Sunday, July 13, 2014

2 Sem 2014 - Part One

The Bad Plus
The Rite Of Spring

By Dan Bilawsky
Calculation and risk, bombast and glory, a complete shunning of expectations, and a penchant for the provocative, percussive and dramatic. It's hard to know if that description is meant to be applied to Igor Stravinsky's most heralded work or the collectively-operated trio known as The Bad Plus; it's hard to make that distinction because it rings true for both.
One hundred years separate the premiere of The Rite Of Spring, which caused a riot, and the recording of this album. In the interim, everything has changed and nothing has changed. Listeners still get lulled into and out of comfort zones, they confront music that's accepting of conventions and music that challenges them, and they use the weight of history and the pull of the present and future as counterbalancing forces in viewing art. Audiences nowadays won't likely be stirred into a frenzy over this music, but it remains potent and intoxicating, both in its original form and as presented here.
The idea of (re)interpreting this work came about several years before the album actually did. Duke Performances at Duke University and Lincoln Center Out of Doors commissioned The Bad Plus to create an "evening-length work." The group had already dealt with Stravinsky's music, having recorded "Variation d' Apollon" on For All I Care (Heads Up, 2009), so that success encouraged these three men to take a crack at the famed composer's most celebrated work for this commission. And that was just the beginning. The hard part, no doubt, came with score studies, practice, and distillation of ideas and themes. The Bad Plus had to break down this complex work and build it back up again, so as to realize the composer's intentions with only piano, bass, and drums.
The work premiered in March of 2011, and it saw more than a dozen performances the following year. By the time The Bad Plus recorded it, in June of 2013, the band was fully at peace and at war with the music; in short, this trio was dealing it out the way it should be dealt. Instead of creating a slapdash version or a "jazz" take on this work, The Bad Plus simply performs this not-so-simple piece. Sure, some liberties were taken and adjustments were made. That's a given just based on instrumentation alone. The end result, however, is largely loyal to what Stravinsky put on paper. The familiar graceful gestures from the "Introduction" are still there, the pounding accents of "The Augurs Of Spring" still make an impact, and the divinely grotesque nature of "Glorification Of The Chosen One" remains. But plenty of changes are also in the air; the pulsating heartbeat that ushers in the album and the steady groove that introduces "Dance Of The Earth" are but two of the many firm indications that this isn't a paint-by-numbers reduction of the score.
There's much to enjoy and admire here. Pummeling ordinances and schizophrenic gestures take hold, a basic back-and-forth connection between pianist Ethan Iverson and bassist Reid Anderson is established during "Spring Rounds," repetitive cycling ideals take "Procession Of The Sage" toward its end, and the timpani-esque rumblings of drummer David King cause a stir during "Evocation Of The Ancestors." This is history and modern day life coming together as one. It's a recording for the ages.
Track Listing:
First Part: Adoration Of The Earth-Introduction; The Augurs Of Spring; Ritual Abduction; Spring Rounds; Games Of Two Rival Tribes/Procession Of The Sage; The Sage/Dance Of The Earth.
Second Part: The Sacrifice-Introduction; Mystic Circle Of The Young Girls; Glorification Of The Chosen One; Evocation Of The Ancestors/Ritual Action Of The Ancestors; Sacrificial Dance.
Reid Anderson: bass, electronics; Ethan Iverson: piano; David King: drums.

Carlos Franzetti
In The Key Of Tango

By Jeff Tamarkin
Tango music has been around for approximately two centuries, and although significant permutations have expanded its parameters—Nuevo Tango has broken it open to new elements over the past few decades—it’s still, at heart, a dance music played by a group. Other pianists have recorded solo piano tango albums before this one by the Argentinean Carlos Franzetti, stripping the music to its essence, but few could possibly have matched the depth, charm and power exhibited here.
Franzetti, 65, is a composer and arranger whose career has taken him into classical music, film and big-band jazz as well as tango. He brings that larger worldview to his improvisation-based renderings of these 14 standards of the genre (plus one original). Broadening the definition of tango isn’t something he dwells on, it just comes naturally to him.
Franzetti’s a dramatic player—a trait essential to tango—and a fan of flair and flourish. In “Boedo,” written by Julio De Caro, he spends the opening seconds flying high, reaching outward and beyond the melody, then drops back quickly to a shadowy and somber place: low, single notes sparingly tapped out. This is where he stays throughout most of the piece, alternating space with sound, creating a rhythm out of those juxtapositions until, once again, he steps it up, heading toward a gallant denouement.
Of the two Astor Piazzolla numbers included (and, honestly, it’s refreshing that Piazzolla doesn’t dominate), “Revirado” is the revelation. Franzetti’s independent left- and right-hand lines, fluctuating from frantic to simple, will have the listener convinced that one musician can’t possibly be making all of that sound. It’s stunning, really, as is the up-close recording itself, produced by Allison Brewster Franzetti in studios located in New Jersey and Buenos Aires.

Alfio Origlio invite André Ceccarelli/ Remy Vignolo

By Cristal Records
Alfio Origlio has followed the path of an eclectic career which has allowed him to play with international artists such as Henri Salvador or Salif Keita or more recently with the famous Paris Jazz Big Band (also available on Cristal records) He is now accompanied by one of the best rhythm section of the moment : Rémy Vignolo and... Mr André Ceccarelli himself who drives the drums with its typical touch.
Recording information: Studio 26, Antibes, France (07/2000).
1. Jacomo (5:43); 2. Zebulon (7:27); 3. Lola (8:24); 4. Per Alfio (7:01)
5. How deep is your love (4:00); 6. Mauresque (4:37); 7. Didonade (5:54)
8. 12 mesures pour un cagnard (4:13)

Everybody Wants To Be A Cat
Disney Jazz: Volume 1

By Ken Dryden
It's nothing new for jazz musicians to record songs written for Disney films. Dave Brubeck was already playing a number of them prior to recording Dave Digs Disney in 1957, so it is hardly surprising for him to take part in this 2011 release, which covers a wider scope of songs and features a baker's dozen of jazz artists or groups. Brubeck shines with his rollicking trio treatment of "Some Day My Prince Will Come," a piece he has performed as part of his concert repertoire for decades. He's joined by the expressive vocalist Roberta Gambarini (who joined him to sing the premiere of his "Cannery Row Suite" in 2006), who demonstrates why she has been a favorite of critics with her playful scatting in a swinging performance, while Brubeck proves himself once more as one of the most underrated vocal accompanists. Vocalist Dianne Reeves delivers a soulful rendition of "He's a Tramp" in an unusual, sensual arrangement featuring pianist Peter Martin, while vocalist/bassist Esperanza Spalding sings an enchanting wordless duet of "Chim Chim Cher-Ee" with Gil Goldstein (who is overdubbed on piano and accordion). Nikki Yanofsky was only 15 when she recorded a breezy arrangement of "It's a Small World," scored by bassist Rob Fahie for a swinging septet. Violinist Regina Carter's exotic setting of "Find Yourself" includes Gary Versace on accordion and kora player Yacouba Sissoko combining elements of Eastern and Western music. Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel's intense workout upon the normally low-key "Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)" takes it into unfamiliar territory, while trumpeter Roy Hargrove's hip hard bop scoring of "Ev'rybody Wants to Be a Cat" will be an immediate favorite with Disney fans young and old. With the vast amount of memorable original music written for Disney films, this promising CD series could easily continue for a long time.

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