Young and Fine
By John Kelman
For every artist who's achieved popular acclaim there are ten more equally talented, but for whom greater recognition remains strangely elusive. Sylvain Luc's gradually growing discography demonstrates a guitarist with formidable technique and harmonic sophistication, and yet albums like Joko (Dreyfus Jazz, 2007)—a classic six-string workout if ever there was one—remain beneath the radar for many. Equally curious is the lack of visibility for his nearly decade-old Trio Sud. Many will look to Pat Metheny's undeniably excellent Day Trip and Tokyo Day Trip (Both Nonesuch, 2008) as pinnacles of guitar trio jazz in 2008, but Trio Sud's Young and Fine deserves mention in the same breath.A combination of original material by Luc, bassist Jean-Marc Jafet, and drummer Andre Ceccarelli, along with imaginative reworks of songs by Dizzy Gillespie, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, and Stevie Wonder, Young and Fine possesses the kind of chemistry that can only come from playing together on a regular basis. While Luc is the primary soloist here, Jafet and Ceccarelli are a simpatico rhythm team—more than a rhythm team, really, as they drive Luc every bit as much as he drives them. Together the trio teems with simmering energy on Jafet's opening "Song for My Twins," Ceccarelli moving from delicate cymbal work to more vivacious support as Luc layers electric and acoustic guitars, at times blending them so seamlessly as to sound like a single instrument. Two-handed tapping on the solo "Imperfect Tune," allows Luc to turn a single acoustic guitar into a mini-orchestra.The trio never overstays its welcome, with most of Young and Fine's 13 tracks clocking in at under five minutes. As inventive a guitarist as Luc is—whether he's creating self-accompaniment so rich it belies there often being only one guitar track or winding either vivid harmonies or serpentine lines, as he does on Jafet's appropriately titled "Sylvain Shadows"—there's never the feeling of excess or overstatement. His choice of textures is also perfect, with his harp-like acoustic driving a spare take of Gillespie's "Con Alma," in contrast to the tart, Scofield-like intro to a Latin-esque reading of Wayne Shorter's "Infant Eyes," where Luc's tone turns warmer once the trio enters. He combines acoustic and overdriven electric tones for Ceccarelli's fusion-esque "Avenue des Diables Bleus," which moves from spacious to frenetic over the course of its brief four minutes.Tackling a Weather Report song as a trio is an ambitious proposition, but Luc manages to distill the essence of Joe Zawinul's rich electronic orchestrations on "Young and Fine," using a variety of effects to broaden the soundscape. While Luc overdubs his guitar in various spots throughout the album, it's telling that here it's a single guitar, with Jafet's electric bass referencing but not emulating the late Jaco Pastorius, and Ceccarelli's approach fluid and swinging.With Trio Sud's Young and Fine coming a month after Philip Catherine's remarkable Guitars Two, Dreyfus Jazz has released two the most engaging and impressive guitar sets of 2008.
Track listing: Song for My Twins; Sylvain Shadows; Darn That Dream; Sweetest Somebody I Know; Message; Con Alma; Infant Eyes; Avenue des Diables Bleus; Young and Fine; Renaissance; French Brother; Imperfect Tune; Magnificent Marcel
Personnel: Sylvain Luc: guitars; Jean-Marc Jafet: bass; Andre Ceccarelli: drums.
The Tony Bennett / Bill Evans Album
Extra tracks O mesmo grande classico com mais 5 extras tendo diferentes arranjos e andamento, principalmente na faixa "young and foolish". Possui liner notes e "novas" fotos.
by William Ruhlmann
Having completed his relatively brief sojourn with MGM/Verve in 1973, Tony Bennett was in the midst of forming his own label, Improv Records, when he made a deal with jazz pianist Bill Evans to cut two LPs, this one for Evans' label, Fantasy Records, with another to follow on Improv. The singer and his collaborator ("accompanist" does not adequately describe Evans' contribution, and in any case he received co-billing) got together in a recording studio over four days in June 1975 with no one other than the producer, Helen Keane, and an engineer present, and quickly recorded one of the best albums of either's career. For Bennett, it was a dream project; for years (decades, actually), he had been balancing the demands of commerciality with his own inclinations toward jazz and affection for the songs of Broadway masters and of the Great American Songbook. Left to himself with a jazz partner, he naturally gravitated toward both interests. There were songs here that he had already recorded, but never in so unadorned, and yet fully realized a fashion. Evans was an excellent accompanist, using his steady left hand to keep his singer centered, but ready, whenever the vocals were finished, to go off into his characteristically lyrical playing. Bennett could seem a bit earthbound when he came back in (he still wasn't really a jazz singer), but his obvious enthusiasm for the project, coupled with his mastery of phrasing in songs he understood perfectly made him an equal in the partnership. As far as the major-label record business was concerned, the 46-year-old singer might have been over the hill and indulging himself, but in fact he was in his prime and finally able to pursue his ambitions unfettered, and that would prove itself a major boost to his career over time. For the moment, he'd made an excellent jazz-pop hybrid in which both musicians were shown off to advantage. [The album was reissued with five bonus tracks.]
Ellis Marsalis Quartet
An Open Letter To Thelonious
Uma homenagem respeitosa, demais !! Cade o bom e velho Ellis ????
by Ken Dryden
One of the most challenging demands placed on a jazz musician is interpreting another's works while utilizing the same instrumentation as the composer. Veteran pianist and jazz educator Ellis Marsalis admits that at one point in his career, he was not objective about Thelonious Monk as a composer, preferring the bop of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. But with the passage of time and the opening of his ears to the subtle nuances of compositions, he is perfectly at ease playing his music on these 2007 sessions, which include his youngest son Jason Marsalis on drums, bassist Jason Stewart, and tenor saxophonist Derek Douget(who also doubles on soprano sax). While the opener "Crepescule with Nellie" doesn't stray too far from Monk's concept, the rollicking treatment of "Jackie-Ing" opens up the piece a good bit. Douget switches to soprano for a funky, New Orleans-flavored interpretation of "Epistrophy." The driving take of "Teo," a blues that Monk recorded just a few times, brings to the forefront one of his lesser known works. Throughout the date Marsalis keeps Monk's music very much alive with his inspired interpretations of the legend's compositions.
Charles Lloyd Quartet
Rabo de Nude
by Thom Jurek
Given that Charles Lloyd has been recording for Manfred Eicher's ECM label since 1989, it seems odd that Rabo de Nube (translation: Tail of a Cloud) is his first live quartet outing for the imprint, though he's done so in other combinations. Yet, given that this recording was issued a mere four days before the great saxophonist's 70th birthday, it is also a full circle of sorts for the Lloyd Quartet. Most of Lloyd's early quartet albums were recorded live for Atlantic between 1966 and 1968, seven in total, with the live band recording its first date over 40 years ago and featuring a young Keith Jarrett as its pianist. This association became a blueprint of sorts for a lineage of his subsequent pianists who have all gone on to their own measures of excellence as leaders: Michel Petrucciani, Bobo Stenson, Brad Mehldau, and Geri Allen. Jason Moran, the pianist here, is a leader in his own right, having also played with Wayne Shorter and Lee Konitz, to name just two; more importantly, his teachers offer a clue as to how his highly individual voice was developed — Andrew Hill, Jaki Byard, and Muhal Richard Abrams. Moran joins Lloyd and longtime — and immensely gifted — drummer Eric Harland (who went to high school with Moran in Houston) and new bassist Ruben Rogers, who has previously been a member of groups led by the late Jackie McLean, Roy Hargrove, and Mulgrew Miller.Recorded in Basel during the band's European tour in 2007, the band takes a very different approach to some familiar tunes. For starters, it has to do with style: Moran is a more physical player than many of the pianists Lloyd has employed in the past; his playing is more chord-oriented and percussive, less elegant and soulful than Allen's perhaps, less ornate than Petrucciani's, and certainly less contemplative than Stenson's. The material choices are wide-ranging. There's the hard-blowing "Prometheus," on which Lloyd and Moran walk the margins a bit as Harland pushes them toward it and Rogers holds down a swinging background rhythmic tempo, elaborating on the choruses as a way of focusing rhythm and harmonic investigation. Another blower on the set is "Sweet Georgia Bright," which Lloyd has used live in the past, but was first recorded when he was a member of Cannonball Adderley's group in 1964 with pianist Joe Zawinul. Moran's funky, hard-driving solo and the interplay of the rhythm section are simply remarkable. Lloyd's immense ability to soar over the top and take a nugget like this and infuse it with new fire is an asterisk highlighting his place as one of the true masters of the horn. Lloyd's alto flute gets a beautiful workout on "Booker's Garden," written for classmate Booker Little. His lyricism is only eclipsed by his deep soul groove — which Moran takes to the bank in his own solo that lends the tune a different dynamic, one much bolder and centered in the middle of the keyboard. The playing by Rogers on the track is beautiful, using a Caribbean rhythmic pulse that allows Harland to dance around the soloists and make the backbeat slippery and fluid. The closing title track was offered in a live quintet version on Lift Every Voice, the pickup band album recorded four days after 9/11. This one is quieter, sweeter, and more lyric and gentle, and a perfect way to end a show — it is also the only non-original on the set. Fans of Lloyd's taragato playing will not be disappointed; it makes a grand appearance on the lengthy "Ramanujan." Moran's interaction and contrapuntal rhythmic exchanges with Harland are something to behold here; they push around and through one another in a call-and-response interchange that is subtle but forceful nonetheless. Rogers' way of playing between these two is like that of a telephone wire, bringing it all together. Of the seven tunes here, five are over ten minutes long. In other words, there is a lot of improvisation going on, but it is all deeply communicative and lyrical — Lloyd's trademark for the last five decades as a composer, soloist, arranger, and bandleader. Ultimately, Rabo de Nube is yet another essential Lloyd offering from ECM. His sense of adventure is greater than ever, and his embrace of the tradition is equaled by his willingness to stretch it, bend it, turn it every which way but break it — this band, with its energy and commitment to new jazz, is well-suited for that task and Moran certainly adds to the bounty considerably. Lloyd shows no signs of slowing down or simple contentment as he ages, and we are all the more fortunate for it.
by Thom Jurek
High Note Records has been on a roll in 2008. Larry Willis and David "Fathead" Newman have both issued near career-defining statements on the label in 2008 — and that's just naming two. To this illustrious duo add trombonist and composer Steve Turre, whose Rainbow People album — his self-produced third release for the imprint — may be the finest offering of his career as a leader. Turre surrounds himself with likeminded musicians he's played with in various ensembles through the years: drummer Ignacio Berroa, who worked with Turre in Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra; pianist Mulgrew Miller and saxophonist Kenny Garrett, who worked with Turre in Woody Shaw's fine band; bassist Peter Washington, who played with Turre in the Jazz Messengers; and Turre's discovery in the young trumpeter Sean Jones, who was hired on the spot after the trombonist saw him play at a gig in New York. Guest percussionist Pedro Martinez is also in the house; he's worked with Turre in his Latin bands. The program contains six Turre originals, as well as a killer reading of Charlie Parker's "Segment," McCoy Tyner's "Search for Peace," and bassist Steve Kirby's "Cleopatra's Needle." The unhurried and unforced swing of this band is evident from the opening title cut. With its knotty, mantra-like Latin groove, Turre and Garrett take the head into minor-key blues and Afro-Rican soul before coming up with a stretched harmonic cadenza that announces Turre's solo. Miller plays off Berroa's double- and triple-time breaks and fills on the ride cymbal and hi-hat. All the while, Washington struts that vamp into the heart of the multi-textured mystery at the center. Garrett's solo picks up right on its tail and, as evidenced by his own last album, Beyond the Wall, he's playing the best saxophone of his career. His alto is snaky and stretched, and flawlessly digs into the minor-key changes and accents the rhythms at the end of his long, angular lines. The late-night bluesy soul of "Brother Ray" echoes not only the late singer and bandleader's own sense of evoking gospel and barroom dynamics, but also his sense of the emotional undercurrent in his music. Turre is like a singer himself on his 'bone; he gets into the meat of his notes in both verse and chorus — before breaking off into an extended jam with the band — with Ray's sense of phrasing just behind the beat. Miller's piano solo is pure ivory enunciation; his blues articulation is pure and gritty, but so technically astute that he adds colors and hues to the tune, making it shine. The smoking flamenco tinge in "Midnight in Madrid," with Jones sharing the melody, adds some real depth and dimension to the vocabulary first articulated by Gil Evans and Miles Davis — without the strings. Turre keeps it on the avenue without losing a thimble of the elegance and excitement of the flamenco's sultry allure. Jones' solo is a knockout; it's all tense and dramatic, and so blue it's black. The final swinging groover, called "Para el Comandante," weaves together strains of Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and hard bop with all three horns sharing the front line on the head. The rhythm section just seems to hover there, its members interacting with one another, with Washington being their bridge. Miller's solo is sheer graceful dancing on the keys while still punching on that vamp before Garrett jumps in blowing on the changes and extending them harmonically. Turre brings it back to the swinging center of bop with killer flurries of notes that pop on the rhythm section and bite right into Miller's comping. Miller answers by pushing the bop edge into post-bop phrasing and counterpoint in his solo; he elongates the short choppy groove and plays all around and inside it before popping back in seamlessly. Turre brings the conch shells out and sings right through them as the horns offer a solid counter-riff for him to play off of. It's quite a sendoff and simply underlines and highlights what a special, sophisticated, and seemingly effortless date this is. Turre, who has seemingly done every jazz and pop setting from Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Slide Hampton to Mariah Carey and the Saturday Night Live Band, just keeps expanding his vocabulary; his compositions here are startlingly fresh, wildly and cleverly inventive, and full of warmth and humor. His arrangements for this band are his new watermark.