Friday, February 22, 2013

1 Sem 2013 - Part Seven

Pete Zimmer
Prime Of Life

By Dan McClenaghan
Prime of Life, drummer Pete Zimmer's fifth recording as a leader, has a clean, crisp, soulful sound. The players of the quartet—all top-notch musicians—meld their talents into a polished cohesion. Zimmer is a fine drummer capable of impeccable timekeeping and intricate, though usually subtle percussive flourishes. Zimmer's music, with its tight grooves, sounds like heartland jazz, like the quintessentially American sound of an organ trio—without, in this case, the Hammond B3 breathing into the mix.
Guitarist Peter Bernstein, who has worked extensively with organists Melvin Rhyne and Larry Goldings, is a tangy presence here, whether laying down a slow, thoughtful, single-noting solo on "Tranquility," or with his ringing, organ-like chording on "Carefree."
George Garzone fronts this quartet outing. The somewhat underappreciated saxophonist seems to fall into the "musicians' musician" category, like Joe Henderson prior to the late saxophonist's late-career breakout recording, "So Near, So Far" (Musings for Miles) (Verve, 1992). Like Henderson, Garzone solos with a labyrinthine eloquence, smoking in front of bassist Peter Slavov's always solid, always subtle pulse and Zimmer's relentless simmer on "T.T.T.," one of three tunes Garzone contributes to this otherwise all-Zimmer-penned outing.
Where Garzone's "T.T.T" runs hot, Zimmer's "Night Vision" rides on a cool and laidback cruise control. It's a fluid roll, like a big new American-made sedan following its headlights along a freshly-paved highway, on a straight shot through the darkness over gentle rises and falls.
"Almost Home," at just a notch above ballad tempo, features Garzone's most beautiful blowing, and a very piquant solo by Bernstein, leading into the controlled burn of the closer, "The Three Petes," with Garzone—the group's only "non-Pete"—serving up another of his engagingly circuitous saxophone soliloquies.
Track Listing:
Prime of Life; One for GG; Tranquility; Carefree; Strollin' Down Bourbon Street; T.T.T.; Night Vision; Almost Home; The Three Petes.
Pete Zimmer: drums; George Garzone: tenor saxophone; Peter Bernstein: guitar; Peter Slavov: bass.

Dave King with Bill Carrothers and Billy Peterson 
I've Been Ringing You

By Dan McClenaghan
Drummer Dave King's major fame and fortune—though mostly fame; this is, after all, jazz we're talking about—comes from his work with The Bad Plus. That particular modern piano trio can go loud, combining elements of pop and rock while delving into the avant-garde side of jazz. TBP has been described as bombastic, but King doesn't limit himself to his main gig. He works in several side projects, and for his I've Been Ringing You, he joins up with fellow Minnesotans, pianist Bill Carrothers and bassist Billy Peterson, who blend their talents on a distinctive set of Great American Songbook standards and familiar tunes.
Recorded in four hours in a rented church in his home state, the trio set out to create a dark, moody atmosphere, opening with Gordon Jenkins' classic "Goodbye," perhaps the world's saddest song, covered so well by pianist Bobo Stenson on Goodbye(ECM, 2005), and by on pianist Keith Jarrett's duo record with bassist Charlie Haden's Jasmine (ECM Records, 2010). King opens the tune with his "waterphone," an eerie, resonant whine, into which Carrothers chimes. The piano sound is intimate and immediate, with a hint of an echoing murk, the individual bristles on David King's scratching, whispering brushes almost countable.
The always mesmerizing melody of alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" gets slowed down, with Carrothers injecting a dark sparkle. King stumbles into Cole Porter's "So In Love," the trio sounding relaxed and loose—like the best sessions laid down relatively quickly by top level players. Carrothers careens a bit, a pianist who seems to veer toward rolling out of control in the quicker tempos, but he never does. He's also a perfect pick for the chosen atmosphere, a player who can slow things down until time seems to nearly stop. His take on the Depression era tune, "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," on his I Love Paris (Pirouet Records, 2005), is a small masterpiece of the slow marinating of a familiar melody, as is this trio's take on the much-covered "If I Should Lose You."
King's trio closes with a group improvisation; a mournful and hauntingly beautiful ballad that stands well with the standards, the trio sounds, collectively, as if it has lost a great love, ending I've Been Ringing You on a somber, tear-inducing note.
Track Listing: 
Goodbye; Lonely Woman; So in Love; Autumn Serenade; If I SShould Lose You; People Will Say; This Nearly Was Mine; I've Been Ringing You.
Dave King: drums, waterphone (1): Bill Carrothers: piano; Billy Peterson: drums.

Mary Louise Knutson
Call Me When You Get There

By Scott Yanow
High-quality jazz is practically everywhere. For proof of that statement, this CD from a Minnesota-based pianist can serve as evidence. Mary Louis Knutson is an excellent jazz player whose voicings sometimes recall Bill Evans but who has developed a lyrical style of her own. Joined by bassist Gordon Johnson and either Marc Rio, Phil Hey, or Craig Hara on drums, the pianist plays five mostly relaxed versions of familiar standards (including "Tangerine," "On Green Dolphin Street," and "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face"). However, it is her five originals that are of greatest interest, for she has a talent for coming up with fresh melodies. "Merle the Pearl," "Meridian," and "Call Me When You Get There" each sticks in one's mind and, if this local CD received some national attention, it is possible that a couple of the originals would catch on. Well-worth searching for.

The Dave Miller Trio with Rebecca DuMaine
Deed I Do...

By Allegro
"Snappy" is the word that comes to mind when listening to this delightful album of jazz music with a classic flair. DEED I DO displays the instrumental virtuosity of the Dave Miller trio with Rebecca DeMaine on lead vocals, swinging her way through a dozen ditties from the Great American Songbook. The music has an intimate quality to it, as if you are attending a private event at a swanky jazz lounge. DeMaine's vocals are full of verve and just the right amount of sassy playfulness, with a smooth timbre that works perfectly against the bebop backdrop. The trio itself provides a peppy mix of piano, drums and bass that will keep your toes tapping to well known gems like "Trolley Song," "Frim Fram Sauce," "All I Do Is Dream Of You," "Deed I Do" and more.
Dave Miller presents the luscious vocals of Rebecca Dumaine and the Great American Songbook for an wonderfully performed and very listenable outing! First recording on Summit reached #12 on the JazzWeek Radio Chart. Miller began playing the piano by ear at the age of three. Soon after his move from New York to San Francisco, he met percussionist Bill Belasco and the two have been inseparable ever since. During the past decade, the duo has been graced by the presence of, and inspired by, renowned bassist Mario Suraci. Rebecca DuMaine began her career as an actress in New York. After moving to the Bay Area in Summer 2010, she reconnected with her love of jazz music and has been playing with the trio consistently.
Featured Artists:
Dave Miller: piano; Mario Suraci: bass; Bill Belasco: drums; Rebecca DuMaine: vocals
Track Listing:
Deed I Do • Moonlight Saving Time • I Love Being Here With You • I Like Men • Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars • Problem-Jay Leonhart • The Trolley Song • Isn’t It a Lovely Day • Frim Fram Sauce • Rhode Island • All I Do Is Dream of You • The Boy Next Door

Patricia Barber

By Thom Jurek
Patricia Barber is a crack jazz pianist, an innovative composer, a singular vocal stylist, and among the most original lyricists/song-poets to come down the pipe in 40 years. Her use of metaphor and metonymy is woven inextricably into her trademark melodies, which create mental and sonic images that evoke insight and emotion. Smash, Barber's debut for Concord, is comprised of original material performed by an excellent band that includes guitarist John Kregor, bassist Larry Kohut, and drummer Jon Deitemyer. The predominant subject matter of these songs is love's loss: the frustrated desire, grief, acceptance, longing, and healing its aftermath brings. Barber is as empathic and insightful as a depth psychologist. Her language is rich, precise, and devoid of trite sentimentality. Lyrically, these songs are wound with the elastic imagery of poetry, but their rhyme schemes are taut, given air by the fluidity of her jazz. Opener "Code Cool" is introduced by Deitemyer's snare and hi-hat in a constant thrum that emulates the pulse of electronic dance music. It's underscored by a one-note vamp from Kohut. Barber's piano illustrates with a series of glissando chords as Kregor fills the space expressionistically, highlighting the well of images and urgency in lyrics which reference science, Keats, and medical treatment before concluding she is "...Michaelangelo's David/Tested and worn..." Barber employs space between sections, stilling the proceeding with a single chord, before that pulse returns to her protagonist's realization that she needs to fake it until she makes it: "I will live/As if/I were loving." "The Wind Song" is a brooding, mysterious ballad, whose lyric drama is spacious, highlighted by brushed symbols, acoustic guitar, nearly gossamer pianism, and a physical bassline to bind it to earth. In the title track's first half, the piano and bass offer the tender illustration of "the sound of a heart breaking..." But at the halfway point, the physical fury of that emotion is laid bare by Kregor's screaming electric guitar solo, which allows for the held, breathless emotional power in this and all the previous songs, release. The companion piece is "Scream," where a jazz piano ballad opens into a nearly full-blown rocker. "Redshift" is a crystalline bossa nova; its lyrics unite love's loss with physics in clever, hip associations punctuated by a syncopated groove. "Bashful" is a swinging post-bop instrumental that features great soloing by everyone. "Missing" is introduced by Kregor's acoustic and Barber's sparse piano. It's a musically metaphorical illustration of the tune's subject matter: waiting in vain, hoping against hope that the truth of loss isn't, in fact, true. It's raw, vulnerable, and fearful. Kregor's gorgeous solo and Kohut's economical bassline offer room for Barber's piano to illuminate the lyric with tenderness.
Smash is an extraordinary achievement. Here, jazzis popular music without being anything other than itself. Its depth, creativity, searing poetry, and artisan musicianship make it a peerless accomplishment.

Vince Mendoza

By Glenn Astarita
For jazz aficionados, composer/arranger Vince Mendoza's artisanship is a well-known entity. However, he's also enamored the works of pop-rock stars of note, including Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello and Sheryl Crow. Mendoza is a master-craftsman who possesses a keen ear to complement his vivid imaginative powers, characteristics that are fastidiously transmitted throughout this rather wondrous 2008 release.
The English translation for the German album title is "blue sound," and emanates from a painting by German artist Ernst Wilhelm Nay (1902-1968). Mendoza's original compositions, sans Miles Davis' opening classic, "All Blues," duly paint a multihued musical portraiture that luminously intimates various shades of blue. Recorded at both a German studio and music festival, the artist employs some of the finest Euro-jazz instrumentalists along with guitarist Nguyen Le and drummer Peter Erskine, who round out the strings and horns based ensemble.
With lush textures, medium tempo swing vamps and multilayered arrangements, Mendoza conveys numerous shades of blue, especially on "All Blues," where supple horns provide counterpoint to Le's somewhat elusive and loosely based reckoning of the primary theme. In other regions of sound and scope, Mendoza implements buoyant undercurrents amid symphonic-like opuses.
Mendoza's "Ollie Mention" is constructed up from a hauntingly beautiful theme that features a simple melody and rippling strings passages, as Le ups the ante via his angular riffing atop the ensemble's layered choruses. "Movement II" of the six-part "Bluesounds" features French hornist Arkady Shilkloper's triumphant lines, performed above a flourishing background, while elsewhere the contrasting hues and shadings are abetted by Markus Stockhausen's velvety solo spot.
With four Grammy awards under his hat, Mendoza may well be in line for number five with this gleaming masterwork.
Track Listing: 
All Blues; Lo Rossinyol; Habanera; Blues for Pablo; Ollie Mention; Bluesounds Movement I; Bluesounds Movement II; Bluesounds Movement III; Bluesounds Movement IV; Bluesounds Movement V; Bluesounds Movement VI.
Nguyen Le: guitar; Markus Stockhausen: trumpet; Claudio Puntin: clarinets, saxophones; Steffen Schorn: clarinets, saxophonies; Frank Sackenheim: saxophones; Arkady Shilkloper: French Horn; Jon Sass: tuba; Lars Danielsson: bass; Ulla Van Daelen: harp; Peter Erskine: drums; Christopher Dell: vibraphone; String Quartet Red Urg 4: Gerdur Gunnarsdottir: violin; Christine Rox: violin; Thorunn Osk Marinosdotir: viola; Daniel Raabe: cello.

1 Sem 2013 - Part Six

Ben Powell
New Street: A Tribute To Stephane Grappelli

By Bill Milkowski
There is something about the tone, the delicate but assured touch, the unique vibrato and soaring filigrees of Ben Powell’s violin playing that immediately conjure up memories of Stephane Grappelli. It’s apparent in the warmly lyrical ballad “Judith” that opens this impressive collection by Powell’s quartet (pianist Tadataka Unno, bassist Aaron Darrell and drummer Devin Drobka), but even more evident in three trio tunes featuring vibraphonist Gary Burton and guitarist Julian Lage: the lilting “Gary,” written for the vibes great by Grappelli in 1969; the wistful ballad “La Chanson des Rues”; and Grappelli’s swinging “Piccadilly Stomp.”
Powell stakes out his own territory on “Monk 4 Strings” and the modernist, time-shifting title track, then engages in fiery call-and-response with Gyspy guitarist Adrien Moignard on a Hot Club-inspired romp through “What Is This Thing Called Love?” There’s also a graceful classical piece, “Sea Shell,” and an alluring bossa-nova arrangement of “La Vie en Rose,” sung in French by Boston vocalist Linda Calise.

Alexis Cole
I Carry Your Heart : Sings Pepper Adams Vol.5

By Larry Taylor
I Carry Your Heart; Alexis Cole Sings Pepper Adams is a stunning piece of work. The lyrics, pure poetry; the music, cerebral and swinging. This creation is even more amazing when seen as part of a five-volume production covering all of baritone sax legend Pepper Adams' work.
Producer Gary Carner got the idea for a digital box set, Joy Road: The Complete Works of Pepper Adams (Volumes 1-5), to be put out on Motéma Music. Subsequent to Cole's vocal CD was Joy Road Sampler (Motéma, 2012), which contains highlights from all four volumes. All discs will be available at a later date.
Carner became interested in the project in the mid-eighties. "Now," he says, "after 28 years of research, it has become a maintain the historical record of his [Pepper's] life and work" Also a meticulously researched Pepper Adams' Joy Road: An Annotated Discography(2012), has been published by Scarecrow Press.
Born in 1930 in Michigan, Adams' career was too short. He was recognized as one of the top performers on his instrument. He began, though, on tenor sax and clarinet. At 16, he moved to Detroit and switched to baritone sax. In 1947 he joined saxophonist Lucky Thompson's band, and later worked with trumpeter Donald Byrd.
His style differed from others, including Gerry Mulligan and Serge Chaloff. On the big, bulky bari, Adams played at the rapid pace of hard bop. Later, he became part of Charles Mingus' band, until the bassist died in 1979. Shortly thereafter he was a founding member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band. Unfortunately, Adams died in 1986.
During his life, he was also a composer of great output and talent. Carner chose to highlight the versatility of Adams' compositions by placing the music in different settings.
He secured Chicago pianist Jeremy Kahn to record Vol.1 in a trio format. Next, he chose Atlanta-based pianist Kevin Bales to assemble a quartet for Vol. 2, with guitarist Barry Greene featured. On Vol. 3, baritone saxophonist Frank Basile, leads a sextet, and on Vol. 4, Carner brought Kahn back with his trio and a special guest, baritone player Gary Smulyan, a devoted Adams follower.
Adams' compositions are sung by the highly rated Cole. The New York-based vocalist was recommended by saxophonist Eric Alexander, who had recorded with her on a Fred Hersch album. For this first ever pairing of his music with words, Carner got poet/lyricist Barry Wallenstein, his friend and mentor at City College of New York (CCNY).
Rearranging Adams' seven ballads to various speeds and styles, and pairing them with Wallenstein's richly literary lyrics, was the task. Cole comes up a winner here with her straightforward interpretations, honoring the integrity of the poetry and always swinging.
The band also deserves special mention, especially the two tenor sax performers, Alexander and Pat LaBarbera. Whether soloing or blending their sound, they excel in mostly long takes.
On "I Carry Your heart," the drums' explosive beat drives a tenor chorus as Cole belts out the lyrics. Another highlight is the swinger, "Now In Our Lives." Again tenors carry on beautifully with superb improvisations, trading bars at the end. With "Urban Dreams," Cole's shows the influence of Mark Murphy and Kurt Elling, as she delivers the lines with vivid melodic embellishments.
"Julian," dedicated to "Cannonball" Adderley, is the longest, at 10 minutes. With its dreamy beginning, it suggests a languid early summer day. Saxophones and drums take off, though, sprinting to a piano foray. All prepare for Cole's winning vocalese refrain.
The volume ends with a reprise of the title tune taken in a lovely up-down, high-low pattern. This release certainly whets the appetite for the remaining four volumes.
In Love With Night; I Carry Your Heart; Now In Our Lives; Urban Dreams; Julian; Civilization And Discontents; Lovers Of Their Time; Reprise: I Carry Your Heart.
Alexis Cole: vocals; Jeremy Kahn: piano; Pat LaBarbera; tenor sax; Eric Alexander: tenor sax; Dennis Carroll: bass; George Fludas: drums.

Claire Martin & Kenny Barron
Too Much In Love To Care

By Christopher Loudon
Claire Martin’s 14th release represents multiple milestones for the British vocalist: her first Stateside recording in 15 years, her first to use exclusively American musicians, her first devoted exclusively to selections from the Great American Songbook and the disc that marks her 20th anniversary with the London-based Linn label. It is also as near-perfect a vocal album as you’re ever likely to hear. Martin, who has always cited Ella Fitzgerald and Shirley Horn as major influences, can rightfully claim a place at their table.
In the liner notes, Martin explains that when performing live she is always aware of the “faint sigh of relief” whenever she sings a familiar tune, hence the all-standards playlist. Among her 13 selections are several of the most-recorded songs of all time—“Embraceable You,” “Time After Time,” “Crazy He Calls Me,” “How Long Has This Been Going On?” and “I Only Have Eyes for You” among them. Less assured singers would be tempted to tart up such chestnuts. But Martin appreciates that great songs are best served straight up, requiring no adornment beyond exceptional accompaniment. And exceptional it is, as shaped by pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Peter Washington (who also played on Martin’s previous New York session, back in 1997), drummer Kenny Washington and saxophonist/flutist Steve Wilson. Like Martin, these fine craftsmen have no interest in grandstanding, remaining individually and collectively content to gently, gorgeously amplify the exquisite beauty of her slightly parched vocals.

Allan Harris & Takana Miyamoto

By Dan Bilawsky
The eternal bond between piano and voice in jazz was cemented long before pianist Bill Evans and vocalist Tony Bennett ever took to the studio together, but they elevated this union of sounds to artistic heights ne'er before attained. Bennett and Evans erased the notions of vocals on top and pianist-as-mere-accompanist with The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album (Fantasy, 1975) and its less glorified follow-up, Together Again (Improv, 1977). They created a synergy in song craft that few before or since have come close to matching. What's even more remarkable, is how stylistically mismatched they technically were. Bennett the extrovert and Evans the introvert don't make for a good match on paper, but on tape they were mesmerizing.
Likewise, vocalist Allan Harris and pianist Takana Miyamoto don't initially come to mind as the perfect candidates to honor the musical collaboration(s) between Bennett and Evans. Harris' warm, brandied baritone brings to mind Nat King Cole rather than Bennett and Miyamoto has a more firm sense of pianistic placement than Evans. But that's beside the point. This pair isn't trying to recreate anything and, instead, look to honor what Evans and Bennett had with their own takes on some of the same material. What they do have in common with that classic coupling is a whole-is-greater-than- the-sum-of-its-parts connection, which makes this album so powerful.
Harris has had plenty of experience working with top-flight pianists, like Bill Charlap, Tommy Flanagan and Eric Reed, and Miyamoto is best known for her work with singers Nnenna Freelon and Rene Marie, so they arrive at this meeting place well equipped for the journey. They immediately establish themselves with an emotionally resonant reading of "My Foolish Heart" and a livelier than expected "Days Of Wine And Roses." Deep connections and confidence in conception are evident from the outset and continue to build on their rapport throughout. "But Beautiful" is colored by myriad shades of emotional color, "The Touch Of Your Lips" moves from sly intimacy to overjoyed shouts from the rooftops, and "Some Other Time" finds the right balance between happiness for what's been had and regret for what hasn't.
Harris' warm and inviting voice is a magnet for the ears, occasionally taking attention away from the idea of piano-and-voice-as-one, but he and Miyamoto usually manage to intertwine their sensibilities into a single, flowing presence. This music never serves as subservient imitation, thus calling this a "tribute" album would diminish what Harris and Miyamoto have created. Convergenceis a gripping program that's best viewed as a companion piece to the Bennett and Evans recordings.
Track Listing: 
My Foolish Heart; Days Of Wine And Roses; But Beautiful; Waltz For Debby; You Don't Know What Love Is; Young And Foolish; The Touch Of Your Lips; You Must Believe In Spring; Some Other Time; We'll Be Together Again.
Allan Harris: vocals; Takana Miyamoto: piano.

David Benoit 

This is not a Jazz album ! His best record is " Letter To Evan ".

By Mike C.
The winning streak continues! Jazz pianist and conductor David Benoit’s Conversation album was released today.
Here are the tracks:
1. Napa Crossroads Overture (3:46) – David and guitarist/vocalist David Pack (previously with the band Ambrosia) wrote this tune two years ago and it finally found a home on Conversation. Pack is featured on guitars with a little help from Pat Kelley.
2. Feelin’ It (3:57)
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (3:07) – This is the theme from the movie of the same name, composed and originally performed by Theodore Shapiro. It featuers a wild guitar solo by Jeff Golub and violin from David’s daughter June.
4. Kei’s Song Redux (4:49) – The title is self-explanatory: it’s a new version of “Kei’s Song,” originally recorded for Freedom at Midnight 25 years ago, but it isn’t exactly a carbon copy.
5. Sunrise On Mansion Row (4:10)
6. You’re Amazing (3:21) – A tribute to David’s friend and site webmaster Jean Wang. In addition to playing flute and piccolo, Tim Weisberg also gave David Lee Roth-esque “shoutouts” like “well, all right!” and “come on!”
7. Q’s Motif (3:11) – “Q” is for Quincy Jones; based on a boogie-woogie motif he wrote. This is my favorite song on the album so far, not just because of the synthesizer solo, but the piano, as well.
8. Let’s Get Ready (4:47)
9. Conversation (From Music For Two Trios) (4:55) – Another self-explanatory title. It’s a musical conversation between pianist Robert Theis, violinist Yun Tang, and cellist Cathy Biagini; and David, bassist David Hughes, and drummer Jamey Tate. The former performed in the classical style while the latter performed in jazz. Will the two trios converge? Listen and find out.
In addition to the musicians mentioned above, you’ll also hear Brad Dutz on percussion, David Sills on tenor and soprano saxophone, and the following classical musicians:
Violinists: Yun Tang, Michelle Wood, Eleanor Dunbar
Violaists: Xiang Wang, Ilona Geller
I highly recommend Conversation. You won’t regret your purchase. And if you’re a diehard jazz fan like me, you’ll be listening again and again and again!

The Cyrus Chestnut Quartet

By Philip Booth
A certain naturalism and hard-earned grace run through the compositions and playing of Cyrus Chestnut, the Baltimore-bred modern-mainstream player best known for his work as a resourceful solo pianist and dynamic leader of trios. But those qualities shine through again on The Cyrus Chestnut Quartet , his first recording as a leader in that format. Joined by recent triomate Dezron Douglas on bass, tenor and soprano saxophonist Stacy Dillard and drummer Willie Jones III, Chestnut unveils a half-dozen new tunes that make worthy additions to his impressive body of originals.
Gospel-blues shades color several pieces, notably “Annibelle Cousins,” its laidback groove driving a slinky melody sounded by Dillard’s tenor and tagged with a seeming nod to the spiritual “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.” The piece, one of the album’s highlights, proceeds with a long open section for Douglas’ melodic solo, punctuated with slides and galloping figures, before opening up for sprawling turns by Dillard and Chestnut. Blues textures also liven the medium-tempo groover “Indigo Blue,” featuring another subtle-to-splashy piano turn, and the slow-moving closer, “Mustard,” characterized by a Kind of Blue feel.
Douglas’ contribution, “What’s Happening,” is a zippy bop gem with well-utilized space for Jones, while Barney Wilen’s opening “No Problem” features a catchy head attached to rhythms that switch from Latin-tinged to swing. Chestnut’s other tunes here—the lovely ballad “Dream,” the soprano-led charmers “Waltz for Gene and Carol” and “Solace”—are similarly invigorated with the help of a group of accomplished players whose sensibilities mesh nicely with the leader’s approach.

1 Sem 2013 - Part Five

Andy LaVerne
Three's Not A Crowd

By Jazzloft
The “Three” of “The Three Is Not A Crowd” goes way back to 1977 when Andy LaVerne, Mike Richmond and Billy Hart comprised the rhythm section for the great Stan Getz quartet.
Andy LaVerne cut his debut album with Richmond and Hart that year in Copenhagen which was released as “Another World” (SteepleChase SCCD 31086).
35 years later the “Three” convened in a NJ studio to record. The result here is not just a reunion but a new world of creative outpouring by the three mature artists. Recorded December 2011.
Andy Laverne (piano); Mike Richmond (bass); Billy Hart (drums)
Fourth Right
Three's Not A Crowd
Bird Song
As Always
Leave the Blues Behind

Kate McGarry
Girl Talk

By Mark Corroto
Someone should tell vocalists today—at least the ones we see on those TV talent hunts—that singing doesn't have to be some exercise in screaming self-annihilation, that beauty and style is more about composure and command. You could tell them, or you can hip them to Girl Talk, by Kate McGarry.
McGarry, a jazz vocalist, has covered various pop and folk songs by the likes of Peter Gabriel, Sting, Björk and Joni Mitchell on prior recordings. Her style defies categorization. Or, perhaps she has been saying that jazz has become 21st century folk music.
Like her previous disc, If Less Is More... Nothing is Everything (Palmetto, 2008), she employs a first-rate jazz band that includes her guitarist/husband Keith Ganz, keyboardist Gary Versace, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Clarence Penn. The quartet, along with Matt Balitsaris of Palmetto Records, ensures that the sound is top rate.
On Girl Talk she forgoes pop music for a more traditional, popular jazz sound. Like her role models Betty Carter, Sheila Jordan and Carmen McRae, you can call it jazz or pop, to them it's just singing. Like her vocal mentors, she delivers with an assured sprezzatura—that effortless style that sounds innate but can only be delivered after intense study and practice.
The title track, a bit of patronizing misogyny, gets turned on its sarcastic head, much in the manner that fellow singer Tony Bennett covered the song in 1966. McGarry's bluesy, loping delivery is balanced by the throwback sounds of Versace's organ and Ganz's guitar. The guitarist is featured throughout, and plays a duet with McGarry on the ballad "Looking Back," doubling on acoustic and electric guitars.
What's to love here is the casual nature of this remarkable ensemble. McGarry makes the complex seem unpretentious. She can move between speaking and singing through a song without a perceptible difference between the two, as she does on "I Just Found Out About Love." Maybe that's why her voice fits hand-in-hand with singer/orator Kurt Elling on the Brazilian "O Contador." She endears herself with the flirty track "I Know That You Know," a scat-filled "It's a Wonderful World," and the bachelor (or bachelorette) pad tango, "Charade."
Kate McGarry certainly has that "thing" that Duke Ellington wrote a song about, and her music does mean a thing.
Track Listing:
We Kiss in a Shadow; Girl Talk; I Just Found Out About Love; The Man I Love; O Cantador; This Heart of Mine; I Know That You Know; Looking Back; Charade; It’s a Wonderful World.
Kate McGarry: vocal; Keith Ganz: guitars; Gary Versace: piano, organ; Reuban Rogers: bass; Clarence Penn: drums, percussion; Kurt Elling: vocal (5).

Grégoire Maret

Gregoire Maret: Gregoire Maret

By Doug Collete
Gregoire Maret's first album under his own name is both more and less than a Music lover following the harmonicist's career might expect. After years of collaborating with the likes of guitarists Pat Metheny and Charlie Hunter, and vocalist Cassandra Wilson, Maret (mostly) wisely but ambitiously places his instrument in a variety of settings that highlight various aspects of his playing.
The sum effect of hearing his eponymous debut is to appreciate how much Maret has brought to the music of others. "Lucilla's Dream" recalls Maret's collaboration with Metheny on The Way Up (Nonesuch, 2005), and not just so obviously with the inclusion of wordless vocals; the performance builds through a series of carefully wrought crescendos and concludes emphatically with Clarence Penn's drum break. On a leisurely stroll through Metheny's co-composition with pianist Lyle Mays, "Travels," Maret takes the time to explore its melodic nuances with exquisite patience.
Maret's distinctive presence as a musician also comes forth clearly on his rendition of Stevie Wonder's "The Secret Life of Plants," written by the one-time Motown wunderkind when he'd long since left his own harmonica behind for synthesizers and a variety of other keyboards. As he does throughout the CD, Maret brings a vivid tone to his playing in the straightforward arrangement, no small achievement given that his harmonica, by its very nature, puts forth a light breezy air.
"Crepuscule Suite" is one of a pair of extended pieces here, and its body offers the opportunity for Maret to vigorously improvise with the other participants, including bassist James Genus and keyboardist Federico Pena. The other is "Children's Suite," one of the three Maret originals, and it highlights the harmonicist's playing in a series of delicious contrasts with strings as well as acoustic piano. Ultimately, this becomes the gateway to the slow unfolding of the album's track sequencing that conjures up a dream-like quality.
For all the indisputably impeccable musicianship and production, however, Maret's album sounds as if he was too anxious to present his definitive artistic statement in one fell swoop. The track featuring mentor Cassandra Wilson is the most representative of that labored approach: the sole cut featuring a traditional vocal, her voice is as arresting as Maret's playing but is, in the end, simply too obvious a tribute/homage to the artist with whom Maret has collaborated.
More than compensating for that understandable lapse, though, are those memorable moments within the orchestrated "O Amor E O Meu Pais." Here, fellow harmonicist Toots Thielemans appears to interact fluently with Maret, and the gusto in the pair's playing is unmistakable. The sound of their instruments and their interplay is stirring, but deceptively so, as is the case through most of the tracks on Gregoire Maret.
Track Listing: 
Lucilla's Dream; The Secret Life Of Plants; The Man I Love; Travels; Crepuscule Suite: 5:37 PM (Intro);Crepuscule Suite: Crepuscule; Crepuscule Suite: 4:28 AM Outro; Manha Du Sol; Prayer; Lembra De Mim; Children's Suite: The Womb; Children's Suite: Children's Song; Children's Suite: Outro; O Amor E O Meu Pais; Ponta De Areia (M. Nascimento).
Grégoire Maret: harmonica, vocals; Federico G Pena: piano, taicho harp, percussion, vocals; James Genus: electric bass, vocals, acoustic bass; Clarence Penn: drums, vocals; Bashiri Johnson and Mino Cinelu: percussion; Brandon Ross: soprano acoustic guitar, 6- and-12 string acoustic guitar; Jean-Christophe Maillard: acoustic guitar, taicho harp; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums; Alfredo Mojica: percussion; Cassandra Wilson: vocals; Stephanie Decailet: violin; Johannes Rose: viola; Fabrice Loyal: cello; Marcus Miller: fretless bass; Janelle Gill, Adia Gill, Clyde Gill, Micai Gill: vocals; Toots Thielemans: harmonica; Robert Kubiszyn: acoustic bass; Krzystol Herzdin: string arrangement; Gretchen Parlato: voice. Soumas Heritage School of Music Ensemble; Sinfonia Viva Orchestra

Bobo Stenson Trio

By Thom Jurek
Any listener familiar with Bobo Stenson's work knows that extensive range is a trademark on his records.Indicum is no exception. With longtime bassist Anders Jormin and drummer Jon Fält, he takes on works by Bill Evans, George Russell, contemporary sacred composition, free group improv, traditional hymns, and jazz reads of Carl Nielsen on this 12-track set. Stenson opens with a brief solo reading of Evans' "Your Story," dedicated to the late Paul Motian, who had held the drum chair on the Trio's 2005 album, Goodbye. It's elegant, emotive, and bears the hallmarks of Stenson's sparse yet striking chords. "Indikon," the first of three group improvs, commences with Fält's solo. The pianist enters with an abundant lyricism, weighted by Jormin's slow, studied pulse. As the players engage and trade the foreground, an organic process emerges and begins its evolution. On "Indigo," dark minor keys emerge from the tune's body to create dramatic tension. Jormin's low end adds a force to Stenson's argument, but Fält's shimmering cymbals and flat snare counter it all, creating balance. The set includes version of Wolf Bierman's protest song "Ermutigung," which shimmers even as it swings; its melancholy overtones embraced and articulated fully in Jormin's song-like solo. The inclusion of Argentinian composer Ariel Ramirez's "La Peregrinacion" illustrates how subtle, even hidden aspects of rhythmic interplay are evoked inside this group's lyric improvisation. The other end of the folk spectrum is highlighted in the Norwegian traditional "Ave Maria." The sacred melody is pronounced, then shifted to find the margin. In its place, a haunting improvisation/dialogue illustrates the many harmonic possibilities in its formal architecture. Jormin's "Sol" is a fine vehicle for him and Fält. Stenson doesn't enter until two minutes into the conversation. When he does, it's via a series of carefully spaced triads that frame Jormin's arco. Before the tune gels, it hints at post-bop without indulging it, yet its graceful sense of swing is implicit. Album-closer "Ubi Caritas" is a choral piece by contemporary composer Ola Gjeilo. In intent, it walks a line between modern and medieval music. But Stenson uses its structural evocation of plain chant in his chords and allows Jormin a soprano-like quality with his bow. Fält skeletally and spaciously accents it all, keeping the tune's mysterious quality intact. The Stenson Trio is the rarest of bands, one that approaches its material as a series of queries to be summarily explored, rather than statements to be made. As such, Indicum succeeds in spades.

Daryl Sherman
Mississippi Belle: Cole Porter In The Quartet

By Joe Lang
It had to happen sooner or later. After playing on the Cole Porter piano at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City for almost 15 years, DARYL SHERMAN has released an album of songs by the talented gentleman who owned the piano in question.
For the recording of Mississippi Belle: Cole Porter in the Quarter (ACD-342), Sherman opted to travel down to New Orleans, engage Jesse Boyd on bass, and Tom Fischer on clarinet and tenor sax, and explore 13 Porter gems.
In choosing tunes for her program, she used her imagination, selecting familiar songs, "Let's Do It," "Get out of Town," "Rosalie," "Looking at You," "From This Moment On" and "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To;" some that are heard occasionally, "Tale of the Oyster," "Use Your Imagination," "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and "Where Have You Been;" a few truly obscure, "Ours" and "By the Mississinewah;" and one never previously recorded, "Mississippi Belle."
An added bonus is the appearance of Banu Gibson, a fine jazz vocalist and New Orleans institution, as a duet partner on "By the Mississinewah."
Sherman's intimate vocal style, fabulous phrasing and inventive self accompaniment on piano are combined with the fine musicianship of her cohorts to produce an album that would surely have pleased Mr. Porter, and will have a similar effect on his legions of admirers.
Daryl Sherman: vocals, piano
Jesse Boyd, Bass
Tom Fischer, Clarinet/Tenor sax
special guest, Banu Gibson, (vocal/Track 7)

Jane Scheckter
Easy To Remember

By Edward Blanco
Music from The Great American Songbook is getting quite a workout these days, with more musicians and singers spinning their renditions of old standards and classics than ever before. On the stellar Easy To Remember, jazz-cabaret singer Jane Scheckter taps into the well, lending her interpretations to songs from this repertoire with an all-star cast of players. This is the fourth album for the veteran vocalist using a standard trio format. Pianist/arranger Ted Firth and bassist extraordinaire Jay Leonhart, who both appeared with Scheckter on In Times Like These (Doxie, 2003), return for this follow-up engagement, with drummer Peter Grant rounding out the core band.
There is plenty of good music to enjoy on this 17-song release, and while the trio provides the main instrumental support, the personnel is expanded to add jazz luminaries such as guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, cornet specialist Warren Vaché, tenor saxophonist Harry Allen and others. Scheckter's enticing vocal style has been compared to the great Ella Fitzgerald. This is not to suggest that her vocal range compares, but her approach and general sound does bring to mind the icon's swagger. Borrowing from legendary composers Irving Berlin and Ray Noble, Scheckter begins painting her canvas of the American Songbook with swinging reads of "The Best Thing For You" and "I Hadn't Anyone Till You," with lively contributions from the Pizzarelli, Vaché and Allen.
Beautiful ballads come into play with "I Have the Feeling I've Been Here Before," which features Scheckter at her best, accompanied well by a delicate cornet solo from Vaché. The singer turns in another sensitive performance on the Richard Rodgers title piece before sharing vocals with Tony DeSare on Duke Ellington's "I Didn't Know About You." Scheckter seems comfortable with ballads, delivering more tender moments with lush performances on "A Face Like Yours," "Stuck In A Dream With Me," "I'm Glad There Is You" and the Cy Coleman standard, "I Walk A Little Faster." The Rodgers and Hart standard "Where Or When" features the singer in a duet of sorts with harmonicist Gil Chimes.
Scheckter swings well on such classics as "How Little We Know," "Accidents Will Happen" and "Along With Me." Adding a bit of creative innovation to the project, the album closes with a version of "Will You Be Mine" with new lyrics supplied by Bob Feinberg. His text includes clever and humorous references to Donald Trump, Hugh Hefner, Paris Hilton and even Fox News—all germane to the 2011-2012 political landscape. One thing is certainly "Easy To Remember," Jane Scheckter is an uncommon songbird whose voice and music will not soon be forgetten.
Track Listing:
The Best Thing For You; I Hadn't Anyone Till You; I Have The Feeling I've Been Here Before; I Was A Little Too Lonely; Easy To Remember; I Didn't Know About You; Don't Let It Get You Down; Will You Still Be Mine; A Face Like Yours; Where Or When; How Little We Know; Stuck In A Dream With Me; Accidents Will Happen; I'm Glad There Is You; Along With Me; I Walk A Little Faster; Bonus! Will You Be Mine.
Jane Scheckter: vocals; Tedd Firth: piano; Jat Leonhart: bass; Peter Grant: drums; Bucky Pizzarelli: guitar; Warren Vaché: cornet; Harry Allen: tenor saxophone; Aaron Weinstein: violin; Tony DeSare: vocals (6); Gil Chimes: harmonica (10).

Donald Byrd 1932 - 2013

                    Donald Byrd made an important contribution to music education. Photograph: Andrew Lepley/Redferns

By John Fordham at, Tuesday 12 February 2013 10.20 GMT

Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II, trumpeter and educator, 
Born 9 December 1932 - died 4 February 2013

The teaching of jazz in conservatoires may now be commonplace, but for decades the art was informally learned by listening to records and sharing ideas. Many of the giants who shaped jazz as it sounds today learned from each other, and from the pioneers who preceded them. A rare few learned their music formally and informally in about equal measure. One of that handful was the trumpeter Donald Byrd, who has died aged 80.
Byrd spent much of his life in academic institutions studying everything from composition and music education to law, but his craft as a trumpeter was honed in one of the most famous of all road-going jazz finishing schools – Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Through the ranks of the Messengers, from the mid-1950s to the late 1980s, there passed a procession of stars-to-be, nurtured by the drummer Blakey's belief that the best young players to hire were the ones with the talent and determination to become bandleaders themselves. Despite a roster of Blakey trumpeters over the years that included Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan and Wynton Marsalis, one of the most celebrated of brass-playing Messengers was the gifted Byrd.
He was born in Detroit, Michigan, where he attended Cass technical high school. Byrd played in a military band while in the US air force, took a music degree at Wayne State University in Michigan and then studied music education at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. He joined the Jazz Messengers in the mid-1950s. Byrd's trumpet predecessors in Blakey's company had already included the graceful, glossy-toned Brown and the Dizzy Gillespie-influenced Kenny Dorham, but the newcomer with his polished phrasing and luxurious tone was recognised as a technical master equal to both.

                  Donald Byrd joined the Jazz Messengers in the mid-1950s. Photograph: David Redfern/Redferns

He was even heralded as the new guiding light in jazz trumpet, and the acclaim intensified after Brown died in a 1956 road accident. Byrd's talent seemed to encompass some of Brown's spontaneous, narrative-generating strength and his exquisite tone, as well as Miles Davis's pacing, and the fire and penetrating attack of the first-wave bebop trumpeters inspired by Gillespie. After that racing start, Byrd eventually prioritized academic work over musical creativity – but until the arrival of the similarly skilled Freddie Hubbard, and his own withdrawal to the classroom, Byrd was briefly one of modern jazz's leading young trumpeters.
He was prolifically active in the late 1950s, in demand for sessions on the Savoy, Riverside and Blue Note labels, in the company of Max Roach, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Horace Silver among others. At the end of the decade he was also leading or co-leading his own ensembles, mostly operating in the laconically pyrotechnical, blues-inflected hard-bop style. Byrd regularly worked with the bop pianist George Wallingtonand with the alto saxophonist and composer Gigi Gryce, and in 1958 he led a quintet including the Belgian saxophonist Bobby Jaspar on a European tour.
On his return to the US, Byrd teamed up with the excellent baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, and the two continued to mine the hard-bop seam with various partners, including the then little-known pianist Herbie Hancock. Byrd sounded as polished as ever, but a shade predictable alongside more individualistic players such as Adams, or Wayne Shorter and Hancock, with both of whom he played on the 1961 album Free Form.
In the early 1960s, Byrd studied composition with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, and though he periodically visited the Blue Note studios for steadily more easy-listening ventures in the 1960s, African-American musical history became his central preoccupation. He took up posts at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; the Hampton Institute in Virginia; Howard University in Washington; and North Carolina Central University. He was a pioneering force in establishing jazz studies in American colleges and conservatoires (evolving in the process into a leading African-American ethnomusicologist), regularly lectured for the New York outreach organisation Jazzmobile, and developed an education programme he called Music + Math = Art, to link the teaching of music and mathematics. Byrd later became a distinguished artist in residence at Delaware State University, from 1996 to 2001 and then from 2009, founding a $10,000 scholarship fund in his name.
At Howard, Byrd became chairman of the black music department in the 1970s. Dedicating himself to raising the status of black American music and securing equality for black players, he studied law as well as music to broaden the scope of the advice he could offer in his lectures and workshops. Byrd said in the 1970s that he was addressing "the plight of black musicians in academia … Until we get an integrated view of things with respect to black music, nothing is going to happen". It was this concern, rather than the material success and supposed musical dumbing-down for which he was lambasted, that probably influenced Byrd's decision to embrace the pop- and soul-influenced end of jazz. He wanted to draw attention to the situation of black music in colleges in the most high-profile way he could, even if the results did nothing to enhance the respect his musicianship had previously commanded.
Forming the Blackbyrds soul and funk band from a pool of his Howard University students, Byrd directed some lucrative if artistically unsteady forays into dancefloor jazz and fusion. His million-selling 1973 album Black Byrd made him a major star again, and brought Blue Note more income than the label had ever generated from any release before. But the follow-ups in 1975 and 1976 became increasingly bland.
In 1987, Byrd returned to jazz, recording for the experienced producer Orrin Keepnews's Landmark label, on a primarily hard-bop repertoire that by the final recording, A City Called Heaven (1991), was also including interpretations of Henry Purcell, and the voice of a mezzo-soprano. Byrd's old blazing virtuosity was gone but he could still be an affecting player of ballads, and his front-rank partners included the saxophonists Joe Henderson and Kenny Garrett, and the vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson.
Byrd's legacy is his contribution to music education in a culture that spawned jazz but then neglected it – a role he pursued from the unique vantage point of having been a leading player in the idiom. His work has been sampled by pop and hip-hop artists including Public Enemy and Ice Cube, and many young musicians at work today owe their education, and the widespread acceptance of their art, to his tireless pursuit of stature and respect for jazz.
Byrd married Lorraine Glover in 1955.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

1 Sem 2013 - Part Four

Jacky Terrasson

By Matt Collar
Pianist Jacky Terrasson's 2012 album Gouache is an eclectic, playful, and often beautiful album that showcases the pianist's lithe, technically adept jazz skills alongside a handful of guest artists. Terrasson is a gifted composer and improviser in a variety of jazz idioms, from straight-ahead, standards-based jazz to more contemporary and even avant-garde styles. He brings all of this to bear on Gouache. While Terrasson's virtuosic piano chops are the focal point of the release, it is also his choice of excellent sidemen here, including trumpeter Stephane Belmondo and bass clarinetist Michel Portal, that helps make the album such a buoyant and joyful listen. This is especially true on his ruminative version of John Lennon's "Oh My Love" and the positively swoon-inducing Erik Satie chanson "Je Te Veux," which both feature vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. Winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, Salvant is a gifted, nuanced singer and here, singing in both French and English, she draws upon the languid, bittersweet influence of Billie Holiday, while always keeping a smile in her voice. Jazz pianists reworking modern pop songs has become de rigueur in 21st century jazz circles, and soTerrasson's choice to cover Lennon, as well as such radio hits as Justin Bieber's "Baby" and Amy Winehouse's "Rehab," isn't in-and-of-itself unique. However, with his painterly, impressionistic style that often brings to mind a mix of such influences as Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea, Terrasson is an interesting match for this kind of pop repurposing, and his reinventions never sound anything but clever and inspired. To these ends, he turns "Baby" into a jaunty sleigh ride of song, with a euphoric '70s R&B ballad midsection. He also gives "Rehab" a slow, Horace Silver-sounding jazz-funk treatment that finds him moving from piano to Fender Rhodes. Elsewhere, Terrasson's original compositions reveal a passion for melody and groove, paired with an adventurous, flowing, stream-of-consciousness post-bop aesthetic that ultimately makes Gouache a pure joy to hear.

Yaron Herman
Alter Ego

By The JazzMann
Born in Tel Aviv pianist and composer Yaron Herman is now based in France and has established a reputation as one of the most exciting pianists currently operating on the European jazz circuit. Herman also spent time in the US studying at Berklee College of Music and he retains strong links with the North American jazz scene. Indeed it was albums such as “A Time For Everything” (2007) and “Muse” (2009) both recorded with the New York rhythm pairing of bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Gerald Cleaver that helped to win the technically gifted Herman an international reputation. Both of these releases were wide ranging and included notable covers of pop songs such as Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and Bjork’s “Isobel” alongside folk and classical leanings.
Herman signed to the prestigious German label ACT for 2010’s “Follow The White Rabbit”, his most consistent and focussed offering thus far. Here his partners were the Canadian pairing of bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Tommy Crane and I was lucky enough to see this configuration give an excellent performance at the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre as part of the 2010 London Jazz Festival. “White Rabbit” included covers of Radiohead and Nirvana (a splendid version of “Heart Shaped Box” ), an Israeli folk tune and a strong series of originals which often recalled the spirit and energy of E.S.T.
I saw Herman play live again at the 2011 Brecon Jazz Festival, this time in the company of the rhythm section that appears on this record, French bassist Stephane Kerecki , a bandleader in his own right, and Israeli drummer Ziv Ravitz. If the Brecon performance failed to reach the heights of the Purcell Room show this was largely due to outside circumstances, the gig was held in a draughty marquee and noise from other events on the festival site too often leached in and marred the trio’s performance.
Be that as it may “Alter Ego” reveals that Herman remains a phenomenal talent whose music is still developing. In addition to the core trio the new album also features the talents of Parisian musician Emile Parisien on tenor and soprano saxophones and the American Logan Richardson on alto. Herman has worked on and off with Parisien for around ten years but met Richardson more recently. Richardson has also been associated with the US born, London based musician Michael Janisch and has worked in some of the bassist’s numerous Transatlantic ensembles.
With “Alter Ego” the pop song covers are gone with the emphasis now placed firmly on Herman’s original compositions. The exceptions are two significant covers of works by Jewish composers including an interpretation of “Hatikva”, the Jewish national anthem. The pieces are, in the main, short with no item outstaying its welcome. The brevity is arguably the result of Herman’s “ego-less” approach to the writing of this record, a method he explains in his notes to the album. Indeed several of the pieces sound as if they may be the result of group improvisations with the finished track extracted from a larger whole.
The album begins in reflective mood with the solo piano introduction to “Atlas and Axis”. Soon however the sound of the two horns indicates that this is to be a very different Yaron Herman record. Although Herman subtly dominates the opener with his probing solo the interplay between the pianist and the rest of the group is satisfyingly intimate and complex with Parisien contributing strongly.
Propelled by Kerecki’s powerful bass figures and the clatter and chatter of Ravitz’s drum grooves Mojo is altogether more extrovert and lively with the horns adding a Middle Eastern/ North African feel to the piece (sometimes reminiscent of the sound of Kerecki’s 2008 album “Houria” recorded with his trio plus American saxophonist Tony Malaby). Herman’s joyous solo features him singing along ecstatically a la Keith Jarrett. “Mojo” is an outpouring of joy, a totally invigorating experience for musicians and listeners alike.
As the title might suggest “Heart Break Through” is altogether more sombre with keening saxophone underpinned by freely structured rolling rhythms. For all this there’s a strangely uplifting quality behind the sometimes brooding ambience.
“Your Eyes” is a brief but lovely passage of lyrical solo piano which provides a kind of prelude to the intriguingly titled “La confusion sexuelle des papillons”. My rudimentary French is sufficient enough for me to get the gist of this and the music itself is sometimes given an airy, butterfly like quality courtesy of Parisien’s dancing, mercurial soprano. However both the underlying rhythms and Herman’s expansive solo are surprisingly robust, shades of Jarrett again.
“Ukolabavka / Wiegenlied” is a short and lovely exploration of two melodies by Gideon Klein (1919-45), a pianist and composer born into a Moravian Jewish family. Strongly influenced by Janacek Klein often deployed folk elements in his work as can be heard here. The reeds sound almost oboe like and Kerecki impresses with a deeply resonant linking bass solo.
Herman introduces “From Afar” with a torrent of notes and the music quickly adopts a grooving E.S.T. style approach, initially forceful and attention grabbing but with the horns eventually diverting the music down a more reflective path. At just over two minutes it appears to be a fragment of a longer improvisation.
The following “Sunbath” is of a similar length but is more sombre in tone with Kerecki again featuring strongly alongside ruminative saxophone, sparse piano chording and delicately brushed drums.
On “Homemade” Ravitz adopts a hip hop groove which provides the backdrop for the exploration of the often complex melody. Kerecki again demonstrates his formidably fluent soloing abilities in a more reflective central section with Parisien on tenor and Herman himself also featuring strongly.
Herman treats The Israeli national anthem “Hatikva” (“The Hope”) with due reverence. Samuel Cohen’s minor key melody is arranged as a beautiful duet for piano and saxophone. Unusually sombre for a national anthem the modal melancholia of Cohen’s tune is offset in the sung version by the uplifting nature of the words.
The brief “Mechanical Brothers” is a highly rhythmic snippet featuring clattering industrial style drum beats, squiggling saxes and the sound Herman’s dampened piano strings. Again the piece appears to be a fragment of a larger improvisation and sounds appropriately futuristic. The title may also be an allusion to Ravitz of whom Herman says “I feel like he’s my lost brother of sorts”.
By way of contrast the following “Madeleine” is the lengthiest track on the album, through composed and episodic and superbly played by the ensemble. Herman’s ecstatic, flowing solo is a particular delight. Ravitz drives him onwards with the kind of empathic rapport that justifies the comment above.
The album concludes with the brief but spiky “Kaos”, driven by Kerecki’s monstrous bass and Ravitz’s spare but powerful drumming as piano and saxophone jostle for the listener’s attention. Again it could be a a portion of a larger whole.
Although substantially different from his previous recordings “Alter Ego” is still a quintessential Yaron Herman album. Brilliant musicianship is again combined with a sense of fun and spirit of adventure. Herman’s music combines adventurousness and a certain intellectual rigour with pure joie de vivre. With its thirteen relatively short tracks the album is an engaging mixture of moods and styles and such is Herman’s vivacity that the listener never gets the chance to be bored. The choice of the two outside pieces is an effective affirmation of Herman’s roots but overall “Alter Ego” is about Herman the composer and pianist and the palpable chemistry between the leader and his highly talented ensemble. “Alter Ego” represents another impressive and powerful release in this ACT’s twentieth anniversary year.

Mario Adnet
Um Olhar Sobre Villa-Lobos

By Jô Hallack
Mario Adnet sempre nos propõe um passeio: em seus discos, já revisitou Tom Jobim, Moacir Santos, Luiz Eça, Baden Powell. Seu novo trabalho, “Um olhar sobre Villa-Lobos”, tem como ponto de partida a obra do compositor que, segundo ele, musicalizou o Brasil. Passageiros sentados à janela desse trem caipira vão reencontrar Villa-Lobos, descobrir nuances despercebidas em sua obra e ouvir sua música pelos ouvidos de Adnet.
“Posso dizer, com segurança, que ele lavou a alma de várias gerações que passaram a gostar de música por sua causa. Colocou todo o Brasil para cantar: pobres, ricos, em colégios e nos estádios de futebol”, diz Mario, lembrando que sua mãe, aluna de canto de uma irmã de Mindinha (segunda mulher do compositor) estava entre os milhares de brasileiros que se apresentaram em corais para Villa-Lobos. “Mas, apesar de ser tão popular, de adorar a rua, Pixinguinha, Cartola, Donga, o compositor, naquela época, só teve como caminho as salas de concerto.”
“O meu desejo foi mostrar a música de Villa-Lobos sem fronteiras”, explica Adnet. A escolha do repertório foi intuitiva. “Joana (Adnet) e eu escolhemos pelo ouvido e, depois, quando percebemos, tínhamos coberto fases de toda sua vida”. Depois, hora de se debruçar nos arranjos e orquestrações. “Não mexi muito. Porque é genial. É genial! Não desconstruí. Não desmontei o que ele fez.”
Algumas músicas que eram para piano ganharam orquestra. Temas com canto lírico foram transformados para o popular sofisticado, como “Dança (Martelo)”, das “Bachianas Brasileiras nº 5”, interpretada por Mônica Salmaso. Mario também canta no disco, assim como “dois patrimônios da nossa cultura”, Milton Nascimento e Edu Lobo, e mais Muiza Adnet e Paula Santoro. Yamandu Costa participa com seu violão em duas faixas.
Ao longo do trabalho, as peças de Villa-Lobos foram se transformando em pistas, ajudando Mario a percorrer os caminhos da música brasileira. “Porque Villa-Lobos é o pai da música brasileira contemporânea, influenciou gerações e gerações. Quando você escuta as Bachianas e os Choros, vê que tudo está lá.”
Mas, ao mesmo tempo, Mario deu à música de Villa-Lobos inspirações de seus próprios descendentes. “Em ‘Abril’ fiz um arranjo que tem muito de Tom Jobim. ‘Improviso nº7’ se transformou num choro no melhor estilo Moacir Santos com lembranças de Radamés Gnattalli. O próprio Villa-Lobos dizia que suas músicas eram cartas que ele escreveu à posteridade, sem esperar resposta. Eu sou um dos que estão respondendo, também sem esperar retorno...”
“Lá vai o trem sem destino, pro dia novo encontrar, correndo vai pela terra, vai pela serra, vai pelo mar.”

Lee Konitz/ Bill Frisell/ Gary Peacock/ Joey Baron
Enfants Terribles: Live At The Blue Note

By Mark Corroto
Super groups are, by their very nature, either bright shining stars or catastrophic exploding supernovae. Dream team basketball lineups get beat by upstarts, and the new Stallone/Schwarzenegger/Van Damme movie is sure to be a nonstarter. The reasons for the flops are usually chemistry and vision, both essential requirements.
Same can be said for jazz groups. Listen to a longstanding unit work and its affinity is obvious. Assemble a quartet for a night, or fortnight and evidence of its chemistry (or lack of it) is apparent straightaway.
Such rapport is instantly recognizable from this live 2011 date at New York's Blue Note jazz club by the magnificent quartet of alto saxophonist Lee Konitz., guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist Gary Peacock, and drummer Joey Baron. Performing without prior practice or even a songbook, each track is begun by a different player; a jazz standard is the conversation topic, and the exploration begins. Acrobatics and grandstanding are eschewed here, in favor of a quiet conversational slow-to-medium tempo.
Add these four players to the very small list of groups that can play at such a high level without constant touring. Peacock's trio with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette comes to mind, and the late Paul Motian's band with Frisell and Joe Lovano are examples of players with an instant rapport.
Baron, Konitz's drummer of choice these days, opens "I Remember You," hinting at the melody before Frisell enters to state it, then others join in for the all-too-familiar song. Konitz's tone, born from Warne Marsh and Charlie Parker, has matured and mellowed into a treasure. At 84, his presence looms large here, but then there is the unmistakable sound of Frisell, ever faithful to not only the standards, but his unique mannerisms. Baron and Peacock present themselves as more than timekeepers; ever expressive, both can carry the day. Baron's drums absolutely sing "Body And Soul," and Peacock provides a mini-clinic with "I Can't Get Started."
Konitz and company spare the fireworks here, but provide a masterpiece of a record.
Track Listing: 
What Is This Thing Called Love?; Body & Soul; Stella By Starlight; I'll Remember April; I Remember You; I Can't Get Started.
Lee Konitz: alto saxophone; Bill Frisell: guitar; Gary Peacock: bass; Joey Baron: drums.

Benedikt Jahnel Trio

By John Kelman
He may be better known internationally to ECM fans for his participation in the pan-cultural Cyminology, but German pianist Benedikt Jahnel has been devoting just as much attention to his multinational trio featuring Spanish bassist Antonio Miguel and American drummer Owen Howard. Releasing the trio's debut in 2008 on Viennese guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel's Material Records imprint, Jahnel's work with Max.Bab has rendered superficial comparisons to Esbjörn Svensson, but if the world is looking for someone to pick up the mantle left by the late Swedish pianist, it'll have to keep on looking. Beyond being relatively young and leading a piano trio with a strong penchant for lyricism, there's little else with which to compare Jahnel's trio and e.s.t.
A truth already apparent on Modular Concepts (Material, 2008), but even clearer with Equilibrium, the trio's long overdue follow-up and ECM debut. If anything, there are some similarities in Jahnel's approach to fellow label mate, pianist Nik Bärtsch and Ronin, most recently heard on Live (ECM, 2012). But if Bärtsch and Jahnel share a certain rigor when it comes to rhythmic constructs and, more importantly, rhythmic placement, Jahnel is more intrinsically driven by song form—even, as is the case with the opening "Gently Understood," if he takes a long time getting there. Through the first three of its five minutes, Jahnel's trio collectively explores a modal, pedal toned vamp, building to an extemporaneous climax only to fade to a near-whisper and the introduction of the pianist's chordal theme—albeit one where Howard both holds down the form and explores further, a tasteful meshing of delicate cymbals and reverb-drenched, rim shot-driven drums.
What gives Jahnel's trio some of its personality is the way that it plays with conventional roles. Howard—whose 20-year career has included collaborations with everyone from saxophonist Chris Potter to guitarist Ben Monder—is, himself, a deeply melodic player; one who can, at times, leave more rhythmic concerns to Jahnel. In the opening minutes of Equilibrium's longest track, "Moorland & Hill Land," Jahnel's pulsating exploration of the lower register of his piano almost blends into a single voice with Miguel's resonant arco. Ultimately unfolding into a spare, Erik Satie-like passage, Jahnel gradually shifts to an arpeggio-driven piano a cappella that finally, eight minutes in, leads to a full trio treatment. Filled with unrelenting forward motion, Jahnel shifts that very propulsion between left and right hands, while Miguel's spare anchor supports Howard's strong thematic foil for Jahnel.
If Jahnel's trio often operates in keyboardist Joe Zawinul's long-held "nobody solos/everybody solos" ethos, that doesn't mean there aren't shining moments for its members. The gently majestic "Sacred Silence" is defined largely by Miguel, and the bassist's strong allegiance to motivic development also features near the end of "Moorland," while Howard is the clear melodist alongside Jahnel in the latter half of "Augmented." It's all about embedding the piano trio tradition into a new context where things aren't always as they seem. With Equilibrium, Jahnel has carved his own evocative space on a label that may seem loaded down with piano trios, but for whom, in the case of Jahnel, there's clearly room for one more.
Track Listing:
Gently Understood; Sacred Silence; Moorland & Hill Land; Wrangel; Augmented; Hidden Beauty; Equilibrium.
Benedikt Jahnel: piano; Antonio Miguel: double bass; Owen Howard: drums.

Andrea Pagani
Plays Puccini

E lucevan le stelle ("Tosca" - G.Puccini)
Nessun dorma ("Turandot" - G.Puccini)
Quando me n’vò ("La Bohème"- G.Puccini)
Mi chiamano Mimì ("La Bohème"- G.Puccini)
O mio babbino caro
("Gianni Schicchi"- G.Puccini)
Vissi d’arte ("Tosca"- G.Puccini)
Non piangere Liù ("Turandot"- G.Puccini)
Un bel dì vedremo("Madame Butterfly"- G.Puccini)
Che gelida manina ("La Bohème"-G.Puccini)
Coro a bocca chiusa ("Madame Butterfly"- G.Puccini)
Gira la cote ("Turandot"- G.Puccini)
Torre del Lago al chiaro di luna (A.Pagani)
Dedica a Puccini (A.Pagani)

Andrea Pagani (Piano), Marco Pacassoni (Vibes on 1, 2, 5, 8, 9, 11,13, Marimba on 4, 10), Massimo Moriconi (Double Bass), Alfredo Romeo (Drums).
Arrangiamenti di Andrea Pagani.
Prodotto da Makoto Kimata (Key'stone Music) per la Mojo Records ©2008

Andrea Pagani Trio
Le Storie D´Amore

La dolce vita (Nino Rota)
Arrivederci Roma (Garinei-Giovannini-Rascel)
Estate (Brighetti-Martino)
Love theme from "The Godfather"(Nino Rota)
Medley: Playing love-Once upon a time in America(E.Morricone)
Italian brothers (Fratelli d’Italia)
A tear on my chest ((A.Pagani)
Non partir (Bracchi-D’anzi)
Sinnò me moro (P.Germi-C.Rustichelli)
Summertime in Venice (Perotti-Cicognini)
Occhi verdi (A.Pagani)

Andrea Pagani (Piano), Massimo Moriconi (Double Bass), Alfredo Romeo (Drums).
Arrangiamenti di Andrea Pagani.
Prodotto da Makoto Kimata (Key’stone Music) per la Pony Canyon Inc. ©2007

Andrea Pagani Trio
"Bravi Bravi, Ma Ce L´Avete Una Cantante ?"

Intro (0.45)
Pills cocktail (A.Pagani) 4.20
Whisky facile (Chiosso-Buscaglione) 5.32
56 mois à Croisset (A.Pagani) 5.48
Caravan (Mills-Tizol-Ellington) 6.03
Hungry society (La società dei magnaccioni)
(Tradiz.) 6.45
Tanto pè cantà (Simeoni-Petrolini) 4.25
Parrot blue eyes (A.Pagani) 3.25
Dieci ragazze (Mogol-Battisti) 4.54
L'ernia di Joao (A.Pagani) 5.24
Genova non è la mia città (Paoli) 5.09
3+3+3=Love (A.Pagani)4.19
Matisse's paint box (A.Pagani)3.16

Andrea Pagani (Piano), Massimo Moriconi (Double Bass, El. Bass), Alfredo Romeo (Drums).
Arranged and produced by Andrea Pagani ©2012 ZONE DI MUSICA (ZDM1203)