Saturday, April 27, 2013

2013 Desert Island "Top Ten" JAZZ CD's

By Leonardo Barroso
Every year, I try to select from my CD collection, 10 records that I would take to a desert island.
I don't care when it was made or how many musicians are in it.
What really matters is the joy and eargasm, I get every time the cd spins in my player.
I made some changes from the last Top 10 post ( 2012 ):
Search all your records, and choose the ones you have goosebumps or lifts your the back of your hair !

Send it through my e-mail:

1) Bill Evans
    You Must Believe In Spring

By Chris M. Slawecki
After more than a decade as one of the pianist’s most sympathetic bassists, this was Eddie Gomez’s last recording with Evans, a trio set with drummer Eliot Zigmund recorded in 1977 and released after Evans’ death in 1980.
Evans never stopped searching for new ideas. He might be faulted for repeatedly looking for them in the same tunes, but this program is quite varied, including Johnny Mandel’s “Suicide is Painless” (the theme from M.A.S.H. ); Michel Legrand’s title track; Gary McFarland’s waltz “Gary’s Theme,” complementing Evans’ own “B Minor Waltz (For Ellaine),” composed for Evans’ wife; and “We Will Meet Again (For Harry),” Evans’ tribute to his brother.
In Evans’ hands, melodies and time signatures are often more whispered, more shadowed, than stated, as in the opening “B Minor Waltz (For Ellaine)” and the somber, reflective title track, which blossoms, after Gomez’ mid-song solo, like dogwoods on a mid-May morning. Evans boasted such a unique, unmistakable touch—emotional and beautiful and even soft, but never sweet. (Gomez is pretty amazing himself on “M.A.S.H.,” laying down the foundation rock solid yet pushing the music forward, too.)
Among this reissue’s bonus tracks, “Without a Song” is about as ebullient as you’ll ever hear this pianist, and “Freddie Freeloader,” the one track on Miles Davis’ landmark album Kind of Blue where Evans did not play, presents the rare sound of Evans on electric piano.
As a rule, Evans could pick up the program from an elementary school chorus festival and play it inventively and beautifully. This set is no exception.
Track listing:
B Minor Waltz (For Ellaine); You Must Believe in Spring; Gary's Theme; We Will Meet Again (For Harry); The Peacocks; Theme from M*A*S*H; Without A Song; Freddie Freeloader; All of You
Bill Evans, acoustic and electric piano; Eddie Gomez, bass; Eliot Zigmund, drums.

2) The Dave Brubeck Quartet
    Time Out: 50th Anniversary - 2 CD's and DVD

By (Earth, USA)
Though jazz was the popular music of the US for many decades, there are few post-40s jazz albums - modern jazz albums - that go down easily with non-jazz listeners. There have been pop-jazz crossovers that caught the public's ear and even climbed the charts, but true jazz albums that can keep a pop listener's attention are few and far between. The Dave Brubek Quartet's 1959 release contains two tunes, the opening "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and the iconic "Take Five," that surprised even the group's own label with their popular acclaim. The album peaked at #2 on the pop chart, and "Take Five" was a hit single in both the US and UK. Much like Vince Guaraldi's compositions for A Charlie Brown Christmas, listeners took to the melodies and performances without drawing genre lines around them.
The quartet's approach wove Brubek's blocky piano chords, Paul Desmond's warm alto saxophone, and the gentle swing of bassist Eugene Wright and drummer Joe Morello into a most inviting sound. One can't compliment the rhythm section enough, as it's their steady work that keeps one's toe tapping through Brubek and Desmond's melodic explorations, and its their rhythm that guides listeners through this album's unusual time signatures. Morello's introduction to "Take Five," followed by Brubek's vamping, have you tapping your foot in 5/4 time even before Desmond insinuates his sax with the theme. It has the rise and fall of a waltz, but when you count it out, the measures go to five instead of three. Amazingly, it feels completely organic. Morello's spare, mid-tune solo provides a brilliant example of drumming dynamics.
The album opens with the 9/8 time of "Blue Rondo a la Turk," with a 2/2/2/3 pattern that's hard to count even with the numbers in front of you. The music swings in a frantic way that suggests rush hour in New York City until it transitions to a relaxed 4/4 (with 9/8 inserts) for the piano and sax solos. The fluidity with which the band shifts between the two time signatures would be even more breathtaking if it didn't flow so naturally. Other tunes are played in waltz (3/4) and double waltz time, but you won't notice until you count them out loud. Eugene Wright's bass provides the steady pulse around which Brubek and Desmond swing, and the contrast between Brubek's percussive piano and Desmond's smooth sax gives the quartet its signature balance.
1959 was a banner year for jazz, seeing the releases of Giant Steps, the soundtrack to Anatomy of a Murder, Mingus Ah Um, Kind of Blue and many other milestones. But Time Out was the only album to break wide of jazz audiences, to seed itself in the broader public's consciousness. And it did so on its own terms, rather than by pandering to the pop sounds of the mainstream. It foreshadowed the lightness and optimism that would mark the transition between the Eisenhower and Kennedy eras, and its tone obviously caught the mood of the times. Ted Maceo's production paints an excellent stereo soundstage, which adds to the recording's excitement.
Columbia Legacy's 2-CD/1-DVD reissue augments the album's seven tracks with a CD of live performances from the '61, '63 and '64 Newport festivals that include the album's hits and six additional titles. The basic roles of the players remain from their live-to-tape studio albums, but the concert performances are driven by fresh group interplay and more audacious soloing, and stoked by the audiences' enthusiastic responses. "Pennies From Heaven" winds up with a forceful piano solo, and the original "Koto Song" provides a good example of Brubek's interest in world sounds. "Take Five" is played at a hurried tempo that diminishes the song's swing, but stretched to seven minutes it provides more space for soloing, including a longer spot for drummer Joe Morrello's crackling snare and punchy tom-toms. All eight live tracks are recorded in stereo.
The bonus DVD offers a 2003 interview with Brubek, intercut with historical television and concert footage, and a few then-contemporary sequences of Brubek at his trusty Baldwin. Brubek discusses the album tracks and the dynamics of the band, and shows immense pride in both. An additional bonus provides a 4-angle piano lesson from Brubek as he plays through "Kathy's Waltz." The 3-disc package is presented in a quad-fold digipack with a 28-page booklet that includes detailed liner notes by Ted Gioia and fine archival photos. If you don't have a digital copy of the album, this is the one to get; if you already have a much loved copy, this is well worth the upgrade.

3) The Alan Broadbent Trio
    Personal Standards

By Stephen Cook
Since gaining fame as a member of Charlie Haden's excellent Quartet West, Alan Broadbent has seen his own catalog rise in stature. A welcome development, since a wider audience should check out the many fine recordings this unique pianist/composer/arranger has made. And in spite of the admission that his highly lyrical bent and soft touch come out of the work of Bill Evans, Red Garland, and Nat "King" Cole, among others, Broadbent is able to produce fresh solo conceptions and plenty of original material of his own. In fact, as the title implies, Personal Standards consists almost entirely of self-penned cuts, save for one by bassist Putter Smith. (This seamless piano trio is rounded out by drummer Joe LaBarbera.) Along with material also heard on variousQuartet West recordings like "The Long Goodbye" and "Song of Home," the disc features a nice mix of ballads ("Ballad Impromptu"), mid- to up-tempo swingers ("Consolation"), as well as some blues ("Uncertain Terms"). And even though Broadbent favors slow and melancholy numbers, he can still vigorously turn on the technique, especially on the faster numbers here. In addition to his solo piano outing for the Maybeck Recital Hall series, Personal Standards offers a great introduction to Broadbent's work.

4) Ellis Marsalis Trio

By Scott Yanow
Pianist Ellis Marsalis is in excellent form for this trio outing with bassist Bob Hurst and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts. The performances fall generally into the medium-tempo range, with Ellis scattering some witty song quotes throughout the lightly swinging renditions. The high points include one of the more delightful versions ever of Johnny Mandel's "Emily," some close interplay during "Little Niles" and a tongue-in-cheek version of "Limehouse Blues" that includes slapped bass, parade rhythms and Marsalis trying in vain to sound Dixielandish. One programming error should be noted: there is no such song as "Just Squeeze Me" and, rather than the one performed being Fats Waller's "Squeeze Me," it is actually Duke Ellington's "Squeeze Me, But Please Don't Tease Me."

5) Marc Johnson & Eliane Elias
     Swept Away

By John Kelman
It's a relatively rare occasion when Marc Johnson releases an album under his own name, but based on the bassist's track record—from Bass Desires (ECM, 1985) through to Shades of Jade (ECM, 2005)—it's always one to celebrate. As Johnson fast approaches 60, it seems like only yesterday that he emerged as the bassist in Bill Evans' final trio in the late 1970s, before the piano legend's passing in 1980. But if time has passed, one thing that has remained constant is Johnson's ability (not unlike Evans) to balance power and elegance, yin and yang. Shades of Jade was, for some, the sleeper hit of 2005 and so it's great to find Johnson bringing back the core trio and saxophonist Joe Lovano (who also appeared on select tracks), though this time around he acknowledges the greater significance of pianist (and wife) Eliane Elias by putting her name up on the marquee, beside his own.
Elias assumes an even greater role this time around, with five compositional credits to Johnson's three, alongside two additional tracks co-composed by the couple and one traditional tune. Equally significant is a greater emphasis on Johnson and Elias, with just five tracks fleshed out to a quartet with Lovano, making Swept Away an inevitable successor to Shades while, at the same time, delivering something different. Like Shades, Swept Away takes its time to kick into higher gear, but when it does, the trio delivers on an energy only intimated on the previous recording's brighter numbers. Elias' opening title track is a lyrical ballad for the core trio, with Lovano joining for the subsequent "It's Time," a smoky, late night tune that capitalizes on the saxophonist's ability to get deep inside the pianist's soft yet supple changes, with Johnson and drummer Joey Baron providing similarly pliant but delicate support.
Things change, however, with Elias' modal "One Thousand and One Nights," another trio track that ramps up the tempo and the dynamic, with Johnson's deep, visceral tone and Baron's more vibrant pulse creating an unshakable foundation for Elias, whose extended solo hints at Middle Eastern tonalities while being equally suggestive of a Midwestern vibe that feels closer to Johnson's Nebraska roots than it does the pianist's Brazilian upbringing.
Johnson's first composition of the date, the indigo-tinged "When the Sun Comes Up," brings Lovano back, mirroring its title as the bassist slowly moves from dark-hued whole tones to more fervent swing with a stronger, quarter-note pulse. As the quartet picks up steam, Baron manages to combine responsive foil—first to Lovano and then to Elias—with a magical ability to suggest rather than actually play time, aligning with the more anchor-like Johnson.
The co-written tunes range from the gradually building, ultimately effervescent "Sirens of Titan" (another Lovano feature) to the penultimate tone poem, "Inside Her Shoe Box," featuring Johnson's evocative arco. Swept Away closes with Johnson delivering an a cappella version of "Shenandoah" that brings the album full circle. It's a masterful close to a recording that, with its references to both tradition and more spacious, open landscapes, should position Swept Away, like its predecessor, as this year's sleeper hit.
Track Listing:
Swept Away; It's Time; One Thousand and One Nights; When the Sun Comes Up; B is for Butterfly; Midnight Blue; Moments; Sirens of Titan; Foujita; Inside Her Old Music Box; Shenandoah.
Eliane Elias: piano; Marc Johnson: double bass; Joey Baron: drum; Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone.

6) Laurence Hobgood & Charlie Haden
    When The Heart Dances

By Michael G. Nastos
NAIM label stablemates Laurence Hobgood and bassist Charlie Haden countermand the current frenetic state of events in modern-day rat race soundbyte society with this beautiful recording of duets, solo piano tracks, and three offerings with Kurt Elling. Soothing the savage society, this music is sure to appeal to those who need a leaner, trimmed back, more serene dose of reality to balance what has become a world torn by strife, uncertainty, and fear. This is not to say this is music lacking substance or intrigue -- far from it. Both pianist Hobgood and bassist Haden, clearly virtuosos, think on their feet together and separately, creating cohesive vistas of beauty, spirituality, emotional depth, or in a general sense, togetherness. They've chosen well-known standards adapted to their sensitive natures, in the case of "Que Sera Sera" an acceptant reverent and quiet adaptation of the oh well/whatever theme. Hoagy Carmichael's "New Orleans" starts in a clever, modernized two step folded into a blues frame, "Why Did I Choose You?" is both romantic and quizzical, and the incredible pretty and dark melody of Don Grolnick's "The Cost of Living," immortalized by Michael Brecker, is as stunningly emotional a tango inferred piece as has ever been written. Haden's "Chickoree" is bouncier in midtempo pace, still low key, with Hobgood's stride flavorings, while the pianist composed the title selection in a cascading waltz to light terpsichore that Haden follows along with beautifully. The tracks with the ever coy and wistful Elling include Haden's famous reflective ballad "First Song," including the poignant lyric about a "song that lightened up the world, when love was new." "Stairway to the Stars" showcases the vocalists spontaneous quality in elongating phrases and dynamics, while the Duke Ellington penned, drifting away waltz "Daydream" has Elling in a very deep, very midnight blue mood. Hobgood's solo works are as captivating as anything else, especially "Leatherwood" with its spirited and folksy stance, or the sheltering "Sanctuary," half church, half wedding song. An excellent recording from start to finish, played with extraordinary intimacy, heart and soul, this wondrous music is specifically built for those times in life when relaxation is a prerequisite to get one on to the next better day.

7) Niño Josele

By Steve Futterman
More than 25 years after his death, pianist Bill Evans maintains the power to draw musicians helplessly into his lyrical universe. Flamenco guitarist Nino Josele, his career already in full swing, came late to Evans, but when he did, the obsession hit hard. Paz is the Spaniard’s heartfelt and immensely winning tribute to the influential instrumentalist and composer. Concentrating on standards and signature tunes that Evans personalized rather than on the pianist’s original songs—only “Waltz for Debby,” “Turn Out the Stars” and the sketchy “Peace Piece” are represented from among Evans’ beauties—Josele enlists American players sympathetic to Evans’ reflective sensibilities, including saxophonist Joe Lovano, trumpeters Tom Harrell and Jerry Gonzalez, vocalist Freddy Cole and Marc Johnson, the last bassist to work with Evans. A pianist is conspicuously missing.
The unencumbered emotional directness that Josele regularly conveys, as well as his reluctance to showboat with flashy technique, rubs off on his guests. Spare and moving performances by Cole on “I Do It for Your Love,” Gonzalez on “Never Let Me Go,” Harrell on “My Foolish Heart” and Lovano on “The Peacocks” reflect well on Josele’s ability to cast a defining mood of delicacy over the project. Three introspective solo guitar pieces and a flamenco take on “Turn Out the Stars” ground the recording with Iberian flavoring. While Evans’ significant influence shows little sign of diminishing in the country of his birth, albums like Paz give heartening proof that his soft-spoken genius still speaks loudly to players worldwide.

8) Steve Kuhn
    Oceans In The Sky

By Dr.Judith Schlesinger
Recorded in 1989 for Owl Records and finally reissued, Oceans in the Sky is a timeless gem from impressionistic veteran pianist Steve Kuhn. Although he was John Coltrane's original pianist and worked with Stan Getz and Art Farmer, Kuhn's detour into electric piano, commercial music and accompaniment (most notably for Sheila Jordan) has to some extent diluted his pedigree. It's good to be reminded of his gifts, which include lyricism and taste and composition; his title track is powerful and harmonically intriguing, and "Ulla" is lovely.
Kuhn's tastefulness is also evident in his choice of, and approach to, material. Frank Lacey's thoughtful and pretty "Theme for Ernie" is rarely covered; the Jobim he picks is "Angela," one of the less hackneyed in the pantheon; and he gives a new pulse to "The Island." Being a third-stream fan, I especially enjoyed how he wove Debussy's "La Plus Que Lente" into a samba version of Ellington's "Passion Flower" with no seams showing; he also pairs "His Is the Only Music That Makes Me Dance" with Satie's "Gymnopedie," while straining all the Streisand schmaltz out of Jule Syne's beautiful Broadway showstopper.
Kuhn swings hard on Dorham's "Lotus Blossom" and subtly on Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way." Drummer Aldo Romano contributes the pretty "Do" as well as sensitive and unobtrusive percussion. It's good that Miroslav Vitous is a strong bassist, since Kuhn tends to lean towards the treble side of things. Oceans in the Sky is an understated and graceful outing – delicious.
Track listing:
The Island, Lotus Blossom, La Plus Que Lente [Debussy]/Passion Flower, Do, Oceans in the Sky Theme for Ernie, Angela, In Your Own Sweet Way, Ulla, The Music That Makes Me Dance
Steve Kuhn (piano), Miroslav Vitous (bass), Aldo Romano (drums)

9) Charles Lloyd
    The Water Is Wide

By David R. Adler
Like 1999's Voice in the Night, The Water Is Wide features Charles Lloyd in the company of one of his dearest friends, drummer Billy Higgins, who would pass away less than a year after the album's release. Guitarist John Abercrombie also remains on board, but Lloyd extends the group's generational span by recruiting two younger players: pianist Brad Mehldau and bassist Larry Grenadier. The album begins with a straightforward, elegant reading of Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia." Lloyd goes on to lead his ensemble through two lesser-known Ellington pieces, "Black Butterfly" and "Heaven"; Strayhorn's "Lotus Blossom"; two original ballads, "Figure In Blue" and "Lady Day"; and Cecil McBee's "Song of Her," a track from Lloyd's 1968 classic, Forest Flower. It's a glorious amalgam of sound: the leader's unique, glissando-laden phraseology, Mehldau's harmonic nuances, unerring rhythmic backbone from Grenadier and the majestic Higgins — and only occasionally, pointed and eloquent guitarism from Abercrombie. The session ascends to an even higher level with the inclusion of two spirituals, "The Water Is Wide" and "There Is a Balm in Gilead." The latter features just Lloyd and Higgins, starkly setting the melody against a hypnotic drum chant. In addition, Lloyd's closing "Prayer," written for Higgins during a life-threatening episode back in 1996, features just the composer, Abercrombie, and guest bassist Darek Oles. (Oddly, Oles' credit is relegated to the fine print.) These tracks, most of all, resonate with personal meaning and profundity.

10) Nancy King & Fred Hersch
      Live At Jazz Standard

By Ken Dryden
It's no wonder that Fred Hersch had the confidence to tape his initial meeting with Nancy King. King is one of the best jazz vocalists of her generation, though she is unjustly not as widely recognized as a number of major-label artists who don't begin to compare with her. King and Hersch put together a wide-ranging program at the Jazz Standard, frequently extending their interpretations well beyond the expectations for a vocal/piano duo. Hersch, who has long since proved his abilities as a solo accompanist for singers (especially Janis Siegel), is never less than brilliant throughout the evening, though the singer is equally impressive, an adventurous spirit who is unafraid of taking chances. King's expressive voice is full of humor in the swinging take of "Ain't Misbehavin'," while she scats up a storm in Antonio Carlos Jobim's neglected gem "If You Never Come to Me." She's equally inspired as she revives once popular standards that have fallen out of favor like "There's a Small Hotel" and "Everything Happens to Me." But the finale clearly steals the show as King devours "Four" whole, throwing caution to the wind as she playfully adds her own twists to Jon Hendricks' vocalese setting of Miles Davis' famous tune. This beautifully recorded set is a tribute to the musicianship of both artists, as well as the foresight of Fred Hersch to request that the soundboard operator record it without notifying Nancy King in advance.

By Rick Cornell "RC"
When I heard that Nancy King and Fred Hersch had recorded an album live, at the Jazz Standard in NYC, of piano-voice duets, I rushed out to get my copy. I expected something fantastic. But that can be a problem due to the fact that disappointment can come crashing down more easily when you have such expectations.
I am not disappointed in the least.
This CD confirms two major truths: First, with the passing of Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter, Nancy King is the finest living scat singer in the world. Like Ms. Carter, Ms. King sounds like an instrument truly searching for the "less obvious" note that nevertheless fits in the chord. Ms. King is also a great story teller. She didn't make me forget Shirley Horn or Mark Murphy, but at times she certainly reminded me of them here.
Second, Fred Hersch truly is one of the finest piano accompanists in the world. What amazes me about him is that he sounds quite different in accompanying Nancy King than he does in accompanying Janis Siegel, and in turn those recordings sound different than how he accompanies Renee Fleming. He basically knows what works for each singer.
Here, consistently throughout he lets Ms. King take the lead in the first chorus, then gradually gets more adventurous as she scats away. Then, when he solos, he plays even more "outside" than he does ordinarily with most singers--because that's how Ms. King sings. By the time he's done, we the audience have been in for quite a ride.
In the contest of most underrated jazz singer in the world (if there is one), Nancy King now is in the lead. Hopefully, someone soon will overtake her--but that will take some doing. Meanwhile, major kudos to Maxjazz: In the last few years, they have put out superlative vocal jazz recordings with Rene Marie, Dena DeRose, Erin Bode, and now this one. More, please.

- Aonde estão as listas/ Where are your TOP 10 Desert Island ?
- PS - Alterações serão permitidas ! You can change anytime !

Friday, April 26, 2013


By Claudio Botelho
   The above is the title of the preface of Down Beat magazine newest issue (May/2.013). Its leitmotif is the arrival of the piano (and piano players, thereof) as an increasingly prominent instrument in jazz, today. As they say, one used to associate trumpet and saxophone as the premier jazz instruments and, so, the piano and other music counterparts used to go aside, as a kind of “second grade” music transducers. The magazine stands behind the statement that there is more talent in jazz piano world today than there has been ever before. This would seem sacrilegious to die-hard fans of classical jazz and could suggest the piano is superseding those musical instruments.
   Today pianists can count on a much more diverse palette than Bill Evans ever could (as by that magazine) as there is now new rhythms and an endless variety of music styles unheard of three decades ago. Certainly, the Internet is an invaluable tool in helping to track down what happens around the world. Evans had a much narrower field to survey on those days. But, as much as this is true, in the past, it was much easier to distinguish an artist from another. Apart from innate singularities, each one was under influences unknown to the others, resulting in a palette of players much wider than we have today. The so called “globalization”, to a great extent, has “homogenized” the talents, as each one can know without much effort the work of others.          You know, it’s some kind of “assembly line”…
   The magazine makes clear we are living in a “golden era” of jazz pianism and justifies it by naming some stand out players such as Vijay Iler, Gerald Clayton, Robert Glasper and Dan Tepfner.
I don’t know if this is a piano golden era as the article suggests. For me, at least since I came across jazz music, the piano and their players were never out of the forefront of this art. Since the very beginning of the sixties, I’ve been living with the genial-rough playing of Dave Brubeck, the elegance of John Lewis, the intuition of Earl Gardner, the unexpectedness of Ahmad Jamal, the hyperrealism of Steve Khun, the latinism of Monty Alexander, the forwardness of Herbie Hancock, the classicism of Jacques Loussier, the proficiency of Oscar Peterson, the vagary of Thelonius Monk, the percussiveness of McCoy Tyner, The unpredictability of Cecil Taylor, the randomness of Paul Bley, the funkabillity of Horace Silver and the transcendence of Bill Evans, among others.
   Later, the likes of Fred Hersch, Kenny Barron, Enrico Pieranunzi, Roger Kellaway, Denny Zeitlin, the revered Keith Jarrett and Gonzalo Rubalcaba were high on my list. Of course, this is far from being any comprehensive listing.
   Certainly, theses masters are not of the look-alike kind…
   The magazine’s foreword raison d’être is the abundance of applicants for best piano player of the year as attests the ballots rolling in for its 2.013 critic’s poll. Maybe the said profusion is more akin to the relevance of the cited new-comers than to the players’ numerical extent.
   It’s a fact that players like Moran, Glasper, Clayton, Iyer (Vijay), Iverson (of The Bad Plus Group) have found highly personal styles of playing, but they’re not trend setters and, thus, will go on sporting their uniqueness without further influences. I feel the jazz scenery will keep on being the same and good and lousy performances will proceed striving to get the listener as ever.
   I understand the point of jazz critics: They need to spot the novelties and can’t keep on just praising musicians who follow established cannons, at the cost of being repetitive and, by consequence, uninteresting. In this case, no news is BAD news… The problem is that, in the meantime, much typically “conventional” music of excellent quality – even, outstanding – is kept disregarded or, worse still, get underrated, while, in many instances, the new, or the different, or the unconventional are highly commended, just to fall into forgetfulness some weeks later.
   Of course, these musicians have enduring qualities, real talent, but I’m afraid their uniqueness may obscure other musicians who, although outdoing themselves, may not receive the recognition they deserve. The new, the out of ordinary, the unexpected are not enough to justify high praise. Sometimes, they are just that: new, out of ordinary, unexpected, and, on the long run, don’t stand the test of time as it has happened frequently.
   Meanwhile, in my view, the jazz lovers of this side of the Atlantic would be much pleased if they could have easier access to some piano players from across the sea like Dario Carnovale, Piero Frassi, Alessandro Lanzoni, Vicenzo Danise, Antonio Faraò, Claudio Filippini, Danilo Rea, Paolo Paliaga, Luca Manutza and many others. These names certainly deserve to be in the magazine’s mix and should be evaluated by its critics. I’m sure they have enough value to affect the final judgments and could certainly alter the order of things. Unfortunately, they’re still waiting in the wings…
   I reckon there are commercial constraints which have been avoiding this from coming through, but the jazz community is a small one and some effort should be done to give these artists wider recognition. They’re recipients of sheer musicality and have been outputting music of the highest caliber, much deserving their due in this side of the world.
   DB should find a way to give these artists a chance; this would noteworthy enrich the results of their critics’ task.


   Now, allow me to take this chance and put my two cents concerning the piano as a musical instrument I came to love unreservedly.
   I’ll start by saying first and foremost I find the piano the undisputable king of musical instruments, by any standards. As we all know, each key in a piano is an autonomous sound producer. So, in a single instrument, it’s possible to play different tunes at the same time, limited only by the disposed number of fingers and size of the keyboard. Certainly, the acrobats of the Cirque du Soleil could do wonders playing a single instrument. There are no chords to be plucked and pressed to the fretboard, for instance. This would take two fingers, from distinct hands, to play a single note…
   Any comparison to wind instruments? I won’t bother you about. These can only play a note at a time. But, please, don’t take me wrong: this shortcoming is not, in any way, related to wind- instrument musicians. Actually, they have a harder task to make their statements, but it is no secret this is not an issue.
   It’s not unfair to say that a piano is mostly limited by the chops of its player. It suffices itself as a solo instrument like no other.
   In jazz, one can’t better state the importance of the piano than the Maybeck Recital Hall Series which, by the 90’s or so, recorded an innumerate number of piano solos from more than forty different jazz players. I witnessed the chameleonic richness of the same piano - in the same hall, in the exact same place, always in front of a small number of listeners -, sounds downright distinct from the day before as their guidance changed from one pianist to another. How come, say, Steve Khun could sound so different from Sir Roland Hanna in such a circumstance?
   As you know, this extraordinary nonpareil experience was conducted by Concord jazz in its heyday and, alone, is proof enough of the piano superiority…
   (Aside from these mechanical aspects which put the piano (and its cousins) apart from the competition, IMO, the sound of a good Steinway (or Bosendorfer) played by classically trained musicians, associated to the best music ever composed is a peerless experience. This winner combination exudes the best things music has to offer and, I have to agree, is unmatched by any player in any other circumstance if the sheer beauty of music sounds is the main cause. As much as I’d rather listen to jazz - as opposed to any other way of music expression -, I must concede no jazz pianism competes with their equivalents in the realms of classical music in extracting the utmost delicacy and beauty from that instrument).

   It’s not by accident there is so many music for piano and orchestra!
   The piano is “the man”, especially when played by hands which are not shy to go from its extreme left keys to the ones at the other end as do, for instance, Jamal and Kuhn -, not by coincidence two of my all time heroes…

Sunday, April 14, 2013

1 Sem 2013 - Part Eleven

Miki Hayama Trio
Wide Angle

By EastWind
Performed by:
Miki Hayama (piano), Kiyoshi Kitagawa (bass), Victor Lewis (drums)
Release Date: 03/18/2009

"Miki Hayama is an amazing young pianist with great chops, a great harmonic concept and a great imagination!!"
-Kenny Barron

"Miki Hayama, this young lady, born in Kyoto, Japan, swings as if she's Harlem grown. Colorful and creative, her style is both aggressive and sensitive..."
-Victor Lewis

Japanese jazz pianist who lives and performs in New York City, Miki Hayama has built her career playing with great jazz masters such Frank Wess, Kenny Garrett, James Spauldings, Vincent Harring, Roy Hargrove, Ralph Peterson, Billy Hart, Victor Lewis, Nnenna Freelon and Aretha Franklin.
Wide Angle is her third, and undoubtedly the best, album as a leader. Ms. Hayama's compositions are very modern, with angular melodies and advanced harmonies but never stray too far from the fundamental lyricism of jazz. She has great chops and knows how to swing.
Aiding her on this powerful album are bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa, whose big sound and bold style have graced many recordings with Kenny Barron and Danny Grissett, among others, and veteran drummer Victor Lewis, whose inspired drumming pushes the trio exhilarating heights. The ambitious program contains no less than seven original compositions by MS. Hayama, one original by Victor Lewis, a Gershwin tune "Who Cares?" and Tommy Flanagan's "Freight Trane." Strongly recommended for fans of today's cutting-edge piano trios!
Produced by Miki Hayama. Recorded at Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY, on September 5, 2008.

Album Tracks:
1. What's Next? / 2. Flying Horses / 3. Another Angel / 4. Horizon  / 5. Who Cares?
6. Sound Of Migration / 7. Freight Trane / 8. Dismissed  / 9. Up & Down
10. A Time For Peace

Frank Kimbrough Trio
Live At Kitano

By Dan Bilawsky
Pianist Frank Kimbrough can't avoid the magnetic pull of the trio. His own discography contains fine solo, duo, quartet and quintet dates, but a good half of the releases under his name have been triangular affairs that focus on his flexible take on this time-tested format. Kimbrough keeps coming back to this scenario, not because he has nothing else to say, but because he has so much to say in this type of setting. He speaks through the keys and does so in gentle, eloquent, engaging and occasionally elusive fashion.
Photographer-cum-producer Jimmy Katz set-up his recording gear in New York's Kitano in July 2011 to capture Kimbrough in action with bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Matt Wilson, and the resultant recording is predictably magical. Eight songs were culled from two evening's worth of performances and get to the core of Kimbrough's musical being. Moody, nocturnal melodicism comes to the fore on "Helix," diaphanous meanderings hold sway during drummer Paul Motian's "Arabesque," and wonderfully skittish uncertainty proves to be the order of the day during pianist Andrew Hill's "Dusk."
While Kimbrough's sense of expansiveness is often his calling card, it isn't overused. He digs into his own catalog for a fine and focused "Falling Waltz," swings his way through "Blues In The Closet," which features a snare-against-the-ride-beat solo from Wilson that's brilliant in its not-so-simple simplicity, and delivers a lovely rendition of Duke Ellington's "Single Petal Of A Rose." The oft-covered "Lover Man," which holds the penultimate position here, is an elegant and fragile offering that features some of Anderson's most inspired and introspective playing, and the album-ending "Hymn" finds the group working in a loose, bluesy gospel setting.
Kimbrough, for the most part, eschews the taut and high-strung trio dynamic that serves many so well, preferring instead to work in slackened settings and diaphanous fashion. His broad sense of time, mood and color mark him as a true original and serve him well throughout Live At Kitano.
Track Listing: 
Helix; Blues In The Closet; Arabesque; Dusk; Single Petal Of A Rose; Falling Waltz; Lover Man; Hymn.
Personnel: Frank Kimbrough: piano; Jay Anderson: bass; Matt Wilson: drums.

David Hazeltine
The New Classic Trio

By Britt Robson at JazzTimes
David Hazeltine is a consummate pro, meaning he plays with consistency, integrity and a creative faith in the wellspring of the mainstream. Fifteen years ago, the pianist put out the first of what would become three Classic Trio records featuring bassist Peter Washington and drummer Louis Hayes, with the last one, which added tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, released in 2002.The New Classic Trio arrives a decade down the road, with a different rhythm section—bassist George Mraz and drummer Joe Farnsworth—as its title implies. But the album’s virtues and sensibility are thoroughly consonant with those previous discs. As with that Classic Trio debut, there are choice compositions by Cedar Walton and Bud Powell; some Hazeltine originals including a blues and a durable hard-bop template; and reflexive, empathetic interplay that creates subtle bevels and contours on otherwise straightforward riffs and grooves.
Mraz, like John Patitucci, has a knack for sounding both bold and tender, a dynamism that helps an ensemble in frequent jeopardy of collaborating too seamlessly. His solos are strong, particularly on the standards that open and close the disc (“My Heart Stood Still,” by Rodgers and Hart, and the Mercer-Arlen perennial “Come Rain or Come Shine”). He also pushes Hazeltine as they play the melody of the Walton tune “I’ll Let You Know” in unison; later, each player issues a compelling solo, lending an air of alpha dog competition missing elsewhere. Hazeltine, who devoted an entire album to the works of Jobim with Farnsworth on drums, demonstrates his affinity for Brazilian music with the gracefully airy original “Bossa for All,” and a Brazilian-tinged take on Harry Warren’s “I Wish I Knew” featuring guest Jose Alexis Diaz on congas.
In Hazeltine’s sure and steady hands, this New Classic Trio sounds a lot like the old Classic Trio—which is the point of “classic,” right?

Nilson Matta & Roni Ben-Hur

By Jeff Tamarkin at JazzTimes
It would seem, in theory, that Mojave, a set of Brazilian music, would have been created on an un-level playing field. Bassist Nilson Matta and percussionist Café are natives of Brazil who’ve spent many years working within the genre, while Israeli-born guitarist Roni Ben-Hur and American drummer Victor Lewis have had comparatively limited experience in samba- and bossa-nova-based rhythms. But if the players had any trouble finding common ground it’s never evident here.
Perhaps because both Matta and Ben-Hur have spent the past quarter-century based in New York, international fusions come easily, and there’s an ease and naturalness to their collaboration. Just about evenly divided between covers and original compositions, the chosen tunes aren’t subjected to challenging rearrangements; the players play it cool, Ben-Hur’s tone clear and his solos crisp and sweet, the accompaniment uniformly unfussy. Three of the covers are credited to Pixinguinha, a Rio-born composer of choro music who passed away in 1973 and was known for his injection of jazz elements into Brazilian forms. The first of those, “Lamentos,” swings breezily, leaving ample open space in which Ben-Hur and Matta alternately peel out well-structured solos, take stock with an airtight, repetitive pattern, and then do it all over again. Bacharach-David’s “The Look of Love” is a song that is impossible to harm, and the quartet plays it in a straightforward fashion. And, of course, there’s a Jobim number, serving as the title track and opening the program, establishing the nature of the recording with smart, sophisticated interplay.
Of the originals, Lewis’ “P.D. on Great Jones Street” and Ben-Hur’s “Canal Street” may elude more to Manhattan than Ipanema, but they nonetheless retain the overall smoothness that characterizes this highly likable meet-up of four versatile and capable musicians.