Sunday, October 30, 2011

2 Sem 2011 - Part Thirteen

Janette West Group

Cover (Snapshot:Janette West Group)

By Christopher Loudon
Seattle-based vocalist Janette West has been working up and down the West Coast for nearly four decades, variously fronting R&B, smooth-jazz and big-band outfits. Never, though, has West been better served than with her recently formed quartet comprising her husband, drummer Marty Tuttle, plus keyboardist Eric Verlinde, bassist Chuck Kistler and percussionist Ricardo Guity. This is a remarkably tight unit, rivaling the tautness of the Tierney Sutton Group. West is a first-rate swinger, comparable in style and gusto to Ernestine Anderson, though the warmth of her ballads is more reminiscent of Natalie Cole. Each group member is given plenty of room to stretch out and shine.
West is exceptionally gracious about sharing the spotlight. Verlinde demonstrates a masterfully elegant touch on “Only Trust Your Heart” and “I’m Glad There Is You,” and, on Hammond E, ably assists West in finessing an exuberant “Willow Weep for Me.” Tuttle and Guity steer a shimmering treatment of Stevie Wonder’s “Bird of Beauty.” But the two tracks that best showcase the group’s solidity are a gorgeously lithe “You Go to My Head” and a scintillating Afro-Cuban canter through “Love for Sale.”

Gerald Wilson Orchestra

Cover (Legacy:Gerald Wilson Orchestra)

by Ken Dryden
Gerald Wilson demonstrates that age is only a number with his outstanding composing and arranging for these big-band sessions. Having celebrated his 92nd birthday around the time that he made this recording, Wilson offers a diverse program, though his deteriorating vision requires Eric Otis (his grandson) to notate the leader's music from his oral instructions as he composes at the piano. Three of his pieces are derived from famous classical works. "Variations on a Theme by Igor Stravinsky" is taken from the composer's famous early 20th century ballet The Firebird, a robust cooker that serves as a brief introduction. "Variations on Clair de Lune" gives Claude Debussy's well-known work a slow, bluesy air at first, showcasing pianist Renee Rosnes and son Anthony Wilson on guitar, though it soon transforms into a breezy setting. "Variations on a Theme by Giacomo Puccini" takes one of his most beloved moving arias ("Nessum Dorma") and gives it an uplifting bop flavor. Wilson's "Yes, Chicago Is…" consists of a seven-part suite, highlighted by the boisterous "Riffin' at the Regal" and the snappy "Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and White Sox" (a bluesy vehicle with numerous potent solos). Anthony composed and arranged "Virgo," while Eric penned "September Sky," further evidence that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree as far as music is concerned in the Wilson family. The supporting cast includes some of the most in-demand musicians on the New York City jazz scene, including bassist Peter Washington, drummer Lewis Nash, saxophonists Antonio Hart, Dick Oatts, and Gary Smulyan, and trumpeters Jeremy Pelt, Sean Jones, and Freddie Hendrix, along with trombonists Douglas Purviance and Alan Ferber, among others. This outstanding recording adds to the already substantial discography of the great Gerald Wilson.

Dave Miller Trio

 Cover (Rapture:David Miller Trio)

By Bill Milkowski
Pianist Dave Miller teams with fellow jazz vets Mario Suraci on bass and Bill Belasco on drums for a set of lightly and politely swinging mainstream jazz. From the opening strains of Gerry Mulligan’s jaunty “Line for Lyons” to Jimmy Van Heusen’s harmonically rich “I Thought About You,” Terry Gibbs’ sprightly “Peaches” and Duke Ellington’s coy “Just Squeeze Me,” the course is strictly straight-ahead. Some surprises here include a poignant reading of the Lennon-McCartney ballad “In My Life,” an interpretation of Harold Land’s Afro-Cuban-flavored “Rapture” and a clever 4/4 take on Sammy Fain’s waltzing “Alice in Wonderland,” a Disney tune closely associated with Dave Brubeck.
On this sixth CD there are revealing marks of artistic ripening and impressive blend of immutable confidence and solid pianism.  Dave's excellence is uniform across varied domains.
The repertoire reflects how well he addresses the wide arc of diversity.  His style postured with taste and finesse plus a range of timbres whether he plays ballads or swingers.  His fingers capture the heart and sould of each tune.
The rich trove of selections on this CD offers an uplifting, absorbing listening experience.
- Recorded Fantasy Records in Berkley, on Sept. 30th and Oct. 27, 2009
- Photography: Michael Collopy
- Engineered by: Adam Munoz
- Mastered by: Ken Lee

Phil & Bill
Woods & Mays

Cover (Woods & Mays:Bill Mays)

by Ken Dryden
Long one of the dominate alto saxophonists in jazz, Phil Woods meets his regular pianist Bill Mays for this intimate duo session recorded in September 2010. Both musicians have a vast repertoire and a gift for inventive improvising. They explore several songs by top-notch songwriters, including a loping, lyrical treatment of Jimmy Van Heusen's "All This and Heaven Too," a breezy, playful setting of Irving Berlin's "The Thing for You Would Be Me," and an overlooked Richard Rodgers gem, "Do I Love You?," which was featured in a Cinderella television special in the late '50s, featuring a bubbly Woods solo that is well complemented by Mays' elegant piano. Woods unveils two new originals for musicians who had passed away prior to the record date: "Blues for Lopes," a spunky bop vehicle that honors Joe Lopes, an old friend and mentor, along with "Hank Jones," a gorgeous ballad that salutes the brilliant pianist whose career spanned seven decades. This enjoyable duo date adds another important chapter to the already vast discography of Phil Woods.

Lynne Arriale

Cover (Convergence:Lynne Arriale)

by Ken Dryden
Lynne Arriale has made her mark with a number of CDs of her own during her career. This predominantly trio date with bassist Omer Avital and drummer Anthony Pinciotti, adding tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry on several songs, mixes originals and covers of pop songs. Arriale's songwriting skills match her chops at the piano. The driving post-bop vehicle "Elements" provides a solid opener for Arriale's trio, with the pianist's unpredictable blues constantly shifting. Her rambunctious Irish jig "Convergence" features McHenry's powerful tenor and Arriale's furious solo. "The Simple Things" is a low-key, lyrical ballad played by the trio. The infectious "Here and Now" draws from multiple musical influences from around the world, showcasing McHenry's wailing tenor. The Middle Eastern-flavored "Dance of the Rain" includes an unidentified oud player, with Pinciotti presumably being playing the hand percussion. Arriale also shines with her fresh interpretations of the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun," Sting's "Sister Moon," and the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black." Only Nine Inch Nails' "Something I Can Never Have" never manages to gain traction.

Corea, Clarke & White

Cover (Forever:Chick Corea)

by Thom Jurek
This double-disc set documents Return to Forever's unplugged tour of 2009. Its 19 tracks consist mainly of rearranged RTF tunes and jazz standards for piano trio, though there are wonderful surprises on disc two. Disc one is taken directly from concert appearances across the globe. The standards work well -- considering how busy Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White can be together as well as solo. "On Green Dolphin Street," "Waltz for Debby," and "Hackensack" all swing, though they do feature moments of RTF's requisite knotty counterpoint. Originals include Clarke's new tune, the beautiful "La Canción de Sophia," as well as "Bud Powell" and "Windows" from two Corea solo recordings, and "Señor Mouse" and "No Mystery," both RTF tunes, round it out. The small complaint is that these three play so stridently and "perfectly" that they sound more like a studio band instead of a quick-thinking live unit. Everything is exceptionally played and recorded. The gems are saved for disc two, which consists mainly of rehearsals for the tour recorded at Mad Hatter Studios in San Francisco, complete with off-mike banter. Corea dons his Rhodes and other keyboards for an excellent version of "Captain Marvel" and a fully fused-out “Señor Mouse,” “Space Circus,” and “After the Rain,” all with original RTF guitarist Bill Connors playing his ass off with his former and future bandmates (Frank Gambale will assume guitar duties on tour). Violinist Jean-Luc Ponty will also join the new band formally in 2012, and he begins in that role here, appearing on "Armando's Rhumba" (he played on the original off Corea's My Spanish Heart LP), his own "Renaissance," a fine rendition of "I Loves You, Porgy" (one of two tunes with Chaka Khan on vocals), "After the Cosmic Rain," and "Space Circus." The other two surprises on disc two are a very soulful duet between Corea (on acoustic piano) and White on John Coltrane's "Crescent" and a stellar acoustic trio version of RTF's standard "500 Miles High," which was recorded at the Monterey Jazz Festival and contains plenty of fire. With its looseness, this second disc offers the real dynamic potential for RTF in the future and reveals the depth of near symbiotic communication between the bandmembers.

Roger Davidson & David Finck
Umbrellas & Sunshine: The Music of Michel Legrand

Cover (Umbrellas & Sunshine: The Music of Michel Legrand:Roger Davidson)

by Alex Henderson
In popular culture, Michel Legrand (who turned 79 on February 24, 2011) is best known for his accomplishments as a composer. But people who really know their jazz also respect the Paris native for his work as an acoustic pianist, and on Umbrellas & Sunshine: The Music of Michel Legrand, fellow acoustic pianist Roger Davidson pays tribute to both Legrand the composer and Legrand the pianist. Forming an intimate duo with upright bassist David Finck, Davidson salutes Legrand's pianistic style, but does so on his own terms. In other words, Davidson acknowledges elements of Legrand's playing, but isn't actually trying to emulate him; the lyrical Davidson still sounds like himself. And he tackles an intriguing variety of Legrand pieces on this 2009 recording. Many of the songs are well-known standards, including "You Must Believe in Spring," "Watch What Happens," "The Summer Knows," and "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" (which is part of a medley that also includes "The Easy Way"). But Davidson makes his share of less obvious choices as well. Among them: "His Eyes, Her Eyes" (from the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair), "The First Time" (which was heard in Falling in Love Again, a romantic comedy from 1980), and the obscure "Look." Many people who are big admirers of Legrand are unfamiliar with "Look," and the very fact that Davidson included that rarity shows that he wasn't afraid to do his homework. So even though Umbrellas & Sunshine has its share of well-known standards, Davidson obviously didn't want this 52-minute CD to have an all-standards-all-the-time approach. Davidson is hardly the first jazz musician to pay homage to Legrand, and he certainly won't be the last. But his sense of adventure makes Umbrellas & Sunshine one of the more memorable Legrand tributes of the 2000s.

2 Sem 2011 - Part Twelve

Ron DiSalvio
Happily Evans After


By Bill Milkowski
Ron Di Salvio has a knack for conjuring up clever arrangements for his flexible piano trio, a skill he demonstrated on 2007’s Essence of Green: A Tribute to Kind of Blue. Here he summons up the spirit of pianist Bill Evans on the delicate waltz-time title track and “Carol’s Waltz,” both featuring highly interactive support from bassist Tom Knific and drummer Keith Hall. “Child’s Play” incorporates themes from The Wizard of Oz along with “London Bridge Is Falling Down” and “Pop Goes the Weasel.” The serene “My Space” is a chamber-jazz offering that opens with a quote from Beethoven’s “Sonata in D Minor” before segueing into a spirited Keith Jarrett-ish romp. Other direct influences can be heard on the Afro-Cuban-flavored “Montuno for Monty” and the off-kilter blues “Monk’s Sphere,” which quotes liberally from “Little Rootie Tootie.”

Cyrus Chestnut Trio
Cover (Journeys:Cyrus Chestnut Trio)

by Ken Dryden
Cyrus Chestnut's approach to piano is a mix of his gospel roots, effortless swing, lively bop, and lyrical ballad playing. His formative years included a stint with Jon Hendricks and the demanding Betty Carter, although here, accompanied by bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Neal Smith, his session focuses on his original works -- aside from a playful romp through the standard "Lover." His breezy bop vehicle "Smitty's Joint" showcases each member of the trio in turn and is destined to be a perfect set opener. Smith switches to brushes for Chestnut's delicate jazz waltz "Eyes of Angel," a spacious number that shimmers. "Journeys" deceptively opens in a subdued manner, building from a soft ballad setting into an intense climax without ever losing its lyricism. "Goliath" combines various influences from Chestnut's background, incorporating a familiar classical theme and his church pianist roots in a meditative yet gently swinging setting. Cyrus Chestnut's journeys have taken him to many musical destinations, yet he remains a distinctive original pianist whose work has continued to grow.

Bill Charlap & Renee Rosnes
Double Portrait

Cover (Double Portrait:Renee Rosnes)

by Ken Dryden
Pianists Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes married in 2007, so the had plenty of time to practice for this duo piano date, since they have twin grand pianos in their apartment and have played a few gigs together as well. Both of them have long résumés as leaders and in support of other musicians. Recorded at the 92nd Street Y in New York City (where Charlap took over the reins from Dick Hyman for Jazz in July series a few years earlier), the husband-and-wife team put together a wide-ranging set list. Their arrangement of fusion keyboardist Lyle Mays' "Chorinho" is a brilliant opener, crackling with its infectious Brazilian rhythm. The soft emotional setting of "My Man's Gone Now" proves haunting; the quiet interpretation of Gerry Mulligan's tender ballad "Little Glory" suggests parents watching a sleeping infant; their rendition of Wayne Shorter's "Ana Maria" shimmers with a subtle energy; and Rosnes' "The Saros Cycle" sounds as if it were written for film, suggesting a journey. Although some writers and musicians dismiss two piano meetings as a mere gimmick, this session by proves that two pianists who are in sync with one another's thoughts can produce timeless music. No time should be wasted in scheduling a follow-up.

Richie Beirach Trio
What Is This Thing Called Love ?

Cover (What Is This Thing Called Love:Richie Beirach)

by Melodius Thunk
Although somewhat underrated, Richie Beirach is a consistently inventive pianist whose ability to play both free and with lyricism makes him an original. After studying classical piano, Beirach switched to jazz. He studied at Berklee and the Manhattan School of Music, and took lessons with Stan Getz, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette.
His classical training can sometimes be heard in his more advanced improvisations, along with the sensitivity of a Bill Evans and this disc nicely covers those bases. But its Richie's reharmonisations of these standards that one notices the most. The opening track is a driving, urgent take of the original, Nardis full of tension, Autumn Leaves is wonderfully rhapsodic. As expected with such great sidemen of George Mraz and Billy Hart this CD doesn't just showcase Richie's talent, there's plenty of space to hear their musicianship too.

Roseanna Vitro
The Music Of Randy Newman

 Cover (The Music of Randy Newman:Roseanna Vitro)

by Ken Dryden
Vocalist Roseanna Vitro has had big ears when it comes to looking for material for her jazz record dates, investigating songwriters overlooked by others. This Randy Newman songbook is obviously a labor of love, interpreting the veteran composer's lyrics, whether sentimental or sardonic. Her band includes the seasoned rhythm team of pianist Mark Soskin (who also provided arrangements), bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Tim Horner, along with the promising young violinist Sara Caswell (who often adds a sublime touch). The rich-voiced alto's rendition of "Sail Away" showcases Caswell to good effect. Vitro has a lot of fun with Newman's hilarious description of attending a pot party in "Mama Told Me Not to Come," with Caswell's whimsical licks complementing the leader's playful, outgoing vocal. The singer captures the essence of Newman's sardonic "Baltimore," though she transforms it with a brisk setting, adding guitarist Steve Cardenas. Vitro's dramatic interpretation of "In Germany Before the War" is also a high point. Jazz fans who grew up listening to Randy Newman will be particularly interested in Roseanna Vitro's novel approach to his music.  

2 Sem 2011 - Part Eleven

Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band
Swingin' For The Fences

Cover (Swingin' for the Fences:Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band)

by Scott Yanow
Saxophonist Gordon Goodwin (heard on this CD on alto and soprano) has loved big bands since he was a child. He arranged all of the music for his 18-piece big band's release, contributing nine of the ten compositions (all but Bach's "Two Part Invention in D Minor") and getting several notable guest soloists to make appearances. The music is mostly modern mainstream, swinging while utilizing some advanced harmonies. There are a few departures including "Sing Sang Sung" (a number based a bit on "Sing Sing Sing"), the Bach selection, a couple Latin jazz pieces, and the funky "There's the Rub" and "A Few Good Men." Among the main soloists from the orchestra are Goodwin, trombonist Andy Martin, pianist Tom Ranier, and tenorman Dan Higgins. The guests (on two songs apiece) are trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, clarinetist Eddie Daniels, and altoists Eric Marienthal and Brandon Fields. Fans of contemporary big bands will find much to enjoy on this fun set.

Gonzalo Rubalcaba

By Dan McClenaghan
Cuban-born/Miami-based pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba boasts a discography of some 25 albums, including a dozen discs for the esteemed Blue Note label. Having established star status for himself with numerous Grammy nominations and two wins, Rubalcaba steps out with the first release on his independent 5Passion label, Fe...Faith.
Over the course of his career, Rubalcaba has worked with some of the best modern jazz players, including Joe Lovano, Michael Brecker, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, but introduces his new record company with a solo outing--an eighty-minute jazz prayer. The music is graceful and refined, largely introspective and deeply reverential in tone, with the pianist's technical prowess on full display in a meditative and often economical fashion.
Rubalcaba's brief “Derivado 1” opens the set with a short declaratory note, drifting into the spare and sacred mood of another original, “Malerefun lya Lodde Me,” a beautifully ruminative exploration of the spirit of the music of the Cuban Santeria religion. “Improvisations 2 (based on Coltrane),” features the pianist at his most virtuosic, as he invites the soul of the ever-spiritual saxophonist John Coltrane into the mix.
Rubalcaba also delivers two versions of Dizzy Gillespie's “Con Alma” that are tranquil, fluid examinations of its familiar melody. There are also two takes of the Miles Davis/Bill Evans classic, “Blue in Green.” Both have a melancholy feeling, as if they are prayers of mourning, before and after the set's more joyful moment, “Oro,” inspired by the Santeria religion, and a gorgeous and reverential triptych of tunes celebrating Rubalcaba's children,”Joan,” “Joao” and “Yolanda Anas.”
Rubalcaba revisits Coltrane with “Improvisation 1 (based on Coltrane),” to add a sparkle to the set, and closes out with another brief original, “Derivado 3,” a delicately pretty “amen” of sorts, to Rubalcaba's most personal of records.
Track Listing:
Derivado 1; Maferefun Iya Lodde Me; Improvisation 2 (based on Coltrane); Derivado 2; Con Alma 1; Precludio Corto #2 (Tu Amor Vera Falso); Blue in Green 1; Oro; Joan; Joao; Yolanda Anas; Blue in Green 2; Con Alma 3; Improvisation 1 (based on Coltrane); Derivado 3.
Personnel: Gonzalo Rubalcaba: piano.          

Giovanni Mirabassi Trio
Live @ The Blue Note, Tokyo

Cover (Giovanni Mirabassi Trio Live At the Blue Note, Tokyo:Giovanni Mirabassi)

by Choc Classica – Jean-Pierre Jackson
  An exceptionally precise and dynamic sound recording. After the release of the two outstanding albums Terra Furiosa in 2008 and Out of Track, last year, the new album by the same trio recorded between 21st and 23rd April at the Blue Note in Tokyo is a great success. This is first due to the melodic and rhythmic richness of the nine compositions of the CD’s répertoire, displaying in turn pianist Giovanni Mirabassi’s elegiac and lilting style (My broken heart, World changes) and the swing and energy that characterize him (NY#1, It’s us). The rich improvisations with their brilliant internal logic are always followed by poetical undulating efflorescences, which are typical of the pianist’s style.
   The success of this new album is also due to the trio itself, in perfect osmosis, with exceptional Leon Parker’s impressively precise drum playing and Gianluca Renzi, who constantly creates bass lines which do not only provide the melodic and rhythmic foundations of the phrasing, but can also approach what can sound like the human voice , when playing solo. This new album of remarkable sound quality which is a legendary characteristic of all CDs under Japanese label Vénus, renders Giovanni Mirabassi’s musical generosity when playing in concert, and certainly has the polished touch of all great classics.

Jean-Michel Pilc
True Story
Cover (True Story:Jean-Michel Pilc)
by Ken Dryden
Jean-Michel Pilc has established himself as one of the major jazz pianists to emerge from Europe around the beginning of the 21st century. Joined by Mingus Big Band bassist Boris Kozlov and veteran drummer Billy Hart, Pilc mixes creative arrangements of several familiar songs with his demanding originals. His take of Cole Porter's "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" is full of humor (adding a quick dash of "You and the Night in the Music") while retaining a sensual undercurrent and a sense of adventure with his wild variations, with potent solos all around. Pilc's adaptation of "Try to Remember" (from the long-running Broadway musical The Fantastiks) incorporates dissonant bass chords and several twists that keep it from getting overly sentimental, while the haunting "Relic" is a reworking of a Franz Schubert theme. The high point of Pilc's compositions is his five-part suite "True Story," which incorporates many contrasting styles in its brief segments. Although many jazz journalists have high regard for the work of Jean-Michel Pilc, he remains a treasure awaiting discovery by many American jazz fans.

Karrin Allyson
'Round Midnight

Cover ('Round Midnight:Karrin Allyson)
by Matt Collar
Vocalist/pianist Karrin Allyson's 2011 effort 'Round Midnight is a smoky, afterglow affair that builds upon the singer's noted skill for interpreting jazz and pop standards. Conceptualized around the classic Thelonious Monk title track, the album plays like a darkly cool nightclub set -- not dissimilar to the kind of live performances Allyson is known for. Backing Allyson here is a superb lineup featuring guitarist Rod Fleeman, bassist Ed Howard, and drummer Matt Wilson, as well as saxophonist Bob Sheppard and harmonica player Randy Weinstein. Together, Allyson and her ensemble deliver intensely dramatic and romantic takes on such standards as the leadoff "Turn Out the Stars," the mid-album "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," and of course the title track, which Allyson performs starkly with just bass accompaniment. Elsewhere, Allyson gives a sweetly moving take on Paul Simon's "April Come She Will" and goes against the usual uptempo style of "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," instead delivering a ruminative, impressionistic slow-ballad version that allows her to reveal the nuances of Gene Lee's lyrics. Ultimately, it's Allyson's emotive voice and her ability to bring out these soft, bittersweet nuances in every track that makes 'Round Midnight such a listenable and heartfelt album.

Friday, October 21, 2011



1- Does singing along with, say, Alan Broadbent, Marc Johnson and Joey Baron a jazz singer make?
2- Can someone who sings strictly following what was written on the charts, with only minor changes in rhythm, be called a jazz singer?
3- Aside from the likes of Dianne Reeves, Diana Krall, Roberta Gambarini, Cassandra Wilson, Tierney Sutton, Nancy King, Janis Siegel, Jay Clayton, Jane Monheit, Carol Sloane, Judy Niemack and a handful few others (not counting that friend of yours who sings in that bar around the corner, of course), do you think there exists, today, much more? Don’t you think many a jazz magazines are a bit too much populated by animals of other natures than reasonable expected?
4- Have you ever seen some pop singer taken erroneously as a jazz one and – worse still – earning prizes as an artist of this gender of music?
5- Heard about a so-so piano player who became a wonderful singer, without abandoning the piano?
6- Conversely, heard of a wonderful piano player who became a so-so singer, also without firing her playing instrument? Who are they?
7- The greatest pop singer of all time was a jazz artist? Would his Jobinian “shah.bah.dah.bah.dah” qualify him as such? Or, for instance, his rendering of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” would suffice? What about his colleague Tony Bennett?
8- How would they compare (in their “jazziness”) to the great Kurt Elling and the no less important Mark Murphy? And speaking of these two, which one would you stay with, if improvisation skills were the main concern?
9- Wouldn’t you agree some scats could help a lot to forge a real jazz vocalist and could , as well, distinguish men/women from boys/girls?
10- Why is it there’s much more jazz and “jazz” female vocalists than their male counterparts?
11- Which singer (non American) is the only one in the scenes today who resembles, at the same time, Ella, Carmen and Sarah?
12- I agree Miles Davis was really great, but what about helping living jazz musicians feed their children?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

2 Sem 2011 - Part Ten

Jean-Michel Pilc

By Ken Dryden
Jean-Michel Pilc emerged as one of the rising young European jazz pianists, recording a number of CDs on the Continent, though he had long since become a naturalized American. He makes his debut for a U.S. label with his live solo piano album Essential, a striking mix of fresh interpretations of widely recorded songs and his innovative originals. It would be interesting to imagine what Duke Ellington would say about Pilc's reworking of "Caravan," a playful mix of dramatic chords, uptempo lines, and hand-muting of strings without losing the essence of this timeless composition. He utilizes a disguised introduction to "Someday My Prince Will Come" that incorporates a childlike singing bassline with a piercing staccato chord in his right hand, though he transforms it into a musical daydream that ventures far from the expected route. Pilc's choppy setting of "Take the 'A' Train" also detours onto a new path, incorporating licks from earlier piano giants and adding tricks of his own. It is almost impossible not to laugh aloud hearing Pilc's comic twists in his deliberate arrangement of "Mack the Knife." Pilc has long established himself as a promising composer as well. His six movement "Etude" is a versatile suite that touches on many musical bases. "Essential" suggests a late-night set-closing blues, though the jagged, dark chords accompanying its warm melody quickly change that feeling. Pilc's "Sam" is a pretty ballad with just a touch of melancholy in its brief two minutes. Those who quickly bypass Jean-Michel Pilc's Essential, believing it to be a compilation of earlier recordings, will miss one of the gems of 21st century jazz piano.

Matija Dedic Trio

By Dan McClenaghan
Pianist Matija Dedic's MD in NYC tiptoes into existence on a delicate rhythm, joined in short order by a sprinkling of crystalline notes in the melody, with a whisper of brushes and spare but assertive bass lines. "Her Name" is one of the pianist's five originals in the set, and has a wistful reverence that speaks, perhaps, to a yearning infatuation, bringing to mind the artistry of Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock.
The Croatian-born musician has created a superb piano trio outing, a pared down approach that he augments very adeptly with synthesizers. "Slawenskya," another original, features a subtle electric cool breeze undertone enhancing the harmony, leading into the brightly-swinging trio tune,"Update."
Hancock's much-covered "Maiden Voyage" has never been covered better. It is a spare and understated rendition from Dedic and his trio mates, with eerie hints of synthesizer washes huffing like wind blowing through the eaves, a sound leaning just over the edge of conscious perception. The longest tune of the set at just over ten minutes—with its deft trio interplay and a brief-but- marvelous bass solo—it is the CD's centerpiece and masterpiece.
Miles Davis's "Blue in Green" opens at a slow and deliberate pace, piano trio only, until Dedic brings a lush string arrangement into the mix, making a Kind of Blue (Columbia Records, 1959) "with strings" outing seem a very interesting potential project.
Dedic's "Cheekee Chicks" features a funky dance groove and electric piano; and Sting's "Fragile" is another trio affair, a floating six minutes of loveliness and trio cohesion, followed by the more stately and muscular Dedic-penned "Jungle Blues." Concluding the CD, Toby Gad's "If I Were a Boy," with it's whirring synthesizer orchestration, has the feel of a soundtrack to a movie with a pastoral backdrop.
MD in NYC introduces a very talented and versatile artist in Matija Dedic.
Track Listing:
Her Name; Slawenskaya; Update; Maiden Voyage; Angst; Blue in Green; Cheekee Chicks; Fragile; Jungle Blues; If I Were a Boy.
Matija Dedic: piano, keyboards, Fender Rhodes; Vincente Archer: bass; Kendrick Scott: drums.

Aaron Goldberg and Guillermo Klein

By Raul D´Gama Rose
There might actually have been a universe called "Bienestan" and it may have existed for as long as Guillermo Klein. The rich sonic topography of this undiscovered place is just emerging. It is a place of oceans of sound, with energetic waves that make their rhythmic way to lap upon a shore that glistens with all manner of richly harmonized melodies. The very air on this universe is thick with reports of complex rhythms bounced across many interstellar regions from the Africa of earthly consciousness. These rhythms are gloriously intertwined with Latin ones that once swept ashore on the hot and golden Iberian coastline, many historic ages ago and were refined by velvet gentlemen as far removed as Madrid and Andalusia was from Paris and Milan. The operatic sweep of these rhythms somehow made it into the majesterium that is presided by Klein, with his sponge-like sensibility. The existence of Bienestan is as fortuitous as all of the music that comes from its presiding grace, Klein himself. Bienestan, the album, has been happily finished somewhere on earth, with the unbridled genius of pianist Aaron Goldberg and a cohort of other fine musicians.
This is a brooding, dense album, which is the reason why it is so unique and enjoyable, unlike many albums where the density of constantly changing rhythmic enchantment mingles with even denser harmonies. It is not hard to wrap the mind around these harmonies, but it certainly is amazing to note that these have been created by just two keyboards, an occasional saxophonist or two and a percussion colorist as wise beyond his years as Eric Harland. This is evident as much on the stunning recasting of Charlie Parker's "Moose The Mooche" as it is on the dark beauty of the magical and mysterious "Manhã de Carnaval." Of course Klein's arrangements are superb and mostly the reason why this album is destined to become a classic. Klein appears not only to have sensibility where a myriad of labyrinthine harmonies converge, but he and Goldberg seem to have found a way to navigate their way through the lush hinterland of such exquisite songs as "Burrito," "Human Feel" and of course the sublime "Implacable" and the languorous beauty of "Airport Fugue." And if further reassurance of the musicians' ability to negotiate Klein's enigmatic modulation of the "three" and "four" rhythmic sequences is really required, there is always the two versions of "Manhã de Carnaval." Finally there are the moving colors that the sextet uses to interpret "Yellow Roses," which is wonderful because they so embellish the title's monochromaticism.
This is an impressive album, not least because it is fired up by the alternate brilliance of Aaron Goldberg, who has interpreted Klein's music on Bienestan with utter genius, indeed.
Track Listing:
All The Things You Are; Implacable; Moose The Mooche; Burrito; Human Feel; Anita; Blues for Alice; Manhã de Carnaval (Black Orpheus); Airport Fugue; Manhã de Carnaval (Orfeo Negro); Yellow Roses; Impresion de Bienstar; Amtrak/All The Things You Are.
Aaron Goldberg: piano; Guillermo Klein: Fender Rhodes; Matt Penman: acoustic bass; Eric Harland: drums; Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone (3, 5-7, 11); Chris Cheek: tenor saxophone (5, 6), soprano saxophone (11).

Danilo Rea
Piano Works X: A Tribute To Fabrizio De André

By John Fordham
Italy's Danilo Rea (an accompanist on occasion to Chet Baker and Lee Konitz, among others, who's sometimes compared to local piano giants Stefano Bollani and Enrico Pieranunzi) is the kind of pianist who seems to believe that improv needs singable melodies set in orderly structures. He's also been active in Italian pop, and this unaccompanied concert from Bavaria's Schloss Elmau last January is dedicated to the radical singer and songwriter-poet Fabrizio de Andrè, who died in 1999. All the pieces here are variations on De Andrè's affecting melodies, save for two Rea originals, and a rapt and romantic account of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez. Rea is an ornate and showy performer, whose long expositions can leave you feeling as if you're trapped by a non-stop talker, but amid these whirling waltzes, jaunty swingers, movie-epic ballads and Corea and Jarrett inflections (Ave Maria has a distinctly Köln Concert atmosphere), there's an evangelical virtuosity that's undeniably gripping.

Manuel Rocheman
The Touch Of Your Lips: Tribute To Bill Evans

Manuel Rocheman: The Touch of Your Lips: Tribute to Bill Evans

By System Records
Manuel Rocheman is one of France’s finest jazz pianists and his latest CD honours the hugely influential Bill Evans who passed away in 1980. However it’s clear from the outset of this recording that Rocheman is never seeking to imitate and instead aims to evoke all the music that Evans has inspired within him.
Bill Evans’ favoured context was, of course, the piano trio where interaction with the rhythm section was paramount. It’s fitting, therefore, that Rocheman is joined by two very creative musicians on this recording - bassist Mathias Allamane and drummer Matthieu Chazarenc. Like Evans, Rocheman places a great deal of value on the interpretation of standards and performs a highly personal take on the title track, a tune immortalized by his predecessor. Also included are two originals by Evans, Johnny Mandel’s “Theme from M.A.S.H.” (from Evans’ “You Must Believe in Spring” album) and four new compositions from Rocheman himself.

By C. Michael Bailey
The French Naive record label, long known for its fine releases of classical music—particularly its ongoing Vivaldi Opera project—has initiated a jazz stream, highlighting French jazz talent, including pianist Manuel Rocheman's The Touch of Your Lips: Tribute to Bill Evans. It is somehow fitting that a tribute to America's last great pioneer in jazz piano (apologies toCecil Taylor) comes from the land of the Impressionists.Bill Evans, more than any other pianist—not John Lewis, notJacques Loussier, not even the great Art Tatum—elevated jazz piano to a chamber art. His music, particularly that performed close to his 1980 death, was characterized by a fragile intensity, a phenomenon so friable, that the pianist's performance threatened to dissolve at any moment, like a smoke ring in the wind.
Rocheman, in his tribute, adds a quickening support to Evans' art like scaffolding buttressing an ancient sculpture that better allows for the ethereal to gain substance, to be seen and heard. Few pianists could pull off the high-wire act that was Bill Evans, and Rocheman does not even attempt to. Instead, he provides definition, darkening the lines of Evans' thought, making a clearer picture. The Johnny Mandel melody of "Suicide is Painless," from the 1970 movie M*A*S*H, demonstrates Evans' visions in its Red Garland block chords and modern bass-drums support. Here, Rocheman solos confidently, with tart punctuation and comment on the higher harmony of the composition.
The Evans' composition "We Will Meet Again" from the pianist's last studio recording of the same title (Warner Brothers, 1979), offers the scent of Evans' 1961 Village Vanguard trio inMathias Allamane's bass solo. Allamane surfaces from the impressionistic somnolence with a musing, flat in tone that takes off on the perpendicular to Rochemann's direction. This is the most potent presence of the spirit of Scott LaFaro on the disc, one that is gratefully not overplayed. "Daniel's Waltz" lilts with a swinging ferocity that does not draw attention abruptly; rather, revealing itself like an intellectual connection being made, when things become clearer.
Bill Evans is justly a hard musical target. His influence is like an apparition barely seen but registered nevertheless. Rocheman and his trio turn up the musical sensitivity on Evans so that he may been seen with greater clarity without losing any of the mystery that was that pianist's certain specialty.
Track Listing:
M.A.S.H; Send in the Clowns; We Will Meet Again; Daniel's Waltz; For Sandra; Only Child; Rhythm Changes; The Touch of Your Lips; La Valse Des Chipirons; Liebeslied.
Manuel rocheman: piano; Mathias Allamane: bass; Matthieu Chasarenc: drums.

2 Sem 2011 - Part Nine

Benny Green

By Ken Dryden
Benny Green led a popular trio from near the beginning of his career to around 2000, when he abruptly disbanded, not leading a band for a decade, aside from some duo recordings with guitarist Russell Malone. But a recording session with the rhythm team of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington to accompany guitarist Satoshi Inoue rekindled the fire in the pianist's belly, resulting in this outstanding session. The two Washingtons have worked together frequently during their careers, while Green is on fire interacting with them. The ten pieces are all works by jazz composers, including both well-known and obscure works. It's little surprise to hear Green tackling Bud Powell's furious bop anthem "Tempus Fugue-It"; the veteran pianist indulges in fireworks and engages his drummer trading fours, while he also delivers a rollicking treatment of Horace Silver's "Opus de Funk." Mel Tormé's lush, bittersweet ballad "Born to Be Blue" is also in good hands, with Green's adept use of the sustaining pedal adding to the mood. The less-familiar songs are equally delightful. Green captures the loneliness of walking Manhattan streets late at night with his shimmering rendition of Benny Golson's "Park Avenue Petite." Aside from "Grooveyard," Carl Perkins' songs have been overlooked, but Green turns in an infectious, choppy version of this hard bop vehicle, winding it up with an unresolved ending. The trio of Benny Green, Peter Washington, and Kenny Washington could easily be the start of something big.

Helio Alves

By DL Media
While growing up in Sao Paulo, Brazil, studying classical piano, Helio Alves did not pay much attention to the samba and other indigenous rhythms that surrounded him. Yet today, as one of the most in-demand and consistently creative pianists on the international jazz scene, he incorporates samba, baião, and other Brazilian patterns into his technically stunning, rhythmically and harmonically challenging, and frequently rhapsodic approach to jazz. Such characteristics are especially evident throughout Musica, his fourth CD as a leader and first for bassist-turned-producer John Lee's Jazz Legacy Productions label (November 9).
“I never studied Brazilian music per se, but it was always present,” the New York-based pianist says. “It was everywhere. I always got to hear the Brazilian rhythms, and somehow they got into my music, I guess through osmosis.”
Musica is a truly pan-American affair that features prominent musicians from throughout the hemisphere. Bassist Reuben Rogers, whose extensive credits include work with Joshua Redman and Diane Reeves, was raised in the Virgin Islands. Mexico City-born drummer Antonio Sanchez has played with Dizzy Gillespie's United Nations Orchestra, Danilo Perez, and, for the past eight years, with Pat Metheny. Trumpeter Claudio Roditi and guitarist Romero Lubambo, both originally from Rio de Janeiro, join the trio for two tracks a piece.
The disc's nine-song set includes Alves' adventurous interpretations of compositions by Dom Salvador (”Gafieira”), Moacir Santos (”Kathy”), Hermeto Pascoal (”Musica Das Nuvens E Do Chao”), Herbie Hancock (”Chan's Song”), Wayne Shorter (”Black Nile”), Dori Caymmi (”Flor Das Estradas),” and longtime associate Roditi (”Adeus Alf”). “Gafieira” is a fast samba named for a style that was popular in Rio dance halls during the beginning of the 20th century. “Kathy” is played in 5/4 time, and much of “Musica Das Nuvens E Do Chão” finds Alves improvising at a fast 7/4 clip. “Chan's Song,” from the Round Midnight soundtrack, is treated to a gentle bossa-nova groove, and “Black Nile” utilizes elements of the baião rhythms of Northeastern Brazil. The remaining two selections were written by Alves: “Tribute to Charlie 2,” a gently loping ballad in 6/8 dedicated to the late Charlie Banacos (as is the entire CD), and the multi-directional “Sombra.”
“I intended it to be very open and free,” Alves says of Musica. “Antonio and Reuben are incredible interactive players and can really listen. Antonio's comping is fantastic behind the soloists. He just hears everything. It's a rhythm section that can play many styles.”
Helio Alves was born in Sao Paulo on October 5, 1966. Both his parents are amateur pianists. His conservatory-trained mother played classical music exclusively, while his dad played classical music and some jazz and had a few Dave Brubeck and Oscar Peterson records in his collection. Young Helio was especially fond of one by Peterson and Joe Pass.
He began studying classical piano at age 6. His teacher, Elce Pannian, “was very strict,” he says, adding, “It was great for my development at the beginning, but her not wanting me to play anything other than classical kind of made me interested in doing other things. It ended up being a good thing.”
At 13, Alves attended a duo concert by Chick Corea and Gary Burton in Sao Paulo. “It was so creative, and they sounded so free” he recalls. “I couldn't really understand everything at that point. It was way too advanced for me, but they looked like they were having a ball. It really grabbed me.” Besides Corea, he cites McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett, and Bill Evans as primary influences.
Jazz bassist Xu Viana, a judge at two high school jazz festival competitions that Alves won, became an early mentor, teaching the teenager jazz harmony and suggesting he attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston after finishing high school. Alves took his advice and, in less than four years, graduated with a degree in Professional Music.
While attending Berklee and until quite recently, Alves also studied composition and improvisation with Charlie Banacos, whose other students of note included Michael Brecker, Marilyn Crispell, Danilo Perez, and Mike Stern. “He just gave me tons of ideas for my improvising,” Alves says. Banacos died in December 2009.
Alves moved to New York City in 1993 and began working immediately with Roditi, whom he had met earlier in Boston. Two years later, the pianist joined Joe Henderson's Double Rainbow Quartet, staying two years. Alves' other sideman credits include work with the Caribbean Jazz Project, Phil Woods, Herbie Mann, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, Oscar Castro-Neves, Mike Stern, and Gal Costa, for whom he served as musical director for her all- star 2003 Carnegie Hall tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim and Stan Getz. Currently, Alves divides his international touring schedule between engagements with his own trio, Roditi's band, vocalist Joyce Moreno, and the Brazilian Trio, a group he co-leads with bassist Nilson Matta and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca.
The pianist has contributed to three Grammy Award-winning albums: Joe Henderson Big Band (1996), Paquito D'Rivera's Brazilian Dreams (2002), and Yo-Yo Ma'sObrigado Brazil (2003). He also can be heard on recordings by Roditi, Moreno, Da Fonseca, Biscoito Fino, Slide Hampton, Louis Hayes, Rosa Passos, and Gino Sitson.
Alves previously recorded three albums under his own name—Trios (1998),Portrait in Black and White (2004), and It's Clear (2009), all on the Reservoir Music label—in addition to Songs from the Last Century, a 2006 collaboration with Da Fonseca for Blue Toucan Records. With Musica, his debut for Jazz Legacy Productions, the pianist seamlessly fuses sounds he absorbed in Brazil and the United States into a remarkably original, deeply satisfying whole.

Monty Alexander

By Ken Dryden
During his long career, pianist Monty Alexander excelled in trio settings, and he's primarily heard in this collection of live performances at various venues with two different groups, with these recordings all coming from his personal archives. Kicking off with an inspired, upbeat "Come Fly with Me" (forever associated with vocalist Frank Sinatra), Alexander seems in a jovial mood throughout most of the CD. He has a lot of fun with "Sweet Georgia Brown," opening with a bit of stride before shifting into a wild ride incorporating some Thelonious Monk-like dissonance, but in the typical uptempo setting favored by Oscar Peterson. His interpretation of John Lewis' "Django" retains its standard dramatic introduction; then he subtly swings it with a brief detour into "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," adding a bluesy air to it. At times, he inserts licks from a number of different songs à la Art Tatum or Dorothy Donegan, especially in the unusually hilarious setting of "Body and Soul." The closing medley begins with Alexander's sentimental ballad "Home," then segues into a lively, calypso-flavored performance of Blue Mitchell's "Fungii Mama." Alexander's Uplift is well-named, as these live recordings represent some of his best work from his half-century as a professional jazz pianist.

Jimmy Greene Quartet
Live At Smalls

By Thomas Conrad
Smalls opened 16 years ago in Greenwich Village as a tiny jazz cellar without a liquor license. For a $10 cover you could listen until dawn. There have been closures, remodelings and ownership changes over the years. Smalls has not exactly gone corporate, but the cover charge has gone up, it now has a bar, and probably no one sleeps in the cooler as Frank Hewitt used to do.
The new smalls LIVE label is now up to 16 titles. It should not be confused with Luke Kaven’s Smalls Records, the label that grew out of the original Smalls and made some classic albums there, like Hewitt’s Out of the Clear Black Sky and Omer Avital’s Room to Grow. The new label has not yet released anything as important as the best stuff on Smalls Records, but these three new releases are worthwhile, especially the Jimmy Greene.
Those who know Greene through his articulate tenor saxophone work with Tom Harrell will be startled by the first track here. The title, “Sense of Urgency,” is an extreme understatement. Greene’s commanding opening calls accumulate complexity over an obsessive crashing vamp by bassist Ugonna Okegwo and pianist Xavier Davis. Drummer Gregory Hutchinson storms and rages. Greene’s solo gets caught up in wild spins then splinters into jagged fragments. The rest of the album is more measured, and even has two grainy soprano saxophone ballads, but stays intense.
The very best thing about the smalls-LIVE series is how these recordings recreate the visceral experience of Smalls, the hang itself. Engineer (and celebrated jazz photographer) Jimmy Katz comes up close on every instrument—appropriate for a club with 60 seats—but also lets in the applause, the tinkling glasses, the night air. One caveat: The fades of applause and announcements are unfortunate production decisions. They interfere with the fantasy that you are there.

Ben Wolfe Quintet
Live At Smalls

By Woodrow Wilkins
In New York City, there's a popular venue known as Smalls Jazz Club. The Ben Wolfe Quintet introduces a series of performance recordings, simply titled Smalls Live.
A Baltimore native, Wolfe's professional associations include Wynton Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr. and Diana Krall. He is currently a faculty member at Julliard School of Music, Jazz Division.
The high-energy, attention-grabbing “Block 11”--one of nine songs, all composed and arranged by Wolfe--begins the set, with Ryan Kisor's blistering trumpet inspiring thoughts of the late Freddie Hubbard. Pianist Luis Perdomo delivers a solo, accompanied only by Wolfe and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. The band slows to a near stop before shifting back into gear as tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland follows with a passionate solo, supported by Hutchinson, as the song downshifts again for its conclusion.
The band swings on the easygoing “Telescope,” with trumpet and sax blending for the melody before splitting into layered leads. Strickland takes point for a pleasure jaunt while, after Perdomo's solo, Hutchinson shows his skills in a call-and-response with the rest of the group. Te closing “The Trade” is a brief duet for Wolfe and Hutchinson.
Musically, there's nothing to complain about here, with Wolfe and his sidemen tight throughout the disc. The only negative is the packaging. Dark purple print over a solid black background makes it difficult to read song titles, players' instruments and other notes. Despite that, Live at Smalls scores big.
Track Listing:
Block 11; For the Great Sonny Clark; Telescope; Contraption; Unjust; I'll Know You More; Double Czech; Coleman's Cab; The Trade.
Ben Wolfe: acoustic bass; Marcus Strickland: tenor saxophone; Ryan Kisor: trumpet; Luis Perdomo: piano; Gregory Hutchinson: drums.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Affinity Jazz Trio

The Affinity Jazz Trio
Serge Frasunkiewicz - Piano
Antoine Espagno - Bass
Enrico Carinci - Drums

This a great jazz trio from Brasilia/Brasil, an all-european ensemble that makes true Jazz in South America. They played at Banco do Brasil-Shopping Iguatemi for 1h30min, 12 songs among originals, Miles Davis, João Donato, Thelonious Monk, plus great standards, the place was not the best for this well played trio, but  for me JAZZ can played anywhere, and can attract more people to the Jazz world.
 Any contact with de band by e-mail: 

Thursday, October 06, 2011

I Know What You Did Last Summer and .....

.... don’t try to do it again!
by Claudio Botelho

"I Musici" 1595-1596 Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio 1571-1610) 

A long time ago, prior to the development of photographic cameras, painters strived to capture people and landscapes on their canvas. The more their works resembled reality, the more their paintings were valued. So, the world came to know some fantastic pictures, and giants like Caravaggio; Da Vinci; Michelangelo; Domenico Ghirlandaio; Hugo van der Goes; Giotto; Raphael; Ucello; Tintoretto; Tadeo Gaddi; Massaccio, etc., each one, in his own time, brought the outside world to the innards of castles, palaces, churches, cathedrals and, obviously, the properties of those who loved art and could afford having such masterpieces.
There were assortments of religious scenes, many of which resulting from the interpretation of the bible as done by each painter and these remain, to these days, untouched in their communication values, as they were the materialization of the imagination of each artist: no one knows if and how those painted representations occurred. The feeling of the painter and his spatial thinking were unique and, thought his skill, were transfigured into something tangible so others could share… Thus, this kind of visual impression remains and most probably will be the only one we’ll ever have, aside from the sterile world (by comparison) of graphic computing.
Concerning all others more “palpable” subjects, for quite some time now, entered Rolleyflexes, Hasselblads, Canons, Nikons et al, which, outdone all those artists by crude and truly exposing, on their canvas, the reality, no matter how complex, with perfect perspective, illumination, color and shade contrasts, just as they happen in nature.
Then, figurative art, as a handcrafted subject, had to reinvent itself and, so, came what could be generally called “abstractionism” which qualifies the result of the personal feelings of the painter added to his representation of reality: a kind of “jazzy”way to paint. From then on, came Picasso, Miró, Dali and a plethora of others which, through several grades of “distortions”, made it possible to classify their works accordingly. Thus, these artists were out of the reach of that competition and (most enticing) could not be ruled, for the simple reason there weren’t any to be followed. One could love an upside down painting, as much as could hate another positioned as intended by its author.
By this token, consensus would be much more difficult in qualifying any art work and, most certainly, other ingredients would count; some of them strange to the matter and others just intangible entities with their intrinsic difficulties to be explained to others.
It is now certainly easier to take a child work as something done by a master painter. Easier still, to transform a so-so artist into a grandmaster. In the past, nobody would take for granted an effort of someone just initiated in the art of painting for something Caravaggio would have done; unless if performed in his early art days…
The absolute absence of leading rules in this new form of expression; the nonexistence of guidelines to follow have, naturally, given birth to disparate judgments, as, likewise, there’s no path to be followed or, otherwise, unlimited ways to go. Thus, here, zero equals to infinite.
Can jazz be taken as so free an art as to follow no rules at all? Can it be done as just a vehicle to self fulfillment, irrespective of the judgment of its listeners? Is it acceptable to listen to a solo, in the middle of a performance, which has nothing to do with what came before, as happens so much? A kind of solo which could be transposed to any other song with the same (or lack of) effects?
In my opinion, we’ve been listening to so many “musical masturbations” from musicians who don’t even care to take a previous look at the charters before getting into action. The portability of certain music instruments makes it even easier…
A Jam session is a jam session; an instant art into that instant art called jazz: two or more colleagues meet and start playing and defying themselves… But, when you get into a studio to record something to be listened forever, you must think twice. Surely, I’m not the one to establish any limits whatsoever, but some limit must exist if the artist intends to communicate with his listeners.
His solo for “Laura”must have some connection with her. It may be as thin as he likes, but a certain linkage must exist. Otherwise, as I said before, one can take it from her and gracefully gives it to ”Maria”, or “Bess”, or “Delilah”, with no side effects.
The venerable Willis Conover, by the sixties, once said: “This is a program of American music; some partly planned; some partly spontaneous”. Of course he was speaking about jazz, when introducing a live presentation of a jazz group. Spontaneity taken to the infinite can be too much of a good thing. Even in jazz… One may feel faked and abandon the experience.
I’m not here, as I layman that I am, to proclaim abstractionists as art fakers, but don’t fool me: I know what you did yesterday with Laura. Please, don’t do the same thing with Delilah, today! Or else, you can teach us to listen!...