Friday, March 17, 2017

Tommy LiPuma 1936 - 2017



By ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS/NPR
Tommy LiPuma, a record label executive and producer who made recordings with George Benson, Diana Krall, Paul McCartney, Natalie Cole, Dr. John, David Sanborn, Barbra Streisand, Queen Latifah, Leon Russell, Al Jarreau and Miles Davis, died Monday evening in New York City after a brief, undisclosed illness. His death was announced by Regina Joskow, a former colleague, family friend and jazz publicist.
Over the course of his career, LiPuma brought his artists — and labels — notable commercial success outside the realm pop albums. The recordings which he produced sold more than 75 million copies in total, including 35 titles that went gold or platinum. They include Natalie Cole's 1991 album "Unforgettable ... With Love" (which went seven times platinum); George Benson's "Breezin'" from 1976, which became a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 Chart; and a string of hits with singer Diana Krall across 11 titles and over 15 million albums sold. Along the way, LiPuma also won five Grammy Awards and earned 33 Grammy nominations.
Born July 5, 1936, LiPuma grew up in Cleveland, and played saxophone as a student. His rise in the record business was the result of a very old-school progression through the music industry. As jazz bassist and composer (and Jazz Night in America host) Christian McBride noted at an 80th-birthday celebration concert held last year in LiPuma's honor, he went from "cutting hair to cutting hit records."
After working as a barber, LiPuma began packing vinyl records at a warehouse. Soon, he was offered a job in Los Angeles as a radio promoter for Liberty Records before taking a job in publishing. He then began to work as a producer on early recordings by performers including The O'Jays and Randy Newman.
He was the first staff producer at A&M records, and in the '60s co-founded the musically eclectic Blue Thumb Records with future Rock and Roll Hall of Fame co-founder Bob Krasnow. He went on to hold executive positions at many of the top American labels that produced jazz, smooth jazz and music aimed at older audiences; they included Warner Bros., Elektra, GRP/Impulse and Verve.
In 2011, he produced Paul McCartney's Concord album Kisses On The Bottom, which won a Grammy for Best Pop Standard Album (Vocal) along with projects with Leon Russell and the trumpeter Dominick Farinacci. His last production was a forthcoming album from Krall entitled Turn Up The Quiet, which is scheduled for release in May.
LiPuma is survived by his wife, Gill, daughters Jen Monti and Danielle Wiener, and four granchildren: Matty, Julia, Chloe and Ava.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Dave Valentin 1952 - 2017




By Sam Roberts
Dave Valentin, a Grammy Award-winning Latin jazz flutist who recorded dozens of albums and performed on six continents, died on Wednesday in the Bronx. He was 64.
The cause was complications of a stroke and Parkinson’s disease, said his manager, Richie Bonilla.
Born in the Bronx to parents who came from Puerto Rico, Mr. Valentin was playing conga and timbales professionally by the time he was 10. As a teenager, he became attracted to a girl who played the flute and, to better court her, switched instruments and taught himself to play. He went on to become one of the pre-eminent flutists in Latin jazz.
He won a Grammy for best Latin jazz album in 2003 for “The Gathering,” by the Caribbean Jazz Project, an album that also featured the vibraphonist Dave Samuels.
Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote in a 1984 review that Mr. Valentin “plays with a sultry tone and dizzyingly agile technique, and his solos dart in and around his quintet’s Latin and funk rhythms.”
The percussionist and bandleader Bobby Sanabria said in an interview that Mr. Valentin was “a true son of the South Bronx wherever he went,” and that he “represented excellence as a musician through the flute in the world of jazz.”
David Joseph Valentin was born in the South Bronx on April 29, 1952, to parents who came to New York from a fishing village near Mayagüez, P.R. His mother was the former Sylvia Ramirez. His father, Jorge, a steward in the merchant marine, brought home bongos and congas from Brazil, which Dave began practicing on when he was 5. He took piano lessons when he was 9 and was playing percussion for $10 a gig when he was 10.
“At that time I was like a novelty playing with men,” he said in an interview with the Hamilton College Jazz Archive in 2000. “I was a little kid on timbales.”
His junior high school had a school band and a jazz band, an orchestra, a chorus and seven music teachers, one of whom, Stuart Soffer, recommended him to the High School of Music and Art (now the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan).
After graduating, he studied under the acclaimed jazz flutist Hubert Laws, who became his mentor. He also studied at Bronx Community College before becoming a music teacher.
“I taught seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade music for three years in the South Bronx,” Mr. Valentin told The Times in 2014. “I had a jazz band and taught them how to play, so when they graduated they were ready.”
His first album as a leader, “Legends,” was released in 1979 on the GRP label, with which he had a long and fruitful relationship as both a leader and a sideman.
In addition to releasing numerous albums under his own name, he recorded with the singers Patti Austin, Chris Connor and Nnenna Freelon, the guitarist Lee Ritenour, the pianist McCoy Tyner’s Afro-Cuban All-Stars and many others. He also toured with the percussionist Tito Puente and was music director of his Golden Latin Jazz All-Stars.
After suffering a stroke in 2012, he convalesced in a rented bungalow in the Harding Park section of the Bronx, surviving without savings or health insurance and dependent largely on donations, many of them handled by the Jazz Foundation of America. He eventually moved to a nursing home.
He is survived by a brother, George.
Mr. Valentin delighted in recounting how he became a flutist.
“I started out as a percussionist in school. But I wanted to meet this girl, Irene, who was a flutist,” he recalled in 2011. “She showed me a scale, and I played it immediately. Do-re-me-fa-so-la-ti-do. Without knowing nothing! So, I borrowed a flute, bought a Herbie Mann record and learned ‘Comin’ Home Baby.’
“Three weeks later, I went to her and played it,” he continued. “I knew I had her! She said, ‘I’ve been taking lessons for three years and you come in here in three weeks and play like that? Don’t ever talk to me again!’
“I lost the girl, but kept the flute.”

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Misha Mengelberg 1935 - 2017



By John Fordham
In his last years the Dutch pianist, composer and improviser Misha Mengelberg, who has died aged 81, would sometimes whistle and sing in conversation with visiting friends when advancing Alzheimer’s disease made words particularly elusive. But conversing this way was perhaps not as big an inconvenience for Mengelberg as it might have been for some, since much of the music he had initiated and participated in for more than 50 years resembled a spontaneous conversation in which narrative was capricious, logic unreliable and diversionary humour frequent.
Mengelberg was one of the most creative jazz pianists to emerge in the first phase of Europe’s breakaway from American jazz styles in the 1960s, good enough to record with the pioneering American reeds player Eric Dolphy in 1964 and to perform at the Newport jazz festival two years later. Mengelberg had been intrigued in his youth by the jazz methods of Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monkand Herbie Nichols, and had transcribed jazz solos while studying the classics. However, he was soon exposing those materials to creative pressures from non-jazz radicals including John Cage and the interdisciplinary experiments being pursued in the US and Europe by futurists, dadaists, and the 1950s Fluxus artists - as well as the Taoism of Lao Tzu.
The description of the movement by Fluxus pioneer George Maciunas as “a fusion of Spike Jones, gags, games, vaudeville, Cage and Duchamp” makes a pretty good description of Mengelberg himself. He would shift unceremoniously between traditional swing and flinty improv or graceful virtuosity and slapstick, inject weird wordless vocal variations into meticulously composed instrumentals, and tease audiences with the expectation of resolutions that never came. He had a reputation for forgetting appointments, sometimes arriving late for gigs, taking to a stage through the wrong door carrying a cup of coffee – and recording musical dialogues with his wife’s parrot, Eeko. Despite appearances, Mengelberg maintained that the bird hated him, since it would regularly mimic his best ideas better than he could play them himself.
He was also a co-founder (with fellow-composers including Louis Andriessen, Peter Schat and Reinbert de Leeuw) of the Amsterdam research and development centre STEIM (Studio for Electro Instrumental Music), a facility that later expanded to include studios, workshops and a concert hall. He was instrumental in the founding of Amsterdam’s celebrated Bimhuis jazz club in 1973 and a dedicated campaigner for the improvement of opportunities and rewards for musicians, helping in the latter role to encourage unprecedented levels of state funding for original jazz and improvisation in his homeland.But if Mengelberg could seem to be a flippant individual who took neither himself nor anyone else seriously, it was a smokescreen that concealed an influential lifetime of work as both an artist and an enabler. He was an initiator of the Instant Composers’ Pool (ICP), a collective comprising many of the Netherlands’ most inventive jazz avant gardists, which evolved a diverting chemistry of Ellingtonian swing, uninhibited free jazz and performance art.
Alongside Mengelberg’s active life as a piano improviser from the 60s to the 2000s, he was also a prolific composer and arranger: of solo piano pieces and ensemble music, a cantata, music dedicated to inspirations as different as Richard Wagner and Bill Evans, and repertory ventures for the ICP Orchestra in the 80s exploring the legacies of Ellington, Monk and Nichols.
He was born Misja Mengelberg to a musical family in Kiev, in what was then the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. His German mother, Rahel (nee Draber) was a harpist and his father, Karel, a film composer and orchestral conductor, while his great-uncle Willem Mengelberg was a celebrated conductor with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.
In 1938, with Russian suspicion of German citizens growing, the family moved from Kiev to Amsterdam, where Misha learned classical piano but on leaving school began studies for an architectural career, switching in 1958 to music theory and composition at the Royal Conservatory.
But neither temperament, or the spirit of the times, were steering Mengelberg toward a straight-ahead jazz life. In 1964 he had participated in a Flux festival “happening” of Nieuwste Muziek en Anti-muziek (Latest music and non-music), and three years later he was setting up the radical ICP. During this period, he often appeared in entertaining duos with Bennink that mixed original themes, jazz and improv virtuosity and knockabout comedy, and the pair briefly formed a trio with the saxophonist Willem Breuker that exhibited a kind of acrimoniously pungent inventiveness.Mengelberg quickly developed into a jazz pianist capable of accompanying the world’s best, working as a sideman in clubs and studios, recording Last Date with Dolphy in 1964 and forming a quartet featuring the brilliant drummer Han Bennink (an encounter that became a lifetime collaboration) that performed at the 1966 Newport jazz festival.
In the 70s and 80s Mengelberg combined work at STEIM with leadership of a sometimes chaotically improvisational ICP Tentet, which also featured the German saxophone firebrand Peter Brotzmann and the Danish-American altoist John Tchicai. In the 90s, Mengelberg worked with the former Thelonious Monk saxophonist Steve Lacy, and with the saxophonist/composer Anthony Braxton on the latter’s Charlie Parker Project in 1993. He recorded a series of fine solo albums in the 90s (Impromptus, Mix and Solo) in which elegantly simple melodies or Monk-like phrasing often glimmered amid complex contemporary-classical structures and dissonances, and occasionally worked in duos with the freethinking Dutch saxophonist Yuri Honing.
He made a superb postbop recording in 2000, Four in One, in a quartet including Bennink and the American trumpeter Dave Douglas, memorably revisiting Hypochristmutreefuzz, his own inimitable angle on bebop, from the Eric Dolphy Last Date session.
As Alzheimer’s disease took hold of Mengelberg in the 2000s, his public performances became rare, though the old spark could still spring out of the most ostensibly hesitant approaches to the piano. Mengelberg’s final public performance was at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam in June 2014 – the last of three Oyster Sessions, in which the club furnished white wine and one of the old contrarian’s favourite seafood treats while he played and chatted with old and new friends from the ICP.
Mengelberg is survived by Amy, his wife of more than five decades, his daughter, Andrea, and his brother, Kaspar.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

1 Sem 2017 - Part Three

Enrico Pieranunzi
Proximity




By Thomas Conrad
Like the other great piano players of our time, Enrico Pieranunzi mostly performs and records in trio and solo formats. Tales From the Unexpected comes from a concert in Gütersloh, Germany, in 2015, and is a valuable addition to his large, rich trio discography. The bassist and drummer, Jasper Somsen and André Ceccarelli, are longtime occasional collaborators. It is a rare recent example of a live jazz album recorded on analog tape direct to two-track. The sound is wonderfully warm and alive.
Proximity is even more noteworthy because it is a departure for Pieranunzi, a studio session from 2013 by a new quartet with trumpeter Ralph Alessi, saxophonist Donny McCaslin and bassist Matt Penman.
Pieranunzi wrote all the material on both albums. He is a special interpreter of standards, so it is slightly disappointing that he did not choose to include even one. But he is a composer who creates enticing melodies, and it is interesting how his tunes are able to serve very different purposes. Tales is all about energy. Tracks are mostly up (“The Surprise Answer”) or medium-up (“Anne Blomster Sang,” “Fellini’s Waltz”), and all feel driven by inner ensemble urgency. But Pieranunzi’s touch always informs energy with graceful elegance and Italian romanticism. His formal sense is so sure that even fully improvised pieces like “Improtale 1” sound refined, symmetrical and complete.
The romanticism of Proximity is deeper and more plaintive. The title track and “Sundays” are melodies made from a few long, yearning calls that originate with Alessi and McCaslin. Their articulate voices and strong personalities sound submerged in Pieranunzi’s sensibility. Alessi draws out “(In)Canto” like a rapt ceremony, caught in its haunting theme, repeating it with subtle variations. In the open spaces, Pieranunzi lays in variations of his own, in luminous fragments. As for McCaslin, it is striking how he finds a way to take off from such a closed circle and solo, offering fresh, revelatory content.
Throughout, Alessi and McCaslin play with measured, concentrated lyricism. Pieranunzi, who rarely arranges for horns, employs their instruments with precision. He thinks like a painter, brushing in his melodies with trumpet and saxophone in alternating or interlaced strokes. Then, within his own clear parameters, he allows those horns to briefly roam free in his songs. The most emotionally resonant piece is “Within the House of Night,” without solos as such. Its pensiveness passes beautifully through everyone’s hands, including those of Penman, whose probing, poetic work on this record reveals that he is one of the most gifted bassists currently working. The absence of a drummer makes Proximity a form of chamber jazz, but it never lacks for fervor.


Joyce Moreno & Kenny Werner
Poesia




By Dan Bilawsky 
Though it may be a nonsensical thought, it's tempting to wonder if Kenny Werner has figured out how to clone himself. Lately, it would seem that he's everywhere: if you've opened the pages of DownBeat you've seen his "Zen And The Art Of Jazz" columns staring back at you; if you've headed up to Berklee you've seen him in action, acting as Artistic Director of that institution's Performance Wellness Institute; if you frequent New York's Blue Note or Jazz Standard you might've heard his new quintet or his longstanding trio; and if you've followed the new release schedule, you may have spotted the latest from that trio or trumpeter Randy Brecker's RandyPOP! (Piloo Records And Productions LLC, 2015), an album featuring Werner's playing and his arrangements/derangements of classic pop songs. How he fits it all in is a mystery, but it's clear that a Werner in motion gathers no moss.
Now, in keeping with that idea, comes another release from the omnipresent pianist. Poesia finds Werner working with vocalist Joyce Moreno, building on a musical relationship that extends back over a quarter of a century: Werner appeared on both of Moreno's albums on the Verve imprint, he toured Japan with her in 1991, and he remains her first choice pianist whenever she arrives in New York. Here, these two deliver thirteen intimate duo gems that are as lovely and distinctive as the budding and blooming flower images that adorn the packaging.
Across this album, Werner and Moreno demonstrate that beauty comes in many forms. "Olha Maria" moves with melancholic charm, "Estate" comes across as a form of musical hypnotherapy, "Mad About The Boy" is a daydream and a saloon song rolled into one, and "Pra Dizer Adeus" reduces the whole concept of yearning into a single work. Virtually every one of these performance exists in a similar space in terms of tempo, dynamics, and pacing, but each piece of musical poetry carries a different intention. A number like "Velho Piano," for example, deals with the evolution and unmasking of love over time while a piece like "The Water Is Wide" comes from a different place, speaking in spiritual tones. Both deal with dissimilar topics, but they become kindred spirits in the way that Werner and Moreno address them.
Not a year goes by without the arrival of one or two extraordinarily beautiful piano-and-voice duo albums. For 2015, this is one of them. To say that this music is affecting and enthralling would be a gross understatement.
Track Listing:
Second Love Song; E O Amor Outra Vez; Olha Maria; Estate; Mad About The Boy; Velho Piano; Throw It Away; Pra Dizer Adeus; Smile; Choro Bandido; Some Other Time; Novelo; The Water Is Wide.
Personnel:
Joyce Moreno: vocals; Kenny Werner: piano.


Eivind Austad Trio
Moving




By Ginalovesjazz.com
At home in Norway, pianist Eivind Austad is a household name in the young jazz scene in Bergen. Eivind is originally from Trondheim, way up north, but has made Bergen his home for the past 20 years. With “Moving” (out March 18th), his trio is now ready for an international career as well. And you could say better late than never.
Eivind was also trained in classical music and folk, like it is common in the Scandinavian countries, and his love for soul, gospel and r&b makes this new effort an interesting listening experience. And his solo piano introduction on the album’s opener “Two Of Mine” show his very lyrical and Bill Evans-like approach until bassist Magne Thormodsaeter and drummer Hakon Mjaset Johansen join him in subdued and elegant fashion. Eivind’s right hand fathoms out the boundaries in all directions. The compositions don’t really have that typical Norwegian touch (if there is one), but explore and touch upon all kinds of genres, if only slightly, like on the ruminated, soulful search in “Median”.
And some folksy elements shine through on the warm and comfy “Homeland”. The various layers on the tense and versatile “In The End”, again with remarkable right-hand work and some Keith Jarrett-like interpolations, make the piece well-rounded and carefully thought-through. There is a coherent final statement after a brief bass solo which is nicely embedded into the mix. The title track has some chamber-music like scales and remind me of some of Chick Corea‘s ECM works of the 70s.
There is a swinging approach to “The Moment Of Truth” where Eivind is more or less telling a lively and enthralling story and gives room to Magne and Hakon as well. But the nice thing here is that the bass and drum solo parts are not necessarily full-grown solo spots per se, but more a part of the scheme of things, of the overall sound concept and composition. It’s the most satisfying and pulsating piece on offer, transparent and lucid.
In addition to the six original compositions, there are two cover pieces by Cole Porter and David Bowie. Porter’s “All Of You” shows me quite plainly how important original material is. Not that there is no originality in the playing and interpretation of this classic, but it somehow falls short of the imaginative and at times brilliant ideas of the self-written pieces. Much more in sync with his own material is the choice of Bowie’s “Life On Mars” where Eivind’s playing gets severely ethereal, all vulnerable and bravely exposed.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

1 Sem 2017 - Part Two

Stefano Bollani
Sheik For Zappa




By Emanuele Vassalli at balaclavareviews
Stefano freaked out! Due artisti a tutto tondo, due personalità bizzarre, due geni della musica. Stefano Bollani omaggia Frank Zappa, in un nuovo album adatto agli amanti della musica fuori dalle righe e della creatività. Il pianista nato a Milano rivisita alcuni brani storici del musicista italo-americano con un quintetto del tutto particolare, considerando che la chitarra è assente, mentre nei brani originali è uno degli strumenti dominanti. Il disco è stato registrato in presa diretta durante i vari concerti del tour “Sheik Yer Zappa” del 2011, senza il ricorso di aggiustamenti post-registrazione. La particolarità di questo album, e ciò che lo differenzia dagli altri “tributi”, è il fatto che i brani non sono stati suonati tali e quali gli originali, ma prevale l’improvvisazione, che Bollani e il suo gruppo svolgono in maniera egregia.
In una recente intervista, Bollani ha dichiarato che, seppur idolatrandolo, lui non avrebbe mai voluto suonare con Zappa, poiché
" era uno che ti faceva provare per otto ore al giorno, e pretendeva ogni volta i brani perfetti e così come erano stati scritti; mentre io sono uno che ama improvvisare, quindi probabilmente l’avrei scansato. "
Devo dire che questa reinterpretazione è davvero gradevole e ancora una volta fuori dal normale. Nelle parti improvvisate grande spazio è lasciato al vibrafono (molto presente anche nei brani di Zappa), suonato dal nativo dell’Illinois Jason Adasiewicz, scoperto da Bollani su YouTube. Nel Dicembre 2013, al Jazz Club di Ferrara, ho avuto il piacere di vedere un concerto dal vivo del suo trio Sun Rooms, nel quale Adasiewicz suona con Mike Reed e Nate McBride, e ciò che mi ha colpito è stata proprio la sua creatività e la sua maestria nel rendere uno strumento particolare come il vibrafono il pezzo forte del gruppo. Il titolo “Sheik Yer Zappa” è un riferimento al favoloso disco “Sheik Yerbouti” uscito nel 1979. Questo strano nome Zappa lo scelse per ironizzare sul mondo della disco music (che lui stesso amava) modificando il titolo della canzone “Shake Your Booty” dei KC & the Sunshine Band nel nome di uno sceicco (così come appare nella copertina). Questo nuovo disco di Bollani, comunque, non contiene solo interpretazioni dei brani in “Sheik Yerbouti”, ma anche altri classici zappiani come “Cosmik Debris”, “Bobby Brown Goes Down” (qui cantata da Bollani), “Blessed Relief”, “Eat That Question”, “Peaches En Regalia” e “Uncle Meat”, e l’aggiunta di tre inediti.
Alla notizia dell’uscita di questo album ero davvero estasiato, poiché vedevo realizzato il connubio tra due dei miei artisti preferiti, e non ne sono rimasto affatto deluso. Si possono identificare molte peculiarità in comune tra i due: oltre ad essere due musicisti senza alcuna barriera compositiva e ad essere due grandi esecutori ed interpreti, sono anche due personaggi (nel senso artistico del termine) da scoprire per quanto stravaganti e geniali. Si trovano somiglianze anche nei loro concerti: sono (e sono stati nel caso di Zappa) infatti due grandi intrattenitori. Se vi è capitato di assistere ad un loro concerto, avrete notato ed apprezzato quanto il pubblico sia coinvolto e divertito. Per darvi un esempio: qualche mese fa ho avuto la fortuna di assistere ad un concerto di Bollani con il suo Danish Trio (ah, eccezionali pure loro); in un ambiente formale com’è il teatro, Bollani ha stemperato subito il clima sbottonandosi la camicia e cominciando a suonarsi la pancia! Più avanti nel concerto ha iniziato a suonare il piano a coda stando seduto per terra, a raccontare storie e battute, il tutto con con un risultato davvero meraviglioso sia in termini musicali che di spettacolo, e facendo divertire e partecipare il pubblico come se fosse lo show di un comico. Questa capacità di intrattenimento è testimoniata anche nelle puntate del suo programma “Sostiene Bollani” andato in onda sulla Rai.
Se ancora non conoscete questi due artisti, vi consiglio caldamente di provare a scoprirli passo dopo passo attraverso le loro interminabili discografie. Intanto, per cominciare, questo disco è quello che ci vuole.
Personnel:
Stefano Bollani, piano; Jason Adasiewicz, vibraphone; Josh Roseman, trombone
Larry Grenadier, double bass; Jim Black, drums


Tom Bancroft
Trio Red: Lucid Dreams



By Patrick Hadfield
This is the second album by Trio Red, a collaboration between drummer Tom Bancroft, pianist Tom Cawley and bassist Per Zanussi. Their first, First Hello to Last Goodbye, felt much as its name suggested: a document of a meeting. Lucid Dreamers is more, a record of a band, developing and growing together.
Several of the tracks sound as if they are wholly improvised, a musical conversation which continues through the album. Others are written by Bancroft, and there are three covers. The first, Lift Off, by Thomas Chapin, is reminiscent of 1960s post bop by Ornette Coleman or Jackie McLean: fast and slightly of kilter, Cawley takes the lead as if we're speeding down a hill. Charles Mingus' Jump Monk is more familiar bop. Bancroft proves he is as at home driving a swinging beat as he is at providing impressionistic percussion for the improvised pieces. The most intriguing cover, though, is a short mash up of (I think) 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and Love Is Here To Stay, which Trio Red have called 50 Ways Our Love Is Here To Stay Porgy. The result is a lovely ballad which I wish lasted longer than its two minutes.
The five improvised pieces similarly leave one wanting more. The first two, Hint of Wood and Howdy Doody, follow each other closely. The first has an insistent beat over which Zanussi and Cawley solo whilst Bancroft inserts rhythmic patterns. Cawley adds to the rhythm by plucking his piano's strings in between the chords behind Zanussi's bass. Howdy Doody is more open and reflective, as if the band are finding their way through the notes. Mr McFats Puts On His Socks is another number which feels like the band are exploring their ideas. The two Bancroft compositions bookend the album. The opener, Saturday Afternoon (With Sophie), is a lively, naive-sounding tune with a slight reggae-inflection. It has the innocence of a nursery rhyme or playground chant, full of humour with a touch of naughtiness. It has the potential to be irritatingly catchy!
Lucid Dreamers closes the CD. Originally written for a larger ensemble, it is all together more serious in nature. In three sections, it has a quiet intensity that leads to a chaotic crescendo in the middle, resolving into an optimistic, emotional climax in the final part. Cawley takes a powerful solo over Zanussi's Bach-like bass line leading to the end of this varied CD.


Marc Perrenoud Trio
Nature Boy




By Challenge
What do young musicians actually think when they embark on a worn-out beaten path such as the piano trio? In the case of Marc Perrenoud, Cyril Regamey and Marco Müller, no one actually believed almost since the beginning of their fast-paced career that they would ever pick up on the likes of Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum to play sweet-swing-as-swing-can songs. Whoever listens to the three play tends more to be reminded of Metallica, Radiohead or Thindersticks than "Logo", the first album of the three in 2008. Perhaps Hindemith, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Ligeti or French cabaret at the beginning of the 20th century too, all important inspirations for their last work to date, "Vestry Lamento". But just no traditional blueprints, because there are indeed more than enough of them. "Marco, Cyril and I often play together and just think about nothing. Just maybe a good steak with green pepper,” Marc Perrenoud grins. Using a reasonably fertile imagination, everyone can imagine how such pieces might then sound.
However, pianist Perrenoud, drummer Regamey and bassist Müller really did have something in mind in their latest work "Nature Boy". They are concerned with the growing ambivalence between man and nature, between the playfulness of a child and the urge of a young adult who protests against all the abuses, injustices and crimes against creation. The trio places itself in the middle of that. "We wanted to play as if we were children: naive, easily and without a plan,” Marc Perrenoud explained their common approach. "At the same time, we felt that something was happening around us that was not normal, something that people are dead set against. Because we were not directly involved in it, we just continued playing. However, it somehow colored our music. Sometimes it sounded alarming."
That is how the 35-year-old exceptional pianist describes his state of mind when he was preparing to compose the pieces for "Nature Boy” in the fateful summer of 2015. Then as now, no one can insulate himself against the terrible images that flickered on television screens every day. Countless people, regardless of whether young or old, men or women, lost their lives in their flight from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq or Somalia to Europe. "The Mediterranean became a mass grave. Suddenly its color was just black,” Marc Perrenoud explained his feelings. "And the child in us reminded us at that moment that it had once learned that the Mediterranean is allegedly the cradle of civilization. But no one wants to acknowledge something like that! It's just unbelievable!" As a result, a natural protective reflex takes hold: block out and suppress. The child tries to gain the upper hand. It tries to play. "Because playing," Perrenoud said, "is life". Survival.
With their enormous energy, three adult children try to deal with a tremendous problem on "Nature Boy". One, for which there is no rational explanation. Perrenoud, Regamey and Müller create eight songs full of energy and emotion, of course without losing control of themselves and their presentation for one second. They function perfectly as a unit, "playing" together, without egocentric introversion and define themselves solely via their position as musicians. In the title piece, they unmistakably articulate their concerns, but without letting this anxiety prevail. Other takes such as "Overseas" suggest unbridled screaming; on the other hand, "Aegean” produces a hyperactive, restless and always on-the-go effect. In "Arolla", dedicated to a mountain in the Valais, they pay tribute to the elemental force of nature and artfully weave in the signal melody with which Swiss post buses announce their coming. The relationship between nature and humans runs like a leitmotif through "Nature Boy". It permeates every theme. Marc Perrenoud, who was born in Berlin in 1981 and studied at the Geneva Conservatory and at Lausanne Jazz School, has reaped a number of awards and has performed as a solo pianist in addition to with his trio (since 2008), combines massive bursts of aggression with subtle tenderness. The result is a new, highly exciting and authentic culture of improvisation. Something that has not existed in this intensity and urgency until now.


Lorenzo Tucci
Sparkle




By RepublicOfJazz
Sparkle, is scheduled for release in April 2016 and is the eighth album of one of the most acclaimed drummers on the Italian and international jazz scene: Lorenzo Tucci. The album contains eight of Tucci’s original compositions and two songs paying tribute to great legends in the world of music: Sting and Pino Daniele. Beyond displaying technical mastery, this album reveals Tucci’s style and flair, his creativity as a composer, his recognizable individual genre, and his ability to perform with precision and a fiery modern-edge blend that has been making waves in the contemporary jazz scene. Most of his themes aren’t based on traditional jazz standards, but are shaped into brief suites, launching off into neatly contrived ideas.
This is where jazz’s rhythmic, melodic and harmonic conventions unexpectedly expand to unfold a new space, making SPARKLE a truly innovative, contemporary jazz masterpiece. Renowned pianist Luca Mannutza together with the notably young yet acclaimed double bassist, Luca Fattorini, weave refined and interesting textures that fit seamlessly into the musical interlace, creating truly fresh-sounding atmospheres. Veteran Italian trumpeter Flavio Boltro imbues the music with intensity and emotional strength, thanks to his dynamically sensitive playing and versatility.
The title track, Sparkle Suite, is a three part song - a form which characterizes the entire album. So One, a song in 5/4 time, is catchy and upbeat in a fresh and unpredictable way. Past and Grow are original tracks nestled on the outermost edge of jazz creativity. Two Years reveals a strong and creative melodic approach, with rhythmic inventiveness. The suggestive, slow Bossa Nova track, L&L, carries a sense of mellow seduction and fluidity where Mannutza and Boltro spin out their technically advanced virtuosity. Keep Calm, is a song having a groovy, laid-back feel with linear drumming and polyrhythms almost evocating an auditory illusion. In the last unreleased track, Tarì, inspired by a real yet ethereal location, Tucci creates a sound which is apparently simple, yet of great harmonic complexity.
The tribute songs to Pino Daniele and Sting have been trasformed into true jazz standards of rare beauty: the first, E po' che fa’, is embellished by Karima’s intimate, sultry voice, while Seven Days is performed in trio with Tucci, Mannutza and Fattorini re-inhabiting Sting’s beautiful song in a heartfelt tribute to the great artist.
Personnel:
Luca Mannutza - piano; Luca Fattorini - double bass; Lorenzo Tucci - drums
Flavio Boltro - trumpet; Karima - Voice (E po' che fa')

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Horace Parlan 1931 - 2017



By Dead Obituary
Horace Parlan was born on January 19, 1931, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
and died on February 23, 2017, Korsør, Denmark.
He was an American hard bop and post-bop piano player.
Parlan was best known for his contributions to the Charles Mingus recordings Mingus Ah Um and Blues & Roots.
During his early years, Horace was stricken with polio, resulting in the partial crippling of his right hand.
Because of his handicap which contributed to his development of a particularly “pungent” left-hand chord voicing style, while coping with highly rhythmic phrases with the right.
From 1952 and 1957, Horace worked in Washington DC with Sonny Stitt and then spent two years with Mingus’ Jazz Workshop.
During 1973, he relocated to Copenhagen, Denmark. He later settled in the small village of Rude in southern Zealand/Denmark.
Parlan completed a State Department tour of Africa with Hal Singer, in 1974.
Horace Parlan’s later work, such as a series of duos with the tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp, included the album Goin’ Home, was steeped in gospel music.
He was awarded the 2000 Ben Webster Prize awarded by the Ben Webster Foundation.
Horace Parlan passed away at 86 years old.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Larry Coryell 1943 - 2017



By Kory Grow
Larry Coryell, one of jazz fusion's pioneering guitarists, died Sunday in his New York City hotel room of natural causes, according to his publicist. He had played gigs on Friday and Saturday night at the city's Iridium club and had a spate of summer tour dates on the horizon with his group the Eleventh House. He was 73.
"We are the frequency to do the opposite of Donald Trump," guitarist says of band featuring jazz legends Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter.
In the mid-to-late Sixties, Coryell broke down genre barriers with his eclectic, fluid playing and experiments with melding plodding rock rhythms with spacious jazz chords. His breakthrough, 1969's Spaces, featured a who's who of the nascent fusion genre's innovators, including guitarist John McLaughlin, pianist Chick Corea and drummer Billy Cobham – all of whom would play on Miles Davis' landmark 1970 fusion LP Bitches Brew. He would later play with McLaughlin again in the Guitar Trio, an ensemble that also featured Paco DeLucia and would later include Al DiMeola after Coryell was forced to exit due to drug addiction.
Coryell was born on April 2nd, 1943 in Galveston, Texas, but grew up in the Seattle area. He began playing piano at age four and picked up the guitar as a teenager, drawing influence from both Chet Atkins and Chuck Berry. He studied the instrument through college and eventually moved to New York City, where he took classical guitar lessons.
"What sparked me to getting into the guitar was the mobility of the instrument – I had been taking piano lessons, but the piano, although a great instrument, was large, staid, and kind of 'establishment,' whereas the guitar was portable … like a poor man's piano, and that appealed to me," he once said in an interview with Musicguy247. "The seminal 'event' to get me serious about playing the guitar was when, as a teenager, I heard somebody my own age play very well. Even though it was rock & roll, the guy displayed great skill and musicality. So, for me, if he could do that, then maybe I could as well."
In 1966, he formed a psychedelic group, the Free Spirits, in which he also sang and played sitar, while also dabbling in jazz. His musical career led to him tour with Cream frontman Jack Bruce and to record with vibraphonist Gary Burton and flautist Herbie Mann, and he made his recorded debut on Chico Hamilton's The Dealer. In addition to Eleventh House, which he formed in 1973, he also played with the group Foreplay (not to be confused with the later Fourplay).
Coryell put out dozens of solo and ensemble releases throughout the Seventies up through the present day, recording alongside Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Kenny Barron and Stéphane Grapelli, among others. He had re-formed Eleventh House around the time of his death.
He'd put out a new album, Barefoot Man: Sanpaku, last October, according to Billboard, and a new Eleventh House full-length, Seven Secrets, will come out June 2nd. He'd also recently worked on operatic adaptations of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace and Anna Karenina, as well as James Joyce's Ulysses.
NPR reports that Coryell is survived by his wife, Tracey, daughters Annie and Allegra, sons Murali and Julian, and six grandchildren. A memorial service is scheduled to be held at New York City's SGI-USA Buddhist temple on Friday, according to Billboard.