Thursday, March 28, 2013


By Claudio Botelho 
Happy new year and Happy Easter for you all!
One of these Saturdays, I had the pleasure of listening to drummer Jimmy Cobb of “Kind of Blue” fame! Wow!  Aged 83 years, the guy is as fresh as any! On searching about Cobb, I’ve found he’s been very, very busy, leading two jazz groups in NY, besides teaching! The CD I’ve listened is leaded by Joey DeFrancesco who, with the help of said drummer and legendary guitarist Larry Coryell, have done, to my years, one of his best efforts ever; an outing of commensurable balance and joy!
Paying homage to the inimitable Wes Montgomery, “Wonderful, Wonderful!” is a straight forward job done with passion and expertise and exceptional rapport. It’s particularly enticing to listen to Cobb’s work on “Wagon Wheels”: you can almost see the clapping heels of the horses pulling the wagon! An uncompromising and delightful listening this! Kudos for everybody and especially for Mr. Cobb and his evergreen drumming! Recommended!

Earlier, I’ve come to know Vince Medoza’s “Blauklang”. This is another masterpiece from this multi-Grammy-award musician! A strong departure from the mainstream kind of jazz orchestra, filled with multilayered arrangement inflections which can, at the same time, let loose the improvisational skills of the musicians, without, nevertheless, ever losing its main course! Finesse and inventiveness are his hallmark, akin to geniuses like Claus Ogerman and Gil Evans.
His music, no matter how busy or intricate, is always explicit delineated and is a real joy when listened through any fine sound system, getting as much  better as finer and more detailed is its reproduction. You’ll never have to protect your ears from any exhilarating blasts (although they exist), as Vince, almost miraculously, rounds out everything in such a manner that his music, in all the thoroughness of its several simultaneous planes, never overcrowds our ears.
The suite “Bluesounds” is the core of this outing (from 2008) and richly shows all his capabilities. It’s a celebration of the blues. The CD was recorded with mostly European musicians, augmented by drummer Peter Erskine and brilliant guitarist Nguyên Lê (a  French born musician of Vietnamese ancestry), the latter the featured musician of the album.
Some have been saying his music blurs the line between jazz and classical music. Would the reason be that, here and there, his arrangements are graced with some typical ingredients of classical music (harp punctuations, for instance) which has led some to classify it as a kind of “third stream” music? 
 I can’t help but disagree entirely with this conception as jazz is not a kind of music; at least not the kind to be comparable to polka, rock, tango, samba, bossa nova, or even classical music, for that matter.  It‘s no more than a way of playing, which lets the inventiveness of the musicians play the main role. It’s the music inside another music, and the former can be pre-planned, instantaneous or a combination of both.
By the way, I was reading, the other day, in the last issue of Stereophile (April), a statement by John Hollenbeck that goes: “You know what happens with jazz musicians is, they think they have to do something different every night”. I’m the kind of jazz lover who always expects  this to happen, and I will never forget an utter disappointment I had, some years ago, when seeing singer Andy Bey alive and his performance singing and playing the piano was exactly what existed recorded in his latest album, no more, no less. What a strange sensation of déjà vu I had in that night! Certainly, Bey will never be a Mark Murphy, but I surely expected some impromptus…
So I don’t quite agree with Mr. Hollenbeck in my expectations as a jazz consumer, but also understand that to go into instant improvisation is a risky business which pulls many dangerously out of their comfort zone. Being who he is, he surely is a repository of the anxieties of many…

I’ve also heard the new album of Wayne Shorter (Without a Net). You can never count on listening and me-too jazz from Shorter. After all, IMHO, he’s one of the all-time supreme composers of his art and wouldn’t waste his time doing lesser works.
The reviews I’ve read about it are nothing short of rave and at least one imprints on it the mark of his best ever recording! So, it’s with a grain of salt I state I don’t think so. The album is, indeed, a very impressionist work; the team is supremely cohesive,  but, for me, it simply lacks the beauty of songs like Infant Eyes, Footprints, Speak no Evil, Ana Maria, El Gaucho, Pinocchio, Iris, Black Nile, Nefertiti, Miyako, Adam’s Apple,  songs penned by Shorter himself. So, although it’s a work from the realms of the forefront of jazz, I wasn’t able to listen to all it’s more than 70 min of duration without some discomfort, and this told me something about the wholeness of the work: for some reason, it failed to grab me throughout its scope. As such, it gains my respect and admiration for what it is: a non patternized-impressionist job, but it doesn’t win my heart. To round out, I ask: What newness it brings as compared, for instance, to Miles Davis’ “Live at Fillmore East”, an album recorded more than forty years ago? It’s not enough to be just out-of-ordinary; it’s required to tease the feelings, to bring out emotions, beauty, excitement… Shorter has done some of the all-time best jazz albums, but this one certainly isn’t one of them. Anyway, Wayne, thank you very much for having done this, along with many of the best compositions   ever done in jazz history.

Instead of “Without a Net” I’d rather listen to less adventurous works like Vito Favara’s “Even If” (see its review elsewhere in this blog). Favara (p), along with Luca Bulgarelli (b), Daniele Tittarelli (ss) and Marcelo Di Leonardo (dr), on his first recorded album as a leader, performing four of his songs among others, has done a work of great musicality and class. For those who can access Italian jazz albums, I advise to keep an eye on him.

These days, I tried very hard to listen to albums like Dezron Douglas Trio “ Walking My Baby Back Home”; Vladimir Shafranov Trio “Whisper Not”; Roma Trio “l’Appuntamento”; Alexis Cole “Someday My Prince Will Come” and Dan Nimmer “All the Things You Are”. They all have in common the Venus label production. So, they share something else: No matter where they were recorded, they were mastered and mixed by Mr. Tetsuo Hara. He has been using a custom made mixing equipment called “Hyper Sound” for a long time now and it, IMHO, simply destroys many of the subtleties the piano has to offer, no matter if it was recorded at Avatar, Seasound Studios, in NYC, or Icarus Record Studio, in Rome, as is the case here, or if Mr. Manfred Eicher (of ECM sound fame) decides to lend him one of his maven sound engineers scattered worldwide to make a recording for Venus. When the master tapes receive the “Hyper Sound” treatment, the mid range gets instantly blurred and saturated, taking off most of its natural color and drama, thus transforming them in a poor shade of reality. In addition, the levels of the recordings get unusually high, in sharp contrast with others provided by any other label recordings.
Victor Lewis is an audiophile and, besides being a fantastic drummer, knows a thing or two about well recorded music. He joins Vladimir Shafranov as a member of the above mentioned album. I wonder what he thinks of honorable Mr. Hara when he spins one of Venus recordings on his music reproducing equipment… How about the shimmering of the ride cymbal of your kit drum heard through a Venus mastered recording, Mr. Lewis?...
Those who listen to Venus records CD’s on any regular basis have all the reasons in the world to claim vinyl sound is superior…
One outstanding album I’ve also heard: Marc Copland’s “Modinha, Vol.1”. Copland, Gary Peacock and Bill Stewart, in three out of eight tunes, doing free improvisations, have showed what jazz is all about. Stewart added a full pallet of colors to it as much as any drummer ever could. Copland’s dark and sometimes eerie style is a real one-of-a-kind and is never like anyone else in his singularity. Copland is simply …Copland, period. Wonderful recording, filled with ever-changing modes and climaxes. Fabulous! (This is a recording of 2006, but points to a future many will never arrive…)
Two disappointments: Jacky Terrasson’s “Gouache”and Patricia Barber’s “Smash”. One too grandiloquent for my taste, the other a cheap fake of the original…

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Melvin Rhyne 1936 -2013

                                                                    [Photo by Mark Sheldon]

By JazzWax
Organist Melvin Rhyne—who died of lung cancer on March 5 at age 76 in his hometown of Indianapolis—is perhaps best known for the four spectacular Riverside albums he recorded with Wes Montgomery between 1960 and 1963. Thanks to Resonance Records, we also have recordings with Rhyne and Montgomery from Indianapolis circa 1957 or '58—just before producer Orrin Keepnews lured Montgomery to Riverside and the road. 

Melvin Rhyne was born in Indianapolis in 1936 and started playing the piano shortly thereafter. At 19 years old, Rhyne started playing piano with then-unknown tenor saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk but quickly switched over to the instrument that would make him famous: the Hammond B3 organ. Rhyne's piano skills translated to the organ fluently and before long he was backing famous blues players like B.B. King and T-Bone Walker. In 1959 when he was asked to join fellow Indianapolis musician Wes Montgomery's newly formed trio.
Rhyne then moved to Wisconsin and largely kept to himself for the next two decades. In 1991, however, Rhyne returned to the jazz scene, playing on Herb Ellis' album Roll Call, Brian Lynch's At the Main Event, and his own comeback The Legend. Rhyne continued to be prolific in the years to come, releasing eight more solo albums on the Criss Cross jazz label.
In 2008 Rhyne teamed up with fellow Indianapolis jazz musician Rob Dixon to form the Dixon-Rhyne Project, a boundary-pushing jazz quartet that also includes Chicago guitarist Fareed Haque and drummer Kenny Phelps. The quartet released the album Reinvention in 2008 on Indianapolis jazz label Owl Studios. Rhyne's later career trio included drummer Kenny Washington and guitarist Peter Bernstein in the same organ, guitar, drum formation of the original Wes Montgomery Trio.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bebo Valdés 1918 - 2013

                  Photo: Juan Herrero/EPA/File 2005

                                         Photo:Pierre-Philippe Marcou / AFP/Getty Images - Bebo and Chucho                      

Bebo Valdes, Grammy-winning ­Cuban pianist, 94
Born Ramón Emilio Valdés Amaro; 
9 October 1918 in Quivicán - 22 March 2013 in Sweden
By Harold Heckle | Associated Press - March 23, 2013 

Mr. Valdes won five Grammy Awards for his recordings.
MADRID — Renowned ­Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes — a composer and bandleader who recorded with Nat ‘‘King’’ Cole, was musical director at ­the legendary Tropicana Club in ­Havana, and was a key participant in the golden age of Cuban music — has died in Sweden at age 94.
The news of his death was confirmed by Cindy Byram, the agent of Mr. Valdes’s son Jesus Dionisio “Chucho” Valdes, who is a well-known musician in his own right. A cause of death was not given.
The senior Valdes studied ­piano and later taught it to Chucho, who went on to become a founding member of the internationally acclaimed Cuban-­based jazz band Irakere.
Bebo Valdes began playing accompaniments at Havana’s famous nightclubs in the 1940s. He then worked with singer Rita Montaner as her ­pianist and arranger from 1948 to 1957, when she was the lead cabaret act at the Tropicana.
His orchestra Sabor de Cuba also accompanied singers ­Benny More and Pio Leyva at the club. It was during this period that he and rival bandleader Perez Prado developed the mambo, a rhythmic style of dance music that swept the world. Mr. Valdes and his ­orchestra devised another rhythm called the batanga.
Mr. Valdes maintained a parallel interest in jazz music and took part in many important sessions, some recorded on Cuba’s renowned Panart label.
He said influ­ences included Fats Waller, Art Tatum, and Bill Evans.
In 1958, he worked on Cole’s album ‘‘Cole Espanol,’’ collaborating with arranger Nelson Riddle on the orchestral backing tracks that were all recorded in Havana. He also worked with singers Lucho Gatica and Mona Bell.
Following Fidel Castro’s communist revolution in 1959, Mr. Valdes left Cuba, traveling to Mexico in 1960 accompanied by singer Rolando La Serie, but without his children.
Mr. Valdes said one day a revolutionary guard went to his house demanding the pianist accompany him to a plaza where Castro was giving a speech.
‘‘I asked if there was ­going to be music there, and he replied to me that Castro was music,’’ he said, adding that he then knew it was time to go.
After a brief stay in the ­United States, Mr. Valdes set off on a European tour.
He went to Stockholm in 1963 for a concert with the ­Lecuona Cuban Boys and fell in love with Rose Marie Pehrson, a Swedish cavalry officer’s daughter. After they marrieed, he settled in Sweden.
Mr. Valdes won five Grammy Awards in the categories of best traditional tropical album and best Latin jazz albums.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

1 Sem 2013 - Part Ten

The Dave Shank Quintet

By David Whiteis
If further proof were needed that purism among jazz musicians is a thing of the past, this lineup should seal the argument. Vibraphonist Dave Shank and his colleagues—saxophonist Mike Migliore, pianist Barry Miles, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Terry Silverlight—have worked with everyone from Maynard Ferguson and the Basie Orchestra through Wayne Shorter and Chick Corea to John Scofield, David Sanborn and even Spyro Gyra (to say nothing of Shank’s gigs with Frank Sinatra and pop idols like Luther Vandross and Linda Ronstadt).
What they deliver here, though, is straight-ahead swing, often tautened by astringent harmonies and bop-like rhythmic risk-taking. “Muscular delicacy” might be the appropriate term to describe the feel: There’s plenty of ensemble playing, both unison and improvised, but so unerring is the communication that things never sound cluttered or overly busy. Migliore employs gnarled, George Adams-like flurries on his tenor; on soprano, he avoids both syrup and new-agey preciousness, crafting sharply delineated lines that impel through, over and under the frameworks his compatriots provide. Shank and Miles emphasize their instruments’ dual melodic and rhythmic roles, as does bassist Patitucci, both when soloing and when establishing a rhythmic foundation. Silverlight coaxes as much as he goads or impels; his brushwork (as on the arresting ballad “Darkening”) is simultaneously enveloping and propulsive.
The playfulness of offerings like “Fair or Foul” (a reimagined “Come Rain or Come Shine”) and the boppish “Alla Brevity” contrasts more meditative (but no less uplifting) fare such as the aforementioned “Darkening” and the closing piano/bass/drums trio outing, “Miss M,” which invokes a Bill Evans-like romanticism but is realized with so much improvisational focus that it’s bracing instead of cloying. This set is accessible yet challenging enough, both musically and emotionally, to satisfy listeners of diverse tastes.

Matt Baker

By CDBaby
Australian / New York Jazz Pianist and Composer, Matt Baker has traveled far with his career, performing at festivals, clubs and concert halls in Australia, Europe, USA and the Pacific. He is now proud to call New York City his home, moving there in mid 2010.
In March 2011, Baker recorded a new album in New York featuring Gregory Hutchinson, Joe Sanders, Jeremy Pelt and Dayna Stephens. The album entitled ‘Underground’ features a selection of brand new original work alongside some classic jazz standards in a fresh new sound for Baker, inspired from living the New York underground jazz scene: endless nights of clubs & jam sessions.
He has played engagements at noted NY Jazz venues Smalls Jazz Club, Miles Café, The Zinc Bar, Tomi Jazz, The Garage and Cleopatra’s Needle, and has played professionally with some of New York’s top musicians including drummer Gregory Hutchinson, saxophonist Dayna Stephens and an impromptu set at Smalls Jazz Club in duo with trumpet legend Roy Hargrove.
Matt's first album project in New York as an Assistant Producer was released in May 2011, and features Aaron Goldberg, Rueben Rogers, Ambrose Akinmusire, Mike Moreno and Gregory Hutchinson.
Matt Baker tied fifth place in the 2003 Montreux International Solo Jazz Piano competition and was a semi-finalist in 2004 and 2005. The Montreux Jazz Festival also engaged The Matt Baker Trio as their exclusive in-house band 2 years straight, where they performed 17 nights in the Montreux Festival Jazz Club, accompanying and supporting many of the festivals headlining artists.
A serious student of Jazz, he’s spent time watching piano legend Oscar Peterson perform, as well as studying with Mulgrew Miller, Benny Green, Taylor Eigsti, Aaron Goldberg, Jacky Terrasson, James Williams and Ella Fitzgerald’s life-long accompanist Paul Smith.
In Montreux 2004, Matt spent some one-on-one time with Jazz legend Herbie Hancock and Latin American pianist Michel Camilo, studying their music, concepts and approaches to modern jazz. He has performed privately for Quincy Jones and played in support of Jazz legends Tony Bennett and Al Jarreau. Matt has now four albums as a leader.

Dee Bell
Sagacious Grace

By CDBaby
Featuring Al Plank, piano.
With Houston Person . John Stowell . Michael Spiro . Colin Bailey. John Wiitala
Praised by critics both abroad and in the United States for her “gorgeous phrasing” and “clear and easy delivery (Stereo Review)” of the lyrics of a song, West Coast diva Dee Bell again delivers her warmth, clarity, and impeccable intonation on Sagacious Grace, her first release for the Laser label. “She knows just how to bring the best out in a song. She does her own thing; lazy, hazy, smoky singing (Jazz Journal, England).” Dee’s Concord Jazz recordings with Stan Getz, Eddie Duran and Tom Harrell made the jazz world “sit up and listen (Jesse Hamlin, SF Jazz Critic)” garnering top twenty rotations on the jazz charts.
With this latest release dedicated to the late pianist, Al Plank, there are three songs with Dee’s original lyrics and two that she has arranged. The swinging, elegant pianist influenced the balance of the riveting musical adaptations on this CD. Al was a major part of the San Francisco jazz scene for over 40 years, following an earlier musical career with the Mastersounds (the Montgomery brothers: Wes, Monk, and Buddy), as well as time on stage with Woody Herman, Chet Baker and Anita O’Day.
Houston Person on saxophone, John Stowell on guitar, and Michael Spiro on percussion round out a stellar roster of the Bay Area’s top musicians on this long-awaited CD. Interpreted with heartfelt nuances, this beautiful and diverse collection of songs will provide hours of entertainment for your delight.You can read more about Dee Bell at Laser Records website.

Christof Sanger
Live At The Montreal Jazz Festival 

By Ken Dryden
Christof Sanger performs a solo piano concert at the 1996 Montreal Jazz Festival, sticking mostly to standards and jazz compositions of the '30s through the '50s. Although Sanger obviously has plenty of technique, he often tends to hold back until he is well into a performance. His four-song Duke Ellingtonmedley is inventive at times, but it goes on a little too long and opens the CD in an understated manner. The best part of it is the fresh, abstract approach to "Caravan" rather than trying to rush through the piece as so many pianists have done on record. Likewise, he tackles "Stella by Starlight" and "Body and Soul" in a lush, indirect manner. After a meandering introduction, he finally dives headlong into an inventive romp through the Latin favorite "Tico Tico." His two originals include the playful "Security Blues" and the Mexican-flavored "Condorito." The inauspicious closer is another medley, this time of a trio of Gershwin songs.

1 Sem 2013 - Part Nine

Melody Gardot
The Absence

By Christopher Loudon
Three years ago, vocalist and pianist Melody Gardot’s sophomore album, the platinum My One and Only Thrill, confirmed her status as one of the most acclaimed and beloved performers around. Since then, the bulk of her time has been taken up with touring across five continents. Perhaps, given the long wait fans have endured, the title of her third studio release is a coy reference to the old adage about making the heart grow fonder. It also has to do with absence from home, with several of the 11 songs, all written or co-written by Gardot, reflecting on her nonstop travel and the resultant surprises and delights. But The Absence is equally concerned with internal journeys, following her heart down paths of romantic fulfillment and dejection.
Gardot is backed by plenty of lush strings, plus such heavyweights as drummer Peter Erskine and, on select tracks, keyboardist Larry Goldings. But her principal guide and companion on this variegated voyage of discovery is Heitor Pereira, onetime guitarist for Simply Red and celebrated film composer (whose cinematic achievements extend from The Smurfs to The Dark Knight). It’s tempting to compare him to countryman Luiz Bonfá. His playing is as deeply passionate and intimate, his hues as rich and captivating; but Pereira’s palette is wider, which serves Gardot exceptionally well.
Though her fairy-wing fragility remains essential to her unique appeal, propelling “So We Meet Again My Heartache,” “So Long” and “Lisboa,” she has significantly broadened her ambit. Particularly fascinating are the gothic furtiveness of her “Goodbye” and her embodiment of a jaded, Eartha Kitt-esque seductress on “If I Tell You I Love You.” But Gardot and Pereira’s epic achievement is the vibrant denouement “Iemanja,” a joyous open-seas adventure.

Franco Ambrosetti
Cycladic Moods

By Thomas Conrad
If piano is the instrument on which Europeans are most prominent in jazz, trumpet is next: Think Tomasz Stanko, Enrico Rava, Kenny Wheeler and, more recently, Mathias Eick. Franco Ambrosetti is in that mix. He often works in groups led by bassist Miroslav Vitous, where his selective contributions can be striking in their off-center lyricism. But Ambrosetti’s latest album as a leader is more nice than striking. In the current jazz marketplace, flooded with CDs, nice does not get you noticed. In his liner notes, Ambrosetti says that working with Vitous exposed him to “a different, wider and surprising world ... away from the well-known orthodoxy.” Yet Cycladic Moods is often predictable, even generic, within in its category of postmodern modal jazz.
Competency is not an issue. Pianist Geri Allen sounds somewhat under wraps, but her measured forays are poetic. Tenor saxophonist Abraham Burton is conventional yet muscular and fluent. Ambrosetti’s own solos, in his wide range of trumpet colors, are always personal. Drummer Nasheet Waits makes this refined music snap. The only weak link is Ambrosetti’s son Gianluca, with his thin, unattractive soprano saxophone tone.
The centerpiece is not the suite that gives the album its name, but “Mirobop,” a 21-minute breakout on a line by Vitous. This is the track intended to embody the ensemble objectives announced by Ambrosetti in his liner notes: “free improvisation” and “unexpected new paths” based on “intense listening to each other.” But because the spontaneous exchanges conform to familiar patterns of the free-jazz genre, they are less exciting than Ambrosetti intends.
But then you come to the last song, a lovely, fervent reading of Horace Silver’s “Peace” by Ambrosetti and Allen, and you think, perhaps there is no such thing as too many nice jazz albums.

Jessica Molaskey
A Good Day

By Ken Dryden
Jessica Molaskey is a seasoned Broadway performer who also makes a strong impression in tackling classics from the Great American Songbook or reviving pop songs of the 1940s. Her expressive vocals are effective without resorting to gimmickry, and she's backed by a sterling cast of musicians which includes guitarist John Pizzarelli (her husband and the arranger of seven of the songs), father-in-law Bucky Pizzarelli on acoustic guitar, brother-in-law and bassist Martin Pizzarelli, clarinetist Ken Peplowski, and pianist Ray Kennedy, among others. "All the Cats Join In" was made popular by Benny Goodman but has been only sporadically recorded since; Molaskey not only swings it effortlessly but expands upon its original lyrics. Her treatment of a trio of songs written by Peggy Lee and Dave Barbour (another singer/guitarist married couple), especially the cheerful "A Good Day," will help anyone lose the blues.Molaskey's lyrics in the five pieces written with her spouse are priceless, here's an example from "How Come You Ain't Got Me?": "You buy one ticket and you win the down martinis, other folks get blotto." And it's impossible not to be charmed by their lovely ballad "The Girl with His Smile and My Eyes," dedicated to their daughter Madeline Pizzarelli, with the sole accompaniment provided by Kennedy's lush piano. Every track on this highly recommended CD is a gem.

Peter Appleyard
Sophisticated Ladies

By Dan Bilawsky
Peter Appleyard seems to have a way with the ladies. The octogenarian vibraphonist brings his virile mallet work to bear while escorting a dozen lovely songbirds through some smartly arranged standards on this, his second release the span of a few months. Appleyard started off the year by looking toward the past, issuing a previously unreleased all-star jam session from 1974, but his gaze is firmly on the present throughoutSophisticated Ladies. He hobnobs with some of the finest vocalists operating north of the 49th parallel today and a sense of mutual respect for the music and one another comes through in the music.
While astute jazz vocal fans are probably aware that bassist Charlie Haden beat Appleyard to the conceptual punch, releasing his own Sophisticated Ladies (Emarcy, 2011) a year ahead of Appleyard, the basic format and album title are the only thing that these two releases share. Haden's album mixed instrumental pieces and vocal numbers, favoring slow material containing string sweetening and came off as a mostly-manicured set of music with mellow appeal. Appleyard, on the other hand, shares the stage with a singer on every song, covering a wider range of emotions.
The playlist has no surprises, but Rick Wilkins' arrangements have their fair share. Tempo changes, funk-to-swing shifts ("Love For Sale"), double-time adjustments, Brazilian-tinged turns and intimate introductions ("Smile") keep things interesting. Each singer brings something different to the table and Appleyard responds in kind by shaping his solos around the specific songs and singers. Emilie-Claire Barlow shows great range on the slow-to-fast "After You've Gone," Elizabeth Shepherd engages Appleyard in a scat-vibraphone solo trading session, Jackie Richardson's deeply resonant voice takes center stage on a soulful "Georgia On My Mind," Diana Panton turns the lights down low for "Smile" and Sophie Milman takes her time fleshing out the emotional ideals of "If You Could See Me Now." Molly Johnson, who interprets the title track with her smoky and dusky pipes, proves to be the only singer who seems ill-suited to her number.
The female musicians on this album will probably get the lion's share of attention, but Appleyard has top billing for a reason. His vibraphone soloing enlivens and enhances the music. Guitarist Reg Schwager's comping is a key ingredient in the mix, as pianist John Sherwood takes the right tack on every tune, drummer Terry Clarke expertly navigates the through each number and bassist Neil Swainson keeps everything in check.
Appleyard may be 84 now, but his playing doesn't betray that fact. He's clearly young at heart andSophisticated Ladies is the evidence that proves this case.
Track Listing: 
After You've Gone; It's Only A Paper Moon; Love For Sale; Georgia On My Mind; If You Could See Me Now; Sophisticated Lady; Night And Day; Satin Doll; Mood Indigo; Smile.
Peter Appleyard: vibraphone; John Sherwood: piano; Reg Schwager: guitar; Neil Swainson: bass; Terry Clarke: drums; Emilie-Claire Barlow: vocals (1); Elizabeth Shepherd: vocals (2); Jill Barber: vocals (3); Jackie Richardson: vocals (4); Sophie Milman: vocals (5); Molly Johnson: vocals (6); Carol Welsman: vocals (7), piano (7); Barbara Lica: vocals (8); Carol McCartney: vocals (9); Diana Panton: vocals (10).

Sunday, March 03, 2013

1 Sem 2013 - Part Eight

Roger Davidson Trio
We Remember Helen

By Dan Bilawsky
The music business holds claim to more than its share of selfish, self-promoting, greedy individuals who built their fortunes on the backs of others but, within its ranks also exist a certain class of individual that truly looks out for the best interests of the music and the people who make it. Helen Keane, by all accounts, was one of the good ones.
Keane, who started out as an A&R scout for CBS and MCA, was best known as the guiding light that directed pianist Bill Evans' career from 1963 until his untimely passing in 1980. Her work in support of this now-iconic figure would have been enough to establish her as an important behind-the-scenes presence in the music arena, but her efforts didn't stop there. When she wasn't helping to shape the Evans legacy, during his lifetime and beyond, she produced records for artists like trumpeter Art Farmer, reed man Paquito D'Rivera and singer Chris Connor. She was also a champion for unsung women in jazz and she inspired many-a-musician to branch out into different stylistic realms; pianist Roger Davidson is one such artist. Keane's encouragement led to Davidson's first jazz recording—Ten To Twelve (Soundbrush, 2006)—which she happily produced. While she sadly passed before the record ever saw the light of day, Keane can be credited for lighting an eternal jazz flame in the heart of its creator.
Now, twenty years after Davidson and Keane teamed up, the pianist pilots an outing that honors Keane's memory. Davidson enlisted longtime bass companion David Finck, who played on the Keane-produced session, and classy drumming exemplar Lewis Nash to help him craft a tribute to Keane and, by default, Evans. Davidson gives Evans his due by performing material associated with ("Yesterdays"), or written by ("Waltz For Debby") this master, but he doesn't play à la Evans. Davidson has a more straightforward, this-is-me approach to the piano trio that runs counter to Evans' introspection and organic flow.
Swing serves as the main course during this fifteen track feast, but the side dishes add some flavor variety. "All The Things You Are" comes with Brazilian backing, the title track provides a taste of melancholy packaged in faux-spiritual fashion, a bluesy 12/8 feel underscores "Soul Search," and a New Orleans snare drum groove enlivens "Joshua Fought The Battle Of Jericho." "How Deep Is The Ocean" is capped off with a rhapsodic but controlled ending that takes it beyond the pedestrian, and "Dance Of Faith" comes off like music from a high-spirited prayer meeting.
Davidson hasn't created anything new or radical here, but he's lovingly crafted a program of well-performed material that highlights his piano handy work and heartfelt appreciation for Helen Keane. We Remember Helen is a highly agreeable, in-bounds trio affair that serves as a fitting tribute to a woman who championed jazz and the individuals who created it.
Track Listing:
Yesterdays; What's New; Whisper Not; Charade; A Tune For Helen; We Remember Helen; Beautiful Love; How Deep Is The Ocean; Soul Search; Joshua Fought The Battle Of Jericho; Dance Of Faith; The Way He Captured You; Early Autumn; All The Things You Are; Waltz For Debby.
Roger Davidson: piano; David Finck: bass; Lewis Nash: drums.

Wayne Shorter Quartet
Without A Net

By John Kelman
Since convening a new quartet for the 2001 tour that resulted inFootprints Live! (Verve, 2002), soon-to-be-octogenarian saxophonist Wayne Shorter has found himself in the company of a group that's not just turned out to be, hands-down, his most exciting and exploratory acoustic ensemble in a career well into its sixth decade, but now, a dozen years later, his longest-running one as well. Weather Report, the fusion supergroup that Shorter co-founded with keyboardist Joe Zawinul, did, indeed, last longer, from the early 1970s through the mid-'80s, but with almost constant changes in personnel from album to album. Shorter's stable lineup may not release albums on a regular basis—it's been eight long years since the superb, also-live Beyond the Sound Barrier (Verve, 2005)—but the quartet continues to tour, almost every year. Without a Net captures performances from the quartet's 2011 European tour, as well as an extended piece from a live show in collaboration with the renowned Imani Winds.
Beyond being special because of the lengthy recording absence since Beyond, Shorter's return to Blue Note—on which he released a string of eleven exceptional, often groundbreaking albums beginning with Night Dreamer (1964) and ending with Odyssey of Iska (1970)—is another milestone, though it shouldn't be misconstrued as anything remotely nostalgic. If anything, Without a Net—a succinctly accurate description of this group's modus operandi—is even moreuncompromising and unpredictable, reflecting the quartet's ever-growing empathic interrelationship on a set that, with the exception of one tune dating back to his days with trumpeter Miles Davis in the 1960s, one completely re-imagined Weather Report tune from 1983 and one rarely recorded song from the 1933 film Flying Down to Rio (actors/dancers/singers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' first film together), is comprised of half a dozen new Shorter compositions.
Without a Net kicks off with "Orbits," also the opener to Miles Davis' Miles Smiles (Columbia, 1966), but completely revised, its theme becoming a foundational ostinato first introduced with pianist Danilo Perez's left hand, then joined by bassist John Patitucci. It's a method of compositional reduction that Shorter has employed on previous albums with this quartet, turning the tune into an even freer opportunity for Shorter and Pérez to indeed orbit around each other's extemporizations, occasionally conjoining in marvelous synchronicity, all driven by drummer Brian Blade's explosive approach. Shorter's "S.S. Golden Mean," too, is revised from the version onBeyond the Sound Barrier, its repetitive chord pattern a foundation for Shorter's soaring, searing soprano and Blade, who moves from full kit to hand percussion in the blink of an eye, completely altering the song's complexion.
But it's the 23-minute "Pegasus," from Shorter's Los Angeles performance where the quartet was expanded to a nonet with the five-piece Imani Winds, that is the album's centerpiece—and highlight. Not since Alegria (Verve, 2003), his most recent studio recording, has Shorter worked with a larger ensemble, and while that album was plenty ambitious, "Pegasus" trumps it in concept and execution, its powerful blend of form and freedom inspiring such powerful extrapolations from Shorter (again on soprano) that Blade can be heard, in the background, saying "Oh my god!"
Shorter also demonstrates a hitherto unknown talent, whistling at the start of Vincent Youmans' title song to the film Flying to Rio before switching back to soprano and, as Pérez and Patitucci slowly coalesce around another repetitive but continually expanding pattern, stepping back to let the pianist and bassist enter into an exchange as demonstrative of their growing chemistry as any on record. This is no by-rote arrangement of a classic song; instead, while ensuring its core melody is honored, this is another example of the kind of unfettered, uncompromising and freewheeling approach this quartet has taken since inception, but which has only strengthened and become more profound in the ensuing twelve years. Shorter also whistles at the beginning of his own "Zero Gravity," a tune that renders clear the saxophonist's multifaceted interests, with hints of Pérez's impossible to deny Latin leanings blending into harmonic and, at times, contrapuntal sophistication while nevertheless leaving huge, gaping holes for the quartet to spontaneously fill.
Shorter may be turning 80 in August, 2013, but rather than resting on his considerable laurels and resorting to replicating past successes, the saxophonist is as imaginative and conceptually forward-thinking as he's ever been—perhaps even more so. He's also playing at the absolute top of his game, his combination of head and heart never stronger. With this now-longstanding quartet he's truly capable of going anywhere he chooses—and, thanks to the individual and collective improvisational élan of Pérez, Patitucci and Blade, plenty of unexpected places he doesn't—whether it's in the context of detailed structure, absolute, composite freedom...or both. With each record only getting better, Without a Net is not just a new high watermark for Shorter and his stellar quartet, it's a truly masterful masterpiece to add to a discography already brimming with classic recordings that will further cement Shorter's inscription—and, as it evolves, his quartet's as well—in the rarefied upper echelon of jazz history.
Track Listing: 
Orbits; Starry Night; S.S. Golden Mean; Plaza Real; Myrrh; Pegasus; Flying Down to Rio; Zero Gravity; UFO.
Wayne Shorter: soprano and tenor saxophones, whistling (7, 8); Danilo Pérez: piano; John Patitucci: bass; Brian Blade: drums; Valerie Coleman: flute (6); Toyin Spellman-Diaz: oboe (6); Mariam Adam: clarinet (6); Jeff Scott: French horn (6); Monica Ellis: bassoon (6).

Joey DeFrancesco
Wonderful ! Wonderful !

By C. Michael Bailey
B-3 specialist Joey DeFrancesco has enjoyed a long and successful Career; so long, that Wonderful! Wonderful! is DeFrancesco's tenth HighNote release. With Tony Monaco his only real "traditional" jazz organ peer, DeFrancesco pretty well has the market cornered for greasy chitlin' circuit funk jazz cumItalian-American savoir faire. Joined by legends, guitarist Larry Coryell and drummer Jimmy Cobb, DeFrancesco assembles a more than competent organ guitar trio, where the three's empathic understanding makes for a satisfying recital of original and standard material.
DeFrancesco resurrects DeRose and Hill's "Wagon Wheels," from the 1934 Broadway musical,Ziegfeld Follies. Tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins illustrated the jazz potential of the song on his critically noted Way Out West (Contemporary, 1957). DeFrancesco extends this treatment with a building slow burn introduced by Coryell. The organist goes orchestral over Cobbs triplets, while the solo space is Vast, as Coryell begins linearly with moderate single-note flourishes before flexing his chops and approaching Joe Pass velocity, all without missing a beat.
DeFrancesco spices the mix with judiciously placed accents behind Coryell, before turning the gas on high and really beginning to cook. He begins slow, using perfected drama to affect his building dynamics. The piece ends in some of the best-behaved chaos recently Recorded, further evidence that DeFrancesco has put together a fine organ trio for Wonderful! Wonderful!.
Personnel: Joey DeFrancesco: organ; Larry Coryell: guitar; Jimmy Cobb: drums.

Marc Copland with Gary Peacock & Bill Stewart
Modinha : Vol. 1

By John Kelman
The piano trio may be a longstanding jazz tradition, but that doesn't necessarily make it anachronistic. Pianist Marc Copland has been forging an increasingly distinctive identity that straddles the line between modern mainstream and greater abstraction for the past couple of decades. For this sublime recording, Copland recruited bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Bill Stewart—who last worked together with the pianist on Softly... (Savoy Jazz, 1998). The first of three trio dates in the series, each with a different lineup, finds the usually pensive Copland more outgoing than normal, although he has by no means left his introspective tendencies behind.
Three of the eight tracks are free improvisations, but you'd never know it. Peacock has long been connected with the concept of spontaneous composition, rather than free improvisation per se—which may seem like splitting hairs, but there is a difference. His association with Copland goes back nearly twenty years, and they are clearly of like mind when it comes to pulling form from the ether. It may be an abstruse motif, as on the challenging "Slap Happy," or rhythmically focused, as on "Aglasia," where Peacock's dark pedal tone evolves into a two-chord vamp that Stewart latches onto and develops into greater forward motion. But in either case—as well as in the clear swing of "Flat Out"—the three players share a sense of purpose that transcends mere extemporization.
The rest of the written material includes three standards, one contribution from Peacock, and two from Copland. Peacock's "Half a Finger Snap" opens up the disc, based around a brief but compelling idea that Copland uses to shape his entire solo. Peacock's tone is robust but possesses a sharp edge that distinguishes him from fellow bass icons Dave Holland and Charlie Haden. The song may be only four minutes long, but despite the enforced brevity of the solos, everyone's identity is instantly recognizable. Stewart remains one of the most melodic drummers on the scene today; he builds his solo around Peacock's theme, just as clearly as the others.
The trio revisits "Rain," from Copland's At Night (Sunnyside, 1990), a moody and dramatically understated piece where one can hear the evolution of Copland's more oblique harmonic conception. Its ten-minute length shows just how much a spare but by no means simplistic form can inspire extended extrapolation. The shorter "Peach Tree," the hardest-swinging track on the disc, is more assertive, spotlighting Stewart's compositional approach to soloing.
On the three standards Copland, Peacock and Stewart demonstrate an ability to elegantly think outside the box without neglecting what defines each tune. Copland's recorded work has been remarkably consistent despite its prolificacy—and, on the strength of this first volume, one can only hope that the other two won't be far behind.
Track Listing: 
Half a Finger Snap; Modinha; Flat Out; Rain; Slap Happy; Sweet Peach Tree; Aglasia; Yesterdays; Taking a Chance on Love.
Marc Copland: piano; Gary Peacock: bass; Bill Stewart: drums.

The David Leonhardt Trio
In The Moment

By Steven Loewy
Leading a tight, well-rehearsed trio through a mix of originals and well-known pieces from the modern jazz repertoire, David Leonhardt once again shows why he is so well regarded among his peers. Best known for his Jazz for Kids concerts (which he has documented on disk), the pianist quietly pursues his craft with a loving touch, producing some very fine results. Leonhardt is not a showman on this recording, but a thoughtful, gracious soloist, one who exudes good taste with nearly every phrase. He is helped considerably by bassist Tony Marino and drummer Taro Okamoto, each of whom seems to fit perfectly in the pianist's world. Leonhardt exudes confidence without conceit: he knows where he is going and he plays with a directness that sucks in the listener. If he is not innovative, it is because he is not trying to be. His performances are imbued with order, a sort of ontological certitude. The result is enjoyable and swinging music that does not call attention to itself, the sort that can serve as relaxing background fare. Influences such as Bill Evans, Tommy Flanagan, and Cecil Walton come to mind, as Leonhardt pursues a vision that, while not overly ambitious, achieves a level of sophistication and emotion that is not entirely common, the kind that is perfect for late-night listening with the lights turned down low. 
IN THE MOMENT is available at Recorded on June 5, 2003.
David Leonhardt (piano); Tony Marino (bass); Taro Okamoto (drums).
Track Listing:
1 Witch Hunt
2 Dave's Mood
3 Floating
4 Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square
5 Morning Melody
6 Rising Tide
7 Romatic nights
8 In the Moment
9 Eternal Triangle

Horacio Fumero

Isoca album by Horacio Fumero was released May 09, 2005 on the EMI Music Distribution label. This album from the Argentinean jazz bassist features 12 tracks. Argentinean jazz musician. Isoca CD music contains a single disc with 12 songs.
1. Danzarin
2. Milestones
3. Una Perla En El Vacio
4. These Foolish Things
5. Isoca
6. Cinco Siglos Igual
7. Canco Triste
8. Milonga Para Isoca
9. Libertango
10. Nomada
11. Companera
12. Seu Lorenzo No Vinho Fragmento