Sunday, September 21, 2014

2 Sem 2014 - Part Ten

Martin Wind Quartet & Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana
Turn Out The Stars: Music Written or Inspired by Bill Evans

By Mark Corroto
Has an artist ever been characterized as a hopeful romantic? If not, then let us nominate Martin Wind, not as hopeless, but a bullish and inspiring romantic. His quartet and the 36- piece Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana tribute to pianist Bill Evans Turn Out The Stars marries his talents, both as a jazz bassist/bandleader and orchestral arranger.
Besides leading his own quartet, and working in trio with Bill Mays and Matt Wilson, and in the guitar/bass duos with Philip Catherine or Ulf Meyer, Wind is an in-demand sideman featured in multiple projects, including Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts and bands led by, Ted Nash, Gary Smulyan, and Pete Mills, to name just a few. He released two stellar recordings in 2013, the CD Ulf Meyer and Martin Wind At Orpheus Theater (Laika) and an audiophile LP Remember October 13th (Edition Longplay).
Recorded live at the Theatro Rossini in Pesaro, Italy, Wind's quartet includes his regular partners, saxophonist Scott Robinson and pianist Bill Cunliffe, plus drummer Joe LaBarbera, who was Bill Evans' drummer in the pianist's final trio (1978-1980). This homage to Evans is enhanced by the gorgeous and passionate arrangements Wind wrote for conductor Massimo Morganti's orchestra. The disc opens with the title track, an overture in full bloom that gives way to the quartet's recitation of melody with Robinson's saxophone laying down velvety notes. Each piece— such as the spry rendition of "The Days Of Wine And Roses," performed by the quartet or full orchestra—is dexterously accomplished. Wind has the knack for extracting the sweetest juice for each piece written by Evans or written in tribute to the great one. La Barbera's composition "Kind Of Bill" opens with a piano and bowed bass duo, then lingers in that romantic atmosphere Evans loved to reach for.
Even in full orchestra, the quartet is never overwhelmed. The luscious arrangement of "Blue In Green" plays off of the contrasts of lightness and dark, the orchestra a pastoral landscape for the quartet to rollick. The tricky "Twelve Tone Tune Two" pushes the orchestra into a challenging interchange with La Barbera's drums and the coughing horn of Robinson. At the center of this gorgeous evening is the stalwart bass of Wind, the infrastructure upon which both a quartet and a very large orchestra is held by his passionate zeal.
Track Listing: 
Turn Out The Stars; My Foolish Heart; The Days Of Wine And Roses; Jeremy; Memory Of Scotty; Kind Of Bill; Blue In Green; Twelve Tone Tune Two; Goodbye Mr. Evans.
Martin Wind: bass; Scott Robinson: tenor saxophone, C melody saxophone; Bill Cunliffe: piano; Joe La Barbera: drums; Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana - Massimo Morganti: conductor.

Dena DeRose
We Won't Forget You... - An Homage to Shirley Horn

By DustyGroove
Dena DeRose serves up a tribute to the great Shirley Horn – and works here with the kind of hip jazzy combo that Horn definitely would have loved! Like Horn, DeRose both sings and plays piano – plus a bit of Hammond on a few tracks too – and in addition to core trio instrumentation on bass and drums,t he set also features tenor work from Eric Alexander, trumpet from Jeremy Pelt, and baritone from Gary Smulyan – each players who drop in on certain tracks and make things shine wonderfully – like those key instrumental solos on later Shirley Horn records for Verve. Dena's own vocals and piano are great, though – perfectly timed to replicate that soulful swing that always set Shirley apart – a richness of feeling that's never overdone, and which always knows how to groove even at the most expressive moments. Titles include "Sunday In New York", "Big City", "Don't Be On The Outside", "Quietly There", "A Time For Love", "The Great City", and "Wild Is Love".

Christian Jacob
Beautiful Jazz: A Private Concert

By Dan Bilawsky
There was a time when pianist Christian Jacob thought he'd be making his mark as a classical pianist. That's perfectly understandable considering the fact that he was playing piano at age four and studying at the Metz conservatory at age six. By the time he was in college, studying at the Paris Conservatory, he was winning awards and prepping for piano competitions.
Jacob was following the prescribed course that classical piano hopefuls typically follow, but his destiny was with jazz. Jacob was taken with the work of Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson and other jazz luminaries early on, but it took him some time to realize that this music was his true calling.
Nowadays, it's hard to imagine that Christian Jacob could've ever doubted that his fate was tied to jazz. As a sideman, Jacob has worked with a long list of greats, from trumpeter Maynard Ferguson to vibraphonist Gary Burton to arranger/bandleader Bill Holman. He's inextricably linked to the acclaimed Tierney Sutton Band, working side by side with the nominal leader on her incredibly well-received albums, and he's gained some traction as a leader through his work with the Christian Jacob Trio. He's even worked with symphony orchestras on occasion. In short, he's done a hell of a lot for a guy who didn't figure on a career in jazz, but he's never put out a solo piano disc; that is, until now.
Beautiful Jazz: A Private Concert is Jacob's love letter to the genre that whisked him away from the waiting arms of the classical world. He tackles old favorites here, revisiting and/or revising some of the very material that drew him toward jazz in the first place. Jacob brings a sense of wonder to "How Long Has This Been Going On?," tackles "That's All" in seven, muses on "My Romance," and delivers an information-dense "Surrey With The Fringe On Top." Jacob also tips his cap to pianist Bill Evans with "I'm Old Fashioned," references his classical upbringing through Stravinsky's "Etude No. 4 in F# Major," and delivers a wonderful "September Song" arrangement that's devoid of improvisation.
This whole program was recorded at a private concert at Zipper Hall in Los Angeles, with Jacob playing on a Hamburg Steinway Model D Grand. Both the scene and the instrument helped to shape this album, but it's Jacob who delivers on the promise of the title. Beautiful Jazz it is.
Track Listing: 
How Long Has This Been Going On; That's All; It Might As Well Be Spring; Etude No. 4 In F# Major; My Romance; Surrey With The Fringe On Top; Tea For Two; I'm Old Fashioned; One Note Samba; Body And Soul; September Song; Giant Steps; Till The Clouds Roll By.
Personnel: Christian Jacob: piano.

Jacob Young
Forever Young

By John Kelman
While all groups aim for the kind of collective chemistry that can make, for example, five people speak with a single voice, how they get there can vary significantly. In some cases there's instantaneous chemistry; in other cases, it comes from pre-existing relationships amongst various permutations and combinations of its members; in still other instances it is something that simply develops over time. On Forever Young, guitarist Jacob Young leverages both the relationships that have come before amongst the members of his quintet and a clear and immediate connection shared by its five members. A fine addition to an ECM discography that began with Evening Falls (2004) and continued with Sideways (2008)—two recordings that featured a completely different lineup—Forever Young leverages the strengths of what came before while simultaneously asserting its own independence.
If anything, Forever Young provides Young with even greater freedom than on his previous ECM outings, where he was the sole chordal instrument. Here, Young recruits pianist Marcin Wasilewski's trio—a group that, despite being on the shy side of forty, has been together for two decades and has, consequently, evolved both a chemistry and a language all its own, both in collaboration with trumpeter Tomasz Stanko on recordings including Suspended Night (ECM, 2004) and Lontano (ECM, 2006), as well as with its own triptych of superlative standalone releases (also on ECM), the most recent being Faithful (2011).
With a second chordal instrument in the mix, Young is relieved of the responsibility of constantly supporting his fellow band mates, though it's not as if he's abandoned the role entirely; in fact, one of Forever Young's biggest strengths is how Young and Wasilewski manage to continually complement each other without ever running into one another, a rare quality also shared by guitarist John Abercrombie and pianist Marc Copland on 39 Steps (ECM, 2013). On the deceptive "Sofia's Dance"—deceptive because, although it's largely based on a simple, two-chord Phrygian vamp with a theme that begins as a similarly straightforward melody, its conclusion adds an unexpected Mid-Eastern-tinged twist—Young's nylon-string guitar meshes empathically with Wasilewski's accompaniment during saxophonist Trygve Seim's characteristically taciturn solo, and gently underscores the pianist's own feature.
But the chemistry doesn't stop there. Seim—an ECM leader in his own right, with a slowly growing discography that includes the masterful large ensemble music of Sangam (2005) and more intimate duo date with pianist Andreas Utnem, Purcor: Songs for Saxophone and Piano (2010)—has a shared history with Young on the guitarist's pre-ECM recordings Pieces of Time (Curling Legs, 1997) and Glow (Curling Legs, 2001), as well as with Wasilewski and his trio's bassist, Slawomir Kurkiewicz, as members of drummer Manu Katche's quintet heard on Playground (ECM, 2007).
The intervening years since Sideways have seen Young demonstrate a much broader, more electrified purview, in particular in his collective trio with expat British keyboardist Roy Powell and Norwegian drummer Jarle Vespestad (Tord Gustavsen Quartet, Farmers Market), first with Anthem (PVY, 2011) and, more recently, with the trio renamed as InterStatic and releasing even more extreme music on the upstart British label RareNoiseRecords. But here, on Forever Young, while the guitarist does mix some electric guitar work with the acoustic instruments that have helped to define his previous two ECM recordings, like Evening Falls and Sideways, it's a warmer, hollow body tone that continues to assert the importance of the late Jim Hall on Young's formative years.
While there are hints of the darkness and melancholy that made his previous ECM outings so appealing, with Wasilewski's trio in tow Forever Young also demonstrates a more outgoing nature on tracks like "Bounce," where Young's muted electric guitar chords drive a change-heavy song with a brighter disposition. "We Were Dancing" follows, with Young employing a similar supporting approach before opening up into one of his most impressive solos of the set, a slightly tart-toned electric feature that allows the guitarist's virtuosic abilities freer rein.
If Forever Young proves anything, it's that the tendency to whitewash anything coming out of Norway as "Nordic Cool" is just that: whitewashing. Young may adhere to a generally sparer approach with his ECM recordings, but if there's a single word to describe his music it's warm, whether it's his own tone, the refined elegance of Wasilewski's trio or the patiently unfolding energy of Seim's playing throughout the set. It's also a recording whose language speaks clearly to at least some adherence to the American tradition, especially on pieces like the brighter "1970" and "Time Changes."
For those unfamiliar with Young's extracurricular activities, Forever Young demonstrates an ability to simmer in a way that his previous ECM recordings did not. It also represents a first outing by a quintet with plenty of potential; hopefully six years won't have to pass before this intimate yet delicately expressionistic quintet can once again reconvene.
Track Listing: 
I Lost My Heart To You; Therese's Gate; Bounce; We Were Dancing; Sofia's Dance; Comeback Girl; 1970; Beauty; Time Changes; My Brother.
Jacob Young: guitars; Trygve Seim: tenor and soprano saxophones; Marcin Wasilewski: piano; Slawomir Kurkiewicz: double bass; Michal Miskiewicz: drums.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

2 Sem 2014 - Part Nine

Marc Copland
Some More Love Songs

By Dan McClenaghan
Pianist Marc Copland—who, oddly, began his jazz career as a saxophonist—took an artistic leap forward with his three New York Trio recordings on Pirouet Records. Employing a rotating crew of bassists with Gary Peacock, Drew Gress, and drummers Paul Motian and Bill Stewart, the pianist rose to a higher profile via his nearly unsurpassed musical excellence. The pianist interpreted standards (and some not-so-standards), along with his own top-flight original compositions, in conjunction with an astute marketing choice of releasing, over the course of three years, this triptych of similarly handsomely packaged outings, much in the fashion of Brad Mehldau's five Art of the Trio (Nonesuch Records, 2011) recordings.
Before the New York sets there was the perhaps overlooked Some Love Songs (Pirouet Records, 2005), that included transcendent explorations of tunes by Joni Mitchell, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, Richard Rodgers and Victor Young—a recording that rivaled almost any of iconic pianist Bill Evans' best work. Now Copland follows Some Love Songs with Some More Love Songs.
It's hard to imagine the success of Copland without Evans' ground-breaking, his strong contribution to trumpeter Miles Davis' classic Kind of Blue (Columbia, 1959), and the subsequent consistency of his superb trio recordings over a more-than twenty-year run, from the late fifties until the pianist's untimely death in 1980. Copland has taken Evans' approach of trio democracy, sonic luminosity and harmonic depth and created his own personal language on this—the high point for now—musical journey.
The set opens with Joni Mitchell's lovely and fragile "I Don't Know Where I Stand," a re-visitation of the tune Copland recorded solo on Alone (Pirouet, 2009). This version benefits from the nuanced accompaniment of his trio mates, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer Jochen Rueckert. The mood is floating and uncertain, mirroring the lyrical content of Mitchell's version, leading into an up-tempo, beautiful and brash take of the classic "My Funny Valentine," with its implacable momentum.
"Eighty One"—from the songbook of legendary bassist Ron Carter and Miles Davis' ESP (Columbia, 1965), the debut from what would become the trumpeter's second great quintet—is cool and mysterious, the interplay highly nuanced. "Rainbow's End," Copland's lone original composition, shimmers like late afternoon sunlight reflecting off the facets of wavelets on a wind-ruffled pond, while Cole Porter's ever-familiar "I've Got You Under My Skin"—a 1956 masterpiece by Frank Sinatra, who sounded supremely suave and confident on his take—gets a wandering and impressionist treatment by Copland's trio, with the heart of the melody slipping in and out of the shadows.
The set closes with one of its most tender moment, Victor Young's "When I Fall In Love," brimming with sparkling optimism and a fitting wrap-up to what may be Copland's finest trio outing to date.
Track Listing: 
I Don't Know Where I Stand; My Funny Valentine; Eighty One; Rainbow's End; I've Got You Under My Skin; I Remember You; When I Fall in Love.
Marc Copland: piano; Drew Gress: bass; Jochen Ruekert: drums

Dave Frank
Portrait Of New York

By Dan Bilawsky
Jazz and New York are like hot dogs and baseball, or peanut butter and jelly. The Big Apple has been the epicenter of so many important movements and moments in jazz, that it's hard to think of any other place—save perhaps New Orleans—that deserves the honor of being captured in song. Pianist Dave Frank, widely recognized as a premier jazz educator and performer, pays tribute to New York with solo piano paintings of various streets and locales, and four reworked standards, on Portrait Of New York.
Frank's steady and creative left-hand lines—juxtaposed against a right hand that can be alternately relaxed or off-the-charts fast—is his calling card. A strong blues-affinity resides within his creations, but his ability to modernize older forms with slight abstractions—be it an altered chord progression or oddly angular intervals in his steady bass lines—is what makes this music so engaging. "Full Force NYC" opens the album and Frank's right hand seems to represent the hustle and bustle of New York life, as he throws out some jaw dropping runs. "Broadway Boogie-Woogie" is a bit more traditional in nature, but Frank's faster-than-usual take on "Perdido" breaths some fresh air into that well-worn classic.
While most of the originals refer to places, Frank does pay tribute to two piano giants with "McKenna/McCoy." The forward momentum found on this particular piece makes it a winner, though it never hints at the percussive power in McCoy Tyner's playing. Frank's slow, bluesy-woozy "Lower East Side Shuffle" is a real treat, though this track could have also benefited from some heavy-handed heft.
While Frank's flashier tendencies occasionally come to the fore during the more excitable songs, he proves to be a masterful ballad sculptor as well. Pangs of sadness, loss and regret come through on his emotionally reflective performance of "This Nearly Was Mine." Mysterious melodic threads are sewn in the upper regions of the piano as "My Man's Gone Now" begins. Some depression sets into the music and rubato rears it's head here, though this track eventually takes on a more defined rhythmic direction than the Richard Rodgers tune. Frank's own "Manhattan Moonlight" is pretty and classy, in an unassuming way.
Portrait Of New York paints a wonderful picture of solo piano possibilities and Manhattan-themed melodies, but it also serves as a portrait of Dave of the most creative pianists around today.
Track Listing: 
Full Force NYC; Broadway Boogie-Woogie; This Nearly Was Mine; Midtown 9 AM; Perdido; My Man's Gone; Lower East Side Shuffle; McKenna/McCoy; Manhattan by Moonlight; Bowery Blues; You And The Night And The Music; Times Square.
Personnel: Dave Frank: piano.

Cécile McLorin Salvant
Woman Child

By Alison Bentley
American singer Cécile McLorin Salvant's début album WomanChild reveals a voice with a deep, knowing side, as well as a childlike playfulness. Still in her early 20s, she was winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010 and is already being fêted as the heir to the great jazz singers. Her repertoire and style are cool and modern as well as reaching back into jazz history.
There are two Bessie Smith covers: St. Louis Gal and Baby Have Pity on Me. McLorin Salvant sings with Smith's bluesy phrasing, laid-back but gentler, less raunchy. Every characterful detail is exposed by James Chirillo's lovely understated guitar- he plays on these two tracks only. There are two songs taken from popular early African American performers, which are full of humour. Nobody was sung by Bert Williams in the 1900s and is reworked with some excellent stride piano from Aaron Diehl. McLorin Salvant brings out the song's wry humour: 'When life seems full of clouds an' rain/ and I am filled with naught but pain,/ who soothes my thumpin' bumpin' brain ?/Nobody!'
Valaida Snow's You Bring Out the Savage in Me is sung with exquisite humour, over a fiery Afro-Latin groove. McLorin Salvant plays with vocal tones, from a Judy Garland drawl to a Blossom Dearie whisper. As McLorin Salvant puts it: 'I think you can make fun of the idea of jazz as “savage music” even while wanting to be primal'. Abbey Lincoln inspired her to 'go for it' as a singer, and she has a little of Lincoln's declamatory style in John Henry, a traditional song about the death of a railway worker. There's a toughness to the voice over the New Orleans-ish fast groove, with percussive piano.
Born in Miami to a French mother and Haitian father, McLorin Salvant’s first language was French. She's set Haitian poet Ida Faubert's poem Le Front Caché Sur Tes Genoux to music with a 6/8 jazz feel. She sings the emotive lyrics with a low, affecting vibrato. She's been studying Classical singing as well as jazz in France, and her own song Deep Dark Blue has long, beautifully-controlled vocal notes over Ravel-like dramatic piano. Her song WomanChild is autobiographical, 'Woman child falters/Clumsy on her feet/ Wonderin' where she'll go...', but it also, she's said, expresses her view of art- how it should be adult and childlike at the same time. The band moves from a McCoy Tyner-like swagger to compelling swing. Sarah Vaughan was an early influence on McLorin Salvant, and like Vaughan, her voice flickers between a full-powered tone and a mischievous, girlish sound.
The standards bring out the most modern aspects of McLorin Salvant's voice. I Didn't Know What Time it Was frames the voice with rhythmic stops, and McLorin Salvant sounds uncannily and beautifully like 60s Betty Carter. Her sense of swing is surefooted with a mixture of delicacy and confidence. There's a fine boppy melodic bass solo from Rodney Whitaker and sparkling piano solo from Diehl. There's a Lull in My Life is prefaced by Prelude, an instrumental section which displays the talents of the virtuosic and versatile piano trio. An excellent subtle backbeat and 12/8 feel from drummer Herlin Riley brings in the vocals. McLorin Salvant's said she wants '... to get as close to the centre of the song as I can,' and her expressive diction brings out the meaning brilliantly; as she sings 'the clock stops ticking' right behind the beat, you can almost hear the clocks slowing down. McLorin Salvant accompanies herself on piano on Jitterbug Waltz; she sings with such spontaneous, gamine glee, you feel you're waltzing with her.
Her rendering of What a Little Moonlight Can Do (much performed by Betty Carter) shows McLorin Salvant's full range- vocally and emotionally. She told one interviewer: 'When I sing I try not to think too much, and get into the story of the song...I get into that moment and just go.' There are swathes of long, improvised notes, haunting and intimate, over the piano trio's free-ish modern harmonies. They're interspersed with passages of fast swing, underpinned by Whitaker's immaculate bass. McLorin Salvant chokes comically and touchingly on the words '... all day long you'll only stutter, your poor tongue- it will not utter the words'.
McLorin Salvant matches playfulness with superb technique; devil-may-care performance with dedicated love of jazz. I can't wait for the next album.

The David Hazeltine Trio

The David Hazeltine Trio successfully undertakes well-known classical works and reinvents them through jazz. Joined by George Mraz on bass and Jason Brown on drums, Hazeltine is able to reformat these classics into high energy, sweet swinging, syncopated adaptations of their originals. The group tackles works by composers: Bach, Chopin, Debussy, Tchaikovsky, and Beethoven; restructuring their works all the while keeping them audibly recognizable.
This album was recorded in Binarual+ for both speaker and 3D headphone playback and has EXTREME dynamics, so please set your playback levels carefully.
Track Listings:
1. Clair de Lune
2. Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring
3. Impromptu No. 4
4. Moonlight Sonata
5. Waltz of the Flowers
6. Prelude
7. Reverie
8. Fur Elise

2 Sem 2014 - Part Eight

Spike Wilner
La Tendresse

By Mark Corroto
But having been told that one word reviews aren't sufficient, how about this: Pianist Spike Wilner's disc La Tendresse is pure joy.
Wilner can probably best be described as an old soul occupying a modernist corpus. His foundations in ragtime and stride piano inform the music heard here, but like Thelonious Monk, he uses the tradition as the architecture for the anatomy of a modern player. Even his take on "Crepuscule With Nellie," the classic Monk expression of hesitation and suspension, is delivered as a tender blues. More importantly, he delivers it without the cartoon clichéd dawdling.
Wilner's approach is to brighten each piece with the energy of his playing. Like his hero, Willie "The Lion" Smith and other Harlem stride pianists, he makes the difficult seem quite simple. The speed at which the trio navigates "After You're Gone" is just short of tumult. Drummer Dezron Douglas
and bassist Joey Saylor chase, and then are chased by, the exuberance of Wilner's piano.
He is also quite comfortable carrying the day unaccompanied. As with his previous solo recording Live At Smalls (Smalls Live, 2011), Wilner performs several solo pieces here. The old Carol Burnett sign off tune "I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together" is rationed with the appropriate melancholy, and Harold Arlen's "If I Only Had A Brain" bounces and frolics with a campy stride fitting the dopey scarecrow.
The trio performs Irving Berlin's "Always," raising the bandstand much like early Bill Evans
would, interlacing a subtle and intellectual swing with a quasi-classical approach. The highlights of this disc might be Scott Joplin's "Solace" and Bernice Petkere's "Lullaby Of The Leaves." Both tracks beg for comparison to master musician Bebo Valdes' playing. With "Solace," Wilner mixes his ragtime approach with Valdes' Cuban-folk take on American jazz.
There is much rejoicing to be had—or heard—here.
Track Listing: 
La Tendresse; If I Only Had A Brain; Solace; Silver Cord; Always; Lullaby Of The Leaves; After You've Gone; Le Sucrier Velours; Little Girl Blue; Crepuscule With Nellie; I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together; Happy Ending.
Spike Wilner: piano; Dezron Douglas: bass; Joey Saylor: drums.

Harold Mabern Trio
Live At Smalls

By a jazz listener's
First up is the veteran pianist Harold Mabern, with Joe Farnsworth on drums and John Webber on bass. Harold Mabern Trio "Live at Smalls" (SmallLIVE 2013) features a 77 year old pianist who has never gotten the full recognition he deserves for his catalogue of work but who is one of the truly outstanding veterans of this era, alongside, for example, a luminary like Kenny Barron. He dropped from the radar in the 90s and early 2000s when most of his catalogue was released on Japanese labels (and they are great CDs if you want to get them), but has come back strongly in the U.S. recently with "Mr Lucky" (High Note 2012) and now this outing. Seven tracks fill the CD with the kind of good old fashioned, driving mainstream jazz sound, sometimes straight ahead, sometimes soulful, sometimes bluesy, and always entertaining. They stretch out on some rousing great tunes like "I'm Walking" and the "Road Song," boogie on "Boogie for Al McShann", and do up "Sesame Street" very cleverly. First rate music from a first rate trio.

David Berkman
Live At Smalls

By Bill Milkowski at Theabsolutesound
Pianist Berkman’s seventh as a leader follows the straight ahead formula of his previous quartet recording, 2009’s Live at Smoke. While his crystalline touch on ballads and assured sense of swing on uptempo numbers define the terrain here, it’s trumpeter Tom Harrell who nearly steals the show. They open with an exuberant “Milestones” (John Lewis’ 1947 composition, not Miles Davis’ 1958 tune of the same name) with Harrell and Berkman striding in unison on the buoyant head before the trumpeter delivers a golden solo underscored by the pianist’s assertive hard-bop comping and paced by bassist Ed Howard’s insistent walking and drummer Johnathan Blake’s interactive swing feel. Berkman provides graceful accompaniment for Harrell’s achingly beautiful reading of “Body And Soul,” performed as a sparse, poignant duet. Berkman’s “Ghost Wife” travels from sparse introspection to florid rubato excursions to energized freebop while his jaunty “Small Wooden Housekeeper” has a syncopated spring in its step. The lone trio number, “For Kenny,” is the pianist’s heartfelt homage to the late, great Kenny Kirkland. This superb outing concludes with a fresh take on the standard “Sweet And Lovely” with Blake providing a “Poinciana” beat underneath and both Harrell and Berkman contributing more sparkling solos.

Larry Goldings
In My Room

By Carlo Wolff
How kind of keyboardist Larry Goldings to share such intimate music. A celebration of Americana in such tracks as a baroque “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and a rococo “Beautiful Dreamer,” In My Room works subversive magic on other levels, too. Goldings, a Boston native, launches this sneaky album with the title cut, one of Brian Wilson’s most personal and lovely compositions. But he doesn’t restrict his affection for Americana to covers: Originals like “Crawdaddy,” swaggering with rubato, are redolent of New Orleans, and “All My Born Days” is a brief, embracing ballad. Above all, In My Room is warm.
Although Goldings is best known for his organ work, his pianism also is startling, as is his taste. His eclecticism spans Abdullah Ibrahim’s “The Wedding,” Joni Mitchell’s “All I Want” (treated with austere freshness) and, attesting to the depth of his knowledge of classic British rock, the gorgeous “A Rose for Emily,” a haunting Rod Argent tune from the Zombies’ 1968 masterpiece, Odessey and Oracle.
Goldings peppers this deceptively easygoing CD with “interludes” of mildly prepared piano; some twinkle, some shimmer, all delight. He caps this solo piano disc with “Here, There and Everywhere,” treating the Beatles’ beauty as a pastorale. This sweet album doesn’t rock, though it transforms rock. It is leisurely but never ponderous. Goldings always brings out the melody, letting the listener in on his emotive creative process along the way.

Bill Carrothers

Castaways - a beautiful CD unusual in its coherent combination of pieces played by a trio with a special feeling for atmospheric depth. Bill Carrothers and friends play with precision and nuance, creating an excitingly coherent group sound. Music that renews and reinvents, performed with unusual warmth and intimacy.
Bill Carrothers piano; Drew Gress bass; Dré Pallemaerts drums

2 Sem 2014 - Part Seven

Natalie Dessay, Agnès Jaoui, Helena Noguerra, Liat Cohen
Rio Paris

By James Manheim
A major attraction of soccer's World Cup, and some would say the very best thing about it, is the musical component, with genre-crossing all-star vocal collaborations the norm. Who can forget Barcelona's unexpected and absolutely stunning duets between Montserrat Caballé and Freddie Mercury? This album may be the first in a flood of releases connected with the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and if the games result in a new appreciation of Brazilian music they will have been well worth it from a musical standpoint. Brazilian music crosses over among classical, pop, and jazz without giving very much thought to the dividing lines, and the mix here touches on some of the major figures from each corner. The three singers and one guitarist are not Brazilian; singers Natalie Dessay and Agnès Jaoui are French; singer Helena Noguerra is Portuguese-Belgian; and guitarist Liat Cohen is French-Israeli. Some of the music is sung in Portuguese, some in French, but even in a French translation Dessay does not sound especially comfortable in Antonio Carlos Jobim's Waters of March (here, Les Eaux de Mars). Hearing her in Villa-Lobos, however, is an unexpected pleasure. Jaoui and Noguerra, both actresses as well as singers, have a reasonable feel for the material, although one wonders whether a Brazilian singer might not profitably have been included. Perhaps the album's best feature is Erato's studio engineering; the dimensions of the sound are ideal for the music, and the guitar is impressively well recorded. A reasonably satisfying souvenir of the World Cup.

Peter Erskine
As It Is

Peter Erskine's group is openly influenced by both Bill Evan's Vanguard trio and Paul Bley's trio circa "Footloose" and "Closer", and brings some of their values into the present tense. At the same time, it has its own distinct character and understanding of dynamics. "As it Is" features works written primarily by John Taylor, with Erskine also contributing material. The group has been heralded for their understated approach to music which is performed with a controlled sense of freedom and simple lyricism.
John Taylor piano; Palle Danielsson double-bass; Peter Erskine drums

Sheila Jordan & Harvie Swartz
Songs From Within

By Scott Yanow
Sheila Jordan is one of the few singers to record duets frequently with just a string bass, usually Harvie Swartz. Jordan and Swartz interpret a wide variety of standards on their CD along with two originals. Although the always-inventive singer is clearly the lead voice, Swartz is not restricted to merely an accompanying role; he often shares center stage in close interplay with Jordan and his lines are almost as unpredictable as Sheila's. Their versions of such veteran songs as "Waltz for Debbie," "St. Thomas," "My Shining Hour" and "In a Sentimental Mood" sound quite original and fresh. As is the custom with M-A, this CD concludes with a selection taken from another release on the label, a melancholy showcase for Marty Krystall's bass clarinet.

Spike Wilner
Solo Piano - Live At Smalls 

By Mark Corroto
After a few minutes talking with pianist Spike Wilner, Charlie Parker's quote about authenticity in music comes to mind: "If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn..." Actually, the entirety of Bird's thoughts best captures the art of Spike Wilner. Bird goes on to state: "They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art."
Wilner doesn't seem to have any boundary lines these days. The pianist-turned-club owner, jazz scholar, record label entrepreneur, and internet presenter has embarked on an ambitious concept to present jazz to a worldwide audience, from a club with a capacity of just fifty persons. Smalls Jazz Club, in New York City's West Village, opened in 1994, and quickly became a musician hangout and a place to find great music until first light of morning. A regular performer from the start, the pianist called the club, "a wild place, sometimes a free-for-all." Because it had no liquor license, customers toted their own, and often the place was "not an optimal performing experience."
Today, with an affordable cover ($20 before midnight and $10 after), Small's has become a go-to listening spot in New York—much like, Wilner explains, "the former Bradley's or Village Gate, because we maintain a comfortable and informal atmosphere." Since Wilner became a co-owner in 2007, the club has upgraded the piano to a Steinway and begun recording and archiving all performances. Consider for a moment, the depth and the breadth of such an archive. Like old-time radio broadcasts, Small's documents the live performances from hundreds of artists such as JD Allen, Mark Turner, Fred Hersch, and Jon Irabagon, captured nightly for the past three years, with plans to archive all future shows.
Wilner explains that he is "a scholar and an archivist by nature," and it appears the musicians—about 95% of whom have given him permission to record, archive, and live-stream their performances via the internet—understand that, in the 21st century, the rules for recording and presenting jazz have been blown away. Listeners from around the globe, something like 27,000 per month, tune in nightly to listen to (and watch) live jazz or to search for an individual musician's bio and performance dates. Others can search the extensive database and audio stream unedited, live recorded performances from the archive.
Wilner has also founded the Smalls Live label, to make physical CDs available from the archive. He approaches an artist, say drummer Ari Hoenig(who led his group at the club in February 2010), and asks him to choose all the music from the date to be mastered by an engineer to a hard copy CD, or iTunes download. The 14 live discs produced so far—featuring artists like Jimmy Greene, Ben Wolfe
, Omer Avital, Eric Alexander, Ethan Iverson, Albert "Tootie" Heath, and Peter Bernstein—have received critical acclaim. There are several more in the works for 2011, including dates from Chris Potter and John Patitucci, and also Louis Hayes and Jeremy Pelt.
Interestingly enough though, and to his surprise, Wilner's own release, Solo Piano Live At Smalls (2010)—a recording culled from his performances this past summer—has been met with popular success. In fact, the first printing of the CD sold out. Wilner's performance is rooted in the stride piano tradition of James P. Johnson, Art Tatum, and Fats Waller. He describes the CD as a recording "off the beaten track as a concept recording." Wilner chooses to play with old tunes and ideas in an ageless, yet modern "straightforward and melodic manner," to just, as he states, "swing." Indeed, it does. The disc has the feel of the wee small hours, when a player is playing more for himself than the small crowd left in the club.
While amassing, perhaps, the best and most complete catalog of working New York City jazz musicians, Wilner is also forging a new path for jazz. This fall he met with several major record companies, who admitted to him that "everything is falling apart," as far as the traditional approach to marketing jazz recordings. Perhaps Wilner's approach—a universal concept of club performance, video and audio streaming, and producing select music CDs—may be the best way to capture a new audience for jazz, while satisfying the needs of audiophile collectors.

Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings, Bill Stewart
Live At Smalls

By Mike Joyce
Here’s proof that guitarist Peter Bernstein, Hammond B3 organist Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart excel at the art of the slow burn. Tempos aren’t rushed. Solos aren’t feverishly pitched. Call-and-response exchanges aren’t overheated. Instead, the trio shrewdly hews to a series of organ-combo grooves, turning this Manhattan club date into a simmering, soulful delight.
Nothing is more sublime than the performance of “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.” Bernstein subtly embellishes the theme with Jim Hall-like finesse and, thanks largely to Stewart’s cushioning brushwork, it isn’t long before the melody is floating in the air. The burn factor rises on this track, and elsewhere on the album, when Goldings begins to pull out the stops, but don’t anticipate a lot of fuss and flash. Even Goldings’ performance on “Molto Molto,” which he wrote, isn’t molto busy. Look forward, instead, to Bernstein’s softly glowing rumination “Just a Thought,” and a slinky, blues-hued arrangement of Jerome Kern’s “Nobody Else But Me.” A 12-minute take on “Milestones” burns brightest, but there are times when even that track, with its bleeping sci-fi atmospherics, sounds more whimsical than wired.
Not to be overlooked, too, is the way the trio salutes Ray Charles via Percy Mayfield’s “The Danger Zone,” which is saved for last. Bernstein is in slow shuffle mode, fluidly mixing blues riffs with jazz chromaticism until Goldings adds touches of Southern gospel fervor—just the right note for the album’s closer. Amen.

Friday, September 19, 2014

2 Sem 2014 - Part Six

Denny Zeitlin
Stairway To The Stars

By Jeff Tamarkin
Since the turn of the century, pianist Denny Zeitlin’s recordings have fallen into two categories: solo projects and releases with this trio featuring bassist Buster Williams and drummer Matt Wilson. Stairway to the Stars—recorded at the Jazz Bakery in L.A. in 2001, the year that Zeitlin first teamed with the two—is another argument for more trio dates. These three are formidable together.
On the surface, there’s nothing that hasn’t been done a thousand times before. The title track goes back to the 1959 Marilyn Monroe vehicle Some Like It Hot, while other numbers come from the pens of such familiar tunesmiths as Harry Warren, Jimmy Van Heusen and Rodgers and Hart. Those standards are augmented by Sonny Rollins’ “Oleo” and a Wayne Shorter composition, “Deluge,” from 1964’s JuJu, the youngest track here save for the finale, a Zeitlin-penned blues that is the only original on the album.
What sets the Zeitlin-Williams-Wilson trio apart is its openness and ardor: They approach this material as if it’s never been played before, deconstructing the melodies and rebuilding them in their own image. Zeitlin, who had already been playing professionally for three-and-a-half decades at this point, favors a sensitive, inquisitive touch on ballads with which Williams and Wilson naturally empathize. They’re clearly in love with each other’s playing.
If there’s one complaint it’s that the ballads are too many. Only on “Oleo” do they seriously turn things up, and it’s such a kinetic, electrifying rush that you wait (in vain) for more music like it. Maybe next time.

Libby York

By Christopher Loudon
While Diana Krall continues to top vocal polls and rack up platinum album sales, Chicagoan Libby York remains comparatively obscure. So consider this open invitation to all Krall fans to dip into York’s meager—just four albums across 15 years—but mighty oeuvre. Memoir, a terrific collection of standards, is an ideal place to start. What you’ll discover is an interpreter who is not only every inch Krall’s equal but also bears a strong vocal resemblance to the Canadian superstar: warm, intimate and imbued with a fogbound sexiness.
York has always demonstrated superb taste in both song selection and sidemen. Here, traveling from a tender “How Long Has This Been Going On?” and a sly “When in Rome” to a shimmering “My Little Boat” and sprightly “Walk Between the Raindrops,” she is seamlessly supported by pianist John di Martino (her co-arranger on all 11 tracks), bassist Martin Wind, drummer Greg Sergo and cornet player Warren Vaché. Guitarist Russell Malone joins on three tracks, including a misty “Thanks for the Memory,” and Vaché twice contributes vocal accompaniment, adding gravel-filled joy to “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and a cleverly updated take on the Bing Crosby-Bob Hope chestnut “Put It There, Pal.”

Oliver Jones
Just For My Lady

By Mike Joyce
Pianist and Canadian national treasure Oliver Jones turns 80 next year—yet another reason to celebrate his artistry and appeal. Just for My Lady offers an early invitation to the party via a collection of mostly swinging performances that radiate a sunny vitality.
In a Count Basie state of mind, Jones opens with the self-penned, Southwest swing-flavored “Josee’s Blues,” a tribute to his special guest on this recording, violinist Josee Aidans. Aidans’ participation further influences the choice of tunes and moods, in ways that often evoke Stéphane Grappelli, Claude Williams and other jazz violin masters; a prime example, of course, is “Lady Be Good,” the album’s exuberant coda. But her soulful, Grappelli-tinged approach to “The Windmills of Your Mind,” underscored by bassist Eric Lagacé’s bowed lines, is similarly telling.
Punctuating the album (and also enhanced by Aidans’ lyricism and resourcefulness) is The Saskatchewan Suite. Written by Jones, it comprises three contrasting portraits: the pensive “Prince Albert Sunrise,” the expansive “Regina Sky” and the rhythmically charged “Saskatoon Spirit.” Suffice it to say that midway through the performance, it’s clear the Chamber of Commerce should cut the composer a check.
Jones’ longtime accompanists—bassist Lagacé and drummer Jim Doxas—are showcased in a variety of attractive settings, thanks to a string of well-crafted arrangements that eschew routine breaks and exchanges. That’s one of the reasons why the album’s midtempo highlights, including Jones’ lovely title composition, cast a spell.

Mike Longo
New York State Of The Art: Live From New York

By Owen Cordle
This album captures an electrifying evening at the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium in the NYC Baha’i Center. There is a feeling of elation in the performances. Pianist Mike Longo wrote all the big-band arrangements, and they range from his atmospheric originals “Afro Desia” and “Inner City Hues” to the jazz standards “Whisper Not” and “Wee.” Deep-voiced vocalist Ira Hawkins sings “I’m Old Fashioned” (backed by the trio of Longo, bassist Tom Hubbard and drummer Mike Campenni), “Over the Rainbow” and “Muddy Water” (backed by the full band). Longo’s writing is strongly rhythmic; you wouldn’t expect otherwise from someone who was once a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s quintet. He elicits stirring dynamics and fills by Campenni.
Benny Golson’s “Whisper Not” leads off, with soloists Brian Davis (trumpet), Lee Greene (alto saxophone), Longo and Frank Perowsky (tenor saxophone) setting high standards for the successive performances. On Longo’s “Yoko Mama,” Earl McIntyre’s blustery plunger-muted bass trombone is a highlight, and on “Muddy Water,” Perowsky’s throaty-toned tenor turns up the heat over Campenni’s infectious shuffle beat. The initially suspenseful “Inner City Hues” (reminiscent of arranger Gerald Wilson’s writing) features more speechlike trombone work, this time from Nick Grinder and Sam Burtis. There’s spirited ensemble work throughout the album, such as the Supersax-like solos on “Wee” and the exotic, hypnotic repetition of “Afro Desia.”

Quatuor Ébène

It's Brazil as you've never heard it before in this new album from Quatuor Ebène. Bossa nova and samba are shaken up in an intoxicating multicultural cocktail with the score from Terry Gilliam's 1985 film Brazil, Argentinian tango, and numbers by songwriters from Stevie Wonder and Sting to Charlie Chaplin. Joining the Quatuor Ebène as special guests are eclectic French singer-songwriter Bernard Lavilliers and the stylish American jazz singer Stacey Kent.
Recording information: Studio Davout, Paris, France (08/20/2013-08/25/2013); Studio Davout, Paris, France (11/28/2013-11/30/2013). Editors: Pierre Colombet; Fabrice Planchat. Arrangers: Pierre Colombet; Mathieu Herzog; Gabriel Le Magadure; Raphaël Merlin. Personnel: Pierre Colombet, Gabriel Le Magadure (vocals, violin); Mathieu Herzog (vocals, viola); Raphaël Merlin (vocals, cello). Audio Mixers: Pierre Colombet; Fabrice Planchat.

2 Sem 2014 - Part Five

Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden
Last Dance

By John Kelman
For the past 30 years—barring a few diversions into classical repertoire, unexpected instrumentation like 1986's Book of Ways and a couple of home-cooked solo albums that, as with the 1986 recording No End (ECM, 2013), were out-of-character recordings where he overdubbed all the instruments himself—pianist Keith Jarrett has been working two contexts and two contexts only: solo piano performances that, with the exception of the home-recorded The Melody at Night, With You (ECM, 1999), have all been recorded live; and his Standards Trio recordings—in all but one instance featuring bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette —that, with the exception of the first three recordings made in 1983 (ultimately collected together in the Setting Standards: New York Sessions (ECM, 2008) box) and 1993's Bye Bye Blackbird, have also been exclusively in-concert recordings.
Jarrett's prior years as a leader saw him engaged in a greater variety of settings, his earliest dating back to 1967's Life Between the Exit Signs (Vortex), a trio date featuring bassist Charlie Haden
and drummer Paul Motian, two players with whom the pianist would continue working when he formed his so-called "American Quartet" in 1974 with saxophonist Dewey Redman for a series of recordings that began with Treasure Island (Impulse!) and ended with Bop Be (Impulse!, 1977) (even though Eyes of the Heart was released by ECM in 1979, it was recorded five months prior to that final Impulse! date).
Both Jarrett's American Quartet and the European-based "Belonging Quartet" that featured saxophonist Jan Garbarek, bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Jon Christensen were also distinguished from the pianist's subsequent recordings, both in his fully improvised solo recordings and the Great American Songbook explorations of his Standards Trio, in that they featured Jarrett's original compositions. Of course, in the right hands, improvisation is nothing less than in-the-moment composition, and so while Jarrett may appear to have deserted formal composition, both of his current projects are, it can be argued, still Jarrett in composition mode: one, in-the-moment with no preconceptions; the other, equally spontaneous but using the context of the jazz standard and Great American Songbook repertoires as its foundation.
All of which made Jasmine (ECM, 2010) a release worth celebrating. Recorded at Jarrett's home (in his Cavelight Studio), it was an intimate conversation between two old friends—Jarrett and Haden—who'd not recorded together in over three decades, and who were brought together when the pianist participated in Reto Cardiff's film about the bassist, Rambling Boy (2009). Some things are never lost, and if Jasmine proved anything, it's that the chemistry shared by Jarrett and Haden may have been on hiatus for 30 years, but was no less potent, no less profound, when they found themselves recording a series of standards at Jarrett's home with no rehearsals barring a few quick run-throughs of the changes. The collaboration must have been a fruitful one, because Last Dance comes from those same sessions, another full 76 minutes of music comprised, once again, of songs culled from jazz standards and the Great American Songbook.
The same strengths that made Jasmine such a wonderful—and welcome—diversion from Jarrett's solo and trio releases remain definitive on Last Dance. Haden demonstrates his usual unerring ability to find the absolutely perfect note—played with equally impeccable tone—whether it's in the spare yet ambling swing of his support for Jarrett's solo on the mid-tempo "Everything Happens to Me" or his own more intrinsically lyrical feature later in the same song; there's never a note wasted or a note out of place. As for Jarrett, while his career has been predicated on both virtuosity and an ability to spontaneously pull music from the ether, and as consistently superb as his solo and Standards Trio work has been over the past three decades, here in this context, he's never sounded so relaxed, so unfettered in a way that's different from his inimitable freedom in live performance. There is, of course, an energy that comes from an audience that feeds a musician and can make the difference between a good performance and a great one, but equally, there's something about the unconstrained freedom of playing at home with a longtime friend who shares your language. There's nothing to prove, only music to make, and while Jarrett has visited songs like Thelonious Monk's classic ballad "'Round Midnight" and Thomas Adair and Matt Denis' slightly brighter "Everything Happens to Me" before, they've never sounded this tender, this affectionate.
Two tracks from Last Dance are alternate versions of songs heard on Jasmine: while Victor Young and Peggy Lee's "Where Can I Go Without You" is taken at almost the same tempo, Gordon Jenkin's "Goodbye" is taken at a slightly slower pace, demonstrating how even such subtle differences can impact the way a song unfolds. In both cases, however, while the basic arrangements are the same, they also show how masterful improvisers can play the same song night after night (in this case, possibly even twice on the same day) and keep it sounding fresh and original.
Haden's health these days has made performance difficult, as he battles post-polio syndrome that can impair his hands—and his voice, because his vocal chords are at times paralyzed. It's impossible to know whether he will be able to continue touring or recording, but he's always been a fighter, so who knows what the future will bring. But if Last Dance were to be a title with particular significance—if it were to be the last recorded notes that Haden fans were to have the privilege of hearing, they'd be as confident, muscular and astutely intuitive as anything he's ever done. And while Jarrett, despite a run-in with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that nearly scuttled his career in the mid-to-late '90s, seems to be in reasonable health (he's also, at 69, seven years younger than Haden)—and, consequently, has plenty of performances left in him—Last Dance will stand, alongside Jasmine, as two of his most beautiful and intimate recordings, played with a lifelong friend who, despite a thirty-year gap in their musical partnership, came back as if time had stood still and not a second had passed since they'd last collaborated.
Track Listing: 
My Old Flame; My Ship; 'Round Midnight; Dance of the Infidels; It Might As Well Be Spring; Everything Happens to Me; Where Can I Go Without You; Every Time We Say Goodbye; Goodbye.
Keith Jarrett: piano; Charlie Haden: double bass.

Cyrus Chestnut
Midnight Melodies

By Jazz Messengers
This nearly perfect piano trio set by Cyrus Chestnut, captured at Smoke Jazz & Supper Club in New York, is his first live recording date. It retains all of the feeling and power of his thrilling live performances but also benefits from Smoke's Steinway B that Cyrus claims is the best piano in the city. “It's just my ticket.
We connect. It's warm and it's sharp at the same time with a lot of earth in it. I like clubs like the Jazz Standard or Smoke, where you can sit down at the piano and get down-home, because that's the kind of audience they attract.”.

Recorded live at Smoke Jazz Club, November 22 & 23, 2013

01. Two Heartbeats
02. Pocket Full of Blues
03. To Be Determined
04. Bag's Groove
05. Hey, It's Me You're Talkin' To
06. Chelsea Bridge
07. U.M.M.G. (Upper Manhattan Medical Group)
08. I Wanted to Say
09. Giant Steps
10. Naima's Love Song
11. The Theme

Marianne Solivan 
Prisoner of Love

Debut CD by New York jazz vocalist, featuring Jeremy Pelt, Christian McBride, Peter Bernstein, Xavier Davis, Michael Kanan, Ben Wolfe, and Johnathan Blake.

By Tom Pierce
This initial CD by a hypnotically captivating New York songstress had as strong an initial impression on me as almost any singer I've heard in recent years. Back in the day, she might have been called a “Torch Singer”; today currently some might label her a “Cabaret Singer, as most of the 11 songs are intimate and convincing ballads. However, none are the usual, overdone ones. She has more than enough natural rhythmic looseness & flexibility, without over-dramatizing her delivery, to strike me as an arresting JAZZ singer. She is superbly supported by Christian McBride & Ben Wolfe – bass; Michael Kanan – piano; Jonathan Blake – drums; Peter Bernstein – guitar and on one track by Jeremy Pelt, who also produced the CD.

Eliane Elias
I Thought About You: A Tribute To Chet Baker

By C. Michael Bailey
It is tempting to consider Chet Baker hommages like Jeff Baker's excellent Baker Sings Chet (OA2, 2004) or John Proulx's sublime Baker's dozen: Remembering Chet Baker (MAXJAZZ, 2009) superior to the real item. So fractured is our picture of Baker that our full appreciation of him is clouded by his extra-musical proclivities. But it is not exactly that. Baker's vibratoless trumpet and vocals, as well as, his limited technical abilities are acquired tastes, but once acquired are generally rewarding to the listener. It is not simply one thing, but the whole package that is Chet Baker. What better legacy to leave than a constant recapitulation of your famous book every-so-many years.
Today's vintage homage is pianist/vocalist Eliane Elias' I Thought About You: A Tribute to Chet Baker. Elias' reputation rests on her superior pianism, and beginning in 1990 with Eliane Elias Sings Jobim (Blue Note), her smooth, cool and perfectly nondescript vocals, which prove sonically and stylistically well suited for the Baker repertoire.
Like Proulx, Elias sings her Baker straight and uncomplicated, highlighting Baker's own emotionally frozen though thoroughly attractive delivery. The result captures Baker's dark and hiply sardonic singing personality. What Elias brings to the table is the breezy lilt of a Brazilian accent that increases the disc's sensuality to eleven on a scale of ten. "I Thought About You" and "Let's Get Lost" are like lovers' lips brushing one another.
Elias is supported by a grand cast that includes trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarists Oscar Castro-Neves and Steve Cardenas. They provide, with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Victor Lewis
that humid Caribbean infusion that colors every song. Is Chet Baker best experienced through other artists?
Track Listing: 
I Thought About You; There Will Never Be Another You; This Can't Be Love; Embraceable You; That Old Feeling; Everything Depends On You; I've Never Been In Love Before; Let's Get Lost; Start; You Don't Know What Love Is; Blue Room; Just Friends; Girl Talk; Just In Time; I Get Along Without You Very Well.
Eliane Elias: vocals, piano; Marc Johnson: acoustic bass; Steve Cardenas: electric guitar; Randy Brecker: trumpet, flugelhorn; Oscar Castro-Neves: acoustic guitar: Victor Lewis: drums; Rafael Barata: drums; Marivaldo Dos Santos: percussion. 

Cyrus Chestnut
Soul Brother Cool

By Jeff Tamarkin
On the surface, Soul Brother Cool appears to draw direct lines to two other releases: the recent The Willie Jones III Sextet Plays the Max Roach Songbook (also reviewed in this issue) and drum great Roach’s own 1966 album Drums Unlimited, which, like many of pianist Cyrus Chestnut’s early albums, was issued by Atlantic Records. Jones and bassist Dezron Douglas provide the rhythm section on both Jones’ release and Chestnut’s (each album appears on Jones’ WJ3 label), while the cover art of Soul Brother Cool is a ringer for the Roach set.
But that’s about as far as the comparisons go. Soul Brother Cool doesn’t even have much in common with Chestnut’s previous (and only other) quartet recording, an eponymous 2010 set. With trumpeter Freddie Hendrix replacing soprano saxophonist Stacy Dillard, the new collection, featuring 10 Chestnut originals, feels like a welcome departure. This is one tasty little band.
For one thing, Hendrix is as much the star here as Chestnut. His solos proliferate, alternately brash and serene, always commanding and fluid. He presents a marked contrast to Chestnut’s more studied and intricate gospel- and blues-rooted breaks. They feed well off each other, and Jones and Douglas consistently provide the required pocket. In “Piscean Thought,” Hendrix takes the first half, Chestnut the next quarter, then Hendrix returns to finish what he started; it’s not an atypical strategy on the album, as solos on the more tranquil “Dawn of the Sunset” and other tracks are similarly allocated. But Hendrix is so good here it’s hard to imagine a listener having a problem with his dominance.
Chestnut is a remarkable pianist and composer though, and while he’s not always in the spotlight on his own record, his creative presence is always felt.

Old Jazz Cd's - Part Seven By Mr. Bob

Guido Manusardi Quintet
Lost In Space

Lost In Space. the renowned pianist leads here a quintet in which shines the richly colored voice of Rachel Gould.
Rachel Gould(vo), Giulio Visibelli(ts,fl, ss), Sandro Gibellini(g), Guido Manusardi(p), Lucio Terzano(b), Mauro Beggio(ds)
Recorded at MurecStudio, Milan, Italy, August 9&10, 2002
1. Leave Them Laughing
2. But Now I'm Not in Love Anymore
3. Long Forgotten Arms
4. The Face of the One That I Love
5. Lost in Space
6. Heart of Fire
7. Pierre
8. Miriam
9. The Garden in Your Mind
10. Had Enough
11. The Day You Wished Me Goodbye

Monica Zetterlund & Bill Evans
Waltz For Debby

By Thom Jurek
An oddity in Bill Evans' catalog, this 1964 date places the Swedish jazz vocalist Monica Zetterlund alongside the Evans Trio (with Chuck Israels on bass and Larry Bunker on drums). Still, the match is seemingly perfect. Evans' lyricism is well suited to a breezy, sophisticated songstress like Zetterlund. There is an iciness on this recording, but it is difficult to decipher if it is in the performance or in the engineering where she seems to be way out in front of the band, when she was really in the middle of all the musicians in the studio. This is a minor complaint, however, as the tune selection and decorum of these sessions are quite lovely. From the opener "Come Rain or Come Shine" through the Swedish ballad "A Beautiful Rose" and the achingly gorgeous delivery of "Once Upon a Summertime," it's as if Zetterlund were destined to sing with Evans for a career instead of an album. For his part, Evans is very relaxed, allowing the lyrics to feed his musing on the simple, yet elegant harmonics. The Swedish version of "Waltz for Debbie" is a true delight because Zetterlund's voice becomes another instrument, soloing over the top of Evans' stunning selection of comping chords. In all this is an odd but special item, one that is necessary -- for at least one listen -- by any serious fan of the pianist and composer.

Tierney Sutton
Blue In Green

By Ken Dryden
There have been a number of tributes to Bill Evans since the pianist's death in 1980, including a few by singers. But this CD by Tierney Sutton (only her third as a leader) is not only wide-ranging in its scope, as it draws songs from throughout his career, but the often innovative arrangements bring a freshness to the music. Sutton doesn't resort to loud theatrics but swings hard when necessary while focusing on the melody, and also gives her supporting trio (pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Trey Henry, and drummer Ray Brinker) space to play. Evans' songs include a haunting "Blue in Green" (a modal gem credited to Miles Davis but claimed by the pianist as his work) with a touching lyric by Meredith d'Ambrosio, the mournful "Turn Out the Stars," a magical deliberate take of "Very Early," and an enticing medley of two of Evans' ballads written in honor of two young ladies, "Waltz for Debby" (for his niece) and "Tiffany" (for drummer Joe LaBarbera's infant daughter, who later composed the lyrics to this song as a teenager; Joe takes over the drums on this one song). The brisk "Autumn Leaves" is given a dramatic facelift with some fine scatting by Sutton and a wonderful reworking of the chord structure, and the calypso-flavored introduction to "Someday My Prince Will Come" is a high point, too. Ken Wild takes over on bass for the enchanting piano-less arrangement of "Sometime Ago," playing an ostinato pattern and supplying a soft backing scat vocal on this catchy chart. This outstanding release by Tierney Sutton should be considered an essential acquisition by fans of jazz singers and music associated with or written by Bill Evans.

Judy Niemack
Long As You're Living

By Great Judy
Of all her CD's this one is by far the craziest and most complex. To Welcome the Day is my favorite track with a difficult but catchy melody. Each song is packed with meaning while still giving time for great solos.
Phil Klum Assistant Engineer; A.T. Michael MacDonald Engineer, Editing
Judy Niemack Arranger, Vocals, Producer; Scott Colley Bass; Billy Hart Drums
Fred Hersch Piano, Arranger, Producer; Joe Lovano Sax (Tenor)
1. Long As You're Living
2. Walz For Debby
3. The Maestro
4. Good Bye Pork Pie Hat/I Remember Clifford
5. Caribbean Fire Dance
6. The Island
7. Monk's Dream
8. You've Taken Things Too Far
9. To Welcome The Day
10. Out Of This World
11. I Should Have Told You Goodbye
12. Infant Eyes

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kenny Wheeler 1930 - 2014

By Peter Hum at Ottawa Citizen
Trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler, who was raised in Toronto and beloved in Canada despite having lived in London, England, for the last 60 years, died Thursday. He was 84.
For the last month or so, jazz musicians in the United Kingdom, Canada and elsewhere were hopeful that Wheeler, a towering if extremely humble influence on so many musicians, would get the better of health difficulties.
Some months ago, Wheeler was moved to a nursing home. More recently, he was hospitalised. His friend and long-time collaborator Norma Winstone emailed me earlier this week, after visiting Wheeler last week: “News of Kenny is not too good. He is back in hospital, after being in a nursing home for a while. I went to see him last Friday and he is very frail. I am sure he is grateful for all the messages of love and support he has received.”
Wheeler played numerous times in Ottawa over the years, most recently in 2011 at the Ottawa Jazz Festival. Before he came to Ottawa, I interviewed him — not easy, because he was so self-effacing — I wrote this profile of him:
In the last 30 years, no one has influenced Canadian jazz more than trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler.
Not that he will own up to it. A generation of Canadian musicians consider Wheeler, 81, not only an inspirational beacon when it comes to playing and writing music, but also one of their own, even if the Toronto-born, musician did leave Canada for Britain in 1952.
In the summers of the 1980s and 1990s, Wheeler regularly taught at the Banff Centre’s jazz workshops, and although he is renowned for being self-effacing, a generation of aspiring Canadian and international jazz musicians fell hard for his unique, adventurous, romantic music, such that Canadian jazz would not sound the same without him.
“I think Kenny is the most influential player/composer that this country has produced,” says Toronto pianist Brian Dickinson.
“It’s impossible to hear Kenny play and not be influenced by him,” says Don Thompson, the Toronto bassist, pianist and vibraphonist whose 2008 disc is called For Kenny Wheeler. “I’ve heard people say it was a ‘life-changing experience’ or a ‘religious experience.’ With me, it was both. He has set the standard of excellence that I am continually striving to achieve. His attention to detail is such that there is never a note written that doesn’t mean something and every note is the best possible note.”
Meanwhile, Wheeler, who gives a TD Ottawa International Jazz Festival concert on July 2, has referred to his music as “soppy romantic melodies with a bit of chaos.”
And if you tell Wheeler that so much Canadian jazz resonates with his distinctive compositional voice, he replies: “That’s very flattering if it does.” And that’s it.
Born in Toronto but raised in St. Catharines, Wheeler began playing the cornet when he was 12, and took to jazz soon after. In the late 1940s and 1950s, he became interested in bebop, the then-new, fast-paced and harmonically daring style.
“What happened was I met a group of friends in St. Catharines and they were very much into bebop,” Wheeler says. “I got to like this music because of my new friends. Gradually I got to like it very much.”
He left Canada after opting not to pursue studies in Montreal that would have led to him becoming a high school teacher. “I realized I couldn’t do that. I felt I wanted to go somewhere,” he says, explaining that he did not go to the U.S., the home of jazz, because he feared he might be drafted to fight in the Korean War.
“So I thought it would be nice to go to England because they speak English there. I thought first of something exotic like Cuba or Brazil, but I thought that England might be safer.” He bought a ticket for a boat, and began playing in London’s big bands.
The first recording under Wheeler’s name – a big-band recording called Windmill Tilter – was not released until he had spent 15 years in London, growing as a musician. All of its pieces were dedicated to the great fictitious would-be adventurer Don Quixote.
Wheeler had gone to the library, borrowed Don Quixote, the 17thcentury Spanish novel by Miguel Cervantes, and “liked it very much. I’ve always liked people who I would call losers, and he seemed to be one of the great losers to me.”
Wheeler’s debut album clearly demonstrates the signature facets of his music – direct but novel and distinctive, harmonically rich and daring. His improvising is poised and dramatic, with large leaps in its melodies and a full, yet sometimes melancholy, sound.
How did Wheeler develop into a true original? “You just become the sum of your influences. I just listened to some of the good players I liked and hopefully I could come up with something different.”
He has released 30 or so albums under his name, including wordplay-titled classics called Gnu High, Double Double You and Deer Wan, his favourite. The discs have featured renowned collaborators, including pianists Keith Jarrett and John Taylor, saxophonists Michael Brecker and Jan Garbarek, and guitarists John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner.
In the 1970s, Wheeler began playing free jazz, notably with saxophonist Anthony Braxton and the Berlin-based Globe Unity Orchestra. Utterly spontaneous, free jazz is the antithesis of rigorous, structured bebop and of Wheeler’s own meticulous, lyrical creations. “First I didn’t like it, but gradually I got to like it. It had to do with meeting new friends that I liked very much,” he says. “I find it kind of therapeutic to play it. You get something out of your system.”
Wheeler says he still tries to compose every day. “I usually have some kind of routine. First, I would play some music by someone like Bach, or maybe even a more adventurous composer like Debussy or Ravel, and then I would hope that would suggest something to me and then I would begin to try and write something, not always with too much success.”
Wheeler has cut back a bit on his playing, which is not surprising given the physical demands that the trumpet makes. Still, there are plans for him to record a new big-band record this fall.
“I’m not so active these days as I used to be,” he says, “but I enjoy it when I do play.”
In the last month, benefit concerts were held in London, Vancouver and Montreal to raise money to help the Wheeler family with the financial burden of Kenny’s declining health, as well as that of his wife, Doreen. Their son, Mark, was overseeing the collection of funds from around the world via a PayPal account.
Last night in Ottawa, guitarist Roddy Ellias, myself, trombonist Mark Ferguson, bassist Alex Bilodeau and drummer Michel Delage — musicians ranging in age from the mid-60s to the mid-20s — got together to rehearse for our own benefit concert for Wheeler, slated for Friday night at Zola’s restaurant in Bell’s Corners. We absolutely loved rolling up our sleeves and getting into Wheeler’s impeccably crafted, imaginative, evocative music.
There was some reminiscing as well as practicing. I for one remembered taking Wheeler’s disc Gnu High out of the Nepean Public Library when I was in Grade 11, circa 1979. I was confused and enthralled at the same time. Thirty-five years later, I’m less muddled, and even more enchanted by Wheeler’s music. I don’t think the magic of it will never wear off.
We’ll play together Friday night just the same — timeless, brilliant compositions such as Everybody’s Song But Not My Own, Heyoke, Smatter, Sea Lady, Foxy Trot and more — surely saddened, but heartened by the beautiful gifts that Wheeler left us.
Rest in peace, Kenny Wheeler.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Joe Sample 1939 - 2014

By Eli Rosenberg - NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Joe Sample dead at 75: 
The piano star was known for pushing boundaries of jazz
Sample collaborated with artists like Miles Davis, B.B. King, Marvin Gaye and Steely Dan and was best known as the founder of the Crusaders. The musician passed away Friday night in his hometown of Houston at the age of 75, his family announced.
Legendary pianist Joe Sample, who was known for pushing the boundaries of jazz music, passed away Friday night in his hometown of Houston at the age of 75, his family announced on Facebook.
The keyboardist, who collaborated with artists like Miles Davis, B.B. King, Marvin Gaye and Steely Dan, was best known as the founder of the Crusaders, a quartet that popularized a soulful, funky sound in the 1960s and ’70s.
Sample’s ear for grooves resulted in the sampling of many of his songs by hip-hop artists, the most famous of which, “In All My Wildest Dreams,” was sampled by Tupac in his track, “Dear Mama.”
Sample said he made up his mind at age 14 to be a musician.
“Music was the only fun anyone had in their life at that time,” Sample told the magazine Wax Poetics, describing how his upbringing in Segregation-era Houston made his genre-bending music second nature. “Everything about the history of my family has always been mixed: the races, the food, the language — everything. It’s very natural.”
Joseph Leslie "Joe" Sample (February 1, 1939 – September 12, 2014)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Gerald Wilson 1918-2014

Gerald Wilson, the dynamic jazz musician whose career spanned more than 75 years, has died. He was 96.
Wilson's son, Anthony Wilson, said his father died Monday at his Los Angeles home from pneumonia.
The big band leader began his career in the 1930s as a trumpeter for Jimmy Lunceford's band before forming his own group in 1944. He played and composed music with the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie, and he arranged music for Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan and Bobby Darin.
Wilson, who was born in Shelby, Mississippi, bought his first trumpet at age 11. During his tenure with Lunceford, he arranged the hit tunes "Hi Spook" and "Yard Dog Mazurka."
After four years with Lunceford and a stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Wilson settled in Los Angeles in the 1940s. His adventurous big-band approach endured throughout decades of the genre's evolution.
With his long white hair in later years, Wilson became famous for his dance-like style of conducting, which he said helped listeners know what they were hearing.
"I choreograph the music when I conduct," he told the Jazz Times in 2011. "Accent everything — all the high points."
Wilson, a constant presence at events such as the Monterey Jazz Festival, received six Grammy nominations throughout his career, including nods in 1999 and 2004 for best large jazz ensemble for "Theme For Monterey" and "New York, New Sound." He later taught jazz at California State University, Northridge; California State University, Los Angeles; and University of California, Los Angeles.
He is survived by his wife, son, two daughters and four grandchildren.