Sunday, August 19, 2012

2 Sem 2012 - Part Eight

Michel & Tony Petrucciani

By Don Williamson
While I don’t like to bring personal experiences into CD reviews, I may be forgiven for this one exception. Maybe not. When I listen to Conversation, I am reminded of watching Bucky and John Pizzarelli perform in a duo performance last fall. As they played a number of tunes that Bucky and his uncles taught John as a boy, it seemed that John’s, not acceptance, but celebration of his father’s spirit provided the greatest kind of public tribute possible. As Bucky would lead, John would follow, and eventually the conversation flowed without words, and in fact in a manner that surpassed words. When Bucky dropped back into a relaxed swing, John evoked his teenage fascination with the Beatles and rock. The night before, when John’s trio played, he took time out of his performance to give the family history of Joe Mooney’s influence on Bucky and of the brother-and-sister-and-father-and-uncles jam sessions. Music was a means for family communication and closeness.
Obviously, this isn’t a review about the Pizzarellis’ duo. However, the same family connection appears to be present on Conversation, wherein father Tony and son Michel join in a performance that achieves more than the playing of notes or the accompaniment of one another or the entertainment of an audience. It puts on public display, and in public audio format, an understanding between the father who encouraged his son to play piano in spite of his serious physical handicaps—and who released his son to the world as the teenager joined Charles Lloyd half a world away. And the son reciprocates with love and appreciation during this concert in Lyon, France, in 1992. Even though the son is gone and the father survives, the recording exists as a documentation of their convergence of styles and similarities of spirit.
With the lightness and vigor of his rhythm guitar, Tony not only follows Michel, but also on “Summertime” he creates a casual sophistication the belies the technical mastery that they both exhibit. Somewhat similar in feel to Nat Cole’s trio, the fact that the Petruccianis lack a bass doesn’t affect the movement of the performance. Michel slyly plays the bass lines himself as he improvises and alternates the chord changes with the left. This bi-dextral ability is most evident on “Billie’s Bounce,” on which father and son play the rippling bop lines in unison as Michel walks his left hand in reference to the double-bass function. Even as he solos, his single-noted left-hand accents never cease.
Even as they respectfully comp behind the other and trade choruses on tunes like “My Funny Valentine” or “Someday My Prince Will Come” (a song perfectly suited to the sound of this duo), they allow the audience to hear each musician singly. Tony solos on “Nuages,” recalling the French lineage of guitar interpretatins of Django Reinhardt’s tune. By the same token, Michel interprets Miles Davis’ “Nardis” on his own, wrapping twists and turns into the musical portrait that he paints, the final half tone resolution an insistent motive within the tune.
In honor of the occasion of the father-and-son tour, Tony wrote “Michel’s Blues,” the structure of the tune serving as the basis for the familial interchange. Its complexity isn’t as important as the fact that it allows for them to have fun with it, one lick inspiring the other to pick it up and embellish it.
A number of Michel Petrucciani CD’s have been released after his passing, including Michel Petrucciani: Concerts Inédits, with his brother Louis. Perhaps Conversation, though, is the most historically significant, relaxed and personally meaningful.
Track Listing: Summertime, Sometime Ago, All The Things You Are, My Funny Valentine, Nuages, Nardis, Michel
Personnel: Michel Petrucciani, piano; Tony Petrucciani, guitar

Monty Alexander Trio
Love Me Tender

By EastWind
Veteran pianist Monty Alexander left Jamaica and came to the United States at age 17. This new recording for Venus Records celebrates his 50 years in the land of jazz. Known for his straight ahead sensibilities and sometimes considered a successor of Oscar Peterson, his long career has widened his musical spectrum and brought maturity to his playing.
Soulful, swinging, funky and decidedly straight ahead, Alexander's maturity brought a certain richness and relaxed elegance to his playing. With his trusted rhythm section, he plays standards and a couple of his originals, plus a few of Ray Brown's (his mentor and early collaborator) repertory. This is one of his strongest albums in recent years!
Recorded at Avatar Studio in New York on September 12 and 13, 2010.

Aldo Romano
Inner Smile

By Dreyfus
Aldo Romano se joue des conventions et ne cesse d’avancer. Il distille ses coups de baguettes comme d'autres vont déguster un bon vin, avec un raffinement qui n'empêche jamais l'ivresse.
Infatigable créateur, il revient avec ce nouvel album, enregistré dans son pays d’origine, l’Italie.
Entouré de ses amis, Aldo a composé la quasi totalité des titres et donne de nouvelles sublimes mélodies.
Interprétées par Enrico Rava à la trompette ou Baptiste Trotignon au piano, Thomas Bramerie assurant la solidité rythmique.

01. Positano (Aldo Romano) 04:09
02. More (Marcello Cirociolini, Nino Oliviero, Riziero Ortolani) 05:11
03. Kind Of Autumn (Aldo Romano, Baptiste Trotignon, Enrico Rava, Thomas Bramerie) 04:09
04. Anny's Lullaby (Aldo Romano) 03:32
05. Il Piacere (Aldo Romano) 03:38
06. Old Devil Moon (Burton Lane, E.Y. Harburg) 05:34
07. Inner Smile (Aldo Romano) 04:01
08. My Funny Valentine (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers) 08:52
09. Where Is Aldo? (Baptiste Trotignon) 02:06
10. E Si Sogna (Aldo Romano) 02:56
11. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You (Ned Washington, George Bassman) 04:21

Enrico Rava: trumpet
Baptiste Trotignon: piano
Thomas Bramerie: double bass
Aldo Romano: drums

Ettore Fioravanti
Le Vie Del Pane e Del Fuoco

By Neri Pollastri
Decolla lentamente questo lavoro del nuovo quartetto di Ettore Fioravanti, che include due giovani leve della scuola romana accanto a un navigato musicista come Marcello Allulli. Le prime due tracce, infatti, suonano un po' troppo rilassate, poco inventive e alla fin fine un po' già sentite, sul solco di quel jazz melodico del quale lo stesso Fioravanti ci ha offerto in passato alcune pagine magistrali, ad esempio una decina d'anni orsono con il suo Belcanto, ma che qui appare opacizzato.
Però con la radicalmente rivista versione di "Brava," di Bruno Canfora e portata al successo negli anni Sessanta da Mina, le cose cominciano a cambiare: chitarra e batteria suonano ritmicamente assieme, si aprono spazi per il tenore di Allulli, le atmosfere acquistano originalità. La quota si alza ancora in "Walk on the Wild Side" di Lou Reed, dove Benini apre in country friselliano, quasi parodiando il brano originale, fino a offrire uno spazio di intensità dinamica a Fioravanti ed Allulli, che si producono in un lacerante free che conserva memoria del tema. Il ritorno alle origini, con il delicato "Scrigno" di Fioravanti (in realtà brano già noto come "Girotondo" fin da Ricercar Scintille, del 1997), assume così tutt'altro peso e conferisce ben altro equilibrio al complesso del disco. Che trova poi una sua sintesi nel successivo "Mantra," di Allulli, ove tensione dinamica, espressività e lirismo si fondono pienamente.
In tal modo, la cifra del quartetto e del disco assume una sua autonoma originalità. Resta tuttavia la sensazione che si potesse fare di più, volando in quota più a lungo. Per farlo, sarebbe stato forse necessario che Benini fosse più ardito e si liberasse più spesso da alcuni cliché che attraversano le sue pur tecnicamente ineccepibili improvvisazioni e che Ponticelli avesse con continuità fatto sentire la presenza del suo contrabbasso come avviene nella conclusiva "Black Hair," non a caso di sua composizione. Ma si tratta appunto dei due membri più giovani del quartetto ed è quindi ragionevole che debbano ancora mettere a punto qualcosa. Li aspettiamo alle prossime prove di questo interessante gruppo. Così come l'ospite, il pianista Enrico Zanisi, presente gradito in tre delle nove tracce.
Visita il sito di Ettore Fioravanti.
Elenco dei brani:
1. Red (Ponticelli) - 5:38; 2. Fiordalisi (Fioravanti) - 6:49; 3. Brava (B. Canfora) - 3:57; 4. Aria di vetro (Bonini) - 5:44; 5. Walk on the Wild Side (L. Reed) - 6:21; 6. Scrigno (Fioravanti) - 7:16; 7. Manta (Allulli) - 5:35; 8. Strategia della tensione (Bonini) - 6:20; 9. Black Hair (Ponticelli) - 5:32.
Ettore Fioravanti (batteria), Marcello Allulli (sax tenore), Marco Benini (chitarra), Francesco Ponticelli (contrabbassi), Enrico Zanisi (piano in 2, 7 e 9).

Wallace Roney

by Glenn Astarita
One of the premier modern jazz trumpeters, Wallace Roney's Home fuses postmodernism with a classic 60's Blue Note Records stylization and touts the best of many jazz worlds on this superfine 2012 release. Over the years, Roney has developed a stylistic realm of sound amid inferences to Miles Davis's bluesy intonations. The band, including Roney's talented brother and saxophonist Antoine, glide through original compositions and works by renowned jazz artists. The ensemble launches the festivities with a warmhearted and contrasting take on Wayne Shorter's "Utopia," brimming with the hornists' thematic expansions and blustery solos.
Here and throughout, the musicians use space as an enhancer. Wallace Roney maximizes his attack via articulate voicings, spiked with flickering breakouts and near effortless fluency. Power and eloquence attain equal footing as the artists often dig deep from within.
Guitar great John McLaughlin's "Pacific Express" is dappled with a touch of Miles Davis's "Bitches Brew" jazz fusion, sparked by Aruan Ortiz's electronic keys that counter's an air of mystery, modeled by the leader's deftly enacted muted lines and a loose, funk-rock vibe. And the band shifts gears on "Dawn," which is an up-tempo ballad layered by Doug Carn's organ phrasings, and the frontline's breezy notes atop a smoothly flowing Latin pulse as the band throttles the pitch and pursues an open-air forum. However, "Ghost" is a piece that aptly conveys ethereal attributes, due to the trumpeter's dark voicings that resonate with clairvoyant underpinnings.
Home is an album that offers respite from many of the post-bop products that seemingly flood the market these days, largely devised on knotty time signatures sans any tangible or memorable melody lines. Nonetheless, Wallace Roney's artistry radiates to the hilt with this impeccably arranged program that discloses additional rewards on subsequent listens.

Tracks: Utopia, Home, Pacific Express, Plaza Real, Dawn, Evolution of the Blues, Ghost of Yesterday, Revive.
Musicians:Wallace Roney (trumpet), Antoine Roney (soprano & tenor saxophones), Aruan Ortiz (keyboards), George Burton (Fender Rhodes, #4), Doug Carn (organ, #5), Rahshaan Carter (bass), Kush Abadey (drums, #1,3 & 6), Darryl Green (drums, #4 & #5), Bobby Ward (drums, #2, 7 & 8), Shakoor Sanders (percussion, #2).

Eli Degibri
Israeli Song

By Dan Bilawsky
If jazz buffs were approached at the start of the 1990s and asked to list some top-flight Israeli jazz musicians, plenty of them wouldn't be able to utter a single name. That just goes to show how much the times have changed. In 2010, Israeli-born jazz musicians are among the brightest stars in modern jazz and saxophonist Eli Degibri's name is high up on this list. Degibri arrived in the United States in 1997—to attend Berklee—and he ended up in the Big Apple in 2002, where he began to make a name for himself as one of the most consistently engaging forces on the scene. While he's had the opportunity to work with legendary figures like pianist Herbie Hancock, his own recordings—up to this point—have always featured his contemporaries, such as drummer Jeff Ballard and pianist Aaron Goldberg.
With Israeli Song, Degibri moves in a different direction and, in the process, has put together what is, perhaps, one of the best small groups to show up on record this year. Brad Mehldau mans the piano chair on this recording and two legendary alumni of trumpeter Miles Davis—bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster—round out the rest of the quartet. While this type of line-up might seem like a gimmick, meant to draw fans in with big names, that's not the case. Degibri has been an important presence in Foster's band for eight years and Carter connected with the saxophonist after he left Berklee to attend the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance.
Degibri's originals make up more than half of the program, but each member of the band also contributes one piece, and a pair of choice chestnuts—Dizzy Gillespie's "Bebop" and Harold Arlen's "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"—also make it onto the program. Within these selections, Degibri also takes the opportunity to settle into duo dialogues with each band member at one time or another. "Bebop" brings Degibri and Foster together, as the saxophonist positively burns over the drummer's constant comping. Foster rightly pays tribute to bop drumming pioneers like Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, but marries their ideals with his own ideas and assertions. "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" gives Carter and Degibri a chance to connect on a softer selection, while the emotionally riveting "Israeli Song"—along with "Liora"—are all about the saxophone-piano relationship. Mehldau adds some heightened drama to the former and the latter features some fun rhythmic toying.
The rest of the material hits on a variety of moods and subtle musical events are ever-present. Degibri's singing saxophone gently moves over Mehldau's roving piano on the pianist's "Unrequited," but Degibri builds to a more intense peak and seems to separate himself—sound-wise—from the band as time moves on. The saxophonist pays tribute to Carter—like saxophonist John Coltrane paid tribute to bassist Paul Chambers ("Mr. P.C.")—with "Mr. R.C." While Carter's solo here is a virtual clinic on taste and technical possibilities for the soloing string player, the way he always chooses the right notes as an accompanist—and works as a team player—is the real reason that Ron Carter is the preeminent bassist of our time. "Judy The Dog" is a peppy piece that weds swing and funk feels, and Foster is on fire during his own funk-laced "Look What You Do To Me." "Jealous Eyes"—the obligatory ballad—demonstrates brilliant pliability within the rhythmic creations of Carter and Mehldau, while "Manic Depressive" is a prime piece of gin-soaked bluesiness, complete with a terrific tenor performance from Degibri. Balance is the key to this record, and these 11 performances manage to be modern enough for the contemporary scene, traditional enough for those who don't tread in deeper waters and good enough to be considered one of the best recordings of the year.
Unrequited; Mr. R.C.; Judy The Dog; Jealous Eyes; Manic Depressive; Bebop; Liora; Look What You Do To Me; Third Plane; Somewhere Over The Rainbow; Israeli Song.
Eli Degibri: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Brad Mehldau: piano; Ron Carter: bass; Al Foster: drums.

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