Saturday, February 27, 2016

1 Sem 2016 - Part Three

Jeff Hamilton Trio
Great American Songs: Through The Years

By Dr. Judith Schlesinger
In a sonic climate full of studio fixes, it's always refreshing to hear something real—especially when it's executed with this level of excellence. At this point the Jeff Hamilton Trio has been together for over a decade, and it shows in their relaxed and seamless interplay. On this CD, a limited reissue of a 2013 Japanese release, the trio gives new life to ten classics from the American songbook, showing the fine bone structure that made each tune a classic in the first place.
Pianist Tamir Hendelman is increasingly known for stellar arrangements that put a fresh spin on the familiar. For example, one standout track here is "Thou Swell," a song with a staid Quaker lineage that is not usually rendered as a burner. But leader/drummer Jeff Hamilton had the initial inspiration of using "partido alto," that joyful and complex Brazilian rhythm, and the result is delightful and surprising, complete with signature Hamilton solo. Aside from his impeccable time and swing, he is arguably the world's most musical drummer.
"Someone To Watch Over Me" becomes a feature for bassist Christoph Luty, which includes his thoughtful meditation on the verse and some luscious arco on the melody. "You Took Advantage of Me" sparkles with humor; "I Thought About You" is a lazy blues that still manages to swing. Another highlight is the short and definitive "All Or Nothing At All," propelled by Hendelman's blistering solo.
All told, "Great American Songs Through The years" is simply that: nearly 53 minutes of timeless music, polished to a lustrous sheen.
Track Listing:
Falling In Love With Love; Tenderly; The More I See You; It Could Happen to You; Someone To Watch Over Me; Thou Swell; You Took Advantage Of Me; I Thought About You; All Or Nothing At All; How Long Has This Been Going On?.
Jeff Hamilton: drums; Tamir Hendelman: piano; Christoph Luty: bass.

Roseanna Vitro
Clarity: Music Of Clare Fischer

By C. Michael Bailey 

Roseanna Vitro is a "singer's singer." What does that mean? It means she is so excellent and still warranting much more attention. Her deep and precise alto is perfectly tuned and balanced. Her phrasing is textbook. This is what a jazz singer sounds like.
But Vitro's skill set does not stop at vocal prowess. She is also a crack arranger, programmer and music journalist. That is a wealth of grace and talent from Hot Springs, Arkansas. Vitro's projects are also well-considered and assembled. Throughout her career, she has been intelligently judicious in selecting artist and artistic themes for her recordings. This is evidenced in her more focused recordings that concentrate on a single musical source. In 1997, Vitro released the gutsy Catching Some Rays: The Music of Ray Charles (Telarc, 1997) with the support of frequent collaborator pianst Kenny Werner and tenor saxophonist Eddie "Cleanhead" Vincent.
Vitro followed that recording with Conviction: Thoughts of Bill Evans (A Records) in 2001, where she is joined by Evans sideman, bassist Eddie Gomez and progeny pianists Fred Hersch and Allen Farnham. Again, Vitro produced a well-focused and executed recording date where she re-cast several Evans instrumentals as vocal offerings. In 2011, Vitro almost scared into a Grammy Award with The Music of Randy Newman (Motema Records), where her musical daring and intelligence showed no bounds.
Vitro returns now with a collection of pieces by the late composer and arranger Clare Fischer, who is best known for his championing of all things Latin Jazz, much of which is well represented on the present Clarity: Music of Clare Fischer Vitro keeps her Randy Newman band intact for the recording.
Vitro attends to both the common and obscure of Fischer's work. The oft-covered "Morning," "Seagull" and "Pensativa" appear alongside the lesser known "Take Your Breath and Sing." Vitro's husband and producer, Paul Wickliffe pens the lyrics for the latter piece. Pianist Mark Soskin looms large on songs like "Pensativa" and "Swingin' with the Duke," while violinist Sara Caswell provides a distant, echoing continuo to all on which she contributes.
Vitro sings squarely from between Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter. Her scat chops are the most certain of any singer expelling air today. Even a bit of her home-state twang may be detected in the bluesy "Swingin' with the Duke," providing this writer a warm spot in this approaching Autumn. Honor Roseanna Vitro.
Track Listing: 
Morning; Web of Love (Inquiet Ac Ao); Love’s Path (Love’s Walk); Seagull (Gaviota); Swingin’ with the Duke (The Duke); Pensativa; Life’s Journey (Pavillion); Sleep My Child (Sleep Sweet Child); Take Your Breath and Sing (O Canto); I Remember Spring. 
Roseanna Vitro: vocals and arrangements; Mark Soskin: piano and arrangements; Sara Caswell: violin; Dean Johnson: bass; Tim Horner: drums; Mino Cinelu: percussion; Brett Fischer: vibraphone (9).

Mark Egan
Direction Home

By James Poore
Electric bass guitar player Mark Egan and drummer Danny Gottlieb first played together in the Pat Metheny group back in the 1970s and were subsequently colleagues in the Gil Evans Orchestra for a time, as well as co-founding the jazz fusion band, Elements, in the early 1980s. They are joined here by pianist and keyboards maestro Mitchel Forman. Forman is another musician with an illustrious track record, having played with a cohort of jazz greats, including Gerry Mulligan, Wayne Shorter and John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra. It was when with the latter outfit that Forman first used electronic keyboards.
All the music on this album was composed and arranged by Egan and the tunes are of a high standard. The trio have an intuitive understanding of one another and each is allowed space to flourish. A classic example of their close collaboration would be on Small Town Blues with its vigour, feeling and dexterity. After The Storm, the longest track, again features sterling interaction between the threesome, with Egan's empathetic reading of the theme matched by some expansive support by Forman and Gottlieb. Definitely easy on the ear. Mountain People is a lilting number with real impact, enhanced by a rising wave of sound. After Math sees a contemplative beginning by Forman, then changes tempo and takes us on an exciting ride. Gratitude, by contrast, remains a gentle and mellow experience throughout.
These are just some of the pleasures that await the listener on this recording. Time and again, I was impressed by Mark Egan's reach, imagination and technique. Mitchel Forman is like a force of nature, robust but lyrical, too. Danny Gottlieb is the perfect complement to his fellow musicians. This album is highly recommended and should have wide appeal.
Summer Fun, Small Town Blues, Mountain People, After The Storm, After Math, Direction Home,
Jungle Walk, Gratitude, The Path Home
Mark Egan - Bass; Mitchel Forman - Keyboards; Danny Gottlieb - Drums

Tony Foster
In Between Moods

By CD Baby
"In Between Moods" was recorded entirely at the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) studios in Vancouver, Canada, for the Jazzbeat and Hot Air radio programs. The material features four of Foster's compositions, and combined with the other tracks, take the listener on a trip through different moods and musical colors. The album is very much about "influence"- both musical influence and the influence of places Foster has visited which left strong impressions. 
He is joined by two great friends and musicians: bassist Russell Botten and drummer Joe Poole.

"Mr. J." and "Jamal" both pay tribute to pianist Ahmad Jamal, while "Cakewalk" is an Oscar Peterson tune which is certainly NOT a cakewalk to play!
Foster's arrangement of "Take the 'A' Train" was inspired by the great arrangements of the Ahmad Jamal Trio (particulary the group with Israel Crosby on bass and Vernell Fournier on drums).
"Colors of Siena" was written as the result of a visit to Siena, Italy. As a city Foster was inspired by the different moods and colors...from the red bricks of Il Campo to the Middle Ages feel of the streets.
"How I Miss the Rain" is definitely a Vancouver tune. Many would find it difficult to believe but sometimes, one can actually miss those gray rainy Vancouver days.
"In Between Moods" (the title track) has two main parts. The primary melody is minor, and somewhat classical sounding, but transitions into an open solo section which is based on a series of major chords. These sections each provide a very different mood.
"Someone to Watch Over Me" and "You've Changed" are combined in a ballad medley to give a release for the listener, and slow things down a little.
The album closes with bassist John Clayton's "Serious Grease"- a natural fit for bassist Russ Botten and Joe Poole to lock in on a groove with Foster!
Tony Foster was born and raised in North Vancouver, BC, Canada. He received his initial musical training early on, in the form of classical piano lessons privately. In school bands, his main instrument became the trumpet. His studies on the trumpet continued until college, and it was not until this time that his focus changed to piano. Foster began playing with various university ensembles on the piano (highlighted by performances with guests such as jazz saxophone legend Phil Woods), and graduated in 1996 from UBC (University of British Columbia) with a Commerce Degree. Eventually choosing to pursue a musical career, he was a 1998 recipient of the Fraser MacPherson Scholarship. Foster then participated in a residency at the Banff Jazz Workshop in 2000 where he studied jazz piano and performed with notable jazz artists including saxophonist David Liebman, multi-instrumentalist Don Thompson, pianist Kenny Werner, and bassist Ray Drummond.
Foster has been featured with his own trio on CBC’s nationally broadcast JAZZBEAT as well as the CBC program Hot Air hosted by Neil Ritchie.
Foster has performed with such notable jazz legends as Ernestine Anderson, Red Holloway, Sheila Jordan, Kenny Colman, Dee Daniels, Jeff Hamilton, and Peter Washington.

Charlie Haden & Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Tokyo Adagio

By Richard C. Ferris
This is a 2015 Impulse Music release containing six tracks totaling fifty-two minutes playing time. The CD captures a live Tokyo Blue Note club date which occurred March 16-19, 2005.
The audio quality is exceptional, thanks to the mixing magic of Jay Newland and the mastering efforts of Mark Wilder.
The album title of Adagio is apt since Charlie and Gonzalo’s musical alchemy emphasizes a slow ever evolving creative musical expression. Together, they explore somewhat familiar work but constantly add new colors to each unique arrangement.
In order to appreciate this performance, one has to consider that by 2005, these artists had worked together periodically for twenty years. They recorded several albums together during the nineties which include The Montreal Tapes, Discovery and The Blessing
During the early 2000s; their studio collaborations resulted in the critical and commercial successful releases of Nocturne (2001) and Land of the Sun (2004).
The play list for this 2005 club performance consisted of material that Charlie and Gonzalo had previously recorded. “En La Orilla Del Mundo” first appeared on their Nocturne CD. The club arrangement is minus the strings, Joe Lavano’s tenor sax and the superb violin of Uruguayan musician Federico Brittos Ruiz. It seems to play out in more intimate terms then the studio rendition.
“My Love and I” was included in Charlie’s 201"Sophisticated Ladies” album. This live interpretation between Charlie and Gonzalo minus the Cassandra Wilson vocal and Ernie Watts’s sax, takes on a fresh, bare vibrant approach which brings a spare, but instrumentally soulful interpretation. The bass and keys enable a deeper exploration of the melody.
“When Will the Blues Leave”, an Ornette Coleman composition. Originally recorded by Charlie on Coleman’s 1958 album debut. This live 2005 performance has Charlie providing the constant tasteful underpinnings while Gonzalo takes off on the keys chasing Coleman’s muse.
The Charlie Haden classic composition “Sandino” sounds entirely new when contrasted with the original tune recorded with Geri Allen and Paul Motain. From the 1988 Album “Etude” Long time fans will appreciate and enjoy the 2005 arrangement. This performance also departs from the “Sandino’ arrangement recorded on Gonzalo’s 1991 album titled” The Blessing” (recorded with Charlie and Jack DeJohnette).
“Solamente Una Vez” is a 1940 classic Bolero composition from the legendary Mexican writer, Lara Agustin. Charlie and Gonzalo originally recorded this number on the 2004 album,” Land of the Sun”. This 2005 live version excludes the brush strokes creatively applied by Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa in the studio session. Regardless, the musical interweaving between piano and bass establishes new dimensions to an eternally beautiful song.
Gonzalo’s composition” Transparence” also gets a new outing from the one recorded for the 2001”Nocturne” CD. This version is stripped down to its musical essentials, excluding the strings and Joe Lavano’s marvelous tenor sax contribution which appeared on the studio recording. It’s a fitting coda to a glorious musical collaboration.
Fans will also appreciate the information liner notes prepared by Ned Sublette, and Ruth Cameron-Haden.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

1 Sem 2016 - Part Two

George Garzone

By Bill Beuttler/ Jazztimes

Harry Allen & Friends
For George, Cole and Duke

By Dan Bilawsky
There is no greater paragon of tenor saxophonist taste than Harry Allen. While the fickle winds of prevailing styles continue to blow this or that way, Allen stands tall like the mighty oak, unswayed by fad fashions and firmly rooted to the music of the Great American Songbook.
On this appealing date, Allen visits the music of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Duke Ellington. It's not a novel concept, and Allen has gone here countless times, both with single song nods to these men and, on at least two occasions, album-length tributes—Cole Porter Songs (BMG, 2001) and Plays Ellington Songs (RCA Victor/RCA, 2000). But does that really matter? Allen continues to find inspiration in the work of these masters—men whose respective compositional wells never run dry—and his interpretations of their music are things of beauty. You could even go so far as to call them gifts to the ears.
For George, Cole, and Duke finds Allen working with a classy crew of like-minded traditionalists. Pianist Ehud Asherie delivers twinkling and sparkling solos, light and comforting comping, and beautiful beds of sound; Nicki Parrott provides balmy vocals ("In A Mellow Tone," "How Long Has This Been Going On?," and "Mood Indigo"), pleasing solos, and sturdy walking bass lines that act as the heartbeat of this music; and Chuck Redd proves to be a master of feel and economy whether providing a cheery swing pulse from behind the kit or gliding over his band mates with his vibes ("Who Cares?). The majority of the album is a quartet affair, pairing those three with Allen's attractive tenor, but percussionist "Little Johnny" Rivero drops in for the occasional guest shot, adding Latin seasonings to lively numbers ("Love For Sale") and slow roaming episodes of Ellingtonia ("Mood Indigo").
Harry Allen isn't likely to win any originality contests with this one, but that doesn't seem to bother him, nor should it. He's got his sublime saxophone, a group of top-notch musicians, and the music of the masters to work with. In this case, and throughout his career, that's proven to be a formula for success.
Track Listing: 
Always True To You In My Own Fashion; In A Mellow Tone; Happy Reunion; Silk Stockings; Purple Gazelle; How Long Has This Been Going On?; I Love You Samantha; Shall We Dance?; By Strauss; Love For Sale; They All Laughed; Who Cares? (So Long As You Care For Me); Mood Indigo.
Harry Allen: tenor saxophone; Ehud Asherie: piano; Nicki Parrott: acoustic bass, vocals; Chuck Redd: drums, vibraphone; "Little Johnny" Rivero: shakere, conga, bongo (5, 10, 13).

Ralph Bowen
Standard Deviation

By Glenn Astarita
Tenor saxophonist Ralph Bowen (Out Of The Blue, Horace Silver, Michel Camillo) is a highly regarded New York-based artiste and an idea man who can stand with the best of them. With his fifth solo venture for Posi- Tone Records Bowen tackles standards, and as the title intimates, he often deviates from the norm.
Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays" receives a Latin uplift, sparked by venerable pianist Bill O'Connell's topsy-turvy opening statements and bristling unison choruses with the rhythm section. From this point onward, they spring into a buoyant romp as Bowen stokes the coals via a ferocious series of choruses. He adds enough bite to impart a distinct edge, yet interweaves his melodic flair into ultra-fluid lines and improvises within the lower to medium registers. But he doesn't waste any notes and injects a few emphatic honks and squeaks into the upper-registers to raise the pitch with a stirring climatic assault while also infusing brevity into O' Connell's flavorful arrangement. Ultimately, Bowen and his first-class ensemble ruffle a few feathers and take matters into their own hands by not tendering literal readings of these rather shopworn works. (Zealously recommended...).
Track Listing: 
sn't It Romantic; No Moon At All, Yesterdays; You Don't Know What Love Is; You Stepped Out Of A Dream; Spring Is Here; Dream Dancing; By Myself
Ralph Bowen: tenor saxophone; Bill O’Connell: piano; Kenny Davis: bass; Donald Edwards: drums. 

Julie Kelly
Happy To Be

By Dan Bilawsky 
Over the past thirty years, vocalist Julie Kelly has established and cemented her sterling reputation via seven highly praised albums. Her eighth, a beauty in every way, is likely to garner her some more rave reviews.
After tackling a diverse program with able support from pianist Mike Wofford on Everything I Love (Chase Music Group, 2006), and grafting her own personality onto cool school vocalist June Christy's work with some help from pianist-arranger Tom Garvin on Kelly Sings Christy: Thou Swell (Chase Music Group, 2002), Kelly reunites with pianist Bill Cunliffe for this trip through lesser-known and highly agreeable material.
Cunliffe manned the piano and put the arrangements together for Kelly's Stories To Tell (Chase Music Group, 1994) and Into The Light (Chase Music Group, 2001), so both come to this project with a strong connection already firmly in place. Here, Cunliffe provides sensitive support when needed, kicks things up a few notches when the music calls for it, and effortlessly locks in with the two veteran rhythm men who were on board with him for the aforementioned albums—bassist Tom Warrington and drummer Joe LaBarbera. Together, these three establish relaxed and swinging scenarios ("Harpo's Blues"), light a fire under Kelly and the rest ("You're The Dangerous Type"), sway along with middleweight ("Corcovado") and lightweight ("I Never Went Away") bossa nova grooves, and bop along in high-spirited fashion ("High In The Sky"). Man-of-all-moods guitarist Anthony Wilson, vibraphonist Nick Mancini, and a collection of accomplished horn players also make notable contributions throughout.
While Kelly's companions help to set the scenes, it's the singer who's left to work within them. Yes, most of the aforementioned players get to step out and solo at one time or another, but all eyes remain on this sublime vocalist throughout. Her supple and well-trained pipes can match wits with horns, effortlessly traveling the curves and contours of this music, but she never fails to also pay great attention to the meaning of lyrics and the emotional direction of a song: "Our Love Rolls On" and "I Have The Feeling I've Been Here Before" make that much clear.
Out of eleven songs, "Corcovado" is the only one that's covered with extreme regularity, and even that comes out sparkling and new in Kelly's hands. Happy To Be has it all: fine instrumental solos, a Rolls-Royce rhythm section, sharp arrangements, choice material, and a stellar singer who makes great use of it all.
Track Listing: 
Harpo's Blues; Happy To Be; Our Love Rolls On; You're The Dangerous Type; Corcovado; I Have The Feeling I've Been Here Before; The Blues According To Orpheus; I Wish I Could Go Traveling Again; I Never Went Away; High In The Sky; For Joni.
Julie Kelly: vocals; Bill Cunliffe: piano, synthesizer; Anthony Wilson: guitar; Tom Warrington: bass; Joe LaBarbera: drums; Walter Rodriguez: percussion; Bob Sheppard: saxophone, flute; Clay Jenkins: trumpet; Ron Stout: flugelhorn; Bob McChesney: trombone; Kim Richmond: saxophone; Nick Mancini: vibraphone.

Joe Locke
Love Is A Pendulum

By Troy Collin
Since the late '80s vibraphonist Joe Locke, an artist who defies categorization, has performed and recorded with a diverse array of musicians, including Eddie Henderson, Cecil Taylor, and The Beastie Boys. Love Is A Pendulum, his fourth release on the Harlem-based Motema label, features some of Locke's most compelling music to date, the centerpiece of which is a five movement suite based on a poem by musician and writer Barbara Sfraga.
Culled from Sfraga's Subway Series, Locke explains in the liner notes that "Each verse begins with a metaphor describing love—its properties and tendencies—and how (possibly) to navigate them." Far from a one-sided affair, the suite encompasses a wide range of emotions, keenly interpreted by Locke's highly responsive working quartet with pianist Robert Rodriguez, bassist Ricky Rodriguez, and drummer Terreon Gully, who are subsequently joined by occasional guests, including alto and soprano saxophonist Rosario Giuliani, tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin, guitarist Paul Bollenback, steel pan virtuoso Victor Provost and vocalist Theo Bleckmann.
The through-composed fanfare "Variation On Wisdom" introduces the suite in magisterial fashion, setting the stage for "Love Is The Tide," which emulates surging power through ebbing rhythms and fluid solos, whereas "Love Is A Planchette" features Bleckmann's ethereal vocalese floating spectrally, like a planchette across a ouija board. The episodic title track and the rubato ballad "Love Is Letting Go" similarly explore myriad moods, while the climactic final movement, "Love Is Perpetual Motion," opens with a series of heated alto and tenor exchanges between Giuliani and McCaslin before spotlighting the beguiling kaleidoscopic interplay of vibes and steel pan.
The album concludes with three compositions that are stylistically comparable to the main program: the tunefully introspective dedication "For Jesse Mountain"; a blazing hard-bop work-out on "Last Ditch Wisdom"; and "Embrace," based on George Gershwin's "Embraceable You," which was conceived by Locke as a vehicle for Provost's melodic ingenuity.
The quartet's intuitive rapport and the invited guests' spontaneous contributions impart soulful verve to Locke's written notation, collectively bringing the leader's multifaceted charts to life. One of the most ambitious efforts in Locke's discography, Love Is A Pendulum is a captivating example of today's finest creative mainstream jazz.
Track Listing: 
Variation On Wisdom; Love Is The Tide; Love Is A Planchette; Love Is A Pendulum; Love Is Letting Go; Love Is Perpetual Motion; For Jesse Mountain; Last Ditch Wisdom; Embrace.
Joe Locke: vibes; Robert Rodriguez: piano; Terreon Gully: drums; Ricky Rodriguez: acoustic and electric bass; Rosario Giuliani: alto saxophone (2, 5-8) and soprano saxophone (4); Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone (6, 7); Victor Provost: steel pan (6, 9); Theo Bleckmann: voice (3); Paul Bollenback: guitar (1, 7).