by Alceste Ayroldi per Jazzitalia
Colpisce subito la frase di Pablo Neruda nella seconda di copertina del booklet: "Io non credo all'originalità. E' un altro feticcio creato nella nostra epoca di vertiginoso dirupo. Credo nella personalità attraverso qualsiasi linguaggio, qualsiasi forma, qualsiasi senso della creazione artistica". Una riflessione che non fa una grinza e che, posta così in apertura del libricino che spiega il disco, appare rasserenante: una sorta di lettera di intenti.
Stefano "Cocco" Cantini sembra voler rassicurare l'ascoltatore che approccia al suo disco. Lavoro di nitido spessore, per le composizioni originali - cinque del leader, due di Ciammarughi ed una di Benita – e per la scelta delle due cover (per modo di dire): Blowin In The Wind (qui indicata senza apostrofo d'ellissi), celeberrima canzone pacifista nel carniere di Bob Dylan dal 1962, riletta con particolare grazia e tradotta in una densa ballad; brano che fa il paio con la personale rivisitazione di Angela di Luigi Tenco, anno 1966 per restare nella forbice storica, con una breve intro di Manhu Roche, giusta per sottolineare tutta la raffinatezza armonica di Ciammarughi, capace di una grande varietà di sfumature e generatore di ottimo swing.
Le composizioni di Cantini sono ben variegate, dalla main-title in medio –fast tempo, eccellente biglietto da visita per il titolato combo, animato da una sezione ritmica in stato di grazia. Manhu Roche, già al fianco del sassofonista toscano in Niccolina al mare, è agile ed al contempo vigoroso, oculatamente raffinato, dalla distribuzione complessa, a tratti asimmetrica, degli accenti. L'algerino Michel Benita ha un senso del tempo e della misura ben poco comune, sempre pronto ai cambi metrici ed eccellente dispensatore di colori. Ciammarughi, come detto, conferma il suo linguaggio che attraversa gli stilemi della musica contemporanea e del modern mainstream più disinvolto.
Fabrizio Bosso sorprende ad ogni svolta d'angolo, con la sua dizione sempre diversa, fresca e libera da assiomi, come accade in Il corpo delle donne, felliniano esempio di swing.
Stefano Cantini attinge alla sua consistente e varia esperienza che si legge a chiare lettere in tutte le sue composizioni fresche, intense ed espressive. Tra tutte Kenny, dalle ariose e concise improvvisazioni – un tema ricorrente nel lavoro dal democratico respiro – e dove il sassofonista toscano spreme il succo del soprano giocando sull'altalena con Bosso. L'interplay tra i cinque sodali è palpabile e ciò, manco a dirlo, rende Errante ancora più gradevole.
Stefano Cantini non è un compositore bulimico. E questo non può che essere un merito dati i tempi di sovrabbondanza discografica. Tale dote gli consente di rilasciare degli album sempre diversi, mai inscatolati o precotti.
Errante è vibrante, immune da leziosità, racchiuso in una robusta architettura ritmica che contiene affreschi sonori emozionanti.
By Claudio Botelho
Well, there’s a new record from Florian Ross: A CD named “Mechanism”. It’s a kind of reflective piano solo work which should not be listened before other previous work of that German musician. It’s mandatory, beforehand, craving to know previous works of him, like “Eight Ball & White Horse, “ Blinds and Shades” and “Home & Other Place”. Or, better still, go even back and try to find some other recordings which were released by the defunct Naxos Jazz label. There, he produced some two or three more recordings.
About half of them are trio works and the others joined by trumpeters and saxophonists in quintet and septet groups.
Born in 1972 and having studied with Jim McNeely, John Taylor and Don Friedman, this musician has received some important prizes in Europe. He can play the piano, compose, make arrangements for small combos and big orchestras and, most important, has a voice of his own: sophisticated, filled with some intricacy and impressionism, classic and jazzy at the same time and, above all, absolutely original.
“Mechanism” was a mechanism (pun intended) I’ve chosen to call your attention to this marvelous artist. In this work, quite different from all his previous efforts, he decided to slow down; to render his compositions and two others by Coltrane (Moment’s Notice”) and Sergio Mihanovich (“Sometime Ago”) in a subdued way, establishing a great contrast with anything he has recorded before by choosing simpler ways to show the songs.
Don’t be misled into thinking Ross is only a talented piano player: as much as this work is a breeze to sip (and maybe misrepresents all his greatness, in the first moment), you own to yourself to go deeper and search what there is in his other recordings. Otherwise, you will be missing someone who, for me, composes, plays and make arrangements with equal aplomb in a very high standardized way.
He deserves to be prized worldwide and, as far as I know, this recognition is no more than skin deep…
Personnel: Florian Ross: piano, loops.
Adam Makowicz & Leszek Mozdzer
Live At The Carnegie Hall
by Ken Dryden
Adam Makowicz has long dazzled audiences, both with his classical concert repertoire and his abilities as a virtuoso jazz pianist in the mold of Art Tatum. The Polish expatriate, who has long called the United States home, joined forces with the younger Polish pianist Leszek Mozdzer for a 2004 concert in the Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall. The senior pianist plays first, offering a rollicking reworking of Fryderyk Chopin's Prelude No. 24 in D minor that would have pleased Tatum, followed by an intricate reworking of Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu that makes it sound as if it were a ballad conceived during the swing era. Mozdzer joins Makowicz for a trio of Chopin preludes, likewise jazzing the classics, but avoiding the possible train wrecks that await many jazz pianists in such a setting. Mozdzer probably raised a few eyebrows with his solo interpretation of Makowicz's signature composition, "Tatum On My Mind," but his arrangement of the senior man's work is anything but a carbon copy, especially with the loose rhythmic structure of his introduction. The remainder of the concert features the two men together, including gems from the Great American Songbook such as a romp through "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top," a shimmering take of "Some Other Time," a Tatum-flavored "Begin the Beguine," and a rather exotic dash through "Caravan." Their surprise encore is the moody "Rosemary's Baby." Issued in Poland, this impressive CD is readily available through http://www.west.net/~jazz/.
Charlie Haden Quartet West
By Chris May
Gorgeous, poised and inviting. And that's just the sister on the cover of bassist Charlie Haden's latest with-singers-and-strings album. It's a retro design which, like the disc it packages, was inspired by Capitol Records' distinctive jazz-inflected vocal albums of the early 1960s. Your parents got off on this stuff big time back in the day, while you were busy listening to singer Bob Dylan and saxophonist Ornette Coleman and preparing for a little therapeutic rioting. But time passes and age mellows and even radicals such as Haden, in 1960 a member of the Coleman quartet which recorded the iconoclastic The Shape Of Jazz To Come (Atlantic), may eventually embrace the appeal of well-crafted songs of romance, sumptuous orchestrations and glamorous singers.
Of the Haden-led Quartet West's various albums in this preservationist, as opposed to revisionist, style, The Art Of The Song (Verve, 1999), made with singers Bill Henderson and Shirley Horn, is widely considered the best. Sophisticated Ladies is every bit as good. This time out the singers are, in alphabetical order of first names (as the liner notes carefully put it), Cassandra Wilson, Diana Krall, Melody Gardot, Norah Jones, Renee Fleming and Ruth Cameron, who with her husband, Haden, is also co-producer. Tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts and pianist Alan Broadbent are present once more, but drummer Larance Marable has been succeeded, following illness, by Rodney Green.
The 12-track album is split equally between vocal and instrumental tracks, with all bar one of the vocal tracks, Jones' “Ill Wind,” featuring a string orchestra arranged and conducted by Broadbent. Vocals and instrumentals are sequenced alternately, and the disc kicks off with Gardot's “If I'm Lucky.” Some of the vocal material is familiar; most of it, though written by masters such as Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler, Edgar De Lange/Josef Myrow and Johnny Mercer, is less so.
On the six instrumentals, unfussily arranged by Haden, Quartet West maintain the ambiance, with concise solos from Watts, Broadbent and Green. Hank Jones' “Angel Face,” included as a tribute to the late pianist, is an atmospheric slice of noir, and Bennie Harris' “Wahoo” a frisky bopper. Duke Ellington's “Sophisticated Lady,” which alone of the instrumentals also includes Broadbent's velvety strings, is as bewitching as the cover shot.
With top drawer vocals, a virtuoso jazz backbone, immaculate audio quality and engaging liner notes by executive producer Jean-Philippe Allard, Sophisticated Ladies is a delight.
Track Listing: If I'm Lucky; Sophisticated Lady; Ill Wind; Today I Am A Man; My Love And I; Theme From Markham; Let's Call It A Day; Angel Face; A Love Like This; My Old Flame; Goodbye; Wahoo.
Personnel: Ernie Watts: tenor saxophone; Alan Broadbent: piano; Charlie Haden: double-bass; Rodney Green: drums; Melody Gardot: vocals (1); Norah Jones: vocals (3); Cassandra Wilson: vocals (5); Ruth Cameron: vocals (7); Renee Fleming: vocals (9); Diana Krall: vocals (11); string orchestra arranged and conducted by Alan Broadbent (1, 2, 5, 7, 9, 11).
Eric Alexander Quartet
Gentle Ballads II
Like its predecessor, Gentle Ballads, Gentle Ballads, Vol. 2 is another fairly low-key session led by Eric Alexander. Not only is the personnel identical (pianist Mike LeDonne, bassist John Webber, and drummer Joe Farnsworth), but the cover art once again features a nude photo by the late Jeanloup Sieff, quite possibly the same model from the same photo shoot. The tenor saxophonist mixes things up a bit more during this 2006 session, playing ballads that were hits for popular singers ("Mona Lisa" and "I'm a Fool to Want You"), 1960s Broadway ("Who Can I Turn To"), and 1960s pop ("The Look of Love"), in addition to the expected standards. Best are the deliberate take of Duke Ellington's timeless melancholy ballad "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)" and a bluesy, loping treatment of Neal Hefti's "Li'l Darlin'," which became a signature piece for Count Basie. The John Coltrane influence is again apparent, though Alexander isn't a mere clone, even if this enjoyable date falls short of being groundbreaking.