Sunday, July 23, 2017

2 Sem 2017 - Part Four

Barbara Carroll
Sentimental Mood

By Oldnslowon 
Barbara Carroll remains at the top of her game at age 80. This wonderful program of standards shows her at her swinging best. If her voice has lost a little of its bloom (she sings, or rather speaks, on a couple of numbers) her fingers certainly have not. Very few jazz pianists get a truly individual sound from the piano, but Carroll's full , two handed style is unique, and has been for decades. Her octave runs are instantly recognizable. An excellent rhythm section and the usual fine sound from Venus make this a winner. Barbara Carroll is an American treasure.
1. Lady Be Good; 2. Autumn in New York; 3. You'd Be So Nice to Come Home to
4. Here's That Rainy Day; 5. Fly Me to the Moon; 6. Last Night When We Were Young
7. On a Clear Day; 8. My Funny Valentine; 9. In a Sentimental Mood
10. Yesterdays; 11. I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plans; 12. As Long As I Live

Renee Rosnes
Written In The Rocks

By C. Andrew Hovan 
Always a major talent who has transcended the hokum that usually accompanies the precept of women jazz musicians, pianist Renee Rosnes offers a mature and individualistic touch that has been recorded on far too few occasions over the years. In fact, prior to this fabulous session, Rosnes' last U.S. release was a 2010 duo set with husband Bill Charlap on Blue Note. Around the same time she gathered together Steve Nelson, Peter Washington, and Bill Stewart for the Japanese only session Manhattan Rain. Even though some five years have passed, there must have been something about that ensemble that struck a chord with Rosnes, the quartet gathering together again with saxophonist Steve Wilson added for further good measure.
The centerpiece of this set are the seven pieces that make up the 45-minute "Galapagos Suite," penned by Rosnes herself. Touching on historic text and various theories, the idea was to compose music that represents the evolution of the planet Earth. Though this probably sounds like some heady, programmatic material for a grant or other educational purpose, nothing could be farther from the truth in application. Rosnes sets a mood with each piece that suits the overarching premise, yet each piece functions equally fine on its own.
"The KT Boundary" finds Stewart's colorful cymbal splashes setting the mood alongside some thick chordal work by Nelson in tandem with Wilson's soprano sax. Over the course of the next two pieces, Wilson adds his flute to the mix and the results are bright and optimistic. "So Simple a Beginning" recalls Ron Carter's "Little Waltz" with its lilting melody and ¾ meter. Some heat comes in the form of "Deep in the Blue" where Nelson steals the show with one of his typically fluid statements, only then to be matched for intensity by Washington's solo statement.
The Suite wraps up with "Cambrian Explosion," the most programmatic of the bunch, replete with rumbling bass and collective improvisation that recalls the budding of new life back some 600 million years ago. And if the preceding hadn't been fodder enough, Rosnes augments the program with two more trinkets. "From Here to a Star" is a medium tempo blowing vehicle based on the chord changes of "How Deep Is the Ocean?," while "Goodbye Mumbai" serves as a frisky send off.
This would be quite a different recording had Rosnes hired someone else to fill the drum chair. Stewart seems especially attuned to the purposes of the pianist's originals. He relies less on typical patterns and riffs and more on spontaneous interaction with his musical compadres. Like Rosnes, Nelson is criminally underrated and his appearance here is a major coup. The whole being greater than the sum of its parts, this unit gels with the common purpose of putting Rosnes' work into the best possible light. They wholeheartedly succeed.
Track Listing: 
The Galapagos Suite: The KT Boundary; Galapagos; So Simple a Beginning; Lucy from Afar; Written in the Rocks; Deep in the Blue (Tiktaalik); Cambrian Explosion; From Here to a Star; Goodbye Mumbai.
Renee Rosnes: piano; Steve Wilson: saxophone and flute; Steve Nelson: vibraphone; Peter Washington: bass; Bill Stewart: drums.

Moonlight Serenade

1. Tea For Two《 I. Caesar – V. Youmans 》(5:51); 2. Fragile《 Sting 》(4:50)
3. L-O-V-E《 B. Kaempfert 》(3:39); 4. For No One《 J. Lennon, P McCortney 》(3:43)
5. Save your love for me 《 B. Johnson 》(5:04); 
6. I’ve grown accustomed to his face 《 A. Jay Lerner – F. Loewe 》(6:01)
7. I’m through with love 《 G. Kahn – M. Malneck, H. Carmichael 》(4:00)
8. Autumn Leaves《 J. Mercer, J. Kosma 》(4:15); 
9. What a diff’rence a day made 《 S. Adams, M. Grever 》(4:15)
10. The nearness of you 《 N. Washington – H. Carmichael 》(5:27)
11. Besame Mucho《 C. Velazquez 》(5:04)
12. Like someone in love 《 J. Burke – J. Van Heusen 》(4:08)
13. Peace《 H. Silver 》(4:19)
14. Moonlight Serenade 《 M. Parish – G. Miller 》(6:03)
15. Stompin’ at the Savoy 《 A. Razaf – B. Goodman, C. Webb, E. Sampson 》(3:26)

Clare Fischer Latin Jazz

By Roger Farbey 
What better way to pay tribute to your father than, over the course of several years, painstakingly capturing his keyboard playing (and sometimes singing) and at a later date adding superb big band arrangements? Bandleader and keyboardist Clare Fischer died in 2012 aged 83 but left a legacy of work that his son, bandleader and bassist Brent Fischer, has faithfully recorded, using his father's archived keyboard playing on most, but not all, of the tracks. Brent Fischer did a similar legacy job using his late father's compositions and keyboard work on the 2014 release Pacific Jazz.
The opener, Dizzy Gillespie's "Algo Bueno (Something Good)" also known as "Woody 'n'You" is an upbeat piece alternating between an Afro-Cuba 6/8 and a Mambo. "Gaviota (Seagull)" by Clare Fischer with lyrics by Weaver Copeland, features the inestimable vocal talent of Roberta Gambarini who delivers an enticing scat solo into the bargain. Duke Ellington's "Rockin' In Rhythm" is given a sophisticated big band makeover successfully adding to the piquancy of the original.
Clare Fischer's vibrant "Solar Patrol" features Sheila Escovedo (also known as Sheila E) on timbales. Also by Clare Fischer with lyrics penned by Darlene Koldenhoven, "The Butterfly Samba" again features Roberta Gambarini exuberantly duetting with Scott Whitfield, who also contributes brief bursts of trombone soloing too.
Another Clare Fischer number, the ambitious and immensely satisfying "Renacimiento," represents a slight departure from the other pieces in that it opens in a neo-classical vein and transmutes into a kind of blues adorned with a highly imaginative, tonally colourfully arrangement utilising a wide range of instrumentation.
On "O Canto," again composed by Clare Fischer, Carl Saunders turns in a terrific trumpet solo and Clare Fischer is heard scat singing along to his keyboard playing. "Tres Palabras," written by the Cuban composer Osvaldo Farrés, has a bossa nova feel to it, not unlike Jobim's classic "Insensatez," but with an extra warmth imbued to it by the horns. The lively finale, "Play Time (A Gozar)" is both the last track recorded by Fischer Senior and the first time it's appeared on an album, with Francisco Torres here soloing on trombone.
Herbie Hancock has famously spoken of his indebtedness to Clare Fischer as a major influence on him and judging by this excellent album it's not surprising. This meticulously crafted album is simply a must for all big band fans.
Track Listing: 
Algo Bueno; Gaviota; Rockin’ In Rhythm; Solar Patrol; The Butterfly Samba; Renacimiento; O Canto; La Mucura; Tres Palabras; Play Time.
Clare Fischer: keyboards; Brent Fischer: percussion, electric bass, “guitar” sounding parts; Alex Budman: soprano & alto sax, flute, piccolo, clarinet; Kirsten Edkins: soprano & alto sax, flute, clarinet; Don Shelton: soprano sax, flute; Brian Clancy: tenor sax, flute, alto flute, clarinet, recorder; Sean Franz: tenor sax, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, recorder; Rob Hardt: tenor sax, flute, alto flute, clarinet; Lee Callet: baritone sax, flute, alto flute, clarinet, recorder; Bob Carr: bass sax, flute, piccolo, Eb contrabass clarinet; Carl Saunder, Ron Stout, Rob Schaer, James Blackwell, Brian Mantz, Michael Stever, Anthony Bonsera: trumpet; Scott Whitfield, Francisco Torres, Philip Menchaca, Jacques Voyement: trombone; Steve Hughes: bass trombone; Quinn Johnson: keyboards (tracks 4,5,6); Ron Manaog: drums (tracks 5 & 6); Ken Wild: electric bass (tracks 5 & 6); Luis Conte, Kevin Ricard: percussion; plus Sheila E: timbales (on track 4); Robert Gambarini: vocals (tracks 2 & 5); Scott Whitfield: vocals (track 5); Walfredo Reyes: drums (track 10); Tris Imboden: drums (track 4).

Cheryl Fisher
Quietly There

By OA2 Records
For her sixth CD, Canadian vocalist Cheryl Fisher has recorded an album unique in both its repertoire and her approach. Purposefully chosen to be on the quieter side, Fisher puts a personal stamp on these beautiful, rarely heard songs, applying her musicianship and gift for vocal interpretation in celebration of love, or the mourning of love lost. Although they come from the era of the Great American Songbook, Fisher has given them a modern jazz treatment with the brilliant accompaniment of pianist/arranger John Toomey, the singular Portland guitarist John Stowell, the bass & drum team of Jeff Johnson & John Bishop, and acclaimed woodwind artist Eric Allison. "Concept albums aren't what I usually do, but sometimes you just want to sit by the fireplace, have a glass of wine, put on an album and let it play right through, letting its mellow mood merge with your own."
1 Quietly There 5:30; 2 Let There Be Love 3:35; 3 It Amazes Me 4:19
4 Flowers In The Sink 4:28; 5 I Never Went Away 4:12; 6 You're Looking At Me 3:46
7 He Never Mentioned Love 5:05; 8 You Go To My Head 5:00
9 Some Other Time 5:28; 10 You Taught My Heart To Sing 3:46
11 I'm In Love Again 3:42; 12 Here's To Life 5:08
CHERYL FISHER - vocals; ERIC ALLISON - woodwinds ; JOHN TOOMEY - piano, keyboards
JOHN STOWELL - guitars; JEFF JOHNSON - bass; JOHN BISHOP - drums
BURNIS STUBBS - percussion; BOB TILDESLEY - trumpet & flugelhorn

Sunday, July 16, 2017

2 Sem 2017 - Part Three

Aaron Parks
Find The Way

By Karl Ackermann 
Find the Way is pianist Aaron Parks' eighth release as a leader and second on the ECM label. The prolific artist has appeared as a sideman on thirty-eight albums dating back to 2003, working frequently with Terence Blanchard, recording with Joshua Redman and Kurt Rosenwinkel and many other top names in jazz. At the age of fourteen, Parks was studying music and computer science at the University of Washington and has gone on to win multiple awards including sharing a Grammy for Blanchard's A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina) (Blue Note, 2007).
Parks' ECM debut, Aborescence (2013), was a critically acclaimed solo outing that highlighted his deceptively nuanced flair for intricate harmony. On Find the Way he returns to a trio formation to convey his intricate vision. A complete resume on Billy Hartwould fill a book. The tireless, veteran drummer, he's been a leader since Enchance(Horizon, 1977); one of eleven such releases. He has anchored rhythm sections in groups that covered the jazz alphabet from John Abercrombie to Joe Zawinul. Hart and bassist Ben Street are well acquainted having recorded together on three recent Hart albums including Hart's last two ECM outings All Our Reasons (2012) and One Is the Other(2014).
Hart is key in shifting the dynamics throughout the program, quickly evident in the varying subtleties of the opening pieces "Adrift" and "Song for Sashou." "Unravel" is a balancing act between rich melody and somewhat more outside lines. "Hold Music" begins with an extended Hart solo focused on the tom-tom before Parks eases the piece down to a ballad. Parks modeled "Alice" on the compositional style that Alice Coltrane employed with the tune "Ptah the El Daoud" from her under-recognized album of the same name (UMG Recordings, 1970). More upbeat and exotic is "Melquíades," named for a character in a Gabriel García Márquez novel. The title track closes the album as it began—lyrical but slightly elusive.
Parks expressed his awareness of the ECM aesthetic, and at points looked to emulate that increasingly broader sensibility. The music certainly fits in the label's eclectic catalog nicely but because Parks is not given to over-the-top drama, the simplicity and polish in Find the Way demands closer attention to appreciate some thorny time signatures and moody textures. Parks proves that classic lyricism need not be played out as a relic of the past.
Track Listing:
 Adrift; Song for Sashou; Unravel; Hold Music; The Storyteller; Alice; First Glance; Melquíades; Find The Way.
Aaron Parks: piano; Ben Street: double-bass; Billy Hart: drums.

Ron Carter Quartet & Vitoria Maldonado
Brasil L.I.K.E.

By Dan Bilawsky 
The road that connects Brazilian music and jazz—the essential thematic nexus on this collaborative venture that brings bassist Ron Carter (and his quartet), vocalist Vitoria Maldonado, Ruria Duprat's Brasilian Orchestra, and a handful of guest soloists into the same line of thinking—has always been a two way street, as both forms benefit and borrow from one another. Those on the jazz side have often found new harmonic angles to explore, gently undulating rhythms to coast upon, and beautiful songs built with extreme sensitivity in the Brazilian canon; and those on the Brazilian side have reveled in the opportunity to inject the unexpected into set forms and bring swing rhythms into contact with songs from their native land. All of those aspects born of the comfortable union between the two are audible in the material presented on this easy-on-the-ears date.
Carter and his quartet get first billing here, but they typically play second fiddle to the co-headliner. Maldonado's voice—a sweet, expression-rich instrument—is at the center of these performances. She sings in English, Portuguese, French, and wordless forms; she sways with the bossa beats, soars with spirit, and seduces in soft environs; and she evinces the beauty and positive spirit connected to the meaning of the acronym in the album's title—"Love, Inspiration, Knowledge, Energy." Her greatest strengths seem to be connected to standards with a bossa twist and material endemic to Brazil. Soulful suggestions ("Georgia On My Mind") and swinging sections of music don't suit Maldonado nearly as well as fully Brazilian-ized American standards ("How High The Moon," "There Will Never Be Another You") or star-kissed beauties born of her own mind ("Adoro O Teu Sorriso"), but she manages just fine in every setting.
While the spotlight remains focused on Maldonado for much of this program, Carter and his bandmates are able to shine, both as soloists and support players. Percussionist Rolando Morales-Matos and drummer Payton Crossley get the album rolling with some exciting exchanges ("They Can't Take That Away From Me") and provide steady rhythmic framework for others to build around; pianist Renee Rosnes proves to be a tremendous asset, capable of mesmerizing when she steps forwards ("How High The Moon"), providing a harmonic compass for all to follow, accentuating the mood of a song, or fading into the distance when need be; and Carter remains a model of class, support, and musicality. The bassist-leader is always focused on "finding the right notes," to borrow the title phrase of his biography, and that search always yields stellar results. Whether soloing, interacting with Maldonado, or anchoring the ensemble, Carter comes off as the consummate artist and professional. And then there are the guests to admire. Randy Brecker's flugelhorn graces a single track, Marcos Mincov's English horn adds achingly beautiful commentary to two Maldonado originals, and several other notables, like guitarist Roberto Menescal, step into the mix at one time or another.
Those looking to hear Carter and company let loose in a small group setting will be better served by going elsewhere, but those who see the appeal of a beautifully-shaped program that puts singer, small group, orchestra, and guests on near-equal footing will likely enjoy getting lost in this music.
Track Listing: 
They Can't Take That Away From Me; There Will Never Be Another You; Night And Day; I Only Have Eyes For You; How High The Moon; Adoro O Teu Sorriso; All Of Me; Que Reste-T-Il De Nos Amours (I Wish You Love); Georgia On My Mind; Someone To Light Up My Life; Lugar Comum; Because You Make Me Dream; Saudade.
Vitoria Maldonado: vocals; Ron Carter: bass; Renee Rosnes: piano; Rolando Morales-Matos: percussion; Payton Crossley: drums; Roberto Menescal: guitar; Marcos Mincov: English horn; Toninho Ferragutti: accordion; Omar Izar: harmonica; Randy Brecker: flugelhorn; Proveta: alto saxophone; Ruria Duprat: arrangements, conductiong; Ruria Duprat’s Brasilian Orchestra—Luiz Britto Passos Amato: violin; Alex Braga Ximenes: violin; Otavio Scoss Nicolai: violin; Andrea Araujo Campos: violin; Nadilson Gama: violin; Flavio Geraldini: violin; Adriano Mello: violin; Marcos Henrique Scheffel: violin; Maria Fernandez Zagatto Krug: violin; Paulo Calligopoulos: violin; Heitor Fujinami: violin; Matthew Thorpe: violin; Alexandre Zappelini De Leon: viola; Elisa De Lina Do Rego Montiero: viola; Roberta Lizandra Marcinowski: viola; Fabio Tagliaferri: viola; Adriana Cristina De Barros Holtz: cello; Gustavo Pinto Lessa: cell; Patricia Mendonca Ribiero: cello; Maria Eduarda Leitao Canabarro: cello; Mario Sergio Rocha: French horn; Vagner Reboucas Da Silva: French horn; Rogerio Carvalho Martinez: French horn; Vitori Ferreira Neves: French horn; Marco Antonio Cancello: flute; Michel De Paula: flute; Clarissa Lapolla Bomfim Andrade: flute; Carlso Marcelo Nogueira Barboza: flute.

Julia Hülsmann Trio
Sooner and Later

By Karl Ackerman 
After expanding to an instrumental quartet—a quintet, with the vocalist Theo Bleckmann included—pianist Julia Hülsmann returns to a trio formation on her fourth ECM release, Sooner And Later. Bassist Marc Muellbauer and drummer Heinrich Köbberling have been part of that core through the previous three ECM outings, The End of a Summer (2008), Imprint(2011) and A Clear Midnight—Kurt Weill and America (2015) as well through Hülsmann's ACT Music years.
Despite a long, productive career and considerable recognition in Europe, Hülsmann is not well known in the US. A native of Bonn, Germany, she has been playing piano since the age of eleven. After moving to Berlin in the early 1990s, Hülsmann joined a jazz orchestra and later went on to record several albums with her trio and a succession of vocalists. A teacher at the Jazzinstitut Berlin, Muellbauer—a London native—has a broad cross-genre background that includes classical, jazz and tango music. He leads the ensemble Kaleidoscope, originated the Wood & Steel Trio and plays with the Lisbeth Quartet. Köbberling, a German born drummer and educator, has worked with some high profile jazz artists including Aki Takase and Anat Fort and was leader on Pisces (Nabel, 2002) with Marc Johnson, Ben Monder and Matt Renzi.
With more than a decade of collaboration, it shouldn't be surprising that the trio—all composers in their own rite—contribute pieces that are an intrinsic blend of their own strengths and those of the group. The opener, "From Afar" and the subsequent "Thatpujai" are subtle and sophisticated, very much in the vein of more familiar ECM piano trios. A perennial favorite rock source among jazz performers, Radiohead's "All I Need" opens with a beautiful duet from Muellbauer and Hülsmann before Köbberling quietly works his way in and gradually moves the piece up tempo. "You & You," "J.J." and "Later" are more challenging conventions and demonstrate a willingness to push the envelope.
Sooner And Later is an album that grows in appeal with repeated listening. The trio masters interplay and while that dynamic takes precedence over solo time, there are numerous opportunities to appreciate each of the players individually. The quieter moments are warm and enveloping, each with a distinct personality. Where the trio displays their more energetic side, they show a brilliance for creating complex and highly engaging melodies. Sooner And Later is a significant achievement for a trio that had set a high bar, long ago.
Track Listing: 
From Afar; Thatpujai; You & You; Biz Joluktuk; All I Need; The Poet (For Ali); Offen; J.J.; Soon; Later; Der Mond.
Julia Hülsmann: piano; Marc Muellbauer: double bass; Heinrich Köbberling: drums.

Camila Meza

By Will Layman
Camila Meza, from Santiago, Chile, started as a bit of a phenomenon at home. She was a musical standout in school and began gigging as a young woman, singing and playing guitar. If she started as a classic rock and singer-songwriter fan, then it didn’t take her long to begin singing standards like Ella Fitzgerald and playing a hollow-bodied guitar like Wes Montgomery.
Of course that’s what young artists do. But, if they’re not careful, they keep doing it for way too long: copying, learning, living in the shadows of their elders. Meza, however, had other plans. She left home at 23 for New York and the New School in 2009, studied with Vic Juris and Steve Cardenas among others, and started playing with everyone all over town, including a recent stint with Ryan Keberle’s band Catharsis, with which she has recorded two excellent albums.
Traces is her third outing as a leader but her first in New York. The trio behind her (Shai Maestro on keys, Matt Penman on bass, and Kendrick Scott’s drums) is fleet and fantastic, and she supplements it with some harmony vocal from Sachal Vasandani, as well as percussion and cello. But at its core, this is a quartet record that puts Meza out front as a singer, a songwriter, and a guitarist — with both strong and appealing ideas in each role.
The first three songs out of the chute are all Meza originals, and they arrive in a flurry of sparkling melody and rhythmic appeal. Her band is not gimmicky or “smooth” — that is to say, this is not commercially calculated “jazz”. But the ensemble has the sparkle and snap of the bands of Meza’s early hero, Pat Metheny, making this exceptionally accessible and appealing modern jazz despite coming from a small label and lacking any of this season’s signals of commercial appeal: hip hop credentials, connections to soul music, gritty backbeats.
The opener, “Para Volar”, features a hooky four-note motif that rides above a bubbling stream of Latin groove. The band is precise and acoustic, negotiating melody and harmony with ease. Mesa’s guitar tone is mostly clean and bright, and she pairs it with her voice here like they were blue sky and sunshine: cool and bright at once. “Away” adds cello and sounds a bit more like a kind of chamber pop ballad, but the music picks up a percolating Latin jazz float a the midpoint, with electric piano candy underpinning the vocals. The third song, the title track, adds a new rhythmic feel: a beguiling snap of funk relieved by a more complex jazz groove build on precise written bass lines and complex harmony.
As a songwriter, then, Camila Meza is not going to be pinned down. She writes lyrics in Spanish and English, and she writes music across genres. It sounds of a whole, however, because her two voices — as a singer and as a guitarist — are strong.
Vocally, Meza is deft and not obviously brilliant but grows on your ear: modest of tone but fleet in phrasing. If you’re looking for a bag in which to place her, you’ll be stymied. Her voice is plainspoken and clear, arguably akin to recent young jazz singers who sound less like a classic “jazz” singer such as Becca Stevens. That is to say, Meza is not like the talented but oh-so-throwback-sounding Cecile McLorin Savant, whose updating of Sarah Vaughan is big at Jazz at Lincoln Center but sounds unaffected by the last 50 years of jazz singing. Her instrument, however, is less affected than that of Gretchen Parlato, less soul-driven than Somi, and less avant-pop than Cassandra Wilson. Meza manages to suggest her connection to Ella and Joni Mitchell at the same time while being tied to singing from other cultures too. The current singer she reminds me of most may be Luciana Souza, from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
I particularly like the vocal performance on the Meza original, “Mar Elastico”, where Meza moves quietly in her lower and middle registers with intimacy, a bit breathy but still clear as a bell, pulling a variety of colors from the melody that are beautifully complimented by an atmospheric arrangement that particularly features Scott’s drums.
Though she is not mainly an interpreter of classic material, I love that the one Broadway “standard” Meza has chosen for this band is “Greenfinch and Linnet Bird” from Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. It is a song about being captive, sung by the demon barber’s daughter in what is often an underwhelming moment in most Todd productions. Meza’s version may be the fist ever to actually have the momentum and urgency to suggest flight and escape. She sets it up with propulsive guitar lick, but the arrangement then blossoms into a skipping jazz waltz. The singer’s own guitar improvisation on “Greenfinch” takes off in lyrical beauty but really flies because Meza is a profoundly swinging player whose rhythm flutters and jumps against her band’s polyrhythmic groove. The song makes you believe in liberation — in part from the overstudied way that Sondheim songs usually come off in the hands of jazz musicians.
The other spectacular cover here is Meza’s closing version of “Little Person”, which is a tune from the intriguing Charlie Kaufman movie Synechdote, NY, written by Jon Brion. The original was a subtle stride piano feeling, and Meza keeps things simple here, accompanying herself on guitar only, offering up something as tender and heartfelt as jazz has to offer these days.
There are plenty of treats on Traces, but the best news is that so many of the songs are just as beautiful as they are complex, just as appealing as they are urgent. Little moments — such as the unison scatting with acoustic piano in the middle of Meza’s original “Mangata” — pop out as gleaming gems on the beach of her music. It doesn’t hurt that the song just has a great melody and hook, all while still clearly being some kind of “jazz”.
Camila Meza is just the latest evidence that this music — stereotypically thought of in today’s culture as fussy, niche, over-elite, cold, old — is capable of crossing every barrier. There’s an audience for this kind of beauty, melody, invention, flight. Find Camila Meza, please, folks.

Brian Charette
Once & Future

By S. Victor Aaron
While unboxing guitarist Will Bernard’s delightful latest offering Out & About a few months ago, it wasimpossible not to rave on the key contributions of his combo’s organist Brian Charette. Charette has regularly put in stellar supporting roles whether it’s for Posi-Tone Records stablemates like Bernard or any jazz leader of note in need of some maximal Hammond B3.
And that speaks nothing of Charette’s playing when Charette is in charge of the sessions: he once had the audacity to put his organ alongside four horn players (Music For Organ Sextette) that ended up being one of the most inspired organ jazz record in recent years.
Once & Future (Posi-Tone, June 3, 2016) doesn’t reach for such levels of risk-taking but it does offer the occasion of hearing Charette again trading licks with Bernard, only with the leader/sideman roles reversed. No horns this time as Charette’s group is reduced to the tried-and-true organ/guitar trio (Steve Fidyk brings the drums). As a noted educator of the B3 (he writes instructional books and articles, conducts masterclasses and teaches at workshops), Once & Future can be thought of as a ‘clinic’ record where he touches on many of the various techniques of the jazz organ as well as many shades of sub-styles, from Jimmy Smith to Larry Young. In keeping, only three of these fourteen tunes are his and many of the rest might be familiar to you. They may also titillate with Charette’s manner by which he carries these songs.
He begins paying homage to perhaps the original organ jazz great, Fats Waller; “Jitterbug Waltz” is a 3/4 swing that might be common in mainstream jazz but for some reason isn’t done as often where an organ is involved. At least not with the lilting grace that Charette seems to do so effortlessly. But he can get funky like the best of them, too: Jack McDuff’s “Hot Barbeque” captures the fun of the original’s boogaloo. Charette’s take on James Brown’s “Ain’t It Funky Now” evokes Grant Green’s, but his nasty solo is actually a nod to the late Deep Purple organ giant Jon Lord.
Homage to Young is played on a number written by Woody Shaw, “Zoltan,” which had launched Young’s masterpiece album, Unity. Charette’s solo here is astonishing, he picks up where Young left off and takes it higher. Bud Powell of course wasn’t an organist, he was bop’s most important pianist. But Charette takes on his “Dance of the Infidels” with the right bright attitude and of course, that swing. Jimmy Smith’s “Mellow Mood” is undertaken with Charette not so much recalling Smith as the exotica expressions of Korla Pandit, a twist that like everything else Charette attempts in these sessions, lands on its feet.
“Latin From Manhattan” (streamed above) is Charette’s own samba and he also contributes the blues shuffle “Blues For 96.”
Bernard wasn’t brought on to be a bystander and he delivers tasty blows on Larry Young’s “Tyrone,” goes on one mean blues streak for “96” and gets it square in the pocket for “Ain’t It Funky Now.” Fidyk was given a tall task to pivot from swing to funk to Latin to Elvin Jones’ unique polyrhythmic swing on “Zoltan,” and is never less than rock steady.
Brian Charette gave aspiring jazz organists a lot to chew on with Once & Future but as is evident from my thoughts above, you don’t have to be a student of the instrument to appreciate this record. It’s the perfect record for aspiring (and accomplished) organ-jazz listeners as well.
Track Listing: 
Jitterbug Waltz; Tyrone; Latin From Manhattan; Da Bug; At Last; Hot Barbecue; Dance Of The Infidels; Zoltan; The Scorpion; Falling Fourth; Ain't It Funky Now; Mellow Mood; Road Song; Blues For 96.
Brian Charette: organ; Will Bernard: guitar; Steve Fidyk: drums.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

2 Sem 2017 - Part Two

Tomás Fraga

By Fernando Marinelli
El guitarrista y compositor argentino Tomás Fraga es hijo de un talentoso pianista de la escena jazzística porteña, Manuel Fraga. Pero al momento de escuchar este, su debut discográfico, el dato pasa a ser sólo anecdótico. Con apenas 27 años, Tomás ostenta una trayectoria y una calidad musical que lo eximen de exhibir su linaje: estudió armonía con el maestro Manolo Juárez y guitarra con Marcelo Mayor y ha tocado con muchas de las grandes figuras del ambiente local e internacional, como Ricardo Lew, Gustavo Bergalli, Ollan Christopher, Javier Malosetti, Jorge López Ruiz, Hubert García, Eloy Michelini y Jorge “Negro” González entre muchos otros.
Influencias es un álbum integrado por composiciones propias de Tomás Fraga, pero cuyo título hace referencia a los músicos que lo marcaron en su carrera profesional y en su vida. Comenzando por Pat Metheny, en el primer track, Pequeños pasos, de clima sutil y delicado; siguiendo por Chick Corea, pero en clave de candombe, en el tema Seúl; y continuando por otros nombres que el oyente podrá ir descubriendo a medida que avanza el disco, como Brad Mehldau, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans o Jim Hall. El resultado es un gran mosaico de composiciones y arreglos, donde destaca incluso una samba brasileña, pero todo bajo el paraguas de un estilo homogéneo, donde Fraga y los buenos músicos que lo secundan hacen un culto de la improvisación y generan climas que, aunque pueden llegar a ser intensos, deleitan en todo momento a los oídos. En Girando, además, participa un cuarteto de cuerdas que aporta un toque delicado e intimista.
Este más que interesante disco debut de Tomás Fraga cierra con una segunda versión de Pequeños pasos, el primer tema de la lista, esta vez a dúo de pianos con su padre en un plan más intimista.
Tomás Fraga, guitarra; Sergio Wagner, trompeta; Gabriel Santecchia, saxofón y clarinete,
Manuel Fraga, piano, Tomás Fares, piano, Álvaro Torres, piano, Pablo Motta, contrabajo,
Andrés Pellican, bajo, Oscar Giunta, batería, Quintino Cinalli, percusión

Alexi Tuomarila

By Roger Farbey 
Piano-led power trios have proliferated over the last twenty years or more thanks to the likes of the Esbjorn SvenssonTrio and The Bad Plus whose respective approach was undeniably a more consciously dynamic one than the reflective approach of say Bill Evans or the redoubtable Keith Jarrett. There was also, inevitably, a move away from the old style of swinging piano trios such as those led by Erroll Garner or Oscar Peterson. Often, contemporary piano-led trios have embraced a more rock-influenced stance, whilst not in any way selling out. The drums have gotten louder (especially the snare), the amplified double bass has grown more resonant and the piano has utilised the sustain pedal in abundance. But this says more about the medium than the message, which still harbours the intrinsic tenets of jazz and maintains that crucial marriage of the cerebral and the visceral.
So is time-up for the piano-led power trio? Well hardly. The phenomenon survives and thrives. A perfect exemplar must be Kingdom from Alexi Tuomarila. Following the first few lone piano chords, "The Sun Hillock" begins with a back beat-heavy rhythm section overlaid by an elegant melody. But then the mood changes rapidly with the pastoral "Rytter" dominated by ostinato piano and elegant arco bass courtesy of Mats Eilertsen.
Tuomarila hails from Finland but gained his musical education in Belgium at the Royal Conservatory, Brussels. He's played and recorded with the great Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko and in 1999, Tuomarila's Quartet won the trophy for best band at the international Jazz Hoeilaart competition in Belgium whilst he won the title of best soloist. Kingdom is the welcome follow-up to Tuomarila's 2013 recording Seven Hills, also on Edition.
The piano-led vamp on "Vagabond" backed by an ostinato bass figure is simply irresistible. "Aalto" benefits from a memorable and repeated head and represents all that is good about Tuomarila's trio. Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" is given a refreshing and all-too-rare jazz reworking which, due to its insistent timeless melody, undoubtedly becomes the stand-out track on the album. Judging by this fully engaging and satisfying album the piano-led power trio is most definitely alive and well.
Track Listing: 
The Sun Hillock; Rytter; The Girl In A Stetson Hat; Vagabond; The Times They Are A-Changin'; Shadows; Aalto; Bruin Bay; White Waters.
Alexi Tuomarila: piano; Mats Eilertsen: double bass; Olavi Louhivuori: drums.

Michel Leme

By Informaçã 
Este é o quinto álbum lançado por Michel Leme. Algo muito peculiar é o fato de ter dois bateristas tocando ao mesmo tempo e com muita discrição. Passando pelo jazz, latin, funk, samba e ballad, ouve-se solos interessantes como os de "3 notas" e "Deixem o Coltrane em paz", por exemplo, onde momentos bastante rítmicos e tensos perfazem o contexto dos improvisos. Leme com um timbre limpo ora explorando tensão, ora suavidade, trabalha sua naturalidade, técnica e versatilidade na construção dos climas e melodias neste CD que é no mínimo, bastante curioso.
Trabalho lançado em 2010 que traz 06 composições inéditas de Michel Leme - mais uma faixa bônus em vídeo. Participam desse trabalho o baixista Bruno Migotto e os bateristas Wagner Vasconcelos e Bruno Tessele.

Billy Childs

By Dan Bilawsky
It's been a while since we've heard pianist Billy Childs really dig in. While he certainly hasn't been dormant, reaching tremendous artistic heights in semi-recent times with a pair of highly refined chamber jazz explorations and a much-lauded tribute to Laura Nyro, the Childs of yore—the man that would throw down the gauntlet night after night while in the employ of legends like trumpet titan Freddie Hubbard or trombonist J.J. Johnson—hasn't been heard from in a while. Rebirth brings that part of Childs' past back into view, but it also continues to shine a light on his clarity of expression and his incredible skills in the arranging department. It's punctilious and unpredictably powerful all at once. Believe it or not, you can have both ways. At least, that is, if you're Billy Childs.
While those aforementioned post-millennial winners were well-staffed affairs—the chamber ensemble projects were chock full or orchestral trappings and the Nyro album had a guest list that ran a mile long—Childs pares things down for this one, running lean in the personnel department. For six of the eight tracks, it's just a quartet at play. Of course, referring to the marshaled forces of Childs, saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Eric Harland as "just a quartet" is akin to referencing the New York Yankees as "just a baseball team." These are heavy hitters that came to play. That fact is made abundantly clear right of the gate on "Backwards Bop," one of three tunes on this program that Childs recorded in his Windham Hill days in the '80s. It's a bold opening stroke, setting the bar incredibly high with precision unison lines, sharp turns, and powerful solo stands. Glawischnig is like a tightly wound spring, Childs works with an authoritative tone that never dulls or blur his incredibly articulate touch, Wilson comes off like a shrewd harmonic navigator, and Harland puts his monumental chops to good use. It's the perfect example of how to hook the ear from the start.
The pair of guest-enhanced tracks—one a unique yet stylistically congruent follow-up to "Backwards Bop" with appearances from trombonist Ido Meshulam, percussionist Rogerio Boccato, and vocalist Claudia Acuna, the other a ballad with vocalist Alicia Olatujain the spotlight—both immediately follow that slam dunk of an opener. Acuña co-wrote the title track, a piece that benefits greatly from her inimitable wordless vocals. Harland creates a steadily skittering backdrop that gives the song a nervous energy, Wilson's soprano takes to the sky, and Childs scampers around, mixing playfulness and potency in his piano work. "Stay," on the other hand, does just that, giving Olatuja a chance to shine in a mellow musical climate that never really intensifies.
The five remaining numbers are gratifying in so many ways. "Dance Of Shiva," ridiculously intricate in its design, engineering, and realization, features some startlingly fresh statements from Childs and Wilson; "Tightrope" finds all four men moving with lighter steps and listening closely, painting and dancing a varicolored waltz together; "The Starry Night" suggests its title through the dreamiest of piano forewords, skyrockets into the stratosphere with Wilson's soprano acting as the nose cone of the ship, and settles into orbit for solos; and "The Windmills Of Your Mind" glows and burns a deep red, with Childs and company drawing out the most intense flavor notes and emotions buried in the song's structure. Then serenity sets in for the closer—a poetic (piano and saxophone) duo take on Horace Silver's "Peace."
Childs hasn't always put all of his talent cards on the table at once, suppressing one aspect of his artistry in deference to others at times, so it's nice to see that change with Rebirth. He's showing his full hand here—chops, nuance, composing, arranging, and all—and it's a musical royal flush if ever there was one.
Track Listing: 
Backwards Bop; Rebirth; Stay; Dance Of Shiva; Tightrope; The Starry Night; The Windmills Of Your Mind; Peace.
Billy Childs: piano; Steve Wilson: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Hans Glawischnig: acoustic bass; Eric Harland: drums.

David Feldman

By Dan Bilawsky 
Fans of the music always remember their first aural encounters with talents of note. In the case of this writer's awakening to the wonder that is pianist David Feldman, the initial point of contact was drummer Duduka Da Fonseca's Plays Toninho Horta (Zoho Music, 2011). That date—the first of three fine outings that Da Fonseca's trio has produced for that imprint, leading the way for New Samba Jazz Directions(Zoho Music, 2013) and Jive Samba (Zoho, 2015)—served several purposes. Its primary functions were clear as day—to shine a welcome light on the titular composer's work, showcase the leader's malleable samba jazz grooves, and introduce a fledgling unit with incredible potential; its secondary function, likely unintentional, was to give the world a taste of Feldman's talents. If it was a conscious decision to put the pianist on display, all the better. You just couldn't fault Da Fonseca if he wanted to flaunt somebody like this.
While Feldman's decision to remain in Rio de Janeiro has kept him slightly off the radar, this album is a brilliant blip that should register with Brazilian jazz lovers near and far. Feldman's composing chops take center stage, his piano playing—alternately ruminative and animated—delights, and his crafting of a strong group dynamic speaks volumes about his leadership. His two previous leader dates are nothing to sneeze at, but it appears the third time is really the charm. Horizonte is truly a cut above.
A spirited take on Oscar Castro Neves' "Chora Tua Tristeza" opens the album. It's shaped as an arc of excitability with few boundaries, putting forward a pliable trio and showcasing zestful piano work with shades of Chick Corea coming in and out of view. Bassist Marcio Bahia and drummer André Vasconcellos prove to be immediate assets there, completely in line with Feldman's way of thinking. The mood changes drastically with the arrival of Feldman's rueful and stately "Melancolia"—the most mournful and downcast design on the album—and the spellbinding "Navegar." Then things take another notable turn as the guests arrive. "Tetê," a dreamy bossa ballad, features the gorgeous blend of Feldman's piano and the distinguished Toninho Horta's breezy vocals and guitar; "Sliding Ways," highlighting trombonist Raul DeSouza's fluid and lyrical horn work, presents in samba-esque fashion; and "Soccer Ball," a cheery Horta number penned for the 1994 World Cup, brings the core trio and both guests together for some high times.
The tracks beyond or between those others all prove to be memorable in different ways. Feldman's "Esqueceram De Mim No Aeroporto," for example, is playful and bluesy, with a surprising harmonic twist or two in the form. And his "Adeus" charms with its beautifully lyrical melody. You feel like you already know it on the first listen, as it comes at the ears like a wonderful memory from childhood that sits just out of current reach. The song is six-plus minutes of pure contentment. Horizonte has more impressive music to offer than that penultimate piece, but nothing more affecting.
We still have a long way to go in 2017, but it's already safe to say that this record is in the running for Brazilian jazz album of the year. It certainly has my vote at this point.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

2 Sem 2017 - Part One

Edu Lobo/ Romero Lubambo/ Mauro Senise
Dos Navegantes

Por Anderson Nascimento

Um dos artífices da Bossa Nova, Edu Lobo se uniu aos músicos Romero Lubambo e Mauro Senise, para juntos lançarem o “Dos Navegantes”. O álbum apresenta repertório 100% autoral, com todas as canções compostas por Edu Lobo em parceria com compositores como Chico Buarque, Ronaldo Bastos, Paulo César Pinheiro e Capinan.
O disco inicia com a balada tensa “A Morte de Zambi”, canção que agrega Gianfrancesco Guarnieri na composição. Como era de se esperar, o disco é um desbunde, mesmo tendo o minimalismo como diretriz. Há momentos impressionantes como o violão de Lubambo e a flauta em sol de Senise, em “Toada”, que também vê desfilar do contrabaixo de Bruno Aguilar e a interpretação elegantíssima de Edu.
A balada “Valsa Brasileira” é outro destaque, com um Edu sereno, com voz firme e postada por cima de uma cama instrumental magnífica. A canção é a primeira de uma sequência de três composições feitas em parceria com Chico Buarque. “Na Ilha de Lia, no Barco de Rosa”, canção que agrega um lindo solo de sax de Senise, e “Valsa dos Clowns”, em que se destaca o sopro mambembe de Senise.
Quando a ideia do disco surgiu, os artistas queriam mesmo que o disco capturasse canções menos conhecidas do Edu Lobo, prontamente Edu listou 32 canções, apenas 11 foram selecionadas para este trabalho. Dá pra imaginar o quão difícil deve ter sido essa escolha.
Enquanto o disco opta por mares mais calmos, “Gingado Dobrado” é a canção mais acelerada do disco. A faixa carrega texturas que remetem a canções nordestinas, e traz como convidado especial o percussionista Mingo Araújo.
A canção “Dos Navegantes”, linda composição de Edu com Paulo César Pinheiro, além de dar nome ao disco, também parece pautar boa parte do repertório, que em várias vezes tem o mar como motivo de suas linhas. A releitura de “O Circo Místico”, quarta composição de Edu e Chico do álbum, é outro grande momento do disco, bisando a grande interpretação de Lobo.
A inédita “Noturna” fecha este trabalho, trazendo o ar de novidade ao trabalho, além de ser a única canção totalmente instrumental do disco, ela também recebe como convidado o pianista Cristóvão Bastos.
Um belíssimo trabalho, que vai além do presente que a gravação e a gestação do mesmo representaram para os músicos, estendendo-se também aos ouvidos que sabem apreciar trabalhos com tanta sensibilidade, como este álbum o faz muito bem.

Doctor 3
The Songs Remain The Same

David Newton
Victim Of Circumstance

By Linn
Jazz pianist David Newton combines exquisite melodies and perfectly judged improvisations in his acclaimed debut album, Victim of Circumstance.
Originally released in 1991, Victim of Circumstance has been re-issued as part of Linn's ECHO series which offers a second chance to enjoy the best of the label's award-winning catalogue.
Upon release the album received many excellent reviews proclaiming it as ‘a beautifully mature and relaxed collection', ‘a brilliantly accomplished recording' and one to be ‘highly recommended'. David's interpretation of ‘The Way You Look Tonight', one of three covers, is a dramatic and lyrical close to the album. An accomplished composer, David Newton has written for Martin Taylor, Alan Barnes, Tina May and Claire Martin; his five originals on Victim of Circumstance showcase his flair for well-constructed melodies. A great rhythm section comprising Alec Dankworth and Clark Tracey (and for ‘Katy's Song', Dave Green and Allan Ganley) provide sterling support.

Felipe Riveros Quinteto
Shangai Blues

By Jorge Letelier F.
Con seis discos a cuestas, el pianista Felipe Riveros es un nombre experimentado de la escena del jazz chileno y también uno de los más cosmopolitas, por sus largos periplos entre Nueva York, París y Santiago. Siempre activo como líder de sus propios quinteto y trío, esta vez Riveros lanza su séptima placa, Shanghai Blues (Discos Pendiente), una grabación hecha en el 2009 y que hoy presentará en Thelonious, lugar de jazz (23.00).
“Pese al tiempo transcurrido desde que grabamos, siento los temas actuales. No creo que mis composiciones envejezcan porque son vehículos para explorar improvisaciones, siempre le agrego cosas nuevas. Los temas te acompañan el resto de tu vida”, explica sobre las ocho piezas que grabó junto a Sebastián Jordán (trompeta), Claudio Rubio (saxo tenor), Félix Lecaros (batería) y Pablo Menares (contrabajo). Estos dos últimos, radicados actualmente en Nueva York, serán reemplazados por Eduardo Peña (contrabajo) y Carlos Cortés (batería).
Dice el pianista -formado en la Berklee College of Music de Boston y la Manhattan School of Music de New York- que Shanghai Blues es un disco “más entrecruzado, con temas más extensos para explorar formas más largas de composición y armonías”, pero tiene a su vez una mayor influencia pop “en una línea más straight ahead del jazz, como en el tema Barcelona, cercano al pop”, comenta sobre la placa que fue financiada por los Fondos de Cultura.
Luego del lanzamiento de hoy en Thelonious, Riveros viajará a París y su regreso preparará un disco con grabaciones en vivo que realizó en en esa ciudad y en Santiago, en los últimos años. “Son grabaciones tipo bootleg (más informales), con extractos de conciertos grabados donde sale parte del que hice en el Providencia Jazz 2003. Me gusta la performance en trío y grabé con muy buenos músicos en Francia y en Chile con Sebastián González y Carlos Cortés”, dice.
A su regreso, también promocionará Shanghai Blues en otros escenarios, como el remozado Club de Jazz de Santiago y el Benevento Jazz Café, y será parte del programa del Festival de Jazz de Puerto Montt, en octubre, donde irá con un nuevo trío, junto a Cristóbal Massis (batería) y Eduardo Peña (contrabajo).

Francisco Lo Vuolo

By Jakob Baekgaard 
Pianist Francisco Lo Vuolo isn't as well-known as Ernesto Jodos or Paula Shocron, two of the label's most prominent musicians, but he is a rising star that Lo Prete believes is one of the greatest jazz piano talents in Argentina.
Segment, his trio album with bassist Cristian Bortoli and drummer Eloy Michelini, offers ample proof of Lo Vuolo's skill as an improviser, interpreter and leader. His idiosyncratic versions of old warhorses like "Yesterdays" and "My Funny Valentine" are nothing less than stunning.
Those familiar with Ben Webster's tender reading of Jerome Kern's ballad might be surprised when they hear his up-tempo version that brings in a fountain of melodic ideas in the middle of an infectious groove driven by Michelini's dynamic playing on the ride cymbals.
Vuolo's solo piano exploration of "My Funny Valentine," which closes the set, isn't as controversial as his take on "Yesterdays," but it adds some interesting harmonies and finds its way into the emotional core of the tune where a fragile beauty is allowed to blossom.
The strength of Segment isn't only that it finds a poignant urgency in melodies that have been played many times, but it also digs out some lesser known jewels like the title track, a free-wheeling bop-groove penned by Charlie Parker, and the swinging elegance of "Local 47" that highlights the compositional skills of unsung saxophonist Warne Marsh.
Whether exploring well-trodden pathways or the roads less travelled, Segment shines with true musicality and improvisational adventurousness. It's only a matter of time before Lo Vuolo will be part of the big league.