Sunday, January 22, 2012

1 Sem 2012 - Part Four

Herb Alpert & Lani Hall
I Feel You

Cover (I Feel You:Herb Alpert)

by Thom Jurek
Trumpeter Herb Alpert and vocalist and wife Lani Hall teamed as a duo for the critically acclaimed live recording Anything Goes in 2009. I Feel You is the studio follow-up to that fine recording, and the contrasts between the two are marked. While the former album reflected new takes on the jazz canon, this one delves into rock, pop, jazz, and Brazilian tunes and interprets them with a contemporary international feel, without leaving jazz behind. Backed by their touring group -- pianist/keyboardist Bill Cantos, drummer/percussionist Michael Shapiro, and bassist Hussain Jiffry -- Alpert and Hall commence with a reading of Van Morrison's "Moondance" that is as influenced by Arabic modalism as it is the nocturnal bop-noir inherent in its melody. Led by a fretless bassline and shakers, Alpert runs through the lyric on muted trumpet. The pair begins singing together, over a minute in as the piano enters the fray and shakers are complemented by hand drums. "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" is a showcase for Hall's trademark phrasing and Alpert's jazz-wise improvisation on a Caribbean-based rhythm. It's languid, lovely, and, in its gentle way, it pops thanks to the rhythm section. Other highlights here include the Brazilian-flavored tunes: "There Will Never Be Another You" (even with Alpert's reedy vocals), "Berimbau," "The Corner (Clube' de Esquina)," and "Viola." Hall's vocals -- which are still in top form -- and Alpert's playing complement one another symbiotically (especially on the latter tune). The reading of "Here Comes the Sun" is radical. It's double-timed by Shapiro's snare and painted by Cantos' Rhodes piano with an alternate melody played by Jiffry's electric bass while Alpert and Hall hold down the original melody (trumpet and vocal) in the quiet storm. Likewise, "Blackbird" is performed as a funky modern jazz number with smooth samba overtones. The African drumming on "What Now My Love," with Alpert's clipped (and slightly reverbed) phrasing on the melody transforms the tune. The reading of "Call Me" (which he produced for Chris Montez in 1965) is reinvented here as a lithe, syncopated romantic groover. Less successful is "Fever," because its center isn't in the vocal or trumpet but in the rhythm section's interplay. That quibble aside, I Feel You is an excellent contemporary jazz recording by a veteran duo whose intuition is nearly flawless.

Alex Pangman

Cover (33:Alex Pangman)

by Justin Time Rec
In Alex's own words, "as a longtime devotee of music from the classic genre I find something of a kinship with the music that buoyed nations through the "dirty thirties"... The initial concept of this record was to honor that kind of spirit with songs popular in 1933, recorded while I was 33." Along with her longtime band the 'Alleycats' - the music is presented with all the love, fun and respect it deserves. The late, great Jeff Healey (who produced her first two recordings) called Alex "the greatest current exponent of the classic American Song." Pangman makes music of the past captivatingly present with her persuasive and infectious charm.

Claire Martin
A Modern Art

Cover (A Modern Art:Claire Martin)

By Bruce Lindsay
Is jazz still a modern art? It's a hundred years old, after all, and some performers and fans seem to ignore everything written after 1940. But as far as the work of Claire Martin is concerned the question has only one answer. Apart from being one of the finest singers on the current scene, Martin is constantly searching for new writers and new ways to interpret them, ensuring that her own approach to music stays resolutely in the present. A Modern Art, her thrteenth album, is an eclectic recording that showcases her talents and those of a superb collection of backing musicians—it's possibly the best album of her career to date, which is saying something.
The musicians are some of the best around and all play with skill and empathy. Mark Nightingale's trombone adds a funky edge to the album, guitarist Phil Robson once again displays his ability as an accompanist—his duet with Martin on David Cantor's "Nirvana" is exquisite—and long-term collaborator, arranger and producer Laurence Cottle, who also plays bass, is recognizably crucial to the overall feel of these songs.
Martin's singing is exceptional—distinctive, expressive and stylish. She can be smoky and sensual—on Michael Franks' "Sunday Morning Here With You," for example—or playful and funny. On "Edge Ways," written by Martin and Cottle, the singer is sensual and playful—satirizing an egotistical and overly-talkative old friend or rival over a suitably upbeat and cheery backing. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker's "Things I Miss the Most" is given a Latin groove which, added to Martin's light-hearted vocal, gives the song a warmer, more positive feel than the original. Martin is not averse to making a small lyrical adjustment here—she goes to bed with a copy of a celebrity gossip magazine, rather than the more dubious literature favored by the protagonist in the Steely Dan version.
The album highlight is undoubtedly "Love is Real." This is a gorgeous ballad, co-written by pianist Esbjörn Svensson, bassist Dan Berglund and drummer Magnus Öström (collectively known as e.s.t.), with lyrics by bassist Charlie Haden's son, Josh. Svensson died in a diving accident in 2008 and Martin sings this as a tribute to the pianist. Her vocal performance is heartbreaking, adding even more emotional intensity to an already powerful song. This is a song that stays in the memory. Given the quality of the album as a whole this is high praise indeed—A Modern Art is a gem.
Track Listing:
Everything I've Got Belongs to You; So Twentieth Century; Love is Real; Lowercase; A Modern Art; Edge Ways; Love of Another; Totally; Everybody Today is Turning On; Sunday Morning Here With You; Promises; Things I Miss the Most; As We Live and Breathe; Nirvana.
Claire Martin: vocals; Gareth Williams: piano; Laurence Cottle: bass; Nigel Hitchcock: alto sax; Mark Nightingale: trombone; Phil Robson: guitar; James Maddren: drums; Chris Dagley: drums; Sola Akingbola: percussion.

Holli Ross
You´ll See

Cover (You'll See:Holli Ross)

by Chris Nickson
She may not be a household name in jazz, but New York native Holli Ross has been around quite a while, mostly as a member of the vocal trio String of Pearls. That might change with this exceptional solo release, which sees her singing in fine style on a range of jazz standards, classy pop music, and some originals. Her slow, gorgeous take on Laura Nyro's "Wedding Bell Blues" kicks things off, taking the jaunty song into new territory. She injects a certain sexuality into "Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me," and goes lightly Brazilian on her own "Forty Three After." Accompanied by a small group, with pianist Ted Rosenthal a standout, she's perfectly capable of casting a melodic and rhythmic spell, and is an excellent scat singer in the Ella Fitzgerald tradition. "If I Only Had a Heart" recasts the standard with an ache of loneliness, while "Tricotism" offers the best vehicle for her wordless vocal talents, something that really does help her stand apart from the pack. Ross arrives as a fully mature, complete solo artist, and one who deserves success for the depth of her talent.

Veronica Nunn
Standard Delivery

Cover (Standard Delivery:Veronica Nunn)

By Christopher Loudon at JazzTimes
Though Standard Delivery is only Arkansan Veronica Nunn’s second album as a leader, she has been working steadily with the disc’s trio of intelligent players—pianist Travis Shook (who is also Nunn’s husband), drummer Jaz Sawyer and bassist Jennifer Vincent—since 1993, and the tightness that only time and mutual respect can achieve shows on all 13 tracks. Plumbing the standards catalog, Nunn sticks to the tried-and-true with such oft-recorded chestnuts as “Surrey With the Fringe on Top,” “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love,” “That’s All,” “More Than You Know” and such.
But Nunn, whose warm, slightly husky sound sometimes suggests the overt seductiveness of Marilyn Monroe (most notably on her mink-lined “If I Had You”), other times hint at the breathy coziness of Julie London, yet also echoes the crystalline purity of Dianne Reeves, can make the stale sound fresh, the familiar sound arresting. Particularly enticing are her “I’m Old Fashioned,” cheery as a country fair, a percolating, bongo-driven “Thou Swell” that, for the first time in ages, makes that tired Rodgers and Hart tune appealing and, on another dip into the Rodgers and Hart songbook, a satiny “Where or When” that oozes with pent-up desire.

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