Saturday, August 27, 2011

2 Sem 2011 - Part Six

Stephane Kerecki & John Taylor

by Guillaume de Chassy
Translation: Charles Johnston
‘For jazz musicians, the duo of piano and double bass is a perilous exercise in tightrope-walking, reserved for enthusiasts of extreme refinement, those who like to dance on the edge of abysses. Its alchemy is mysterious. It cannot be commanded; it exists right from the start, or will never exist at all; which is probably why examples of it are not exactly abundant in the discography.
The tandem formed by Stéphane Kerecki and John Taylor now marks a new landmark in the genre. Between these two musicians, the osmosis was immediate, self-evident, thanks to a set of qualities rarely assembled: fluidity of dialogue, beauty of sound, sobriety of gesture . . . and total confidence in each other, a solidarity which removes fear of the void, of missing one’s footing. From this vivid double bass and this colouristic piano emerges music that burns with a tranquil flame; music to get through the night. One might almost forget that it is invented on the razor’s edge . . .
Like close friends reunited after a long separation, the two musicians – who in fact hardly knew each other – at once start revealing their secrets. Their nocturnal conversation describes imaginary landscapes sketched out by the bassist’s pen, conjuring up in passing the presences of some poets of jazz: Bill Evans, Scott La Faro, Ornette Coleman, Paul Bley, Gary Peacock . . .
Serene though it is, it never flags, such is its underlying rhythmic energy. It drifts off to adventurous terrains where the unexpected lurks in each silence. By releasing the account of his brief encounter with John Taylor, Stéphane Kerecki does more than merely delight music-lovers; he proves once again that jazz cannot exist without sometimes flirting with the void.’

Ken Peplowski
In Search Of.......


by Susan Frances
Reed instrumentalists Ken Peplowski creates an eclectic world of swing-inspired motifs, entrancing soundscapes, soft roasted blues, and balladry sweeps on his new CD, In Search of… from Capri Records. This is his second effort as a bandleader following his previous Capri Records release Noir Blue. The album features compositions recorded from two different sessions and with two different sets of musicians.
The first nine tracks were recorded on February 21, 2010 with Peplowski at the helm and accompanied by pianist Shelley Berg, bassist Tom Kennedy, and drummer Jeff Hamilton. These tracks flow naturally and show signs of Peplowski’s predecessors some of whom he has been fortunate enough to play with including Mel Torme, Benny Goodman, and Rosemary Clooney.
The brisk twirls of Peplowski’s clarinet are garnished in sprinting drum rolls along “Falsa Baiana”, while the clarinet’s sleek strolls across “When Joanna Loved Me” are nestled in Berg’s tranquilizing piano melody. The rhythmic interpoles made along “The Thespian” generate stimulating moments between the piano, bass, and drums, and morph into a soft bluesy swing pulse through “Love’s Disguise”.
The latter half of the album, tracks 10-12, was recorded on April 2, 2017 and stylized with Greg Cohen on bass, Joe Ascione on percussion and drums, and Chuck Redd on vibraphones. The cabaret-toned ambience of “No Regrets” is wreathe in a ring of puffing twitters from the clarinet, which slide into ascending phrases along “Within You and Without You” as the jiggling notes of the vibes produce an ethereal sheath. The upbeat stride of “Rum and Coco Cola” is strapped to buoyant percussions and a springy delivery from Peplowski’s clarinet which is partial to embracing a polka libretto.
Though Peplowski plays with two entirely different sets of musicians, the album has a cohesive seal that allows the tracks to move seamlessly. It’s a testament to Peplowski’s ability to be flexible and effective in any environment that he is thrown into, and proudly, his clarinet shines while encouraging his band to join him in the spotlight.
Ken Peplowski - clarinet, Shelley Berg - piano, Tom Kennedy - bass, Jeff Hamilton - drums, Greg Cohen - bass, Joe Ascione - percussion and drums, and Chuck Redd - vibraphones
The Thespian, Lover’s Disguise, When Joanna Loved Me, Falsa Baiana, A Ship Without A Sail, With Every Breath I Take, In Flower, Peps, This Nearly Was Mine, No Regres, Within You And Without You, Run and Coco Cola

Omer Avital Quintet
Live At Smalls
 By Sharonne Cohen
The ever-evolving groups led by Israeli-born, NYC-based bassist Omer Avital are entwined with the institution that is Smalls. A member of the now-legendary Jason Lindner Big Band, its seven-year Smalls residency serving as a hotbed for a host of up-and-coming musicians, Avital co-led the Smalls jam session for a time, in addition to his own ensembles. This live album captures his longstanding collaboration with Lindner, trumpeter Avishai Cohen (also a member of Lindner’s Big Band), saxophonist Joel Frahm and drummer Johnathan Blake.
Avital’s tight-knit quintet blazes through a set of his captivating originals, opening with the doleful yet hopeful “Theme for a Brighter Future.” At 14:25, “Magic Carpet,” driven by a North African gnawa beat, offers everyone plenty of room to shine, with some wonderful interaction between Cohen and Frahm and a scorching solo by Lindner. “One” draws on Avital’s Middle Eastern heritage, and “Bass Intro to Anthem to Life” illustrates the multifaceted nature of Avital’s sound and the broad range of textures and moods he draws from his bass—from bluesy melancholy to classical and Arabic hues. The soul-stirring “Anthem to Life” is infused with a deep gospel feeling, while the closing “(Just Some) Smalls Time Shit” rides a rock vibe, the band and audience joining Avital’s durable vocals.
This live recording captures the quintet’s remarkable synergy and palpable energy, the unique Smalls ambience, and the audience’s enthusiastic response to the stellar musicianship soaring throughout.

Bruce Barth Trio
Live At Smalls


By Bill Beuttler
Bruce Barth is a jazzman’s jazzman (and a pianist’s pianist) in much the same way certain authors are known as writer’s writers: much-admired by his peers and the cognoscenti but largely unknown to the wider public. Still, even without the recognition he deserves, Barth has kept busy, putting out 12 CDs under his own name over the past couple of decades and several dozen more backing others. He has accompanied singers (Karrin Allyson, Luciana Souza, Tony Bennett) and fellow instrumentalists (Stanley Turrentine and Terence Blanchard were early employers; lately he has worked most often with Steve Wilson and Terell Stafford).
And Barth often leads trios in club appearances. Live at Smalls was recorded over a couple of nights last September. Barth’s sidemen are players who keep similarly busy, bassist Vicente Archer dividing his time primarily between Robert Glasper and Nicholas Payton, drummer Rudy Royston splitting his between Bill Frisell and JD Allen. Here the three blend beautifully on a program consisting almost entirely of Barth originals.
“Oh Yes I Will” starts things off at a quick tempo, with the later “Almost Blues” the most straight-ahead jazz workout on the disc, Archer’s walking bass and Royston’s propulsive drums driving the rhythm along nicely beneath Barth’s piano. The pleasantly lyrical waltz-time “Sunday” slows things down momentarily before kicking into overdrive for the tune’s midsection. “Peaceful Place” is airily pretty, with gospel accents and a splendid solo by Archer. “Wilsonian Alto,” named for Steve Wilson, explores Brazilian rhythms; “Afternoon in Lleida” opens with a quiet drum intro paired with a bass ostinato that glides into slow swing. The standard “Good Morning Heartache” is the only tune not written by Barth, but his arrangement is exquisite—the tempo slowed, new harmonies added, the support from Archer and Royston kept subtly understated. Here, especially, Barth’s refined touch as pianist, composer-arranger and leader is unmistakable.

Denny Zeitlin

Cover (Labyrinth: Live Solo Piano:Denny Zeitlin)

by Ken Dryden
Since the mid-'60s, Denny Zeitlin has balanced his multiple careers as a psychiatrist, medical school professor, and jazz pianist/composer. Late in his career he has focused more frequently on solo piano, including this second live CD for Sunnyside of unaccompanied performances, drawn from concerts in 2008 and 2010. Zeitlin's touch is so distinctive that his longtime fans will recognize his playing immediately, particularly in his introspective, inventive approach to Wayne Shorter's modal masterpiece. Zeitlin strums and hand mutes the piano's strings, interweaves magical improvised lines, and keeps this familiar work fresh with his dramatic interpretation. His lyrical take of trumpeter Tom Harrell's "Sail Away" is a masterful, subtle exploration. The pianist's galloping treatment of John Coltrane's "Lazy Bird" is similar to his earlier version on his CD At Maybeck, though he takes even more chances this time around. Zeitlin is also at home with standards, offering a lush, spacious treatment of "As Long as There's Music" and a slow, shimmering setting of "People Will Say We're in Love." The pianist's originals are just as striking. Zeitlin has recorded his infectious "Brazilian Street Dance" on several CDs, though this playful version includes a subtle introduction with the pianist strumming and tapping the beat on the piano strings, then becoming a one-man Brazilian band with his rhythmically charged performance. For the other two originals, he revisits works he wrote early in his career. The eerie "Labyrinth" keeps the listener guessing as to its direction, often sounding as if it was a totally improvised piece. Zeitlin's edgy "Slipstream" blends an improvised introduction and a wide-ranging exploration incorporating adept use of dense chords, pedal technique, and string manipulation in a breathtaking finale. Like the vintage wines that Denny Zeitlin collects, the masterful pianist keeps getting better with age.

2 Sem 2011 - Part Five

Dmitry Baevsky
Down With It

By David A. Orthmann
As jazz moves in many different directions and breaks free from the all too familiar and readily categorized sounds of its first century, how does an artist make bebop sound like something other than an exercise in nostalgia or an academic pursuit? In the hands of the thirty-four year-old alto saxophonist Dmitry Baevsky, bop is still a vein worth mining. Down With It, Baevsky's third date as a leader, contains an inspired selection of material, smart execution, and some marvelously telling details.
Each member of the quartet, with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt joining them on four of the nine tracks, plays his role to perfection. In nailing a ludicrously fast tempo on the head of “Down With It,” bassist David Wong and drummer Jason Brown show no signs of strain. Baevsky's keening alto states Bud Powell's edgy, crackling melody with crisp economy. Pianist Jeb Patton dogs Baevsky every step of the way and, despite the band's wicked pace, sometimes his chords jump out and take on a life of their own. Brown's brief, flickering snare fills add just a little more thrust to the proceedings. All in all, the band's performance serves as a reminder that, at its best, bebop is truly a joyous, playful music.
Another highlight of a record which contains no mediocre tracks is Gigi Gryce's “Shabozz.” The head makes a smooth transition from a sixteen bar Latin intro to medium tempo swing. Wong's walking bass line gives the band the right amount of lift. Goosed by Brown's snare drum accents--some of them more felt than heard--Pelt's solo is short on pyrotechnics and long on melodic invention. Every note sounds like it's played with Wong and Brown in mind. Baevsky takes a more aggressive stance. He balances long, twisting passages and shorter thoughts which adhere to the rhythm section's firm foundation.
Sonny Rollins' “Decision” contains some of Baevsky's finest improvising of the set. Once again, there's a palpable connection between his alto and the rhythm section--one really can't be separated from the other. The tune is taken at what Kenny Washington once referred to as an “adult tempo,” a pace somewhere between slow and medium which requires patience seldom found in the young. Though Baevsky eventually builds to a satisfying climax, what stays in mind is the way--particularly during the first chorus--he delivers a short phrase, briefly pauses to let it take effect, and then finds another one.
To their credit, Baevsky and his cohorts don't invite facile comparisons to giants from a bygone era. Down With It is an excellent recording that stands on its own merits.
Track Listing: Down With It; Mount Harissa; We See; LaRue; Shabozz; Last Night When We Were Young; Decision; Webb City; I'll String Along With You.
Personnel: Dmitry Baevsky: alto saxophone; Jeremy Pelt: trumpet (4, 5, 7, 8); Jeb Patton: piano; David Wong: bass; Jason Brown: drums.

Art Hirahara
Noble Path

Cover (Noble Path:Art Hirahara)

by Phil Freeman
The latest CD by Bay Area pianist Art Hirahara asks the question "Yes, but why?" It's a tasteful, swinging, well-played piano trio disc that features four standards (Arthur Altman's "All or Nothing at All," most strongly identified with Frank Sinatra; Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma"; Duke Ellington's "Isfahan"; and Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye") sprinkled among eight Hirahara originals. The rhythm section -- bassist Yoshi Waki and drummer Dan Aran -- swings with subtle force, keeping the music moving forward at all times, even during ballads. Hirahara's playing is lyrical and yet somewhat middle of the road, somewhere between Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, displaying plenty of technique and ably blending melody and groove. There's very little here that will convince any listener that he's an indispensable figure in jazz, though. He's just a capable pianist with a decent compositional voice, and this disc is the kind of thing one can put on in the background at a party without disturbing anyone's conversation.

Eric Reed
The Dancing Monk

By Ron Wynn
Pianist Eric Reed has a striking, identifiable style that is expressive and swinging yet can also be lyrical or introspective. Whether part of Wynton Marsalis’ band or working with great singers (Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves) and jazz giants (Benny Carter, Clark Terry), Reed’s solos and accompaniment always seem to add a fresh, vital component. On this collection of Thelonious Monk repertoire, he carefully balances personal touches with the signature twists, changes and melodic quirks that are part of the icon’s appeal. He also deftly balances lesser-performed pieces (“Ask Me Now,” “Ugly Beauty,” “Reflections”) with familiar selections (“’Round Midnight,” “Blue Monk”), while foregoing a couple numbers that usually appear on this type of session (“Straight No Chaser,” “Epistrophy”).
Reed has ideal mates in bassist Ben Wolfe and drummer McClenty Hunter; Wolfe’s playing is easy and fluid, Hunter’s flexible and steady. Whether the song requires aggression (“Eronel,” “The Dancing Monk”) or complementary embellishment (“Light Blue,” “Blue Monk,” “Ruby, My Dear”) they mesh effortlessly in ensemble parts and also excel in solo sections. While Reed will occasionally accelerate a tune’s pace or add some extra rhythmic punch, he doesn’t tamper with Monk’s beloved melodies. The flourishes most often arrive near the end or in the midst of solos, when he scampers through changes and eases his way back into the original’s familiar patterns.
Ultimately Eric Reed honors Monk’s compositions without resorting to straight repertory, blatant imitation or exaggerated treatments. It’s a respectful yet inventive method, and his disc represents the finest possible tribute to a genius and innovator.

Scott Hamilton & Rossano Sportiello
Midnight At Nola's Pethhouse

Cover (Midnight at Nola's Penthouse:Scott Hamilton)

by Ken Dryden
Scott Hamilton emerged in the mid-'70s as a player who had a gift for creating a lush, swinging sound, regardless of the tempo or style. His partner on this 2010 studio session, Italian pianist Rossano Sportiello, is two decades younger, but the perfect partner. Their program includes a mix of standards and lesser-known songs, all played with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of beauty. "A Garden in the Rain" isn't the first ballad one would expect a jazz duo to choose, but the lush interpretation here could launch others into investigating its potential. Hamilton's boisterous playing is boosted by Sportiello's driving accompaniment, with the influence of the late Dave McKenna apparent. "Big Butter and Egg Man" is rarely played outside of traditional jazz/New Orleans jazz, but their brisk, lyrical interpretation should open some ears. They also sizzle with their driving rendition of "All God's Chillun' Got Rhythm," with plenty of fireworks as they trade the lead. This rewarding date deserves a follow-up meeting.

Gerald Clayton
Bond: The Paris Sessions

Cover (Bond: The Paris Sessions:Gerald Clayton)

by Ken Dryden

Gerald Clayton has been one of the bright lights of his generation, playing with the Clayton Brothers (co-led by his father and uncle), accompanying instrumentalists (Roy Hargrove, Don Braden, and Ambrose Akinmusire), jazz vocalists (Roberta Gambarini, Diana Krall, and Melissa Morgan), jazz-pop singers (Michael Bublé and Reneé Olstead), in addition to leading his own band and composing. His second release as a leader is a trio session with bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Justin Brown, plus some solo piano tracks. His interpretations of standards are remarkably fresh, considering how often they have been recorded in a jazz setting. He sets up "If I Were a Bell" with a subtle vamp as he slowly works his way into it, delivering a witty performance well supported by his sidemen. Clayton eschews the famous introduction to "All the Things You Are" added by Dizzy Gillespie, preferring to delve directly into the song, with a tense, understated approach that simmers but never reaches the boiling point. His solo take of "Nobody Else But Me" is full of intricately interwoven lines while still swinging like mad. Where Clayton really stands apart from young musicians of his generation is as a composer. He shows a surprising maturity for his age, as his pieces display a wealth of stylistic influences yet retain memorable themes that hold one's interest as well. Highlights including his dramatic three-part suite, his Impressionist "Sun Glimpse," and the touching lyrical ballad "Hank."

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Jazz and Concord's Live At Maybeck Recital Hall

 Maybeck Recital Hall

by Leonardo Barroso
What is Jazz ? It's a music style ? It's the same as blues ?
Many ask these questions, but only a few unfortunately know the true meaning of Jazz !
Jazz is not a style or any kind of.
Jazz is music; the true, honest, sincere and free way to play it.
Through jazz you can play any "kind" of music (rock,pop,bossa-nova,country,classical,blues,....).
With Jazz the musician can put and bring his/hers best. But to embrace Jazz, the artist must be strong and loyal to his/hers art-form, must be at the top of their playing, because having the freedom to create music, is one the great pleasures in life.
For us listeners/aficionados/consumer, is just the opportunity we have, to be amazed and unsure of what the next note will be, for this note, is giving us the chance of hearing a moment of bliss, that is translated to ( a now famous by my great jazz mentor Mr. Bob Barroso ) EARGASM !!!!!
Well, one of the ways to experience the beauty and freedom of Jazz/music, are the recordings made live at Maybeck Recital Hall. From 1990 to 1996, there were 42 Pianists playing at the same place, same piano ( Yamaha S-400B and C7-FII on some Duo recordings ) and on different dates. No artist sounds tha same or even the piano sounds the same, one completely different from the other.
This is music, this is Jazz ! No one can label the beauty of these recordings.
Beside all this great 42 CD's released by Concord Jazz, they recorded 10 more entitled: Concord Duo Series, at the same magnificent place, everyone produced by the late Carl E. Jefferson.
I do urge everyone, to ask Concord Jazz to re-release all 52 recordings and it's true legacy to music, to JAZZ !

Live At Maybeck Recital Hall Series

Volume         Artist

1              Joanne Brackeen
2              Dave McKenna
3              Dick Hyman
4              Walter Norris
5              Stanley Cowell
6              Hal Galper
7              John Hicks
8              Gerry Wiggins
9              Marian McPartland
10            Kenny Barron
11            Roger Kellaway
12            Barry Harris
13            Steve Kuhn
14            Alan Broadbent
15            Buddy Montgomery
16            Hank Jones
17            Jaki Byard
18            Mike Wofford
19            Richie Beirach
20            Jim McNeely
21            Jessica Williams
22            Ellis Larkins
23            Gene Harris
24            Adam Makowicz
25            Cedar Walton
26            Bill Mays
27            Denny Zeitlin
28            Andy LaVerne
29            John Campbell
30            Ralph Sutton
31            Fred Hersch
32            Roland Hanna
33            Don Friedman
34            Kenny Werner
35            George Cables
36            Toshiko Akiyoshi
37            John Colianni
38            Ted Rosenthal
39            Kenny Drew, Jr.
40            Monty Alexander
41            Allen Farnham
42            James Williams

Concord Duo series

Volume            Artist
1.             Roger Kellaway & Red Mitchell
2.             Dave McKenna & Gray Sargent
3.             Ken Peplowski & Howard Alden
4.             Alan Broadbent & Gary Foster
5.             Adam Makowicz & George Mraz
6.             Ralph Sutton & Dick Hyman
7.             Bill Mays & Ed Bickert
8.             Hal Galper & Jeff Johnson
9.             Michael Moore & Bill Charlap
10.           Chris Potter & Kenny Werner