Monday, January 09, 2012

1 Sem 2012 - Part Three

Peter Erskine New Trio
Joy Luck

By Carlo Wolff at JazzTimes
Texture is all on Joy Luck, a fine recording that introduces the versatile Vardan Ovsepian on keyboards and arrangements. Buttressed by Erskine’s nephew Damian on bass, this set sparkles, shimmers, provokes and delights.
Each of the 11 tracks tells a story or at least implies one. Take the brooding “Dr. Kildare,” a Jerry Goldsmith tune that unfolds in stately fashion with Ovsepian at his most magisterial and Erskine at his bluesiest: Ovsepian weaves a mutable improvisation as Erskine fills, then drops back, and then takes over. Simultaneously relaxing and stimulating, this is music as conversation.
While Erskine originals dominate, the choice of covers is judicious. Vince Mendoza’s “Esperança” gets a jaunty, martial treatment sparked by Ovsepian’s insidious synth and Erskine’s rimshots. Erskine plays resonant, sultry marimba on Bob James’ aptly titled “Iridescence,” and his brushwork, in sync with Ovsepian’s sturdy, dappled piano, brings fresh gravity to Frank Loesser’s “I’ve Never Been in Love Before.” Ovsepian’s “Every Tomorrow,” highlighted by Damian Erskine’s plummy bass, is a stunning showcase for a prodigious technique and a faintly mathematical harmonic sensibility. Ovsepian is one to watch, as is the younger Erskine, whose bittersweet “Song for Zoey” caps this subtle, thoughtful disc.

Niño Josele

by Michael G. Nastos
You would be hard pressed to find another recording where a flamenco guitarist interprets the music of Bill Evans. This one has Nino Josele playing select pieces performed and beloved by the modern jazz piano icon, and in three instances composed by him. A variety of settings are used, from solo acoustic guitar, some duo and vocal efforts, guitar-bass-drums, and a few guest cameos. The sound of Josele through Evans is thoughtful, introspective, facile, understated and romantic. Dynamics are shaded with a sweet restraint aside confidence in doing the music justice. The CD opens with the perfect prologue, the Evans overture "Peace Piece," as delicate and pristine a composition as anyone has ever written, played perfectly. Then the pace quickens as Josele and his trio kick up "Waltz for Debby," at first in typical 3/4 time, then in a higher 4/4 gear. The third Evans evergreen "Turn out the Stars" is more typically in flamenco style apart from all the other selections, again with the trio. There are six standards, the highlights being solo guitar samplings of "When I Fall in Love" and a multitude of distinct Spanish styles showcased during "The Dolphin," Jimmy Rowles ballad "The Peacocks" accented by Joe Lovano's piquant tenor sax, and Tom Harrell's trumpet playing an extrapolated melody on the second time repeat during "My Foolish Heart." "Hullo Bolinas" of Steve Swallow may be the unexpected choice of the recording, another slow ballad (of many) done with guitar and Marc Johnson's bass only. Also unexpected but less effective is Freddy Cole's reading of Paul Simon's "I Do It for Your Love." As a whole this project is well paced and placed, executed with plenty of soul, and should prove a discovery for those not familiar with Josele's excellent musicianship.

Eric Reed
Something Beautiful

by Ken Dryden
In a world where so many young jazz artists feel the need to feature programs consisting exclusively of originals on their debut recordings as leaders, it is refreshing to hear a veteran like pianist Eric Reed, who plays a wide range of forgotten gems, some standards, and jazz favorites along with inventive renditions of songs from gospel, pop, and his own compositions. Accompanied by bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Rodney Green, Reed kicks off Something Beautiful with a subtle yet strutting exploration of Lucky Thompson's "Sun Out," followed by a driving setting of Dave Brubeck's timeless gem "In Your Own Sweet Way," complemented by Rogers' tasty bass and Green's sensitive percussion. The sole standard of the date is "How Deep Is the Ocean?," yet Reed gives it a fresh look by improvising his way into it rather than stating the melody outright, offering a gently swinging performance. Reed's deep gospel roots are evident in his celebratory treatment of "Lift Up Your Hands to the Lord," while his deliberate arrangement of rocker Billy Joel's ballad "Honesty" almost gives it the feeling that it could be played as an offertory solo. Reed's originals are just as potent, including the infectious midtempo cooker "Something Beautiful" and the lush romantic ballad "If I Knew You." Eric Reed's Something Beautiful showcases a seasoned artist who is very much at the top of his game.

Ted Rosenthal Trio
Out Of This World

By Edward Blanco
Borrowing from The Great American Songbook is a standard practice for many jazz artists, who include one or more pieces when rounding out a repertoire of primarily new material. Not so for pianist Ted Rosenthal, whose affinity for music from the Songbook is reflected on at least two previous recordings, Rosenthology(Concord Jazz, 1994) and One Night in Vermont (Planet Arts, 2003), focusing on music from Irving Berlin, Jimmy Van Heusen, Tadd Dameron and Matt Dennis. On Out of This World, Rosenthal takes his featured trio of bassist Noriko Ueda and drummer Quincy Davis on another musical journey, revisiting the classics.
Presenting ten time-honored and oft-recorded songs in a refreshing new manner is a challenge Rosenthal's trio meets rather convincingly. Whether re-harmonizing a tune or inserting an odd-meter arrangement, the pianist explores and stretches the limits in providing new interpretations of ageless contributions from Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers,George Gershwin and Harold Arlen, among others.
Rosenthal's 9/8 rearrangement of Arlen's title track features strong bass work, and includes a few bars reminiscent of Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a la Turk." Porter's "So In Love" gets such an overhaul from the pianist that the melody is hard to distinguish, turning this old tune almost new. The trio swings to a swift-tempo rendition of "Have You Met Miss Jones" providing Rosenthal a format to show off a bit of his more than appreciable talents. In stark contrast, the group ventures into dark and somber territory on Gershwin's long and bluesy "Prelude # 2."
The music flows warm and gentle on Billy Strayhorn's "Lotus Blossom," "How Long Has This Been Going On" and the familiar "In the Wee Hours of The Morning." The brisk swinging approach is covered on the sharp "People Will Say We're In Love," "Embraceable You" and the brief but charging "Cry Me a River." Performing music that is every bit as part of American culture and musical history, Ted Rosenthal and crew stay very earthbound here, crafting cleaver and inventive new reads to beautiful old tunes that are truly Out of This World.
Track Listing
Out of This World; So In Love; Have You Met Miss Jones; Prelude #2; Embraceable You; People Will Say We're In Love; Lotus Blossom; How Long Has This Been Going On; Cry Me A River; In The Wee Hours of The Morning.
Ted Rosenthal: piano; Noriko Ueda: bass; Quincy Davis: drums.

Craig Taborn
Avenging Angel - Piano Solo

by Thom Jurek
For fans of Craig Taborn's electronics-oriented recorded work or for those who prefer his early trio records or his sideman appearances with James Carter, a solo acoustic piano recording on ECM might come as a bit of a surprise, but it shouldn't. Taborn's been playing solo shows for over a decade -- most of them improvised -- and it's that part of his musical character that displays itself on Avenging Angel. Taborn has always been interested in the language of the instrument itself, the possibilities of its tonalities, spaces, textures, echoes, etc. The 13 pieces here, recorded on a gorgeous Steinway piano in Lugano, Switzerland, elaborate magnificently on all of those notions and more, without sounding overly ponderous or studied. These pieces range widely; each has its own motivation, form, frame, and intention; each arrives at a different destination. "The Broad Day King" begins with quiet, even delicate high-register notes that resemble wind chimes in a gentle breeze, and is colored as it evolves by descending chord patterns with deliberate spatial elements to delineate them from that intro while extending its memory. The title track commences with mildly dissonant two- and three-note chords in the lower-middle register, playing a pulsing if syncopated rhythm as the right hand adds accents and contrapuntal voicings to create the appearance of a dual melody, though only one eventually emerges. "Gift Horse/Over the Water" asserts a series of scalar studies before dynamically raising its head and using jagged chords to move from one half of the tune to the other. "Spirit Hard Knock" commences by using sharply angled single-note improvisation before assembling a dreamy series of lyric phrases. Taborn's use of the instrument itself is quite physical: at times he plays ppp (where restrained force is employed to push on the key just enough to get a sound), while other notes or short segments employ Sforzando. The elliptical nature of "Forgetful" is the set's most beautiful and elliptical number, emerging from the ghostly trace of a lyric melody into a fully realized spherical one; despite its dynamic changes -- which are gradual -- it never surrenders its deliberate spaciousness where sound itself -- the moments after single keys or chords are struck -- lingers and holds momentarily, before others replace them. Avenging Angel is not an intellectual exercise, it is a major contribution to the actual language of the piano as an improvisational instrument: its 13 pieces feel like a suite: seamless, economical, original, and visionary. 

Chick Corea & Stefano Bollani

by William Ruhlmann
Chick Corea and Stefano Bollani's Orvieto (named after the Italian city in which it was recorded) finds the two pianists, an American who is pushing 70 and an Italian in his late 30s, paired at a duo acoustic piano concert from December 2010. The set consists of tunes alternated from each of the player's repertoires, but only the selections were agreed upon in advance; otherwise, the two are winging it. Naturally, Corea takes the lead on his numbers and Bollani on his, making it easy to tell the difference between them, even if their playing styles were not sufficiently distinct. The opening with the mutually composed-on-the-spot "Orvieto Improvisation No. 1" suggests a more esoteric effort than the concert as a whole turns out to be, as Corea and Bollani feel each other out with dissonant chords in a modern classical manner, before the piece develops rhythmically and comes together. The track gives way to Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Retrato em Branco e Preto," Bollani's first showcase (fans will recall that he recorded an entire album of Jobim music, Falando de Amor), which demonstrates the Italian's sometimes florid, always emotional, and highly melodic playing style. Here and elsewhere, Bollani demonstrates a pretty, lyrical, and showy approach, including cascading runs, as Corea supports him with rhythmic chording. The older player demonstrates his technical ability starting with a take on the standard "If I Should Lose You," taking fast, bright, single-note runs. And so it goes, as Bollani actually proves the more traditional of the two, Corea recalling his bop roots, particularly when the duo's second improvisation gives way to Miles Davis' "Nardis," a tune associated with Bill Evans (a player to whom Corea has devoted an entire album). Although Corea is often figuratively as well as literally on Bollani's home turf, providing support on Bollani originals and another Jobim selection, the show closes with a strong reading of Corea's "Armando's Rhumba" before the enthusiastic crowd brings the pianists back to make up a "Blues in F." And thus the veteran of Hispanic heritage and the younger Italian mix their Southern European flavors on one of the building blocks of American jazz, making for a heady musical concoction that confirms the talents of both.

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