- but this isn't a collection of sticky love songs. Keezer takes some happy, subtle risks with his material, opening the album with Rush's classic rock warhorse "Limelight," working his way to moody selections from Peter Gabriel ("Come Talk to Me") and Alanis Morissette ("Still"), and finding time for KT Tunstall's joyous "Suddenly I See" and Christian McBride's "Lullaby for a Ladybug" while still working in a couple of originals as well. Keezer lets all of these songs breathe -- sometimes speeding up, sometimes drawing things out either with tension or a luxurious, lax sense of dreaminess -- dancing around the melody without neglecting it, gliding up and down the keys but skirting a sense of indulgence. It's a sweet, slyly mischievous set that truly lets Keezer show a full range of emotions without ever seeming like he's showing off.

George Colligan
Ask Me Tomorrow

By Brent Black /
The artistic evolution of George Colligan, Ask Me Tomorrow is a stunning triumph!
Next to a solo piano release, the piano trio may be the most unforgiving ensemble presentations in improvisational music. The harmonic equivalent of tap dancing in a melodic minefield. This is an easy statement to make when you are an admittedly cynical critic that has reviewed more piano trios in four years than most people have heard in their lifetime. This is also a primary reason that George Colligan's Ask Me Tomorrow is a wondrous look into the cerebral vision of an artistic journey that has come full circle. There is a syncopated synergy of harmonic movement that some of Colligan's contemporaries have ignored, perhaps forgetting the piano originated as a percussive instrument. George Colligan pulls an ambient almost ethereal like quality while pushing what is normally considered the "straight ahead" sound into the next dimension.
To focus on the minutia of Ask Me Tomorrow in terms of critical analysis would be doing an injustice to this amazing collective that is rounded off with the fabulous Linda Oh on bass and the lyrical finesse of drummer Ted Poor. While Colligan would seem to favor minor keys, odd meters and an organic pulse, the overwhelming beauty of his melodies only seem stronger for his approach. Open, warm, deceptively subtle in nuanced texture is the embodiment of what can best be referred to as capturing lighting in a bottle as this is a live studio recording, three hours in the studio and no rehearsal. The results include the percussive insistence and odd metered groove of "Insistent Linda." We are also graciously served up an intimate "Jesper's Summer House." The richness of flavor is fortified with the dynamic tension of the free formed "Two Notes, Four Chords." The hauntingly beautiful "Denmark" may well be the jewel in this amazing collection. These are all original compositions, no standards...Ask Me Tomorrow is predictable by embracing an open ended unpredictable nature.
I have been hard on George Colligan and not because I know more about music or because I have some pseudo-intellectual axe to grind but because I knew this was an artist that could go deep. We all can pull from a deeper place; artists, listeners and especially critics. This is the George Colligan I have been waiting for. While the year is still relatively young, Ask Me Tomorrow may be one of the very best recordings I have heard in my four hundred plus reviews thus far and easily one of the most memorable piano trios that I have heard in the last decade.