Sunday, September 14, 2014

Joe Sample 1939 - 2014



By Eli Rosenberg - NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Joe Sample dead at 75: 
The piano star was known for pushing boundaries of jazz
Sample collaborated with artists like Miles Davis, B.B. King, Marvin Gaye and Steely Dan and was best known as the founder of the Crusaders. The musician passed away Friday night in his hometown of Houston at the age of 75, his family announced.
Legendary pianist Joe Sample, who was known for pushing the boundaries of jazz music, passed away Friday night in his hometown of Houston at the age of 75, his family announced on Facebook.
The keyboardist, who collaborated with artists like Miles Davis, B.B. King, Marvin Gaye and Steely Dan, was best known as the founder of the Crusaders, a quartet that popularized a soulful, funky sound in the 1960s and ’70s.
Sample’s ear for grooves resulted in the sampling of many of his songs by hip-hop artists, the most famous of which, “In All My Wildest Dreams,” was sampled by Tupac in his track, “Dear Mama.”
Sample said he made up his mind at age 14 to be a musician.
“Music was the only fun anyone had in their life at that time,” Sample told the magazine Wax Poetics, describing how his upbringing in Segregation-era Houston made his genre-bending music second nature. “Everything about the history of my family has always been mixed: the races, the food, the language — everything. It’s very natural.”
Joseph Leslie "Joe" Sample (February 1, 1939 – September 12, 2014)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Gerald Wilson 1918-2014




By DERRIK J. LANG - AP
Gerald Wilson, the dynamic jazz musician whose career spanned more than 75 years, has died. He was 96.
Wilson's son, Anthony Wilson, said his father died Monday at his Los Angeles home from pneumonia.
The big band leader began his career in the 1930s as a trumpeter for Jimmy Lunceford's band before forming his own group in 1944. He played and composed music with the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie, and he arranged music for Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan and Bobby Darin.
Wilson, who was born in Shelby, Mississippi, bought his first trumpet at age 11. During his tenure with Lunceford, he arranged the hit tunes "Hi Spook" and "Yard Dog Mazurka."
After four years with Lunceford and a stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Wilson settled in Los Angeles in the 1940s. His adventurous big-band approach endured throughout decades of the genre's evolution.
With his long white hair in later years, Wilson became famous for his dance-like style of conducting, which he said helped listeners know what they were hearing.
"I choreograph the music when I conduct," he told the Jazz Times in 2011. "Accent everything — all the high points."
Wilson, a constant presence at events such as the Monterey Jazz Festival, received six Grammy nominations throughout his career, including nods in 1999 and 2004 for best large jazz ensemble for "Theme For Monterey" and "New York, New Sound." He later taught jazz at California State University, Northridge; California State University, Los Angeles; and University of California, Los Angeles.
He is survived by his wife, son, two daughters and four grandchildren.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

2 Sem 2014 - Part Four

PJ Trio
New Steps




By JazzItalia
"New Steps" ... è questo il titolo del nuovissimo album realizzato da Pino IODICE in trio con Dario Rosciglione al C/basso e con Pietro Iodice alla batteria.
Le registrazioni sono state effettuate a Roma, presso l'Alfa Music Studio, e la produzione è stata curata da Fabrizio Salvatore ed Alessandro Guardia (ingegnere del suono) per l'etichetta discografica ALFAMUSIC.
L'Album è stato registrato missato e masterizzato utilizzando strumenti musicali e recording equipment, sia analogica che digitale di alta qualità (vedi scheda tecnica allegata) ed avvalendosi del prezioso coordinamento tecnico di Gianni Nocenzi (Grisby Music).
Il progetto è acustico ed è composto da sei brani originali (composti dal M° Pino IODICE) e tre brani famosi (cover) quali "Michelle" dei Beatles, "Well you needn't" di T.Monk e un brano preso in prestito dalla musica classica "Pavane" di Faurè.
Ascoltando l'album risalta la Bonus track "The last Station" composizione vincitrice del Concorso Internazionale di Composizione "2 Agosto Edizione 2001" eseguito dal vivo in Piazza Maggiore (Bologna) dal noto Artista francese Richard Gallianò (Dreyfus) con l'orchestra Arturo Toscanini e trasmessa in diretta mondovisione dalla RAI (radio e televisione).
Il trio in questione è già da molti anni ritmica della "Corvini e Iodice Roma Jazz Ensemble" e trae da questa esperienza la compattezza e l'affiatamento utili per portare avanti un prodotto indipendente e di sperimentazione, rispettando la tradizione jazzistica tipica di questa formazione.
L'interplay, il gusto della melodia e l'arrangiamento sono gli elementi principali che animano il materiale utilizzato in questo CD.
Buon ascolto ...


Enrico Pieranunzi
Stories




By Paola Parri
Quando pensiamo di averlo raggiunto e afferrato, ecco che Enrico Pieranunzi si sposta ancora un po’ oltre la nostra portata, in un’evoluzione continua in cui la creatività genera felici invenzioni musicali e lo conferma come uno dei nostri più importanti artisti. Enrico Pieranunzi è un narratore e, proprio come fanno il letterato o il poeta, ha appreso la difficile arte di creare, da un vocabolario e una grammatica noti a tutti, inedite sintassi che ci stupiscono ogni volta. Nella narrazione delle sue “Stories” lo ritroviamo con il trio che già ci aveva regalato lo splendido “Permutation” (2012 CAM JAZZ), trio formato da Scott Colley al contrabbasso e Antonio Sanchez alla batteria.
Il lavoro discografico è frutto di una session del febbraio 2011 presso l’Avatar Studio di New York. La firma di questi brani è quella di Enrico Pieranunzi, fatta eccezione per “The Slow Gene” di Scott Colley, a confermare e dare risalto a uno degli aspetti che maggiormente contraddistingue l’arte del pianista, quella necessità di invenzione, di ricerca, di espressione personale che trova voce nell’atto compositivo. Questa musica contiene in sé tutti i tratti peculiari delle tre personalità che le danno vita, la loro formazione, le loro differenti culture, differenze che il parlare la stessa lingua musicale compie il miracolo di azzerare a livello comunicativo pur preservandone le qualità migliori.
“Stories” trasmette la naturale gioia del suonare insieme, è un collage di conoscenze che creano un racconto omogeneo eppure denso di sfumature. L’attacco, con “No Improper Use”, è vigoroso e incisivo, una sorta di affermazione dell’identità del trio, un soffio energico che contraddistingue anche “Detrás Más Allá” e “Blue Waltz” in cui ci sembra di percepire eco di atmosfere alla Nino Rota dei migliori passaggi felliniani. L’immaginazione e la creatività si esprimono compiutamente nell’improvvisazione quasi astratta di “Wich Way Is Up”. L’altra anima di Enrico Pieranunzi, quella dell’appassionato creatore di storie, di evocatore di atmosfere poetiche, quella che ci fa chiudere gli occhi e ascoltare noi stessi attraverso la musica, emerge al centro del disco, in “Where Stories Are”, ballad delicata e quasi evanescente nella sua grazia in cui il fraseggio melodico del pianoforte di Pieranunzi è perfettamente sostenuto da una sezione ritmica che per l’occasione si fa persino lirica. Chiude “Stories” un brano in cui Pieranunzi sembra attingere a piene mani dalla sua formazione classica. “The Real You” è colma di suggestioni, evoca a tratti il romanticismo a tratti l’impressionismo, un dolcissimo brano che oscilla fra essenzialità e slancio, la saggia chiusura di un racconto straordinario.
Questo lavoro è uscito in concomitanza all’assegnazione a Enrico Pieranunzi del «Best International Piano Player» all’edizione 2014 degli «Echo Jazz Awards», importante premio a cura dell’industria discografica tedesca.


The Inventions Trio
Life's A Movie




By Michael J. West
Squeezing four discrete sections into a 55-minute album is ambitious stuff, even if three of those sections are tributes to other pianist-composers. But with Life’s a Movie, pianist Bill Mays’ Inventions Trio, a quirky chamber group featuring trumpeter Marvin Stamm and cellist Alisa Horn, prove themselves up to it by end of the second track.
The track in question is “Interplay,” from the album-opening “Homage to Bill Evans” section. Horn opens the tune with cleverly plotted double-stops: one low note, one high, simultaneously evoking bassist Percy Heath and guitarist Jim Hall (from Evans’ original 1962 recording). Stamm and May follow her with impressive solos and then a spectacular duel. And that’s just the beginning; a scintillating “Waltz for Debby” comes soon after, featuring beautiful arco lines from Horn and a dancing collective improvisation from all three.
“Life’s a Movie,” the second (Mays-penned) section, is the centerpiece; subtitled “4 Cues in Search of a Film,” it duly evokes the flow and thematic architecture of film scores (especially the kinetic “Chase”). The disc’s highlight, though, is in the following, unnamed section: a Chick Corea homage, comprising his signature mash-up of Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” and his own “Spain.” The latter features an endlessly fruitful Mays solo, with descending motifs and some rhythmic spanners-in-the-works, and a curvaceous bravura run from Stamm. Horn’s showcase is her 10 choruses of the closing Monk tribute’s “Straight, No Chaser,” on which she reworks some of Miles’ solos on the piece but also inserts her own expansive jazz vocabulary. Yes, it’s an ambitious, even sprawling disc, but a fine one.
Track Listing:
Homage to Bill Evans: My Bells / Interplay / Turn out the Stars / Waltz for Debby; Life’s a Movie: Cues in Search of a Film (Main Title / Love Theme Bittersweet / Chase / End Credits); Concierto de Aranjuez; Spain; Monk Tribute: Trinkle Tinkle / Pannonica / Straight, No Chaser.
Personnel:
Bill Mays: pianoforte; Marvin Stamm: tromba; Alisa Horn: violoncello.


Gwilym Simcock
Instrumation





By John Fordham
Pianist/composer Gwilym Simcock previewed the second of these two suites – Simple Tales, for a quintet featuring violin, cello and jazz trio – in London in January, and its intricate classical contrapuntalisms and diverse themes delivered with a punchy jazz freedom were impressive then, and are all the more so here. Thomas Gould is once again the violinist, joining cellist Will Schofield, bassist Yuri Goloubev and drummer Martin France on themes that join romantic yearnings, percussive twisters reminiscent of Chick Corea's Spain, and joyous barn-dancing knees-ups. The suite Move! (for jazz quartet and chamber orchestra) sounds more like jazz-inflected classical music. But if its tight structure, melodic latticework and elegantly harmonised orchestration might appear to evict jazz, the chords and brass parts sometimes suggest Kenny Wheeler, while Simcock's solo-piano interludes are contrastingly loose and abstract, and the stridently marching Industrial, with its clamouring horns and funky-Jarrett piano break, bustles with spontaneous life.

Friday, August 08, 2014

2 Sem 2014 - Part Three

George Colligan
The Endless Mysteries




By John Kelman
While music fans often think of the artists they love as gifted people whose lives are consumed by the pursuit of their art, all-too-often they ignore equally important, if seemingly more mundane, needs: making a living, perhaps having a family...things to which most people aspire. With music sales on the decline, most musicians pay the rent by touring and, in some cases, teaching, but for those who've failed to achieve greater recognition, that needn't imply they're anything less than top-tier.
Count pianist George Colligan amongst that group of musicians who may support themselves and their families through teaching and touring with bigger names, but are as deserving of attention as any with whom they play. That Colligan is a triple threat—not just a terrific pianist, but a great drummer (amply demonstrated on pianist Kerry Politzer's overlooked Labyrinth, Polisonic, 2005), and trumpeter of worth (on his own Runaway, Sunnyside, 2008)—only means a musical breadth that makes him an even more valuable recruit for artists like Don Byron, who enlisted Colligan in the studio and on the road for his Junior Walker tribute, Doin' the Boomerang (Blue Note, 2006).
Colligan has also been a key member of veteran drummer Jack DeJohnette's touring band, heard in Ottawa in 2012 and on the download-only Live at Yoshi's 2010 (Golden Beams, 2011). DeJohnette returns the favor by playing on Colligan's The Endless Mysteries, and the chemistry built over the past four years is in clear evidence throughout this set of ten Colligan compositions, where the pianist's intrinsic virtuosity ranges from cool to simmering to flat-out boiling over.
While a purely acoustic set, contrasting other Colligan outings like his fully electrified Mad Science trio, heard on Realization (Sirocco, 2005), and the dual-casted acoustic and electric mix on Blood Pressure (Ultimatum, 2006), The Endless Mysteries still represents an expansive cross-section of Colligan's multifarious interests, even if it doesn't contain the mix of cover material heard on Living For The City (Steeplechase, 2011), where he drew on diverse sources ranging from Stevie Wonder and Bonnie Raitt to Wayne Shorter, Burt Bacharach and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Still, with bassist Larry Grenadier fleshing out the trio, The Endless Mysteries traverses similarly broad territory, from Latinesque and lyrical ("Waiting for Solitude") to modal and hard-swinging ("Song for Tarahumera").
Between the similarly Latin-tiinged bossa pulse of "Her Majesty" and more harmonically oblique, bass riff-driven "It's Hard Work!," Colligan moves away from the piano for "Liam's Lament," which begins with the firm attack of Grenadier's a cappella intro but ultimately turns into a rubato trio piece, with Collligan featured on melodica. DeJohnette plays more colorist than groove-meister here, though his unmistakably loose yet unshakable feel is stamped all over the recording—locked, tongue-in-groove, with the similarly rock-steady Grenadier—as is his ability to play in totally free contexts, as he does on the aptly titled "Outrage," where the drummer's sharp punctuations are matched by Colligan's own aggressive stance.
But Colligan is capable of elegant beauty as well. The haunting miniature, "Thoughts of Ana," is more than enough to suggest that it might be time for another solo piano album; his website suggests a new trio record is in the works for Steeplechase this year, but with more than a decade since his last solo outing, Return to Copenhagen (Steeplechase, 2002)...perhaps in 2015?
Irrespective of what's to come, Colligan continues to grow as a performer, composer and bandleader. In a market flooded with piano trio records, The Endless Mysteries stands out as the confluence of collective chemistry, individualistic strength and compositional breadth. Still in his mid-40s, Colligan's career has been a slow build, but it seems only a matter of time before he reaches critical mass and the larger audience he so deserves discovers what the higher profile leaders, who continue to employ him, already know.
Track Listing:
Waiting for Solitude; Song for Tarahumera; Her Majesty; Liam's Lament; It's Hard Work!; Thoughts of Ana; Outrage; The Endless Mysteries; When the Moon is in the Sky; If the Mountain was Smooth, You Couldn't Climb It.
Personnel: 
George Colligan: piano, melodica; Larry Grenadier: acoustic bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums.


Rufus Reid
Quiet Pride: The Elizabeth Catlett Project




By Dan Bilawsky
The beauty of art is often in the taking rather than the making. The art may come to life in the mind of the artist but it often flourishes when the ink dries, the chisel is withdrawn, the dust has settled, or the final brushstrokes have been applied. At that point, the preparation ends and the consumption begins. Creation then begins to fuel creation and a closed inspiration loop is born. This project is the perfect representation of that ideal.
Bassist Rufus Reid's most ambitious project to date was born out of his love for the sculptures of Elizabeth Catlett, a talented African American artist and civil rights activist. Catlett's work triggered something deep within Reid's being so he yearned to capture or reflect the meaning of her sculptures through music.
The four-movement suite that he came up with, delivered by an augmented big band, won the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Composition Competition Prize and was premiered in 2006; later on, Reid added a fifth movement—"Tapestry In The Sky." Since completion, the expanded version of the suite has been performed as part of a multi-media presentation at several colleges, with Catlett's work and the documentary Betty And Pancho, which focuses on the life of Catlett and her husband, being shown in tandem.
The suite itself, when taken as a whole, is a study of contrasts. Refined and noble thoughts, earthy episodes, weighty-and-ominous suggestions, and graceful notions all take hold at one time or another. Plenty of high-powered players get to step into the spotlight, but the real magic has less to do with the individual personalities than with the way Reid stitches this music together. Sure, much can be said about the stinging guitar work of Vic Juris, the mutable and mesmerizing vocals of Charenee Wade, the beyond-category trumpet work of Ingrid Jensen, and the contributions of numerous others, but better to focus on the work itself.
In this music, chamber-esque civility can give way to a feeling of uncertainty which, in turn, can morph into swing. Focus shifts from the textural to the rhythmic, the background to the foreground, and the subtle to the obvious. The music is mutable and multifaceted but that's not really surprising; sculptures can take on different meaning when viewed from different angles so the music should certainly do the same.
Quiet Pride speaks with dignity, class, curiosity, and ingenuity. It stands tall and speaks volumes about the passion that art can bring to art.
Track Listing: 
Prelude To Recognition; Recognition; Mother And Child; Tepstry In The Sky; Singing Head; Glory.
Personnel: 
Rufus Reid: bass; Steve Allee: piano; Herlin RIley: drums; Vic Juris: guitar; Dennis Mackrel: conductor; Tanya Darby: trumpet; Tim Hagans: trumpet; Ingrid Jensen: trumpet; Freddie Hendrix: trumpet; Michael Dease: trombone; Jason Jackson: trombone; Ryan Keberle: trombone; Dave Taylor: trombone; John Clark: French horn; Vincent Chancey: French horn; Steve Wilson: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet; Erica Von Kleist: alto saxophone, flute, clarinet; Scott Robinson: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Tom Christensen: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Carl Maraghi: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Charenee Wade: vocals.


Claudio Filippini Trio
Breathing In Unison




By Thomas Conrad at JazzTimes
It should no longer be news that there are so many world-class Italian piano players. But in the United States, we keep getting startled when yet another hits the radar, usually when they move from record labels distributed only in Europe to companies like ECM or CAM Jazz. To a list that includes Stefano Bollani, Enrico Pieranunzi, Danilo Rea, Stefano Battaglia and Giovanni Guidi, add another name: Claudio Filippini.
Compared to his countrymen above, he is a less clearly differentiated voice and a more cautious improviser. But his virtues are seductive. They include poise, taste, a flowing elegance that sounds innate and an ability to just touch a melody and bathe it in new golden light. Sometimes those melodies are his own, like “South Michigan Avenue,” a slow, dramatic hovering. Often they are old standards or songs on the margins of pop culture, like Rufus Wainwright’s “Poses.” With minimal improvisation, Filippini turns Wainwright’s introverted, twisted little tune into something large and lush. “As Time Goes By” seems an improbable choice. But Filippini parts with it so reluctantly, a phrase at a time, that each hesitation is taut with emotional suspense. The resolutions arrive like revelations.
Palle Danielsson and Olavi Louhivuori come from deep within this album’s intimate atmosphere. Danielsson’s counterlines are concurrent alternative poetry. As a bass soloist he can freeze you in your chair, pizzicato (Louhivuori’s “Night Flower”) or arco (Filippini’s “The Sleepwalker”). Luohivuori, one of the most exciting young drummers in jazz, usually works in louder, edgier settings. He is sensitive and subtle here, placing accents with his brushes in unexpected perfect places.
Johnny Mandel’s “A Time for Love” is rapt. Filippini lets the melody chime out again and again, releasing it from where it has long resided, in the heart. You keep changing your mind about your favorite track on Breathing in Unison.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Kenny Drew, Jr. 1958 - 2014


By Jeff Tamarkin at JazzTimes
Kenny Drew Jr., a prolific pianist raised on classical music and steeped in blues and bop alike, died Aug. 3 in his home in St. Petersburg, Fla. The cause was not reported but Drew’s death was confirmed by Scott Elias of Random Act Records, the last label for which Drew recorded. Drew was 56 and was known to have had a toe amputated last year due to diabetes.
The son of Kenny Drew, himself a famed pianist active from the 1950s-’90s, Kenny Drew Jr. was born in New York City on June 14, 1958, and studied classical piano in his youth. He began playing jazz in his teens and turned professional upon graduating from college in 1978. Drew released his debut album, The Flame Within, in 1987 and in 1990 he won the Great American Jazz Piano competition in Jacksonville, Fla. In all, he recorded more than 20 albums as a leader during the course of his career. In addition he performed or recorded with Stanley Jordan, the Mingus Big Band, Sadao Watanabe, Stanley Turrentine, Slide Hampton, Steve Grossman, Smokey Robinson, Frank Morgan and others.
Drew also performed classical music concerts and gave master classes and private lessons.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Idris Muhammad 1939 - 2014



By Nick DeRiso
Idris Muhammad, a funk, R&B and jazz drummer of the first order, has died at 74. His cause of death was not immediately known, but Muhammad had been receiving dialysis since retiring to his native New Orleans in 2011. In accordance with his conversion to the Muslim faith, Muhammad was immediately buried after dying on Tuesday (July 29).
Born Leo Morris, Muhammad made an early name for himself in soul and R&B circles. At just 16, he played drums on Fats Domino’s 1956 smash ‘Blueberry Hill.’ Other early highlights included work with Sam Cooke, a turn on Curtis Mayfield‘s timeless ‘People Get Ready‘ and a stint with a group called the Hawkettes, which featured his neighbor Art Neville (later of the Meters and the Neville Brothers) on piano.
But there was much more to come from Muhammad, who had a keen ear for the rhythms of his hometown. “He was eclectic in terms of his playing,” family friend Dan Williams told NOLA.com. “He mixed the New Orleans sound, that sound of the street music, with jazz music and rock ‘n’ roll, and had all that intertwined.”
Muhammad’s big jazz break came at the turn of the ’70s when, while serving a theater stint, he was contacted by the Prestige jazz label with an offer to join their house band. That led to a series of memorable dates alongside soul-jazz, bop and free-jazz artists like Lou Donaldson, Grant Green, Johnny Griffin and Pharoah Sanders, a former bandmate with John Coltrane.
He continued to work across a broad genre spectrum, however. Stints with Herbie Hancock, Grover Washington Jr., Ahmad Jamal and David Sanborn were balanced by tours with art rockers Emerson Lake and Palmer, and a turn on Roberta Flack on 1973′s charttopping ‘Killing Me Softly.’ He played with Larry Williams, dabbled in disco with the titanic ‘Could Heaven Ever Be Like This,’ and saw his ageless ‘Turn This Mutha Out,’ from 1977, rise to No. 21 on the Billboard R&B chart.
By the 1990s, Muhammad had been remade into a leading light of the acid-jazz movement — a reputation originally built on a pair of CTI albums, ‘House of the Rising Sun’ and, his masterpiece, ‘Power of Soul.’ The latter, a 1974 release, became fodder for countless hip hop tracks.
Over the years, his beats were sampled by many hip-hop artists including Tupac-Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., Beastie Boys, Nas and Eminem, among many others.
Rest in peace to Idris Muhammad and condolences to his family and friends.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

2 Sem 2014 - Part Two

Antonio Adolfo
O Piano de Antonio Adolfo




By Deck
A Deck comemorou em 2013 os seus 15 anos de existência. Como parte dessa grande celebração, a sua sede no Rio de Janeiro passou por uma série de reformas, ampliando e modernizando seus estúdios. Nesse período, foi adquirido um Gran piano acústico, diretamente da fábrica Yamaha C6X, no Japão. Para estrear a chegada desse instrumento, desejado há muito tempo, a gravadora lança esse ano uma série na qual grandes pianistas são convidados a gravar discos instrumentais. O primeiro deles é “O Piano de Antonio Adolfo”.
O disco é composto por 14 versões de Antonio para canções suas, como “Teletema” e “Chora Baião”, e de outros mestres da música brasileira, como Tom Jobim e Vinicius de Moraes (“Insensatez”, “A Felicidade”), Jacob do Bandolim (“Doce de Coco”), Pixinguinha e Benedito Lacerda (“Ingênuo”), entre outros.


Michael Wollny Trio
Weltentraum




By Bruce Lindsay
The inventive German pianist Michael Wollny combines a delight in exploration with an impressively high work rate. As a result, he's become one of the European jazz scene's most prolific and most unpredictable performers. Weltentraum is the debut recording from the Michael Wollny Trio, a piano, bass, drum collaboration that on the surface at least bears a striking resemblance to [em], Wollny's previous piano, bass, drums collaboration. Given that [em] was one of the most enjoyable and talented bands on the circuit, that's no bad thing.
Like [em], the Michael Wollny Trio records for ACT Music, features the excellent Eric Schaefer on drums, mixes original tunes with selections from classical, rock, and pop composers and favors acoustic instrumentation. So what's the difference between [em] and the Michael Wollny Trio? The bottom end. [em] featured bassist Eva Kruse. The Michael Wollny Trio features bassist Tim Lefebvre. The variation may be marginal, but overall swapping Kruse for Lefebvre seems to give the Trio a lighter touch—not better, but different.
Only two tunes are Wollny originals—"When The Sleeper Wakes" and "Engel." The rest of the collection is gathered in from across the world and across the centuries. The Flaming Lips, Paul Hindemith, Alban Berg and Edgard Varèse all add to the track list—even dear old Friedrich Nietzsche gets in on the act with "Fragment An Sich" parts 1 and 2.
"Little Person," composed by Jon Brion for the movie Synecdoche, New York (2008) is the prettiest tune on Weltentraum—a delicate, gentle, number on which all three players make beautifully-judged contributions. Berg's "Nacht" runs it a close second, but Schaefer's emphatic drumming gives it a harder edge. Wollny's own "Engel" is just as pretty to begin with, developing a tougher vibe as it progresses.
The album's only vocal number is also one of its most intriguing interpretations. Wollny takes Pink's "God Is A DJ" and strips it bare of the original's sass and funkiness. Guest vocalist Theo Bleckmann takes over the role of lead singer. Wollny slows things down, spooks things up and gives the song a darker, more downbeat and rather psychotic undertone (helped by some judicious use of harpsichord). Pink's 'third eye' sounds like a throwaway line, Bleckmann sings about it like he actually has one.
If God really is a DJ, then this is just the kind of song He might slip on to the turntable at the end of the night to clear the dancefloor. The revellers are likely to make frequent furtive glances over their shoulders as they walk nervously home. It's the kind of adventurous, slightly tongue-in-cheek interpretation that makes Wollny such a joy—and makes Weltentraum such an exciting and constantly rewarding album.
Track Listing:
Nacht; Be Free, A Way; Little Person; Lasse!; Fragment An Sich 1; In Heaven; Rufe In Der Horchenden Nacht; When The Sleeper Wakes; Hochrot; Mühlrad; Engel; Un Grand Sommeil Noir; Fragment An Sich 2; God Is A DJ.
Personnel: 
Michael Wollny: piano, harpsichord (14); Tim Lefebvre: double bass; Eric Shaefer: drums; Theo Bleckmann: vocals (14).


Tardo Hammer
Simple Pleasure




By Pierre Giroux at audaud.com
In his JazzWax Blog of September 30, 2007, Marc Myers described Tardo Hammer as follows: “ Hammer 49 (then), is an old soul and knows his way around a keyboard—having played with Lou Donaldson, Bill Hardman, Junior Cook, Annie Ross, Art Farmer…. among others.” Now several years on, Hammer offers a new album in a trio setting, recorded live by Cellar Live in New York City in March 2013 at Klavierhaus Recital Hall and called Simple Pleasure.
For the most part Hammer is self-educated on the piano, started playing at five, and was performing professionally when he was fifteen. Such is the unpredictable nature of being a jazz musician that while not generally well-known much beyond the boundaries of New York City, Tardo is a bebop-oriented player along the lines of Bud Powell with flashes of Tommy Flanagan and Barry Harris. In this session, he offers a set list of an eclectic nature, using the composing talents Kenny Dorham, Ahmad Jamal, Miles Davis, and Horace Silver among others.
With thoughtful support from Jimmy Wormworth on drums, and the ever adaptable Lee Hudson on bass, Hammer starts the proceedings with a Kenny Dorham composition “Asiatic Raes” and fully demonstrates his exploratory instincts. The Jerome Kern chestnut ”The Folks Who Live On The Hill” has been done to death by numerous artists, but Tardo has managed to avoid the usual clichés with his thoughtful rendition. Ahmad Jamal’s “New Rhumba” gained currency when Miles Davis included it on his album Miles Ahead. Now Hammer, following a strong introduction from bassist Hudson and a subsequent solo, gives the wonderful stop-time melody a fresh approach.
Fulfilling an early promise, is often a challenge in an overly-competitive musical environment. Perhaps that may help to explain why Hammer has perhaps not received the kind of recognition his talent deserves. But clearly in this recital he exhibits that he is a harmonically confident pianist, whether it’s on Cedar Walton’s title tune “Simple Pleasure” where he shows his poised technique, or the Miles Davis composition “Fran Dance” as he gives free rein to his probing instincts. This is a sparkling album that deserves wide recognition.
TrackList: 
Asiatic Raes; The Folks Who Live On The Hill; New Rhumba; Uranus; I’ll Wait And Pray; Kay Dee; Short Story; Simple Pleasure; Fran Dance; My Conception; No Smokin’


Ralph Alessi
Baida




By John Kelman
With 2013 heading into fall, it's a good time to take stock of a label that has all too often been (falsely) accused of minimizing the country where jazz began. Excluding reissues, this year's ECM regular series releases represent about thirty percent American leadership; given jazz's increasingly global nature, hardly a bad number—and better still, when considering ECM's qualitative consistency. From Chris Potter
's impressive label debut as a leader, The Sirens, to Craig Taborn's boundary-stretching Chants, and Steve Swallow's career-defining Into the Woodwork, ECM's emphasis has never been about geographic location; it's simply been about good music being where you find it. This year, in addition to superb music from Britain, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland, there's clearly been plenty of great music coming from the lower 48—and especially from New York City.
Add to that list Baida, Ralph Alessi's ECM leader debut. The trumpeter's first—and, until now, only—label appearance was on Michael Cain's below-the-radar Circa (1997), but he's gradually built a small but significant discography as a leader and been in-demand on recordings by everyone from Uri Caine and Scott Colley to Drew Gress and Joel Harrison. Gress is, in fact, Alessi's bassist of choice for Baida, which reconvenes the same quartet responsible for all but two tracks of Cognitive Dissonance (Cam Jazz, 2010), an album that raised a very germane question: why is Alessi not as established a name as contemporaries like Dave Douglas(the two literally born 19 days apart)?
The primary answer is likely Douglas' forward-thinking business acumen with his Greenleaf imprint, resulting in a considerably higher profile; Alessi, on the other hand, seems strictly about the music. But what wonderful music it is. Alessi can, at times, lean towards the cerebral, as he does on "Gobble Gobblins," revolving around pianist Jason Moran's relentless chordal pulse, with drummer Nasheet Waits(making his label debut) entering tightly with Gress, a military march slowly opening up to greater expressionism beneath Alessi's virtuosic tendencies and bright, burnished tone. Things unfold even further when Moran—who, in the past half decade, has delivered some of his best performances on ECM recordings by Charles Lloyd, Paul Motian...and now, Alessi—expounds on his written part with furious aplomb, Gress assuming a relentlessly contrarian role that somehow glues the whole thing together.
Alessi proves capable of greater melodism with a gently contrapuntal trumpet/piano duo that introduces the balladic "Maria Lydia." Still, slow doesn't always mean lyrical, as the two versions of "Baida" that bookend the record are delicate but dark and ever-so-angular, with Alessi's embouchure, mute and plunger creating near-vocal articulations, even as Moran's pointillism ebbs and flows over Gress and Waits' rubato support. "Chuck Barris," on the other hand, grooves with rhythmic complexity, Alessi's brighter tone engaging empathically with Moran's blockier responses.
Moving to ECM and relinquishing the producer's chair to Manfred Eicher both contribute to Baida representing Alessi's long overdue arrival. More open, more translucent and somehow more intrinsically pure, Baida welcomes Alessi to a label whose instinctive ability to find and draw out good music where it lives remains both unparalleled and fundamental to its ongoing success and reputation.
Track Listing: 
Baida; Chuck Barris; Gobble Goblins; In-Flight Entertainment; Sanity; Maria Lydia; Shankl; I Go, You Go; Throwing Like a Girl; 11/1/10; Baida (reprise).
Personnel: 
Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Jason Moran: piano; Drew Gress: double bass; Nasheet Waits: drums.


Joey DeFrancesco
One For Rudy




By Jack Bowers 
The "Rudy" singled out for favor on this new CD by organist Joey DeFrancesco's admirable trio is the legendary recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder who engineered, mixed and mastered the album at his studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. DeFrancesco, whose mastery of the Hammond B3 is universally recognized and unquestioned, wrote the groovy homage to van Gelder that wraps up the album, elsewhere stepping aside to make room for such able tunesmiths as Miles Davis, Eddie Heywood, Gordon Jenkins, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk and Hoagy Carmichael. Resting surely and snugly in the small-group format that suits him best, DeFrancesco serves as comrade and confidant to his colleagues, guitarist Steve Cotter and drummer Ramon Banda.
DeFrancesco can always be counted on to unearth an offbeat song selection or two, and this he does at the outset with Hal Spina's "I Don't Wanna Be Kissed," a mid-tempo charmer on which the organ is made to sound at times like a piano. Miles' "Budo" bounces along at a lively clip, setting the stage for a pair of memorable ballads, Jenkins' "Goodbye" and Heywood's "Canadian Sunset." Hubbard's "Up Jumped Spring," one of the more impressive jazz themes ever written (reframed melodically by DeFrancesco and Co.), precedes Rollins' playful "Way Out West" and the scurrying standard "After You've Gone." The tempo slows moderately for "Monk's Dream" and substantially for "Stardust" before the trio dig in hard to deliver "One for Rudy" (on which the listener can briefly hear van Gelder's directive to commence recording).
DeFrancesco brandishes his gargantuan chops throughout, while Cotter and Banda lend sympathetic support and Cotter solos effectively when called upon. Even though DeFrancesco's name is on the marquee, this is clearly a group effort in which everyone plays an essential role. Needless to say, the recording itself is first-class, playing time respectable at just under an hour. For fans of organ trios in general and Joey DeFrancesco in particular, a charming and readily endorsed session.
Track Listing: 
I Don’t Wanna Be Kissed; Budo; Goodbye; Canadian Sunset; Up Jumped Spring; Way Out West; After You’ve Gone; Monk’s Dream; Stardust; One for Rudy.
Personnel: 
Joey DeFrancesco: Hammond B3 organ; Steve Cotter: guitar; Ramon Banda: drums.