|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.
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)
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
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.
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
1. Sweet Yam Potato
4. You Betcha
5. Valdez in the Country
7. What a Difference a Day Makes
8. Pretty Please?
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.
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.
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.