Saturday, April 26, 2014

Old Jazz CD's 2014 - Part Three

The Fred Hersch Trio

By Oscar Treadwell
An Acquired Taste ...on listening to pianist Fred Hersch First notes go anywhere, everywhere, then dawn imperceptibly from there to THERE. Sound stream plethora of vague reminiscences of known strains that tantalize and jog the song bank micelle. Nuances of a shared experience or a conversation of peers Key cognition of non-verbal communication and move giver and receiver in sync. No shout...bombast...pyrotechnics. Shards of Remember This? reticulate the muse maze, you understood. A nascent humanness sheltering love's beauty midst the world's cacophony of noise. A surreal realness embracing the unambiguous life force of Family and All God's chillun are one. Beauty is an acquired taste, love is its vehicle.
Track Listings:
1. Milestones; 2. Iris; 3. Played Twice; 4. Con Alma; 5. Mood Indigo; 6. Speak Like a Child
7. Evanessence; 8. Think of One; 9. Daydream; 10. Forerunner; 11. Moment's Notice
12. Doxy

Lynne Arriale Trio
The Eyes Have It

By Audiophilia
Digital Music Products (DMP) is a small, audiophile label based in Stamford Connecticut, which, under the direction of the label's producer and engineer Tom Jung, has been using 20-bit technology to make purist recordings for more than five years. Although DMP has been around for over twenty years, they seem to have a much lower profile in the audiophile community than labels like Chesky, Reference Recordings and Mobile Fidelity. This certainly isn't because their recordings aren't first rate, as my recent exposure to a handful of them indicates. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
While not exactly a household name amongst jazz lovers, the Lynne Arriale Trio have certainly taken my own personal jazz world by storm. Their debut recording, The Eyes Have It, released in 1994, is a wonderful mix of jazz standards and original Arriale compositions beautifully recorded by DMP's Tom Jung.
Arriale, a native of Wisconsin and now living in New York, is an exceptionally talented and multi-faceted pianist, possessing the rare ability to swing hard one minute and to display the most delicate of touches, reminiscent of the late, great Bill Evans, the next. While not yet obtaining the commercial success of some of her contemporaries, Arrialle's abundant talents certainly haven't gone unnoticed in the professional jazz world, as she was awarded first prize at the 1993 International Great American Jazz Piano Competition.
On The Eyes Have It, we find Arriale, with bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Steve Davis, in a mostly sentimental mood, covering tunes like Gershwin's My Man's Gone Now and Rodgers and Hart's My Funny Valentine, with lovely arrangements by Arriale. Arriale's Evans-like touch and minimalist approach to chord usage is much in evidence, and used to great effect, on tunes like My Man's Gone Now, My One And Only Love, and her own lovely compositions Elegy, Blues For T.J. and The Eyes Have It.
Arriale and her trio do take a few opportunities to crank up the meter a bit on tracks like Witchcraft and Jerome Kern's Yesterdays, a track which demonstrates Arriale's prodigious technical prowess.
No great piano trio is built on the foundation of a top-notch pianist alone, and the Lynne Arriale Trio is no exception in this regard, Arrialle getting superb support from her rhythm section of Davis and Anderson. Davis isn't a "busy" drummer but is, instead, content to sit back and wait for the right time to contribute just the right cymbal splash, or ride cymbal accent. Listen to his superb use of cymbals and toms to create the almost-dreamy atmosphere on My One And Only Love, a song he co-arranged with Arriale.
The 20-bit recording, engineered by Tom Jung using a Wadia Reference A/D converter and the Yamaha DMR8 20-bit digital mixer/recorder, is exceptional in every respect: Arriale's piano sounds very natural, even at the frequency extremes, Davis's cymbals shimmer and decay beautifully, and Anderson's bass sounds warm and woody. Tom Jung's recordings manage to capture the essence of a live drum kit better than any other that I know of.
The Eyes Have It is a wonderful recording, one which deserves to find a place in every jazz lover's collection.

Peter Delano
Bite Of The Apple

By Tom Krehbiel
Bite of the Apple displays a focus and depth of character that eluded pianist Peter Delano on his earlier Verve release. This set features Delano in a variety of ensembles exploring genres from chamber jazz with cellos and alto flute to traditional trio performances to hard bop modernism laced with a Latin beat.
Everything works and its a pleasure to follow Delano from one intriguing setting to another. One thing is far from a pleasure about this production, however. The stereo perspective is ridiculous, particularly when it comes to drums and vibes. Engineers take note--a drum set is one instrument, normally played by one person.
How can a listener possibly accept the ride cymbal in the left speaker, the crash cymbal on the right, and the snare drum in the middle as being related to an actual musical performance? How long are Victor Lewis' arms supposed to be? Or Peter Washington's or Bill Stewart's or Adam Nussbaum's or Joe Chambers'? They all get stretched on the same stereophonic rack, as do Joe Locke's vibes. What's next? Panning a bassist's four strings across the left to right stage?
Speaking of bassists, one of the most rewarding of the many pleasures from Bite of the Apple is the stupendous bass work of Gary Peacock, both as accompanist and soloist. He and Delano make as fine a team as he and Bill Evans did. (Delano's playing often puts one in mind of Evans, but with some McCoy Tyner crankiness, and Herbie Hancock heft thrown in.)
So this is the paradox of Bite of the Apple. Delano and colleagues create such excellent, ingratiating music that you want to listen closely not to miss a note, but if you listen too closely, the irritating perspective jumps out to spoil the experience. It kind of makes you pine for the good old days of monaural recordings. In fact, engaging your amplifier's mono mode could be the perfect cure for what ails Bite of the Apple.

McCoy Tyner & Bobby Hutcherson
Manhattan Moods

By Michael G. Nastos
The pairing of pianist McCoy Tyner and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson had them teamed up with firebrands of modern jazz in the '60s, but some 20 years later they made this recording in duet performance with their minds focused on the mellow side. That's not to say their progressive ideas are completely harnessed, but this recording is something lovers of dinner music or late-night romantic trysts will equally appreciate. They play a mix of standards and originals with the genius inventiveness and spontaneous interplay you would expect, while also elongating beautiful melodies that will warm any cold or bitterly emotional situation. Where Tyner's single-minded witty and improvisational extrapolations are always a part of his musical persona, Hutcherson varies the sonic imprint, playing the noble wooden marimba on several tracks, lending a more earthy, organic feeling. There's magic in the air, or at the very least a common ground of shared values that makes this combination of two great musicians turn everything golden. A take on Thelonious Monk's "Blue Monk" is a shining example of how to make a well-worn standard all your own, as the pianist imbues a pure Kansas City blues flavor into the tune, and Hutcherson's marimba leads it carefully into new, woodsy territory. Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes" is interpreted as faithfully and profoundly as the original, but with new voicings sans a rhythm section, taking the adoring melody into deeper fathoms. Tyner's signature chord accents during "Dearly Beloved" echo the splendid title as tacked onto Hutcherson's shimmering vibes, while the pianist's penchant for modal foundations is clearly exuded on his partner's relaxed marimba-coded original "Isn't This My Sound Around Me?" and the definitive, dependable Tyner staple "Travelin' Blues." "Manhattan Moods," penned by the pianist, is solemn as can be, considering that it is dedicated to the rat race borough of New York City, while Hutcherson's other composition on the date, "Rosie," is as pleasant a waltz as you will hear short of what Randy Weston might do. These groundbreaking musicians are not rotating the Earth or signaling any new directions with this effort. They are completely in touch with their own hearts and souls, as well as those of humankind in general, on this exquisite and gorgeously crafted set of pure unadulterated jazz.

Tha Adam Makowicz Trio
My Favorite Things - The Music Of Richard Rodgers

By J. Levinson
Czechoslovakian immigrants Adam Makowicz and George Mraz are both jazz virtuosos on their instruments, piano and bass, and they are in great form here as they find new layers of beauty in these familiar yet well-crafted tunes. Mraz's bowed melody on "My Funny Valentine" is a highlight. Makowicz playfully quotes a short phrase from "Fiddler On the Roof" during his "Lady Is a Tramp" solo. Alan Dawson, one of the most consistently tasteful and solidly swinging drummers in jazz, is also on his game here. If you like jazz piano trios and classic tunes, it doesn't get any better than this. 

Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Paul Motian
At The Deer Head Inn

By Scott Yanow
Keith Jarrett returns to his roots, both musically and physically, on this CD. His first significant jazz gig was at the Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania, and 30 years later Jarrett agreed to perform at the venue again. With the assistance of bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Paul Motian, Jarrett plays six jazz standards (several of which were associated with Miles Davis) plus Jaki Byard's medium-tempo blues "Chandra." The inventive interpretations give listeners plenty of surprises and variety, making this a very enjoyable outing.

By ECM Archive
Keith Jarrett piano, Gary Peacock bass, Paul Motian drums
Recorded September 16, 1992 at the Deer Head Inn
Engineer: Kent Heckman
Produced by Bill Goodwin
By the fall of 1992, Keith Jarrett had already spent 30 years as a notable jazz performer. What better way to celebrate than to return to this record’s eponymous venue in his birthplace of Allentown, Pennsylvania for a once-in-a-lifetime gig? Switching out his usual go-to, Jack DeJohnette, for Paul Motian (no stranger to Jarrett, with whom he’d worked in the 70s), the trio works wonders with the new colors the latter provides. Peacock and Jarrett are both verbose players who manage never to step on each other’s toes. With Motian backing them, they take longer pauses for reflection, listening to the wind as it blows through their leaves. His presence and panache are as palpable as the prevalence of alliterations in this sentence, bringing an irresistible brushed beat to the squint-eyed groove of Jaki Byard’s “Chandra.” That hook keeps us sharp to improvisatory angle and inspires some youthful banter from Peacock, who feeds off those drums like Christmas. Motian excels further in the balance of fire and ice that bubble throughout “You And The Night And The Music.” The band also dips into Miles Davis-era waters with glowing renditions of “Solar” and “Bye Bye Blackbird.” Atop quilted commentaries from the man at the kit, Jarrett’s unpacking of these timeless melodies is the cherry on the sundae. Sweet toppings also abound in the laid-back “Basin Street Blues,” in which, with closed eyes and an open heart, Peacock finds the perfect resolution for Jarrett’s uncontainable fire. All three musicians up the ante in “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” Jarrett negotiates its changes like breathing while Peacock and Motian speak in vocabularies just beyond the radar of feasibility. Before we know it, we’re caught up in a joyous surge and relaxation. By ending with “It’s Easy To Remember,” the trio saves its finest translucent china for last.

No comments: