Saturday, June 06, 2015

1 Sem 2015 - Part Eleven

Stanley Cowell
Are You Real ?

By Derek Taylor/ dustedmagazine
Freddie Redd’s loss is Stanley Cowell’s gain in the case of Are You Real? The elder bop pianist was originally scheduled to record with the Steeplechase house rhythm section of bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Ray Drummond in the spring of last year, but unexpectedly fell ill. Enter Cowell who has his own associations with the Danish label now numbering a dozen titles deep. The eleventh hour circumstances of the session also explain the presence of a handful of standards in the program, a practice Cowell isn’t often in the habit of entertaining. An accomplished composer, his interests more commonly lie in exploring original material of which there are two examples beginning with the session opener “Photon in a Paper World” exhumed from his 1969 trio debut and stretched to nearly a dozen minutes.
Despite the nascency of their partnership with Cowell, Anderson and Drummond rise easily to occasion and the pianist repays them with near-equal percentages in the proceedings. On “Photon” Drummond’s crisp martial patterns frame much of the action and Anderson takes a lengthy section mid-piece that puts his strings through a heady set of paces. Cowell sounds galvanized by the musicianship at his disposal his right hand dancing through extrapolations on the melody as his colleague’s deliver energetic accompaniment. Drummond’s brushes subtly steal the spotlight on the McCoy Tyner ballad “You Taught My Heart to Sing”, providing a supple and shifting cushion for Cowell’s comely chords. Jaki Byard’s “Mrs. Parker of KC” proves another inspired choice as the trio captures some of the mercurial personality of the composer through an angular performance that is curiously brisk, but relaxed.
After a Caribbean-tinged rundown of Paquito D’Rivera’s “I Remember Diz” accented by Drummond’s reliable ride cymbal much of the second half of the set gives over to more familiar standard fare starting with Tad Dameron’s “Hot House”. Cowell has fun deconstructing the Monkish melody and Drummond’s cymbals once again provide lively support as Anderson unflappably walks the middle before a capping set of exchanges. The Benny Golson title piece again finds the three carving out commensurate solo shares with a collective ease that belies a slippery chord changes embedded in its structure. Cowell closes the set with a kaleidoscopic rendering of Monk’s “Off Minor”, investing it with a similar degree of shared ownership that is as audibly satisfying to his colleagues as it is to bear witness to as a listener.

Stanley Cowell during the last five decades has not only been active on the jazz scene but also devoted himself in the musical education of younger generation. Now his well-earned retirement from teaching at the Rutgers enables him to spend more time in performing and recording. The latest album, which is his 13th release on this label, Stanley Cowell presents himself as a supreme interpreter of jazz's standard titles.
Stanley Cowell piano; Jay Anderson bass; Billy Drummond drums
Recorded: March 2014
01. Photon In A Paper World; 02. You Taught My Heart To Sing; 03. Mrs. Parker Of Kc
04. I Remember Diz; 05. Hot House; 06. Are You Real?; 07. The Wedding Recessional
08. Off Minor

Avishai Cohen Trio
From Darkness

By Patrick Hadfield
Bassist Avishai Cohen is both prolific and eclectic. His latest album, a trio recording his regular band, pianist Nitai Hershkovits and young drummer Daniel Dor, is jazz infused with rock, classical and Latin influences. Though led by a bassist, it is very much a piano trio. All the tunes are written by Cohen, bar the rendition of Charlie Chaplin's Smile which closes the CD, it is Hershkovits' piano which is to the fore.
The opener Beyond features Dor, starting gently enough with Cohen and Hershkovits vamping behind him. One of the shorter pieces, they move swiftly on to the Latin-tinged Abie, in which Dor keeps several different rhythms going whilst Hershkovits plays the theme, the chords getting heavier and darker. The mixture of jazz, Latin and classical tones has an almost klezmer feel at times, but the rhythmic complexities hint at greater depth (and no dancing).
Calling a tune Ballad for an Unborn can't help but recall another piano trio - est, who recorded their Ballad for the Unborn on 2003's Seven Days of Falling. Cohen is in very different territory: his piano trio is more wistful and lyrical. This Ballad is a vehicle for Cohen's bass, with a long solo over some very gentle, subtle brush work from Dor and some quiet, understated piano from Hershkovits.
The title track, From Darkness, also features Cohen, on what sounds like an electric bass. Dor's drumming is more into Rick territory, with thunderous fills on tom toms as Cohen executes some very fast fretwork in the upper register.
The lovely, almost lullaby-like Almah Sleeping has Cohen bowing his bass over Hershkovits gentle, repetitive piano and Dor's soft-again brushed drums. There are lots of standout moments on the record, but this tune I think is my favorite.
At just over forty minutes for eleven tracks, it isn't a long CD, and one that of us who grew up in a vinyl world may appreciate. Several of the tunes are quite short, too, ending before the band have really been able to stretch out; it would interesting to hear whether the trio extend these pieces in a live setting. I'd certainly have been happy for some of the tracks to be longer, to see where they'd have got to.

Jan Lundgren
All By Myself

By Mark Gardner/Jazz Journal
"Solo jazz piano is a devilishly demanding art but Jan Lundgren, blessed with keen intelligence, a superior technique, respect and feeling for melodies, unfailing taste and, above all, a certainty about his own style, is a pianist equal to and undaunted by such an assignment. He produces here a classic example of the genre, way up there with the very finest. Producer Dick Bank, lured out of retirement by an irresistible project, describes this CD as “the best recording I have ever produced, the best Jan Lundgren has ever done.” I must agree.
Lundgren applies his immaculate touch and perceptive treatments to some of the most tempting tunes. Even familiars by Kern and Gershwin have seldom sounded fresher, but Jan is ever ready to spring a surprise by plucking a rare page of Porter in Dream Dancing, making it sing and leaving us wondering how it came to be overlooked. Dave Brubeck's winsome In Your Own Sweet Way has never sounded so alluringly elegant, while The Man I Love and My Heart Stood Still are glorious reminders of the pianist's love and respect for Bud Powell.
I could pontificate on the outstanding merits of each and every one of these 14 performances, but far better to read Doug Ramsey’s 15-page essay - one of the most illuminating jazz descriptive pieces it's been my pleasure to read. However, I cannot demur from mentioning Jan's lingering inspection of Nobody Else But Me or his stunning account of ’Round Midnight, the perfect closer.
Every facet of this production is peerless, and it will stand as a milestone in Lundgren's career path. How it was conceived through a chance meeting in a dental surgery is a fascinating story in itself. Three words of advice: Go get it!"
01. Will You Still Be Mine;02. In Your Own Sweet Way; 03. Caravan
04. Dream Dancing; 05. The Man I Love; 06. We'll Be Together Again
07. Who Cares?; 08. April in Paris; 09. I Remember You; 10. Prelude to a Kiss
11. The Way You Look Tonight; 12. Nobody Else But Me; 13. My Heart Stood Still
14. 'Round Midnight
Jan Lundgren
Recorded at Entourage Studios, Hollywood, January 10-11-12, 2014.

Dado Moroni
Five for John

By Birdistheworm
Pianist Dado Moroni casts a wide net on his tribute to John Coltrane. Five For John not only includes Coltrane compositions like “Naima,” “After the Rain,” and “Mr. PC,” but also tunes that Coltrane famously recorded, like the Soultrane cut “Theme for Ernie” (written by fellow Philadelphian Frank Lacey) and the Gershwin song “But Not For Me” from the Coltrane classic My Favorite Things. Moroni, however, doesn’t stop there, also including compositions by Coltrane Quartet members McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones (“Contemplation,” “Latino Suite,” and “E.J. Blues”), and then a couple of Moroni originals, illustrating the personal mark left by Coltrane on the Italian pianist. It’s a holistic methodology for a tribute album, and it works excessively well, both in theory and practice.
In addition to Moroni’s novel approach to music tribute, his other inspired decision is the inclusion of vibraphonist Joe Locke in the classic quartet format representative of Coltrane’s output. The other members of the quartet do an excellent job of capturing the spirit of Coltrane’s music without ever resorting to simple mimicry and sacrificing their own sound. Moroni mirrors some of the surging intensity emblematic of both Coltrane’s sax and (Coltrane Quartet member) McCoy Tyner’s piano contributions, and Alvin Queen summons forth plenty of the power and fury of Elvin Jones, his Coltrane Quartet counterpart. Bassist Panascia has a fluency with his instrument that allows him to say plenty when an opening presents itself, no different than the way in which Coltrane would allow his own bassist Jimmy Garrison time to speak his mind with a solo.
But it’s the aspects sussed out by Locke on vibes that is most revelatory on this recording. Much in the way that Eric Dolphy’s bass clarinet evoked a resonant spirituality from Coltrane’s music, Locke is equally resonant with Moroni’s quartet, but evincing a change with icy bright notes accentuating the melody while at the same time shading the edges of the tempo. In many ways, even though Moroni is the session leader, and Max Ionata sits in for a handful of tracks on tenor sax, it’s Locke that is shaping the songs into their eminent form. Whether a thrilling solo, like on the McCoy Tyner composition “Contemplation” or setting the table for nifty solos by saxophonist Ionata and Panascia on “Naima,” it’s Locke’s vibes directing events, presenting a novel expression of Coltrane’s music while simultaneously honoring the original’s sound.
The two Moroni originals “Sister Something” and “Mr. Fournier” crackle with electricity, and show that Moroni is more than just a casual fan of Coltrane. His brief reference to A Love Supreme as “Naima” draws to close is yet another bit of evidence to the conscientious approach Moroni took to the project.
Just a real enjoyable album, and something a little different when it comes to Coltrane tribute albums.
 Dado Moroni (piano), Joe Locke (vibes), Alvin Queen (drums), Marco Panascia (double bass), and guest: Max Ionata (tenor sax).

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