by Claudio Botelho
The venerable Willis Connover and his Voice of America helped a lot to disseminate jazz through Europe and middle-Asia for over forty years, in the course of the last century. Jazz has crossed the Atlantic and now is firmly established in countries like Italy, for instance, where, today, there is a plethora of fine musicians. The jazz pianism, in those lands, has reached a level of excellence difficult to beat. Names like D’Andrea, Pierannunzi, and Bollani have been leading the way…
Those genius now have a following: Take Luca Manutzi; Ettore Carucci; the poets Vicenzo Danize and Riccardo Arrighini, just to name very few of them, and you’ll know that, at least in the land of the Fazioli’s, the elephants have all the reasons in the world to keep worried: There are many, many a finger eager to caress the ivories…
And, see, I’m not even talking about the sumptuosity of Rava or the PACEfulness of Tavolazzi!
Connover, in those days, speaked of a music that was “partially planned and partially spontaneous” which, in essence, described jazz as it should be. At least the more common –place jazz, as he wasn’t thinking of Cecil Taylor, for instance, or any other like this one.
The sad reality is that jazz, which someone very appropriately named “The American Classical Music”is mostly gone from America, having established itself firmly in Italy and, more recently, in Japan where it gets all the respect it deserves. My cannons, once settled to reach the land of the founders of that spontaneous art, are now firmly aimed to Eastern Europe, as I still have much ammunition to spend…
But, where are Mr. Marcello Tonolo and his “Lazy Afternoon” in the middle of all this? Comprised of eight well proven songs, this work was planned in excess and, so, gave little room to improvisation. If I were a bad boy, I would call it “soft jazz”. But I’m not, and so, just say: skip it, as Mr. Tonolo is not any newcomer and, as carefully prepared a recorded as this work was, it never reached the necessary degree of novelty to make it worthwhile. He can do better, if he wants to follow the paths so well established by his fellow countrymen.
Barbra Streisand and Quartet
One Night Only: At The Village Vanguard
by Leonardo Barroso
I was never a fan of Barbra Streisand. She sings songs that are not my cup of tea. So I was amazed to see this CD/DVD recorded at the Village Vanguard, with 123 seats filled, and a quartet with Tamir Hendelman on Piano & arrangments ( plus guitar, drums, bass ). Most of the songs are standards and two of her own.
Well what about the music ? Barbra is well known to sing for thousands of screaming fans, and now she's at the "Jazz Temple", with a true jazz quartet behind her. I felt she was nervous at the begining, but that was very good. She was almost a jazz singer !
This is the first time I really liked and enjoyed this set. And there is a plus: lots of VIP's having a great time ( Hillary,Chelsea and Bill Clinton/ Sarah Jessica Parker/ Alan and Marilyn Bergman).
by John Bush
Barbra Streisand’s first time back performing in the Village in almost 50 years is a special occasion, a fact obviously recognized by the thrilled audience that was jam-packed into the tiny Village Vanguard (barely ten dozen seats) as well as by Streisand herself, who expertly conjures the intimacy and tenderness needed for such a special program. Her song selection includes a few career touchstones ("Evergreen," "The Way We Were," "Make Someone Happy"), but also includes references to a host of Village or nightclub favorites, led by “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” and “Ne Me Quitte Pas” (the latter of which she uses to reminisce about seeing Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris). With backing from a quartet led by pianist Tamir Hendelman, Streisand sounds confident, energetic, and occasionally reflective about her career in music; she even reaches back to her '60s repertoire to perform a pair of Rodgers & Hart standards, "My Funny Valentine" and "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered." Granted, eight of the other numbers come from her 2009 studio outing, Love Is the Answer, although they're fairly unobtrusive being largely nightclub standards themselves. Surprisingly, the recording excises very little from the original program; Streisand frequently converses with members of the audience (many of whom hold special memories for her), introduces a string of celebrities, and even finds time to ask a young friend how old she is right in the middle of “In the Wee Small Hours” (which Frank Sinatra never would’ve tolerated). Streisand’s voice is peerless as well, and although nearing the age of 70 her strength with the high notes is waning, she remains the same expressive and endearing vocalist she was decades earlier.