Sunday, January 26, 2014

1 Sem 2014 - Part One

Esperanza Spalding
Radio Music Society

By Mark F. Turner
If there's to be an unofficial ambassador for contemporary jazz then Esperanza Spalding could fit the bill nicely. The young bassist, singer, and composer brings a fresh exuberance marked by prodigious talent; honoring those who have paved the way, yet seeking to pursue her own path. Whether receiving the 2011Grammy for "Best New Artist" or shining bright at the 2012 Academy Awards , in an unusual yet memorable performance, she's riding a wave of deserved recognition.
Where 2011's Chamber Music Society (Heads Up International) fronted a jazz trio with classical strings and voice, its companion release Radio Music Society reveals Spalding's passion for pop music forms. There was a time when jazz and pop music sometimes shared the airwaves on the same program lists, but that's an entirely different topic. As already proven on previous releases, she's quite convincing in almost any setting, while bringing her own whimsical and sophisticated style to the program.
The set is a veritable songbook as Spalding delivers her dual threat of sublime singing and swinging basses, with some help from an impressive roster of artists. There's the ebullient "Radio Song" that spins an infectious arrangement with vocal harmonies in the vein ofThe Manhattan Transfer and Take 6, or pleasant surprises such as Michael Jackson's hit "I Can't Help It," written by Stevie Wonder, with raspy notes from saxophonist Joe Lovano.
Yet there are multilayered qualities at work in Spalding's compositions. Contrapuntal harmonies are present in "Cinnamon Tree," which switches from balladry to dark toned funk provided by guitarist Jef Lee Johnson. But there's also awareness of social issues in the uplifting words of "Black Gold," dedicated to young boys of color, or the bittersweet irony of "Land Of The Free"—sweetness found in Spalding's supple voice yet bitter truths heard in lyrics that speak about injustices in the criminal justice system.
If there's one song that stumbles, it's the lighthearted tale of an inevitable breakup in "Let Her." But there are also moments of weightier brilliance such as "Vague Suspicions," whose video provided in the deluxe edition is simply riveting, as the music is brought to life in scenes of serenity and war casualties from opposing views. There's a plethora of good music throughout the set: funky horn vamps; an '80s electronic fusion-like grooves in Wayne Shorter's "Endangered Species," where Spalding shows here electric bass skills; and some Lena Horne-like glam on "Hold On Me," in a swanky big band setting.
Not fitting neatly into either a jazz or pop music box can present a conundrum for some fans and critics, but Spalding's interests are clearly diverse. She's more than just another pretty face who can sing and play what everyone wants. Her words and music, as continued in Radio Music Society, are telling new stories in her own voice.
Track Listing:
Radio Song; Cinnamon Tree; Crowned & Kissed; Land of the Free; Black Gold; I Can't Help It; Hold On Me; Vague Suspicions; Endangered Species; Let Her; City of Roses; Smile Like That.
Esperanza Spalding: vocals, electric and acoustic bass; Leo Genovese: piano, Rhodes, guembri, keyboards (1-3, 6,8-12); Terri Lyne Carrington: drums (1-3, 5,9, 11); Anthony Diamond: saxophone (11); Q-Tip: vocals, glockenspiel (11); Jamie Haddad: percussion (1); Gretchen Parlato: background vocals, spoken word (1, 6, 10); Raydar Ellis: spoken word, sounds (10); Leni Stern: background vocals (10, Becca Stevens: background vocals (1, 6); Justin Brown: background vocals (1, 6); Alan Hampton: background vocals (1); Chris Turner: background vocals (1); Darren Barrett: trumpet (1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 12); Jeff Galindo: trombone (1,3,8,10, 12); Daniel Blake: saxophones, flute, (1, 2 ,3 ,8 ,9, 10); Jef Lee Johnson: guitar (2, 9); Olivia Deprado: violin: (2); Jody Redhage: viola (2); James Weidman: organ (4); Algebra Blessett: vocals (5); Savannah Children's Choir: choral voices (5); Lionel Loueke: guitar, voice (5); Raymond Angry: organ (5); Tivon Penicott:tenor saxophone(5); Igmar Thomas: trumpet (5); Corey King: trumpet (5); Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone (6); Ricardo Vogt: guitar (6, 8, 10); Lyndon Rochelle: drums (6); Janice Scroggins: piano (7); Billy Hart: drums (7); Jack DeJohnette: drums (8, 10, 12); Lalah Hathaway: vocals (9); Gilad Hekselman: guitar (12).
American Music Program (Big Band): 
Kama Bell: clarinet (1, 7, 11); Andrew Olsen: alto saxophone (1, 7, 11); John Carey: alto saxophone (1, 7, 11); Adam Reihs: tenor saxophone (1, 7, 11); Kyle Zimmerman: alto saxophone (1, 7, 11); Renato Caranto: alto saxophone (1, 7, 11); Stanley Matabane: tenor, alto saxophone (1, 7, 11); Nicole Glover: tenor saxophone (1, 7, 11); Jeff Rathbone: baritone saxophone (1, 7, 11); Benjamin C. McDonald: trumpet (1, 7, 11); Benjamin Seacrest: trumpet (1, 7, 11); Sam Seacrest: alto saxophone (1, 7, 11); Noah Conrad: trumpet (1, 7, 11); Hayden Conrad:tenor saxophone (1, 7, 11); Tre Palmedo: trumpet (1, 7, 11); Noah Hocker: trumpet (1, 7, 11); Kiran Bosely: trumpet (1, 7, 11); Stan Bock: trombone (1, 7, 11); Dan Brewster: trombone (1, 7, 11); Jerry Stalnaker:bass trombone(1, 7, 11); Ian Garner: trombone (1, 7, 11);Javier Nero: trombone (1, 7, 11); Matt Warming: trombone (1, 7, 11); Ashton Summers: trombone (1, 7, 11); Aaron Reihs: tenor saxophone (1, 7, 11).

Bobby McFerrin
Spirit You All

By Steve Leggett
Bobby McFerrin will always be remembered for his 1988 omnipresent hit "Don't Worry, Be Happy," which is fine, really, because that song perfectly reflects McFerrin's belief that music should calm, heal, soothe, and redeem, and all of his recorded work before and after that breakaway hit fits right in line with that philosophy. On spirityouall, McFerrincenters things around black spirituals, a genre he sees as at the epicenter of American music, full of a kind of musical strength that puts joy, persistence, redemption, and a belief in personal and collective freedom up against the horrors, pressures, marginalization, and pure evil the world can generate in our lives. The album is also a tribute to his father,Robert McFerrin, whose 1957 album Deep River brought black spirituals into the world of the concert hall and high art, and like that groundbreaking release, this album opens with the same song, an easy rolling "Everytime." In all, there are seven traditional spirituals here, including "Joshua" (full of McFerrin's jazzy scat singing), a joyous and syncopated "Whole World," and the pulsing, nuanced, and flowing "Wade," alongside an intimate cover of Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" and five McFerrin originals, and the whole sequence adds up to the audio version of a warm comforter blanket. By the time the closing track, "Rest/Yes, Indeed," a two-step spiritual hoedown, rolls in, the world seems not only bearable but better in all dimensions. Music can soothe the savage soul, goes the old adage. McFerrin believes it does even more than that, providing a bridge and a gateway to joy and redemption in a world that all too often seems to want to sweep all of our souls over a cliff. On spirityouall, McFerrin does what he has always done as an artist -- he makes this troubled world shine bright as a diamond.

Mané Silveira

By WorldJazz
1-Samba pro Mozar, 2-Choro para Omara, 3-A Dança do Arminha
4-Luazul, 5-Lumen, 6-Viagem a Saturno, 7-Viva Julia
8-Gira e roda, 9-Despretenciosa
Mané Silveira - Alto, Tenor, Soprano Sax/ Flute; Tiago Costa - Piano; Ricardo Matsuda - Guitars;
Zé Alexandre Carvalho - Bass; Cleber Almeida - Drums.

Geoff Eales Trio
Master OF The Game

By Ian Mann at TheJazzMann
Welsh born pianist Geoff Eales has been on the scene since the 1970’s but only started recording as a leader in 1999. He has mainly recorded in the piano trio format, most notably with bassist Roy Babbington and drummer Mark Fletcher, but there have also been a couple of solo piano ventures.
For “Master Of The Game” Eales has assembled a stellar new trio. Bassist Chris Laurence and drummer Martin France are among the very finest exponents of their respective instruments and it comes as no surprise that this album is probably Eales’ finest to date.
Classically trained and with an encyclopaedic knowledge of jazz piano Eales is a wonderfully versatile player. He has been a regular performer at Brecon Jazz Festival and it was here in 2007 that I saw him pay homage to the greats of jazz piano by playing in a myriad of styles from Art Tatum through Bill Evans to Keith Jarrett. “Master Of The Game” sees him stepping out of the shadows of his influences and truly stamping his own identity on an all original programme.
Given Eales’ jazz lineage the first thing that strikes the listener about “Master Of The Game” is just how modern and contemporary it sounds. The opening “Iolo’s Dance” features the implacable drum grooves of France, piano that changes from percussive to lyrical in the blink of an eye and masterful bass playing from Laurence, whether locking in with France or soloing fluently. The piece is a dedication to the Welsh poet and scholar Iolo Margannwg. It’s a splendid way to start the album.
“Magister Ludi” was inspired by writings of the German author Herman Hesse. The “Magister Ludi is the central character of Hesse’s final work “The Glass Bead Game”. Latin for “Master Of The Game” this is effectively the album’s title track. This richly dramatic piece opens with France’s eerie drum intro, building through Laurence’s rich, dark arco bass to Eales’ rhapsodic piano. The piece, like many others on the album is very much a musical journey, here cinematically travelling from minimalist beginnings to wide-screen magnificence. It’s something of a feature for Laurence who solos in both arco and pizzicato formats but the piece is best viewed as a complete entity, the writing and the performances are simply excellent.
“Awakening” initially explores a freer aspect of playing but achieves dramatic effect through Eales’ ghostly piano tinklings and Laurence’s low register arco flourishes. The trio later emerge from the darkness to lay down some joyous grooves that nod in the direction of e.s.t. (the later “Lachrymosa” is a more formal dedication to the late, great Svensson) France’s scintillating drum breaks are particular delight.
“Song For My Mother” opens with a lengthy passage for solo piano. The mood of the piece is celebratory and the trio play the beautiful, gospel tinged melody straight and with the minimum of ornamentation. There’s a typically lyrical solo from Laurence and France’s drums are subtly assertive, always pushing the music forward but never imposing too much. There are echoes of Keith Jarrett’s “My Song” in the style and feel of the piece but ultimately this is Eales’ song or , perhaps more accurately his mother’s.
Less dolorous than it’s title might suggest “The Saddest Journey” also has a beautiful melody, one that emerges from an improvised intro in the style of “Awakening”. Laurence once again impresses both with and without the bow and his pizzicato style is featured extensively in a lengthy solo. The bassist is the perfect foil for Eales and the pair sometimes perform concerts as a duo.
“Inner Child” opens with solo piano and evolves into a suitably airy melody sketched by Eales’ gently lyrical piano supported by Laurence’s purring bass undertow and France’s delicate brushwork. The trio embellish the melody with a number of dazzling runs from Eales and yet another fine solo from Laurence. Behind the relaxed atmosphere is a performance of consummate technical skill.
Next comes “Lachrymosa”, Eales’ dedication to the great Swedish composer and pianist Esbjorn Svensson who tragically died as the result of a diving accident in June 2008. Suitably reverent in tone the tune occasionally hints at e.s.t.‘s style on slower pieces but is not an overt attempt to mimic their approach. In the end “Lachrymosa” stands both as a fitting tribute and as a convincing piece of music in it’s own right.
“Sudden Departure” brings the album full circle, placing Eales’ Bill Evans influenced piano stylings into a contemporary rhythmic setting. It’s an invigorating way to close a marvellous album, a recording Eales can be very proud of. His writing is consistently imaginative and each item has a strong narrative thread that makes each composition unique.
The playing too, is excellent throughout with Laurence and France playing key roles. The bassist is brilliant with or without the bow, and functions both as a superb accompanist and a consistently interesting soloist. France too, is a master of his craft, his subtly propulsive style is just right for the music and his rhythmic shading and attention to detail exquisite. The interaction between the three players makes for genuine musical conversation. “Master Of The Game” is a great team effort.
However the ultimate credit must go to Eales for his masterful writing and excellent playing Like the great John Taylor (with whom France and Laurence have also worked) Eales just seems to get better with age. “Master Of The Game” is a highly distinctive album in an overcrowded field. It deserves to propel Eales into the piano premier league.

Dave Stapleton

By Chris May
Dave Stapleton is a multi-tasker of Olympian energy and talent. That is not a new observation, but as the pianist and record company director's outputs increase, it bears repeating. As well as operating the Edition label, which has released 30 albums of immaculately-recorded British and European jazz since he founded it in 2008, Stapleton has maintained his own career as a musician. Flight is his seventh album for the label as leader or co-leader, and is his most ambitious outing to date. It employs a jazz quartet and a string quartet—but is a long way from being a routine with-strings album.
As with most of Stapleton's albums, Flight is as much about his composing and arranging as it is about performance. The writing here conjures a serious atmosphere: sometimes wistful, sometimes somber; sometimes seeming to reach back into memory, at others forward towards resolution, or, perhaps, the unattainable—but always reaching. The melodies are strong and sharply turned; the harmonies tonal but flecked with astringency and flashes of dissonance, at times variously suggesting the chamber music of Antonin Dvorak, Benjamin Britten and Dmitri Shostakovich. To this pleasingly complex ambiance, the jazz soloists add another dimension.
The collective personnel is made up of young lions from across Britain, Europe and Scandinavia. Two are Edition artists in their own right: Danish tenor saxophonist Marius Neset and British double bassist Dave Kane have both released debut albums on the label, Neset's Golden Xplosion (2011) and Kane's Eye Of The Duck (2009). Alongside Matthew Bourne and drummer Steven Davis, Kane is also one-third of the Bourne Davis Kane trio, who released Lost Something on Edition in 2008. Neset, the chief soloist on Flight, more than justifies the excitement which greeted Golden Xplosion.
Finnish drummer Olavi Louhivuori is a less familiar name. Stapleton heard him playing with saxophonist Tore Burnborg at Jazzahead in Germany in 2011, got along well with him at a post-performance meal with the band, delved into his back catalogue and liked what he heard. Louhivuori has also performed and/or recorded with trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, bassistMats Eilertsen and pianist Alexi Toumarila. Violinist David Brodowski, born in Poland and brought up in Germany, formed the Brodowski String Quartet in London in 2005, with three British players. The quartet is an up-and-coming item on the country's chamber music scene.
Jazz/classical mixes are fiendishly difficult to pull off, and few of them are as deeply synthesized as the music on Flight. It is an album whose elegant surface sits atop real depth and substance. Highly recommended.
Before; Polaroid; Flight; Henryk Part 1; Henryk Part 2; Unity; OTS; Whisper; Running East; North Wind.
Dave Stapleton: piano, electric piano; Marius Neset: tenor saxophone; Dave Kane: double bass; Olavi Louhivuori: drums. Brodowski String Quartet: David Brodowski: violin 1; Catrin Win Morgan: violin 2; Felix Tanner: viola; Reinoud Ford: cello.

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