Friday, June 27, 2014


By Claudio Botelho

Everything has its pros and cons. In our case, the absence of news from us passes unnoticedly. We can go anywhere without being bothered by fans, so our pens always remain conveniently kept in our pockets. Besides, we don’t have any urge to write according to the mainstream thinking. After all, what is the importance of our opinions and what dependence of them we have?
By this token, we feel much at ease to say we didn’t understand why DownBeat found Vijay Iyer’s last recording – “Mutations” - should earn four stars and, so, urged us to spent good money on a bad product. DB should refund us. Want another fake? Check Aaron Parks’ “Arborescence." Again, DB is the culprit. (Well, I admit: “fake” is too much of a bad thing. I’m pushing up a little, but his last outing is a little more than boring elevator music; that kind of product to play the role of sleeping pills, maybe?)
Anyway, it should be stated that ECM is not exactly a Blue-Note-style jazz label, isn’t it? Sometimes it is, some other times it isn’t. The fact that Mr. Iyer and Mr. Parks are known to be jazz players doesn’t mean they have to be it all the time, as much as it is difficult for me to accept the fact that someone, grabbed by this language of extreme freedom, can go “backwards."
I think that jazz is a very incremental art: if you are in grade one, it’s easier to go back, but if you belong to grade ten, things get tougher. VY is a post graduate jazzman and sits firmly in the top echelons of this art, as per his fame in the jazz circles. I, as one, know some three or four of his works and, to my taste, his “Solo” recording is the only one to confirm the recognition he’s earned. Would it be on account of its more palatable taste? Maybe… The others are “different”, but are this enough to distinguish them as outstanding?
You know what? I think that, among the realms of this art, the best tunes were already composed, the best musicians were already born (and, unfortunately, the majority aren’t with us anymore) and it is extremely unlikely we’ll ever have such charismatic geniuses as Bill Evans, Duke Ellington and Satchmo, just to name three. Will we ever hear the likes of Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter or Shirley Horn, again? Not a single chance, at least within the next two hundred years! Chances are this reality rules over DB new evaluation yardsticks, so that, to keep on granting four or five star grades, it had to lower its standards.
The reason behind the decrease in quality may lie on the simple matter that life is very different these days and doesn’t allow certain individualities to grow any more. Today, everybody sees, listens and talks to everybody so that each one’s characteristics are public domain. This leads to a great homogenization that prevents us from discovering anything really distinctive.
As you know, I’m a reader of Down Beat magazine, mostly on account of their straight star verdicts on CD reviews. It’s mathematic, scientific, precise… I don’t know about you, but, when reading reviews by other magazines, it’s not that uncommon my finishing without knowing the REAL opinion of the reviewer. Purposefully or not, this frequently happens. So, the stars are unquestionable indicators of the judgment. Of course, not every five-star work was created equal, but, in the least, their number expresses the reviewer mood of that moment…
So, I‘ve become used to go straight to the stars anytime I have a chance to peruse that magazine, and this has been a habit of mine for long.
On the subject about the CDs here nominated, see this: Reader Paul Weidman, from Santa Fe, NM, USA, under the title “Flurry of 4-star CDs”, stated, in DB’s issue of March, that, in the February issue of that publication, there were 27 albums “ranked 4 stars and above." In May, I counted 19 out of a sum of 41 reviews.
As far as I know, DB reviews whatever it comes across, so, around 50% of 4-stars-and-above CDs in a single issue is sheer evidence of jazz good health, isn’t it? At least Mr. Weldman feels accordingly.
I won’t give them an agreement. Jazz golden era – at least in the United States – is over for a generous amount of time now. So, to get, at random, 41 disks and find 19 of them to be more than OK these days is a real lucky strike. But if this keeps happening every month? Then, I’ll be forced to say my standards are out of fashion, maybe. Possibly, I’ve become an old goat whose musical taste remained rooted in the romanticism of the past, so to speak.
This may be a reality for me, as I keep on enjoying works like “Pure Pleasure for The Piano”, by Ellis Marsalis and Makoto Ozone, “Internationally Recognised Aliens”, by Gwilym Simcock’s The Impossible Gentelmen and Christine Jensen’s “Habitat”; all of them contemporary with the outings here criticized.
For one, talking about globalization, I think that the amalgamation of piano playing started by the time Herbie Hancock came into prominence and remained a strong active voice in jazz for some ten years or so. Although he never was as easily recognizable voice as, say, Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, George Shearing or John Lewis; all of these having unique styles, he’s got a great following as he’s, unquestionably, an excellent player whose compositions and arrangement skills play a second role to none. So, his works, taken as a whole, were some of the most memorable of jazz history. By then, everybody wanted to play like him and it became increasingly difficult to tell one young pianist from the other. So, it started a new trend: the Hancock-alike pianists. Of course, there were some voices like Keith Jarrett, for instance, who, having very personal playing (in this very instance, some very loooong intros to a song) was not prone to being copied without seriously suing its agent for plagiarism.
For some ten or fifteen years now, another trend has emerged: the me-too-Brad-Mehldauish players. Everybody wants to play like him and, for my money, they’ve arrived late, as the heyday of that player belongs to the past. I’ve said this here: Mr. Mehldau has been copying himself a lot lately and his compositional skills have lost their freshness. So, the novelty he once was is now commonplace, due, mainly, to his own self. Of course, within certain constraints, everybody imitates himself, this being a hallmark witch lets us pick one from the other, but Mehldau has gone further, to the point of being just too much repetitive. And particularly melancholic… It’s sort of tough to listen to his CD’s to their ends. One has to give himself a break to rest before striving to arrive at the last chord.
The emergence of so much me-too players is the price to pay for the so-called “globalism.” It’s plain evident that today players know everything about technicalities (another byproduct of globalism) and can easily emulate anybody, but voices hitherto heard have increasingly becoming a thing of the past. Maybe here lays the reason which underpins DB critics: Is it unordinary? So, it’s good and must be heralded as five-star art. But, tell me: Would you rather listen to these two ECM’s outings in place of, say, anything pianist Antonio Faraò plays for the sake of sheer listening pleasure? Would you? His music is filled with the ups and downs of life, being, so, deeply enticing, as it always tells a story which, many times, sends frills down one’s spine.
I don’t see any reason in art if it is not to tingle our feelings, to bring us tears of emotion.
Maybe all that’s left to me is to be an old goat…

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ralph Penland 1953 - 2014

By Janelle Gelfand
Ralph Morris Penland was a modest virtuoso of the drums who loved to teach, but performing was his life. The prolific jazz drummer and Cincinnati native worked with a Who’s Who in the jazz world.
Mr. Penland died on March 13 from complications of a stroke. He was 61.
Despite the many superstars with whom he performed, from Frank Sinatra to Miles Davis, Mr. Penland remained quiet, humble and a devoted Jehovah’s Witness, his family said. He was an active performer, clinician and faculty member at Pasadena City College in California.
“His love was playing his drums and that was first and foremost,” said his sister, Yvonne Berry of Finneytown. “He left Cincinnati at 18 and went to the New England Conservatory of Music for two years, and got picked up by Miles Davis and went to California. That was it. He loved that.”
Mr. Penland was born and raised in Cincinnati’s West End. He started playing the drums at age 9 and felt an instant kinship. “I related to the beats and rhythms,” he once said.
He graduated from Taft High School, where he studied drums and performed in many ensembles – including a program with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, which he recalled in an interview years later. As a teen, he played with some of the best of Cincinnati’s jazz community, which laid the foundation for a life in jazz.
“A line of drummers went to Taft, and one thing we had in common was (band teacher) Oscar Gamby, who played in the Count Basie Band,” said Art Gore, a friend and nationally known drummer, who is faculty member at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. “The guys who came out of Taft are all well-known outside of Cincinnati. He left some history here.”
Jon Ridley, who hosts a Sunday jazz program on WAIF 88.3 FM radio, remembers Mr. Penland as a “world class” musician, even as a teen.
“He was electrifying,” he said. “The world has lost a good ambassador for jazz.”
In Boston, while studying and teaching at the New England Conservatory, Mr. Penland began making a name for himself on the East Coast. At age 19, while gigging in New York, he met jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, who invited him to join his band. They recorded five albums together, including the groundbreaking “Keep Your Soul Together” and “High Energy.”
But it was Davis who drew Mr. Penland to the West Coast.
“He was an artist he looked up to, and got him to move to California and get involved in the music scene in L.A.,” said Mr. Penland’s niece, Rhonda Berry of Finneytown. “Miles remained his iconic hero.”
Mr. Penland settled in North Hollywood, and his artistry grew to include all genres. He worked and recorded with artists such as Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Sarah Vaughn, Etta James, Dianne Reeves, The Coltrane Family, Stan Getz, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Chaka Khan and many others.
Last year, he appeared on “The Queen Latifah Show.”
“He played with so many greats and was influenced by many,” his niece said. “He played for Quincy Jones and so many people. He did movie soundtracks, and he’d call us at home to tell us. One was ‘Throw Momma from the Train.’”
Sinatra recruited Mr. Penland for his year-long Diamond Jubilee World Tour in 1991. The same year, Mr. Penland toured with Latin-rock guitarist Santana. Two years later, he played drums in Hancock’s piano trio (1993-94), which he told the Los Angeles Times was one of the highlights of his life.
To find his own musical voice, Mr. Penland formed his own jazz ensemble called the Penland Polygon.
“I like dealing with many different sides of music,” Mr. Penland told the Times in 1995. “The bulk of my music is acoustic, straight-ahead jazz, but I also like fusion, funk, calypso. I’m always trying to expand.”
In the early ’90s, his niece went to hear her uncle play in a club in Louisville. His performance style, she said, was “like a very smooth singer. He just made the drums sing. But the drums never overpowered the ensemble.”
While he lay in the hospital, his niece and the extended “family” of musicians played his favorite Davis tune, “Seven Steps to Heaven,” “and we watched as the emotion of his love for music covered his face,” his niece said.
His sister, Yvonne Penland Berry, and niece, Rhonda Berry, are his only survivors. He was preceded in death by his wife, Ramona. Mr. Penland later married jazz singer Lynda Laurence. They were later divorced.

Al Harewood 1923 - 2014

By Jeff Tamarkin
Al Harewood, a drummer who participated in many classic sessions for Blue Note recording artists in the 1950s and ’60s, and played with many other artists, died March 13. The cause and place of death were not reported. Harewood was 90.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 3, 1923, Harewood contributed drumming to albums by Booker Ervin, Stanley Turrentine, Betty Carter, Lou Donaldson, Bobby Hutcherson, Dexter Gordon, Curtis Fuller, Ike Quebec, Betty Carter, Grant Green, Horace Parlan and others.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Patti Wicks 1945 - 2014

By Jeff Tamarkin
Vocalist and pianist Patti Wicks, who worked primarily in New York and Florida for more than four decades, recording a series of well-received albums and playing countless gigs, died March 7 in West Palm Beach, Fla. She was 69 and the cause was heart failure.
Born Patricia Ellen Chappell in Islip, N.Y., on Feb. 24, 1945, Wicks began playing piano at age 3 and later attended the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam. Concentrating on classical piano but also heavily influenced by the jazz pianist Bill Evans, she turned professional and moved to New York City, playing mostly in small combos up and down the East Coast. She led her own trio, featuring at various times bassists Sam Jones, Richard Davis, Brian Torff and Mark Dresser, and drummers Curtis Boyd, Louis Hayes, Mickey Roker and Alan Dawson. She moved to Florida in the 1970s.
As a sidewoman and accompanist, Wicks worked with Clark Terry, Larry Coryell, Frank Morgan, Ira Sullivan, Flip Phillips, Anita O’Day, Rebecca Parris, Roseanna Vitro, Giacomo Gates and others. She also taught jazz piano at colleges and privately.
Wicks’ debut album as a leader, Room At The Top: The Patti Wicks Trio, was released in 1997, followed by Love Locked Out (2003), which featured Joe LaBarbera and Keeter Betts, Basic Feeling (2005), Italian Sessions (2007), It’s a Good Day (2008) and Dedicated To (2009). She appeared on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz program and at major festivals and clubs in the U.S. and abroad.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Horace Silver 1928 - 2014

By Peter Keepnews
Horace Silver, a pianist, composer and bandleader who was one of the most popular and influential jazz musicians of the 1950s and ’60s, died on Wednesday at his home in New Rochelle, N.Y. He was 85.
His death was announced by Blue Note Records, the company for which he recorded from 1952 to 1979.
After a high-profile apprenticeship with some of the biggest names in jazz, Mr. Silver began leading his own group in the mid-1950s and quickly became a big name himself, celebrated for his clever compositions and his infectious, bluesy playing. At a time when the refined, quiet and, to some, bloodless style known as cool jazz was all the rage, he was hailed as a leader of the back-to-basics movement that came to be called hard bop.
Hard bop and cool jazz shared a pedigree: They were both variations on bebop, the challenging, harmonically intricate music that changed the face of jazz in the 1940s. But hard bop was simpler and more rhythmically driven, with more emphasis on jazz’s blues and gospel roots. The jazz press tended to portray the adherents of cool jazz (most of them West Coast-based and white) and hard bop (most of them East Coast-based and black) as warring factions. But Mr. Silver made an unlikely warrior.
“I personally do not believe in politics, hatred or anger in my musical composition,” he wrote in the liner notes to his album “Serenade to a Soul Sister” in 1968. “Musical composition should bring happiness and joy to people and make them forget their troubles.”
And Mr. Silver’s music was never as one-dimensional as it was sometimes portrayed as being. In an interview early in his career he said he was aiming for “that old-time gutbucket barroom feeling with just a taste of the backbeat.” That approach was reflected in the titles he gave to songs, like “Sister Sadie,”“Filthy McNasty” and “The Preacher,” all of which became jazz standards. But his output also included gently melodic numbers like “Peace” and “Melancholy Mood” and Latin-inflected tunes like “Señor Blues.” “Song for My Father,” probably his best-known composition, blended elements of bossa nova and the Afro-Portuguese music of the Cape Verde islands, where his father was born.
His piano playing, like his compositions, was not that easily characterized. Deftly improvising ingenious figures with his right hand while punching out rumbling bass lines with his left, he managed to evoke boogie-woogie pianists like Meade Lux Lewis and beboppers like Bud Powell simultaneously. Unlike many bebop pianists, however, Mr. Silver emphasized melodic simplicity over harmonic complexity; his improvisations, while sophisticated, were never so intricate as to be inaccessible.
Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silver was born on Sept. 2, 1928, in Norwalk, Conn. His father, who was born John Silva but changed the family name to the more American-sounding Silver after immigrating to the United States, worked in a rubber factory. His mother, Gertrude, was a maid and sang in a church choir.
Although he studied piano as a child, Mr. Silver began his professional career as a saxophonist. But he had returned to the piano, and was becoming well known as a jazz pianist in Connecticut, by the time the saxophonist Stan Getz — soon to be celebrated as one of the leading lights of the cool school — heard and hired him in 1950.
“I had the house rhythm section at a club called the Sundown in Hartford,” Mr. Silver told The New York Times in 1981. “Stan Getz came up and played with us. He said he was going to call us, but we didn’t take him seriously. But a couple of weeks later he called and said he wanted the whole trio to join him.”
Mr. Silver worked briefly with Getz before moving to New York in 1951. He was soon in demand as an accompanist, working with leading jazz musicians like the saxophonists Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. In 1953, Mr. Silver and the drummer Art Blakey formed a cooperative group, the Jazz Messengers, whose aggressive style helped define hard bop and whose lineup of trumpet, tenor saxophone, piano, bass and drums became the standard hard-bop instrumentation.
After two and a half years, during which Mr. Silver began his long and prolific association with Blue Note, he left the Jazz Messengers, which carried on with Blakey as the sole leader, and formed his own quintet. It became a showcase for his compositions.
Those compositions, beginning with “The Preacher” in 1955 — which his producer, Alfred Lion of Blue Note, had tried to discourage him from recording because he considered it too simplistic — captured the ears of a wide audience. Many were released as singles and garnered significant jukebox play. By the early ’60s Mr. Silver’s quintet was one of the most popular nightclub and concert attractions in jazz, and an inspiration for countless other bandleaders.
Like Blakey, Miles Davis (with whom he recorded) and a few others, Mr. Silver was known for discovering and nurturing young talent, including the saxophonists Hank Mobley, Joe Henderson and Michael Brecker; the trumpeters Art Farmer, Woody Shaw, Tom Harrell and Dave Douglas; and the drummers Louis Hayes and Billy Cobham. His longest-lived ensemble, which lasted about five years in the late 1950s and early ’60s, featured Blue Mitchell on trumpet and Junior Cook on tenor saxophone.
As interest in jazz declined in the ’70s, Mr. Silver disbanded his quintet and began concentrating on writing lyrics as well as music, notably on a three-album series called “The United States of Mind,” his first album to feature vocalists extensively. He later resumed touring, but only for a few months each year, essentially assembling a new group each time he went on the road.
“I’m shooting for longevity,” he explained. “The road is hard on your body. I’m trying to get it all over with in four months and then recoup.” He said he also wanted to spend more time with his son, Gregory, who survives him.
In 1981, Mr. Silver formed his own label, Silveto. His recordings for that label featured vocalists and were largely devoted to what he called “self-help holistic metaphysical music” — life lessons in song with titles like “Reaching Our Goals in Life” and “Don’t Dwell on Your Problems” that left critics for the most part unimpressed.
Jon Pareles of The Times wrote in 1986 that Mr. Silver’s “naïvely mystical lyrics” made his new compositions sound like “near-miss pop songs.” On later albums for Columbia, Impulse and Verve, Mr. Silver returned to a primarily instrumental approach.
Mr. Silver was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master in 1995 and received a President’s Merit Award from the Recording Academy in 2005.
Many of his tunes became staples of the jazz repertoire — a development, he said, that surprised him. “When I wrote them,” he said in a 2003 interview for the website All About Jazz, “I would say to myself that I hope these at least withstand the test of time. I hope they don’t sound old in 10 years or something.”
Rather than sounding dated, his compositions continued to be widely performed and recorded well into the 21st century. And while he acknowledged that “occasionally I hear an interpretation of one of my tunes that I say that they sure messed that one up,” he admitted, “For the most part I enjoy all of it.”
Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silva 1928 - 2014

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Med Flory 1926 - 2014

By AllAboutJazz
Med Flory has enjoyed both a profitable music career and successful stints as a television and film writer and actor. His alto sax and clarinet work are deeply influenced by the classic bebop sound, notably the playing of Charlie Parker. Though he doesn't directly emulate Parker, Flory's sound, phrasing and approach reflect his reverence for his music.
He played clarinet and alto with Claude Thornhill in the '50s, and tenor with Woody Herman. Flory formed his own New York band in 1954, then moved to the West Coast two years later. He organized a big band that performed at the inaugural Monterey concert in 1958. Flory played with Terry Gibbs' nonet and orchestra in the late '50s and early '60s, recording with both units and also cutting sessions with Art Pepper and Herman on baritone.
Flory's acting career blossomed in the '60s, as he began appearing on many television shows and in films. He also wrote screenplays and trimmed his playing dates. During Flory's sessions with Pepper, the sax section played arrangements of Parker improvisations. Flory and Joe Maini began transcribing the solos, but after Maini's death in 1964 Flory stopped the process.
When Buddy Clark showed interest, Flory not only began transcribing again, he co-formed a band with Clark to play the material. Supersax was made up of 5 saxophonists, and 4 other band members. Their debut album, 'Supersax Plays Bird' won a Grammy in 1973 for the best jazz performance by a group. Lightening almost struck twice in 1975 when they were nominated for a second Grammy for 'Supersax Plays Bird With Strings', but they were beat out by Chick Corea. In all, Supersax recorded 10 albums. Though Buddy Clark left in 1975, and there were numerous other changes through the years, Med remained the driving force behind the group.
Med continued touring well into the ninties, and recorded a last album in 1998 called “Live at Capozzoli's.” Flory has recorded as a leader for Jubille and World Pacific as a session leader, and for Capitol, MPS and Columbia with Supersax.
In 2009 Flory teamed with another West Coast jazz founder Dave Pell, and the Quintet has been active playing Los Angeles at Henri's Back Room.

1 Sem 2014 - Part Twelve

Ellis Marsalis & Makoto Ozone
Pure Pleasure For The Piano

By J. Key
This is an excellent album, a merge of an old New Orleans jazz icon and a modern, technically outstanding, newcomer to our shores. Makoto has an extensive discography starting in 1984 but is new to me. According to my favorite Piano Teacher, Mr. Ozone has outstanding technique. I met a technician who sat in while the session was recorded. He said the two players, whom had never played together before, would hear each for a few bars on a new song, then jump right in. Often the second take was final. I love this music. One particular piece, "Longing For The Past, has digital noise when played on MediaMonkey. There are loud passages in 4:30 to 5:00 areas that distort on MM. I checked on two different system with different speakers. The piece plays fine on iTunes and VLC so I'll have to report this to MM. Buy the album and hear a great blending of old and modern.

Natalie Dessay & Michel Legrand
Entre Elle Et Lui

By HollyNYC
When an opera fan sees that an opera star has released a non-operatic, or "cross-over" album, more red flags go up than at a May Day Parade. Typically a cross-over album means a singer has exhausted his or her repertory or else has a record company contractual obligation to fill or is going through some sort of mid-life or mid-career crisis. In the case of Natalie Dessay, it's been an open secret in the opera world that she's been looking to expand her artistic horizons beyond the opera stage, leading to a very public break-up with opera last year (they since seem to have reconciled somewhat). Although Ms. Dessay in interviews has said she does not consider her pop music voice to be very interesting, for several years she has appeared in concert with composer Michel Legrand. So, it wasn't a real surprise that they teamed up for "Entre Elle Et Lui" ("Between Her and Him"). The result is an album that is enjoyable to listen to and features some real shining moments of musicianship. There is no way artists of the quality of Legrand and Ms. Dessay would ever let anything slipshod or below-professional standard go out under their names.
Legrand is known mainly as a film composer, perhaps best known in this country for his work on such films as "Thomas Crown Affair" (the 1968 Steve McQueen Faye Dunaway version), "Summer of '42," and "Yentl." Listening to the music on this album, it's clear that he belongs in the upper Pantheon of great film composers as Williams, Hermann, Jarre, Morricone, and Goldsmith, capable of compositions that both convey the fullness of the movie screen while capable of stirring the individual heart. The songs here are a good mix of fast, up-beat numbers and slower songs and ballads. The arrangements are superb, and run the gamut from jazz, classic Hollywood scores, and Euro-pop.
As for the vocals, Ms. Dessay overall acquits herself quite well here. The vocal performances do not feature Ms. Dessay, the opera singer; these are performances to be heard in Joe's Pub, not the Met. Neither do we ever sense, as in her opera recordings, that Ms. Dessay is playing an iconic part, such as Lucia De Lammermoor or There are no soaring instances of coloratura singing that Ms. Dessay alone in the world is capable of delivering, no sense, either, that she has driven so deep into her characters that satellite imagery will be necessary to find her again. To be fair, most of the songs are sung in French, a language in which I am most definitely not bilingual, so it is quite possible I'm missing out on some of the nuances and subtleties of her vocal deliveries.
Three of the songs -- "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" "What Are You Doing The Rest of Your life?" and "The Summer Knows," are in English, Ms. Dessay gives them the full college try, and with "Summer Knows" delivers a performance that stirs the soul and touches the heart. Other highlights include "Le Cinema," "Le Rouge Es Le Noir," "Conseils De La Fee Des Lilas," "Chanson Des Jumelles," (a duet with Patricia Petibon), and "Duo De Guy Et Genevieve" (a duet with her husband,. French tenor Laurent Naouri). "Windmills of Your Mind" ("Les Moulins De Mon Coeur") also appears here, as a duet between Ms. Dessay and Legrand, it's arranged at a slower pace than normal, and the arrangement seems to drain the song of some of its effectiveness.
"Entre Elle Et Lui" is a must-have for Natalie Dessay and Michel Legrand completists, a labor of love on their part to delivers some truly enjoyable music that lingers with you afterward and which provides some variety on an iPod shuffle. The more merely curious may want to sample the music first (performances of many of the songs are now on YouTube) before diving in.

Stacey Kent
The Changing Lights

By Bruce Lindsay
Stacey Kent is a jazz success story—not just in terms of her talent, but also in terms of her international popularity, with her previous three albums clocking up a total of over 500,000 sales. What makes her so successful? The Changing Lights, her tenth album, demonstrates all of the qualities.
There's the material, a mix of originals and standards: the arrangements, all but one by Jim Tomlinson, which act to highlight Kent's vocal qualities: the musicians, a veritable who's who of the best in UK jazz. Above all, there's her voice—light but expressive, engaging and evocative, whether she's singing in English, French or Portuguese.
Kent has a history of working with excellent musicians and The Changing Lights continues this fine tradition. Tomlinson is superb throughout—his tenor saxophone sound is one of the warmest and most expressive in jazz, as evidenced by his solo on "O Barquinho," which also features the gentle guitar of its co-writer Roberto Menescal. Bassist Jeremy Brown and pianist Graham Harvey form a swinging rhythm section, partnered by Matt Home or Joshua Morrison on drums, while John Parricelli's electric guitar enriches the sound whether he's playing rhythm or lead.
The standards on The Changing Lights include Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," Tom Jobim, Vinicius De Moraes and Gene Lees' "This Happy Madness" and Jobim and Newton Mendonca's "One Note Samba," which features Tomlinson on flute. Kent and Tomlinson treat each one with respect, crafting versions that are easily recognisable. Yet Kent still manages to take hold of the lyrics and persuade us that the words and their attendant emotions tell of her own experiences. Kent and the musicians approach Jobim, De Moraes and Norman Gimbel's "How Insensitive" with terrific control and restraint, yet they create an atmosphere that's charged with the singer's regret at the end of an affair. No fripperies, not a single musical or lyrical extravagance, just a performance of sheer beauty.
Tomlinson co-wrote six of the songs on The Changing Lights. Three songs continue the relationship with novelist and lyricist Kashuo Ishiguro that began on Breakfast On The Morning Tram (Blue Note, 2007). Two of them create narratives around the idea of travel with a loved one—around a continent on "The Summer We Crossed Europe In The Rain," across a city on "The Changing Lights."
The third of Ishiguro's contributions, "Waiter, Oh Waiter," showcases Kent's talent for stories of the lighter side of life as she pleads with the titular employee to help her come to terms with the nightmare scenario of a menu she doesn't understand. It doesn't quite grab at the heartstrings like "How Sensitive" or "This Happy Madness" but the gently humorous tale adds another dimension to the experiences Kent brings to life on The Changing Lights.
Track Listing: 
This Happy Madness; The Summer We Crossed Europe In The Rain; One Note Samba; Mais Uma Vez; Waiter, Oh Waiter; O Barquinho; The Changing Lights; How Insensitive; O Bêbado E A Equilibrista / Smile; Like A Lover; The Face I Love; A Tarde; Chanson Légère.
Stacey Kent: vocals, guitar (8); Jim Tomlinson: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Graham Harvey: piano, Fender Rhodes; Jeremy Brown: double bass; Roberto Mensecal: guitar (6, 12); John Parricelli: guitar (2-5, 10, 13); Matt Home: drums (1, 7, 8, 11); Joshua Morrison: drums (2-5, 10, 13); Raymundo Bittencourt: ganza (6).

Bruno Marques

By Delira
Gravado entre os anos de 2005 e 2006, o disco de estreia do saxofonista, flautista, compositor e aranjador Bruno Marques transita com consistência por diversos ritmos e atmosferas. Da bossa nova ao frevo, do ijexá ao samba, as faixas são ainda cercadas por abertura, interlúdio e encerramento, conceitualmente sinfônicos. O que no papel talvez soe uma mistura exagerada, na realização é um trabalho muito bem delineado. A história contada através dos 42 minutos de música tem muita definição em cada capítulo, unidos pela individualidade instrumentística do solista e, principalmente, pela ousadia dos arranjos.
Das composições, sete são inéditas (sendo quatro do próprio solista), juntando-se a versões bastante particulares de “Obsession” de Gilson Peranzzetta e Dori Caymmi, “Coisa nº10” de Moacir Santos, “De Bem com a Vida” de Alberto Rosenblit e “Renovando as Considerações” de Ian Guest.
O repertório eclético é atendido por formações também variadas, desde um trio até uma pequena orquestra. Cordas acústicas (violinos, violas, cellos e contrabaixo), sopros diversos (flautas, saxofones, trombones, trompetes, clarinetas, fagotes, oboés e corne inglês) e muitos instrumentos de percussão permeiam as onze faixas do disco.
A participação dos 35 músicos convidados engrandece o trabalho. Entre eles, estão grandes nomes da música instrumental como o baterista/percussionista Márcio Bahia, o sax/flautista Marcelo Martins, o violinista Ricardo Amado, os clarinetistas Cristiano Alves e Dirceu Leite, o saxofonista Idriss Boudrioua, os violonistas Nelson Faria, Lula Galvão, Gabriel Improta e Fernando Clark, o pianista Vitor Gonçalves, o produtor/compositor/arranjador/pianista Alberto Rosenblit, o oboísta chileno Jorge Postel-Pavic, e muitos outros.
A produção e direção artística são assinadas pelo maestro, arranjador e trombonista Vittor Santos, que também assina duas composições, a maioria dos arranjos e toca em duas faixas.
No mais, é um disco bem brasileiro que encaixa-se na estreita e interessante fronteira entre as chamadas “música erudita” e “popular”, com seus momentos de alegria, grandiosidade, virtuosismo, maturidade e reflexão.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

1 Sem 2014 - Part Eleven

Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra

By John Kelman
It may have been the title of her last album—Treelines, Christine Jensen's first large ensemble recording—but there was no song of that name on the 2010 Justin Time release. Instead, it's the lead-off to Habitat, Jensen's second album with her Jazz Orchestra, a commissioned work for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Jazz Orchestra, its director, Dr. Paul Haar, looking for the Canadian saxophonist/composer to continue the strong work begun on Treelines. And why not? Treelines may have been the Montreal, Canada-based saxophonist's first large ensemble recording, but over the past 15 years she has gradually emerged as not just a saxophonist of note—her 2013 Festival International de Jazz de Montréal quintet set with sister/trumpeter Ingrid Jensen made that crystal clear—but a composer of increasing importance also, and not just on the Canadian scene. Jensen has, in relatively short order, evolved into a world class writer capable of going head-to-head with any large ensemble composer/bandleader on the scene today.
Bringing back a good percentage of the players on Treelines for Habitat's 17-20 piece orchestra, Jensen continues to pursue the longer-form, often episodic writing that defined the previous record while ensuring a bevy of impressive soloists to make equally clear that Montréal remains one of Canada's most creative jazz locales alongside Vancouver and Toronto. Some of the names are familiar to any who've been following the scene, like husband/saxophonist Joel Miller, who impressively shares the solo space with trombonist Jean-Nicolas Trottier on "Tumbledown," which begins with the sound of a lone clarinet, soon doubled by pianist John Roney(replacing Treelines' Steve Amirault). Sweeping contrapuntal lines define an introduction that leads to a chordal foundation reflective of the composition's inspiration—two tours in Haiti in 2007-08, prior to the tragic 2010 earthquake that decimated the small country—and a compositional complexity that mirrors what Jensen describes, in the liners, as "the beautiful and complicated city of Port-au-Prince." Beyond their own individual spots, Trottier and Miller ultimately solo in tandem, supported only by drummer Richard Irwin's combination of firm pulse and responsive support. It's just one of many compelling moments on Habitat.
While sister Ingrid solos on half of Habitat's six compositions, Christine—sticking solely with soprano for this date, rather than the alto saxophone that's usually her main axe—remains an ensemble player until the album-closing, waltz-time "Sweet Adelphi," an ambling tune that doesn't feature the sisters soloing together until its closing couple of minutes. Still, beyond each sister's individual instrumental prowess, it's a brief but more than sufficient moment that spotlights the remarkable simpatico shared by these two siblings. Ingrid has managed to shape a fine career in New York, in particular as a member of Grammy Award-winning Maria Schneider's own large ensemble and Terri Lyne Carrington's Mosaic (Concord, 2011) project, but a long overdue follow-up to her own superb At Sea (ArtistShare, 2005) remains sadly MIA.
Meanwhile, as Christine Jensen continues to raise her game as a writer—moving from the smaller ensemble work of Look Left (Effendi, 2006) to her more ambitious Treelines and, now, even more mature Habitat—a voice once redolent of influential Canadian expat Kenny Wheeler's melancholic lyricism, Maria Schneider's more joyful exuberance of and Gil Evans' rich colorations continues to exert itself more firmly. It's an inevitable evolution clearly recognized at home, with Habitat recently repeating Jensen's 2010 Juno Award win for Jazz Album of the Year at the 2014 award ceremony.
With the March, 2014 American release of Habitat, it would seem that the high regard Christine Jensen has long held in her home country is finally making its way across the border, and not a moment too soon. Her small but impressive discography—and, in particular, with the back-to-back critical acclaim for the stellar Treelines and Habitat—it's time that Jensen garnered the same American acclaim as her New York-based sister. Sometimes you don't have to move Stateside; sometimes, all you need is the patience, the devotion to craft and creativity, and the kind of impressive forward motion demonstrated consistently by Jensen since she first appeared on Ingrid's early recordings in the mid-to-late '90s, followed by her own releases starting with Collage (Effendi, 2000). With a career path that, from Collage to Treelines, moved in a corresponding upward direction, with the even more impressive Habitat, Jensen's trajectory has just taken a quantum leap forward.
Track Listing:
Treelines; Tumbledown; Blue Yonder; Nishiyuu; Intersection; Sweet Adelphi.
Christine Jensen: conductor, soprano saxophone (solo on 6); Donny Kennedy: alto saxophone (solo on 1), soprano saxophone, flute; Erik Hove: alto saxophone (solo on 5), flute; Joel Miller: tenor saxophone (solos on 2, 5), clarinet; Chet Doxas: tenor saxophone (solo on 4), clarinet; Samuel Blais: baritone saxophone (solo on 3), clarinet; David Grott: trombone; Jean-Nicolas Trottier: trombone (solos on 2); Muhammed Abdul Al-Khabyyr: trombone; Bob Ellis: bass trombone (1, 3-5); Jean Sébastion Vachon: bass trombone (2, 6); Dave Martin: tuba, euphonium (1-4); Joceyln Couture: trumpet; Bill Mahar: trumpet; Dave Mossing: trumpet; Aron Doyle: trumpet; Ingrid Jensen: trumpet (1, 3, 5, 6, solos on 1, 5, 6); John Roney: piano (solo on 5); Ken Bibace: electric guitar; Fraser Hollins: upright bass (solo on 5); Richard Irwin: drums (solos on 3, 5); Dave Gossage: native flute (4).

Gerry Gibbs
Thrasher Dream Trio

By Dan Bilawsky
When drummer Gerry "The Thrasher" Gibbs was a youngster, growing up in California in the '70s, he idolized bassist Ron Carter and pianist Kenny Barron. Of course, neither man played his instrument of choice, but he recognized the greatness that emanated from both players and he viewed them as exemplars of what's right and good in jazz. He sought out and savored every album that he could find that each man appeared on and dreamt of playing with them; that dream was fulfilled with this recording.
When Gibbs was tossing around ideas for this album—his eighth overall and third on the Whaling Sound imprint—the possibility of teaming with Barron and Carter came up. The stars aligned, as the label and both veterans took to the idea, and the stage was set. Gibbs then put together an eclectic playlist, covering everything from John Coltrane to Burt Bacharach and Herbie Hancock to Johnny Mandel, and arranged it all, save for two songs that come from Carter's book of arrangements—Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy" and the bassist's own "A Feeling." They laid down all of the music over three sessions—two in December of 2012 and one in February of 2013—and the rest is now history.
The finished product is predictably strong. Any fears that Gibbs might not hold his own in such heavy company are allayed from the start; not a weak link exists here. All three men come at this music on equal footing. Moving balladry ("The Woman On The TV Screen"), full steam ahead jazz ("The Eye Of The Hurricane"), lightly funky fare ("Tell Me A Bedtime Story"), Latin-leaning sounds ("Sunshower") and more figure into the equation. Some pieces go right down the middle and others contain a few curve balls, but it all hits the sweet spot in the ear.
This trio sounds superb whether cooking with Coltrane's music ("Impressions"), paying tribute to pianist Don Pullen("The Thrasher") or swinging a Mandel classic ("The Shadow Of Your Smile"). Perhaps this album can simply be the first in a dream sequence of records? It at least begs for one sequel.
Track Listing: 
Epistrophy; Promises, Promises; When I Dream; The Shadow of Your Smile; The Woman on the T.V. Screen; The Eye of the Hurricane; Tell Me a Bedtime Story; A Feeling; Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing; Sunshower; Here Comes Ron; Impressions; The Thrasher; Mr. Clean; The Theme.
Gerry Gibbs: drums; Kenny Barron: piano; Ron Carter: bass.

Life To Everything

By John Fordham
Phronesis are a jazz trio built around Danish bassist Jasper Hoiby's sinewy phrasing and huge tone, and encircled by fluent British pianist Ivo Neame and Swedish drummer Anton Eger's eerie, birds'-wings sound. This edited live album features heated climaxes in which Eger's remarkable drumming is goaded by repeating hooks and bass vamps bring the house down on several tracks, but the buildups are just as absorbing – see Hoiby's downward- twisting bassline as Neame and Eger share percussive roles on the serpentine Urban Control, or the cello-like bowed intros and unhurried conversations on Phratenal and Wings 2 the Mind, the cat-and-mouse darts and feints of Nine Lives, the whirling dance of Herne Hill, and the transformation of Dr Black from a solemn folk melody to an ecstatic, audience-baiting thrash. A live album is exactly just the way to get the current Phronesis message across, and this is a powerful one.
Track Listing: 
Urban Control; Phraternal; Behind Bars; Song For Lost Nomads; Wings 2 The Mind; Nine Lives; Deep Space Dance; Herne Hill; Dr Black.
Jasper Høiby: double bass; Ivo Neame: piano; Anton Eger: drums.

Eric Alexander
Chicago Fire

By Jack Bowers
When weighing the merits of tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, two words spring readily to mind: prolific and consistent. Alexander, an implacable workhorse even in his mid-40s, has since 1992 recorded no less than thirty-seven albums as leader of his own groups and appeared on many others as a sideman. As for consistency, Alexander has been widely praised, and rightly so, for his awesome technique and seemingly endless reservoir of eye-opening ad libs. In other words, he approaches every theme with the utmost precision and within his sphere has never been known to deliver a solo that is less than earnest and provocative. Chicago Fire, on which Alexander salutes the city in which he earned his professional spurs after graduating from William Paterson University in New Jersey, is clearly no exception to that rule. Whatever the mood or tempo, spellbinding notes and phrases flow from Alexander's horn as smoothly as honey from a jar. After more than twenty years paying dues, he has reached a point at which prudence has long since given way to unwavering self-assurance. Alexander burns when he has to, plays the blues with unfeigned warmth and perception, and generally shows why his well-earned reputation as a musician who always delivers the goods is by no means misapplied.
No one, of course, can build a castle by himself, and Alexander owes much for the success of Chicago Fire to the constancy of his rhythm section of choice (pianist /mentor Harold Mabern, bassist John Webber, drummer Joe Farnsworth), with whom he has performed and recorded so often that the measure of their rapport is near-telepathic. The quartet is enhanced on three tracks ("Save Your Love for Me," "The Bee Hive," "You Talk That Talk") by the splendid young trumpeter Jeremy Pelt whose bright and perceptive solos add more spice to the menu, as do those by Farnsworth and Mabern (whose spoken dialogue with Webber about the late tenor Von Freeman and the heyday of Chicago jazz serves as a proper introduction to Alexander's warmhearted "Blueski for Vonski").
Mabern wrote "The Bee Hive" for one of the Windy City's once-thriving nightclubs, "Mr. Stitt" for the legendary saxophonist who spent a number of years in Chicago, mainly as part of a two-tenor tandem with Gene Ammons, while Alexander pays homage to another of the city's renowned tenors with "Eddie Harris." Alexander is masterful throughout, perhaps at his chops-testing peak on a warp-speed rendition of Cole Porter's "Just One of Those Things," showing again that when it comes to marvelous tunes, it's hard to beat the Great American Songbook. And when it comes to persuasive straight-ahead jazz with a Windy City accent, it's hard to beat the Eric Alexander Quartet and Chicago Fire.
Track Listing:
Save Your Love for Me; The Bee Hive; Eddie Harris; Just One of Those Things; Blueski for Vonski; Mr. Stitt; You Talk That Talk; Don’t Take Your Love from Me.
Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone; Jeremy Pelt: trumpet (1, 2, 7); Harold Mabern: piano; John Webber: bass; Joe Farnsworth: drums.

Eric Reed
The Adventurous Monk

By Andy Boeckstaens
Philadelphia-born pianist Eric Reed gained exposure as a teenager with Wynton Marsalis, and has since worked with stars as diverse as Benny Carter and Cassandra Wilson. Now – at 43 – he is a well-established soloist with over a dozen recordings as a leader under his belt.
The Adventurous Monk is Reed’s third Thelonious Monk-related CD. 2011 saw the release of “The Dancing Monk”, and “The Baddest Monk” followed a year later. The most recent album is dedicated to the life and legacy of Cedar Walton - who died shortly before its recording – and is the first of the three not to feature at least one “original” by Reed.
Thelonious sets off at a blistering pace, and the leader, accompanied by bassist Ben Williams and Gregory Hutchinson at the drums, typically approaches the tune from an oblique angle. Seamus Blake enters slyly on tenor saxophone, like he’s inveigled his way onto the stage to sit in on someone else’s gig. He produces a blustery solo, after which there seems to be a few moments’ indecision followed by a passage for bass and drums. Then it just finishes without a conclusion; very strange.
Blake is much more trenchant and coherent on the next track, Work, but he appears on only one other piece, the rarely-heard Gallop’s Gallop (which is even better, due to Hutchinson’s razor-sharp contribution). Despite the saxophonist’s technical mastery and occasional nods to Charlie Rouse, he sounds out of place and the tracks without him are generally more successful.
Seven of the ten pieces are under five minutes long. This encourages focus, but the incisive pianist is not above quotations and throws in bits of “Isotope”, “On the Street Where You Live” and Monk’s own “Misterioso” along the way.
If something new is to be brought to such an iconic body of work, one wonders how it might be achieved without tinkering and introducing gimmicks. Reed does both of those things to a degree, and some attempts are more successful than others. On the whole, the melodies and harmonies are retained, and the alterations are to the rhythms. Much of the jagged weight of Evidence is lost, but the straight-time sections in the middle are so magnificent that you’d forgive anything. Nutty is given a loose Latin feel, and Pannonica is turned into a kind of rumba. It takes a bit of getting used to, but, with perseverance, works well.
Reed has included ‘Round Midnight – perhaps the most frequently-played of all Monk compositions - on all three related albums. The theme is shared by piano and bass, which is a nice idea, and the carefully-chosen notes skirt around the chords. Dear Ruby - the vocal version of Ruby, My Dear, with lyrics by Sally Swisher - is sung with deep feeling and accuracy by Charenee Wade.
The closing Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-Are starts with terrific drum work over a walking bass. The tune’s only hinted at during a great piano solo, but the very ending – after the melody is finally stated - is marred by unnecessary fiddling that would have benefited from the editor’s knife.
Regardless of its quirks and mis-fires, The Adventurous Monk is extremely good without being particularly adventurous. Reed’s playing is shot through with conviction and dynamism, and you feel as if he’d be happy playing nothing but this material for the rest of his life.

Jimmy Scott 1925 - 2014

By Matt Schudel - Washington Post
Jimmy Scott, a singer whose eerie, high-pitched voice had a haunting effect on listeners and who had a star-crossed career marked by hard luck, sorrow and decades of neglect before his late-stage revival, died June 12 at his home in Las Vegas. He was 88.
The death was confirmed by his biographer, David Ritz. The cause was not immediately disclosed.
Mr. Scott began singing in the 1940s and had one minor hit on the rhythm-and-blues charts during his career, with “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” in 1950. Even then — and typical of the misfortune that followed throughout his life — his name was not on the record: Credit was given to his bandleader at the time, Lionel Hampton.
Yet, even with limited exposure, Mr. Scott exerted a powerful influence over generations of singers who came after him, from Nancy Wilson and Dinah Washington to Frankie Valli, Marvin Gaye and Madonna, who once said, “Jimmy Scott is the only singer who makes me cry.”
Mr. Scott disappeared from view in the 1960s, when the album long considered his masterpiece, “Falling in Love Is Wonderful,” was pulled from the shelves in a legal dispute between record labels. It wasn’t until the 1990s that his career revived, with a series of new recordings and performances that continued into his 80s.
In 2000, arts writer Joseph Hooper described Mr. Scott in the New York Times as “perhaps the most unjustly ignored American singer of the 20th century.”
Even though his music was an acquired taste and his records sold in small numbers, Mr. Scott became something of a cultural touchstone. Documentary films were made about his life, a biography was written, and critics praised his idiosyncratic singing and his resilience after a life of adversity.
Entertainers as diverse as Billie Holiday, Liza Minnelli and David Byrne have admired Mr. Scott. Rock-and-roll star Lou Reed invited him on tour, saying Mr. Scott had “the most extraordinary voice I’ve ever heard in my life.” Director David Lynch used him in the final episode of his early 1990s cult TV show “Twin Peaks.” His songs appeared on the soundtracks of “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Philadelphia” and other movies.
“Why is he not a household word as widely known as the many celebrities who have come under his spell?” jazz critic Will Friedwald wrote in the liner notes to Mr. Scott’s 2000 album “Mood Indigo.” “Yet there’s a deeper question than even that, one which defies any attempt at a reasonable explanation, and it is, how does Jimmy Scott move us so deeply and profoundly?”
People hearing Mr. Scott for the first time were invariably startled by his striking and preternaturally high singing voice, which was the range of a high alto but with a masculine strength.
Because of a hereditary hormonal condition later identified as Kallmann syndrome, Mr. Scott never went through puberty, and his voice did not change when he reached adolescence. He was slight of build, had no facial hair and stood only 4 feet 11 inches tall until he inexplicably grew several inches in his mid-30s. For years, he was billed as “Little Jimmy Scott.”
He was married five times and had a number of girlfriends, but he projected an androgynous ambiguity that led to humiliating and painful encounters.
“In my adult life, people have looked at me as an oddity,” he told David Ritz for the biography “Faith in Time: The Life of Jimmy Scott” (2002). “I’ve been called a queer, a little girl, an old woman, a freak, and a fag. As a singer, I’ve been criticized for sounding feminine. They say I don’t belong in any category, male or female, pop or jazz. But early on, I saw my suffering as my salvation.”
Mr. Scott transformed his difficulties into a dramatic, original style of singing. Although he could not read musical notation, he had a deep understanding of lyrics and was strongest at heart-stirring ballads, such as “I’ll Be Around,” “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” and “Why Was I Born?”
He sang at very slow tempos, which allowed him to elongate vowels and accent certain words, bringing fresh emotional meaning to oft-heard standards. With his eyes closed in concentration, his arms and hands danced at his sides, as if giving shape to the music. His singing seemed to be the very expression of a broken heart.
Music producer and impresario Quincy Jones, in a 1988 interview with the Village Voice, recalled seeing Mr. Scott perform in the 1950s: “He’d just stand there with his shoulders hunched and his eyes closed and his head tilted to one side. He sang like a horn — he sang with the melodic concept of an instrument. It’s a very emotional, soul-penetrating style. He’d put me on my knees, give me goose bumps. Jimmy used to tear my heart out every night.”
James Victor Scott was born in Cleveland on July 17, 1925, one of 10 children. His father was a road worker, and his mother played piano in a church.
Mr. Scott was 13 when his mother died; she had been struck by a car while trying to save her daughter crossing a street. Months earlier, he had stopped growing and learned about his genetic disorder, which also affected one of his brothers and two uncles.
His father could not keep the family together, and the children were dispersed to orphanages and foster homes. Mr. Scott, who never completed high school, worked as a theater usher and became a valet to a vaudeville dance team.
In 1944, he joined the traveling revue of Estelle “Caledonia” Young, a dancer and contortionist, and began singing in tent shows and small theaters throughout the Midwest. He joined Hampton’s band as a singer in 1948 and recorded “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool,” which reached No. 6 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1950.
He worked on and off with Hampton until 1953 and performed that year at the first inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. (Forty years later, he sang at an inaugural ball for President Bill Clinton.)
Mr. Scott made a few recordings with small labels in the 1950s, including several with a group led by pianist Billy Taylor.
“I was astounded by Jimmy’s musicianship,” Taylor told biographer Ritz. “It didn’t matter that he couldn’t read or write music. His instincts for . . . phrasing were phenomenal. He interpreted the lyrics like Olivier interpreting Shakespeare.”
During the 1950s, Mr. Scott often performed in clubs in New York and New Jersey, and he made several recordings for Savoy, a label that miscast him as a rhythm-and-blues singer.
In 1963, Mr. Scott released “Falling in Love Is Wonderful,” an album of lushly arranged ballads that captured him at the peak of his vocal ability. Believing he was no longer under contract to Savoy, he recorded it for Ray Charles’s Tangerine label. When the album began to get radio airplay, Savoy’s owner, Herman Lubinsky, threatened legal action, claiming that his label had Mr. Scott under a lifetime contract. Because of the dispute, Mr. Scott’s record was taken off the shelves and was not re­released for 40 years.
When Lubinsky quashed the release of another album in 1969, Mr. Scott returned to Cleveland and all but abandoned his singing. He took a series of menial jobs, from busboy to fry cook to hospital orderly to shipping clerk.
He battled a drinking problem that, he admitted, contributed to divorces from his first four wives, Ophelia Sharon, Channie Booker, Ruth Taylor and Earlene Rodgers. Survivors include his wife of 10 years, Jeanie McCarthy Scott.
Mr. Scott remained mostly forgotten until the late 1980s, when broadcasters and journalists rediscovered him, and he began to make the occasional nightclub appearance.
Over the years, Mr. Scott was friends with many top musicians. One of the few who stayed in touch with him was Doc Pomus, a polio-stricken blues singer and songwriter whose hits included “This Magic Moment” and “Save the Last Dance for Me.”
Pomus had requested that Mr. Scott sing George and Ira Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me” at his funeral. Pomus died in 1991, and the crowd at his service was mesmerized when Mr. Scott began to sing, but few knew who he was.
One of the people at the funeral was Seymour Stein, an executive with Sire Records.
“Whispers went from row to row, ‘Who is it?’ ‘Who’s singing?’ — when suddenly I realized it could only be Little Jimmy Scott,” Stein told Ritz. “My God, I thought to myself, no one in the world can sing this soulfully.”
Contract negotiations began the next day, and in 1992, Mr. Scott released his first new recording in decades. “All the Way” received universal acclaim, hit No. 4 on the Billboard jazz chart and received a Grammy nomination. To a new generation of listeners, Mr. Scott’s peculiarly haunting vocal style was a revelation.
Other albums followed, along with international bookings, but Mr. Scott never quite attained the level of success many thought he deserved. His way of singing was just too rarefied for widespread fame.
Mr. Scott spent his final years in Las Vegas and continued to perform, sometimes in a wheelchair, until his mid-80s. Even then, the unmistakable voice was still there, penetrating and clear, sorrowful, serene and filled with pain and grace, all at once.
“All I needed was the courage to be me,” he told his biographer. “That courage took a lifetime to develop.”

Friday, June 13, 2014

Old Jazz CD's 2014 - Part Five

Egil Kapstad Trio

Released: 1994
Genre: Jazz

1 Linjer; 2 Before You Go; 3 Ved Vannet; 4 Medium; 5 Mood
6 Big Red; 7 Bird Lovers; 8 Rememberance Of Eric Dolphy
9 Tribute To Melvin; 10 A Song You'll Never Sing; 11 To The Most Peaceful Man
Double Bass - Terje Venaas
Drums - Egil Johansen
Piano - Egil Kapstad

Guido Manusardi Trio
Down Town

Artists :
Guido Manusardi ( Piano )
Isla Eckinger ( Bass )
Ed Thigpen ( Drums )
Release date: Dec 31, 1986

Down Town album by Guido Manusardi was released Mar 16, 2010 on the Soul Note label. Guido Manusardi Trio: Guido Manusardi, Isla Eckinger, Ed Thigpen. Down Town buy CD music Engineer: Gennaro Carone, Giancarlo Barigozzi. Down Town songs Personnel: Guido Manusardi (piano); Ed Thigpen (drums). Liner Note Author: Nat Hentoff. Recording information: Barigozzi Studio, Milano, Italy.
Photographer: Mirko R. Boscolo.

Don Friedman Trio
Circle Waltz

By Scott Yanow
Even ignoring that bassist Chuck Israels is on this set and the similarity of some of the repertoire, it's difficult to overlook the fact that pianist Don Friedman sounds very similar to Bill Evans on this set. With drummer Pete LaRoca completing the trio and such songs as "I Hear a Rhapsody," "In Your Own Sweet Way," and "So in Love" joining four of the leader's originals, Friedman uses chord voicings similar to Evans and engages in the same type of close interplay with his sidemen. However, since the music is of high quality and few other keyboardists sounded like Evans this early, Circle Waltz is worth hearing by post-bop fans.

Harold Danko
Alone But Not Forgotten

By Dave Nathan
Perhaps encouraged by the presence of a bevy of strings, Harold Danko indulges in a bit of flamboyant rapture on his third album for Sunnyside. First issued in 1986 and now reissued, the compact play list is split between Danko originals and compositions by others, the most familiar of which is Bill Evans/Bob Dorough's "Laurie." The tune "When Everything Gets Quiet" pretty much sums up the theme of this session: pleasant-to-hear music offering few surprises and hardly complex -- a bit out of the ordinary for Danko. Even his "Wayne Shorter," which, while more intense than most of the material found on the CD, doesn't seem to grab hold of the essence of the music Shorter, is most noted for. There's more good bass work here, this time by Michael Moore. "Candlelight Shadows" is enhanced by the presence of Marc Johnson's probing bass and Joe LaBarbera's light drum punctuation to give this tune a sharper edge not on other cuts. Bob Dorough makes a single appearance coming in on "Laurie" following a longish Danko solo. Like the rest of the tracks on this CD, Dorough is restrained, singing almost in a whisper at times. Pretty music very nice for a laid-back, easy-going mood, this offering doesn't have much meat on the bones, demanding little from the listener.

Michel Graillier
Dream Drops

By François Lacharme
Michel Graillier aurait dû faire la carrière de Michel Pétrucciani. Ce raccourci s'impose à l'écoute de cet album-collage qui fut enregistré en 1981, à la faveur de ces rencontres humaines qui ont toujours été, chez ce pianiste au toucher magnifique, les ressorts de la création. Il y a dans ce CD un culte du lyrisme rarissime : les plages en solo, doublées par quelques notes de synthétiseur, sont un voyage onirique duquel on ne revient qu'à contrecœur. Celle en duo avec le trompettiste Chet Baker (que le pianiste accompagna longtemps) sont en fait deux voix qui chantent leur spleen à l'unisson. Celle avec Pétrucciani (nous y voilà ! ) est d'une complicité gémellaire, comme née de la même inspiration. Celles enfin avec le contrebassiste Jean-François Jenny Clark ou le batteur Aldo Romano racontent une histoire, grave ou enjouée, faisant passer une technique pourtant remarquable au débit de la seule émotion. C’est l’une des réussites intemporelles du jazz français.

BAKER Chet : trumpet
GRAILLIER Michel : acoustic piano / electric piano / synthesizer
JENNY CLARK Jean François : bass
PETRUCCIANI Michel : acoustic piano
ROMANO Aldo : drums

Eddie Higgins Trio
Haunted Heart

By Richard S. Ginell
The lonely cover photo and title of this Japanese import give away most of the story; this is a haunted, introspective album of piano-trio jazz very much indebted to Bill Evans and, to a lesser extent, George Shearing. Veteran Eddie Higgins mostly serves up standards from the Great American Songbook -- "My Funny Valentine," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "I Should Care," "Lush Life," the usual suspects -- in a tasteful, unshowy, often gently swinging way, harmonically locked into the mainstream, occasionally throwing in a gentle quote for humor's sake. Elsewhere, "Israel" forms the core of a "Stolen Moments" sandwich, and "Lover Come Back to Me" is given the token bossa nova treatment. Ray Drummond (bass) and Ben Riley (drums) make up the fine rhythm section, and they never miss a cue.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Richard McDonnell 1946 - 2014

By Kevin Johnson at STLToday
Wherever real jazz was happening in St. Louis, there was a strong chance Richard McDonnell was there.
McDonnell, one of St. Louis' most omnipresent jazz figures and founder of the Webster Groves-based, MAXJAZZ Records, died Saturday (Feb. 8, 2014) at St. Louis University Hospital. He was 68.
McDonnell had been attending a concert by Houston Person and the Bill Charlap Trio Friday night at Jazz at the Bistro, his third night in a row in attendance during Person’s multinight stand, when he suffered a stroke and was taken to St. Louis University Hospital.
His son Clayton McDonnell, who ran MAXJAZZ with his father, said the family took him off life support Saturday night knowing he would not want to live in that condition.
Clayton McDonnell said his father was an organ donor; he learned Monday morning his father's liver and kidneys were given to three individuals, and that his bone marrow and tissues were saved.
Richard McDonnell's body will be cremated.
McDonnell, a Kirkwood native, started the Grammy-nominated MAXJAZZ Records in his living room while he was working as an investment banker for AG Edwards, which he eventually left behind to focus on the label full time.
The nationally distributed label specializes in jazz music and breaks the genre down to several series including its Vocal Series, Piano Series, Horn Series, String Series and St. Louis Series.
The first MAXJAZZ record was “Two Roads" by area quartet Brilliant Corners in 1997.
Initially, the label focused on St. Louis artists but it wasn’t long before the vision broadened. “Our original intention was to concentrate on Greater St. Louis in terms of talent, and that's still an objective. But it's not my only objective,” Richard McDonnell told the Post-Dispatch in 1999.
Among the musicians who have recorded for MAXJAZZ are Russell Malone, Mulgrew Miller, John Proulx, Carla Cook, Terell Stafford, Ben Wolfe, LaVerne Butler, Rene Marie, Dena DeRose, Christine Hitt, Claudia Acuna, Jeremy Pelt and Phillip Manuel. St. Louis artists include Peter Martin, Erin Bode, the Kennedy Brothers and Mardra and Reggie Thomas.
Gene Dobbs Bradford, executive director for Jazz St. Louis, called McDonnell a friend.
“Rich was always an ardent supporter of the St. Louis jazz scene,” Bradford said. McDonnell was an original member of Jazz St. Louis’ board of directors.
“He cared about the musicians and he was a discerning listener. His thing was to go out and listen, whether it was at the Bistro, the Sheldon, Robbie’s House of Jazz, the Kranzberg.”
McDonnell and Bradford traveled to New York annually in January to attend the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, where they eyed potential acts for the upcoming Jazz St. Louis season.
“He always encouraged us to reach out and explore things,” Bradford said.
Bradford says McDonnell played a part in the development of young jazz artists. “When they were young, Rich was listening to them and encouraging them. They all remember how supportive he was back in the day.”
One of those artists is pianist Peter Martin, who recorded two CDs for MAXJAZZ. Martin used to go to Community School in Ladue with one of McDonnell’s sons, and Martin said McDonnell remembered him playing piano at school assemblies as a boy.
Martin called MAXJAZZ “the Blue Note Records of our time, our generation. It has great singers, great production and a classy design. He really set a high standard. He was one of those guys everyone wanted to meet and record for.”
Martin and McDonnell were in talks to do a third album.
Jazz bassist Jahmal Nichols says McDonnell always supported his craft beginning when played in high school 15 years ago.
“He was always there, morally supporting you at your gigs. I would even see him at the hole in the walls. There wasn’t a spot he didn’t go to to support musicians in town,” Nichols says.
Clayton McDonnell will continue to run MAXJAZZ Records. “He left a great legacy, and I’ve been lucky to have been with him on that journey,” he said.
A memorial service will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday at Bopp Chapel in Kirkwood, 10610 Manchester Road.
Bradford said a musical tribute to McDonnell will take place at Jazz at the Bistro with details to be announced.
Among McDonnell’s survivors are Arthur McDonnell (brother), St. Louis; Kenneth McDonnell (brother), St. Louis; Diana Hadley (sister), St. Louis; Mary Carole McDonnell (sister), Los Angeles; Boyd McDonnell (son), Los Angeles; Carter McDonnell (son), Los Angeles; Clayton McDonnell (son), St. Louis; and three grandchildren.
McDonnell was formerly married to Cynthia McDonnell of St. Louis.

Dwayne Burno 1970 - 2014

By Jeff Tamarkin at JazzTimes
Dwayne Burno, a bassist who played with a who’s who of jazz artists and led his own groups, died Dec. 28, in New York City following a long battle with kidney disease. He was 43. Burno was diagnosed with kidney disease in 2004 and underwent a kidney transplant in 2010.
Born June 10, 1970 in Philadelphia, where his mother was a pianist and choral director, Burno began playing double bass at 16 and entered the Berklee College of Music two years later. His first professional gigs included work with saxophonists Donald Harrison and Jesse Davis, and by 1990, upon moving to New York, Burno was already being called on by major names in jazz, beginning with singer Betty Carter, whose band he joined.
The list of those with whom Burno played throughout his career also included Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Chambers, Betty Carter, Benny Golson, Clifford Jordan, George Colligan, Joe Henderson, Wallace Roney, Jeremy Pelt, Roy Haynes, Bobby Hutcherson, Harold Mabern, Dr. John, Mulgrew Miller, Steve Turre, Roy Hargrove, Cedar Walton, Abbey Lincoln, David Murray, Digable Planets, Brian Lynch, David Weiss, Chucho Valdes, Greg Osby, Nicholas Payton, Eric Reed, Luis Perdomo, Orrin Evans, Don Braden and others.
Burno appeared on more than 150 recordings and also led his own Dwayne Burno Quintet, which performed at New York’s Smalls and other venues.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Herb Geller 1928 -2013

By Peter Vacher at The Guardian 
The American jazz saxophonist Herb Geller, who has died aged 85, had a career of two halves. Initially, he was prominent among the musicians who created the west-coast jazz style, picking up combo gigs and recording dates with the best players in California. Later, after the death of his first wife, he relocated to Europe and established himself as a salaried artist in a subsidised orchestra, lauded by the authorities in his adopted home city of Hamburg as both a teacher and a performer.
Geller was born in Los Angeles. His tailor father had settled there after leaving Russia and met Geller's mother, who played the piano for silent movies, at a Jewish singles dance. A local friend who owned a music store suggested their son should learn an instrument so, aged eight, Geller was given an alto saxophone and a weekly lesson. "My musical talents came from my mother," he said.
By the time he got to Dorsey high school in Los Angeles, he was proficient enough to join the school swing band alongside fellow saxophonists Eric Dolphy and Vi Redd, both destined to achieve jazz celebrity. It was with these friends that Geller first heard the great alto-saxophonist Benny Carter at a band show at the Orpheum theatre; he returned several times to marvel at Carter's fluidity and decided he wanted to play like him.
After a short vacation gig with the violinist Joe Venuti, exciting enough in its way, Geller heard Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie at Billy Berg's in Los Angeles in February 1945. He began to bone up on Parker's style and to take every kind of road job he could, performing in a succession of short‑lived professional bands and playing in every jam session that came his way. Determined to get to New York, always the key destination for aspiring jazz musicians, Geller joined the pianist Jack Fina who had bookings there.
Briefly back in LA, he met the brilliant pianist Lorraine Walsh. They married in 1952 in New York, where they had settled. Geller took engagements with the top orchestras of the day including those of Claude Thornhill and Billy May. When May's band made for LA, Geller and Lorraine went along, quickly establishing themselves on the then rampant west-coast recording scene. They ran their own quartet, worked with the satirist Lenny Bruce, played gigs in strip clubs by night and made recordings by day with artists of the highest calibre, including, in Geller's case, Clifford Brown, Dinah Washington and Shorty Rogers.
In 1958, shortly after the birth of their daughter, Lisa, Lorraine died suddenly aged 30 after suffering from a pulmonary infection while Geller was on the road with Benny Goodman. Eventually, Geller placed his daughter with his sister and resumed his road life, rejoining Goodman. Geller was, in his own words, "emotionally distraught" and disoriented, until his fellow saxophonist Stan Getz suggested he make for Europe. After starting out in Lisbon and Paris, Geller moved in 1962 to Berlin, where he joined the jazz orchestra of the radio station Sender Freies Berlin, staying three years before relocating to Hamburg where he became a staff member of the Norddeutscher Rundfunk orchestra as a composer, performer and arranger. This gilded period – paid vacations, free healthcare and all – brought him extraordinary success and financial security.
It was during this time that he met his second wife, Christine. His base in Hamburg was an ideal launching pad for festival appearances with celebrated European orchestras often including fellow Americans, and it was a superior location itself for session work, Geller having added a roster of extra woodwind instruments to his usual alto and soprano saxophones.
After his retirement from the NDR in 1994, Geller taught at local universities and began to appear regularly in the UK, touring as a soloist and releasing a series of fine albums for the Scottish-based Hep label. He was an irresistibly creative player, able to find new things to say on old songs, fusing something of Carter's liquidity with the boppish fire of Parker – "the greatest musician in the world," he thought – evidently relishing the chance to play. "I consider jazz to be fun music," he told me.
Genial and approachable, with a gift for friendship, Geller created a musical play about his own career and devised a hit show about the life and times of Josephine Baker.
He is survived by Christine, their daughter, Olivia, and their son, Sam, and by Lisa.
Herbert Arnold Geller, jazz musician, born 2 November 1928; died 19 December 2013