These are some reviews from others about my 2007 jazz-election. Good reading !!!!
Don't forget to check out Bollani's Video
By Ken Dryden
Judy Niemack has released so many outstanding CDs that it seems unfathomable that this 2007 release for Blujazz is her first U.S. recording since Heart's Desire and only her third U.S. album overall. But she makes up for lost time with a typically adventurous outing, backed by guitarist Jeanfrançois Prins (her husband), pianist Jim McNeely, bassist Dennis Irwin, and drummer Victor Lewis, with guest appearances by saxophonist Gary Bartz and trumpeter/flügelhornist Don Sickler on selected tracks. Niemack's sassy take of Duke Ellington's "I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues" and her scatting in unison with Prins' guitar in a romp through "Bluesette" open the disc with a bang, but she cools things down with her intricate interpretation of Bill Evans' "Interplay," for which she supplied delightful lyrics. "A Crazy Song to Sing" has more of a vocalese quality, describing the appeal of performing Thelonious Monk's "Mysterioso," punctuated by Bartz's smoldering alto sax solo. "In a Sentimental Mood" is set up by an intriguing blend of guitar, flügelhorn, and alto sax, with Niemack delivering a captivating performance. Judy Niemack has been one of the most underrated jazz vocalists of her generation, and this brilliant effort should awaken critics who have unjustly overlooked her consistently excellent work.
By Thom Jurek
When Kurt Elling issued Man in the Air on the Blue Note label in 2003, it showcased his expansive, dream-weaving stage persona, though the album was recorded in the studio. Nightmoves arrives at a time when Elling has left Blue Note for the hopefully greener pastures of the Concord kingdom, and has been both directing and hosting festivals while also performing like crazy. For a guy who is as busy as he is, there's no doubt he has also been working on expanding his particular gift with discipline and breathtaking adventure. For starters, there is a wider array of musicians on Nightmoves. Along with longtime pianist Laurence Hobgood (an underrated and underappreciated artist of high order), players like Bob Mintzer, Christian McBride, Rob Mounsey, Willie Jones III, the Escher String Quartet, Rob Amster, Guilherme Monteiro, and Grégoire Maret are here, assisting in this ambitious set of tunes in all manner of configurations, from duet to septet. The title cut, written by Michael Franks, opens the set, with Mintzer on tenor and a pair of pianists in Hobgood on acoustic and arranger Rob Mounsey on electric, with Jones and McBride serving as the rhythm section guides. Elling keeps all the gorgeous mystery of the original and deepens it as he more assertively states the lyrics. He's got soul, blues, and the grain of the jazzman in his vocal. Hobgood underscores every line while Mounsey adds depth and dimension to the tune atmospherically, and Mintzer's solo is brief but full of the deep blues. There is a weave at work here that Elling follows in Betty Carter's "Tight." And it is. The notion of song gets stretched to the point of breakage here, and rhythmic interplay happens between Elling and the band. While keeping Carter's tune's integrity, he also pushes the lines to slip into the circular beat provided by Jones. McBride's arrangement is a swinging hard bop delight. The sense of freedom in Carter's original is captured in Elling's solo. There is a gorgeous nocturnal smoke-and-fog medley of Irving Berlin's "Change Partners" and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "If You Never Come to Me." Howard Levy adds some painterly harmonica to the tune's frame, and the band — courtesy of Hobgood's subtle and moving arrangement — plays to Elling's strength. The sense of longing and heartache is evident from outside the lyric; it comes from the pit of the belly and speaks its need before Monteiro's acoustic guitar introduces the Jobim song. Elling slips right into that rhythmic change, extending the story of the original, speaking under the gentle breeze and night sky. There is another medley here as well: Keith Jarrett's "Leaving Again" woven into the Mann and Hilliard tune (and Frank Sinatra classic) "In the Wee Small Hours." Elling extrapolated — via transcription most likely — Jarrett's original improvisation (and his extra lines in the latter tune) and wrote a vocal and lyrics for it. The performance is full of surprise and delight. Listeners will have to discover that one for themselves. One of the greatest surprises here is in Elling's reading of Randy Bachman's (of Bachman-Turner Overdrive and the Guess Who, the latter band having recorded the original) pop hit "Undun" (better known as "She's Come Undun"). The tune is transformed with help from Mounsey's arrangement. It always had a jazz backdrop, and Elling and his pals pull it over the line. The man croons and startles with the raw emotion in his voice, as Hobgood's fills offer support for the sense of drama in Elling's voice. Mintzer enters and plays between the lines and through them. Elling just seems to climb with the intensity of the band and goes over the top. Elling's composition of a song to Theodore Roethke's poem is a deeply moving duet between his voice and Amster's bass. His full range is at work here, but the feel is effortless, spiritual, dreamy, shimmering. This track offers the complete evidence of this vocalist's true gift. The set ends with a reading of Duke Ellington's "I Like the Sunrise." Backed by a trio of Hobgood, Amster, and Jones, the reverence the singer feels for the tune is evident from the moment he opens his mouth. This is a gospel song in Elling's voice, with a vocalese performance that is as moving and on the money as anyone has ever delivered. The lyric is adapted from Rumi, and Ellington's melody is in perfect balance with the lyric and rhythm. It's simply inspiring. After Man in the Air it was difficult to imagine Elling expanding further on his spirit of song. But on Nightmoves, he has not only met but exceeded all expectations.
Night and the Music
By Matt Collar
His first trio album since the '90s, Night & the Music finds journeyman jazz pianist Fred Hersch, along with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Nasheet Waits, delving into an atmospheric and intimate mix of originals and standards. Hersch has always been a tasteful, harmonically adventurous, and deeply emotive musician, and that is certainly the case here. As he states in the liner notes, seven of these songs are first takes, and not surprisingly a sense of spontaneity and sensitive group interplay permeates the album. To these ends, Cole Porter's "So in Love" is given a deeply expansive touch that finds Hersch washing various harmonic colors around the melody. Similarly engaging, his takes on such lesser-played standards as Thelonious Monk's "Boo Boo's Birthday" and Irving Berlin's "Change Partners" are gleefully playful and adventurous. However, it is on the darker, more melancholy moments that Hersch truly shines, and his brooding version of "How Deep Is the Ocean" and his own "Heartland" are devastatingly moving ballads.
By Richard S. Ginell
The superb French/Ivory Coast drummer Manu Katche, long a backing force on many ECM sessions, steps out on his own for the first time on this label and comes up with a gem — with a little help from some of the ECM stars. Indeed, "Neighbourhood" is a very appropriate title, for there are several interlocking orbits of personnel within this album. For a start, the CD marks another collaboration between trumpeter Tomasz Stanko and saxophonist Jan Garbarek, the latter whom Katche has been backing on and off since the early '90s. Moreover Stanko brought along part of his Polish rhythm team, pianist Marcin Wasilewski and bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz, for the session. Michel Petrucciani is clearly on Katche's mind, for not only is the album dedicated to the late pianist, the reflective, ardently lyrical mood of Katche's compositions — and Wasilewski's piano work — are quite reminiscent of Petrucciani at his most relaxed. And Katche can write; his tunes are often wistful and thoughtful, his percussive backing crisp yet subtle, carefully filling in the cracks while keeping just enough of a gentle pulse. The best of the lot, the simple angular tune of "Good Influence," grabs you by the throat, tugs at your heart, and doesn't quit the memory — sure signs of greatness. By contrast, "Lovely Walk" kicks up the tempo behind an ostinato bass while "Take Off and Land" brings in a touch of fatback funk. If there is a single wellspring behind this music — besides Petrucciani of course — Herbie Hancock's acoustic combo recordings of the late '60s come closest in terms of ambience and harmony. Call this album an inspired descendant two generations and an ocean away.
Roger Cicero & After Hours
There I Go
By Hermann Mennenga
Auf seiner bei JAZZsick erschienenen CD „There I go“ ist Roger Cicero im Verbund mit der Gruppe After Hours zu hören, und dieses Zusammentreffen kann man getrost als reinen Glücksfall bezeichnen. Im Gegensatz zur CD „Good morning midnight“ mit der Pianistin Julia Hülsmann, hat Cicero hier die Möglichkeit sich nach Herzenslust in seinen Ausdrucksmitteln frei zu bewegen...
Roger Cicero & After Hours - "There I go"
War „Good morning midnight“ eher ein Konzeptalbum mit Gedichtvertonungen, so ist „There I go“ gerade das Gegenteil: von Hardbop à la Clifford Brown über die Beatles bis Abdullah Ibrahim, alias Dollar Brand, über Jean „Toots“ Thielemans bis Kurt Elling ist hier ein Stilmix vorhanden, von dem man auf den ersten Blick meinen könnte, das passe nicht zusammen.
Es liegt aber an den großartigen Musikern um Roger Cicero, aus diesem Silberling mehr zu machen als ein Schaulaufen durch die Jazzgeschichte. Dass dies gelingt, ist – wie schon gesagt – ein Glücksfall und eine Sternstunde für den deutschen Jazz zugleich.
By Jason Ankeny
German jazz vocalist Roger Cicero interpreted the sound and spirit of the swing era for contemporary audiences, upholding the family traditions established by his father, renowned jazz pianist Eugene Cicero. Born in West Berlin on July 6, 1970, Cicero grew up surrounded by jazz and its practitioners, and at age 11 made his professional debut in support of singer Helen Vita. He later studied voice, piano, and guitar at the Hohner Conservatory, and from 1989 to 1992 served as a regular member of the Eugene Cicero Trio while moonlighting with the German youth jazz orchestra Bundesjugenjazzorchester. After his father's 1997 death, Cicero joined the groups Jazzkantine and Soulonge, making his recorded debut on the latter's 2003 release The Essence of a Live Event. That same year, he founded the Roger Cicero Quartet as well as an 11-member big band, both of them adherents to traditional jazz idioms but with lyrics in their leader's native German tongue. After releasing the 2006 album Good Morning Midnight in collaboration with pianist Julia Hülsmann, Cicero issued his solo debut, Männersachen, later that same year. Buoyed by the hit single "Ich Atme Ein," the LP reached number three on the German charts.
Anthony Wilson Nonet
Power Of Nine
By Scott Yanow
Anthony Wilson is a superior straight-ahead guitarist who is also a very talented arranger-composer. His nonet plays in the Los Angeles area, performing his arrangements and mostly Wilson's compositions. Filled with some of Southern California's best and most versatile musicians, the Anthony Wilson Nonet interprets his colorful and atmospheric charts flawlessly. On Power of Nine there is a four-part suite ("Quadra") which has guest mandolinist Eva Scow interacting with Wilson's guitar on two of the sections. That moody work, dedicated to Brazil, has its intriguing moments but some of the other individual pieces are actually the high points. An infectious version of Duke Pearson's "Make It Good," Diana Krall's guest vocal on a nostalgic waltz by Jimmy Rowles ("Looking Back"), a stirring tenor solo by Matt Otto on "Amalgamation," the jubilant "Melatonin Dream" and the gradual building up of passion on "Hymn" are memorable. In addition there is a "hidden" twelfth selection, a Monk-ish "Bird in a Basket" which has an intense baritone solo by Adam Schroeder. Other solo stars along the way include trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, and pianist Donald Vega. Recommended.
Nancy King & Fred Hersch
Live At Jazz Standard
By Ken Dryden
It's no wonder that Fred Hersch had the confidence to tape his initial meeting with Nancy King. King is one of the best jazz vocalists of her generation, though she is unjustly not as widely recognized as a number of major-label artists who don't begin to compare with her. King and Hersch put together a wide-ranging program at the Jazz Standard, frequently extending their interpretations well beyond the expectations for a vocal/piano duo. Hersch, who has long since proved his abilities as a solo accompanist for singers (especially Janis Siegel), is never less than brilliant throughout the evening, though the singer is equally impressive, an adventurous spirit who is unafraid of taking chances. King's expressive voice is full of humor in the swinging take of "Ain't Misbehavin'," while she scats up a storm in Antonio Carlos Jobim's neglected gem "If You Never Come to Me." She's equally inspired as she revives once popular standards that have fallen out of favor like "There's a Small Hotel" and "Everything Happens to Me." But the finale clearly steals the show as King devours "Four" whole, throwing caution to the wind as she playfully adds her own twists to Jon Hendricks' vocalese setting of Miles Davis' famous tune. This beautifully recorded set is a tribute to the musicianship of both artists, as well as the foresight of Fred Hersch to request that the soundboard operator record it without notifying Nancy King in advance.