Saturday, March 07, 2015

1 Sem 2015 - Part Six

Chick Corea Trio

By Bill Meredith
After half a century as a preeminent jazz composer and musician, 73-year-old keyboardist Chick Corea is in a rare place as an artist who can release practically whatever he wants. In recent years, his incredibly prolific output has included everything from solo-piano outings to duos to sets by reshuffled iterations of Return to Forever. Even the releases themselves, like this three-CD live collection clocking in at nearly three and a half hours, are bursting with material. Overkill? Perhaps. But fortunately Corea’s band here features bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade, forming a trio worthy of comparison to Corea’s great acoustic threesomes from Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes to Eddie Gomez and Paul Motian.
Five years ago, McBride played electric bass and Blade subbed for Vinnie Colaiuta on tour in Corea’s Five Peace Band, co-led with guitarist John McLaughlin and also featuring saxophonist Kenny Garrett. So the chemistry within this trio is evident from the outset. Corea’s opening composition, “You’re My Everything,” immediately spotlights the interactive ears of the swinging Blade, who answers the pianist’s phrases with both drumsticks and brushes as McBride provides the glue with accents and walking lines.
Corea then covers four pieces: Joe Henderson’s “Recorda Me,” Thelonious Monk’s whimsical “Work” and delightful new reads of “The Song Is You” and “My Foolish Heart,” the lattermost captured in Madrid with Spanish guest stars Niño Josele (guitar) and Jorge Pardo (flute). They both return for a barnburning 18-minute version of Corea’s “Spain.
The recording sites are as wide-ranging as the songwriting credits, from Washington, D.C., and Oakland, Calif., to Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Turkey and Japan. Disc two intersperses American Songbook material (“Alice in Wonderland,” “It Could Happen to You,” “How Deep Is the Ocean”) with another rousing Monk number (“Blue Monk”), Corea’s lone original, “Armando’s Rhumba,” and a couple of surprises. Kurt Weill’s “This Is New” is a highlight thanks to Corea’s exquisite touch, McBride’s take-no-prisoners break and Blade’s melodic approach. And Scriabin could never have imagined this trio’s take on his “Op. 11, No. 9,” a democratic call-and-response showcase for all three musicians.
Disc three closes with something old after two very long pieces of something new. Corea’s “Homage” is dedicated to the late flamenco guitar genius Paco de Lucía, and the pianist captures his essence through a darting unaccompanied intro and sections ranging from somber to spirited. And Corea’s previously unrecorded “Piano Sonata: The Moon,” clocking in at a half-hour, is a shell-game of written and improvised sections filled with starts and stops, crescendos and space. Its impeccable follow-up is the chestnut “Someday My Prince Will Come,” sung by Corea’s wife, Gayle Moran, which causes the crowd in Sapporo, Japan, to erupt. The couple starts the tune as a duet before McBride and Blade enter, playfully accenting Corea’s subtleties before Moran sustains a 22-second upper-register note to close (she was, some may forget, a vocalist and keyboardist for both Return to Forever and the Mahavishnu Orchestra in the 1970s).
This expansive three-CD set offers a lot to digest, and may even come across as self-indulgent on paper. Then again, chances are that nearly every listener at these concerts left the venue wanting more. With Trilogy, they don’t have to.

Baptiste Trotignon

Posted by Irwin Block 
There is an overwhelming sense of joy and playfulness in this latest album by French pianist Baptiste Trotignon, who has never sounded better.
Perhaps it’s the recurring company on this all-original outing: the big tone and melodic voice of French compatriot Thomas Bramerie on bass, and the tuneful ears, experience and technique of American drummer Jeff Ballard.
Ballard gives just the right touch to enhance and accentuate the verve in Trotignon dynamics, as he has done so effectively with pianist Brad Mehldau. Trotignon roams over the keyboard with purposeful abandon on the tone poem Choral, closing with a revisit to that theme.
Abracadabra is a more percussive and up-tempo excursion, more rhythmically complex, while Paul is lyrical in varying tempi and modes, with even an Eleanor Rigby reference! It defies definition.
This CD is a lot of fun to listen to and an uplifting musical session.

David Hazeltine
For All We Know

By C. Andrew W Hovan
While many of today's jazz pianists are looking to make a name for themselves by morphing their jazz chops with shades of hip hop, the avant-garde, or world music, David Hazeltine avoids these pitfalls altogether. His individuality is achieved through commitment to his craft and an immediately recognizable composing and arranging style that has a clear and refreshing sense of purpose. Even while he pays tribute to Cedar Walton on For All We Know, Hazeltine's music speaks with a decisive quality that marks him as one of the true piano greats of his generation.
There's much to be said for the cohesiveness that comes from musicians sharing the stage together on a regular basis and in the case of Hazeltine, bassist David Williams, and drummer Joe Farnsworth, you'd be hard pressed to find a rhythm section that is more in tune with itself. Providing the 'yin' to the trio's 'yang' is tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, making his first appearance here with Hazeltine and crew.
If you're familiar with Hazeltine's music, you know that he's become somewhat of an icon when it comes to rearranging standards. He has a knack of making everything he touches sound like his own work, breathing new life into standards like "My Ship," "Imagination," and "For All We Know." His own pieces are no less interesting, with him doubling melody lines with Blake on "Pooh" or reprising the funky excitement of "Eddie Harris," a tune first heard several years ago on a One For All set. All in all, this is another solid addition to Hazeltine's catalog and his first live recording as a leader.
Et Cedra; My Ship; Pooh; Lord Walton; For All We Know; Eddie Harris; Cheryl; Imagination; A.D. Bossa.
David Hazeltine: piano; Seamus Blake: tenor sax; David Williams: bass; Joe Farnsworth: drums.

Diana Krall

By Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Diana Krall paid tribute to her father on Glad Rag Doll, the 2012 album sourced from his collection of 78-rpm records, and, in a sense, its 2015 successor Wallflower is a companion record of sorts, finding the singer revisiting songs from her childhood. Like many kids of the 20th century, she grew up listening to the radio, which meant she was weaned on the soft rock superhits of the '70s -- songs that earned sniffy condescension at the time but nevertheless have turned into modern standards due to their continual presence in pop culture (and arguably were treated that way at the time, seeing cover after cover by middlebrow pop singers). Krall does not limit herself to the songbook of Gilbert O'Sullivan, Jim Croce, the Carpenters, Elton John, and the Eagles, choosing to expand her definition of soft rock to include a previously unrecorded Paul McCartney song called "If I Take You Home Tonight" (a leftover from his standards album Kisses on the Bottom), Bob Dylan's "Wallflower," Chantal Kreviazuk's "Feels Like Home," and Neil Finn's "Don't Dream It's Over," a song from 1986 that has been covered frequently in the three decades since. "Don't Dream It's Over" slides into this collection easily, as it's as malleable and timeless as "California Dreamin'," "Superstar," "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," or "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)," songs that are identified with specific artists but are often covered successfully. Krall's renditions rank among those successes because she's understated, never fussing with the melodies but allowing her arrangements to slink by in a deliberate blend of sparseness and sophistication. It's an aesthetic that helps transform the Eagles' "I Can't Tell You Why" and 10cc's "I'm Not in Love," singles that are as successful as much for their production as their song, into elegant torch songs, yet it doesn't do much for Kreviazuk's pedestrian "Feels Like Home," nor does it lend itself to the loping country of "Wallflower," which may provide the name for this album but feels like an uninvited guest among these majestically melodic middle-of-the-road standards. These stumbles are slight and, tellingly, they put into context Krall's achievement with Wallflower: by singing these songs as sweet and straight as the dusty old standards on Glad Rag Doll or the bossa nova on 2009's Quiet Nights, she demonstrates how enduring these once-dismissed soft rock tunes really are.

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