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.

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