Saturday, October 27, 2012

2 Sem 2012 - Part Seventeen

Brian Bromberg
In The Spirit of Jobim

By Stanton Lawrence( )
Presented as a simultaneous release with “Bromberg Plays Hendrix”, Brian Bromberg continues to deliver the goods with “In The Spirit of Jobim”. Paying tribute to the great Brazilian Bossa Nova Master, Antonio Jobim, Bromberg offers seven original Jobim inspired songs, alongside five Jobim classics. To stay true to the music, Bromberg has brought together a stellar line up of Brazilian musicians as well as The Rising Sun Orchestra. To further enhance the authenticity, Bromberg had a nylon-stringed acoustic bass made with piccolo tuning to emulate the sound of a nylon string guitar. Don’t let his foray into the higher octaves fool you, Bromberg’s deep, rich upright tones are ever present, steadily holding down the low end.
Well produced and filled with breezy, lush arrangements Bromberg truly does manage to capture the spirit of Jobim. One can’t help but feel the depth and thoughtfulness that is put into each track, faithfully delivering Jobim’s original treasures; “One Note Samba”, “Wave”, “Tristefinado”, “Corcovado” and “The Girl From Ipanema” with both style and grace. The additional Bromberg penned tracks, stay true to the genre, capturing the soul of Jobim’s music, once again proving Bromberg’s virtuosity. 10/10.

Brad Mehldau Trio
Where Do You Start

By John Kelman
Hot on the heels of Brad Mehldau's Ode (Nonesuch, 2012)—the pianist's first all-original set with his current trio—comes Where Do You Start, culled from the same recording sessions but, with the exception of one Mehldau tune, all cover material. This isn't the first time Mehldau has split a particularly fruitful session down the same compositional line: Anything Goes (Warner Bros.) and House on Hill (Nonesuch) were both same from the same sessions, recorded with original drummer Jorge Rossy before he left the trio to return to Spain. But the two were released two years apart—the cover-song Anything in 2004 and all-original House in 2006—whereas Where Do You Start comes a mere six months after Ode.
For some, this kind of accelerated release schedule can be a problem, but if guitarist Bill Frisell has proven anything, with four albums in the space of less than thirty months—from Beautiful Dreamers (Savoy Jazz, 2010) through Floratone II (Savoy Jazz, 2012)—it's that if you've established a strong fan base, you can be more aggressive with your release schedule. Despite being literally a generation apart, Mehldau's similarly rapid ascension—since first appearing in the early 1990s, to a rarefied space occupied, in his case, by living pianists including Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock—has been the direct result of a discography with plenty of hits and really no misses of which to speak.
Of course there's a difference when Mehldau, longtime bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard tackle cover material rather than a set of originals, although Where Do You Start's eclectic song selection—ranging from well-worn standards like saxophonist Sonny Rollins' "Airegin" (taken at a fast clip, with the familiar melody skewed ever so slightly) to Billy Roberts' near- Jungian hit for Jimi Hendrix, "Hey Joe" (surprisingly literal, even leading to the psychedelic guitar legend's familiar power riff)—provides and encourages the same flexibility and freedom as Mehldau's own writing. The sole Mehldau piece, "Jam," is really just a vamp that is tagged to the end of a gentle reading of Chico Buarque's "Samba E Amor," featuring a lengthy but wonderfully restrained solo that reaffirms the pianist is now in a place where he's nothing left to prove.
Of course, Mehldau burns aplenty elsewhere, with the kind of frightening two-hand technique that has distinguished him from so many others. His "Hey Joe" may be relatively faithful, as is "Got Me Wrong," but the Alice in Chains hit provides a chance, in his impressive opening solo, for the pianist to set a very high bar for the rest of the set. From a soft look at Sufjan Stevens' "Holland," that is as much a feature for Grenadier's spare but perfect choices, to a more straight-ahead take on trumpeter Clifford Brown's "Brownie Speaks" (but still, with Mehldau's fugue-like approach), and a particularly lyrical close with the Mandel/Bergman/Bergman title track, Where Do You Start isn't so much an alternative as it is further evidence—as if any were needed—of this tremendous trio's ability to take any material—old, new, borrowed or original—and make it firmly its own.
Brad Mehldau: piano; Larry Grenadier: bass; Jeff Ballard: drums.
Got Me Wrong (Jerry Cantrell); Holland (Sufjan Stevens); Brownie Speaks (Clifford Brown);
Baby Plays Around (Elvis Costello & Cait O’Riordan); Airegin (Sonny Rollins); Hey Joe (Billy Roberts);
Samba e Amor (Chico Buarque); Jam (Brad Mehldau); Time Has Told Me (Nick Drake)
Aquelas Coisas Todas (Toninho Horta); Where Do You Start? (Johnny Mandel, Marilyn Bergman & Alan Bergman) 

Vince Mendoza
Nights On Earth

by William Ruhlmann
The idea of "jazz composing" can seem a contradiction in terms, since the essence of jazz is improvisation, while composing is by definition planning in advance what music will sound like. Yet Vince Mendoza is very much a jazz composer (in addition to being an arranger and conductor), and Nights on Earth is his first album of original compositions in 13 years, since 1997's Epiphany. Mendoza recorded that album with the London Symphony Orchestra; here, he employs members of the Metropole Orkest on five of 12 tracks, but for the most part, he uses jazz musicians. (Mendoza himself actually performs on only two tracks, playing keyboards on "Shekere" and "The Night We Met.") The album title suggests a lot about the contents, since the reference to night signals that the music is low-key, set at slow tempos as if anticipating the wind-down to sleep (the last track is even called "Lullaby"), and the reference to earth is fulfilled by the world music elements, with styles ranging from South American to African, with instrumentation to match. Mendoza tends to set up a loose musical structure and then bring in a series of soloists to play over it, as he does in "Poem of the Moon," for instance, which has a piano theme played by Kenny Werner, followed by Jim Walker's flute and John Abercrombie's electric guitar. The jazz musicians have a lot of freedom to solo as they please, even as the frame set by the composer contextualizes their efforts. This is particularly striking when Mendoza uses unusual juxtapositions of instruments, such as the bandoneon of Hector del Curto contrasted with Arnaud Sussmann's violin on "Addio." The difficulty in defining the genre of music increases toward the end of the album, with the overt classical influences in "Everything Is You," particularly with Alan Pasqua's piano work, and Fred Sherry's cello solo in "Lullaby." Maybe the overall term must be "jazz" for lack of a better one, but by the end it doesn't really matter, as Mendoza has created his own night-time musical world.
Track Listing:
Otoño; Poem Of The Moon; Ao Mar; Conchita; The Stars You Saw; Addio; Shekere; Beauty and Sadness; The Night We Met; Gracias; Everything Is You; Lullaby.
Vince Mendoza: composer, conductor, arranger, keyboards (7, 9); Lorraine Perry: vocals (10); Luciana Souza: vocals (3); Tom Diakite: kora and vocals (7); Jim Walker: flute (2, 11); Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone (5, 8); Bob Mintzer: tenor saxophone and bass clarinet (3, 11); Stephane Guillaume: tenor and soprano saxophone (4, 7); Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet (3); Rick Todd: french horn (1, 4, 11); Jim Self: tuba (1, 4); John Abercrombie: electric guitar (2, 5, 8); John Scofield: electric guitar (3, 10); Nguyên Lê: electric guitar (1, 4, 7); Romero Lubambo: acoustic guitar (3); Louis Winsberg: acoustic guitar (1); Alan Pasqua: piano (1, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11); Kenny Werner: piano (2, 5, 8); Larry Goldings: organ (1, 4, 10); Michel Alibo: electric bass (7); Jimmy Johnson: electric bass (1, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11); Christian McBride: acoustic bass (2, 5, 8); Peter Erskine: drums (1, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11); Greg Hutchinson: drums (2, 5, 8); Karim Ziad: drums (7); Alex Acuna: percussion (1, 3, 11); Luis Conte: percussion (4, 9, 10); Christo Cortez: palmas (1); Rhani Krija: percussion ( 7); Miguel Sanchez: palmas and cajon (1); Hector del Curto: bandoneon (6, 9, 12); Marcia Dickstein: harp (2, 11); Andy Narrell: steel drums (4); Jesse Mills: violin (6, 9); Arnaud Sussman: violin (6, 9); Dov Sheindlin: viola (6, 9); Fred Sherry: cello (6, 9, 12); Gregg August: contrabass (6, 9); Judd Miller: synthesizer programming (7, 9); Sarah Koch: concert master (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Erica Korthals Altes: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); David Peijnenborgh: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Pauline Terlouw: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Giles Francis: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Petra Griffioen: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Doesjka de Leu: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Seija Teeuwen: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Merijn Rombout: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Herman van Haaren: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Lucja Domski: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Wim Kok: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Elizabeth Liefkes-Cats: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Marianne van den Heuvel: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Laurie Vreeken-Bos: violin (2, 3, 5, 7, 8);: Mieke Honingh: viola (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Norman Jansen: viola (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Julia Jowet: viola (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Isabella Petersen: viola (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Alex Welch: viola (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Bastiaan van der Werf: cello (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Maarten Jansen: cello (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Wim Grin: cello (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Annie Tangberg: cello (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Erik Winkelmann: contrabass (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Arend Liefkes: contrabass (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Tjerk de Vos: contrabass (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Eddy Koopman: percussion (2, 3, 5, 7, 8);: Joke Schonewille: harp (2, 3, 5, 7, 8); Hans Vroomans: piano (2, 3, 5, 7, 8).

Tigran Hamasyan
A Fable

By Charles Walker
The young, Armenian-born pianist Tigran Hamasyan possesses an almost intimidating virtuosity, a style that owes as much to Art Tatum's two-handed volubility and the sweeping refinement of Impressionist composers as it does to the spiraling, East-meets-West melodies of his homeland. Winner of the 2006 Thelonious Monk Institute's piano competition, New Era (2008, Nocturne) found Hamasyan settling into a familiar, if impressive trio aesthetic, mining the angular vernacular of modern jazz piano on now-standard vehicles like "Well, You Needn't" or "Solar," as well as on some of his own lovely compositions. So it is a welcome surprise to hear the dreamlike, tinkling sustain of the minute-long "Rain Shadow" that opens this new disc almost like a lullaby, an otherworldly state that A Fable, by and large, maintains across its length. For Hamasyan's first solo album, gone are the walking bass, the stabs at jazz-based legitimacy, or any outright forays into the typical jazz canon. Instead, he produces his first fully mature work, in an individual style utterly unlike anything else on the market.
Folklore certainly seems to be on the pianist's mind. Both the titles of tunes ("A Fable," "Kakavik (The Little Partridge)," or "The Legend of the Moon") and the way many of the tracks build themselves around simple, almost childlike melodies attest to this return to roots. "Longing" is perhaps the finest example of this on the album: the melody, sentimental but not cloying, is rendered in a haunting pianissimo with minimal improvisation, as the pianist recites two quatrains about exile and homecoming from the Armenian poet Hovhannes Tumanyan in a beautifully unadorned singing voice. These fragile, touching moments are plentiful on A Fable, "The Legend of the Moon" or "Mother, Where Are You?" introducing a rich body of balladic work that eschews technical fireworks in favor of powerful emotional connection.
The pianist is still capable of raising the tempo when needed, however, which gives the set a much needed sense of variety. With equally evocative melodies, both "What the Waves Brought" and "Samsara" launch into dense, fleet-fingered territory, ricocheting from one arpeggiated cluster to the next with centrifugal force. A touch of Liszt's Rhapsodies, Debussy's Arabesques or even Jacques Ibert's "Little White Donkey" collide with the modal melodic sense of his Armenian heritage, and are then allowed to evolve freely through his improviser's sensibility. In the faster sections, the precision of Hamasyan's touch, his volume control and the independence of his hands are absolutely breathtaking. How impressive, that even during these showpieces for his technique, he still manages to tether himself to an unimpeachable emotional core.
"Someday My Prince Will Come" is the album's sole nod to jazz music proper, but even it is filtered through the prism of what is obviously an increasingly confident, individual voice. If A Fable is Hamsyan's method of coming home, we are lucky that he invites us along for the ride. His world is a stirring place to spend an hour.
Track Listing:
Rain Shadow; What The Waves Brought; The Spinners; Illusion; Samsara; Longing; Carnaval; The Legend of the Moon; Someday My Prince Will Come; Kakavik (The Little Partridge); A Memory That Became A Dream; A Fable; Mother, Where Are You?
Personnel: Tigran Hamasyan: piano, voice.

Alfredo Rodriguez
Sounds Of Space

By flossfarmer
It's amazing to me that a person so young could write and play music this accomplished. Coming from Cuba, Alfredo Rodriguez plays a wonderful style of jazz with Latin influences. Classically trained, he lays down blazing fast riffs that are complex and extremely well written. However these accolades are the same reasons I take issue with the work. He plays with such intensity and so fast, much of the emotion is lost. The crescendos are muted and there are no soft melodic parts of consequence. Still it's a brilliant effort. I look forward to hearing much more from Alfredo Rodriguez. If you like technically complex music, this is for you.
Mack Avenue label.
Recording information: 
Downtown Studios, New York, NY; Westlake Studios, Hollywood, CA. Sounds of Space
Photographer: Anna Webber.
Release Date Mar 26, 2012
Producer Maria Ehrenreich; Alfredo Rodriguez; Quincy Jones
Engineer Humberto Gatica; Adolfo Martinez "Fito"; Hector Castillo
Recording Time 58 minutes
Personnel: Alfredo Rodriguez (piano) Sounds of Space album.
Audio Mixers: Dave Way; Cristián Robles; Humberto Gatica Sounds of Space CD music.
1 Qbafrica; 2 Sueno De Paseo ; 3 Silence ; 4 Cu-Bop ; 5 April ; 6 Oxygen; 7 Sounds of Space;
8 Crossing the Border ;9 ...Y Bailaria La Negra? (a Ernesto Lecuona) ; 10 Transculturation ;
11 Fog

Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio
What A Wonderful Trio !

By Nedbank Classic Credit
My first encounter with Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio was when I acquired the Trio's Midnight Sugar CD by chance in a Record Shop (La ViVa)in Benoni(South Africa). The CD was recommended to me by the shop owner after I requested him for "something fresh and swinging" - I never regretted the purchase because there is a huge scarcity of Imported CD silmilar to this one and by Asian jazz giants in these shores. I am in fact one of a very few collectors in the country to own these gems of trio swing CD.(I am saying this with my tongue knotted because there may be other collectors in S.A. owning this discs.
Having acquired "WHAT A WONDERFUL TRIO" the wonder of MIDNIGHT SUGAR is here continued with aplomp by this piano self-taught genius - Tsuyoshi. The accompaniment he receives from his bassist and drummist compatriots puts a cherry on the top of this WONDER....
The crystal clarity sound emitting from this disc is impeccably engineered - a futuristic sound I hope and pray can be heard from all good jazz CDs. I am proud to own this DISC.
Consisting of some beautiful standards such as Smoke Gets into Your Eyes, Star Dust, Sunflower, plus some terrific new pieces created by Yamamoto, the music and sonic excellence has definitely surpassed his last album
Recorded in Tokyo on July 6 2008
In DXD digital format, the details of the music are just awesome, the dynamics are scary and the musicality is so rich
This explains why extreme high definition is so important - once you've heard it, you cannot go back!
RECORDING July 6 2008
Tsuyoshi Yamamoto – piano
Hiroshi Kagawa – bass
Toshio Osumi - drums
another holiday; stardust; happy soccer striker; smoke gets into your eyes; autumn leaves; 
sunflower (solo piano); slow blues; obsession; dark eyes - Total running time – 60:22.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


By Claudio Botelho
“If you haven’t heard of Phronesis, you probably live in the United States, the most ethnocentric and isolated of the world’s jazz markets. Phronesis is one of the hottest new piano trios in Europe. Their previous recording, Alive, also on the British label Edition, was named “Jazz Album of the Year” in several UK polls in 2010.” (Thomas Conrad, Stereophile magazine, September/2.012 issue).

Why is this? Why the Americans don’t look around? Why the substantial majority of that country senators never left their homeland, even as simply tourists? Are they different specimens of the so called “human race”? Were they, in the beginning of the human race, made from another clay, so that their heritage has given birth to a people with different feelings?
It’s common knowledge that Americans consume 40% of all things produced in this planet and that the population extant is around three hundred million people; some 4 to 5% of the people on earth.
To have such a high rate of consumption is to have an equally prodigious rate of activity and this, as we all know, have brought together many, many, many novelties; an uncommon number of inventions; from the now ubiquitous blue jeans, in the early days of last century (or at the end of its antecedent), to some fantastic photographs of Mars we’ve been receiving from Curiosity these days. This is just to show two examples more than one hundred years apart one from the other. Meanwhile, Internet; Google; Facebook…
That country has a wide variety of climates, has an Atlantic and a Pacific coasts and, excepting volcanoes, their people had to learn to deal with all sorts of nature phenomena. It’s been leading the world for some hundred years now and, no wonder, its people have a lot to do at home!
So, Mr. Conrad, I don’t think your fellow countrymen are that ethnocentric: they just don’t have much time to wander around. (Not so long ago, they thought we’d been all living in a jungle here in Brazil and that Buenos Aires was our Washington D.C!)
I’m at ease to say this, for some reasons: Mr. Conrad has been writing about jazz for more than twenty years now; was born in the US; has travelled abroad frequently; specializes in writing about jazz piano trios and, finally, is quite right when he says Americans don’t know much what happens outside their country. But, who knows, maybe some tangible reason may exist: just like the one above…
Thus, I just wanted to bring an explanation I find logical, something I feel may give a little light on this subject; a finding which could lead us to believe the humans are made from the same piece of cloth and that, as a general rule, behavior differences result from distinct circumstances of life. IMHO…
No doubt there’s a plethora of excellent jazz musicians in other countries and I would say Italy is in the forefront. I’m sure it’s a pity to keep the Americans from enjoying so many great jazz players scattered around the world.
To listen to musicians like Claudio Filippini, Piero Frassi, Dario Carnovale, Max Ionata, Rita Marcotolli, Lorenzo Tucci, Luciano Biondini, Ricardo Fioravanti, Antonio Faraò, Danilo Rea, Luigi Martinale, Antonio Principe, Ettore Carucci, Juri Dal Dan, Vicenzo Danize, Giovanni Mirabassi, most of them piano players and all from Italy, is an exercise of sophistication and good taste. (Note: I purposely missed Enrico Pieranunzi, Stefano Bollani, Francesco Cafiso, Paolo Fresu, Enrico Rava and Franco D’Andrea. It would be a no-brainer listing…)
I could include many more names of equally qualified musicians as, in that country, there’s a constant flow of new breeds of wonderful musicians which Americans should take notice. These days, I find myself mostly listening to Italian jazzmen for the simple fact that they’ve been producing more jazz than the Americans. At least the jazz that appeals to me.
I don’t know if Mr. Wynton Marsalis would have an explanation for this occurrence, but it seems to me those Europeans are more in tune with the established cannons of jazz, maybe a bit more akin to the way of playing of the east cost of the US and, so, less New Orleanesque than that jazzman would like. Certainly, out of reverence for an idiom they’re lending from the Yankees. I feel it looks like they’re a bit more traditionalists, less adventurous, so to speak, than their American counterparts. You see, I’m talking about music structure; I’m trying to say they seem to follow the patterns of music construction more conservatively than the others from this side of the Atlantic Ocean, without, nevertheless, detracting an iota from their creativity which, as in any art they profess, speaks unusually high.
(As a matter of the fact, along the years, I have witnessed that, from time to time, come up groups which try to substitute the sheer beauty of the music itself for different and even extravagant ways of playing, in an effort to, relying on freshness, attract attention to themselves. It’s a trick which has no lasting consequences, unless it comes along with real meaning; a stirring value in the realms of music. Otherwise (and that is almost always the norm), as fast as they arrive, they vanish into forgetfulness…
The specialized press and those seekers of novelties frequently rush into spreading the “newness” of the season, each for different reasons, just to discover, a little later, they were too hurried and that they should have taken it easier. Meanwhile, some undue credits were given without the necessary sound basis…)
Europeans, by and large, maybe reflecting their older culture, are more cautions and, in spite of the cost of being taxed conservative, have taken the path to polish their art and present it in a more orthodox way. Those who indulge to jazz are closer to the classical conservatories, and this is easy to recognize in their works.
Is this a characteristic which may diminish their endeavors? I don’t think so: if, one strives to get into the unknown, the other rather perfects his efforts, investing in solidity. We need both of them: the adventurers and the perfectionists and each have their admirers… A blend of both would make this art perfect.
The greatness of the American consumer market would benefit a lot the jazz if it could embrace more incisively the works done in other places of the planet. We, “Amazonians” bellow the equator line, would be very much pleased, as none of Amazon affiliates in other countries sports such an exuberance of used CD’s marketers.
In the meantime, while this doesn’t happen, I advise you all (Americans or not) to listen to the following outings of American jazzists which have caught my attention these days:

1- Jessica Williams – Song of Earth. A solo piano of her own compositions which, more than any others, she knows how to play. For my taste, the best of her recent releases. To buy this CD is also to help her recovering from a recent spine surgery which has prevented her from playing and, so, earn her living.
2- Eddie Daniels & Roger Kellaway – Live at the Library of Congress. Two stupendous musicians, playing in an equally stupendous place, captured in a pristine recording. One of the greatest duos of my recent memory. Roger Kellaway – a magnificent piano player at all counts – recovered here from some erratic performances he’s been doing lately. Daniels proves he’s one of the premiere players around.
3- Orrin Evans – Freedom. Along with Dwayne Burno on bass and either Byron Landhan or Anwar Marshall on drums, with the occasional help of Larry Mckenna on sax, Evans shows he’s not a me-too player. This is a new voice to be followed. Mckenna’s contributions are addictive, in a way many simply don’t know how to do…
4- Randy Halberstadt – Parallel Tracks. It’s a real pity Halberstadt is so lazy and records so little. A strong pianist, with an impressive array of resources. What he does when he’s not in the studios?
5- Dena DeRose - Travelin' Light. Her best I've ever heard. She and herself at the piano have done some insightful renderings of great American standards in Belgium, in a live recording. For my taste, way ahead previous efforts she's done.
6- Ahmad Jamal - Blue Moon. Grandiose and subtle. Continuous alternation of moods, rhytms, you name it. A completness seldon heard from any player. A real master.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

2 Sem 2012 - Part Sixteen

Jake Saslow
Crosby Street

By Mark F. Turner
One of 2011's many notable debuts is saxophonist Jake Saslow's Crosby Street, an ode to the street in New York's iconic SoHo, where the musician's formative years recalled the neighborhood's sights, music, and people. An analogy is formed between the music and the community, one that speaks of a distinct personality carried in Saslow's full-bodied horn that's filled with lyricism and communication interpreted by peers and fellow-New Yorkers that include guitarist Mike Moreno and pianist Fabian Almazan.
The seven pieces visualize an assortment of aural dreamscapes and tempos, supported by bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore, as the soloists deliver lively movements in Saslow's "Early Riser" and "Taiga Forest." But it's the chord-less trio rendition of Horace Silver's "Lonely Woman" where Saslow's sepia-toned notes give a truer indication of his capabilities. Its depth and detail exudes not only knowledge of the source material but also a fresh statement.
"Lucky Thirteen" is the smoothest piece in set with its street-savvy cadence and elastic solos, whereas "Until Next Time" has the most personality. With a rich sonic quality it begins slowly with Saslow's sumptuous horn, before the melody changes and swings seductively, carried by Moreno's unique phrasing. It's got a certain ambiance and personality—just like a vibrant neighborhood, the essence of what Saslow's debut portrays.
Track Listing:
Early Riser; Taiga Forest; Lonely Woman; Lucky 13; Crosby Street; How Things Were; Until Next Time.
Personnel: Joe Martin: bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums; Jake Saslow: tenor saxophone; Mike Moreno: guitar; Fabian Almazan: piano.

Markelian Kapedani Trio
Balkan Bop

By C. Michael Bailey
Were we able to quantitate talent density as a function of label catalog size, Sergio Veschi's Red Records would doubtless be close to the top. His generosity to Italian and foreign musicians alike has resulted in a great jazz label. Albanian activist/pianist/composer Markelian Kapedani adds to this fine catalog with Balkan Bop, a standard piano trio performance of ten original compositions, marking his second recording for the label, after 2008's solo Balkan Piano.
Choosing a single track from this disc is a chore; the entire collection is uniformly fine. The title piece, however, illustrates amply the breadth of Kapedani considerable musical vision. The pianist's composing bears the hallmarks of careful study and consideration. Kapedani avoids the diaphanous and ethereal tone of other Eastern European trios in favor of a more volcanic and orchestral approach. In short, Kapedani's compositions have a beginning, a middle and a coda, all well constructed and precisely performed.
"Balkan Bop" illustrates how an assertive drummer can make a trio sound like a larger ensemble. Drummer Asaf Sirkis opens with a funk back-beat right out of the Clyde Stubblefield book, before getting down to business with more straight-ahead percussion. His sound is big and outspoken and needs to be, in order to equal that of the leader. Kapedani is a chain reaction of musical ideas, each building on the next. His performance is percussive without being aimless, playing hard, without losing momentum at tempo. The song is traditionally structured and so polished that it is blinding; uneful to the max and ending on an explosive Balkan fanfare. Bassist Yuri Goloubev proves a capable and equally powerful timekeeper and soloist. All of Balkan Bop is superb.
Personnel: Markelian Kapedani: piano; Yuri Goloubev: bass; Asaf Sirkis: drums

Jurgen Hagenlocher
Leap In The Dark

By Edward Blanco
German-born saxophonist Jürgen Hagenlocher's third album as a leader, Leap In The Dark, is an interestingly designed mix of traditional and modern-styled jazz—an interesting walk through a selection of eight sophisticated, airy and remarkably accessible original compositions. Recording in New York, Hagenlocher formed a new quintet for this album, retaining trumpet luminary Alex Sipiagin from his previous disc, and putting him alongside veteran pianist David Kikoski, bassist extraordinaire Boris Kozlov and drummer Nate Smith.
The saxophonist—who has recorded as a sideman with other groups in addition to composing and producing film scores—takes a leap of faith with this disc, exploring the modern side of jazz from a traditionalist foundation. The outcome is more than successful. Eschewing the familiar, less demanding approach of performing jazz standards or covering others' tunes, Hagenlocher chose to pen new, intricate melodies geared toward his goal of advancing and reshaping the music—this is not the usual contemporary sound that's just more of the same.
The dynamic duo of Hagenlocher and Sipiagin present a take-no-prisoners approach on the swinging "Pollyanna," the opener and first burner of the set, combining for a frontal attack with their horns before launching their individual salvos. The saxophonist and trumpeter, who play well off each other and together, provide the meat of the music. Nevertheless, the other players do claim their portion of this session with stellar solos and strong supportive instrumental work. Kozlov displays his talents with superb bass lines on "The Myth Of The Dreamcatcher" and elsewhere, while Smith is notable for his delivery of a strong introduction to "Corruptionists," as well for his aggressive playing on the title track.
Hagenlocher blows hard and furious on the title piece, delivering his version of tenor madness as Kikoski gets his opportunity to shine on electric piano. The feeling turns decidedly mellow with "April's Mood," a soft melodic number where the dynamic duo lends its skills in turns on warm solos. "Turmoils" is one of the outstanding charts of the set; Kikoski's dynamic chords on the acoustic piano guide the music on this truly modern burner.
The experiment in the dark ends on the blistering "Step By Step," another modern blazer that brings the group together for the last challenging tune of a scintillating jazz session. Though only his third album as leader, Jürgen Hagenlocher is no novice. He performs like a seasoned veteran and writes innovative, intelligent compositions. Leap in the Dark is an illuminating experience that brings to light an interesting artist with an exciting musical repertoire. It should be well-received and appreciated. Well done.
Track Listing:
Pollyanna; The Myth Of The Dreamcatcher; Leap In The Dark; Corruptionists; April's Mood; Turmoils; Dark Turns Bright; Step By Step.
Personnel: Jürgen Hagenlocher: tenor saxophone; Alex Sipiagin: trumpet, flugelhorn; David Kikoski: piano, electric piano; Boris Kozlov: bass; Nate Smith: drums.

Javier Constenla

By La Terraza Café Jazz
Nacido en Ourense. Comienza sus estudios musicales a los 9 años en el Conservatorio Profesional.Cursa estudios completos de armonía clásica, canto coral, solfeo, transporte y repentización,7 cursos de piano ,formas musicales , estética de la música.
Ha tocado en multitud de formaciones de rock, cabaret, folk, pop, orquestas de baile y formado parte de la "mítica" orquesta del circo internacional de "LOS MUCHACHOS" .
Despierta su interés por el jazz muy pronto, pero no es hasta los 24 años , que empieza a tocar en grupo "Abuña jazz" que con "Clunia" son los precursores del jazz en Galicia. En su mayoría autodidacta . Se traslada a Santiago de Compostela donde estudia en la "Escola-estudio" de música moderna y jazz (escuela perteneciente a la asociación internacional de escuelas de jazz IASJ) los 5 cursos de improvisación,7 de armonía y arreglos, combos,etc.
Asiste a numerosas Master class de músicos como Barry Harris, Skip hadden, Four in one con Sergio Pelaggio, Skip Hadden, Jarmo Savolainen, Dave Frank, Rick Peckham, Eric Urdaneta y un largo etc.
Al año de empezar estudios en ESCOLA ESTUDIO le proponen ser profesor de piano (hace 12 años) hasta hoy, residiendo en Santiago de Compostela.
Ha hecho giras musicales por JAPON, VENEZUELA, COLOMBIA, PORTUGAL, ARGENTINA, URUGUAY con diversos grupos y formaciones de Jazz .Ha trabajado como musico en Cabaret , compuesto música para teatro,etc.
Ha tocado con multitud de músicos de Galicia y de fuera de ella y participado en varios festivales de jazz como el I FESTIVAL de JAZZ de SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, EL PRIMER FESTIVAL DE JAZZ DE LALIN, FESTIVAL DE JAZZ DE MONFORTE, FESTIVAL DE JAZZ DE PRIMAVERA (LATINO)DE OURENSE , FESTIVAL DE JAZZ DE VIGO, FESTIVAL FEITO A MAN(Santiago) FESTIJAZZ (Viveiro)IBEROJAZZ etc...
En la actualidad trabaja con su trio : JAVIER CONSTENLA “IMPROVÍA” (siéndole otorgada "MENCIÓN ESPECIAL" como compositor en el concurso autor de la S.G.A.E. celebrado reciéntemente), el cuarteto "JAZZENCUENTRO", LEO GIANETTO JAZZ PROJECT (ha sacado cd recientemente) con el cantautor EMILIO RUA. Ha compuesto parte de la música para los espectáculos teatrales “ECOS E VOCES DUN TEMPO” y "MEMORIAS DE LA REPÚBLICA ESPAÑOLA" del TEATRO DO ATLANTICO.Colabora como COMPOSITOR y PIANISTA con ésta compañia de teatro y ha sido elegido reciéntemente director de LA BIG BAND de la DIPUTACIÓN de Ourense . En éste momento promocionando su primer trabajo discográfico como lider a trio : "MI MANERA" producido por Audia records.Recien llegado de una gira por Argentina y Uruguay,elegido su trio y la cantante Pilocha por la conselleria de cultura para representar musicalmente a Galicia en actuaciones para la emigracion con arreglos originales llevados al jazz, de repertorio clasico gallego.
Track List:
1. Caravan (6:05); 2. Deica (7:37); 3. Celia (6:10); 4. Pilar(5:10); 5. Preparate(4:56); 6. Jauria (8:04);
7. Mi Nina (6:40); 8. Podria Sucederte A Ti (11:00); 9. QS-8 (5:32); 10. Jauria 2 (6:52)
Javier Constenla (p); Miguel Cabana (ds); Quique Alvarado (elb)

Kapsa, Reininger, Fleau

Formé voici plus de quatre ans maintenant, le trio Sphère vient de publier avec Parhélie ce qui constitue en réalité son deuxième album, après Greenland Road, disque autoproduit paru en 2009. Sphère (on notera que cette dénomination n’apparaît pas sur le disque, publié sous la triple identité Kapsa-Reininger-Fleau) est la réunion attachante de trois jeunes musiciens dont la rencontre remonte à leurs années de formation au Centre des Musiques Didier Lockwood, et qui ont créé leur trio au bout de quelques mois. Le début d’un chemin qu’on souhaite le plus long possible.
On évitera d’emblée l’erreur consistant à lui chercher à tout prix une branche dans le grand arbre généalogique de la musique en général et du jazz en particulier. Certes, la formule piano-contrebasse-batterie est des plus éprouvées, et dans doute des plus difficiles à faire perdurer tant les références majeures sont écrasantes. De Bill Evans à Brad Mehldau en passant par Keith Jarrett, les figures tutélaires en paralyseraient plus d’un. Et si l’on devine aisément que la musique de Mehldau fait partie de ce que tous trois ont écouté et aimé, à l’écoute de Parhélie on sent vite que ce trio sans complexe a su s’en émanciper pour parvenir avec aplomb à ce Parhélie à la maturité et la petite musique séduisantes. Il n’est pas si courant que la première écoute d’un disque suscite une telle attraction.
Arrêtons-nous un instant sur le sens de ce nom masculin, qui n’est pas là par hasard mais définit le trio tel que le conçoivent Kapsa, Reininger et Fleau : « [...] phénomène optique, lié à celui du halo solaire, consistant en l’apparition de deux répliques de l’image du soleil, placées horizontalement de part et d’autre de celui-ci. ». Or, la marque de Sphère est bien l’absence de leader, chaque musicien composant et intervenant à égalité, en répétition comme sur scène, en position tantôt centrale, tantôt latérale, mais toujours au cœur et au service de la musique. Les silhouettes floues qui illustrent la pochette en sont la manifestation visuelle, démonstration d’une vraie volonté collective, mais aussi marque d’une humilité à souligner, confirmée par l’entretien que Jean Kapsa et Maxime Fleau nous ont accordé après le concert de Sphère au Théâtre du Petit Hébertot le 29 mai 2011.
Il y a dans Parhélie quelque chose de séduisant qui retient l’attention : un attachement profond à la cause mélodique (les dix compositions sont autant d’invitations (en)chantées), une sobriété de tous les instants, une saine interaction entre les musiciens qui ont bien retenu la leçon de l’improvisation comme proposition individuelle faite au groupe, invitation à l’émulation, et non manifestation d’un ego. Ces trois instrumentistes accomplis n’en viennent jamais à cacher derrière la virtuosité un éventuel manque d’inspiration. Au contraire, c’est leur sens de la retenue, leur manière de suspendre les notes et de créer la tension/l’attention qui nous entraîne dans un univers méditatif et chaleureux. Quand on les interroge sur cette simplicité bienvenue, les musiciens disent qu’elle est le fruit de quatre années de travail : « Au début, on avait tendance à vouloir tout déballer, à l’énergie ; on nous critiquait parfois pour ça. Alors on a vraiment travaillé dans le sens d’une plus grande retenue, il fallait laisser venir la musique, ne pas aller la chercher ».
Pour la petite histoire, rappelons que Jean Kapsa et Maxime Fleau forment aussi Festen, dont nous avons salué le premier disque. Deux formations très distinctes, toutefois : si la première s’imprègne volontiers de ses amours pour le rock et s’appuie sur des riffs et des scansions qui ne sont pas sans rappeler le travail d’E.S.T., le seconde revendique une identité jazz, une approche plus mélodique et plus libre dans ses improvisations.
Ce disque est produit par Mélisse, le label d’Edouard Ferlet, et on comprend que le pianiste ait pu se laisser séduire par les histoires musicales de Sphère : les qualités de Parhélie pourraient s’appliquer à son propre univers : même approche mariant mélancolie, élégance et pudeur, même apparente simplicité des compositions, même refus de l’exhibition virtuose même souci de l’aboutissement du travail. Autant d’atouts évidents dans le jeu de Jean Kapsa, Antoine Reininger et Maxime Fleau, dont on attend les projets en cours. Le deuxième album de Sphère germe, semble-t-il, d’ores et déjà dans leurs têtes. Accordons-leur notre confiance, ils nous réserveront certainement une belle surprise.
Jean Kapsa (p), Antoine Reininger (b), Maxime Fleau (dms)

2 Sem 2012 - Part Fifteen

George Benson
Guitar Man

By Jeff Winbush
At some point George Benson morphed from a guitarist who occasionally sang into a singer who occasionally played guitar. Benson's Breezin' (Warner Bros, 1976) launched his career trajectory to new heights based upon "This Masquerade," his only vocal turn on the album.
But oh, what a vocal "This Masquerade" was. It propelled Breezin' to Number One on the pop charts and the album won multiple Grammys, including Record of the Year, and his recording formula was set for the next 20 years. The follow-up, In Flight(Warner Bros, 1977) featured Benson's soulful tenor vocals on four of the six tracks and, while In Flight didn't boast a song as memorable as "This Masquerade," his guitar was still the musical centerpiece of the music.
Jazz aficionados rightly scratched their heads as Benson dove headlong into pop music and, by the time of 1984's 20/20 (Warner Bros, 1984), the guitar had virtually disappeared in a pea soup of limp arrangements, synthesizers and syndrums, the quintessential instrument that dates '80s records. The nadir of Benson's career might be Irreplaceable(GRP, 2004) which made a bid for hip-hop radio through sincere, but contrived tunes such as "Cell Phone," where Benson tried to place a call to heaven on the title device (no joke).
As a vocalist, Benson has proven to be at his best when the material is as strong as his 63 year old voice, and Guitar Man is a splendid showcase for it. The Beatles and Benson get along very well together (reference The Other Side of Abbey Road (A&M, 1969) for further evidence), as his skilled fingers strum the six strings on a lush interpretation of "I Want To Hold Your Hand." The mood of this recording is lights down low, slow dance and romance music. This is a record made by a grown-up for grown-ups. Benson has no need to make albums with one eye on the pop charts anymore. Recognizing his reign there is over, he can put his emphasis simply on playing and singing whatever he feels like.
Despite its title, Guitar Man doesn't feature a lot of frenzied jamming and high-flying solos, but Benson doesn't have to hammer with pyrotechnics. When he's on his game, as he is whether he's crooning Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour" or gently coaxing the notes out of his guitar on John Coltrane's "Naima," it's a demonstration of an artist confidently allowing the music to speak for itself.
Whether he's swinging on "Tequila," with keyboardist Joe Sample, drummer Harvey Mason, and bassist Ben Williams, loping through "Don't Know Why," or straight-up crooning on "My One and Only Love," Benson's sense of taste, phrasing and ability to swing remain undiminished by time. Ably assisted by an accomplished assemblage of musicians, this is one of the best albums of the year. Just don't call it a comeback. George Benson is still The Guitar Man—and even when it seemed he had forgotten for awhile, he always was.
Track Listing:
Tenderly; I Want To Hold Your Hand; My Cherie Amour; Naima; Tequila; Don't Know Why; The Lady In My Life; My One and Only Love; Paper Moon; Danny Boy; Since I Fell For You; Fingerlero.
George Benson: guitar, vocals; David Garfield: piano, keyboards, rhythm arrangement (2-8, 11, 12); Paul Jackson, Jr.: rhythm guitar (2); Ray Fuller: rhythm guitar (2); Freddie Washington: bass (2); Oscar Seaton, Jr. (2): drums; Charlie Bishart: violin, viola (2, 7); Dan Higgins: flute, alto flute, clarinet (2); Oscar Castro-Neves: orchestral arrangement (2); Ben Williams: bass (3-5, 7-9, 12); Harvey Mason: drums (3-5, 7-9, 12); Lenny Castro: percussion (3, 5, 6, 12); Joe Sample: piano (5, 8, 9, 12); Chris Walden: keyboards, string arrangement (7).

Randy Halberstadt
Flash Point

By Tim Taylor
Pianist Randy Halberstadt is a major player in the Pacific Northwest Jazz Scene. Flash Point is another fine presentation of post-bop jazz coming out of Seattle. Randy recorded this album with his working trio of Jeff Johnson-bass and Mark Ivester – drums adding Mark Taylor – alto sax and Thomas Marriott – trumpet to make it a quintet. Randy composed six of the nine songs recorded.
Flash Point begins with “Rigenia” and Randy steps out on piano with his trio to be joined in a few bars by the horns. It is truly a gem of good sounds of the post-bop genre with a minor sounding melody.
A very different take comes with “On Green Dolphin Street”. It has ever changing rhythms to set your mind and ears to working. Randy takes a generous solo and is joined in and out by the rest of the quintet taking their turns.
Randy’s composition “Unspoken” is a sweet blues piece with interaction between the players. Marriott is using a muted trumpet and Taylor dances sweetly with his alto sax with that rainy day, slow afternoon feel.
“Five by Three” glides smoothly along again with each musician taking a solo. The trumpet and sax join together with some good harmony. “Woofer” is a really fun piece with Randy playing on the low end of piano in unison with Johnson on bass countering with Marriott and Taylor on their horns.
“Better Than One” is tricky in its rhythms and a nice piece of ear candy. At times all the players pick up the melody in unison, then solo. The album closes with Sam Rivers’ “Beatrice,” featuring the trio only on this nice breezy tune.
Flash Point is a great listenable album. The sound quality is excellent, and the players can each be individually heard. I would say if you love the post-bop sound, you will be pleased with this album start to finish.
Randy Halberstadt – piano; Jeff Johnson – bass; Mark Ivester – drums; Mark Taylor – alto sax;
Thomas Marriott – trumpet/Flugelhorn
1. Rigenia; 2. On Green Dolphin Street; 3. Unspoken; 4. Five by Three; 5. Solar; 6. Discovery;
7. Woofer; 8. Better than One; 9. Beatrice

Bojan Z
Soul Shelter

By Ian Patterson
In twenty years as leader, pianist/composer Bojan Z has been judicious with the frequency and quality of his releases. Soul Shelter is his ninth CD in that time, and his first solo outing since Solobsession (Label Bleu, 2001). A new release by the pianist is always an event, and the wait, as always, has been worth it. The music on Soul Shelter covers wide stylistic territory and marks another significant milestone in Z's captivating career to date.
Ten of the eleven compositions are originals, and this marks the biggest shift from Solobssession, where almost half the tracks were interpretive ventures. Z's Balkan roots still influence much of the music, but he blends and bends genres so convincingly, that baroque figures, Balkan airs and rag rhythms intertwine to weave a vibrant, inclusive mosaic. Electric piano—reinvented to superb effect on Xenophonia (Label Bleu, 2006)—adds subtle textures occasionally, but this is essentially a bare bones piano outing, and a beguiling one at that.
"Full Half Moon" represents a beautiful confluence of Z's influences; the lovely baroque intro eases delicately into Balkan folkloric realm, before Z's tumbling, Keith Jarrett-esque lines change the composition's course. Though Z's a wonderful technician and soloist, Soul Shelter is perhaps better defined by adherence to melody and song form, and the pianist's virtuoso displays are limited, and for that reason, all the more impacting. Melody always rises to the surface—almost surreptitiously at times—as on the ruminative "Sweet Shelter of Mine, where it wafts in and out like an elusive breeze, finally asserting its presence.
Wavy electric piano imbues a Ray Charles soul-funk vibe on the intro to "Hometown," but Z is rarely if ever predictable, and is soon exploring moodier terrain. Even at his most tangential, there's always the sense with Z that the defining melody is never far away. "Bohemska" packs plenty of punch in three minutes, moving from its Thelonious Monk-esque intro to Balkan themes and finishing with dashing, melodic runs in the tail. The classically-tinged "Dad's Favorite" boasts a simple yet grand melody, and manages to be vaguely sad yet unabashedly romantic.
Contrast between light and heavy shading partly defines Z's approach, particularly on the gentle "Sabalaye Blues," where his singular use of damped strings is as much narrative in effect as percussive. On the episodic "Nedyalko's Eleven" electric piano-drone contrasts with Z's fluid, dramatic glissandos and urgent, punched block chords. After a period of moody abstraction, Z is inevitably drawn again to the beautiful opening melody, as though woken from fitful slumber by warm sunlight.
Drama and beauty are everywhere juxtaposed; the nervy atmospherics of the vignette "Subway"—almost keyless bar odd notes that fall like drops of water—give way to the flowing lines of the folk-flavored "303." Electric piano brings lyricism to the music-box "Sizuit Forever," and Duke Ellington's timeless "On a Turquoise Cloud" closes the CD with exquisite, slow-waltz elegance. Utterly absorbing and quite beautiful, Soul Shelter is essential listening for those who still have faith in the possibility of solo piano to surprise and delight.
Track Listing:
Full Half Moon; Sweet Shelter of Mine; Hometown; Bohemska; Dad’s Favorite; Sabayle Blues; Nedyalko’s Eleven; Subways; 303; Sizuit Forever; On a Turquoise Cloud.
Personnel: Bojan Z: piano, electric piano.

Jan Lundgren, Chuck Berghofer, Joe LaBarbera
Together Again...At The Jazz Bakery

A Sweet Celebration, Secretly Recorded
In 1981, when Jan Lundgren was 15, he was so good at tennis that he won a competition among young Swedish players. The prize was a week of lessons with the world’s champion, Björn Borg. As it turned out, scheduling made it impossible for Mr. Borg to give the lessons. And Mr. Lundgren, who had studied classical piano since the age of 5, had found another love by then—jazz.
A year before the tennis adventure, a pianist substituting for Mr. Lundgren’s regular music teacher had given the teenager an unusual assignment—buy an Oscar Peterson record. He bought Peterson’s 1962 trio album “Night Train.” “I went home with the recording, put it onto the record player and was astonished because I had never heard music like that before in my life,” Mr. Lundgren said in 2008. “This music had a strong impact on me. I didn't know then that I would become a jazz pianist, but I knew that I had fallen in love with this music.”
After high school, Mr. Lundgren continued his classical studies at the Royal College of Music in Malmö, refined his jazz skills and was discovered by alto saxophonist Arne Domnérus, a hero of Swedish jazz. Soon, the music student was playing jazz engagements with Domnérus, saxophonist Bernt Rosengren and clarinetist Putte Wickman. Peterson’s high level of improvisation and swing provided a foundation, but Mr. Lundgren’s stylistic horizon widened to include Bill Evans, Tommy Flanagan, Jimmy Rowles and other noted pianists. By the mid-1990s, he moved into the first rank of European jazz pianists with international followings, and at age 45 continues to be in demand in Europe and Asia for concerts and recordings. His personal appearances and albums sell out in Japan. He has recorded 12 CDs in the U.S. In November, he toured in India.
In concerts Mr. Lundgren often credits Peterson, who died in 2007, with igniting his passion for jazz. He does so again in his most recent album as he introduces his poignant, unaccompanied performance of “Tenderly,” a song indelibly associated with Peterson. The album, “Together Again . . . At the Jazz Bakery” (Fresh Sound), is remarkable on two counts: for the playing of Mr. Lundgren, bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Joe La Barbera; and for existing at all. It was not intended to become an album. In early 2008, the veteran producer Dick Bank was working with the trio on another project. For reference purposes, he captured the concert at the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles on a two-track digital audio-tape recorder, a far cry from the sophisticated 12-track machines used in studios to capture every sonic subtlety. Mr. Bank transferred the tape to CD, put the disc in the player in his car’s trunk, and forgot about it. When, two years later, he finally got around to listening to it, he was astonished.
In the notes for the album, Mr. Bank quotes himself that day: “‘This is good. This is really good. This has to come out!’” He gave the tape to editing engineer Talley Sherwood, who improved the recording by eliminating the pauses between pieces in the live performance, but the sound remained short of the fullness Mr. Bank wanted. Mr. Bank then took the problem to Bernie Grundman, a mastering engineer known for resuscitating hopeless recordings. His console can control 38 audio frequencies, as many as 18 at a time. Most challenging of all, Mr. Bank considered the small Yamaha grand piano inadequate. “We worked with the piano sound,” he told me, “so that it could be mistaken for a Steinway Concert Grand. My original recording could never have been released commercially.” It took six months of painstaking trial runs and reference discs before the balance, depth and relationships among the instruments satisfied Mr. Bank.
After the rigors of the audio rescue, how is the music? Mr. Lundgren, who did not know the concert had been recorded, listened to the album and then broke through his modesty, Swedish reserve and customary self-criticism. Responding to a recent email query, he likely exhausted his lifetime allotment of exclamation points: “I am very happy!! What a great surprise!! I am proud!! Some of my best playing!! Great!!” It requires no suspension of disbelief to agree. Mr. Lundgren’s clarity of execution matches the clarity of his ideas. He is at the top of his game in all of the elements of jazz pianism: touch, dynamics, harmonic imagination, swing, power and delicacy. In Mr. Bank’s stealth recording, the teamwork of Messrs. Lundgren, Berghofer and La Barbera in their concert of American Songbook standards and jazz classics equals or exceeds that of their previous encounters.
Mr. Lundgren now turns part of his attention to artistic directorship of the jazz festival he helped found in the southern Swedish seaside town of Ystad. This year it will be held Aug. 2-5. The 2011 festival included world-class musicians Toots Thielemans, Herb Geller, Pat Martino and Dave Douglas; the Korean singer Youn Sun Nah; players from throughout Scandinavia and other parts of Europe; and a contingent of mainstream musicians from New York. Jazz festivals around the world are attempting to shore up attendance by including pop, rock and folk music. In Ystad, Mr. Lundgren managed to maintain artistic integrity and attract sellout crowds. As for his own playing, his unaccompanied performance of Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” drew praise in Britain’s Jazz Journal as a “riveting reinvention.” It brought him a standing ovation.
Jan Lundgren (piano), Chuck Berghofer (bass), and Joe La Barbera (drums).
Recorded live at The Jazz Bakery, Los Angeles, on January 2, 2008.
Producer / Recording engineer: Dick Bank
Editing engineer: Talley Sherwood
Mastering engineer: Bernie Grundman
Mastering coordinator: Jon Leroy
Graphics: Heidi Frieder
Photography: Dick Bank & William Claxton
Executive producer: Jordi Pujol
01. Introduction By Ken Borgers ( 0:23; 02. Have You Met Miss Jones? (Hart-Rodgers) 8:59; 03. Someone To Watch Over Me (G. & I. Gershwin) 6:12; 04. Love For Sale (Porter) 8:38;
05. Tenderly (Lawrence-Gross) 5:09; 06. Yesterdays (Harbach-Kern) 7:00; 07. I’m Old Fashioned (Mercer-Kern) 5:34; 08. Blues In The Closet (Pettiford) 7:14; 09. I’ve Never Been In Love Before (Loesser) 6:21; 10. Everything Happens To Me (Adair-Dennis) 7:34; 11. Rhythm-A-Ning (Monk) 7:30
Total time: 70:40 min (*)
(*) Track times include announcements/remarks by Jan Lundgren

Fabian Almazan Trio

By Mark F. Turner
Fabian Almazan began creating some buzz with his sparkling piano chops in trumpeter Terence Blanchard's group on Choices (Concord Music Group, 2009). Originally from Havana, Cuba, Almazan is not only one of the young rising stars in New York, but is also classically trained and has received a number of awards as a composer in film, chamber and orchestral projects.
Many of these disciplines come into play on this auspicious debut, which includes Almazan's equally convincing trio with bassist Linda Oh and drummer Henry Cole, and a string quartet on two tracks. This is evident in Alamzan's emotive interpretation of Dmitri Shostakovich's "String Quartet No.10 Opus 118." While maintaining the austere beauty of the Russian composer's work, the music is enhanced with electronic colorations—splices of noise and sound effects that build to a breaking point at midpoint, right before the string quartet quietly resumes the theme.
If Shostakovich's third movement speaks of Almazan's interpretative daring then "The Vicarious Life" shouts his virtuosity as the trio works through the track's dizzying cadence. Almazan plays like a man possessed, at times flamboyantly, yet with masterful control, while his equally competent trio mates have their own bright moments such as Cole's intro on "H.U.Gs (Historically Under-Represented Groups)" and Oh's punchy solo in "Russian Love Story."
But there's more to Almazan's repertoire than just highbrow composition and swinging solos. There's a reverential tone in "Grandmother Song" that is tender yet powerful and tunes such as "Bola de Nieve" (by singer/songwriter Carlos Varela) and "Tres Lindas Cubanas" (textured with the sampling of a scratchy LP) cast shadows of Almazan's memories of Cuba. Personalities is a portrait of the people and sounds that have influenced Almazan, who like these ten compositions are multifaceted and intriguing.
Track Listing:
Shostakovich String Quartet No.10 (3rd Movement) Opus 118; H.U.Gs (Historically Under-Represented Groups); Personalities; The Vicarious Life; Grandmother Song; Bola de Nieve; Russian Love Story; Sin Alma; Tres Lindas Cubanas; Una Foto.
Personnel: Fabian Almazan: piano, Fender Rhodes, electronics/audio manipulations; Linda Oh: bass; Henry Cole: drums; Meg Okura: violin I (1, 3); Megan Gould: violin II (1, 3); Karen Waltuch: viola I (1, 3); Noah Hoffeld: cello (1, 3).

2 Sem 2012 - Part Fourteen

Mario Biondi and the High Five Quintet
Handful Of Soul

By Rafael Cova
I didn't know anything about Mario Biondi until release from Dimitri From Paris "Return To The Playboy Mansion".
You will be surprised by this singer's deep and warm voice. It recalls the great interpreter of soul and rhythm 'n' blues music. Many will think of a black singer. Mario was born in Catania, Sicilia, Italy. Certainly he's capable of expressing his Soul when singing. "Handful of Soul" is an album ranging between Jazz and Soul. The result is in this very enticing music release, whose sound swings from smooth vocal melodies to rhythmic tracks to dance to. The love for Rhythm & Blues and Soul, the styles of music mostly appreciated by Mario, took him to listen to a certain music repertoire, in particular some of the most representative related artists (Earth Wind & Fire, Donny Hattaway, Billy Paul, Luther Vandross, Lou Rawls, Aretha Franklin, Eryka Badu, Will Dowing. In this album, not only he delivers a very convincing interpretation but his voice adds a different color to the music in "Slow Hot Wind" as well as in "A handful of Soul". The feel-good sensation spread in "On A Clear Day" is certainly enhanced by the deep husky voice of the interpreter. Mario himself remained pleasantly astonished by his own familiarity with those tunes. The inspiration he got from singing them moved himself, along with the other co-authors, to lay down the track "Gig", clearly of American derivation, Cole Porter style. Whilst "No Mercy For Me" reveals Mario's true soul of a crooner, "This Is What You Are" the most beautiful song in this album, a fine piece of vocal dance-jazz with fascinating harmonies and captivating solos. Tributes to rock-blues, soul-blues and rhythm-blues follow respectively in the shape of "I Can't Keep From Crying Sometime" by Al Kooper.
Track Listings:
1. A Child Runs Free
2. No Mercy For Me
3. This Is What You Are
4. Rio De Janeiro Blue
5. Slow How Wind
6. A Handful Of Soul
7. Never Die
8. On A Clear Day (You can See Forever)
9. Gig
10. I Can't Keep From Cryin' Sometimes
11. No Trouble On The Mountain
12. I'm Her Daddy
Arranged By – Luca Mannutza, Pietro Ciancaglini
Artwork By – Elena Pollini
Double Bass – Pietro Ciancaglini
Drums – Lorenzo Tucci
Engineer [Sound] – Paolo Filippi
Mixed By – Davide Rosa
Percussion – Sandro De Bellis
Piano – Luca Mannutza
Producer – Edizioni Ishtar, Luciano Cantone
Saxophone [Tenor] – Daniele Scannapieco
Trombone – Gianluca Petrella (tracks: 3)
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Fabrizio Bosso
Vocals – Mario Biondi
Recorded in January 2006 at Cavò Studio Bergamo

Bill Evans
Live At Art D´Lugoff´s Top Of The Gate

By C. Michael Bailey
Why is pianist Bill Evans so important to jazz? it is simple: every pianist to hear and perform after him was influenced by him. Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson may have been technically more brilliant and extroverted, but it took first Bud Powell and then Evans to turn the creative tables toward the muted and introverted, thereby beginning a jazz piano cultural revolution that continues to this day. Evans had an almost painfully personal style that, like late-period Art Pepper, bared naked his troubled soul in exquisite detail.
This never-before-released sides from Resonance Records, Live At Art D'Lugoff's Top of The Gate, is notable for having a couple of firsts: it's the first-ever documented Evans trio recordings of "My Funny Valentine" and "Yesterdays," while "Witchcraft" is Evans' only recording of this Cy Coleman-Carolyn Leigh song, aside from the 1959 studio version appearing on Portrait in Jazz (Riverside).
It is "My Funny Valentine," however, that shines most brightly. A ballad, always fertile territory for Evans' inward thinking, it is treated with an anathema hard swing by the normally quiet and thoughtful pianist. Evans tries to fool with an impressionistic introduction that, in time, fully dissembles into a full-fledged show tune for jazz piano trio. Bassist Eddie Gomez, perhaps Evans' greatest bass collaborator after the tragic loss of Scott LaFaro, plays his level best, guiding Evans, while drummer Marty Morell watches the tempo road signs.
It is Gomez that turns introspective (in a wordy fashion) on his solo, with Evans' bright accompaniment providing the bassist a spark of effervescence. This performance is nothing short of stunning and it may be quite proper that no one has emerged on piano to dethrone the last great muse of the 88 keys.
Personnel: Bill Evans: piano; Eddie Gomez: bass; Marty Morell: drums.

Akiko Tsuruga

By EastWind
Performed by: Akiko Tsuruga (organ); Jerry Weldon (tenor sax); Joe Magnarelli (flugelhorn,trumpet);
Bob DeVos (guitar); Rudy Petschauer (drums)
Release Date: 02/14/2012
Hammond B-3 player from Osaka, Japan and now a resident in Harlem, New York, Akiko Tsuruga has captured the hearts and minds of both American and Japanese jazz fans. She is often heard in Big Apple and other American cities with her own band as wellas as the regular member of the Lou Donaldson Quartet led by the legendary alto saxophonist.
Sakura is her latest, self-released CD, following St. Louis Blues and NYC Serenade from the Japanese label MOJO Records.
She leads a fabulous quartet with Jerry Weldon on tenor, Bob DeVos on guitar and Rudy Petschauer on drums through an attractive program of originals and standards. Wonderful trumpeter Joe Magnarelli makes apperance on three tracks. In addition to two Japanese songs ("Sukiyaki" and "Sakura"), Tsuruga asserts her identity through excellent original compositions that are firmly rooted in the jazz organ tradition in the US.
Another wonderful CD by a talented organist: Every tune is filled with groove, swing and joy! Recommended!
Recorded at Showplace Studios, Dover, NJ on April 19 and 20, 2011

Album Tracks:
1. Sweet Yam Potato
2. Smile
3. S.O.S.
4. You Betcha
5. Valdez in the Country
6. Sukiyaki
7. What a Difference a Day Makes
8. Pretty Please?
9. Sakura
10. Showman's Boogaloo
11. I Won't Last a Day Without You
12. The Good Life

Masabumi Kikuchi Trio

By John Kelman
With a surprising number of recordings coming out that represent some of drummer Paul Motian's final work before passing unexpectedly in the fall of 2011, few have created as deeply personal a tribute as the liner notes to Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi's Sunrise. "Suddenly Paul was gone. He left without warning," Kikuchi writes, as he recounts his first meeting with Motian, the time they shared together in the Tethered Moon trio—which, with bassist Gary Peacock, released three albums between 1993 and 2004—through to a last visit to the hospital a week before the drummer passed. Sunrise was recorded a full two years before Motian's death, but in its angular yet strangely rounded and beveled surfaces—and liberated quietude—it may well be the closest of these last releases to truly articulating what Motian was all about.
With ten spontaneous compositions running just over fifty minutes, Sunrise explores the farther reaches of free improvisation. With its emphasis on close listening, this calmer, Zen-like approach favors substance over style, significance over pyrotechnics, and space over density. All this means that as the title track gradually coalesces, beginning with bassist Thomas Morgan alone, but quickly joined by Motian—as ever, choosing texture over tempo—its ultimate destination was, no doubt, as much a surprise to those who made it as it is for those fortunate enough to experience it.
The three "ballad" pieces that open, close, and divide the album in two are not just ethereally lyrical. They're remarkable for their ability of everyone to both lead and follow; harmonic movement takes place with Kikuchi, Morgan and Motian joined at the hips, making it all the more surprising that there was no preconception, no rehearsal, no forethought. Even when the trio moves to more oblique territory on "Last Ballad," there's a depth of interaction that's profound in its unfailing simpatico. Motian's subtle ebb-and-flow acts as a constant foil to Kikuchi, whose delicate touch feels, at times, like raindrops on a window, notes flowing with similar unpredictably yet with their own internal pulse. Morgan's careful choices may seem simple in their sparsity, but require a honed ability to listen and intuit, with the kind of instrumental command that can almost anticipate change before it occurs.
Like label mate Keith Jarrett, Kikuchi's groaning vocalizations can take a little getting used to, but as the pianist channels what he hears into his hands, they become a synchronous part of the experience. There may be times when less of his voice might seem to be a good thing, but in the final analysis his music wouldn't sound the same without it. Kikuchi, Morgan and Motian may travel to strange and unusual places, where abstruse ideas gently skew on their sides and melodies are twisted beyond convention, but even at its most oblique, Sunrise reveals unexpected and unusual beauty—an equally appropriate description and ultimate homage for Motian, who never lived his life on anybody's terms but his own, with a resultant musical legacy that's all the more significant for it.
Track Listing:
Ballad I; New Day; Short Stuff; So What Variations; Ballad II; Sunrise; Sticks and Cymbals; End of Day; Uptempo; Last Ballad.
Masabumi Kikuchi: piano; Thomas Morgan: double bass; Paul Motian: drums.

Bob Mintzer Big Band
For The Moment

By Dan Bilawsky 
Musicians can consider themselves lucky if they find success in one particular area, but there are a select few that seem to flourish in every music-related environment that they encounter. Bob Mintzer is part of this elite list; his versatility is his greatest virtue but, while he's a world class saxophonist and educator, his legacy will likely be connected to his work as a composer and arranger in the world of big bands. He learned from the best, sitting in the saxophone section of bands led by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, Gil Evans, and several other notable figures, and he's been putting his hard-earned knowledge to good use in this area ever since he assembled his first big band to play at the Brecker Brothers' Seventh Avenue South club, in the early '80s.
For his fourth large ensemble outing on the MCG jazz label, Mintzer looks south to Brazil, highlighting another of his great passions. His extensive experience working with, and learning from, big name Brazilians over the years, including Eumir Deodato, Milton Nascimento, Romero Lubambo and Milton Nascimento, gives his work a mark of authenticity that eludes those who merely dabble in this area by adding a bossa nova or two to their repertoire.
Mintzer mixes originals with his arrangements of music from guest guitarist/vocalist Chico Pinheiro, as well as classics from the likes of Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Corcovado") and Baden Powell ("Berimbau"), on this nine-song stroll through Brazil. The performances are highly polished affairs that feature crisp ensemble work, strong solo personalities and buoyant rhythmic backdrops. Pinheiro is featured in several places, delivering vocals and killer, clean-toned guitar soloing on his own "Un Filme" and providing soothing singing on "Corcovado," but he's hardly the only standout on this disc.
Mintzer turned to longtime friend and big band drumming guru Peter Erskine to anchor the band from behind the kit, and he doesn't disappoint. He brings his trademark sense of groove and touch to every piece on the program, from the bouncy baião-based tune that opens the album ("Aha") to a mellow bossa nova take on a '30s classic ("For All We Know"). Mintzer's Yellowjackets band mate, pianist Russell Ferrante, is another key ingredient in the soloist mix, as is underappreciated trumpeter Scott Wendholt, but the ensemble is really the star of the show.
Mintzer is like a musical flavor chemist, making tasty musical admixtures that go down easy, yet have a complex aftertaste. For The Moment furthers what many already know: Mintzer is a monster musician with writing chops that match or surpass his stellar saxophone skills.
Track Listing:
Aha; Um Filme; Irrequieto; For All We Know; Berimbau; For The Moment; Redife; Corcovado; Ouro Preto.
Bob Mintzer: tenor saxophone, flute; Chico Pinheiro: vocals, guitar; Lawrence Feldman: alto saxohpone, flute; Mike Tomaro: alto saxophone, flute; Bob Malach: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Frank Basile: baritone saxophone, clarinet; Steve Hawk: trumpet; Tony Kadleck: trumpet; James Moore: trumpet; Scott Wendholt: trumpet; Jay Ashby: trombone; Michael Davis: trombone; Keith O'Quinn: trombone; Max Seigel: bass trombone; Russell Ferrante: piano, keyboards; Marty Ashby: guitar; Lincoln Goines: bass; Peter Erskine: Drums; Alex Acuna: percussion.