Sunday, May 03, 2015

1 Sem 2015 - Part Ten

Bobby Hutcherson
Enjoy The View

By Andy Boeckstaens
Vibraphone master Bobby Hutcherson first recorded for Blue Note Records in 1963. As one of the great survivors from that classic era, it is appropriate that he was asked to lead a session to coincide with the label’s 75th year. “I’ve had a long-term association with the label”, he enthuses. “I’m thrilled to be back here”.
The president of Blue Note Records, Don Was, had the idea for this CD after he heard organist Joey DeFrancesco and saxophone legend David Sanborn at the (unrelated) Blue Note club in New York. “I just sat there and the set was so relaxed and grooving”, he remarks. “I loved what I heard.” As the common link between the participants - and having known Hutcherson for several years - DeFrancesco set the ball rolling by coralling the musicians and writing material for an album.
DeFrancesco created two new pieces: Don Is, a swinging tribute to the Blue Note boss, and You. These, along with Sanborn’s Delia were actually taped at the rehearsal on the day before the official session in Hollywood. The saxophonist says that he chose his tunes (the other is a delicate Little Flower) because “I could hear Bobby playing them. They end up feeling looser and freer than the first time I recorded them.” Sanborn had worked with neither Hutcherson nor drummer Billy Hart before, but it is no surprise that his impassioned cries complement the thoughtfully-crafted work of his colleagues.
Hutcherson brings three compositions along: the rocking Hey Harold; Montara, and the memorable, restless Teddy, yet his instrument is rarely the dominant voice. He modestly observes, “You can’t play over the organ or the saxophone, which have more power, so I play softer...what I play on the vibes always seems to be the cherry on top of the sundae.” Hart recognises that this is more than confectionery, and says of the leader, “He’s a magician and a musician. When he hits the mallets on the vibes, something special happens”. The drummer himself shows customary artistry and sensitivity throughout the date.
Although I’ll be surprised if Enjoy the View becomes a Blue Note classic, Hutcherson’s latest outing is a melodic and enjoyable collaboration. The last words go to Sanborn: “It was like we were having a four-way conversation. When that happens with no egos, everyone talks....that experience was worth everything to me.”

Neil Cowley Trio
Touch and Flee

By Richard Rees Jones at
On Touch And Flee, their fifth album, the Neil Cowley Trio reinforce their position as one of Britain's brightest jazz ensembles. London-based pianist Cowley gained considerable acclaim for his contributions to both of Adele's multimillion-selling albums, but he's clearly happiest when fronting his own group. Sharpened by constant gigging and trading on significant word-of-mouth popularity, the trio have built up a formidable reputation with their powerful, energetic piano workouts. Cowley also has a nice line in dry humour, which saw him title his second album Loud…Louder…Stop in sardonic acknowledgement of his compositional style.
The kernel of truth contained in that description goes some way towards explaining Cowley's status as a rising star of the British jazz scene. Cowley is a prodigiously talented, yet resolutely unflashy pianist; like the late, much missed Esbjörn Svensson, he has a gift for memorable hooks and crescendos allied to a driving, restless quality in his playing. The combination makes Cowley that rare animal, a jazz musician for people who don't like jazz. Purists may baulk at his preference for tight, concise compositions over lengthy improvised excursions, and certainly you won't hear much of Keith Jarrett or Brad Mehldau in his bold, unfailingly direct melodies. It's that very boldness that makes Touch And Flee such a smart and lively pleasure.
The new record represents a stylistic shift away from the trio's last album, 2012's The Face of Mount Molehill, an ambitious outing which saw them add strings and guitar to their core line-up. Touch And Flee is both a more stripped down effort than its predecessor and the trio's most sheerly enjoyable statement to date. Joined by Rex Horan on bass and Evan Jenkins on drums, Cowley presents nine shortish pieces that move effortlessly between fluid, uncluttered tunes, warm humour and passages of tense, spiky abstraction. On opener 'Kneel Down', pensive piano chords and unobtrusive rhythms resolve into a spare and graceful melody. 'Sparkling' is even better, a blissful evocation of the piece's title with a surging, dreamlike mood.
Elsewhere, Horan and Jenkins prove themselves to be anything but, on the bouncily attractive 'Couch Slouch'. Spurring each other on in expressive interplay, the bassist and drummer lock into Cowley's relaxed and flowing grooves. Meanwhile there's a gently simmering power to a track like 'Gang Of One', with Cowley's vigorous harmonies laid over Jenkins' crisp snare and cymbal work. A couple of other tracks reveal a more introspective side to the trio than has been shown on previous outings. 'Queen', at six-and-a-half minutes the longest piece here, sees Cowley sketch haunting half-melodies to stunning effect, while on 'Bryce', Horan's sensitive bass perfectly sets off the wintry, filmic tone of Cowley's playing.

Peter Bernstein
Guitar Solo - Live At Smalls

By JazzLives
If you know jazz guitar in its truest sense, the news of a new Peter Bernstein solo CD is cause for delight, especially because it is his first solo recording.
I don’t know at what point the guitar became the most popular instrument in the world — surely it has been so for the last half-century and more. It looks easy: all the notes are visible, laid out in logical ways; there is nothing to blow into, no reeds to fuss over, but the neophyte finds out in the first half-hour that the guitar is a trap for the unwary. Yes, one can walk up and down one string at a time; one can move simple chord patterns up and down the fretboard, but making music from the guitar — beautiful music — is a far more treacherous affair.
Peter Bernstein has long since become a Master of that instrument, and a Master of sweetly elongated melodies. He doesn’t affect a hard-edged tone; he doesn’t need many notes to show us how vigorously he has practiced his scales; his solos don’t leave us exhausted. Rather, he has a sweet, temperate sound on the instrument, but it’s not aural wallpaper: his notes ring and chime; his chords shimmer. On this disc, he explores medium-tempo classics and ballads in a leisurely manner, but his approach is full of surprises: he plays orchestrally, so that a single-line statement will be punctuated by pulsing, mobile chords, with harmonies that offer new ways of hearing the familiar. At the end of a Bernstein performance of the most familiar song, one feels it has been revisited lovingly, its virtues shining, its faults (if it has any) tenderly concealed.
A Bernstein solo at first seems like a collection of delicate traceries, an iridescent spiderweb in the sunlight. Then you realize that although his playing is easy to listen to, it is never Easy Listening, a lullaby for the half-conscious listener. Heard attentively, one realizes that Bernstein’s delicacy is based on assurance and strength — a strength that isn’t expressed in volume or power, velocity or granitic chord-clusters, but a certainty: he is exploring but never indecisive, never tentative. One listens to a small symphony unfolding, chorus after chorus, building structurally from note to note, phrase to phrase, until the whole improvisation has its own shining three-dimensional shape.
The CD was not a thing of splices and patches, not created in the laboratory of the recording studio, but performed “live” in front of a quiet audience at Smalls (183 West 10th Street) in downtown Manhattan on October 16 and 17, 2012. The songs are a deliciously melodic mix:
DJANGO / I LOVE YOU / CREPUSCLE WITH NELLIE / PANNONICA / STAR EYES / YESTERDAYS / DON’T BLAME ME / GIANT STEPS / WISE ONE / THE TENDER TRAP / TWO DIFFERENT WORLDS / AUTUMN IN NEW YORK / GONE WITH THE WIND / PUT YOUR DREAMS AWAY — a welcome emphasis on medium-tempo saunters and deep romantic ballads. Even if you feel you’ve heard these songs a thousand times, you will make room in your memory for these new interpretations.
The disc is well-recorded, with empathic notes by pianist Spike Wilner . . . and I believe that profits from its sale benefit not only Peter but the club itself, a small quirky landmark of the world jazz scene. It is an honor to hear Peter Bernstein go his own way as he does on this CD.
All albums (I believe the label has issued forty so far) are currently available through iTunes, Amazon (CD only), HDtracks (high-resolution) and at
May your happiness increase!

George Mraz/David Hazeltine Trio
Your Story

George Mraz, the Czech native and master of jazz acoustic bass, has joined up with pianist David Hazeltine and drummer Jason Brown to create the George Mraz/David Hazeltine Trio album, Your Song.
The record features the players’ interpretations of classics like Rogers & Hart’s “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” and Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” alongside Mraz’s works, “For B.C.” and “Wisteria” and Hazeltine’s “Barbara.”
1. Around the Corner (Barry Harris)
2. Turn Out the Stars (Bill Evans)
3. Barbara (David Hazeltine)
4. For B.C. (George Mraz)
5. You Must Believe in Spring (Bergman/Demy/Legrand)
6. Your Story (Bill Evans)
7. I Didn't Know What Time It Was (Rogers/Hart)
8. Wisteria (George Mraz)
9. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye (Cole Porter)
George Mraz bass; David Hazeltine piano; Jason Brown drums

Eliane Elias
Made In Brazil

By Jeff Winbush
If you've never been to Brazil, consider Eliane Elias as a goodwill ambassador with Made In Brazil. It is a triumphant return for the pianist/vocalist to her native land to record her first album there since relocating to the United States in 1981.
There is a delicacy to how Elias chooses and approaches the material. There is no genuflecting to pop music as there was on Light My Fire (Concord, 2011). Here Elias is all about adult emotions and days of "wine and roses" gorgeously captured on her original, "Searching." Elias called upon Rob Mathes to handle orchestral arrangements on seven of the 12 tracks which were recorded in London at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. Never overbearing or overblown, Mathes utilizes the strings to enhance the dreamily romantic atmosphere of Made In Brazil.
You might think by now Elias would have covered the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic "Aguas de Marco (Waters of March)." After all she dedicated a tribute to her countryman, Eliane Elias Sings Jobim (Blue Note, 1988), but somehow she bypassed "Waters of March." That oversight is remedied by inviting the vocal group Take 6 to join in with some R&B sweetness as Elias deftly provides a sparkling solo on the Fender Rhodes.
When a musician is wearing as many hats as Elias is here as a producer, composer, lyricist, arranger, musician and vocalist there is an inherent risk of coming up short somewhere, but there are no notable lapses. Whether Elias is dueting with daughter Amanda Brecker on "Some Enchanted Evening" with band mate and husband Marc Johnson on acoustic bass or joined by composer Roberto Menescal who adds his vocals to "Você" and guitar on "Rio," the results are nothing short of blissful perfection.
Switching gracefully between English and Portuguese, Made In Brazil is a sensual, sexy, swaying journey through Elias' native heart. Beyond any doubt it proves you can go home again.
Elias has firmly established herself as an consummate talent whether she is behind the keyboard or in front of the microphone. The artist presented in these twelve tracks is an assured and polished professional who brings a subtle delicacy to this music. Made In Brazil is another glittering gem in Elias' crown as the luminary leader of contemporary bossa nova, samba and Brazilian jazz.
Track Listing: 
Brasil (Aqualera do Brasil); Você; Aguas de Marco (Waters of March); Searching; Some Enchanted Evening; Incendiando; Vida (If Not For You)l Este Seu Olhar/Promessas; Driving Ambition; Rio; A Sorte du Amor (The Luck of Love); No Tabuleiro da Baiana
Eliane Elias: vocals, piano, keyboards; Take 6: vocals (3); Mark Kibble: vocals (3, 6, 9); Amanda Brecker: vocals (4); Ed Motta: vocals (7); Roberto Menescal: vocals (2), guitar (2, 10); Marcus Teixeira: guitar (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 12); Marcelo Mariano: electric bass (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 12); Marc Johnson: acoustic bass (2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11); Edu Riberio: drums (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 12); Rafael Barata: drums (2, 4, 5, 10); Mauro Refosco: percussion (1, 3, 5, 7, 9); Marivaldo dos Santos: percussion (5, 9); Rob Mathes: orchestral arrangement.

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