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.

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