Sunday, April 03, 2011

Should Art Take The Place Of Information ?

by Claudio Botelho

I’ve been an avid jazz listener since my early teens. In those days, canned music employed vinyl records and these used to be enclosed in large cardboard wrappings which had ample space to receive written information. Some of them were truly works of art and are, today, treasured by collectors.

In spite of it, on the back covers, all necessary information were found, so that the musical content was properly listed, numbered and one could know the extension of each tune. The art – many times of highest caliber – never interfered with information, as much as this one never bothered the cover artistry.

Time has changed and CD took the place of vinyl (mostly). Now the front cover of their jewel cases were substantially smaller. The front art had to be happy with only some 16% of the space of yore.

To offset this, the producers increased the allowed space by inserting multiple pages in the booklets of the plastic cases. Since then, it has solved the problem… if the subject is… classical music!

We, jazz listeners, who are always striving to know all about the performers (as it should be, as jazz is mainly a product from them) don’t have received the same treatment: many, many times, the art mixes with the information just to make it less clear, sometimes on the verge of making it unreadable! Aficionados like me, who are not teenagers anymore and, so, are kinda shortsighted, have all the difficulties in the world to distinguish a black letter in a dark blue background, or to read a multicolored written word made this way to help (help?) the reader, as it is foreground to a colorful mixed scenery.

Please, graphic artists: don’t do that. Remember that jazz listening isn’t exactly a children hobby an the lettering of CD’s booklets HAS to be small. Don’t make it even more difficult for us! (And, please, if possible, don’t forget to number the songs and specify how long each one lasts…)

We – the short sighted – will ever be grateful…

1 Sem 2011 - Part Eight

Noah Preminger
Before the rain


Track Listing:
Where Or When; Quickening; Before The Rain; Abreaction; Until The Real Thing Comes Along; K; Toy Dance; November; Jamie.
Noah Preminger: tenor saxophone; Frank Kimbrough: piano; John Hébert: bass; Matt Wilson: drums.

How do you follow up one of the finest debut jazz albums of the new millennium? For saxophonist Noah Preminger, you pair down the sextet heard on Dry Bridge Road (Nowt Records, 2008) and display more of your own sound.
The twenty-something saxophonist returns with bassist John Hébert and pianist Frank Kimbrough on his Palmetto Records debut, Before The Rain (maybe a play on John Coltrane's "After The Rain"), along with everyone's favorite drummer, Matt Wilson. The quartet gambles the entire session here, playing mostly patient ballad, but with such strong players the risk pays off, with a rich sound and drop-dead gorgeous music.
The disc opens with Rodgers and Hart's "Where Or When," from the 1937 musical Babes In Arms. Although the track has been covered by everyone from Duke Ellington to Dean Martin, Preminger possesses it with his gentle breathy tone, played over Kimbrough's simple accompaniment. What the young saxophonist accomplishes in the short 2:19 song is the work of a lifetime. There are bits of Coltrane and parts of Stan Getz, along with slices of Dewey Redman. That Redman connection is also heard on Kimbrough's tribute to the departed saxophonist, "The Quickening," with Wilson (a former Redman band member) dancing around the melody as all the players take smart yet economical solos.
The band continues the same logic, following Redman back to the Ornette Coleman tribute band, Old and New Dreams, and Coleman's composition "Toy Dance." The quartet opens up the framework here, allowing the saxophonist to improvise in his upper register with an unconcerned playfulness. Kimbrough, a longtime Coleman interpreter, catches that same spirit skip dancing a response. This band maintains that joyfulness on "K," a piece that finds Hébert and Wilson working in different time signatures, as Preminger and Kimbrough carry the melody. Impressive stuff, here.

Fred Hersch Trio
Everybody's Song But My Own

by EastWind
Fred Hersch is one of the greatest jazz pianists of our generation. Equipped with Bill Evans-esque lyricism, boundless imagination and fierce creativity, he has recorded many beautiful albums for various labels. His career was almost cut short by AIDS, but he came back from a near-death experience and began recording again.
From this background comes his surprising first album for Venus Records. Unlike his recent releases, this album consists entirely of standards. Aided by John Herbert on bass and Eric McPherson on drums, Hersch displays his prestine tone, elegant interpretations of the standards, and his improvisational flair which often climaxes towards the end of a tune.
An inspirational, strong trio album from the contemporary master of jazz piano! Highly recommended!
Produced by Tetsuo Hara and Todd Barkan.
Recorded at Avatar Studio in New York on May 19 and 20, 2010.
Engineered by Katherine Miller.
Mixed and mastered by Tetsuo Hara.

Album Tracks:
1. East Of The Sun
2. Shall We Dance
3. I Concentrate On You
4. From This Moment On
5. Two For The Road
6. Invitation
7. The Wind / Moon And Sand
8. Everybody’s Song But My Own
9. In The Wee Small Hours
10. Three Little Words

Georges Paczynski

Georges Paczynski (drums)
Armel Dupas (piano)
Joachim Govin (bass)

by EastWind
Fans of Japanese independent label Atelier Sawano and its unique brand of European jazz recordings may be familiar with Georges Paczynski, a veteran French drummer who is recognized for his work both in jazz and classical music. His CD Levin' Song from 1994 became a cult hit when it was re-released by Sawano in 2007.
What we have here is Paczynski's brand-new live recording with his trio, with young pianist Armel Dupas and bassist Joachim Govin. The concert program consists almost entirely of the leader's original compositions, except one contributed by Dupas.
The overall mood is pensive, meditative and dreamy, but the musicians are creating beautiful and exciting music together moment by moment, and a tune can take unexpected turns and swing into a dynamic crescendo. The honest and naturalistic recording of this audiophile-qulaity CD has a lot of headroom and a wide dynamic range, which helps the listener to be transported to the concert venue.
This may be the kind of CD that takes time to get to know and not suited for "casual" listening. Many of the tunes develop slowly and organically, never forced. So give it time, as you should any good CD, and you will be richly rewarded. Recorded live in concert at Conservatoire de musique de Colombes, France, on January 16, 2009.

Joey DeFrancesco
Never Can Say Goodbye - The Music of Michael Jackson

by Jeff Tamarkin
Coming after his tribute to the iconic jazz pianist Horace Silver, Joey DeFrancesco's tribute to the music of Michael Jackson might seem something of a surprise, perhaps even exploitive as its release followed Jackson's death by just over a year. But for DeFrancesco it's always come down to the song -- which melodies might best suit his style, a cross between traditional and progressive -- and if anyone had a knack for a tune it was Michael Jackson. DeFrancesco -- who plays not only his usual Hammond B-3 but other organs, piano, and trumpet on the recording -- sticks largely to material from Jackson's solo career here, with an emphasis on Thriller (five of the nine songs), using the original song structures as takeoff points. DeFrancesco's interpretations reference Jackson's originals but depart from them substantially enough that they never feel like copies, and at times he and the band expand far outside of the basic chordal boundaries Jackson set down. More than anything, DeFrancesco appears to be having fun with this set (he even sings a couple). And when he and the band (guitarist Paul Bollenback is on fire) get cooking, as they do more often than not -- some of these tracks ("Billie Jean," "Rock with You," "Beat It") seriously rock -- it's hard not to get caught up in the party atmosphere.