Saturday, August 27, 2016

Rudy Van Gelder 1924 - 2016

By Felix Contreras
Rudy Van Gelder, an audio recording engineer who captured the sounds of many of jazz's landmark albums, died Thursday morning in his sleep. He was at his home studio in New Jersey, according to Maureen Sickler, his assistant engineer. He was 91.
Van Gelder's work is heard on hundreds of albums, on record labels like Blue Note, Prestige, Savoy and Impulse, featuring the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Art Blakey and Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, Sonny Rollins and Wayne Shorter. His contribution to jazz was twisting knobs and setting microphones, but it proved vitally important. For more than six decades, Van Gelder's innovative approach to recording created a trademark sound that many call definitive. As a result, he became the go-to guy for musicians looking to accurately capture their unique sound identities on record.
Van Gelder started by recording his high-school friends in his parents' living room in Hackensack, N.J., in the 1940s. Those early sessions turned into a side career in audio recording — by day, he was a practicing optometrist — which turned into a full-time occupation.
He was not a producer with artistic control, but as a technician, Van Gelder handled every aspect of the recording process from setup to mastering. He was notoriously secretive about his techniques, though part of his method involved how he placed each instrument in its own sonic space. That allowed for the subtleties and dynamics of the ways musicians manipulated the brass and wood of acoustic instruments.
In a 1993 interview with NPR, Van Gelder explained the motivation for his meticulous approach to studio recording.
"What we're doing is important," he said. "As opposed, for example, to a club date where a musician goes and couple hundred people are going to hear what he played that night. If he's making a record, even if it's not a very successful record, thousands of people ultimately are going to hear it. And I consider that important."
Saxophonist Sonny Rollins worked with Van Gelder on many sessions, including those which resulted in Saxophone Colossus, A Night At The Village Vanguard (a live remote recording) and Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins. On the phone at his home, he remembered Van Gelder as "very much an artist" whose talent allowed musicians to focus on doing their jobs.
"It wasn't the days when ... everybody comes by and listens in the booth and sees how it sounds," Rollins said. "No, no — if we did it, we knew [the recording] would be impeccable, and perfect. And so we came in, did our recordings, and we left. Next thing, record comes out with superb sound. Hey, well, that's Rudy. Rudy was the engineer."
In 1959, after he had already recorded the aforementioned Rollins albums and hundreds of others, Van Gelder moved from his parents' living room to a custom-built recording studio in nearby Englewood Cliffs, N.J. It had nine-foot-high cathedral ceilings, appropriate for a space that would become a shrine for jazz musicians.
Rudy Van Gelder took pains to credit the performers who created the sounds, as well as the producers who chose his studio to document that work. Still, they kept choosing his studio.
"We get albums that sound the way they want them to sound," Van Gelder said in 1993. "The rest of it can all be very difficult — including me, personally and any other way. But I try to make sure that nothing leaves here that is not flattering to the musician and that is not what the musician wants. When they tell me that they like what they hear, what comes out of here, then that's my reward."
As he entered his 70s, Van Gelder helped Blue Note and Prestige take his original analog recordings into the digital age by remastering them. Don Sickler, a musician who is married to Van Gelder's assistant Maureen Sickler, says Van Gelder was working on a mix just last week. When he died, he was just down the hall from his beloved studio.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Toots Thielemans 1922 - 2016

By Peter Keepnews
Toots Thielemans, one of the only musicians to have a successful career as a jazz harmonica player, died on Monday in Brussels. He was 94.
The death was confirmed by Mr. Thielemans’s agency, which did not specify a cause. Mr. Thielemans, who retired in 2014 for health reasons, had been hospitalized recently with a broken arm.
That Mr. Thielemans played jazz on the harmonica was unusual enough. Even more unusual was how he first gained international attention: by playing guitar and whistling in unison.
He introduced this approach in 1961 on his recording of the wistful but jaunty jazz waltz “Bluesette,” which he wrote.
The record became an international hit, and the song was his signature. It also became a jazz standard, recorded by numerous instrumentalists, among them Chet Atkins, Tito Puente and Mr. Thielemans himself, who went on to record it several more times. It was also recorded, with lyrics by Norman Gimbel, by Sarah Vaughan and other singers.
But his distinctive sound on the chromatic harmonica was Mr. Thielemans’s primary claim to fame and, especially, to fortune.
Although his name was well known in the jazz world — he performed with greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker — it was relatively unknown to the general public; his playing, on the other hand, was virtually ubiquitous.
It can be heard on the soundtracks of movies including “Midnight Cowboy” and “The Getaway.” It was featured in television commercials and on records by, among many others, Ms. Fitzgerald, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones, who once called Mr. Thielemans “one of the greatest musicians of our time.” For more than four decades, it has been heard in the opening theme music of “Sesame Street.”
Jean-Baptiste Frédéric Isidore Thielemans was born on April 29, 1922, in Brussels, where his parents owned a cafe. He offered various explanations over the years for how he came to be known as Toots, sometimes saying he chose the name himself and at others saying it was given to him; whatever the truth, the name was apparently borrowed from two American jazz musicians, Nuncio Mondello and Salvador Camarata, who both went by Toots.
Musically inclined from an early age, he began playing the accordion at 3 and took up the harmonica in his teens. A few years later, inspired by Django Reinhardt, a fellow Belgian, he began playing guitar, as well. By the end of World War II he had become a full-time musician.
In 1949, he shared the stage with Charlie Parker at the Paris Jazz Festival, and a year later he toured Europe as the guitarist in a sextet led by Benny Goodman. He moved to the United States in 1951 and eventually became a citizen.
From 1953 to 1959, he was a member of the British jazz pianist George Shearing’s popular quintet. He mostly played guitar with Mr. Shearing, but his harmonica work was featured on at least one number at every performance. It was also showcased on the handful of albums he recorded as a leader in those years.
After leaving the Shearing group, Mr. Thielemans became a busy studio musician, even spending a few years on staff at ABC. But he remained active in jazz, with the harmonica now his main instrument. He toured frequently, and occasionally recorded as the leader of a small group, for the rest of his life.
Most of his albums presented him in a straightforward jazz context, but late in his career they took on a more international color. On “The Brasil Project,” released in 1992, and a follow-up, released the next year, he collaborated with Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil and other prominent Brazilian artists. And on the 1998 album “Chez Toots” he returned to his roots, leading a group of French and Belgian musicians in a program of French songs.
Playing a set in New York a few months after turning 80, Mr. Thielemans “seemed dazzled by his glorious sunset, and found shelter under the umbrella of sophisticated schmaltz,” Ben Ratliff wrote in The New York Times, adding: “He’s in good shape, only losing wind at the end of a long string of notes; but he finds off-centered rhythms, attaining a little bit of freedom, knocking his instrument from side to side for tremolos.”
Albert II, then the king of Belgium, bestowed on Mr. Thielemans the honorary title of baron in 2001. The country’s prime minister, Charles Michel, said on Monday, “We have lost a great musician, a warm personality.”
The National Endowment for the Arts named Mr. Thielemans a jazz master for 2009, the highest honor that can be accorded a jazz musician in the United States. “I accept this distinction with pride and emotion,” he said at the time, adding that he had only “played at music” until a Louis Armstrong record in 1940 provided “instant contamination” and changed the direction of his life.
Mr. Thielemans lived in La Hulpe, a suburb of Brussels. Information on survivors was not immediately available.
In March 2006, Mr. Thielemans was the guest of honor at an all-star Carnegie Hall tribute concert, with the pianist Herbie Hancock and the clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera among the performers. Reviewing the concert for The Times, Nate Chinen praised both Mr. Thielemans’s “exuberantly expressive” playing and his infectious spirit.
“No one stole the spotlight from Mr. Thielemans,” he wrote. “He was having giddy fun, and the feeling was contagious.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bobby Hutcherson 1941 - 2016

By Associated Press
Bobby Hutcherson, the bricklayer's son who became one of the greatest, most inventive jazz vibraphonists to pick up a pair of mallets, has died at age 75.
Hutcherson died Monday at his family home in Montara, a small seaside community south of San Francisco. The cause was complications related to emphysema, longtime family friend Marshall Lamm said.
Best known for his post-bop recordings for Blue Note Records in the 1960s and 1970s, Hutcherson played with a litany of jazz greats as both bandleader and sideman during a career spanning more than 50 years.
Among them were Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon, the latter a childhood friend.
When “Enjoy the View,” the last of his more than 40 albums, was released in 2014, JazzTimes magazine declared it “a worthy addition to an era-defining discography.” Among Hutcherson's last performances was a four-night run of shows two years ago at San Francisco's SFJazz Center, where he played alongside saxophonist David Sanborn, organist Joey DeFrancesco and drummer Billy Hart, who had recorded “Enjoy the View” with him.
Noted for an eclectic approach that was at once colorful, powerful, cool and melodic, Hutcherson came of age musically as jazz was moving into a cerebral, more avant-garde era that matched his playing style.
“Bobby Hutcherson's sound and innovative style on the vibraphone helped revitalize the instrument in the 1960s, adding an adventurous new voice to the free jazz and post-bop eras,” the National Endowment for the Arts, which honored him with its prestigious Jazz Master award in 2010, said Tuesday.
Robert Hutcherson was born Jan. 17, 1941, in Los Angeles and raised in Pasadena.
He studied piano as a child but switched to vibraphone after hearing Milt Jackson play the instrument on a recording of Thelonious Monk's “Bemsha Swing.”
Captivated by the sound, he recalled spending the summer working for his father so he could save enough money to buy his own vibraphone.
As soon as he acquired it, jazz bass player Herbie Lewis, a junior high school buddy, allowed him to join his band and almost immediately got the group a small local gig. Unfortunately, Hutcherson hadn't yet had time to learn to play his instrument.
He said, “Don't worry. We'll take a black felt pen and write down on each bar which note to hit next,” Hutcherson told JazzTimes in 2014.
Just before he was to go on, however, a stage manager erased all the marks.
“Well, I hit the first note; I remembered that. But from the second note on it was complete chaos. You never heard people boo and laugh like that.”
Afterward his father told him he wanted his son to become a bricklayer.
Within a few years, however, Hutcherson was playing with greats including saxophonist Billy Mitchell, trombonist Al Grey and the others, appearing at New York City's fabled Birdland and other clubs.
He released his first album, “The Kicker,” in 1963, going on to appear on numerous recordings by other artists as well. He also appeared with Hancock, Gordon and others in the 1986 jazz film “ ‘Round Midnight” and composed “Little B's Poem” and other musical pieces.
He is survived by his wife, Rosemary, and sons Teddy and Barry, the latter a jazz drummer and inspiration for the song “Little B's Poem.”

Saturday, July 30, 2016

2 Sem 2016 - Part One

Brad Mehldau Trio
Blues and Ballads

By Geno Thackara
It's easy to play the blues—or at the very least it's easy to learn the basics—but keeping the form fresh and interesting is another matter entirely. Likewise, any beginner can tackle a quiet ballad, but presenting something simple and pretty is really harder than it sounds. The Brad Mehldau Trio manages its always-distinctive blend of all those things on this lineup's fifth release, still making song-sculpting and harmonic shifting into something both inventive and accessible.
They run a vast gamut in "Since I Fell for You" alone as they stretch that age-old I-IV-V pattern into a ten-minute exploration that never settles into rut or repetition. Mehldau wanders from lightly bouncing shuffle to freeform tonal meandering and back again, whileJeff Ballard and Larry Grenadier demonstrate their impeccable skill for knowing when to add a light touch and when it's best to stay out of the way. The opener and the smoky "My Valentine" wind up bookending the album with the bluesiest treatments while largely sandwiching the more song-based pieces in between. As the title declares, this set omits the genre-spanning originals and modern rock covers (or often reinventions, rather) that usually make part of his mix in favor of more familiar material.
A couple Lennon/McCartney tunes are the newest ones to be found here, while the disc is rounded out by a few standards quite a bit older than that from the likes of Charlie Parkeror Cole Porter. In the spirit (if not necessarily the footsteps) of Keith Jarrett's classic trio, this crew is concerned less with the songs themselves than the possibilities for exploration they can offer. Each provides a springboard to playful dialogue and the chance for surprise. "I Concentrate on You" luxuriates in its airy minor Latin feel while the Beatles' "And I Love Her" gets an extended workout, including staggered rhythmic grooving and a sort of subdued mini-crescendo between the piano and Ballard's drums. The framework may start straightforwardly, but even the simpler pieces get stretched with Mehldau's mix of kaleidoscopic chording and smoothly winding melody runs.
The trio continually enjoys the easy back-and-forth of longtime mates without losing any spontaneity. Whether there's some complexity behind a song's structure or not, the results are always pleasing to the ear and no trouble to simply follow if you don't feel like dissecting what's going on. More seriously intense work can wait for another album (or for the listener, another hour). Forward-thinking envelope-pushers deserve a break now and then as much as anyone, and Blues and Ballads makes an enticing rainy-day listen to give their down time and ours a most beautifully cool accompaniment.
Track Listing: 
Since I Fell for You; I Concentrate on You; Little Person; Cheryl; These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You); And I Love Her; My Valentine.
Brad Mehldau: piano; Larry Grenadier: bass; Jeff Ballard: drums.

Steve Kuhn Trio
At This Time...

By Budd Kopman
The wonderful and deeply satisfying At This Time... brings together pianist Steve Kuhn leading a trio comprised of electric bassist Steve Swallow and the ubiquitous (and always smiling drummer) Joey Baron. The immediate impulse for the recording was an extended set by this trio at Birdland, in New York City in 2015.
Swallow and Kuhn go back forty years to Kuhn's ECM debut,Trance, with Kuhn knowing Baron for more than twenty years. This trio also recorded Kuhn's latest ECM release, Wisteria in 2012.
The set list comes from the tunes played at the gig, and, even though these players all know each other very well, this very feeling of familiarity is enhanced by the fact that they had just played together. Granted, pros can be called together on short notice to play live or record and perform admirably, but there is an ineffable something about the atmosphere created by this album that gives it its special sound.
The nine tracks are mostly in the six-minute range, with Kuhn's "All The Rest Is The Same" taking seven and a half minutes, and "Ah Moore" by Al Cohn reaching over nine minutes, so there is quite enough room for stretching out. However, the record feels as if it flies by, primarily because of the multitude of details that fit together perfectly and which flow ever forward. There is not a moment of fluff or indecision; each tracks sounds like first take, spontaneous creation with nothing to improve upon by trying again.
This feeling of spontaneous perfection is only enhanced by the quality of the recording itself -the piano is crystalline (as is Kuhn's touch), Swallow's amazingly smooth electric bass sound is centered and full, but soft on the edges, while Baron knows exactly what to do and when to do it.
The tunes themselves range from the well known opener, "My Shining Hour" to lesser known standards such as Kurt Weil's "This Is New," "Lonely Town" by Leonard Bernstein and Quincy Jones' "The Pawnbroker" among others. The Kuhn originals are placed in the middle of the set, with the perfect choice of "The Feeling Within" being performed solo, adding just the right touch of intensity.
At This Time... will command attention without demanding it, and the attentive listener will find much in which to revel many times over.
Track Listing: 
My Shining Hour; Ah Moore; The Pawnbroker; All The Rest Is The Same; The Feeling Within; Carousel; Lonely Town; This Is New; I Waited For You.
Steve Kuhn: piano; Steve Swallow: electric bass; Joey Baron: drums.


By Jeff Winbush 
There are three reasons why some people will not enjoySpark, the fourth album from the Trio Project featuring Hiromi Uehara, the Japanese-born pianist and composer and drummer Simon Phillips and bassist Anthony Jackson:
1. It's too complex. 2. It rocks too hard to be jazz. 3. It's long (72 minutes).
None of these are good reasons. Here are three reasons which are good ones:
1. Simplicity has its place. So does complexity. 2. Jazz is not a hyphenated word. It's just jazz. 3. You can't make and bake a cake in two minutes. Patience is its own reward.

Hiromi continues to be one of the most inventive and awe-inspiring pianists in jazz today. Phillips' drumming is alternatingly both dynamic and precise. Jackson is the silent partner of the band, but is the glue which holds it together so it doesn't fly apart into undisciplined soloing.
That's the risk involved in a Hiromi recording. At what point will her dazzling proficiency give way to just spraying notes all around the joint like an Eddie Van Halen freak-out turned up to "11" on the overkill scale? This is an entirely fair comparison. Hiromi can match a guitar god like Van Halen for speed, frenzy and mindless self-indulgence when she goes off.
"Spark" leads off with a gently synth/piano solo that takes off as soon as Phillips comes in and Hiromi engages in dueling leads as they chase each other in musical game of "tag." Good luck with figuring out what the time signature is. The stuttering stop-start of "In A Trance" shows off the favored approach of the Trio Project to jazz: aggressive, inventing and very, very fast and furious.
Even when "In A Trance" slows down to a more traditional approach, it isn't long before it reverts to the highly individualized nature of the players. Phillips launches into a drum solo, shows off some hot licks, and then ends up with some killer fills and cymbals work until Jackson and Hiromi come back in with a vaguely Latin piano riff.
Is "Indulgence" a playful jab at the naysayers who accuse the piansit of being more style than substance? Maybe so and maybe no, but whatever the intent it, along with "What Will Be, Will Be" is a showcase for Jackson's contrabass guitar work and some mighty fine funky grooves and the restrained solo piano piece "Wake Up and Dream" washes over the listener like warm spring rain.
Like it or not (and some jazzheads don't), Hiromi is much more than an programmed automaton who can play really fast. The rollicking closer "All's Well" is funky good fun which connects emotionally on every level. For jazz to resonate beyond its base it has to—repeat—has to develop and promote artists the way rock, pop and country does. It cannot thrive and will not survive unless the new generation is alerted of the new innovators residing among them just beyond their range of hearing. Hiromi is one of those innovators.
Oscar Peterson said, "Too many jazz pianists limit themselves to a personal style, a trademark, so to speak. They confine themselves to one type of playing. I believe in using the entire piano as a single instrument capable of expressing every possible musical idea. I have no one style. I play as I feel."
Hiromi Uehara is living what Peterson advised. Hers is the piano in the Spark.
Track Listing: 
Spark; In A Trance; Take Me Away; Wonderland; Indulgence; Dilemma; What Will Be, Will Be; Wake Up And Dream, All's Well
Hiromi: piano, keyboards; Anthony Jackson: contrabass guitar; Simon Phillips: drums

Enrico Pieranunzi
Tales From The Unexpected: Live At Theater Gutersloh

By Neri Pollastri
Registrato dal vivo al Teatro di Gütersloh il 29 agosto del 2015, questo disco fa parte della prestigiosa serie "European Jazz Legends" della Intuition, che giustamente sceglie un artista come Enrico Pieranunzi per il suo terzo capitolo.
Il pianista romano si presenta in trio, una delle sue formazioni preferite, con partner europei come il danese Jasper Somsen e il francese Andre "Dede" Ceccarelli; in programma alcune delle sue composizioni più famose, come "Fellini's Waltz" e "Anne Blomster Sang," e ben quattro improvvisazioni.
Pieranunzi conferma le proprie altissime qualità, fatte di grande sensibilità nel tocco, elegante scioltezza nel fraseggio, costante liricità nelle improvvisazioni. Cose che valgono in tutto l'arco dell'ora abbondante della performance, ma che sono ben riassunte nella traccia centrale, "B.Y.O.H.," ove troviamo anche un eccellente assolo di Somsen.
Il pianista è ben assistito dalla ritmica, che interagisce con lui in modo molto sinergico, benché il trio non appaia pienamente paritetico, probabilmente a cagione anche della prevalenza di brani della penna di Pieranunzi. Interessante comunque dare attenzione ai dettagli della relazione tra i musicisti: per esempio, in "Tales from the Unespected" il lavoro svolto da Ceccarelli è a lungo di raddoppio e sottolineatura della tastiera, mentre nelle improvvisate "Improtale" l'interazione è assai più stretta che negli altri brani.
Eccellente lavoro non lontano dalle vette in trio raggiunte nella sua carriera da Pieranunzi,Tales from the Unespected si conclude con la registrazione di un'intervista di una dozzina di minuti al pianista, in inglese, subito dopo il concerto.
Track Listing: 
Improtale 1; The Waver; Anne Blomster Sang; Improtale 2; B.Y.O.H.; Tales from the Unespected; Improtale 3; Fellini's Waltz; Improtale 4; The Surprise Answer; Interview with Enrico Pieranunzi.
Enrico Pieranunzi: pianoforte; Jasper Somsen: contrabbasso; André Ceccarelli: batteria.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Don Friedman 1935 - 2016

By Nate Chinen/ NY Times
Don Friedman, a versatile pianist who moved easily between the modern-jazz mainstream and the more volatile jazz avant-garde, died on June 30 at his home in the Bronx. He was 81.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, his wife, Marilyn, said.
Mr. Friedman had a crisp, fluid technique and an adventurous approach to harmony, which made him a desirable sideman over a career that lasted more than 60 years. He worked for decades with the trumpeter Clark Terry, a popular emblem of swinging ebullience, and also commingled with pioneers of free jazz like the alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman.
During the 1960s, when modern jazz was undergoing a seismic upheaval largely instigated by Coleman, Mr. Friedman darted back and forth across the supposed fault line. He played on albums by the trumpeter Booker Little, notably “Out Front,” a landmark of progressive postbop featuring Max Roach on drums and Eric Dolphy on alto saxophone, flute and bass clarinet. He also toured with the uncompromising reed player and composer Jimmy Giuffre.
But he also freelanced with jazz traditionalists like the cornetist Bobby Hackett and toured with a popular Latin-jazz group led by the flutist Herbie Mann. In 1964 he appeared on “Discovery!,” the debut album by the tenor saxophonist and flutist Charles Lloyd.
In an email, Mr. Lloyd praised Mr. Friedman as “a great sage of beauty and grace” with “a modern, lyrical style.”
Mr. Friedman was a prolific solo artist, if relatively unheralded, except in Japan, where he had a substantial and loyal following. Several of his early albums received five-star reviews (the magazine’s highest honor) from DownBeat, which also anointed him a New Star in its annual critics’ poll. But the later name for that honor, Talent Deserving Wider Recognition, would be much more apt in describing Mr. Friedman’s career as a leader.
Donald Ernest Friedman was born on May 4, 1935, in San Francisco. His parents, both immigrants — his father, Edward, from Lithuania, and his mother, the former Alma Loew, from Germany — encouraged his interest in classical piano, which he began studying at age 4. When he was 15, his family moved to Los Angeles, where he discovered jazz and quickly began playing it, initially with a style derived from the bebop paragon Bud Powell.
Some of Mr. Friedman’s earliest work came with West Coast jazz stalwarts like the trumpeter Shorty Rogers and the saxophonist Buddy Collette. He first played in New York in 1956, with the clarinetist Buddy DeFranco, and he made it his home two years later. His debut album, released in 1961 on the Riverside label, was “A Day in the City,” featuring a suite inspired by his brief studies in composition at Los Angeles City College.
Mr. Friedman formed a close musical alliance with the Hungarian jazz guitarist Attila Zoller, featuring him on a pair of critically hailed albums influenced by free improvisation, “Dreams and Explorations” (1964) and “Metamorphosis” (1966).
In addition to his wife, Mr. Friedman is survived by a daughter, Lynn Friedman; a stepson, Rory Friedman; and three grandchildren. Three previous marriages ended in divorce.
In recent years Mr. Friedman worked mainly as a leader, in a crisply swinging style. Among his notable albums are “Piano Works VI: From A to Z,” a solo tribute to Mr. Zoller (2006), and “Waltz for Marilyn,” featuring the guitarist Peter Bernstein (2007). “Nite Lites,” his final trio album, was released last year.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

1 Sem 2016 - Part Seven

Michael Wollny

By John Fordham/The Guardian

The imaginative and fluently skilful German pianist Michael Wollny covered music by Alban Berg, Edgard Varése and the Flaming Lips on his last album, but the 14 tracks here are mostly his own work or that of his superb trio with Christian Weber (bass) and Eric Schaefer (drums) – save for the odd excursion into the Twin Peaks soundtrack or the music of medieval master Guillaume de Machaut, and a piece by Wollny’s former teacher Chris Beier, whose piano-playing was undermined by a neurological condition. Nachtfahrten – “night journeys” – is a more shaded, melodically sparing venture than its predecessor Weltentraum, with Beier’s enforced retreat into essences and understatement a key inspiration, but its layering and fine details are just as fascinating. Schaefer’s Motette No 1 springs ingenious improv from a rocking vamp, Beier’s White Moon is a beautiful melody enhanced by a steady, Mehldau-like manner. Schaefer’s Ellen has the kind of pop-ballad feel that Esbjörn Svensson might have given it and Au Clair de la Lune wanders wistfully amid pinging cymbal sounds and sparse drum rolls. They are one of the world’s great jazz-driven piano trios, and Nachtfahrten takes nothing away from this assessment.

John Taylor

By CamJazz
“A family project” is how Alex Taylor, singer-songwriter as well as John’s son, labels the English pianist’s latest album. And that is exactly what it is, considering that John, who wrote the music, and Alex, who wrote and sang the lyrics, are joined by Leo Taylor on drums. Oren Marshall on tuba, whose surname is not Taylor but who is most assuredly very close to the Taylor family, completes the quartet. Together they recorded the album entitled “2081” drawing inspiration from Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron”, published in 1961. John Taylor was commissioned to write the music to this album by BBC Radio 3 for the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Originally written for octet, it was then readapted for the “2081” quartet. Alex explains: “Vonnegut’s story depicts a dystopian future in which everyone is equal. Nobody is allowed to be smarter, better looking or more physically able than anyone else. Those individuals who are gifted with intellect, talent and so on are made to bear ‘handicaps’”. At times, John Taylor’s musical realm is reassuring and consistent with his own standards, while, at other times, it conveys the mysterious, unsettling future depicted by Vonnegut, by pursuing a hybrid sound, mingling jazz, pop and the soundtrack mood. This pursuit definitely benefits from the sonic scenarios opened by Marshall’s tuba, as well as the Leo’s drumming style (already launched on a brilliant career on the indie-rock scene with his band The Invisible), who very often introduces modern, offbeat hypnotic rhythms here. Alex further explains: “I wanted to be able to tell a love story within the world Vonnegut created, from a standpoint external to the novella but very much in that theme”.
John Taylor ( Piano ); Oren Marshall ( Tuba ); Alex Taylor ( Vocal ); Leo Taylor ( Drums )

Nak Trio
The Other Side Of If

By Challenge
"Jazz made in Poland" has been considered a seal of quality since the 1960s. Well-known musicians as Zbigniew Namysłowski, Tomasz Stańko, Michał Urbaniak, Krzysztof Komeda, Zbigniew Seifert, Adam Makowicz, Jan Wróblewski, Urszula Dudziak, Leszek Zadlo and Vitold Rek shaped an unmistakable style that lifts the substance of American swing with the yearning of the Eastern European bloc countries for freedom and adventure to a high quality, exciting common denominator. Admittedly, the explosive, sparkling atmosphere of Polish catacomb and underground jazz belongs to past at the latest since the political upheavals in Europe at the end of the 1980s. Today, it is above all pianists who set the tone of the cultural image of the country. Marcin Wasilewski and Leszek Możdżer are getting worldwide recognition with their diverse projects as creators of a new musical language. It is quite possible that three young Polish musicians will be mentioned in one breath with them in the future: Dominik Wania (piano), Jacek
Kochan (drums) and Michał Kapczuk (bass) have joined forces under the cryptic slogan "NAK Trio" to create a community of interest exceptional in every way.
You can consider these names as quite representative of the unconventional approach of the combo, which runs like a thread through all their actions: not straight ahead, but always a bit out-of-the-box. NAK does not stand for the initial letter of the last name of the protagonists as in other formations, but instead for the final letter: KochaN– WaniA – KapczuK. It continues consistently in this direction with the title of their debut album "The Other Side Of If". Although all of this is probably a bit abstract, indefinable, perhaps somewhat philosophical, drummer, composer and producer Jacek Kochan apologizes smiling. "If you think about the exact meaning of the word 'if', then a few questions first arise in your mind in any language. 'What if?' 'What would happen if?' Perhaps 'Would it be better or worse if?' Since the answer always remains unresolved and consequently the symbolism of the little word 'if', there is a certain fascination, something mysterious, with respect to everything." In exactly the same way, Jacek Kochan, Dominik Wania and Michał Kapczuk want to enchant their fans. Far from the classic A-A-B-A jazz pattern, the seven original compositions are based more on two masters of classical modernism the 20th century, the Hungarian Béla Bartók (1881-1945) and his Polish compatriot Witold Lutosławski (1913-1994). "We consider it important that all four instruments are in the forefront," Kochan explained. Excuse me, in a trio? "Simple," laughs the primus inter pares (the first among equals) of NAK trio. "Bass, drums, and the left and the
right hand of the piano player. The reason is that Dominik has developed a technique with his left hand that is very unique and differs clearly from that of other jazz pianists. The melodies and harmonies have more of a chromatic structure. I hope that this does not frighten off jazz aficionados too much, because it actually still is jazz. Our jazz. However, fans of classical music might also like it!"

Philippe Duchemin Trio
Three Pieces

Piano : Philippe Duchemin; Acoustic bass : Patricia Lebeugle; Drums : Jean Pierre Souchu

1- Take bach (4'44")
2- Honey (6'23")
3- fond brun (7'15")
4- Bernie's Tune (5'51")
5- Fumet (5'34")
6- Quand je monte chez toi (7'05")
7- What is this thing called love (5'55")
8- Lucy in the sky with diamond (6'01")
9- Tea for two (5'18")

Saturday, May 21, 2016

1 Sem 2016 - Part Six

Mario Nappi Trio

By Jesper Bodilsen
“It is a good album and I like the variety of the songs My favorite songs are Introducing, Waltz for a Poet and Notte di San Lorenzo. It is a nice trio you have - take care of them Great playing from all 3 of you.”
1. Preludio; 2. Introducing; 3. Waltz for a Poet; 4. Blues for X; 5. Notte di San Lorenzo;
6. Apple (Corrado Cirillo); 7. To Monk; 8. A Christmas Song for; 9. Pezzettino
Mario Nappi (piano); Corrado Cirillo(double bass); Luca Mignano (drums)

Stefano Battaglia Trio
In The Morning: The Music Of Alec Wilder

By Karl Ackermann
Over the past five years Stefano Battaglia could have easily taken bassist Salvatore Maiore and drummer Roberto Dani into the ubiquitous realm of classically trained piano trios, where improvisation, chamber and dark lyricism meet but rarely ignite. But along with his classical training and an established ear for free jazz, hard bop and mainstream, Battaglia has grown and capitalized on those collective skills. The Milan, Italy native has increasingly chosen an open mind and ear, an affinity for spontaneity, and an approach that has been additive over the years. His original ECM trio of bassist Giovanni Maier and percussionist Michele Rabbia Raccolto (2005) explored similar territories ten years ago, but the synergy of styles has grown more fluid and natural over time.
With the same excellent trio that produced The River of Anyder and Songways (ECM, 2011 and 2012), the combo returns with an enormously successful outing on In The Morning. The overarching theme is remote; a consideration of the work of the late American composer Alec Wilder who composed for jazz flavored pop, opera, film and was recorded by notables from Frank Sinatra to saxophonist Dave Liebman and Keith Jarrett. Though celebrated within the music community, and sufficiently recorded through his own projects and covers, Wilder, known in his time to be a somewhat domineering and disagreeable character, was not overtly recognized by the public music market.
Record live in Torino, Italy in April 2014 In The Morning reflects the eccentric combination of styles in which Wilder composed. The long title track (almost twelve minutes) opens with the type of lyrical Bill Evans style that Battaglia has been understandably fond of over the years. Maiore interjects a brief solo, Dani washes over the cymbals and Battaglia then picking up a more abstract variation of the main theme that effectively incorporates Wilder's pop experimentalism. Followed by another extended composition—"River Run"—the trio goes further out in pushing rhythmic and energetic performance, adding more color and texture.
Compositions like "Moon and Sand" and "When I Am Dead My Dearest" are given more poignant treatments with Maiore's deep, resonating bass anchoring the pieces and Dani moving them along with a more musical than pulsating approach. The lengthiest piece on the album, "The Lake Isle Of Innisfree" begins as a minimalist exercise and takes its time building up to more grounded and harmonic textures. The closer, "Chick Lorimer" is the most abstract song in the collection though it re-grounds and goes out in an uplifting manner.
The members of this trio have a strong understanding of each other and a seemingly transcendent connection that allows them to stray individually without losing context. Battaglia's traditional roots, both classical and jazz, are shared with his experimental nature and the results are always refined. In The Morning is the best of his trio recordings and a real pleasure to listen to.
Track Listing: 
In The Morning; River Run; Moon And Sand; When I Am Dead My Dearest; The Lake Isle Of Innisfree; Where Do You Go?; Chick Lorimer.
Stefano Battaglia: piano; Salvatore Maiore: bass; Roberto Dani: drums.

Thomas Enhco

By Julien Le Gros
Il n’a que vingt-six ans et a enregistré avec des légendes comme Peter Erskine, Jack De Johnette et John Pattitucci. L’univers du premier disque piano solo de Thomas Enhco sorti chez Verve mêle allègrement le jazz et la musique classique.
Les fées se sont penchées sur le berceau du pianiste-violoniste Thomas Enhco, révélation des Victoires du jazz en 2013. Son beau-pèreDidier Lockwood l’a fait débuter sur la scène de Jazz à Juan avec Martial Solal en 1998 et fait faire ses gammes avec des jazzmen avertis comme André Cecarelli Bireli Lagrène ouNiels-Henning Orsted Pedersen au sein du Centre des musiques Didier Lockwood. Sa mèreCaroline Casadesus, avec laquelle il a collaboré, est une grande soprano, fille du chef d’orchestre Jean-Claude Casadesus. 
Son frèreDavid Enhco est un trompettiste chevronné, invité sur l’album de Thomas Someday my prince will come, produit par le japonais Itoh Yasohachi en 2009. Mais comme dit Brassens: « sans technique un don n’est rien qu’une sale manie». Loin de s’endormir sur ses lauriersThomas Enhco a su fructifier son héritage musical avec un perfectionnisme qu’on sent à chaque note sur Feathers. C’est le premier album de piano solo du jeune virtuose, exercice réputé casse-gueule mais dont il se tire haut la main. Le précédent Fireflies– sorti chez Label Bleu en 2012 était en trio avec Chris Jennings à la contrebasse et Nicolas Charlier à la batterie.
Au fil de thèmes empreints de romantisme comme Watching you sleep, Letting you go ou Je voulais te dire on sent la double formation classique et jazz du musicien. Thomas Enhcorevendique l’influence de grands compositeurs classiques qu’il a interprété sous la férule de la concertiste Gisèle Magnan comme Schumann, Chopin Fauré, Dutilleux ou Prokofiev. Il fait aussi montre d’un certain humour. Un des meilleurs titres de l’album s’intitule Mischievous, littéralement espiègle, un autre au tempo effréné Looking for the moose: A la recherche de l’élan, est peut-être inspiré par une aventure canadienne du jeune homme. Long morceau comme une épopée sonore Sand creek song se réfère au massacre d’indiens par des soldats américains en 1864 dans le Colorado. Car le pianiste a sillonné le globe, accompagnant Jane Birkin en Amérique latine en 2008, s’installant à New York, la Mecque du jazz , tournant en Chine, Russie, Israël, Turquie, Liban, Syrie, Philippines, Nouvelle-Calédonie…
He’s fine thank you
Feathers porte bien son nom. Léger, aérien, le disque est idéal pour se poser dans son canapé un dimanche après-midi ensoleillé printanier en écoutant I’m fine Thank You, sans doute le plus joli thème de l’album. Pour la suite Thomas Enhco est déjà sur la brèche. Il doit sortir cette année un autre album avec la percussionniste bulgare Vassilena Serafimova sur le prestigieux label de musique classique Deutsche Gramophon…

Adam Birnbaum/ Doug Weiss/ Al Foster
Three Of A Mind

By Karl Ackermann 

Pianist/composer Adam Birnbaum has performed in the company of diverse leaders such as traditionalist trumpeterWynton Marsalis, the edgier saxophonist Greg Osby and the eclectic composer/conductorDarcy James Argue's Secret Society and his Secret Society. On one hand Birnbaum is a change agent having utilized three different rhythm sections in as many outings as a trio leader. He also demonstrates a strong conviction for retaining a musical style rooted in fundamentals. On Three of a Mind he is joined by veteran drummer Al Foster—whose résumé includes Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk—and Foster's regular bassist Douglas Weiss both of whom he has also performed with.
A Julliard graduate, Birnbaum's frequent appearances on the downtown New York club scene have grown to a presence at a number of prestigious international festivals. He has composed commissioned works and arranged a unique hybrid of classical and ethnic Japanese folk music for performance. Birnbaum's variety of musical experiences have provided him with a rich melodic vocabulary and a firm sense of timing. The familiar trio configuration on Three of a Mind does their best work when they work together, taking advantage of their individual and collective experiences together.
The high level of synergy is revealed from the start with the buoyant "Binary." A bit funky and repetitive, Foster and Weiss add a fullness that carries over to the moderate tempo "Dream Waltz." The latter features an appealing solo from Weiss. Foster subtly guides alternating tempos moving seamlessly from shuffle patterns to layered rhythms and adding dimension to simple compositions. A number of pieces such as "Thirty-Three," "Rockport Moon" and "Stutterstep" are unmistakably rooted in mainstream jazz but Birnbaum uses grass roots rudiments to drive his controlled style of improvisation.
Birnbaum expertly utilizes his experience and understanding of music to challenge himself with a multitude of methods and styles. His non-westernized encounters allow him to rethink conventional structures without discarding them. In the company of Foster and Weiss the players use each other as sounding boards that fuel an openness to individual development. The trio doesn't marginalize improvisation though it is often camouflaged by their ability to play with flawless coherence.
Track Listing: 
Binary; Dream Waltz; Thirty-Three; Brandyn; Rockport Moon; Stutterstep; Kizuna; Dream Song, #1 (Huffy Henry); Ooh, What You Do to Me.
Adam Birnbaum: piano; Al Foster: drums; Douglass Weiss: Bass.