Sunday, February 26, 2012

Gadi Lehavi Trio with Ravi Coltrane - Fortaleza/CE-Brasil

By Dr.Marcilio Adjafre,M.D.
Closing the Jazz & Blues Festival, the musicians down Guaramiranga hill to do a kind of
encore at Fortaleza. Friday night, 02/24, I saw the concert of the Israel born musician
Gadi Lehavi’s trio and his guest, Ravi Coltrane. What a wonderful concert!
The young pianist(only fifteen years old) accompanied by Max Oleartchik on bass and Itay
Morchi on drums, started playing on a brazilian piano Chateaubriand made by Pianoforte Pernambucano, two original compositions. Initially nervous and shy, the pianist grew up on Giant Steps, with Ravi Coltrane on tenor sax, both supported by the great bassist Oleartchik. After, they played Con Alma and Footprints, Gadi played again some others own compositions. With a very good interaction, Gadi and Ravi gifted
Fortaleza, a city knowed by a kind of music called Forró, with a high level jazz. The silence
and respect of the audience was a proof of this.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ellis Marsalis,Jr. - A True Jazz Musician !

By Leonardo Barroso
Ellis Marsalis, Jr. is, for me, one of the best Jazz musicians I ever heard. The first time I heard him was on Wynton's "Standard Time, Vol.3". Why did Wynton put his father playing ? The record has 21 tracks and for that reason, short in each song playing, my thoughts on the album were of a nice work, but couldn't have a opinion on the piano player.
Not long after, Mr.Bob(JazzGuru) Barroso, played an album of a piano trio. I loved it !!!! Beautiful melodies and top playing of that Trio ! Who is the pianist ? Ellis Marsalis ?! That's not possible ! I just heard Wynton's and didn't hear any of this wonderful playing I was witnessing.
Ellis Marsalis Trio (Blue Note) is since then one of my TOP 10 Desert-Island Record:
Well, that's how my passion for Ellis music began.
All of his recordings, comes with the majesty of his playing.
Since the death of Bill Evans, I've been looking for the next great pianist. Musicians like Enrico Pieranunzi, Fred Hersch and Steve Kuhn are on my Top-High Eargasm Level.
Ellis earned his place on my Top-High Eargasm Level !
This jazz pianist, educator, professor, and father is a TRUE JAZZ MUSICIAN !

Born November 14, 1934 in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.
Son of  Ellis Marsalis, Sr., and Florence.
Marsalis and his wife Delores Ferdinand have six sons:
Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis III , Delfeayo Marsalis, Mboya Kinyatta Marsalis
and Jason Marsalis.


Wynton Marsalis & Ellis Marsalis
Standard Time, Vol. 3: The Resolution of Romance

Cover (Standard Time, Vol. 3: The Resolution of Romance:Wynton Marsalis)

by Scott Yanow
On the third of his three standards albums, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis meets up with his father, pianist Ellis Marsalis (along with bassist Reginald Veal and drummer Herlin Riley), for 17 standards and three of his originals (including "In the Court of King Oliver"). Wynton, perhaps because of his father's presence, is very respectful of the melodies, sometimes overly so. The result is that this set is not as adventurous as one would like although Marsalis's beautiful tone makes the music worth hearing. 

Ellis Marsalis

By Lousiana Music
The CD reissue of the 1983 LP of the same title with six alternate takes included. This is classic Ellis Marsalis with the great and under-recorded James Black on drums. In the late 70's and early 80's James would inspire Ellis in remarkable sets all over town. This recording is proof of that. When it was released in 83 it received a five star rating from Down Beat magazine. Recommended.
Ellis Marsalis - piano
Bill Huntington - acoustic bass
James Black - drums
Guest Artist - Kent Jordan

Ellis Marsalis
Piano In E - Solo Piano

Cover (Piano in E-Solo Piano:Ellis Marsalis)

by Ron Wynn
Ellis Marsalis got his time in the spotlight with this fine solo piano session. His mix of swing, Afro-Latin, classical, and bebop was spotlighted on superbly crafted versions of Horace Silver's "Nica's Dream" and John Lewis' "Django," as well as Bud Powell's "Hallucinations" and Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz." Marsalis' own originals, "Fourth Autumn" and "Zee Blues," were also expertly written, with charming melodies and smooth, relaxed, yet impressive solos. While he'll probably never get as much publicity as sons Wynton and Branford, Ellis Marsalis certainly deserves high praise for his formidable piano skills. 

Ellis Marsalis 
Ellis Marsalis Trio

Cover (Ellis Marsalis Trio:Ellis Marsalis Trio)

by Scott Yanow
Pianist Ellis Marsalis is in excellent form for this trio outing with bassist Bob Hurst and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts. The performances fall generally into the medium-tempo range, with Ellis scattering some witty song quotes throughout the lightly swinging renditions. The high points include one of the more delightful versions ever of Johnny Mandel's "Emily," some close interplay during "Little Niles" and a tongue-in-cheek version of "Limehouse Blues" that includes slapped bass, parade rhythms and Marsalis trying in vain to sound Dixielandish. One programming error should be noted: there is no such song as "Just Squeeze Me" and, rather than the one performed being Fats Waller's "Squeeze Me," it is actually Duke Ellington's "Squeeze Me, But Please Don't Tease Me."

Ellis Marsalis
Heart Of Gold

Cover (Heart of Gold:Ellis Marsalis)

by Scott Yanow
Pianist Ellis Marsalis, despite his connections to Ornette Coleman in the 1950s and his home base being New Orleans, is actually at his best when playing lightly swinging bop in a standard trio. Although he spent a period of time as Al Hirt's pianist, his renditions on this CD of such traditional numbers as "Dr. Jazz," "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and "Sweet Georgia Brown" contain no stride or trad elements. Instead the enjoyable set (which also features Ray Brown or Reginald Veal on bass and either Billy Higgins or Herlin Riley on drums) often displays the influence of Wynton Kelly and players of his generation. As a footnote, "This Can't Be Love" is the recording debut of 14-year-old drummer Jason Marsalis.

Ellis Marsalis
Whistle Stop

  Cover (Whistle Stop:Ellis Marsalis)

by Scott Yanow
For this CD, veteran pianist Ellis Marsalis performs songs composed by some of the top modern New Orleans players of the 1960s, including drummer James Black, tenor saxophonist Nat Perrilliat, clarinetist Alvin Batiste, saxophonist Harold Battiste, and himself. With the exception of Alvin Batiste's tunes (based on "Cherokee" and a Dixieland-ish blues), the originals have strong melodies, slightly tricky chord structures, and sound quite fresh. Marsalis utilizes his son, Branford, on tenor and soprano; bassist Robert Hurst; and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts; the young Jason Marsalis sits in on drums during two numbers. Ellis Marsalis is in particularly inventive form on this unusually obscure material. 

Ellis Marsalis & Branford Marsalis
Loved Ones

Cover (Loved Ones:Ellis Marsalis)

by Scott Yanow
On Loved Ones, a set of music on which each of the 14 selections include a woman's name in its title, Ellis Marsalis takes five piano solos and has nine duets with his son Branford Marsalis. With the exception of a brief cooking rendition of "Liza," all of the performances are taken at a relaxed and sometimes quite slow tempo. Ellis Marsalis mostly lets the melodies breathe, infusing them with his own personality (the reworking of "Stella by Starlight" is quite intriguing) and often giving the songs somber interpretations. One wishes that there was more variations in tempos and moods. Branford Marsalis' appearances on soprano and tenor are always an asset, sometimes livening up the selections although mostly playing a subsidiary role to his father. The overall results are pleasing and thoughtful if not quite essential.

The Ellis Marsalis Trio
Twelve's It

  Cover (Twelve's It:Ellis Marsalis)

by Tim Sheridan
A combination of live studio tracks, this effort is especially fine because the mood and spirit of the music is so consistent. The disc also features the talents of yet another gifted Marsalis: Jason on drums and album production. 

Ellis Marsalis
Duke In Blue

Cover (Duke in Blue:Ellis Marsalis)

by Scott Yanow
Recorded during Duke Ellington's centennial year, this solo piano date by Ellis Marsalis is a tasteful tribute to Ellington. Marsalis expertly performs 15 songs from Duke's repertoire (including three tunes in a medley), sometimes modernizing the chords but always keeping the melody close by. The problem with the recital from the listener's standpoint is that the results are mostly very predictable and contain no real surprises. Marsalis' theme variations do not wander far from the melody, his treatments are conventional, and most of the songs are familiar warhorses. So although successful as background music or as an introduction to some of Ellington's most popular melodies, jazz listeners wanting more adventure and chance-taking may be a little disappointed by the safeness of it all.

Ellis Marsalis
Ruminations In New York

Cover (Ruminations in New York:Ellis Marsalis)

By Robert R. Calder
Published: May 10, 2005
This nice, rather than exciting, solo piano set pays tribute, consciously or not, to the late John Lewis's last campaign: on behalf of the Great American Songbook ballads which Lewis insisted were, with the blues, the foundation of jazz since the 1920s. Inspired no doubt by years creating his own melodic lines on Kern, Arlen & Co's tunes, Marsalis here produces several of his own on the old template, doing some classic things with them.
His opener has a nice tension between friskiness and the caressingly lyrical phrasing to which the number which follows is given over. Its development of inner voicings makes it sound like something Thad Jones wrote, but as in the majority of tunes here, there's a singable melody.
Stylistic interest lies in the eschewal of influences normally overworked and associated with such names as Evans, Jarrett, and Tyner. By way of innovation, Marsalis (b. 1934) avoids the danger of de rigueur mannered monotony; he deploys a deft left hand doing flexible swinging things better than they were done when the general style of this set's music was the latest thing.
Hear his support for the long Bud Powell-ish lines of "Haven's Paradise." "After" opens with a harmonisation surely indebted to Monk, but the ballad improvisation which follows isn't Monkish. "Tell Me" is more overt bop, an oblique take on "I Got Rhythm" with a very active bass line which walks and also sidesteps. "Orchid Blue" has a harmonic atmosphere from Gershwin or Ellington (Porgy meets Sophisticated Lady). "Happiness is the Thing" has a pacier opening, spring(ing) fresh, and a frisky ending. "When First We Met" so cries out for a lyric that it's delivered for the most part in a yet older ballad style, where the tune was modified without many alterations, but always tellingly, pretty well vocally.
When the attraction new players find in older bop has become a live topic, it's even nicer to hear a veteran play this music of pretty well his boyhood, relaxed even more than restrained, making a lovely sound on the piano and finally saying how good he feels in the encore-like "Zee Blues": a laughing walking bass all the way to the playful way he finds of ending.
This set was recorded two years back in New York. The insert notes are strictly a resumé of the pianist's resume, leaving little doubt about why he sounds so rejuvenated and relaxed in retirement after all those teaching jobs and routine gigs and raising all those sons.
Track Listing: 

1.Things That You Never Were, 3.49, 2. A Moment Alone, 4:45; 3. Haven's Paradise, 4:06; 4. Homecoming, 4:42; 5. After, 4:25; 6. Tell Me, 3:34; 7. Somehow, 4:30; 8. Orchid Blue, 4:12; 9. Happiness is the Thing, 3:40; 10. Chapter One, 4:06; 11. When First We Met, 5:06; 12. Zee Blues, 2:14
Personnel: Ellis Marsalis, solo piano

Ellis Marsalis Quartet
An Open Letter To Thelonious

Cover (An Open Letter to Thelonious:Ellis Marsalis Quartet)

By C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 21, 2008
Thelonious Monk is jazz's biggest enigma. Called the "high priest of bebop," the jazz Monk composed and performed was anything but. Technically, Monk's time and tempo were impressive, but he was no dazzling speed wizard like Bud Powell or arpeggio painter like Art Tatum. He didn't compose bebop, but bebop leaders recorded his compositions. What Monk was...was Monk. He was the singular jazz spirit that makes jazz jazz and his songbook the richest in the music.
Monk's compositions, all of them, have entered the vernacular as jazz standards, those songs specifically composed for jazz as opposed to a Tin Pan Alley show tune adapted to jazz. His music is discordant, often difficult, all angles and sharp dissonant edges and rhythms and tempos, and often sounding as if they were composed by a committee on conference call. That is until the listener has invested the time necessary to reach that cognitive threshold beyond which Monk makes perfect sense.
Gratefully, there is plenty of Monk on record, because nothing replaces the authentic article. Yet, having said that, it is a true pleasure to hear a Monk-inspired recital like Ellis Marsalis' An Open Letter to Thelonious. The pianist skillfully straightens out all of the Monkian crags and jetties without eliminating the Monkian genius. Marsalis employs a saxophone quartet like the composer himself; employing son Jason on drums (just check out the New Orleans march on "Jackie-ing").
Marsalis and saxophonist Derek Doughet share a telepathic empathy that infuses the entire group building a synergistically cohesive performance unit. The band fully unites on "Epistrophy" and "Straight, No Chaser," fully integrating their individual talents with the composer's genius. Marsalis' playing is elegant and large. His solo "'Round Midnight" is worth the whole price of the disc. An Open Letter to Thelonious is the most fully integrated focus on Monk on record, taking its place alongside son Wynton's fine Marsalis Plays Monk: Standard Time Volume 4.
Track Listing:
Crepescule With Nellie; Jackie-ing; Epistrophy; Monk's Mood; Straight, No Chaser; Light Blue; Teo; Ruby, My Dear; Rhythm-a-ning; Round Midnight; Evidence.
Derek Douget: saxophone; Ellis Marsalis: piano; Jason Stewart: bass instrument; Jason Marsalis: drums.

Ellis Marsalis
A New Orleans Christmas Carol

Cover (A New Orleans Christmas Carol:Ellis Marsalis)

By Dan Bilawsky
Christmas music doesn't usually come into stores, radios and homes until Thanksgiving time but, in a year when snow covered the East Coast before Halloween, early arrivals seem to be the norm. Guitarist Doug Munro delivered a Django Reinhardt-styled set of holiday classics on A Very Gypsy Christmas (GotMusic, 2011) in September; pianist Geri Allen tackled songs of the season on A Child Is Born, which hit stores around Columbus Day; and now, 2011 NEA Jazz Master Ellis Marsalis joins the group with A New Orleans Christmas Carol.
The elder statesmen of the best known family working in jazz today tackles a long list of timeless tunes in various configurations, from solo piano to quartet, and the resultant music is a display of pure pleasure and beauty. While the title of the album might lead some to believe that NOLA-slanted arrangements are plentiful, with second line grooves or Meters-style funk forthcoming, that's not the case. Marsalis merely uses the name of this collection to indicate from whence this wonderful music came.
In some places, Marsalis' playing simply evokes imagery of a family surrounding the piano to soak in the warm and tender sounds of the season on Christmas Eve ("Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"), but the majority of this music swings, sways and/or soothes in seemingly effortless fashion. Solos are succinct and stylish, and the arrangements are classy and charming.
Particularly notable performances include a trio take on Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride," a warm interpretation of Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown-associated "Christmas Time Is Here," which features some fine vibraphone work from Jason Marsalis, and a rendition of "We Three Kings" that's built in the image of McCoy Tyner. "Christmas Joy," which features vocalist Johnaye Kendrick, is the better of the two vocal numbers on the record, but Cynthia Liggins Thomas' vocal performance on Thad Jones' "A Child Is Born" is far from second rate.
Each holiday season welcomes a new batch of Christmas-themed CDs, but far too many of them are ill-advised efforts to simply cash in on the spirit of the times. While it can be assumed that Marsalis would like to sell his music as much as the next person, A New Orleans Christmas Carol doesn't seem to have been made with that goal in mind. This is heartfelt music of merit.
Track Listing:
O Tannenbaum; The Little Drummer Boy; We Three Kings; A Child Is Born; God Rest You Merry, Gentleman; It Came Upon A Midnight Clear; O Holy Night; Winter Wonderland; Christmas Time Is Here; Silent Night; O Little Town Of Bethlehem; Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas; Christmas Joy; Sleigh Ride; Greensleeves; The Christmas Song; We Wish You A Merry Christmas; Winter Wonderland (Remix); Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; The Little Drummer Boy.
Ellis Marsalis: piano; Bill Huntington: bass; Peter Harris: bass (13, 14, 18); Jason Marsalis: drums, percussion, vibraphone (7, 9, 17, 19); Roman Skakun: vibraphone (3, 6, 11, 15); Cynthia Liggins Thomas (4): vocals; Johnaye Kendrick: vocals (13).

Friday, February 24, 2012

I Hate Double CD's ( and Nostalgia )

By Claudio Botelho
I really hate them. But, from time to time, I come across one when, without hesitation, I find listenable from start to finish. As a rule, CD1 differs from CD2, being one much worse than the other: too much blank space to be filled and this asks for much inspiration. Well, we don’t find inspiration stored in grocery stores… (Just a brief digression: the double vinyl I’d spent the most time listening in all my life was, UNDOUBTLY, Ahmad Jamal’s “Digital Works”, recorded in the eighties. It has became a single CD, but, irrespective of doubling matters, it was my most all time listened album. Listen, to check, his rendering of “A Time for Love” and learn how to fiery improvise a tune WITHOUT ever getting far away from it! Jamal is in the wings and will be spotted soon. I’m just waiting to receive his latest – “Blue Moon” – which comes highly recommended).
A fortnight ago, I wrote about one of my jazz heroes. His name is Eddie Gomez, he plays the acoustic bass and, for my personal amusement as a jazz lover, nothing tastes better.
In my writing, I said I was longing for a new double CD of a project he was part of, along with ChicK Corea and the recently deceased great drummer Paul Motian; this one another one-of-a-kind musician. I was salivating while waiting to put my hands on their “Further Explorations”…
So, contrary to my beliefs, these two CD’s would be very welcome this time and I was anticipating the great pleasure I would have to listen to the conjunction of these three musical icons of jazz. Gomez, certainly, would deliver his utmost, as this work was about Bill Evans and this, alone, would bring inspiration enough to fill more than two and a half hours of CD playing.
Besides, I would have, numerically, two thirds of an Evans trio, although lacking its head and main inspiration. Instead, I’d have Corea…
Granted, Corea is not Evans and one may ask if there are two more dissimilar pianists. Surely the answer is positive, but they DO are different from each other, aren’t they? If I were asked to summarize each in one word I’d call the first one “passionate” and the latter “lyrical”. They aren’t pieces of the same cloth, indeed!
Anyway, I would have, again, “Peri’s Scope”, Gloria’s Step”, “Laurie”, “ Turn Out the Stars”, “Very Early” and thirteen others which were performed throughout a ten days stint at Blue Note, in New York. Instigating would be to listen, for the first time ever, to an Evans theme named “Song nº1”(probably a provisory name, at the time of its composition, I gather), as much as seeing two former Bill Evans partners playing together.
Well, well, well… I hate double CDs, but this time, from the outset, I tell you: on that Friday night, I listened to it for some four hours in a row! Was I in front of something really outstanding, something never to forget about? Not really; there was some unevenness throughout the presentation. At times, Corea and Gomez seemed a bit strange to each other… I have a hunch Gomez more intricate lines had something to do with this. Besides, Corea is not exactly a sparse playing dude… Some overload of good intentions here! Two corps cannot occupy the same space at the same time, you know…
Motian, as usual: most of the time rounding off things with his cymbal playing, usually changing to a combination with strong drum whacks on solos. He, like Gomez, plays like anyone else. Those not acquainted with him, on first listening, may be misguided into thinking he’s playing at random. No, no, man, listen better!
Anyway, a bit more rehearsals would have helped the interplay, but this was a once-in-a-life adventure whose raison d’être was to honor Bill Evans, and, as it was, the objective was fulfilled.
On listening to some tunes, many times, tears came to my eyes, especially on the renderings of Evans songs. In particular, I was especially touched when tried “Laurie”, “Turn Out the Stars” and even the joyful “Peri’s Scope” and, now, a surprise: the hitherto recorded “Song n.º 1” which, on account of this, became a paradigmatic presentation. Corea was never so “Un-Corea” before. (just to be different from Mr. Chris Cooley, who, in his evaluation of this outing in his Amazon review, referred to Corea’s presentation as “Un-Chick”). For this, he abandoned his usually latin-flavored style to better suit the spirit of the song. For my money, this song is the highlight of the project.
Of course, in my case, there was a mix of feelings: I listened to all these songs by the time they were first recorded by Evans himself and had followed his career ever since, until his disastrous and untimely death. As much as I don’t want to admit, nostalgia has been playing an important role here: I was back at my early teens again. This experience has brought about many fond memories of so much delightful jazz musical sessions of my youth and, of course, Evans – the man who lived and died for his music – was the greatest hero, then.
But, in general, I don’t nurture nostalgia, as it is a kind of a denial of the present. When we get older, it is plain natural to become addicted to some habits which, sometimes, takes us a bit away from modern practices. I strongly strive not to be trapped by this. I try to lead my life as anyone else, although having much more certainties in my head and heart than before. But this is surely a good thing in getting older.

As I said, I try very hard to be up-to-date, but am I successful? I don’t know…

All told, I think you’d better read other reviews of this CD, as this effort of mine probably conjures some biasing. Or, try it for yourselves…

Meanwhile, I keep on hating double CD’s.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

1 Sem 2012 - Part Eleven

Paolo Birro/ Lorenzo Conte/ Eliot Zigmund
Spring Jazz Trio

By C. Katz "Chazzbo" 
This review is from: Spring Jazz Trio (Audio CD) it's been hard for me to find any bio info about pianist Paolo Birro though I know he's about half a dozen LP's and backs up many Italian and other artists so hs been on the scene for a number of years.Same for Lorenz Conte.The drummer Elio Zigmund has been on the scene a as a leader and sideman most notably drumming for Bill Evans in the latter part of his career.This is standard stuff but it's played well and has a good degree of energy and drive.Half standards and half originals since it's up here at Amazon with MP3 control take a listen.Hey if nothing else you'll impress your friends with all these sartist that the same old S#@t and they'll say "Thanks for a fresh one.
1 Dancing in the Dark 7:44
2 Off Minor 4:54
3 Crazy He Calls Me 5:36
4 I'll Take Romance 7:32
5 Smiling 7:07
6 Retrato Em Branco E Preto 6:07
7 Love Walked In 5:16
8 Gertrude's Bounce 4:53
9 What Better Fits 6:18

Claus Raible
Don't Blame Me

Cover (Don't Blame Me:Claus Raible)

 By EastWind Import
Claus Raible (piano)
Giorgos Antoniou (bass)
Ben Dixon (drums)
German pianist Claus Raible was fascinated by jazz from an early age. He studied formally at University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz, Austria, and later went to New York to study with Barry Harris. He has performed with Andy Bey, Jimmy Cobb, Jon Faddis, Art Farmer, Herb Geller, Dusko Goykovich, Mark Murphy and Lewis Nash, among many others.
Raible has so immersed himself in bebop that it is now an integral part of his nervous system: Raible lives his music. His trio plays with an immediacy and directness that is too often missing in today's world of hype: tight and compact, this is music that deals with substance, not surface, as Raible and company delve deep into the mood and meaning of each composition.
Recorded July 20 and 21 2006 by Jason Seizer at Pirouet Studios, Munich.
1 Our Delight - Dameron 3:42
2 The Mooch - Ellington, Mills 7:00
3 I May Be Wrong Ruskin - Sullivan 4:55
4 Oblivion - Powell 3:06
5 Basement Blues - Raible 6:12
6 Kevin - Hope 3:49
7 Dinah Might and Nick at Night - Raible 5:53
8 Don't Blame Me Fields - McHugh 6:06
9 The Best Thing for You Is Me - Berlin 3:54

Kevin Eubanks
Zen Food

Cover (Zen Food:Kevin Eubanks)

by Ken Dryden
Kevin Eubanks didn't do much recording as a leader during his 18 years as Jay Leno's music director on The Tonight Show, though Zen Food was taped shortly before the guitarist announced his departure from his long-running gig. Eubanks is accompanied by veteran saxophonist Bill Pierce (heard on both tenor and soprano), drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith, keyboardist Gerry Etkins, and bassist Rene Camacho. Eubanks' opener, "The Dancing Sea," signals the diversity of his long-awaited CD, leading off with an intricate, infectious theme over a contemporary Latin rhythm, though the guitarist ends up playing a very heated solo, buoyed by Etkins' electric piano and Smith's powerful drumming, while showcasing Pierce's lyrical soprano sax. He switches to acoustic guitar for "Adoration" (which is derived in part from the centuries-old hymn "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty"), creating an intimate yet lively duet with Etkins' Fender Rhodes. Eubanks' breezy bop vehicle "6/8" is launched with the guitarist's hot riff accompanied solely by Pierce's equally hot tenor sax, with the intensity building as Etkins' funky organ enters with the rhythm section. Eubanks also proves himself as a ballad master with the whispering ballad "I Remember Loving You." Kevin Eubanks will satisfy jazz fans with his delicious Zen Food.

Myriam Alter
Where Is There

Cover (Where Is There:Myriam Alter)

by Christian Genzel
As on her last two albums, Myriam Alter doesn't play the piano herself on her fifth record, she "merely" composed eight songs and assembled a sextet to perform them: bassist Greg Cohen, drummer Joey Baron, clarinet player John Ruocco (these three were also on her last album, If), pianist Salvatore Bonafede, cellist Jaques Morelenbaum, and soprano saxophonist Pierre Vaiana. And even though she doesn't play a note on the album, her presence is strongly felt at any given time in the compositions that encompass jazz, classical music, and various European influences. The rhythm section is at the heart of the record -- listen how effortlessly Cohen and Baron provide a rhythmic bed for the other musicians, and how Bonafede provides just the right amount of texture on top of that -- but the defining sound of Where Is There is Morelenbaum's bittersweet cello, giving the songs a wealth of different moods. The record feels "light" in the best possible sense of the word: the music possesses elegance and clarity that turn each of the tracks into a gem. From the joyful opening track, "Was It There," to the somber "September 11," the album is very visual and invokes a great number of images. Wherever the album title's "there" is, the journey is a rewarding experience.

Helge Lien Trio
Hello Troll

Cover (Hello Troll:Helge Lien)

by Alex Henderson
When a musician is from a Scandinavian country and his album is titled Hello Troll, someone who is unfamiliar with his work could easily assume that the music has something to do with death metal, black metal, Viking metal, or folk-metal. Trolls, after all, are mythical creatures from Nordic mythology, and Nordic mythology of pre-Christian times has been a prominent theme among Scandinavian extreme metal bands. One of Finland's best-known metal bands, in fact, is named Finntroll. But Hello Troll has nothing to do with metal. The focus of Norwegian pianist Helge Lien is straight-ahead post-bop jazz, and on Hello Troll, he embraces the time-honored acoustic piano trio format (Frode Berg is on upright bass, Knut Aalefjær on drums). Over the years, that format has been successful for a wide variety of acoustic jazz pianists ranging from Erroll Garner to Cecil Taylor to Red Garland; it also works well for Lien, who favors a clean-sounding post-bop pianism along the lines of Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and Ahmad Jamal. Lien's crystalline approach serves him well on thoughtful originals such as "Snurt," "It Is What It Is, But It Is," "Axis of Free Will," and "Troozee" (all of which offer an attractive blend of intellect and melodic lyricism). There are no standards at all on this 2008 recording -- no post-bop standards, no hard bop standards, no Tin Pan Alley standards -- and that is probably for the best because playing original material exclusively gives Lien's improvisations a more personal quality. Although Hello Troll falls short of exceptional, this is a solid outing that underscores Lien's talents as both an acoustic pianist and a composer.

1 Sem 2012 - Part Ten

Serge Forté Trio
Jazz´in Chopin

Cover (Jazz'in Chopin:Serge Forte)

By Chuck Bolger
Serge Forte ought to be famous. He possesses the keyboard artistry and musical touch of a Kenny Barron, a Keith Jarrett, even (dare I say) an Oscar Peterson. On this CD his interpretations of Chopin are masterful, AND jazzy, which should appeal to lovers of both musical forms. And, his Trio is tight! The Suite Revolutionnaire ventures almost into Free Jazz, but one must admire the creative forces at work here. If you are a Jazz fan with any sense of musical adventure (and shouldn\'t every Jazz fan be thus?), Jazz\'in Chopin is a must for your collection. 
By Serge Forté
The Jazz' in Chopin project started in 1999 during a dinner organized by our friends Danielle and Henry, in connection with the Chopin year (150th death anniversary) with Polish official representatives. It was a charming evening (beautiful recipes by Henry !) but as a jazz pianist, I didn’t see very well which contribution I could bring to such event ...
However, at one time, we talked about jazz in Poland (which is very active) and some jazzmen who didn’t hesitate to transform Chopin’s works into jazz and in particular a trio who played only Chopin ! I have suddenly had a vision : a mixture of images, precise and at the same time fuzzy and during a few minutes I should not have paid much attention to the discussion in progress... It was like an idea, that I had always had but hidden deep in me, suddenly tried to appear. I always adored Chopin ! He even is my preferred composer !
I already played in concert an arrangement on his “prelude n° 4” … I recorded “study n°1” by Scriabin (arranged it also) who was a great Chopin’s fan ! (at the point to fall asleep with Master’s works under his pillow when he was small)... How I hadn't thought earlier of continuing this step? At this moment, when I took again my spirits, Pascale, who had taken in my place the course of the discussion, precisely proposed to our hosts to listen to my version of the study n°1. Just after, my Polish interlocutors highly encouraged me to work on Chopin !
A few months later I made my first "Jazz' in Chopin" concert at the Polish Institute of Paris. After 3 years of hard work the result is this Cd : "Jazz' in Chopin". I hope that you will be able to realize, as I could do it during my various harmonic analyses, at which point Chopin was not only a great composer but also a master improviser. What makes him one of the first Jazz pianists !...
1 ÉTude N. 6 6:02
2 Prélude N. 7/Berceuse 7:48
3 Ballade N. 1 11:08
4 Andante Spianato 10:04
5 Mazurka N. 4 7:53
6 Suite Révolutionnaire, Pt. 1 3:39
7 Suite Révolutionnaire, Pt. 2 2:23
8 Suite Révolutionnaire, Pt. 3 4:53
9 Suite Révolutionnaire, Pt. 4 2:43
10 Suite Révolutionnaire, Pt. 5 3:27
11 Prélude N. 4 9:10

Carol Kidd

Cover (Dreamsville:Carol Kidd)

By Michael Quinn/BBC 
Carol Kidd's first album in eight years also marks the 25th anniversary of her relationship with the Glasgow-based Linn Records. And what a partnership it has been – Kidd a faultless vocalist of impeccable stylistic credentials, and Linn a beacon of artist and audiophile quality for independent British labels.
A tellingly bittersweet and plangent affair, Dreamsville is a long overdue return to the fray after the death of her partner in 2003 and subsequent trauma-induced loss of voice. Although now into her 60s, Kidd's voice remains full of character and colour, an emotionally alert and expressive instrument she puts to perfectly-phrased, beautifully-pitched use with a crafted, lightly-worn elegance that continues to astound as it delights.
Two songs are new and self-penned (with guitarist Nigel Clark): There Goes My Heart is a soft, lilting leave-taking, and Do You Believe a hymning lullaby to love and second chances. A heartfelt cover of Harold Arlen’s Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe is offered as a tribute to the late Humphrey Lyttelton and benefits from Paul Harrison's softly measured piano accompaniment.
Indeed the four-piece band assembled here – Mario Caribe on double bass and Alyn Cosker on drums ably partnering Clark and Harrison – prove to be a crack outfit who seize a fabulous opportunity in Cole Porter's adrenalin-fuelled It's Alright With Me to show off their virtuosic wares. Illustrating a more sensitive side, Stars Fell on Alabama glints and sparkles with a hushed loveliness that makes much of Kidd's eloquent ability to hold and extend a note.
Familiar standards How Deep is the Ocean?, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and Can’t We Be Friends? are set down with consummate and engaging ease while Kidd’s signature song, When I Dream, newly arranged by Nigel Clarke and producer Graeme Duffin, brings things to a glowing, finely delivered conclusion.
1 It Never Entered My Mind
2 A Nightingale Sang in BerkeleySquare
3 How Deep Is the Ocean
4 How Long Has This Been GoingOn
5 Can't We Be Friends?
6 Dreamsville
7 There Goes My Heart
8 Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe
9 It's Alright with Me
10 Stars Fell on Alabama
11 Do You Believe?
12 When I Dream

Adrian Iaies Trio
A Child's Smile

Cover (A Child's Smile:Adrian Iaies Trio)

by Michael G. Nastos
In the overflow of jazz-oriented piano-bass-drums trios on the market, Adrián Iaies may not be so much a breath of fresh air as a musician whose utter consistency outweighs most post-Bill Evans players. This is the kind of recording that you can listen to from start to finish without expecting grand variations, save one surprise where an accordion is added. Light, swinging, and melodic, Iaies provides the kind of pleasant yet substantive jazz Evans was famous for, yet there's a personal stamp placed on this original music, accented with childlike innocence. A bouncy quality is added to a cover of Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are," and you hear unison interplay between Iaies and bassist Ezequiel Dutil on "Red Kelly & Winton Garland at Loprete's House" (the names of Red Garland and Wynton Kelly purposefully switched in the title). Otherwise, the music is calming, swings lightly, and flows like a gentle stream. This effort from Iaies and his group provides full depth when listened to more than once.

Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez, Paul Motian
Further Explorations

Cover (Further Explorations:Chick Corea)

by Rick Anderson
Although there really hasn't been another pianist quite like Bill Evans since his untimely death in 1980, Chick Corea was probably the one best suited to make this fine and heartfelt tribute album. Corea does several things especially well here: first, he wisely chose two of Evans' most celebrated sidemen (bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Paul Motian) to join him for the trio date. Second, he does an excellent job of invoking Evans' musical spirit without giving in to the temptation to slavishly imitate his distinctive playing style. And third, he mixes up the program nicely, including the bop classic "Hot House," Thelonious Monk's "Little Rootie Tootie," and original compositions by each member of the trio, alongside such necessary Evans and Evans-associated standards as "Gloria's Step" and "Alice in Wonderland." The combination of a sprawling two-disc configuration and the live setting (the album was recorded over the course of a two-week stint at the Blue Note in New York) means that there's plenty of room for everyone to stretch out, which doesn't always yield dividends: no matter how impressionistic it got, Evans' playing never seemed aimless, but Corea's sometimes does on tracks like "Rhapsody" and the Motian composition "Mode VI." Still, Corea's aimlessness is always highly listenable, and at its best (which is most of the time), the trio is both tight and thrillingly free; their take on "Hot House," in particular, demonstrates an admirable ability to balance boppish rigor with creative expansiveness. This is a beautiful and loving tribute to one of jazz music's great tragic genuises.

Helge Lien Trio

Cover (Natsukashii:Helge Lien Trio)

by Adam Greenberg
Pianist Helge Lien both exemplifies and breaks free from stereotypes of Scandinavian jazz on Natsukashii. While Scandinavian jazz has a tendency for darker scales and more experimental instrumentation, Lien opts for a straightforward piano trio and plenty of Western melodic elements. At the same time, he delves into more contemplative territory, akin to much of the Scandinavian piano scene -- when he wanders through the scales solo (as in much of "Bon Tempi") or with the rhythm section acting primarily as extra force (as in "E"), he takes time to explore ideas, circle in on motives, and add more emotion to his playing. At other times, Lien is happy to tinker with new musical ideas -- some mimicry of a shamisen in the way he approaches the keys in the title track, a dark milonga-like evolution in "Sceadu." The album is constantly searching within itself, and produces interesting, evocative results.

1 Sem 2012 - Part Nine

Mike Moreno
First In Mind

Cover (First In Mind:Mike Moreno)

BY Tim Niland
Mike Moreno is a very talented mainstream jazz guitarist who is comfortable in a variety of contexts, but perhaps none more so than in small group post-bop improvisation. Joined by an excellent trio of musicians, Aaron Parks on piano, Matt Brewer on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums, the group works through a variety of standards and originals in a classy and thoughtful manner. In retrospect, I was too harsh a few years ago about Arron Parks' album Invisible Cinema, and after listening to this album and his work in the James Farm collective, I have really come around to be impressed by his style of playing. His performing on this album is excellent along with the rest of the group which strikes a modern mainstream groove from the start and rides it all the way through to the end. They touch on some different aspects of the music, from the swinging hard-bop of Sonny Rollins classic “Airegin" to the mysterious and haunting version of Joe Zawinul's “In a Silent Way" which was popularized on the Miles Davis album of the same name. Their originals work quite well also, developing organically and allowing the whole group to express themselves in solo and ensemble passages. This may have been something of an ad-hoc session, but hopefully this band can reconvene to record and tour in the future. They have a fine conception of the music they are looking for and play it with grace and dignity.
1 First In Mind - Moreno 7:54
2 Soul Dance - Redman 8:53
3 Airegin 5:50
4 By Myself 6:09
5 But Beautiful - Heusen 8:31
6 Milagre Dos Peixes [Miracle of the Fishes] - Nascimento 7:16
7 A Flor E O Espinho [The Flowerand the Thorn] 7:35
8 In a Silent Way - Zawinul 8:34
9 Mantra - Redman 5:27

Alex Domschot
Venusian Commute

Cover (Venusian Commute:Alex Domschot)

by Scott Yanow
Guitarist Alex Domschot's use of space, emphasis on slower mood pieces, and range of colors is at times reminiscent of Bill Frisell although in his own dryer voice. Bassist Marc Johnson is featured bowing throughout the lengthy opening atmospheric ballad "Sad Princess" and "Teachers." Drummer Vic Stevens is mostly in a very supportive role behind Johnson and Domschot, who takes turns in the spotlight. There are occasional departures (especially John Coltrane's "Some Other Blues" and "Coal Man," which is dedicated to Ornette Coleman), but most of the selections are taken at slow tempos or out-of-tempo altogether, with the emphasis on setting a mood rather than swinging. There are some dull stretches and one wishes there were more variation in moods, grooves, and styles, but certainly the musicianship cannot be faulted.

Albert Bover Trio
Esmuc Blues

Cover (Esmuc Blues:Albert Bover)

by David R. Adler
An exceptional trio outing by Spanish pianist Albert Bover, featuring Chris Higgins on bass and Jorge Rossy on drums. The piano sound is fantastic -- hats off to engineer Jordi Vidal -- and the trio interplay is crisp and inspired. A Bach "Aria," played in a bright rubato feel, kicks off the album; Bover reprises the theme unaccompanied at the end of the program. In between, he offers a remarkable bitonal reading of "You Are Too Beautiful" (he calls it "Are You Too Beautiful?"), as well as unconventional looks at "Body and Soul," "I Fall in Love Too Easily," and Noel Rosa's "Pra Que Mentir." (The liners fail to credit "Lennie's Pennies" to Lennie Tristano.) Bover's hip, memorable originals include the beautiful waltz "Old Bottles, New Wine," the poignant bossa ballad "Post Nuclear Holocaust," and the bright, churning 7/4 "Set De Nou." Bover, Higgins, and Rossy are also strikingly empathic on the spontaneously composed "Trio Improvisation."

Vincent Bourgeyx

Cover (Again:Vincent Bourgeyx)

By BlueSounds 
Born in Bordeaux, Vincent Bourgeyx began studying piano at the age of 7. After studying musicology at Bordeaux University, he went to Berklee College of Music in Boston for 4 years where he participated in Master Classes with Jane Ira Bloom, and at the International Association of Jazz Educators in 1998 and 2001. Vincent Bourgeyx became the first student to win the famous Billboard magazine prize as a soloist.
After graduating in 1997 he moved to New York where he became an active member of the jazz scene, working or recording as a sideman with several musicians such as Ravi Coltrane, Mark Turner, Billy Pierce, Donald Harrison, Eric Alexander, Richie Cole, Markus Strickland, Antonio Sanchez, Chuck Mangione, Julian Priester, Avishai Cohen or Al Grey, with whom he participated in concerts and tours in numerous clubs - Blue Note, Sweet Basil and Smalls in New York,- and in festivals -Monterey, Montreux, the Phoenix in Japan and the Free Jazz Festival in Brazil. He then formed his own American trio to play on a regular basis in the States and in Japan.
He has also composed film music, notably that of the 1929 silent movie ‘Blackmail’ by Alfred Hitchcock. Accompanied by bassist Matt Penman and drummer Ari Hoenig, “Again”, is his third album as a leader, but his first for Fresh Sound New Talent label. An spirited album that reflex the pianist’s lyricism with fiery passion.

Trio Elf

Cover (Elfland:Trio Elf)

By Enja
Trio ELF reinvented the classic piano trio format by basing inspired improvisations on contemporarary club styles like Drum ‘n’ Bass, House, Dubstep or Hiphop. Their albums “ELF” and “746” were enthusiastically acclaimed by the critics and audience in both Europe and Japan and earned the description “New Sound of the Trio”. The third album continues this direction. The warm acoustic sound is again extended by the careful integration of effects and the interplay between the three musicians is enriched by surprising sounds. A special high light are the vocal contributions by legendary Milton Nascimento who had already taken notice of the trio when he heard two of his compositions on their debut album ELF. After a friendly meeting during ELF’s Brazilian tour in January 2010 it was time to record in Rio. Back in Munich the vocals of the maestro were sent to the ELF sound kitchen and the result was an animated transatlantic collaboration – Milton’s inimitable vocals are congenially integrated into the trio sound. Also Brazilian influenced is “Ocean11”, a virtuosic performance by extra ordinary percussionist Marco Lobo and “Casa de Tom” , a magical dedication to Antonio Carlos Jobim. But this is not the end of the ELF journey: In fall of 2009 Trio ELF presents their version of trio music to the absolutely delighted American audience in New York. “The Ave” shows the dynamic developments of the eclectic young hip hop scene in a mirror and “Down”, the hit of pop-punk band Blink 182 is turned into a psychedelic hymn. With “Sounds in my Garden” Trio ELF enters the world of intricate Grunge riffs and Alternative Metal. “Hammer Baby Hammer” blends sampling and improvisation making the piano solo sound like its own House remix. An organic system in which each voice of the trio enjoys equal rights. The highly virtuosic drummer Gerwin Eisenhauer sounds like a drum computer turned human and Walter Lang stretches his lyrical, expressive melodies and his energetic chords over this pulsating base. Sven Faller’s bass connects these strata brilliantly, in one second with melodic counterpoints and in the next moment with deep warm grooves.
1 Ponta De Areia - Brant, Nascimento 5:38
2 Interlude - Faller 1:24
3 The Ave - Faller 6:18
4 Ocean 11 -  Jun 8:13
5 Casa Do Tom - Jun 5:02
6 Sounds In My Garden - Faller 5:02
7 Down - Barker, DeLonge, Hoppus 8:53
8 Pagode De Oceano - Jun 5:05
9 Hammer Baby Hammer - Jun 5:04
10 Anima - Nascimento, Renato 5:33
11 Elfland - Jun 4:09

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Opera Divas & JAZZ: The Previn/Hersch/Mehldau Project

Anne Sofie Von Otter Meets Elvis Costello
For The Stars

Cover (For the Stars (Anne Sofie von Otter Meets Elvis Costello):Anne Sofie von Otter)

Anne Sofie Von Otter & Brad Mehldau
Love Songs

Love Songs

Kiri Te Kanawa/ André Previn/ Ray Brown/ Mundell Lowe
Kiri Sidetracks: The Jazz Album

Cover (Kiri Side Tracks: The Jazz Album:Kiri Te Kanawa)

Brad Mehldau & Renée Fleming
Love Sublime

Cover (Love Sublime:Renée Fleming)

Renée Fleming with Fred Hersch and Bill Frisell
Haunted Heart

Cover (Haunted Heart:Renée Fleming)

Dawn Upshaw with Fred Hersch
Sings Rodgers & Hart

Cover (Dawn Upshaw Sings Rodgers & Hart:Dawn Upshaw)

Sylvia McNair with André Previn/ David Finck
Sure Thing: The Jerome Kern Songbook

Sylvia McNair with André Previn/ David Finck
Come Rain or Come Shine: The Harold Arlen Songbook

Come Rain Or Come Shine: The Harold Arlen Songbook

By Leonardo Barroso

  Opera Divas are always celebrated and praised for their beautiful voices and performances on/off stages through out the World.
   I'm not a fan of Opera at all, but those sopranos and mezzo-sopranos, really moves me, I don't know why. Tried for more than twenty years, to find the reason for this strange attraction, and no clue by now.
It all started at my JazzGuru, Mr.Bob Barroso, house in 1992, when at some point into that always wonderful jazz nights, he did put the recent André Previn's Jazz CD with a singer we all should guess who it was. Half through the CD and I had no clue of who the singer was, but at that point Bob showed me the cover album....I could not believe that the sweet and poweful voice I was delighted with, was the Grand-Diva Kiri Te Kanawa. From Mozart, Puccini and Verdi to Arlen, Mercer, Van Hausen, Mandel, Rodgers and Hart.....has the world gone crazy, I did recall back then. Her singing at "It Could Happen To You" was just breathtaking.
   When the record finished I was just amazed. I thought to myself: this is a once in a lifetime thing.
    Two years later, André Previn must have loved Kiri's album too, because as I was looking for some new releases I saw this CD with Diva Sylvia McNair having a great time, and she really did. A great album again with Previn on piano (always great playing) and bassist David Finck. Oh my God ! Lighting did strike twice, what a great should hear Sylvia singing "Remind Me" (Peggy Lee's rec.also great).
    I was truly satisfied with both great cd's, mixing the jazz world with opera divas has been great.
    1996 saw a new Previn/McNair/Finck cd, again just as good as their last one, but with H.Arlen songbook. Also in'96 another Diva, Dawn Upshaw, came with a Rodgers/Hart cd with Fred Hersch on piano, and in the song "Why Can't I ?" with his Trio, just great. These were great time for JAZZ !
    Enough of Sopranos, in 2001, Mezzo Anne-Sofie Von Otter came with a release with Elvis Costello and a swedish group jazzin' through 18 songs: Bacharach,Beatles,Tom Waits, Costello and ABBA's Benny Andersson. Recorded on HDCD-encoded, this a favorite of mine. A great surprise !
     Then my heart almost stopped, it was 2005, a new Diva/Jazz album was released, Amercan soprano-Diva Renée Fleming was giving her shot in Jazz. Well nothing new there, Fred Hersch was up again now with guitarist Bill Frisell. Not my guitar pick, but okay, let's start..........well........she started with one of my all-time best song "Haunted Heart"! This is just eargasm !!! Fred's Steinway-piano and Renée's dark, down-bottom voice was just amazing! EARGASM ! MUST HEAR !
      Now Brad Mehldau has recorded with both: Von Otter and Fleming, recording opera-like songs and jazz arrangements. Just great !
      Well these are my thoughts on this strange musical mix, great voice and great playing couldn't go wrong. At least on these cases. This is what music is all about, JAZZ is all about freedom, and playing whatever you feel like, not knowing what the results are going to be.  
      Go on and hear it !!! Enjoy and Eargasm for all !!!!!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

1 Sem 2012 - Part Eight

Ted Rosenthal & Bob Brookmeyer
One Night In Vermont

Cover (One Night in Vermont:Bob Brookmeyer)

by Ken Dryden
Ted Rosenthal and Bob Brookmeyer share a common thread, as both men recorded a number of albums with the late Gerry Mulligan (though not together), as well as being at the top of their game on their respective instruments and loving great melodies. This 2001 duo concert features seven standards, all played with a spirit of adventure and risk-taking. "Night and Day" is a brilliant opener, with Brookmeyer's aggressive valve trombone followed by a brief vamp by Rosenthal to build tension before he cuts loose with a fine effort of his own. The pianist's jaunty introduction to "Embraceable You" salutes Charlie Parker, while his surprising chord changes underneath Brookmeyer obviously pleased the veteran. Their atypical approach to "Yesterdays" is set in waltz time with playfulness rarely present in most performances of this warhorse. Mulligan would have loved their dark setting of "How Deep Is the Ocean," which seems to explode from the depths of despair to the surface without mishap. Once again, the familiar path is avoided in their stunning treatment of "All the Things You Are"; the introduction made popular by Dizzy Gillespie is bypassed in favor of Rosenthal's opening improvisation, leading into intricate jazz counterpoint of the highest level, along with the pianist's amusing brief detour into "On the Trail." It would be surprising if Ted Rosenthal and Bob Brookmeyer aren't planning a follow-up to this outstanding live CD.

Peter Zak
Down East

Cover (Down East:Peter Zak)

by Ken Dryden
Peter Zak has greatly increased his exposure with a series of outstanding CDs for Steeplechase. This trio date with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Rodney Green covers a lot of ground: popular standards, jazz favorites, and infrequently played jazz works. Zak's lyricism is displayed in his treatment of Duke Ellington's 1940s ballad "I Didn't Know About You." The pianist dives full-force into Duke Pearson's "Is That So?" with his lively improvising in a brisk arrangement. Thelonious Monk's "Gallop's Gallop" isn't recorded much at all, but it is one of his most challenging tunes, with multiple twists that the trio negotiate with ease as they deliver a stimulating performance. Clifford Brown's "Tiny Capers" tends to be overshadowed by his pieces "Joy Spring" and "Daahoud," though it makes a terrific, intricate duo vehicle for Zak and Washington. The standards include lush settings of Henry Mancini's "Dreamsville" and George Gershwin's "Who Cares?" (the latter played at a luxurious, deliberate tempo). Finally, is are a trio of excellent originals by the leader, including "Sector 7" (a driving post-bop vehicle), the stimulating bossa nova "He Said/She Said," and the breezy finale "Down East." Highly recommended! 

Uri Caine Trio

Cover (Siren:Uri Caine)

By Dan Bilawski
Pianist Uri Caine holds a unique distinction, known the world over as a stellar jazz pianist, but a critics' darling for his genre-blind reworkings of classical music. His takes on the work of Gustav Mahler, Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Richard Wagner have become modern classics which straddle several musical worlds, but Caine's is no one-trick pony. When he isn't busy turning classical music history on its head, his restless artistic curiosity has taken him to a variety of other realms. The pianist tipped his hat to Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock, with album-length salutes to each, took a stroll down Tin Pan Alley (Winter & Winter, 1999), visited Brazilian music via Rio (Winter & Winter, 2001), explored the possibilities within the solo piano context on Solitaire (Winter & Winter, 2001), and tackled fusion in his own personal way with his Bedrock band.
On Siren, Caine works within the piano trio format, but this is no cocktail piano record or comfortable ride through The Great American Songbook. Caine challenges trio conventions with a program of originals and one standard ("Green Dolphin Street"), further confirming his compositional acumen and musicality. While he's capable of tugging at the heartstrings ("Foolish Me") and playing to post-millennial piano trio trends ("Interloper"), this merely indicates he can comfortably walk where others have left their mark. When Caine uses musical free association, rhythmic trickery, and group interplay, either separately or in combination, he puts his own mark on this format.
His compatriots on this twelve song sojourn—bassist John Hébert and drummer Ben Perowsky—share in the pianist's musical vision, regardless of where it takes them. They're comfortable playing in concentric circles around one another ("Siren"), working in a funky format ("Crossbow"), and allowing musical ideas to cohere and dissolve at will. One piece might be an evolving journey ("Free Lunch"), while the next might simply be a fun-filled, four-plus minute musical party ("Manual Defile"). Caine opens the album with a metric labyrinth ("Tarshish") that provides a challenge to count along with, and, from that point on, it's clear that he's willing to go where few people have traveled. While no single work will ever define an artist as multitalented and stylistically mercurial as Uri Caine, Siren proves to be a fine document of his thoughts on the art of the trio in the year 2011.
Track Listing: Tarshish; Interloper; Siren; Crossbow; Smelly; Succubus; Green Dolphin Street; Foolish Me; Calibrated Thickness; Hazy Lazy Crazy; Free Lunch; Manual Defile.
Personnel: Uri Caine: piano; John Hébert: bass; Ben Perowsky: drums.

Chihiro Yamanaka
Forever Begins

Cover (Forever Begins:Chihiro Yamanaka)

by William Ruhlmann
Much better known in her native Japan (where she regularly tops the jazz charts), pianist Chihiro Yamanaka makes a strong claim to neo-bop mastery with Forever Begins, played with her trio, also featuring Ben Williams on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums. Yamanaka takes a playful tone on the original opener, ironically called "So Long," establishing that she will play lightning runs, sometimes taking up the whole keyboard, to sinuous rhythms. She acknowledges a major influence with Bud Powell's "Blue Pearl." Her "Cherokee" is a multi-part reinvention of the old swing standard, and she invests "Good Morning, Heartache" with unusual liveliness. Not surprisingly, given her energy, she particularly enjoys Latin rhythms on "Saudade e Carinho" and "The Moon Was Yellow." And she moves toward post-bop with her nearly nine-minute take on Russell Ferrante's "Avance." American mainstream jazz fans who may not be aware of Chihiro Yamanaka (even though she is based in the U.S.) would do well to seek out this album and some of the pianist's earlier work. 

Naoko Terai
My Song


By EastWind
Jazz violinist Naoko Terai has been dazzling fans for over a decade with her amazing technique and luscious sound. Her latest release My Song is a collection of well-known standards, performed passionately with her regular quartet. First-call jazz guitarist Hiroki Miyano is prominently featured on five tracks, and a guitar duo called Django Rhythm appears on "Dream Travelers."
With her rich, burnished and full-bodied tone, Terai performs these beautiful melodies with deep emotion and conviction. She swings hard on fast numbers and shows her sentimental side on slow ballads. While straight-forward, the arrangements reflect her unique musicality.
Through DSD-mastering and the SBM (super bit mapping) Direct process and utilizing A/D and D/A converters provided by Japanese high-end audio manufacturer Accuphase, this CD offers warm, detailed, analog-like sound. Recommended for fans of beautiful music!
Recorded September 27-29, October 4-7, 2009 and January 9, 2010 at Sound City Studio Tokyo.

1 Sem 2012 - Part Seven

Ari Hoenig
Lines Of Oppression

By John Kelman
When Bill Evans began building trios that represented a collaboration of equals rather than soloist accompanied by rhythm section, it's unlikely the late pianist could have envisioned the way Jean-Michel Pilc, bassist François Moutin and drummer Ari Hoenig wowed fans at a 2011 Ottawa International Jazz Festival performance. Bringing new meaning to the phrase "egalitarian," each and every member was clearly capable of pushing the music in a new direction, so keenly attuned were they to each other. Hoenig, in particular, seemed a mad instigator, grinning fiercely as he pushed his elbow down on his snare hard, turning it from a percussion instrument into one actually capable of melody.
Not that the concept is new, but Hoenig has honed a bit of showmanship shtick into something musical, taking it to the next step on his own Lines of Oppression, where he becomes the lead instrument on Bobby Timmons' classic "Moanin'"—nearly beyond belief, as he ekes notes as blue as they'd sound on a horn. Settling back into a more conventional role as purveyor of a loose swing groove, he passes the baton to guitarist Gilad Hekselman, who demonstrates increasing distance from his earlier touchstone, Kurt Rosenwinkel, with carefully chosen notes, overdriven but in a warm, almost ethereal way. Pianist Tigran Hamasyan's next, and though capable of lithe flights of fancy—and a musical mélange that often brings his own Armenian roots into the equation—in the context of this blues, he demonstrates a deeper appreciation of the tradition, starting with Count Basie-like economy, but gradually picking up steam as his solo, an encyclopedia of jazz piano, gradually unfurls.
There's also a reading of Thelonious Monk's oft-covered "Rhythm-a-ning," delivered with Carl Stalling-like wryness before breaking into a middle section where Hekselman and Hamasyan go at it, head-to-head, for one of the album's more exciting moments. Monk's influence is also felt on a trio version of "How High the Moon," featuring Hamasyan and bassist Chris Tordini, who subs for regular bassist Orlando Le Fleming here and on two other tracks, including the pianist's idiosyncratic, rock-edged set-closed, "Higher to Hamasyan."
The rest of the album comes from Hoenig's pen, accounting for two-thirds of its 60-minute duration, the majority of that slice occupied by just two compositions—the quirkily polyrhythmic title track, featuring an early bar-raising solo from Hekselman, and the even knottier "Arrows & Loops," with its preponderance of accented shots amidst a dervish-like melody, leading to Hamasyan's set-defining solo, a combination of choppy voicings and fluid, serpentine melodies. "Wedding Song" proves Hoenig isn't averse to lyricism, though its bittersweet melody seems paradoxical to the song's title.
Whether taking the lead on "Rhythm"—his a capella solo and vocalizations a North American variant on the Indian konnakol tradition—or acting as perpetual rhythmic instigator, Hoenig leads his group democratically, not unlike his work with Pilc and Moutin. Lines of Oppressionmay feature Hoenig's name on the marquee—and it's clearly his vision driving the group's overall direction—but it's unequivocal that this is a quartet of equals, driven moment-by-moment by the unfettered expressionism of everyone involved.
Track Listing:

Lines of Oppression; Arrows and Loops; Wedding Song; Rhythm; Rhythm-a-ning; Moanin'; Love's Feathered Nails; Ephemeral Eyes; How High the Moon; Higher to Hayastan.

Ari Hoenig: drums, vocals; Tigran Hamasyan: piano, vocals, beat box; Gilad Hekselman: guitar, vocals; Orlando Le Fleming: bass (1, 3, 5-8); Chris Tordini: bass (2, 9, 10), vocals.

Ellis Marsalis

By Lousiana Music
The CD reissue of the 1983 LP of the same title with six alternate takes included. This is classic Ellis Marsalis with the great and under-recorded James Black on drums. In the late 70's and early 80's James would inspire Ellis in remarkable sets all over town. This recording is proof of that. When it was released in 83 it received a five star rating from Down Beat magazine. Recommended.
Ellis Marsalis - piano
Bill Huntington - acoustic bass
James Black - drums
Guest Artist - Kent Jordan

Felice Clemente Quartet
Nuvole Di Carta

By Vittorio Formenti
Felice Clemente is a Milanese artist who, despite his young age (37 years), already has 8 CD's made payable to him; saxophonist, clarinetist and composer Felix has his art on solid classical studies and specialization in jazz, succeeding very well to blend the two dimensions reaching an excellent blend of rigor and freedom, including accurate angles.The music proposed here, all of excellent quality without exception, takes in a balanced experience of the Coltrane quartet, and subsequent variations of artists such as Lovano (at least that comes to mind), the substance of this reference is strengthened by 'work of the musicians that accompany Happy on this adventure.Massimo Colombo is a floor-standing partner, a trusted companion but also a culture of safety in terms of reference of that tune on the mix of classical / jazz for those who want to savor the essence of the harmony between the two artists on this plan recommend Double Track (2010), highly significant in the synergy between the two areas although perhaps a bit 'too close educational exercise.Julius Corini the bottom represents a significant added value because of its lines never static, never limited to the tonic and the cadences, able to express a modern sensibility that combines impact and sense of adventure.Massimo Manzi on drums is another longtime partner that offers a careful drumming to the beat but free and mild, and generally fly on the plates and chopsticks on the snare drum so as to indicate clearly the track but also to create a true fourth entry the combo.With the potential above the disk can not disappoint and in fact does not disappoint at all. The compositions are all happy with the exception of two pieces of Columbus, one of Corini and the reference to Rimsky Korsakov "The young prince and princess", re-executed balance between song and more contemporary abstract moments, like the very interesting speech of the bass.Generally prevails attention to the theme and the melody, in the best traditions of jazz national themes are often open to improvisations or variations more or less complex, as in The courage to try, or Paradoxes, or more like a leash Anecdotes. The basic rhythm is alive, do not despise odd digressions and still is an integral part of an organization that considers the interplay as participation and unison, as evident in the incipit of Lost in the blues.The bop profile than can be guessed in Inside changes, pervaded by a certain influence of Sonny Rollins and when the property next chorus interventions provides the sax, piano and bass, a very smooth track, with a confident manner and dissolved, pleasant but undeniable consistency.Work of unquestionable value, in which taste and culture come together in a rendez-Vouz class, could do a very good end of the year in the playlist.

Burgstaller Martignon 4
Bach's Secret Files and More Crossover Fantasies

Cover (Bach's Secret Files and More Crossover Fantasies:Burgstaller Martignon 4)

by James Manheim
The title Bach's Secret Files and More Crossover Fantasies might suggest several things. But none among them touches on the actual content of this album, which is a) jazz, not crossover, b) not concerned with secrets or secret files of any kind, and c) less than half filled with music by Bach. This said, the Burgstaller Martignon 4 (a quartet with Joe Burgstaller of the Canadian Brass on trumpet and Hector Martignon on keyboard) delivers an above-average outing of jazz-classical fusion. It claims to have taken off from the Modern Jazz Quartet's Bach experiments of the 1950s, but the playing bears very little resemblance to the MJQ's cool sound. Variety is an attractive hallmark, both in the overall range of classical pieces given the jazz treatment, and in more specific applications. Mendelssohn's Songs without Words probably have never been played as jazz before, but the quartet here essays two of them in completely different ways. The aria "E lucevan le stelle," from Puccini's Tosca, is another odd-sounding choice (opera has rarely been a source for jazz players), but in all these cases the presence of melodic raw material is enough to get the group going. The non-Bach tracks as a group are actually stronger than the Bach interpretations, but of the latter group sample "Erbarme dich" (not "Ebarme dich," as the track list has it), from the St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244; vocalist Brenda Feliciano sings the melody in long notes, while the jazz players ornament it. This is an unusual procedure for a jazz-classical fusion, and it points to the originality of the album as a whole.

Sam Yahel
From Sun to Sun

Cover (From Sun to Sun:Sam Yahel)

by Alex Henderson
Throughout much of his career, Sam Yahel was described as "organist Sam Yahel." But when his 2009 recording, Hometown, became commercially available, one started hearing him described as "organist/pianist Sam Yahel." On Hometown, Yahel played the acoustic piano exclusively -- which came as a surprise to listeners who knew him for his organ-oriented albums. And if anyone thinks that Hometown was just an anomaly for Yahel, From Sun to Sun proves otherwise; this is another piano-oriented effort from him. Yahel, however, doesn't play the piano exclusively on this 2010 recording; From Sun to Sun, unlike Hometown, also includes a little organ playing (the pensive "Blink and Move On" finds him on both organ and piano). But the acoustic piano is the main focus of From Sun to Sun, and the same musicians who accompanied Yahel on Hometown (bassist Matt Penman and drummer Jochen Rueckert) also accompany him on this 68-minute CD. From Sun to Sun is, for the most part, of album of piano trio performances; Yahel usually expresses his pianistic thoughts with original compositions, although there are some Tin Pan Alley standards as well (including Cole Porter's "So in Love," Donald Kahn's "A Beautiful Friendship," and Vernon Duke's "Taking a Chance on Love"). Hometown, for the most part, favored post-bop intellect, although the disc occasionally hinted at the funky soul-jazz pianism of Gene Harris. On From Sun to Sun, however, Yahel sticks to post-bop complexity -- which is probably just as well because he is obviously enjoying himself on this disc. From Sun to Sun is another enjoyable reminder of the fact that Yahel is not only a talented organist -- he is also a talented acoustic pianist.