Friday, April 06, 2018

Cecil Taylor ( 1929 - 2018 )




By Ben Ratliff

Cecil Taylor, a pianist who challenged the jazz tradition that produced him and became one of the most bracing, rhapsodic, abstract and original improvisers of his time, died on Thursday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 89.
His death was confirmed by his legal guardian, Adam C. Wilner. No cause was given, but friends said he had been in failing health for some time.
Mr. Taylor wrote music, led bands and for decades worked, as many jazz musicians do, in nightclubs and at festivals. But from early on he seemed to have much greater goals.
He was a supreme example of an uncompromising artist, arguing — mainly through his work, but in principled and prickly interviews as well — against reductive definitions of what a musician of his training and background could or should do.
For Mr. Taylor, a small and vigorous man who in his prime wore athletic clothing onstage — as if to confirm the notion that the audience was watching a physical workout — albums weren’t merely recording sessions and performances weren’t merely gigs
At the center of his art was that dazzling physicality and the percussiveness of his playing — his deep, serene, Ellingtonian chords and hummingbird attacks above middle C — which held true well into his 80s.
But in concert he also recited his own poems, whose enjambed lines might describe Aztec architecture, paleoanthropology, crocodile reproduction or a woman’s posture. His motions around the instrument and the bandstand were a part of his performance too.
In his system of writing music, working with bands and performing, he was concerned with what he called, in a 1971 interview with the writer Robert Levin, “black methodology”: oral traditions, music as embodied celebration and spiritual homage.
Classically trained, he valued European music for what he called its qualities of “construction” — form, timbre, tone color — and incorporated them into his own aesthetic.
“I am not afraid of European influences,” he told the critic Nat Hentoff. “The point is to use them, as Ellington did, as part of my life as an American Negro.”
In a long assessment of Mr. Taylor’s work — one of the first — from “Four Lives in the Bebop Business,” a collection of essays on jazz musicians published in 1966, the poet and critic A. B. Spellman wrote:
“There is only one musician who has, by general agreement even among those who have disliked his music, been able to incorporate all that he wants to take from classical and modern Western composition into his own distinctly individual kind of blues without in the least compromising those blues, and that is Cecil Taylor, a kind of Bartok in reverse.”
Because his fully formed work was not folkish or pop-oriented, did not swing consistently (often it did not swing at all) and never entered the consensual jazz repertoire, Mr. Taylor could be understood to occupy an isolated place. Even after he was rewarded and lionized — he was given a Guggenheim fellowship in 1973, a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters award in 1990, a MacArthur fellowship in 1991 and the Kyoto Prize in 2014 — his music was not easy to quantify.
If improvisation means using intuition and risk in the present moment, there have been few musicians who took that challenge more seriously than Mr. Taylor. If one of his phrases seemed of paramount importance, another such phrase generally arrived right behind it. The range of expression in his keyboard touch encompassed caresses, rumbles and crashes.
He was capable of performances full of stillness and awe, suggesting a kind of physical movement through musical phrases, as on the unaccompanied “Pemmican” (from the 1981 live recording “Garden”). Or he could go on full attack, as on “Taht” from the 1984 album “Winged Serpent (Sliding Quadrants)” — his fingers hammering and flying across the keys and breaking through the sound of a polytonal, polyrhythmic 11-piece band.
Some of his greatest musical relationships were with drummers, among them Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Sunny Murray and Ronald Shannon Jackson.
A Mother’s Influence:
Cecil Percival Taylor was born in Long Island City, Queens, on March 25, 1929, and grew up about four miles away, in Corona. His father, Percy, originally from North Carolina, was a chef for Dr. John Kindred, president of the River Crest Sanitarium in Corona. Growing up, Cecil revered his mother, the former Almeida Ragland, for her learning and her high standards. She spoke French and German, took him to see Bill Bojangles Robinson and Ella Fitzgerald, and suggested that he read Schopenhauer.
Acknowledging his desire to become a musician, rather than pursuing one of the careers she preferred for him — doctor, lawyer or dentist — his mother insisted that he practice the piano six days a week, then do what he wanted on Sunday. “That’s when the organization of my music began, when she wasn’t looking,” Mr. Taylor said in an interview in the literary journal Hambone.
She died of cancer when he was 14.
Mr. Taylor studied piano at the New York College of Music in Manhattan and, in the early 1950s, moved to Boston, where he had relatives, to attend the New England Conservatory.
While studying piano, arranging, harmony and solfège notation there, he started going to jazz clubs, which he said helped him develop ideas about his music more than anything he learned in school. He prized Ellington for his orchestral approach to the piano and Horace Silver for his rough, vernacular energy; he saw Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Sarah Vaughan and the relatively little-known pianist Dick Twardzik, all of whom would contribute to his conception of music, as did Stravinsky.

(The answer to the question of what music gave rise to Mr. Taylor, and what he liked to listen to, would encompass all those names as well as Marvin Gaye, Gyorgy Ligeti, Betty Carter, Judy Garland and Thelonious Monk. The Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and the flamenco dancer Carmen Amaya had also influenced him to think about structure, movement and time, he said.)
Back in New York, Mr. Taylor formed groups with the vibraphonist Earl Griffith and the soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy. In 1956, with a quartet rounded out by Mr. Lacy, the bassist Buell Neidlinger (who died on March 16) and the drummer Denis Charles, he made his first album, “Jazz Advance.” Featuring standards as well as his own compositions, it was produced by Tom Wilson, who later worked with Bob Dylan, the Mothers of Invention and the Velvet Underground. The quartet played at the Newport Jazz Festival the next year, a performance released by Verve Records as one side of an album. (The other side featured a group led by the alto saxophonist Gigi Gryce and the trumpeter Donald Byrd.)
Mr. Taylor’s music at that time was steadily swinging and fit recognizably within the modern jazz idiom — its spiky phrases had a clear connection to Monk’s — but it was also already moving beyond it. “Tune 2,” for example, from the Newport record, had an 88-bar form, a long way from the 32-bar song structure more commonly used in jazz.
He went further in that direction on the 1958 record “Looking Ahead!,” then recorded a session, originally issued as “Hard Driving Jazz,” with an ad hoc group, put together by Mr. Wilson, that included John Coltrane.
With renown came a particular kind of scrutiny. In 1959, Gunther Schuller devoted a long essay in The Jazz Review to the question of whether Mr. Taylor’s music was atonal.
“Listening carefully to his playing leaves no doubt of the fact that Taylor indeed does think tonally, but the result of his thinking most of the time cannot be analyzed on tonal terms,” he wrote.
Whitney Balliett of The New Yorker described a crowd reacting to Mr. Taylor’s performance at the Great South Bay Jazz Festival on Long Island in 1958: A few were mesmerized, he wrote, while others “fidgeted, whispered and wandered nervously in and out of the tent, as if the ground beneath had suddenly become unbearably hot.”
By 1961, given the chance to contribute half the music on an album under the arranger Gil Evans’s name (the other half showcased the composer Johnny Carisi), Mr. Taylor played only original music: striking pieces with shifting tempos and splintering melodic lines.
The next year he formed a bond with the alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, who would work with him for more than 20 years; the two were the core of the Cecil Taylor Unit, a group with an otherwise shifting membership. (Mr. Lyons died in 1986.)
By 1966, when he recorded the album “Unit Structures” for Blue Note, Mr. Taylor was forming a syntax where none had existed. He was using blues tonality and dissonance in his improvisations and original structures in his written music, organized in ways that were not traditional for jazz, even for the relatively new avant-garde sort with which he was generally associated.
In one piece on “Unit Structures,” titled “Enter Evening,” piano, oboe, alto saxophone and bass play staggered and unresolved melodic lines that refer to one another only in a distant sense, coming together loosely only in places. There is percussion, but no steady rhythm.
It wasn’t the technique and feeling of jazz that Mr. Taylor was rejecting, only its form: the 32-bar song, the theme-solos-theme progression.
Instead, his structures often proceeded sequentially, shifting among motifs and tonal centers. When he used written scores for his musicians, melodies were indicated by note letters, but there were no staves or bar lines; this gave musicians more freedom within his music, and, he decided, more investment in it.
“When you think about musicians who are reading music,” he said in “All the Notes,” a 1993 documentary directed by Chris Felver, “my contention has always been: The energy that you’re using deciphering what the symbol is is taking away from the maximum creative energy that you might have had if you understood that it’s but a symbol.”
There was no academy for what Mr. Taylor did, and partly for that reason he became one himself, teaching for stretches in the 1970s at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and at Antioch College in Ohio. (He was given an honorary doctorate by the New England Conservatory in 1977.) Not until the mid-1970s, Mr. Lyons told the writer John Litweiler, did the Cecil Taylor Unit have enough work that the musicians could make a living from it — mostly in Europe.
Solos and Duos
During this time Mr. Taylor was giving a lot of solo-piano performances, a practice he started around 1967 and refined through albums like “Indent” (1973), “Fly! Fly! Fly! Fly! Fly!” (1980) and “For Olim” (1986).
He would occasionally perform in a duo with another improviser: pared-down and sometimes jarring situations if the other performer pushed too hard against Mr. Taylor. Those pairings led to a clashing concert with the swing-era pianist Mary Lou Williams in 1977; memorable performances with Max Roach in 1979, 1989 and 2000; and collaborations with the Japanese butoh dancer Min Tanaka. In 1979, he collaborated with the dancers Mikhail Baryshnikov and Heather Watts on a short ballet.
In the summer of 1988, Mr. Taylor played a series of concerts in East and West Berlin — solo, in duos and with groups of various sizes — which were released on the FMP label as an 11-CD set, “Cecil Taylor in Berlin ’88.”
Since 1983, Mr. Taylor had lived alone in a three-story home in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. During that time he would perform occasionally in nightclubs, but more often in theaters or even museums around the world.
In 2014, a contractor working on his house, Noel Muir, bilked him out of nearly all of the $500,000 that Mr. Taylor had received for the Kyoto Prize; Mr. Muir was sentenced to one to three years in prison.
No immediate family members survive.
As uncompromising as Mr. Taylor could be, many musicians bear his influence, directly or by general example; a list of pianists alone would include Marilyn Crispell, Vijay Iyer, Craig Taborn, Chucho Valdés and Jason Moran.
In 2016, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York organized a two-week exhibition and residency dedicated to Mr. Taylor; it featured panel discussions, a play, films, dance performances, displays of his written scores and live music. He performed at the beginning and end of the event, playing piano and reading poetry, with Mr. Tanaka and with various ensembles. It was an ambitious attempt to take the full measure of Mr. Taylor as an artist who would not be held to the conventions of any one discipline.
“What I am doing,” he said in 1994, “is creating a language. A different American language.”

Sunday, March 04, 2018

1 Sem 2018 - Part Seven

Roma Trio
The Four Seasons




By ElusiveDisc
The Roma Trio puts their spin on the classic "The Four Seasons," a group of four violin concerti by Italian composer Antionio Vivaldi, each of which represented a season of the year.
Musicians:
Luca Mannutza, piano
Gianluca Renzi, bass
Nicola Angelucci, drums


Francisco Lo Vuolo
In Walked Francis



By Jakob Baekgaard
Sometimes the title of a record reveals that the music is something special. This is indeed the case with Argentinian pianist Francisco Lo Vuolo's solo piano album In Walked Francis.
Anyone who is slightly familiar with Justo Lo Prete's label Rivorecords knows what to expect: Pure quality releases in sophisticated packaging that focus on the sound made famous by Blue Note in the 1950s and 1960s. Lo Prete is interested in providing a contemporary take on jazz tradition and that is why the records on the label are often named after classic songs and standards, but In Walked Francis is an exception and an unusually bold title. It is a reference to pianist Thelonious Monk's classic composition "In Walked Bud" and suggests that Lo Vuolo doesn't need to play in the shadows of previous masters. He has his own walk, his own thing.
Lo Vuolo's originality isn't shown in the choice of material that still relies on the repertoire of standards like "Star Eyes" and "I'm Old Fashioned" and modern jazz classics like Monk's "Ruby My Dear" and, of course, "In Walked Bud." Instead, Lo Vuolo brings his superbly swinging sense of rhythmic surprise and melodic feel to the table and plays with a refreshing rebellious passion that would have made Monk proud.
Lo Vuolo also plays his own original "Arthur's Blues," a smoky ballad with a deep blue feeling and playful twists and turns. Here, it is easy to imagine the pianist sitting late at night in a little bar, playing his music while people are sipping wine. The piano sings and all ears are suddenly listening as Lo Vuolo walks around the keys and makes the notes bloom like beautiful flowers. For a moment, forget Bud Powell, forget Thelonious Monk. This is Francis Lo Vuolo taking his own musical walk.
Track Listing: 
How High the Moon; Arthur's Blues; In Walked Bud; Ruby My Dear; Star Eyes; Cry Me A River; Easy Living; I'm Old Fashioned; 'Round Midnight.
Personnel: 
Francisco Lo Vuolo: piano.


The Doug Johnson Trio
Live At The Royal Garden





Personnel:
Doug Johnson: Piano/ Edward Perez: Bass/ Harry Tanschek: Drums


Gary Peacock Trio
Tangents













By Karl Ackermann

Considering his nearly sixty-five years of recording, Gary Peacock has been relatively selective in his choice of leader projects. His association with luminaries Albert Ayler, Paul Bley, Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett have put him in the company of jazz history makers. When Jarrett's Standards Trio, with Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette, disbanded in 2014 after over twenty recordings, Peacock launched his own piano trio with pianist Marc Copland and drummer Joey Baron. Tangents is the follow-up to Now This (ECM, 2015).
Not surprisingly, given their long careers, these musicians have crossed paths before the trio was formed. Baron and Copland most recently played together on John Abercrombie's Up and Coming (ECM, 2017), while Copland and Peacock have collaborated on a number of the pianist's trio releases on the Pirouet label, including Modinha—NY Trios Vol. 1 (2006), with drummer Bill Stewart and Voices—NY Trios Vol. 2 (2007), with Paul Motian.
Peacock contributes five of the eleven compositions on Tangents, with Baron and Copland contributing two and one, respectively. The album also includes the Miles Davis (and/or Bill Evans) standard, "Blue in Green"; a striking version of Alex North's "Spartacus"; and one group composition. "Spartacus," in contrast to the collectively free-improvised "Empty Forest," makes for an effective snapshot of the diversity of styles covered. Beyond that, there is the not-quite-pastoral resourcefulness of "December Greenwings" and the sharply executed, bleeding- edge energy of "Tempei Tempo," with great improvisations from all.
At eighty-two years of age, one need only listen to "Rumblin'" to hear Peacock solo like the ageless wonder that he is. In the Tangents liner notes, he embraces a forward-thinking approach to composing at this late stage of his career. Rather than finding a comfortable position, Peacock is much more inclined to experiment with freer forms. He has found empathic partners in Baron and Copland, who he senses as "having the same experience in the moment, feeling the music together."
Tangents has to be considered a highlight in the careers of all three artists, as the too-often hyperbole of creative improvisation is exchanged for masterful and unequaled demonstrations of the art—and one of the best piano trio albums in some time.
Track Listing: 
Contact; December Greenwings; Tempei Tempo; Cauldron; Spartacus; Empty Forest; Blue in Green; Rumblin; Talkin’ Blues; In And Out; Tangents.
Personnel: 
Gary Peacock: double-bass; Marc Copland: piano; Joey Baron: drums.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

1 Sem 2018 - Part Six

João Mario Macedo
Só Na Multidão



By Sonora  
Primeiro CD autoral de João Mario Macedo, “Só na Multidão”, com composições autorais e ilustres participações especiais de músicos como Wilson Meireles, João Braga, Pedro Strasser (Blues Etílicos), Marcos Amorim, Marco Tommaso e Luana Moane.


John Stetch
Fabled States




By TheWholeNote
Pianist John Stetch is a seriously gifted musician whose presence unfortunately is rare in the GTA despite an international reputation. Edmonton-born but U.S.-based, his releases invariably are stunningly original and on the dozen tunes of John Stetch Trio - Fabled States (Addo Records AJR010 www.addorecords.com) he demonstrates his fluent skill at embracing a plethora of styles, rich textures and harmonic progressions. His virtuosic playing and arranging is a constant here, with the opening Oscar’s Blue Green Algebra an energetic, sweeping homage to Oscar Peterson with gospel underpinnings. The pulsating 12-minute Black Sea Suite is a brilliant fusion of world music and western jazz, Plutology (based on the indestructible I Got Rhythm) spins way out and What The McHeck conveys bracing hard bop. Fascinating considerations of jazz approaches continue with Do Telepromptu probing bluegrass, Gmitri reacting to a Shostakovich prelude and the title tune riffing on Benny Golson’s Stablemates. Bass Joe Martin and drummer Greg Ritchie contribute fluently to an often breathtaking disc.


Orquestra Atlântica



By Anderson Nascimento
A Orquestra Atlântica é um grupo de 11 músicos que se reuniu em 2012 com o intuito de formar uma espécie de Big Band para executar canções de linguagem jazzística, sobretudo para preencher uma lacuna deixada pelas antigas orquestras do Rio de Janeiro, recriando essa sonoridade com adição de um leve toque moderno.
Fazem parte da banda os músicos Aldivas Ayres (trombone), Danilo Sinna (saxofone), Elias Kibe Borges (saxofone), Geisel Nascimento (trompete), Jessé Sadoc (trompete), Marcelo Martins (saxofone), Sérgio Galvão (saxofone), Wanderson Cunha (trombone), Jorge Helder (baixo) e Glauton Campello (piano), Williams Mello (bateria), Dadá Costa (percusão).
Entre as releituras presentes no disco estão lindas canções como a faixa de abertura “Rio” (Roberto Menescal, Ronaldo Bôscoli), “De Volta ao Rio” (Marcelo Martins) e a deliciosa “Nós” (Johnny Alf). Também surpreendem pela qualidade dos arranjos canções como “Inútil Paisagem” (Tom Jobim, Aloysio de Oliveira), capitaneados pelo trio Marcelo Martins, Jessé Sadoc e Danilo Sinna.
Além de releituras que parecem ter como mote o deslumbrante cenário carioca, a banda também investe em canções próprias como a suingada “Chico” (Danilo Sinna), “De Volta ao Rio” (Marcelo Martins), “Passo o Ponto” (Jorge Helder), “A Viagem” (Marcelo Martins) e “Passeio Público” (Jessé Sadoc).
Compõem o disco também as participações especiais de Vittor Santos, Nelson Faria, além da a luxuosa e certeira participação de Mauro Senise em “Preciso Aprender a Ser Só” (Marcos Valle, Paulo Cesar Valle).
O disco é certamente uma boa pedida para quem curte música instrumental, sobretudo o Jazz.


Joey Alexander
Joey.Monk.Live!




By Dan Bilawsky
The late Thelonious Monk is most certainly the toast of the town these days. With the High Priest of Bop's centennial upon us, he's being saluted from all corners of the jazz world. Pianist John Beasley is leading the charge on the big band front with his MONK'estra, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith is reflecting on the great pianist-composer all by his lonesome, and New York's Jazz Standard has given over Monk's birth month to a broad swath of tributes to mark this grand occasion. So is it any wonder that the positively precocious Joey Alexander would want to get in on the action?
The arrival of Joey. Monk. Live!, an album that documents Alexander's stand with his trio at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Appel Room in June of 2017, was something of a slap in the face to marketing norms. Rather than provide advanced notice of its approach to sweeten interest and rack up a string of preview pieces and pull quotes for advertisements, it came out of nowhere, a welcome surprise in a world short on such things. What's all the more pleasing is how the prodigious pianist addresses these oft-covered works: Alexander playfully dissects and reassembles Monk's classics, honoring one of our most iconic figures without letting legacy eclipse the present day. One need only hear the first two minutes of the "Round Midnight" opener—one of two solo tracks on the program, along with back-end bookend "Pannonica"—to realize that this is Monk on Alexander's terms. He paves the way toward the familiar melody with wide-eyed curiosity, calling to mind the act of people-watching at noon, not stargazing in the night.
The five tracks that rest between Alexander's solo piano efforts highlight his easy and expansive rapport with bassist Scott Colley and drummer Willie Jones III. "Evidence" swings, skulks, and struts, with all three men getting in on the action, and "Ugly Beauty"—anything but ugly, really—dazzles as Colley and Alexander engage in a pointed dance. Then "Rhythm-A-Ning" gives Jones his due, a marvelously morphing "Epistrophy" gives these three musicians a chance to feel out their spaces and throw a few elbows, and "Straight No Chaser" comes with swagger before Alexander takes charge and channels his idol.
Nobody should be questioning this teenager's jazz standing at this point, what with his previous albums, television appearances, and high profile performances making the case for his true arrival. But if anybody still has any lingering doubts, this one should lay them to rest. Plain and simple, Joey Alexander is the genuine article.
Track Listing: 
Round Midnight; Evidence; Ugly Beauty; Rhythm-a-Ning; Epistrophy; Straight No Chaser; Pannonica.
Personnel: 
Joey Alexander: piano; Scott Colley: bass; Willie Jones III: drums.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

1 Sem 2018 - Part Five

Shelly Berg & David Finck
The Deep




By Dr. Judith Schlesinger
So it happens that pianist Shelly Berg and bassist David Finck were hired by Chesky Records to play on a Livingston Taylor album. After they finished that session, with the high-end audiophile equipment still in place, David Chesky suggested the two stay and make a duo album themselves. And so they did, virtually on the spot.
Since Berg and Finck play so well together, and know a lot of tunes, it was easy to come up with a standards set list in which Miles Davis, Bill Evans and Johnny Mercer are all represented. And because producer Chesky requested some free improvisation, the two created six tracks of spontaneous musical conversation as well, although in these hands each was nearly a song. The result is The Deep, a relaxed interplay between two supremely gifted and experienced pros at the very top of their game.
It would require many pages to list all their accomplishments---the luminaries they've recorded and played with, their innumerable CDs, their nights on the world's great stages. Such resumes are readily available on the Web, leaving The Deep to express all that talent and taste without a word being said. (It's a good thing, too, since there are no liner notes, and the tiny text often disappears into the background color.)
But the music is wonderful. This marvelous album draws the listener in from the top, with the rarely-played and hauntingly beautiful "Fellini's Waltz." The arrangements are often intriguing: for instance, "Solar" goes on for two minutes before the melody appears, then snaps off about thirty seconds later. Other highlights include a revelatory eight-minute "Dindi" with a definitive Finck solo; the winsome "Whistling Away the Dark"; another gem from Jobim, "If You Never Come to Me"; and the lustrous "Why Did I Choose you?" Fans of thoughtful improvisation will treasure the free tracks, which highlight what makes this CD so unusual: the way the players listen and respond to each other, rather than going on a self-involved ego ride, intent on showing off their chops. Of course, it also helps that both men are such expressive and melodic players with a deep respect for each other.
In the final analysis, it's this deep listening and steady empathic connection that elevates The Deep above the pack. To hear Berg and Finck support and inspire each other is a rare treat: the sound of jazz at its best.
Track Listing:
Fellini's Waltz; Solar; For Gunther; Dindi; For John Lewis; Peri's Scope; Why Did I Choose You?; Glacier Love; 3rd Word; Whistling Away the Dark; Lunar; If You Never Come To Me; The Deep; Just You, Just Me
Personnel: 
Shelly Berg: piano; David Finck: bass.


Cyrus Chestnut
There's A Sweet, Sweet Spirit




By Mike Joyce at JazzTimes
When it comes time to record, Cyrus Chestnut has never been inclined to stay in his lane. The widely acclaimed jazz pianist, who once devoted an entire album to Elvis Presley’s legacy, has always had a healthy disregard for genre borders and biases. So it’s not surprising to find him charting his own curious course on There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit, with the help of three likeminded collaborators: bassist Buster Williams, drummer Lenny White and vibraphonist Steve Nelson.
Naturally, Nelson, who appears on three of the album’s 10 tracks, plays a crucial role when the band salutes Bobby Hutcherson by performing two compositions penned by the late vibraphonist, “The Littlest One of All” and “Little B’s Poem.” Both the former, with its insinuating pulse and melodic shimmer, and the latter, with its spiraling charms, consistently inspire Nelson and his closely attuned session-mates. “Little B’s Poem” gives way to poetry of another sort: Williams’ tender ballad “Christina,” a showcase here for Chestnut’s spacious, light-fingered lyricism. Of course, any album that also celebrates the music of Chopin, Miles Davis and the Stylistics is going to present Chestnut with myriad opportunities to display his talents in shifting lights and moods. Suffice it to say that “Rhythm-A-Ning” delightfully underscores his deep appreciation of Thelonious Monk’s singular legacy, while “Easy Living” proves a splendid and soulful vehicle for Nelson. The album’s title track is saved for last. One of two solo-piano performances here, it caps the session with a quiet, slowly unfurling “Amen!”


Enrico Pieranunzi/ Mads Vinding/ Alex Riel
Yesterdays




By Euan Dixon
This live date, recorded some 20 years ago but issued now for the first time, gives equal billing to each of the participants but being a piano trio it is de facto Pieranunzi’s session. Like most contemporary piano trio jazz the music has lots of moving parts and the bass and drums contribute significantly to its inner complexity and the intricate melodic and rhythmic construction but the it pianist’s stylistic devices that set the tone hence my decision to give him pre-eminence.
It is said that Pieranunzi’s formative musical influence was Erroll Garner and echoes of this remain in the teasing preludes with which he launches his often febrile and over-wrought forays into the interpretation of the several songbook ballads he explores at great length. Add to this the sentimental romanticism he picked up from his work with Chet Baker in the later stages of the trumpeter’s career, his innate feeling for melodic classicism, a touch of rococo embroidery and you have a pianist who is capable of producing music of great beauty and power.
There are some gems in this set, notably a witty, off the wall version of Fats Waller’s `Jitterbug Waltz` but a tendency to ostentation and climactic pile driving overwhelms the ballads; for instance, `My Funny Valentine` gets a fair drubbing and emerges somewhat bedraggled and disfigured from the process as does the opening `Yesterdays`. Live dates do of course have the potential to dispose performers to overexcitement and the intervening years have shown Pieranunzi is still capable of grandstanding tendencies as the 2014 live date, also from the Jazz House, revealed in another somewhat prolix treatment of the unfortunate `Valentine`.
Notwithstanding my reservations I remain a committed enthusiast of Pieranunzi’s subsequent work, particularly the wonderful CamJazz recordings that remain as examples of a high point in the art of the piano trio equalling in technique and expressiveness anything by Jarrett and Mehldau and this disc, though slightly flawed by the aforementioned mannerisms, will happily take its place on my shelf alongside my prized copies of his superb Morricone interpretations.


Antonio Adolfo
Hybrido - From Rio To Wayne Shorter




By Roger Farbey

With well over thirty albums to his name, Brazilian composer and pianist Antonio Adolfohas now conjured up a really attractive paean to the master saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter. The selection of tracks is excellent because it clearly demonstrates just how key a figure Shorter is to jazz. It doesn't replicate the 1988 Blue Note collection The Best Of Wayne Shorter but does include three numbers from that album.
"Deluge" offers a warm ensemble-led invocation of this enticing track taken from Ju Ju. Then there's a relaxed version of Shorter's classic "Footprints," embellished by Zé Renato's wordless vocals. "Prince of Darkness" from Miles Davis's 1967 album Sorcerer is lusciously percussion-rich (including a deep tabla-like Baião percussion introduction). "Black Nile" from 1964's Night Dreamer is a satisfying interpretation of the original with bright piano from Adolfo.
The elegance of "Beauty And The Beast" is encapsulated in its mixture of bossa and samba (Adolfo refers to it as SamBossa) and is one of two tracks taken from Shorter's "Native Dancer" album which he recorded with Milton Nascimento. The title track from Speak No Evil is a model of stately modality with its majestic and memorable theme and rich tenor solo from Marcelo Martins whilst the elegant "Ana Maria," again from Native Dancer, sports some nimble guitar from Lula Galvão.
To conclude the set, there's a lone self-penned number by Adolfo, "Afosamba," a perfect example of his first-rate talent as a composer. The arrangements throughout are strong and for those familiar with all the Shorter tracks it affords them a new and vibrant dimension. For those unfamiliar with the numbers, the album will serve as an excellent and enticing primer, prior to sampling the original source material. It's also a timely reminder of just how important Shorter is in terms of his illustrious back catalogue of compositions.
Track Listing:
Deluge; Footprints; Beauty and the Beast; Prince of Darkness; Black Nile; Speak No Evil; E.S.P.; Ana Maria; Afosamba.
Personnel:
Antonio Adolfo: piano; Lula Galvao: electric guitar; Jorge Helder: bass; Rafael Barata: drums; Andre Siqueira: percussion; Jesse Sadoc: trumpet; Marcelo Martins: tenor and soprano saxophones, flute; Serginho Trombone: trombone; Ze Renato: vocals (2); Claudio Spiewak: acoustic guitar (3).

Sunday, January 28, 2018

1 Sem 2018 - Part Four

Escalandrum
Vertigo




By Fernando Rios
Integrado por ocho composiciones nuevas y propias, tres del saxofonista Damián Fogiel y el resto del pianista Nicolás Guerschberg, este séptimo disco de Escalandrum, y primero en vivo en toda su carrera, renueva su enorme presencia en el escenario local, luego del excelente “Piazzolla plays Piazzolla”, con el que en 2012 ganaron el Gardel de Oro (máxima distinción de la industria musical argentina) y el Gardel al Mejor Album de Jazz.
Para Nicolás Guerschberg “Vertigo” es todo un desafío. “Después de revisitar la obra de Astor Piazzolla, retomar nuestra senda con composiciones propias no era fácil, pero salimos muy enriquecidos de la experiencia, con un lenguaje urbano y contemporáneo aplicado en la improvisación y una amalgama del grupo con todos estos años de experiencias juntos.
Para Mariano Sívori este “Vertigo” tiene que ver con el viejo anhelo del grupo de grabar en vivo en un club de jazz, pero también, dice, “es una apuesta a seguir proponiendo nuevas variaciones sobre nuestro sonido, luego del homenaje y riesgo de ‘Piazzolla plays Piazzolla”.Aquí además Guerschberg asume el doble desafio de la autoría en cinco de los temas “Como compositor siempre trato de dar mi mayor esfuerzo por lograr la mejor calidad posible en las obras y ‘Vértigo’, asegura, es el reflejo de todo esto con el plus de ser nuestro primer cd totalmente en vivo”.
Martín Pantyner también adhiere al concepto. Este disco cierra un año idílico para el grupo, en el que hicimos más de 60 conciertos por Argentina y por el mundo y ganamos el Gardel por el mejor disco de jazz y el Gardel de Oro. Como dirían en el barrio, el sueño del pibe”.
También desde doble sitial de saxofonista y autor, Damián Fogiel pronostica que el nuevo disco de Escalandrum será un punto de inflexión en la rica historia del grupo.
Este disco “sintetiza la búsqueda del sonido propio, sobre el cual venimos trabajando hace muchos años y refleja el crecimiento individual y colectivo que logramos tras nuestra intensa revisión de la música de Astor Piazzolla”, reseña Fogiel.
Escalandrum lleva 14 años como grupo con su formación original y han editado siete discos. Han actuado en más de 40 países y cosechado numerosos premios. En 2002 fueron distinguidos por la Fundación Konex como una de las cien figuras más importantes de la cultura argentina. En 2011 el grupo argentino fue nominado a los Grammy Latinos compartiendo terna nada menos que con Chick Corea y Al Di Meola.
Escalandrum:
Daniel “Pipi” Piazzolla, batería; Nicolás Guerschberg, piano; Mariano Sívori, en contrabajo.
Gustavo Musso, en saxo alto; Damián Fogiel, saxo tenor; 
Martín Pantyrer, clarinete bajo y saxo barítono.


Amaro Freitas
Sangue Negro



By Tratore
Sangue Negro, disco de estreia do pianista Amaro Freitas, produzido pelo gaúcho Rafael Vernet, acompanhado pelo baixista Jean Elton e pelo baterista Hugo Medeiros, com participações do saxofonista Eliudo Souza e do trompetista Fabinho Costa. O disco reinaugura uma linhagem de jazz autoral. Minimalismo, Bebop, Afrojazz, Samba, Frevo e Balada, estas são algumas das sonoridades que permeiam Sangue Negro.


Jerónimo Carmona
Lament




By Jakob Baekgaard

Jazz listeners familiar with the characteristic sound and aesthetic of Argentinian label Rivorecords will know the deep, swinging sound of bassist Jerónimo Carmona, who has been a strong presence on many releases on the label, including albums by pianists Ernesto Jodos and Paula Shocron. With Lament, Carmona gets the chance to step into the spotlight himself.
Lament is conceived as a duo album, but it isn't a duo album in the traditional sense. Instead, the album consists of a series of duets between the bassist and the musical voices of saxophonist Sebastián Loiacono, flugelhorn-player Mariano Loiacono, pianist Guillermo Romero and guitarist Marcelo Gutfraind.
Romero plays with the mournful sensitivity of pianist Bill Evans on "Lament" and the crisp chords of guitarist Gutfraind add an extra touch of sophistication on "Indian Summer" while Mariano Loiacono's warm flugelhorn swings fluorescently on a relaxed interpretation of Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High" where the bassist's walking bass patterns and precise punctuations on the theme is a joy to behold.
Throughout the album, Carmona underlines why he is in demand as a sideman. It is primarily his sense of space that makes him such a good bassist. He makes the grooves grow organically out of the air.
The album ends with a strong solo interpretation of "I Fall in Love Too Easily" and indeed it is also easy to fall in love with the music on Lament.
Track Listing:
If I Should Lose You; Milestones; Groovin' High; You're My Everything; Lament; The Way You Look Tonight; Blue and Sentimental; Indian Summer; In Your Own Sweet way; I Fall in Love Too Easily.
Personnel:
Jerónimo Carmona: bass; Sebastian Loiacono: tenor saxophone; Mariano Loiacono; flugelhorn; Guillermo Romero: piano; Marcelo Gutfraind: electric guitar.


Fred Hersch
Open Book




By Dan McClenaghan
In the aftermath of his coma and very possible demise back in 2008, pianist Fred Herschblossomed from a status as a first rate jazz pianist into the rarified air of one of the handful of top practitioners of that art form. A series of post-illness albums, from Whirl(2010), to Alone At The Vanguard (2011) to Floating (2014), Solo (2015) and Sunday Night At the Vanguard (2016), all on Palmetto Records, are all solo and trio outings that reveal a heightened artistic clarity and unabashed vulnerability, alongside a deeper emotive approach, this in comparison to his uniformly excellent, but perhaps more cerebral output before his struggle with serious health problems.
Now we have Open Book, Hersch's eleventh solo piano outing.
Intimacy is a hallmark of Hersch's music, and "The Orb," the set's opener, taken from Hersch's autobiographical music/theater piece, My Coma Dreams, is the tenderest, loveliest of love songs, a look at a paramour through, with justification it seems, rose-colored glasses. "Whisper Not," Benny Golson's classic tune, takes things into a turn of the playful, via crisp, prancing piano notes singing over a serious and assertive left hand. Hersch visits an old friend, Antonio Carlo Jobim, with "Zingaro," a sublime reverie.
The centerpiece, "Through The Forest," is something unheard of on record by Hersch. It's a nineteen minutes-plus, stream-of-consciousness, improvised in-the-moment masterpiece. An ebb and flow dreamscape of sorts—the most fragile of delicacies and the most sacred and quiet moments slipped in beside emphatic percussive energy—music as enchanting as anything the pianist has ever created.
Then in walks Monk. Hersch includes a Thelonious Monk tune in most every set, most every recording. "Eronel" is a spritely interpretation by Hersch, who immerses himself the challenging music deeper than most anybody, peppering the stride-side with sparkling, water-splashing-off-the-rocks sounds, rolling into jagged eddies, leading into the closer, Billy Joel's "And So It Goes," solemn, simple, honest, beautiful.
Honesty—another hallmark of Hersch's art.
This is a recording that makes it seem as though Fred Hersch is the finest jazz pianist in the world. That's an impossible assertion, of course. There are a dozen, maybe more pianists who have achieved this level artistry. But for now, with Open Book, he can wear that title.
Track Listing:
The Orb; Whisper Not; Zingaro; Through the Forest; Plainsong; Eronel; And So It Goes.
Personnel:
Fred Hersch: piano

Sunday, January 21, 2018

1 Sem 2018 - Part Three

Manuel Fraga Trio
Woody & Jazz




By Amazon
Argentinean pianist Manuel Fraga hails from Buenos Aires. He studied jazz and improvisation with Carlos Balmaceda, and later harmony, composition, form, and analysis with Manolo Juarez. Fraga performs here with his trio, consisting of himself, Damian Falcon, and German Boco, all of whom have thriving careers individually and are that much more special when they perform together. The theme of this release is unusual but fun. All of the jazz pieces performed were featured in films that starred American legend Woody Allen.


Sarah Vaughan
Live At Rosy's




By Fred Kaplan at Stereophile
On the heels of its revelatory release of long-lost sessions by Larry Young in Paris during the mid-1960s, Resonance Records pulls another treasure from the archives—Sarah Vaughan's appearance at Rosy's, a now-defunct New Orleans jazz club, in May 1978.
Vaughan was 54 and in the midst of a merry comeback, recording a slew of albums for producer Norman Granz on the Pablo label and performing in a string of small clubs around the world (I saw her around this time at a very small venue, holding maybe 50 people, in Washington, DC), all with stunning virtuosity leavened with a playful verve.
She also had a great trio: Walter Booker on bass, Jimmy Cobb on drums, and her young arranger, Carl Schroeder, on piano. That's the group heard on the two CDs of Live at Rosy's. The club date was recorded for NPR's Jazz Alive, a wonderful program from that era (I'm surprised its archive hasn't served as the source for dozens of albums). A few years ago, Tim Owens, who produced the series, told Zev Feldman, Resonance's proprietor-sleuth, about the existence of tapes that didn't make the cut for the show's hour-long broadcast—hence this album, and there's nothing second-string about it.
Sarah, the Divine One, is clearly having a grand time, swooping octaves, holding whole notes with a velvet vibrato, turning ballads into vamps, vamps into speed-fests, and sometimes playing songs straight and level too. She also shows great comic flair. Check out Disc 1, Track 9, when she calls for requests from the audience and hears back "A-Tisket A-Tasket" (from someone apparently confusing her with Ella Fitzgerald, who'd made a huge hit of the song 40 years earlier), prompting Vaughan to deadpan, "Well, I'll be damned . . . He thinks I'm Lena Horne," then to dive into the tune anyway, in a dead-on impression of Ella's little-girl voice of way back then.
Mainly she sings her long repertoire of standards: "I'll Remember April," "I Fall in Love Too Easily," "East of the Sun," "Time After Time," and, of course, "Send in the Clowns," which I've never heard any Broadway star sing more movingly.
This ranks right up there with the best Sarah Vaughan albums from this period (she died of lung cancer in 1990). And the sound quality, while a little thin on the drums, is very good too.


Jorge Anders Jazz Orchestra
Going Home




By Amazon
Celebrating his return to his homeland of Argentina after many years of living and working in NYC, Jorge Anders is a part of the continuum of great Argentinean jazz musicians, bandleaders and arrangers of the 50s and 60s such as Gato Barbieri , Lalo Schifrin, amon others. His career also included a playing and arranging with the Mercer Ellington-led Duk Ellington orchestra in the 1980s and his arrangements have also had a prominent place on the bandstands of Mel Lewis, Butch Miles, Machito and more. This aptly titled album brings together live recordings of different performances of Anders Jazz Orchestra in Buenos Aires between 2011 and 2014, including a track that features Anders wife and vocalist, Maryanne Murray front and center.


Gustavo Musso & Francisco Lo Vuolo
Back In Town




By Jakob Baekgaard
Playing in a duo exposes the communication between two musicians. Like a good conversation, there's a chance to get a special level of depth and intimacy. A good conversation with a stranger can make us feel like we have known the person for years, but if the conversation grows stale then the reaction might become estrangement.
Keeping a good conversation alive is all about flow and the ability to listen. To know when to pause and when to react. These are qualities that the Argentinian musicians, pianist Francisco Lo Vuolo and saxophonist Gustavo Musso, possess in abundance.
Their topic of conversation on Back in Town is the great repertoire of jazz, ranging from standards, swing and bop to the hard bop of saxophonist Joe Henderson. Hearing Henderson's famous composition "Inner Urge" without the insistent heavy groove provided by drums and bass is fascinating. Musso and Lo Vuolo cools it down and highlight the melodic intricacy of the composition as their lines dance lightly around each other in the spirit of legendary saxophonist Charlie Parker.
The fugue-like nature of Parker's music is also illuminated on a reading of his classic composition "Confirmation" where they once again slow the tempo down.
While both Lo Vuolo and Musso show superior technical skills, they don't try to impress or interrupt each other. Instead, they concentrate on their musical conversation, telling stories filled with emotion, warmth and an empathic sense of the history of jazz.
Track Listing: 
The Gypsy; Confirmation; Inner Urge; Mood Indigo; On a Slow Boat to China; Invitation; Isotope; Reflections.
Personnel: 
Gustavo Musso: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Francisco Lo Vuolo: piano.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

1 Sem 2018 - Part Two

Harold Mabern
Afro Blue




By Christopher Loudon

Though elder statesman Harold Mabern’s blocky, aggressive piano style may seem better suited to the small army of horn players he’s worked with-from Miles, Ornette and Freddie Hubbard to George Coleman and Eric Alexander-it’s worth remembering that Mabern’s early career also placed him with Betty Carter, Johnny Hartman, Sarah Vaughan and Joe Williams. At age 78 he remains a sterling vocal accompanist, as demonstrated across this album featuring five of the finest singers around: Kurt Elling, Gregory Porter, Jane Monheit, Norah Jones and Alexis Cole.
Alongside regular trio mates John Webber (bass) and Joe Farnsworth (drums), Mabern bookends the album with original instrumental tributes, opening with the propulsive “The Chief,” for John Coltrane, with guests Alexander (on tenor) and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, and closing with the ice-cool swinger “Bobby, Benny, Jymie, Lee, Bu.”
Porter steps in for another salute, the Mabern-penned “The Man From Hyde Park,” for Herbie Hancock, and a blistering treatment of the title track. Jones shines on “Fools Rush In” and the misty “Don’t Misunderstand.” Monheit’s kittenish allure is gorgeously realized on a lilting “I’ll Take Romance” and a satiny “My One and Only Love.” Evincing strong echoes of Chris Connor, Cole traverses another original, Mabern’s breezily philosophic “Such Is Life.” And Elling, distinctive as ever, helps define three widely diverse tracks: a sizzling, scat-fueled “Billie’s Bounce”; a tenderly reflective “Portrait of Jennie”; and this project’s biggest surprise, a near-anthemic rendering of the Anne Murray hit “You Needed Me.”


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.
Personnel: 
Peter Bernstein: guitar; Brad Mehldau: piano; John Webber: bass; Jimmy Cobb: drums.


João Bosco
Mano Que Zuera


By SomLivre
Depois de 8 anos sem lançar nenhum projeto inédito, o cantor e violonista mineiro João Bosco traz ao público ‘Mano Que Zuera’, um álbum composto de 11 belas canções, entre elas algumas parcerias inéditas com o filho Chico Bosco, que também assina a produção musical do álbum. Dessas parcerias o single ‘Onde Estiver’, que nasceu de conversas entre pai e filho, merece destaque pela força poética e arranjo primoroso, que já toca nas principais rádios do Brasil. Além das inúmeras parcerias com o filho, o projeto conta ainda com clássicos como ‘Sinhá’ (parceria com Chico Buarque), ‘Duro na Queda’ e ‘João do Pulo’ (Parcerias com Aldir Blanc), esta última contando com uma fusão sonora com a canção ‘Clube da Esquina No 2’, e o encontro inédito com a composição de Arnaldo Antunes em ‘Ultraleve’, onde a filha Júlia Bosco faz uma participação mais que especial com sua voz doce e potente. Trata-se de um clássico da MPB que acabou de nascer!


Dado Moroni/ Eddie Gomez/ Joe La Barbera
Kind Of Bill - Live At Casino Di Sanremo



By Michael Scullin
What's to like about this album? This is a tremendous album and perhaps his best (and he has many really good albums). Accompanied by Eddie Gomez (a jazz gold standard for years – going back to accompanying Bill Evans) and Joe La Barbera who has likewise been around for years and is, as always, in top form. They swing like mad and sound as though they had been playing together for years. Their choice of music lends itself to great listening. I would go six stars were it possible - and this after listening to it once. Furthermore it is relatively inexpensive and comes in a nice slim cardboard case. All together I found all three to be in top form and to be a musical team that would be tough to beat. Don't know Moroni? this is a really good place to start.