Sunday, November 08, 2015

2 Sem 2015 - Part Seven

Vanessa Perea
Soulful Days

By Raul Da Gama
Vanessa Perea might have a particular flair for the theatrical. This is suggested by the manner of her phrasing. Ms. Perea is able to pace herself and tell stories with each song she sings. In the case of this album, Soulful Days her range is grand and her ability to hold high notes as well as low ones is so utterly convincing that she could easily be on stage telling her story on Broadway, for instance. She also sings to the limits of the instrumentation which is small in this case and it would be interesting to listen to and watch her perform with a much bigger ensemble, with a big band. It is almost certain that she could clearly take on the size of even a full orchestra. She has that presence. Here, stripped down to one trombone with the trumpet for company there is a part of the ear that misses an ensemble of Ellingtonian proportions although Ms. Perea sometimes enunciates the lyric suggesting in the manner of another woodwind or a brass instrument creating breathtaking counterpoint for those with which she is already singing wordlessly or with words. And these are wonderful arrangements made it would seem, to fit Ms. Perea’s personality as well. She takes on the songs as if they were written for her as well.
As William Blake put it, fire will find its form, Soulful Days is a perfect convergence of content and form. Woodwind, brass and piano conjure the playful fantasy world of the music in which Vanessa Perea becomes a minstrel who almost slips back in time to the date and time of the characters’ encounters in these folk tales. Ms. Perea’s tremendous vocalising of Anthony Newley and Lesley Bricusse’s “Who Can I Turn To” is a case where the lyric makes the heartbreak and elemental loneliness come hauntingly alive. In “Jim” there is another beautiful rendition of a song that is emotively strong and requires the vocal efforts to be more evocative than in a simple song. Ms. Perea draws out her word-endings with beautiful anguish in the classic “Tenderly” and it is here that she seems to suggest the narrative palette of Broadway. Her Portuguese is also on form as she sings Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Triste” and Caetano Veloso’s “Luz do Sol”. This is a greater test of strength and ability in a manner of speaking as vocal skills must be matched here with the ability to dream in another language and this Ms. Perea does very convincingly. But there is a surprise waiting in store for the listener and it is in none of the above.
Vanessa Perea outdoes herself as she is pitted against the trombone of Robert Edwards on Bud Powell’s classic bebop chart, “Celia”. The singer carries herself through magnificently here and it is almost worth the entire album just to get to her scatting solo on this wonderful track. Bebop, as Sheila Jordan tells her pupils in a master class, requires just as much emotion as it does speed. In the case of this Bud Powell song Ms. Perea displays this with such monumental control that it is almost too tempting to suggest, at the risk of being too presumptuous, perhaps a bebop recording next.
Track List: 
Devil May Care; Soulful Days (These Are Soulful Days); Who Can I Turn To; Too Marvelous For Words; Jim; December Blue (Martha’s Prize); Triste: Let Me Tell You; Luz do Sol; Tenderly; Celia
Vanessa Perea: vocals; Robert Edwards: trombone; Matt Jodrell: trumpet; Dave Lantz: piano; Dylan Shamat: bass; Evan Sherman: drums.

Andy Bey
Pages From An Imaginary Life

By Matt Collar
Coming off his Grammy-nominated 2013 album, The World According to Andy Bey, vocalist/pianist Andy Bey delivers the equally compelling 2014 release Pages from an Imaginary Life. As with its predecessor, Pages finds the jazz iconoclast returning to his roots with a set of American Popular Song standards done in a ruminative, stripped-down style. This is Bey, alone at the piano, delving deeply into the harmony, melody, and lyrics of each song. But don't let the spare setting fool you. Bey is a master of interpretation. In his seventies at the time of recording, and having performed over the years in a variety of settings from leading his own swinging vocal trio, to working with hard bop pioneer Horace Silver, to exploring the avant-garde with Archie Shepp, Bey has aged into a jazz oracle who doesn't so much perform songs as conjure them from somewhere in the mystical ether of his psyche. Famously blessed with a distinctive, sonorous baritone warble, Bey's voice has only ripened over the years to a warm, burnished, woody resonance; a sound perfectly suited for these poignant, romantic songs. In his hands, songs like "My Foolish Heart," "How Long Has This Been Going On?," and "Everything I Have Is Yours," take on new hues of gorgeous devastation. And yet, there's still something hopeful, swinging, and urbane about Bey's performances, and songs like "Lover Come Back to Me" and "Take the 'A' Train," are, as with all of the music on Pages from an Imaginary Life, joyous, earthy celebrations of life and love.

Carol Fredette
no sad songs for me

By C. Michael Bailey
We last heard from vocalist Carol Fredette on her first Soundbrush recording, Everything in Time (2009). Her repertoire was replete with, "Light latin jazz, humid islands, and secure mainstream treatments." Fredette remains fairly true to this mix of styles on No Sad Songs For Me, specifically addressing all songs of upbeat content, if not tempo. The singer calls upon much the same band as on the previous recording, specifically pianists Helio Alves, Dario Eskenazi and Andy Ezrin.
It is notable that No Sad Songs For Me is executive produced by Pablo Aslan and Roger Davidson, two names closely associated with Latin jazz and bossa nova, styles that potently inform Fredette's repertoire here. Fredette is serious about the title and title tune for this recording. It is surprising she included Jobim's "Double Rainbow" and not his "No More Blues." These songs are upbeat and the universal mood of this recording is supercharged positive.
Fredette commands Bob Merrill's "It's Good to be Alive" and Irving Berlin's "The Best Thing for You." The former she treats as a delicate ballad and the later Latin-infused and simmered on high heat, Kevin Winard's percussion being particularly effective. The Cahn-Van Heusen chestnut "To Love and Be Loved" is gently rendered as a perfect cocktail hour ballad. Fredette's support is solid and competent, providing the singer an environment for her pristine vocal delivery of this most attractive recital.
Track Listing: 
I Am In Love; No Sad Songs For Me; The Best Thing for You; To Love And Be Loved; You’d Better Love Me; Double Rainbow; You’re Getting to be a Habit With Me; Havin’ Myself a Time; This is Always; Dancing In The Dark; Long Ago and Far Away; You Better Go Now; No Regrets.
Carol Fredette: vocals; Helio Alves: piano (1, 7, 11); Dario Eskenazi: piano (4, 5); Andy Ezrin: piano (2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14); David Finck: bass; Kevin Winard: drums, percussion; David Mann: saxophones, flutes; Tony Kadleck: trumpet; Michael Davis: trombone; Bob Mann: guitar.

Hal Galper Trio
O's Time

By Dan McClenaghan
It's hard to be innovative in the piano trio format. The last big change happened in the late fifties and early sixties, with pianist Bill Evans' groundbreaking trio featuring bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. The democratization of input and interplay changed the trio game, and countless groups have worked on refining that Evans approach ever since. A more recent development has been bombast and the inclusion of rock and poplar tunes into the jazz piano trio endeavor—with varying degree of success. Rubato playing, the stretching of the varying of tempos, in a three way improvisational way, is pianist Hal Galper's contribution to piano trio innovation.
O's Time is Galper's fifth recording in the rubato style on Origin Records. His trio, with bassist Jeff Johnson and drummer John Bishop, perfected their approach with 2011's Airegin Revisited. The current offering rolls that artistic peak out on a high plateau, twsiting the familiar ( John Coltrane "Like Sonny," Charlie Chaplain's "Smile") into different shapes, revealing different sides to the melodic threads.
"Coltrane's "Like Sonny" opens the set. The three voices bounce off each other like a cocktail party conversation, synchronous and discordant at the same time. And like that party, as the drinks flow, the volume rises toward the raucous, without, on this tune at least, actually going there. Then there's the Zen serenity of a Johnson bass solo, sparely comped by Galper.
Saxophonist Wayne Shorter's "Wildflower" has a "fractured then put back together" feeling, turbulent drums from Bishop behind Galper's relative restraint. "O's Time," written by Galper in honor of alto saxophonist/free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman, moves away from the concept of restraint. It rolls and tumbles and sounds like, at its peak, a piano trio stuffed into a burlap bag and pushed down the stairs, with the players hanging on tight and still keeping the tune from chaos. And Charlie Chaplain's much-covered smile sounds like they're set up on the back of a flatbed truck, careening ninety miles an hours down a winding mountain road.
Exhilarating! The Hal Galper Trio shows the others guys what innovative is all about.
Track Listing:
Like Sonny; Wildflower; O's Time; Moonglazed; Smile; Our Waltz.
Hal Galper: piano; Jeff Johnson: bass; John Bishop: drums

Richard Galliano

By Thom Jurek
Sentimentale is accordionist Richard Galliano's debut as a leader for Resonance Records. This date marks his return to jazz after a three-album sojourn with Deutsche Grammophon recording the music of Bach, Piazzolla, and Vivaldi. His multi-national quintet here includes Israeli-born pianist and arranger Tamir Hendelman, American guitarist Anthony Wilson, Cuban bassist Carlitos Del Puerto, and Brazilian drummer Mauricio Zottarelli. The program is as diverse as the personnel. Things kick off on the spirited side with a galloping reading of Chick Corea's "Armando's Rumba," with Wilson and Galliano twinning the head as Hendelman lays down shiny chords and spirited montunos with a killer bass solo from Del Puerto before the accordionist launches into a combination of tango and jazz. Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" opens with a near pastoral reverie before the melody is introduced by Galliano and Wilson. Hendelman's illustrative fills and comps are gorgeous without being flowery. The funky groove in Horace Silver's "The Jody Grind" is derived from Dee Dee Bridgewater's vocal version, despite Hendelman's finger popping pianism. Galliano crosses harmonic lines between both Zottarelli's drum break, spiky blues from Wilson, and soul-jazz swagger from Del Puerto. On John Coltrane's "Naima," Wilson adopts a near sitar-like sound while Galliano's crystalline, glass bead sound enters into the melody and opens it onto the accordion's higher register, offering a bright harmonic flourish in his solo. Brazilian music makes its appearance on Sentimentale as well. This take on Ivan Lins' evergreen "The Island" is equally based on the composer's earliest, Bahia-informed version rather than his post-bossa take from later years as well as singer Patti Austin's. Likewise "Verbos Do Amor," by João Donato and Abel Silva, finds Galliano's quintet engaging in inspired, multi-textured samba. There are two familiar originals here as well: "Ballade Pour Marion" is magical in this bal musette-cum-lyrical jazz setting as Hendelman's voicings twin with the accordionists', offering different timbral statements and underscoring its lush colors. Closer "Lili" is trimmed to a languid, tender duet between the accordionist and Wilson -- both of whom display their enormous gifts for lyricism (which is why they are oft-chosen accompanists for singers). Sentimentale is not only classy in its choice of material, it's canny and expert in its arrangement, interplay, and articulation. Like the best of Galliano's recordings, it displays not only his iconic signature on the accordion, but the commanding presence, communicative inquisitiveness, and elegant creativity of his spirit.

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