Sunday, November 18, 2012

2 Sem 2012 - Part Nineteen

Alan Broadbent Trio
Live At Giannelli Square Vol.2

By Dan Bilawsky
Promise of more to come came with the numerical tag at the end of pianist Alan Broadbent's superb Live At Giannelli Square: Vol. 1 (Chilly Bin, 2010); two years later, he's made good on that promise. Live At Giannelli Square: Vol. 2, recorded as its predecessor was just seeing release, finds Broadbent and his brilliantly understated trio mates back at the same San Fernando Valley venue, making magic in their own sweet way.
The class, charm and musical savoir-faire that were ever-present on the first album, and virtually every recording Broadbent has made under his name in recent years, are evident throughout this sequel. While this record is a logical extension of Live At Giannelli Square: Vol. 1 in tone, tact and musical temperament, it stands apart because it highlights Broadbent's own written work. Much attention is often given to his arranging and skills as a standards-playing encyclopedia, but his own compositions rarely receive their due. Broadbent forces the issue here, tipping the programming scales in favor of his own pieces and it's a wise decision. The sly and gently swinging "Blues In 'n' Out" is finger-snapping good, Broadbent brilliantly plays off of bassist Putter Smith on "Wandering Road," and he moves from romantic and rhapsodic notions to late night musings on "Sing A Song Of Dameron." Tempos remain mild for most of the set, but the final, album-ending original, "Three For All," has some spring in its step, which helps to fire the imagination and musical muscles of all involved.
While Broadbent turns his attention to his own tunes, he doesn't turn his back on the jazz canon. His fingers probe the lower recesses of the piano as "You Don't Know What Love Is" gets underway and he makes the instrument twinkle in the aural light as reaches its final resting place. George Shearing's oft-ignored "Conception" also proves to be an inspired choice, but it's the album-opening essay on "Yesterdays" that comes off as the strongest number on the date. Broadbent shifts effortlessly from inside, down the middle soloing to quirky, outside sidebars as he demonstrates some incredible, Roger Kellaway-like independence. Smith and drummer Kendall Kay move from snazzy understatement to deep groove-making here and Kay delivers a simple, yet not-so-simple solo that creates a "hear a pin drop" moment.
So many trios operating today try to make their mark by swimming against the current or turning performances into athletic displays, but that's not the Broadbent way. These three men make the point that no-fuss music, made by exceptionally knowledgeable and skilled craftsmen, will always rise to the top.
Track Listing:
Yesterdays; You Don't Know What Love Is; Blues In 'n' Out; Wandering Road; Conception; Sing A Song Of Dameron; Three For All.
Alan Broadbent: piano; Putter Smith: bass; Kendall Kay: drums.

Makaya McCraven
Split Decision

By Brent-Anthony Johnson Bass Frontiers Staff Writer
Split Decision is the brilliant premier release of the globetrotting drummer/composer/bandleader, and in it you will find an agile and beautifully conversant take on the traditional piano trio that features McCraven, pianist Andrew Toombs and bassist Tim Seisser. This trio stretches time like a contortionist, but with a deep sense of musical communication that belies their considerably few years together as a band.
At several points throughout the CD, the entire band phrases fluid and twisting lines together and then punctuate the thoroughly articulated idea with a real silence that is jaw dropping to say the least! This trio plays together very well and their intuitive communal sense of groove and rhythmic flow is completely remarkable. In its way, this outing from this trio brings to mind the depth of interplay displayed by more mature trios led by Misters Camillo and Petrucciani!
Tim Seisser, in my humble opinion, is one of the finest young bassist on the Chicago music scene today. His 5-string fretted and fretless basses sound rich and full with a truly felt and hard won “tone for days” that eludes so many players. I look forward to hearing Tim on more releases in the coming future and I can strongly suggest that we “listeners to the low end”, him the kudos he deserves. He is a joy to listen to and he’s is always on it in a big way! Check him out on “Tasha’s Tune”, his cool solo (4:45-5:50) on “McGregor Bay” and on his compositional contribution to Split Decision, “Shades of Grey”. Nice work, Tim!
Split Decision is what real musicians playing solid compositions very well sounds like!

John Abercrombie Quartet
Within A Song

By John Kelman
In the jazz world, one thing that keeps a lot of fans coming back for more with their favorite artists is the unpredictability factor. It may well be human nature to subconsciously form preconceptions, but with this music, it's usually best to avoid reductionist pigeonholing as, more often than not, it sets self-limiting expectations. Guitarist John Abercrombie has proven, in a career now well into its fifth decade, that just when it seems clear where he's heading, he veers unexpectedly elsewhere—though there always seems to be some thread of commonality running through it all. Since forming the quartet with pianist Richie Beirach that debuted on Arcade (ECM, 1978), Abercrombie's release pattern with his regular groups has, however, been largely consistent, with three recordings featuring the same lineup before moving, at least, on record, to the next. Even the quartet with violinist Mark Feldman and drummer Joey Baron that has occupied much of the guitarist's attention in the new millennium released three records with Marc Johnson before Thomas Morgan took over the bass chair to alter its complexion for Wait Till You See Her (ECM, 2009).
Despite no signs of that configuration exceeding its "best by" date, Within A Song represents a directional shift of sorts, while still possessing some of the markers that link all of Abercrombie's work together. Drummer Joey Baron is the only carryover in a quartet that, along with bassist Drew Gress—making his second appearance on ECM after his label debut (with Abercrombie) on saxophonist John Surman's Brewster's Rooser (2009)—also features saxophonist Joe Lovano, on his first session for the label since drummer Paul Motian's final trio recording with guitarist Bill Frisell, Time and Again (2007). It's an inspired choice for an album that pays tribute to some seminal music of the 1960s, even though Abercrombie is the only one who fits the bill of his brief liners, referring to ..."an old saying that goes: if you can remember the 1960s you probably weren't there." Abercrombie was there and he does remember, but if Lovano, Gress and Baron were, for the most part, pre-teens when most of the inspirations for Within A Song were first recorded, then their subsequent careers—ranging as far and wide as their leader's—have all demonstrated a near-mitochondrial appreciation and, even more importantly, understanding of that innovative period.
Abercrombie has often covered a song or two on his recordings as a leader, but he's largely focused on original material. Within A Song flips the equation, with only three original songs in a nine-song set that touches on Miles Davis, with an indigo-tinged version of "Flamenco Sketches" that's even more impressionistic than the original on the trumpeter's seminal Kind of Blue (Columbia, 1959)). Abercrombie also pays tribute to saxophonists John Coltrane, with "Wise One" (from Crescent (Impulse!, 1964), and Ornette Coleman, with the free jazz founder's "Blues Connotation," from This is Our Music (Atlantic, 1961), moving effortlessly from time and changes to greater freedom, only to find its way back, mid-song, for Lovano's ambling but effervescent solo.
Within A Song never actually reaches a boil, with the opening "Where Are You" and Abercrombie's "Easy Reader" setting a relatively gentle pace. Still, the guitarist's title track—which borrows both indirectly and, ultimately, directly from the Youmans/Rose standard "Without A Song"—does turn the heat up to a simmer, while Bill Evans' "Interplay" swings vibrantly at a medium tempo thanks to Gress and Baron, whose powerful punctuations—rarely as flat-out exuberant as some of his best work in Bill Frisell's group of the 1980s/90s, but still demonstrating the occasional slap-happy bent—are unexpected but never gratuitous.
The entire quartet's behind-the-beat approach when it comes to both groove and melody may give Within A Song its generally relaxed veneer, but beneath this largely soft surface is a freer approach that speaks to Abercrombie's explanation, in a 2004 All About Jazz interview: "I like free playing that has some relationship to a melody; very much the way Ornette Coleman used to write all those wonderful songs and then they would play without chords on a lot of them; but they still had these great melodies to draw you in and act as a reference point; I think having a reference point when you're playing this kind of music is very important."
A cursory look at the collective discography of everyone in this quartet reveals players comfortable with the tradition and in more left-of-center contexts. Given Baron's textural playing here, there are times when Within A Song actually recalls some of Lovano's wonderful On Broadway recordings with Motian and Frisell from the late 1980s/early 90s—where that group found ways to deconstruct well-heeled tunes, albeit with more overt fire, at times, contrasting a similarly impressionistic approach. But if Abercrombie is a less idiosyncratic player than Frisell, he's just as unpredictable. Time and again, on album and in performances ranging from Montreal in 2007 and Mannheim in 2009, to Ottawa in 2010, Abercrombie is both instantly recognizable and perennially fresh, never resorting to stock ideas or signature lines. If he has largely focused on string-driven chamber jazz for the better part of the last decade, with Within A Song he's delivered an unequivocal jazz recording—one founded on the groundbreaking music of the 1960s, to be sure, but, in the hands of these fine players, resonating with fresh, contemporary relevance.
Where Are You; Easy Reader; Within A Song / Without A Song; Flamenco Sketches; Nick of Time; Blues Connotation; Wise One; Interplay; Sometime Ago.
John Abercrombie: guitar; Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone; Drew Gress: double bass; Joey Baron: drums.

David Benoit

By Stewart Mason
Recorded in a simple trio format with bassist Brian Bromberg and drummer Gregg Bissonette, Standards is about as close as smooth jazz pianist David Benoit has come to the classic post-bop West Coast sound that's always been one of his primary inspirations. Benoit is simply not an adventurous soul as either a bandleader or a pianist, and so Standards consists mostly of familiar songs (John Lewis' "Django," Thelonious Monk's "Straight No Chaser," Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby," Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo à la Turk") given safe, pretty performances that never come close to re-invention. It's simply not in Benoit's nature to take risks, but to a listener on the pianist's mellow wavelength, these performances are both technically excellent and completely heartfelt. The choice of a couple obscurities by Henry Mancini and Neal Hefti adds an idiosyncratic personal touch as well. Bold and audacious it may not be, but Standards is a low-key delight. 

Helge Lien

By LinnRecords
Best known for his work with the Helge Lien Trio, ‘Kattenslager' is Helge Lien's first album as a solo artist and as such, he takes full advantage of the freedom that affords him, weaving complex and subtle soundscapes throughout.
The title of Helge Lien's official debut as a solo artist is as eccentric as the music contained in it. While listening to a Danish jazz song from the 60s, Norwegian Lien misheard the lyrics as saying ‘Kattenslager'. In fact, they were referring to a ‘Plattenslager' (‘Pop Record'), but the non-existent term would prove to be perfect for the album's equally subtle, mysterious and at times, disturbing piano sounds. Fans of Lien's lyrical trio work certainly won't be disappointed. And yet this time, his performance is no longer restricted by any preconceived melodic motives. Instead, ideas flow from his fingers with complete ease and unbound by limiting concepts, resulting in a record of remarkable freedom, immediacy and unpredictability.

Kurt Elling
1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project

By Bruce Lindsay
The Brill Building holds a special place in popular music history, not just because of the songs crafted within its walls, but also because of what it has come to represent. The ideal of the Brill Building is associated with songs that soundtrack the lives and loves of millions of people around the world. Singer Kurt Elling's tribute to that ideal, 1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project, crackles with life as it connects with the emotions these songs engender.
Elling's position at the top of the male jazz singers' tree has been unassailed for over a decade, topping the DownBeat Critics' Poll for the thirteenth time in 2012, the seventh for the Readers' Poll. His richly expressive voice has much to do with this position, but it's not the whole story. Elling deserves equal praise for the originality of his interpretations and breadth of material. This album is strong on all three counts: Elling selects Songbook classics and pop favorites, throws in a few curveball interpretations and is on top form vocally, although his technical virtuosity threatens, at times, to overwhelm the lyrical message of "Come Fly With Me" and "On Broadway."
"On Broadway" opens with a short spoken word vignette where various "industry people"—played by a cast including Elling's longtime pianist Laurence Hobgood, and singer Dianne Reeves—reject the eager Elling as he attempts to persuade them of his talents. "Have you ever considered law school?" asks one. Of course, once he opens up with "They say the neon lights are bright...," their foolhardiness is exposed.
Elling adds a chunk of cynicsm to the cheeky satire of The Monkees' "Pleasant Valley Sunday" with spoken interjections of which guitarist/composer Frank Zappa would be proud: a terrific reinterpretation made even better by John McLean's crunching guitar. The reworking of "You Send Me" replaces composer Sam Cooke's soulful romance with a smooth '80s R&B vibe, the trade-off adding an air of sophistication, reducing the original's intimacy.
A delightful "Shoppin' For Clothes" features a guest appearance by famed bassist Christian McBride, but rather than his usual role—Clark Sommers does a great job in that department—he's acting. McBride assumes the role of an increasingly frustrated menswear salesman dealing with Elling's attempt to buy a sharp suit. It's a genuinely funny performance—if the bottom ever falls out of the bass playing trade, McBride's second career is assured.
Elling's finest performances are on ballads. Hobgood's arrangement of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "A House Is Not A Home" for the core quartet is exquisitely realized: cool, romantic and heartbreaking. Paul Simon's "An American Tune" gets the simplest arrangement of all, just Hobgood's spacious piano and Elling's soaring voice. It's beautiful.
Were all of these songs written in 1619 Broadway? Probably not, but it doesn't matter. They are all recognizably Brill Building songs in terms of style, subject matter and sheer quality—in terms of the ideal. Great songs are characterized by their openness to fresh interpretations and, on 1619 Broadway, Elling gives them some of the freshest interpretations around.
Track Listing: 
On Broadway; Come Fly With Me; You Send Me; I Only Have Eyes For You; I'm Satisfied; A House Is Not A Home; Shoppin' For Clothes; So Far Away; Pleasant Valley Sunday; American Tune; Tutti For Cootie.
Kurt Elling: vocals; John McLean: guitar; Laurence Hobgood: piano, voice (1, 9); Clark Sommers: bass; Kendrick Scott: drums, congas; Christian McBride: voice (7); Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone (4, 7); Ernie Watts: tenor saxophone (5, 8); Tom Luer: alto saxophone (11), tenor saxophone (2, 4, 11); Kye Palmer: trumpet (11), flugelhorn (2, 4, 11); Luiza Elling: voice (9); Sara Collins: voice (1); Eric Denniston: voice (1); Jennifer Elling: voice (1); Jeff Greenberg: voice (1); Nic Harcourt: voice (1); Chris Hinderaker: voice (1); Vanessa parr: voice (1); Michael Podell: voice (1); Dianne Reeves: voice (1); Jonathan Stuart: voice (1); Daye L Turner: voice (1); Mary Vinci: voice (1); Michael Zettier: voice (1); Dominic Zingone: voice (1); Fred Zollo: voice (1).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Audição Primaveril

By Carlos Couto 
Ouvi três peças que muito me impressionaram:

  CD/DVD Carnival of Jazz II, gravado ao vivo em São Petersburgo, 2010. 

Dois excelentes artistas da atual Federaçãq Russa e Bielorussia, antiga URSS, que fizeram um trabalho de estética musical jazistica irrepreensível. A começar pela big-band composta de 16 excelentes músicos em piano, contrabaixo, bateria, 5 saxofones, 4 trombones, 4 trumpetes. Igor Butman é o arranjador e produtor musical do trabalho e, o sax-alto. Igor Butman foi descoberto por David Fink que o recomendou a Dave Brubeck. e tocou com este por muitos anos. Resalte-se a qualidade da produção expressa pela escolha do repertório composto principalmente de standads do cancioneiro americano, qualidade de audio e pelos arranjos musicais.
  Larissa Dolina :
Larisa Dolina, nascida em 1955 em Baku, capital do Azerbaijão. Começou a cantar jazz ainda adolescente, fazendo parte da banda "We’re Odessians" e, em pouco tempo, tornou-se muito conhecida em seu pais como cantora de jazz. Larissa mostra realmente que é uma excelente cantora de jazz, demonstrando isso através de interpretações maravilhosas com direito a improavisos magnificos daqueles de causar inveja em muitas interpretes americanas (scat singing ).
Larisa Dolina é vencedora de inúmeros concursos de música russa e internacional. Ganhou quatro prêmios nacionais russos, O "Ovatsia" (o equivalente americano do Tony Award), foi eleita a "melhor cantora pop", e ganhou "Melhor Álbum do Ano" na Russia além, de ser uma bela mulher de meia idade.( como o Dr. Leo gosta)
Destaco as músicas: Windmills Of Your Mind - Too Close For Confort, - You Are My Good Old Wagon – Cabaret - How High The Moon - Mr. Paganini e outras mais.

  Cd gravado em 2012 pela Sumit Records 

Este trabalho é simplesmente INCRÍVEL. Uma big band liderada por Rafael Rocha, jovem e talentoso maestro (tem 27 anos) arranjador, e trombonista capixaba. São 18 jovens músicos de muito boa qualidade que compõem a banda, e se revezam na gravação das faixas, cuja origem é a da Orquestra da Igreja Assembléia de Deus do bairro de Aribiri da cidade de Vila Velha no Estado do Espírito - ES.
Estes garotos gravaram este Cd pela SUMMIT records em Miami USA, composto por 12 músicas, das quais, 10 são composições de Rafael (líder do grupo) que, como bom evagelico, nominou-as com títulos bastante sugestivos: “Vem com Josué lutar em Jericó”, “Só o Senhor é Deus”, “O Festim da Glória”, “Como agradecer a Jesus”, “As palavras de Jesus” e etc ,etc.
Dessa forma, parece que o Senhor lhes abençoou de maneira pródiga em relação ao seus talentos. Os garotos ARRAZAM neste CD que considero um dos melhores CD de jazz que ouvi em 2012. Os arranjos perfeitos para o naipe de instrumentos sopro, com destaque para os solos de sax, trombone, trumpetes, flugelhorn. Lembram um pouco as “coisas” do Moacir Santos e também, ao longe, o Stan Kenton ( pedindo ao Marcio permissão para esta comparação). Garanto que este é um trabalho excepcional. Vale à pena escuta-los de cabo a rabo. HALELUIA !
Fazem parte também da banda, dois outros irmãos de Rafael que são Renato Rocha (bacteria) e Roger Rocha( sax e flautas). Daí o nome de 3R big band.

- HECTOR MARTIGNON = ☆☆☆☆☆ (com louvor)
  CD Second Chance, gravação 2011 

Este também fará parte de minha lista dos melhores de 2012. Trata-se do quinteto do maestro e pianista colombiano Hector Martignon e outros excelentes músicos seus conterrâneos, em cuja formação há, além do piano baixo e bacteria, sax, gitarra e, pasmem, uma HARPA COLOMBIANA. Isso mesmo. HARPA. Os meninos começam tocando BALA COM BALA do João Bosco e terminam com a ecologicamente incorreta HATARI do Mancini. Eu só conhecia esta última executada pela orquestra do autor. Trabalho de uma criatividade INCRÍVEL que mostra a força e a saúde do jazz contemporâneo surgindo de um grupo latino. NÃO PERCAM ! ALÔ MARCILIO !

- DIANA KRALL - somente para registrar ↓☹
  CD – Glad Rag Doll, gravação 2012 

“A bela boneca de pano compilou antigos temas jazisticos mas, ao invés de interpreta-los como na época, levou-os a lugar completamente diferente” (The Sun, nov.2012)
NÃO GOSTEI ! Com a palavra nosso Leonardo Barroso (Child is Born).

Sunday, November 04, 2012


By Claudio Botelho
Denny Zetlin’s soporific “Wherever You Are – Midnight Moods for Solo Piano” was, in a way, some kind of a shock for me. I’ve been a long fan of him a he’d never done such a linear outing. The unwritten golden rule of alternating moods was miserably disrupted. I confess I was not able to listen to more than about 40% of it, even on the second and third trials. I’m certain I’ll never spin it again.
Zeitlin is a consolidated artist for long now and has nothing more to prove to anyone. Of course, his intent was to make a record this way, as its subtitle unquestionably shows. As an important part of the American jazz scenario for so long, given the musical stature of someone who has gained twice Down Beat’s International jazz Critics Poll, he’s allowed to record whatever he wants and those who, like me, dare to criticize his works must do it with some reservations.
Ok, Ok, he wanted, for a long time, as per his own sayings in the liner notes of the CD, to make a recording like that: something to calm down the spirits; to pay homage to some well known ballads which have long been adopted by the jazz player community…
If his aim was to make some sleep-inductive music, I have nothing more to say, except that his goal was fully achieved. As I don’t think Zeitlin is that kind of musician and that nobody would ask him to do so, I’d rather think he’d done a wrong choice by forgetting the necessary contrast that should exist in any sequence of music renderings.
This was a one-man show, as he was arranger, engineer, master, mixer, producer and studio owner and recorded it at home. The album is full of long-running songs. You can choose a song which takes 9m16s, for instance (Last Night When We Were Young), or another which runs 9m28s (The Meaning of the Blues). Still, some other with 8m49s (You Don’t Know What Love Is) or a Jobim medley which can take from you 7m10s (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars/How Insensitive) if you decide to listen to it. This hassles the whole issue!
Time to use his own words (as seen in Wikpedia): “…, communication is utterly paramount. There has to be a depth of empathy that allows you to really inhabit the other person's world ..."
I join unreservedly his saying and complement it by stating that, in art, the “paramountness” is even more paramount. What is the value of art, if it doesn’t communicate?
So, it was with a great feeling of frustration that I, after listening to his memorable “Precipice” and “Labyrinth” works, I came across to such an insipid outing. This is really a lone effort; some ruminating selfish work filled with indifference for all of us, played with lead hands…
The “human factor” was altogether dismissed this time, and it gets especially intriguing if you take into account his main occupation as a clinical professor of psychiatry…
(As I counterpoint, allow me to suggest the listening of another recording which follows a similar path, but has around “fifty shades” of darkness, ensuring, therefore, a delightful promenade into the night: Vince Mendoza’s “Nights on Earth”. This is a fabulously arranged album, which is so easy-going that may mislead some to think it’s not a major work of art. In tune to the intended calmness it should infuse in the spirit of the listener, the arrangements seem understated. Far from it, they’re rich and varied, making the prick up of one’s ears a joy).
But, as much as I was annoyed by Mr. Zeitlin (who will go on being one of my heroes), I was mesmerized by a young Cuban piano player named Alfredo Rodriguez: a common name for a great artist! His “Sound of Space” CD (named very accordingly considering its musical architecture) was the greatest surprise for me in this year. This young artist is a musical stalwart and this was spotted by Mr. Quincy Jones who, with advice from his keen eyes (or ears), didn’t let him slip through his hands: he coproduced this work. He plays piano and melodic and is helped by Gaston Joya who alternates with Peter Slavov on bass, Michael Oliveira on drums and percussion, also taking turns with Francisco Merla, Ernesto Vega on clarinet and bass clarinet and a quartet named Santa Cecilia comprising flute, oboe and French horn.
In the beginning, Rodriguez, when caught crossing the border to get into the United States, stated candidly to the authorities he wanted to live in that country and would try to get in it over and over again, if deported. All he wanted was to play his music and that country could give him all he needed. On this issue, he’s come out winning.
At 26 years old, he already has an impressive portfolio, having worked with an inordinate number of important musicians worldwide.
I think a good front cover graphics helps to sell a CD. A focused photograph properly done with sharp color contrasts, some good taste letterings, clear informations, etc. should be considered an important commercial asset. Unfortunately, many don’t think this way. The norm is to prioritize “artistry” over information. So, many times, we come across CD’s booklets which degrade the work of the artist or treats information as a secondary matter, or both. Ask Mr. Ahmad Jamal, for instance, to read the authors’ credits of the musics he plays on the back of his “Blue Moon” album…
About this, let me quote myself on something I wrote in these pages some moons ago:
“We, jazz listeners, who are always striving to know all about the performers (as it should be, as jazz is mainly a product from them) don’t have received the same treatment: many, many times, the art mixes with the information just to make it less clear, sometimes on the verge of making it unreadable! Aficionados like me, who are not teenagers anymore and, so, are kinda shortsighted, have all the difficulties in the world to distinguish a black letter in a dark blue background, or to read a multicolored written word made this way to help (help?) the reader, as it is foreground to a colorful mixed scenery.”
Why do I talk about this subject? Because the cover art of Gonzalez’s CD is nothing short of lousy. And I tell you: I missed it entirely when browsing in Amazon the other day. His name was unknown to me; as I said above, it is a very common one and the cover photo seemed like something from the fifties. To worsen things, the pictured piano he was playing is an upright one. I despise upright pianos. I hate their woody sound!
How could I think Mr. Rodriguez was such a maven with that almost childish face he sports, Mr. Quincy Jones? How could I gather that a work completely filled with strange musical themes would let many albums I’ve listened in this year in the dust? After all, I haven’t learned yet to tell the future…
At odds on all this counterproductive side work is Rodriguez musicianship: full, varied, instigating, intoxicatingly complex, filled with a multitude of rhythms linked with his short past life in his homeland, but with a strong contemporaneity, resembling, at the same time, the Caribs and the best of the occident music! A full package, with a multitude of rhythms and moods in a package as varied as life itself. 


To round out, let me quote a statement I’ve read these days, which is a little out of the reach of this blog, but that may help some two friends of mine:
“…Most modern recordings, for better or worse, never existed in real space. Therefore, the goal is to accurately reproduce what is in the final mix. Which is a long way around to stating my preference is for equipment that doesn’t embellish, but seeks accuracy and to reveal what went into the mix…”
(Jon Iverson, Streophile, Oct. 2012 issue, p. 153)
I like them closely miked…

2 Sem 2012 - Part Eighteen

Roni Ben-Hur, Santi Debriano & Duduka da Fonseca
Our Thing

By Ernest Barteldes
Recorded in early 2011, Our Thing marks the first studio collaboration of guitarist Roni Ben-Hur and bassist Santi Debriano. They have worked together in a live setting on numerous occasions and are joined, in this endeavor, by drummer/percussionist Duduka Da Fonseca, who brings an extra flavor to the music.
The CD opens with Thelonious Monk's "Green Chimneys," a complex track that allows the musicians to fully stretch their chops. Da Fonseca and Debriano begin with a samba-like groove, and are immediately joined by Ben-Hur, who mimics the Brazilian percussive instrument agogo, before turning to the melody. Da Fonseca's overdubbed triangle (in addition to a few more percussive instruments) leads to an Egberto Gismonti-like feel.
Debriano's title song lifts a few notes from Joe Henderson's "Blue Bossa" to indicate its Brazilian influences, but the resemblance end there. It quickly evolves into a fast-paced tune that mostly features Ben-Hur's fluid guitar but also finds plenty of space for Debriano and Da Fonseca to exercise their creativity. The disc features two Antonio Carlos Jobim compositions: "Fotografia," which features Debriano, is a slow bossa and he uses the song's tempo to explore its nuances, as well as his instrument's low tones. "Ela e Carioca" is played more like a samba and is a vehicle for Ben-Hur's electric guitar.
A final highlight is Da Fonseca's "Isabella," a slow ballad that begins with Ben-Hur's solo guitar and then shifts tempos to allow the drummer's cleverly placed accents and Debriano's grooves.
Our Thing provides a great backdrop and inspiration for the featured musicians and Ben-Hur's improvisations.
Track Listing:
Green Chimneys; Milonga For Mami; Fotografia; Afroscopic; Anna's Dance; Isabella; Earl's Key; Suave; Ela e Carioca; Let's Face The Music and Dance.
Roni Ben-Hur: guitar; Santi Debriano: acoustic bass; Duduka Da Fonseca: drums, percussion.

Romain Collin
The Calling

By Ian Patterson
In the dense jungle of the jazz piano trio, unearthing and successfully making heard an original voice is no small feat. Romain Collin caught the attention of many with his debut, The Rise and Fall of Pipokhun (Fresh Sound, New Talent, 2009), a mellow yet ambitious conceptual suite that marked the New York-based Frenchman as a pianist and composer of note. Collin's innate lyricism shone through from his keys, as did a rare delicacy of touch that conveyed emotional power in even the quietest moments. The Calling bears many of the same hallmarks, though post-production work—or sound design as Collin refers to it—brings greater textural depth and moods to these 12 striking compositions.
The punchy dynamics of the short opener, "Storm," provide something of a statement of intent. Eschewing conventional jazz idioms, the song is an atmospheric power-piece built upon Collin's grand, spacious motif. Recorded newsreel, barely voiced guitar and subtly layered drone-like electronics lend an urbane tone. That Collin spent two weeks in post-production sculpting the sounds—compared to just two days of recording— not only says much about Collin's modernistic approach to making music, it also speaks volumes for the care invested in the sonic presentation. Such attention to detail has paid handsome dividends, as clarity, depth and warmth of sound are constants throughout.
Collin's classical leanings color much of the music. The elegant title track has a quietly stated baroque grandeur which never fully concedes ground during Collin's free-falling improvisation. The elegiac, almost hymnal quality of "Greyshot" and the moody "Aftermath" point more directly to European church music as a source of melodic inspiration, though both pieces are equally informed by subtle layers of cello, guitar and programming. However, a decade in New York has also left its mark, and the limber "Runner's High" features intuitive, mid-tempo interplay between the pianist, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Kendrick Scott. Similarly, "Burn Down" bristles with invention and small-club energy and features a powerhouse solo from Scott.
Collin's interpretive skills shine on singer/guitarist John Mayer's "Stop This Train," a beautifully delicate reading given sympathetic support by Scott's deft hand percussion. Pianist Horace Silver's "Nica's Dream" seems tailor-made for Collin's light, caressing touch. On both these tunes Collin is faithful to the composers' melodies, embellishing just enough to leave his own delectable stamp without hijacking the mood of the originals. Collin exhibits broad compositional vision, gliding from the bustling, straight-ahead "Pennywise the Clown" and the lilting "Strange" to the extended, more linear "Airborne." The achingly beautiful "One Last Try" closes the CD with exquisite solo piano, and makes for a sharply contrasting bookend with the opening dramatics of "Storm."
With The Calling Collin has raised his own bar. Touch, compositional flair and technique all seduce, but are trumped by the emotional strength in Collin's writing and playing. Still in his early 30s and immersed in a plethora of widely varying collaborations and projects that can only further broaden his musical palette, the possibilities now seem endless.
Track Listing:
Storm; The Calling; Runner’s High; Stop This Train; Burn Down; Pennywise the Clown; Greyshot; Strange; Nica’s Dream; Airborne; Aftermath; One Last Try.
Romain Collin: piano, programming; Luques Curtis: bass; Kendrick Scott: drums; John Shannon: guitar (1, 5, 7); Adrian Daurov: cello (1, 5).

Marc Johnson & Eliane Elias
Swept Away

by Rick Anderson
No one familiar with the past work of bassist Marc Johnson and pianist Eliane Elias will be surprised to find that this album finds them working in an exploratory mode; Johnson has long been one of the most interesting bassists on the modern jazz scene, and Elias' résumé is all over the place. But the sweetness, the quiet, and the sometimes deeply haunting melancholy of Swept Away may catch listeners unawares. Elias and Johnson are joined here by the two musicians who are more perfectly suited to this type of project than any others on the scene today: saxophonist Joe Lovano (currently the go-to player for virtually every serious jazz session in New York) and the preternaturally sensitive drummer Joey Baron, a man who has made more session leaders sound wonderful over the past 20 years than any other. Baron and Johnson face a serious challenge on this program: the tempos are generally slow, the sense of swing sometimes nearly subliminal, and that puts bassists and drummers in an awkward position. But on tracks like "It's Time" and the lovely "B Is for Butterfly," they keep the thread steady and reliable without dictating a beat or drawing undue attention; when the time comes to lay down a solid groove (as on the wonderful "B Is for Butterfly"), they do so elegantly and seemingly without effort. Swept Away is the best example of what has come to be called "ECM jazz" -- quiet, spacious, and friendly, but complex as well and easily able to stand up to close listening.

Bobby Broom
Upper West Side Story

by Ken Dryden
One of the top guitarists of his generation, Bobby Broom's preferred setting is a small group, while he excels in the demanding trio setting with bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Kobie Watkins (with Makaya McCraven replacing him on three songs). Upper West Side Story includes nine originals, none of which is likely to become a jazz standard, but all of which are stimulating. "D's Blues" has an engaging hard bop hook that pulls the listener in immediately, while "Upper West Side Story" suggests a walk in Manhattan on a breezy spring day, with an infectious Latin undercurrent. The loping "Minor Major Mishap" takes its time to develop, though Broom's intricate solo bustles with energy. "Fambrosicous" is dedicated to the late bassist Charles Fambrough, an engaging vehicle that starts as bop but detours into some wild improvising. "When the Falling Leaves..." is a subdued ballad with a melancholy air, with the rhythm section providing soft, spacious accompaniment that completes the mood that Broom seeks. Recommended.

Fred Hersch Trio
Alive At The Vanguard

By Mark Corroto
Tradition is served well on this Fred Hersch Trio live recording from New York's Village Vanguard. The pianist's covers of the American songbook, like Cole Porter's "From This Moment On" and jazz classics such as Miles Davis' "Nardis" and Thelonious Monk's "Played Twice," animate and energize every moment of this club date.
Hersch, whose touring and output has been rejuvenated since he survived a two-month coma caused by complications of HIV, released two previous discs—Whirl (Palmetto, 2010) (a trio session) and the solo effort, Alone At The Village Vanguard (Palmetto, 2011).
One of the marks of a true master is always his sidemen. Hersch's longstanding trio of Drew Gress and Nasheet Waits, last heard on Whirl, are replaced here with the strong rhythm section of bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson. Like trading apples for apples, the bassist, drummer and Hersch are the definition of simpatico.
That feeling carries through the authentic Vanguard experience. Hersch's take on Sonny Rollins' 1957 date at the club includes the classic "Softly As A Morning Sunrise," played with a light dancing touch over McPherson's brushwork, and the piece increases in complexity without forsaking the melody. The trio also plays around with Rollins' "Doxy" by taking it at a much slower pace, its irony here is admirable. The same goes for his original ballad "Tristesse," written for the late Paul Motian, who was the monarch of the Vanguard during last ten years of his life. Hersch has a way of reinvesting in legends and their work, such as with Charlie Parker's "Segment" and his mash-up of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" and Davis' "Nardis." Hersch also created the tune "Sartorial" for Coleman, with the free jazz progenitor's leaps and gestures, and "Dream of Monk" portioned in Monk-speak.
The thrill of a live date at The Village Vanguard is to create something that stands tall next to all the history of the place, and Hersch certainly manages to accomplish that.
Track Listing:
CD1: Havana; Tristesse; Segment; Lonely Woman/Nardis; Dream of Monk; Rising, Falling; Softly As In a Morning Sunrise; Doxy. 
CD2: Opener; I Fall in Love Too Easily; Jackalope; The Wind/Moon and Sand; Sartorial; From This Moment On; The Song is You/Played Twice.
Fred Hersch: piano; John Hébert: bass; Eric McPherson: drums.

Mike LeDonne & The Groover Quartet 
Keep The Faith

By Jack Bowers
Connecticut-born / New York-based Mike LeDonne, who divides his time these days between piano and organ, has begun to record more frequently on the Hammond B3, especially with his suitably named Groover Quartet which, according to Owen Cordle's liner notes to Keep the Faith, has been together now for more than a decade. And that's a good thing, as these gentlemen certainly know how to groove, and do so with abandon on an album recorded roughly a year after the quartet's well-received The Groover (Savant 2100, 2010).
The organ trio has, of course, been a staple of small-group jazz for more than half a century, but LeDonne has expanded its range and power by adding another voice, that of the superlative tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, who earned his spurs with organist Charles Earland's group nearly two decades ago and, since then, has risen steadily to the top rank among contemporary tenors. LeDonne and Alexander are bolstered by a brace of seasoned pros, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Joe Farnsworth. On the other hand, perhaps "bolstered" isn't the proper word, as this is above all a quartet of equals, and Bernstein and Farnsworth's voices are no less decisive (or incisive) than LeDonne's or Alexander's.
Even so, it is the organ that enriches the groove, regardless of tempo, and LeDonne is impressively immersed in its tradition, echoing and saluting such eminent predecessors / role models as Earland, Jimmy Smith, Don Patterson and Jimmy McGriff, among others. LeDonne pays homage to another groove-based organist, the late John Patton, with "Big John," while Earland wrote the impulsive title selection. LeDonne also composed "Scratchin,'" "Burner's Idea" and "Waiting for You" (the last for his daughter, Mary) to complement "The Backstabbers," Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel," Donny Hathaway's ballad "Someday We'll All Be Free" and Horace Silver's slow-cooked finale, "Sweet Sweetie Dee."
No matter the setting, Alexander is always a pleasure to hear, while Bernstein affirms on every solo that the blues are in his soul. As for Farnsworth, he does what drummers do best, and that means keeping immaculate time and making sure his teammates are always in the spotlight. LeDonne, for his part, solos with enthusiasm and intelligence and comps the same way. Keep the Faith embodies another persuasive hour of well-grooved jazz by LeDonne's admirable quartet.
Track Listing:
The Backstabbers; Keep the Faith; Big John; The Way You Make Me Feel; Someday We'll All Be Free; Scratchin'; Waiting for You; Burner's Idea; Sweet Sweetie Dee.
Mike LeDonne: Hammond B3 organ; Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone; Peter Bernstein: guitar; Joe Farnsworth: drums.