Sunday, August 28, 2016

2 Sem 2016 - Part Two

Kenny Werner/ Hein Van De Geyn/ Hans Van Oosterhout

By Scott Yanow
Collaboration has a dozen fascinating and mostly free improvisations by the great pianist Kenny Werner in a trio.
Pianist Kenny Werner, bassist Hein Van de Geyn and drummer Hans van Oosterhout have worked together on an occasional basis in the past including taking a short tour and functioning as Toots Thielemans’ quartet for a few concerts. But while the musicians are familiar with each other, they have not performed together all that often. Rather than sharing years of mutual experiences, they share a similar outlook towards improvising jazz. Their common vision is on display throughout this continually fascinating and intriguing disc.
With Werner leading the way, the trio creates new compositions and improvisations on the spot during a dozen performances. One of Werner’s songs, “Elegante,” is explored at great length. The trio also performs Paul Simon’s “Sound Of Silence” and the standard “There Will Never Be Another You.” However even those two songs are mostly freely improvised with the tunes being largely unrecognizable until late in the performances when the melodies gradually appear.
In addition to the close interplay and the many fine Van De Geyn bass solos, it is difficult not to be impressed by Kenny Werner’s chord voicings. Not only does he seem to know every chord ever played but gives the impression that he is creating some never heard before.
Even with the fairly free playing on many of these selections, the results are often melodic, lyrical and a logical extension of each piece’s ideas. Collaboration deserves several close listens.

Bill Charlap Trio
Notes From New York

By Matt R. Lohr/JazzTimes
It’s worth remembering that no artist is constantly obligated to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes, just making a really great wheel can be an accomplishment in itself. And while no one would say Notes From New York, the new outing from the Bill Charlap Trio, represents a paradigm shift in the piano-trio canon, it’s an album of such instrumental invention and brio that it easily stands as the year’s most purely delightful recording thus far.
Charlap’s piano technique is singular and stunning in the way it weds a chiming, almost dainty touch to a leaping, top-to-bottom keyboard attack. If “muscular elegance” is not too much of an oxymoron, it’s the perfect phrase to describe the pianist’s approach. His album-opening rendition of “I’ll Remember April” is a master class in fast-paced swing, drummer Kenny Washington’s staccato rhythms driving Charlap to ever-rising single-note explosions. “Tiny’s Tempo” bustles along with effortless flair, showcasing a bouncy solo from bassist Peter Washington, and Charlap lightly trips his way through “A Sleepin’ Bee”; there, Kenny Washington’s shuffling brushes provide an unwavering companion on the journey.
But Charlap’s trio also brings considerable vitality and élan to Notes From New York’smoodier material. The pianist’s low-register block chords give “Make Me Rainbows” an admirable sense of ardor, with Peter Washington’s walking strings adding just enough blues to the mix. “There Is No Music” blends polished refinement with a somber, minor-keyed tenderness and darkly shimmering Charlap glissandos. The whole affair closes with “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” which Charlap, playing unaccompanied, reinvents as a bittersweet ballad full of longing and echoey empty spaces. But even when it’s tugging at your heartstrings, Notes From New York is a luxurious, exquisitely pleasurable experience. Charlap and his trio have given us a “wheel” that rolls on straight and true.

Enrico Zanisi
Piano Tales

By Brian Morton
Since his debut, Enrico Zanisi has proved to have the makings of a rocketing star, to whom the label of enfant prodige of Italian jazz was soon to become a tight fit. That’s why this piano solo album by Enrico Zanisi, to be released on CAM JAZZ, seems well-timed for an ideal start to a new era in the career of this young pianist. Following three trio albums and several side projects, Piano Tales comes to crown a journey during which the Roman pianist has explored the boundaries of his music but leaving its distinguishing natural grace intact. This recording reveals a brand new Zanisi, more full-fledged but, above all, aware of his potential as songwriter and player. This work consists of eleven tracks, mostly less than four minutes long, a purported collection of musical feelings, more than an actual concept album. It also features more complex pieces with a highly designed improvisational approach. But the prevailing element in a mood accommodating fullness and emptiness, music and silence, is Zanisi’s airy piano-playing, both inexpressible and sharp. In young players like him one seldom finds such a clear awareness of one’s own means as well as an already distinct musical personality like his. Though, Zanisi has both of them, unmistakably.
Recorded in Cavalicco on 27 - 28 May 2015 at Artesuono Recording Studio
Recording engineer: Stefano Amerio.

Nils Landgren With Janis Siegel
Some Other Time

By Bruce Lindsay
Hot on the heels of his guest appearance on Mo' Blow's funky Live In Berlin (ACT Music, 2016), trombonist and singer Nils Landgren moves over to Broadway with Some Other Time. As the sub-title makes clear, this is A Tribute To Leonard Bernstein—a worthy and at times achingly beautiful tribute, too.
Landgren is joined by The Manhattan Transfer vocalist Janis Siegel and by the excellent rhythm section of Jan Lundgren on piano, Dieter Ilg on bass and Wolfgang Haffner on drums. The Bochum Symphoniker, conducted by arranger Vince Mendoza, joins in on a few tracks including "Overture: America" a 42-second introduction that gives the erroneous impression that this album will solely focus on West Side Story.
Landgren's light, sweet-toned and often plaintive voice suits the more romantic numbers particularly well. It lacks the undertone of aggression that could have given "Cool" a degree of menace, but the cat-creep rhythm that Lundgren, Ilg and Haffner set down more than compensates—it's somehow sexy and slightly menacing at the same time. On the other hand, Landgren's vocal on "Somewhere" is so melancholy that it brings a tear to the eye—once again, the rhythm section's empathic performance is superb.
Landgren's trombone playing is a constant pleasure. On "Maria," which gets a fine arrangement from Mendoza, he's swinging and upbeat, on "Somewhere" his playing is gentle and spacious, on "Lucky To Be Me" his solo is brief but replete with good-humored charm.
Siegel is an excellent choice of guest vocalist for these songs. Her duet with Landgren on Mendoza's arrangement of "Some Other Time" is the strongest of her appearances but her solo vocal on "The Story Of My Life" and "Lucky To Be Me" run it pretty close.
If Some Other Time does have a weakness, it's in the choice of some of the lesser-known numbers. Despite Mendoza's arrangements "A Quiet Girl" and the instrumental "A Simple Song," though pleasant, never really come to life especially when compared to the rest of the program.
Track Listing: 
Overture: America; Some Other Time; Cool; Maria; Somewhere; The Story Of My Life; One Hand, One Heart; Something's Coming; Lonely Town; A Quiet Girl; Lucky To Be Me; A Simple Song.
Nils Landgren: vocals, trombone; Jan Lundgren: piano; Dieter Iig: bass; Wolfgang Haffner: drums; Janis Siegel: vocals (2, 6, 8, 9, 11); Members of the Bochumer Symphoniker, conducted by Vince Mendoza.

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