CD Reviews - October 2008
by George Fendel, and Kyle
Moment’s Notice, Alan Broadbent, piano.
For quite a few years, I waged a one-man campaign via radio and this
publication with the goal of acquainting Portland area jazz fans with
the brilliant pianist Alan Broadbent. To a certain degree, I think
I’ve succeeded, but there is always room for more accolades.
Especially when a CD like this one comes out. Broadbent’s
piano brings you everything you’re looking for. How about great
bop tunes like Bird’s “Marmaduke” and “Chi
Chi”; Benny Golson’s “Along Came Betty,” and a
medley of two John Coltrane evergreens, “Moment’s
Notice” and “Naima.” Or if you like ballads, try
“Willow Weep For Me,” “My Old Flame” or Randy
Weston’s beauty, “Soul Eyes.” Rounding out this five
star piano trio set are the familiar (but rarely played these days)
“Flamingo” and a new, refreshing AB original called
“Lady Love.” What is it I hear in Alan Broadbent that makes
him a jazz hero of mine? Well, to start, an allegiance to greats
with names like Powell, Tristano and Evans. Then there’s all
those years of classical study which brings romanticism, peerless
phrasing and beauty to every note. To these skills, add this: the guy
swings! As in the past, Alan Broadbent’s trio is completed by
longtime pals who anticipate his every move, Putter Smith on bass and
Kendall Kay on drums. For your copy, check out Amazon.com or CD Baby.
Incidentally, do you recall Shoeless Joe Jackson who, in the film,
“Field Of Dreams,” asked, “Is this
heaven?” Baseball heaven, I guess. And this is jazz heaven.
2008, Chilly Bin, 56:47.
Energy Fields, Ralph Lalama, tenor saxophone.
The name Ralph Lalama may be new to some of you, but he’s been a
significant contributor to the New York scene for years, and he has a
number of stellar albums on the European label, Criss Cross. This on
and off quartet features Lalama’s bristling hard bop tenor along
with John Hart, guitar; Rick Petrone, bass; and Joe Costello, drums.
The program includes well-respected items from the bop menu: Charlie
Parker’s “Buzzy.” Woody Shaw’s
“Moontrane” and a personal favorite of mine, Wayne
Shorter’s rarely performed, “United.” “Old
Folks,” a staple in the jazz firmament, is given a light funk
beat and it works fine. Lalama’s one original,
“Nonchalant.” seems to nearly float just over the surface.
Among the standards, there is a very inside version of “Like
Someone In Love” and a lovely straight ahead “Indian
Summer.” The quartet picks up the tempo on “Just In
Time.” and they bring the proceedings to a close with another
sensuous ballad, Alec Wilder’s “Blackberry Winter.”
Ralph Lalama is one of those guys who’d fit that old Downbeat
category deserving of wider recognition. Maybe you should make his
2008, Mighty Quinn Productions, 59:53.
Four + One, BED featuring Rebecca Kilgore.
I’ve heard it said that if you’re tired, go to bed. Well,
tired or not, BED will give you a pick-me-up worthy of the best
foot-tappin’, happy music to be heard anywhere. In case you
missed their three previous albums, BED is comprised of
Portland’s peerless chanteuse, Rebecca Kilgore; Eddie Erickson,
guitar and vocals; Dan Barrett, trombone and an occasional vocal or
two; and Joel Forbes, bass. For about half the tunes on this regal
recording, the BED-sters added Jeff Hamilton on drums. As Rebecca does
on recordings under her own name, BED examines both tried and true
standards like “I’ve Heard That Song Before,”
“This Can’t Be Love.” “East Of The Sun,”
“The Best Things In Life Are Free” and “I’ll
See You In My Dreams.” But Rebecca and friends also give
deserving attention to obscure gems like “Jubilee,”
“You Can’t Lose A Broken Heart,” “Cross Your
Heart,” “Seven Lonely Days” and even “Drum
Boogie” of Gene Krupa-Roy Eldridge fame. The life-affirming tunes
on this disc are guaranteed to brighten your day. The BED-nicks, I
might add, are having a ball on this delightful set of songs. I think
that you will too.
2008, Blue Swing, 61:42.
Live At The Jazz Standard, Roger Kellaway, piano.
If your collection is bereft of recordings by Roger Kellaway, this
would be a good place to start. I’ve seen Kellaway in person
several times, and I can attest to the fact that he’s one of the
most versatile pianists in my listening experience. This live and
lively set puts the pianist in some sterling company: Stefon Harris,
vibes; Russell Malone, guitar; Jay Leonhart, bass; and, on selected
cuts, Borislav Strulev, cello. This performance gives you a chance to
hear Kellaway comping behind Harris and Malone’s hair curling
solos on many of the tunes. And Kellaway romps in high-voltage delight
as well. Since this is a two CD affair, the musicians really get a
chance to stretch out on some invigorating solos. The tunes are nearly
all from the bop and standards book and include such reliables as
“C Jam Blues,” “All My Life,”
“Doxy,” “Cherry,” “Freddie
Freeloader,” “52nd Street Theme” and the surprise of
the set, “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.” Kellaway can do just about
anything imaginable on the 88 keys. I’ve even seen him play
chords with his elbow! So, get with Roger Kellaway and friends.
They’re a straight-ahead pleasure.
2008, IPO Recordings, 2 disks: approx. 60 minutes each.
All Too Soon, Mort Weiss, clarinet; Ron Eschete, seven string guitar.
How often might one hear a duo of clarinet and guitar? No piano, no
bass, no drums. Just clarinet and guitar. Well, how often? Maybe,
just maybe, there could have been such a pairing somewhere in the world
of classical music. But Mort Weiss and Ron Eschete follow up a previous
recording with, in essence, volume two. And to hear these guys read one
another’s musical minds on a selection of bop and ballads from
the jazz songbook is quite an experience. Mort and Ron would sound
super on virtually any material, but they collaborate here on such
crowd pleasers as “Scrapple,” “Blue Monk,”
“Be My Love,” “O Grande Amor,” “Afternoon
In Paris,” “Emily” and a half dozen more. And while
the tunes are all winners, it’s the performance that shines.
These two master musicians bring a recital-like quality to these
evergreens, and one can almost envision them in the studio with the
little nods and other body language which passes for communication
among skilled cats. Did I have a favorite tune? All were my favorites,
but I’ve always held the opinion that Tadd Dameron’s
“If You Could See Me Now” is the bop ballad of all time.
And Mort and Ron give it every ounce of love and respect that it
deserves. For more info, call 800-641-8980 or 714-557-6877.
2008, SMS Jazz, 68:06.
Axiom, Bill Cantrell, trombone.
If you’re one of those who admired the Blue Note hard bop heroes,
this septet will take you back to those glorious days while adding a
touch of the contemporary as well. With the exception of two standards,
all the remaining tunes were composed by the leader, and his melodies,
at both faster and slower tempos, hang together extremely well.
Cantrell must be well-connected in the jazz biz, because on hand for
this scintillating session are some well respected players like Ryan
Kisor, trumpet; Sherman Irby, alto sax; and Gerald Cannon, bass.
Besides Cantrell, other new names to me were Stacy Dillard, tenor sax;
Rick Germanson, piano; and Montez Coleman, drums. The group might
remind you a bit of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers or, on the local
front, Dick Titterington’s PDXV aggregation. Cantrell contributes
cleanly written lines and allows lots of room for brisk improvisation.
The two tunes that were not Cantrell creations are an especially fresh
and lively “Tangerine” and Cole Porter’s semi-obscure
“After You.” Among several spirited originals, I especially
liked a bop-drenched thing that Cantrell simply calls
“Makers.” This is music in the center aisle of the hard bop
tradition. Nice going, guys! firstname.lastname@example.org.
2008, Upswing Records, 71:55.
Sentimental Mood, Kate Reid, piano and vocals.
There are oh-so-many jazz wannabes out there. Bless ‘em all for
trying, but we jazz vets know a good one when we hear one. From the
opening lines of “I Thought About You,” I knew Kate Reid
was the real deal. And why, I ask, are so many of the best jazz singers
also pianists? That indeed is the case with Kate Reid. Put her to
the ultimate test: “Lush Life.” She gets to the heart of
the tune, and Billy Strayhorn would approve. Other standouts include
“Quiet Nights,” “Too Late Now,” “Only
Trust Your Heart,” “Out Of This World” and a nearly
forgotten little treasure called “The Face I Love.” In
addition to Reid’s tasty piano, her group includes Chris Conner,
bass; Steve Barnes, drums; and on selected tunes, Ron Eschete, guitar;
and Ernie Watts, tenor sax. Her vocal style might be compared to
classic singers like Chris Connor or maybe even Julie London.
Let’s put it this way, if you like Diana Krall, you’re
going to LOVE Kate Reid. In this era of “how loud can you
scream,” it is a pleasure to discover a true jazz singer.
I’m convinced that there are certain mannerisms one can’t
teach. Either you’ve got it or you don’t. Kate Reid’s
got it. KateReidMusic.com
2008, Self –Produced, 55:18
Our Delight, James Moody, tenor saxophone; Hank Jones, piano.
Imagine for a moment how thrilled bassist Todd Coolman and drummer Adam
Nussbaum must have been when they got the call to record with living,
breathing giants of jazz in tenor and flute man James Moody and piano
hero Hank Jones. Consider for a moment that Moody is 83 and Jones is
90, but it makes not a whit of difference. These guys were there
“in the day.” They helped define the music back in the
‘40s, and here’s the proof that their chops are every bit
as good as ever before. The list of tunes reads like a primer of bop
classics: “Our Delight,” “Birk’s Works,”
“Con Alma,” “Lady Bird,” “Good
Bait,” “Soul Trane,” “Woody N’
You,” “Old Folks” and much more. Moody plays with so
much feeling, ease and fluidity that you can count this album as
something of a definitive musical statement for him. As for Jones,
he’s occupied a prominent place in the circle of piano greats his
entire career, and this performance will tell you why. As a bonus,
there’s one vocal from Roberta Gambarini, a singer of exquisite
gifts. It’s called “Moody’s Groove,” and
it’s a warm and sincere Jimmy Heath-written tribute to the
co-leader of the CD. This music is simply the truth. As Todd Coolman
said in the liner notes, “respect your elders.”
2008, Ipo Recordings, 67:21.
Heartfelt, Christian Howes, violin; featuring Roger Kellaway, piano, arranger.
Roger Kellaway is no stranger to arranging for strings, and the fact
that he performs that function on six of the ten tunes played here
probably has a lot to do with this precise and pretty product. The
leader is violinist Christian Howes, who takes great care to make this
violin music, not fiddle music. In addition to his arranging, Kellaway
plays piano on the date in a group which also includes viola, guitar,
bass and drums. My favorite tune? It’s Jimmy Rowles’
“The Peacocks” in perhaps its first treatment with strings.
Other winners here include Russ Freeman’s “The Wind”
(remember Chet’s version?); standards “Alone
Together,” “Early Autumn” and “Bernie’s
Tune,” and a rarely played Bill Evans piece called
“Walkin’ Up.” While I can’t describe myself as
a big fan of strings in the jazz arena, I’m at least smart enough
to appreciate such names as Grappelli, Venuti and Nance, and now,
2008, Resonance Records, 60:10.
Fast And Loose, Scott Dailey, piano.
I really love the fact that all five participants on this
straight-ahead session make music as a glorious outlet, but depend on
other activities to make a living: advertising, accounting, private
investigator, property manager and marriage counselor. But when the sun
goes down, the Scott Dailey trio is out there playing in Northern
California venues. Joined by bassist Hal Bigler and drummer Jimmy
Valencia, Dailey’s trio interprets an array of celebrated
standards with polish, precision and a little whimsy. Special guests
Bob Navarra, guitar, and Bernadette Soubirou, vocals, chime in here
from time to time. A few faves for me included “Days Of Wine And
Roses,” “My Romance,” “Joy Spring,”
“Let’s Get Away From It All,” “Here’s
That Rainy Day” and “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The
Most.” In addition to Dailey’s cleanly honed, sprightly
touch on the piano, I was impressed with Navarra’s subtle
artistry on guitar. All hail local cats everywhere who toil in the
trenches from nine to five and then get out there and do what they
2008, Self-Produced, 53:11.
Tuesday’s Blues, Idit Shner, alto saxophone.
Born and raised in Israel, Idit Shner earned her Doctoral degree at
North Texas State and in 2005, somehow landed at the University of
Oregon as instructor of saxophone performance. On this album, she leads
a quartet on mostly original tunes. I especially liked her title tune,
a streaky, challenging “Tuesday’s Blues,” and an
inspired performance of Jimmy Rowles’ “The Peacocks.”
Much of the remaining program has a Jewish-Israeli flavor, but be
assured, this is not Klezmer music. It is, instead, well played
2008, OA2 Records, 48:00.
Tuscan Prelude: Jazz Under Glass, Jay D’Amico, piano.
This compelling piano trio CD combines classical and jazz influences on
a program of eleven original compositions in tribute to
D’Amico’s Italian heritage. His concept is influenced by
such varied music gods as Frederic Chopin and Oscar Peterson. When one
listens to music for decades, one recognizes melodies that sing. And
helping the pianist in that regard are Marc Johnson, bass and Ronnie
Zito, drums. Lilting, lyrical melodies are the order of the day here,
but D’Amico can also swing with authority. There’s always a
place for beauty in my jazz world.
2008, Consolidated Artist Productions, 39:51.
Spaces In Time, Bill Moring, bass.
This is one of those recordings that can’t seem to find a home.
It’s not mainstream because some of the time it doesn’t
swing. But it’s not quite avant garde, because some of the time,
one can actually discern a melody line. Perhaps surprisingly, the one
tune on the album that landed solidly on my ear was an Ornette Coleman
(of all people) composition called “The Disguise.” Bassist
Moring enlists the help of Jack Walrath on trumpet and Tim Armacost on
tenor, along with the electric keyboards of Steve Allee. But the album
never takes flight.
2008, Owl Studios, 58:56.
Night Town, The Hot Club Of Detroit.
The swing music of the thirties, in the style of Django Reinhardt,
seems to be enjoying a renaissance in recent years, and The Hot Club of
Detroit is devoted entirely to that genre. The group sounds authentic
to these ears, complete with sizzling acoustic guitar, accordion and
soprano saxophone, among other participants. While most of the tunes
are period pieces, the Detroiters even take on Miles’
“Seven Steps To Heaven” and “Ammons” and
Stitt’s “Blues Up And Down.” “Coquette,”
“Sweet Substitute” and other delights complete an
2008, Mack Avenue Records, 64:32.
Thinking About Bix, Dick Hyman, piano.
It seems it was almost inevitable that Dick Hyman would interpret songs
either written by or associated with jazz pioneer Bix Beiderbecke.
These recital quality performances offer us a delightful glimpse into
jazz history, with Hyman’s definitive piano creating
musical portraits of the Davenport, Iowa cornetist who died at age 28.
On an exquisitely recorded program of seventeen gems, I found a few of
Bix’s own compositions -- “Candlelights,” “In A
Mist and Flashes” -- to be strikingly similar. And gentle. And
2008, Reference Recordings, 66:18.
Tickle Toe, Cy Touff, bass trumpet and Sandy Mosse, tenor sax.
Chicago musicians Touff and Mosse have both passed on since this
outstanding straight ahead 1981 session released here for the first
time. Touff played the bass trumpet, an odd instrument in jazz circles,
but with Mosse’s classic tenor sound, there are similarities here
to the rich contributions of Zoot Sims and Bob Brookmeyer. The swinging
pianist, John Campbell, also plays a prominent role in this quintet.
Seven classics, including “Allen’s Alley,”
“Centerpiece,” “Alone Together” and
“What’s New” are played with zest and style. A real
find for Cy Touff collectors!
2008, Delmark, 67:49.
The Beat Goes On, Frank Derrick, drums.
Score another winner for Colorado’s Jazzed Media Records in Frank
Derrick. His drum solos do not dominate this fine recording, which
features both Derrick’s big band and his quintet. These South
Florida musicians take flight on favorites such as
“Caravan,” “Cute,” “Summertime,” a
“My Fair Lady” medley, “Blue Rondo A La Turk,”
I Get A Kick Out Of You,” and even “Slaughter On Tenth
Avenue”! Among several Derrick originals, I liked the Blue
Note feeling of “Conquest.” Derrick’s guys are
sometimes effervescent, sometimes earthy, always ear worthy.
2008, Jazzed Media, 70:02.
West Of Fifth, Hank Jones, piano.
Piano players can do all of the exploring new ground that they wish,
but sometimes we need to return to players like Hank Jones. Players who
give you gift- wrapped piano jazz with elegance, flair and
dependability. He hits a grand slam here with Christian McBride, bass
and Jimmy Cobb, drums. You just can’t miss with “Speak
Low,” “A Child Is Born,” “Confirmation,”
“Stella,” “Billie’s Bounce” and more.
This one escaped me when it was released in 2006. I’m so glad I
caught up with it, and trust that it remains available from Chesky
2006, Chesky Records, 62:16.
Once Upon A Melody, Javon Jackson, tenor saxophone.
I’d have to say that this is about as accessible an album as
Javon Jackson has done in a long time. With a quartet of Eric Reed,
piano; Corcoran Holt, bass; and Billy Drummond, drums, Jackson scores
high marks on Wayne Shorter’s “One By One,” Sonny
Rollin’s “Paradox,” and standards like “My One
And Only Love” and “Will You Still Be Mine.” When he
wants to, Jackson can bring a lilting, fluid tone from his tenor. And
he does just that on the above tunes, among others.
2008, Palmetto, 50:31.
Before Love Has Gone, Stevie Holland, vocals.
Here’s another singer who doesn’t try to entrap you in
extraneous fluff. Holland wisely chooses some standards
(“Carioca,” “Where or When,”
“Daybreak,” “Lazy Afternoon” and “How
Deep is the Ocean”), but brings to our attention some new
melodies that somehow sound like the good songs from the past. Her
accompanists are on target, especially pianist Martin Berjerano, whose
Reservoir CD was reviewed in Jazzscene some time ago. As for Holland,
her enunciation is perfect, and she sings effortlessly and in spot on
key. We need more like her!
2008, 150 Music, 41:19.
by Kyle O'Brien
The Target, Kate McGarry, vocals.
McGarry has an airy-clear voice that invites the listener in with her
loose, flowing delivery. It’s evident from the first note of the
modern-jazz tune, “The Meaning of the Blues,” through the
light whimsy of the closing track, “New Love Song,” a duet
with guitarist Keith Ganz. In between is a pleasing mix of contemporary
jazz, modern pop-folk and world influences. Throughout, McGarry’s
sweet voice both commands and lulls with an easygoing nature that
belies the innate musicianship behind it. Backed by a crack band that
includes bassist Reuben Rogers, familiar keyboardist Gary Versace,
drummer Greg Hutchinson and guest artists Donny McCaslin on sax and
Theo Bleckmann on voice loops, McGarry is free to roam with her vocals,
giving new meanings to traditional lyrics on “It Might As Well Be
Spring” and adding her own smartly fun vocals on other tracks.
Her sound is fresh and invigorating, like a dip in a clear spring
during summer break, and her modern takes on tunes like “Blue in
Green” give us a reason to think that jazz has a bright future if
it embraces changes like these.
2007, Palmetto Records, 55:40.
Firewater!, A Dynamic Collection of Today’s River City Blues, Various artists.
Portland is a blues town, full of artists who excel at the blues arts.
This collection, put together by the Rainmaker Music Group, features
some of the Rose City’s talented, and sometimes lesser known,
players of America’s roots music. It kicks off with a blistering
blues rock version of “Shake Your Money Maker” by a group
named Kolvane, whose leader tears through a piano solo like a
barrelhouse player on a freight train. Hillstomp updates the back porch
blues with a fuzzy version of R.L. Burnside’s “Coal Black
Mattie,” while Colin Lake shares that porch with his lap guitar
on “Woman on the Hill.” Since this disc also serves to call
attention and fundraising for the Paul deLay music scholarship fund at
Ethos, the quality of the music is especially important. Luckily, the
combination of southern blues traditions and electric blues makes this
a winner. Rollie Tussing’s breakneck “Good Girl”
plows through everything in its path, while the Joe McMurrian Quartet
rocks out like Led Zeppelin on “Shake ‘em On
Down.” There are lighter moments, as on the folksy
“Elder Greene Blues” by Tussing, and the sparsely pretty
“Spontaneous Late Night Interlude” by Steve Murray and Bob
Shoemaker, but this is ultimately a highlight of the energy that
propels the blues after over 100 years. That’s why “Sugar
Mama,” by Lloyd Jones and Fiona Boyes, even though it’s
acoustic, still creates that power of the blues we love.
2008, Raimaker Music.
Soul Drums, Todd Isler.
At its worst, this disc has moments of contemporary jazz sameness, and
unfortunately it opens that way, with a meandering composition,
“Kalalau Trail,” which doesn’t stand out from other
tracks of the same ilk. The playing is solid, especially by drummer
Isler, but it could be by any number of modern players. It’s not
until Isler pulls out the more exotic percussion that the disc gets
truly interesting. Hand drums and percussion take us around the world,
from the South American samba and tribal folk grooves to East Indian
rhythms and Ghanaian influences. The hand drums and auxiliary
percussion give needed texture and exoticism to the proceedings. Isler
is a masterful percussionist, but some of his compositions need to push
the limits more than they do to create more of a multi-culti blend.
Right now it’s too much contemporary jazz and not enough from the
rest of the world. Still, when the other drums come out of the
woodworks, this disc can get very interesting.
2008, Takadimi Tunes, 56:00.
Invisible Baby, Marco Benevento.
This is, thank goodness, not your usual jazz disc. From the get go we
hear electronica, post-rock instrumental experimentation, sonic bombast
and rock heft, with jazz influences floating around there somewhere.
Benevento, a rising keyboardist, is obviously a product of his times,
melding the various music that influenced him growing up into a
cohesive yet inventive sound. Not everything is over the top.
“Record Book” is mellower and introspective, with Benevento
cradling the keyboard in a major-chorded melody. But when he takes it
outside, it gets very interesting, as on “Atari,” an
electronic layer cake of modern rock, jazz and synth sounds. This is
jazz that can appeal to a smart, younger audience, a la the Bad Plus.
It’s intelligent without snobbery and accessible without
pandering. Even though he can pound the keys to the point of nearly
going over the top, Benevento is clearly an artist to watch.
2008, Hyena Records,42:00.
Lifelines, Bruno Raberg, bass.
Boston-based Raberg apparently has a lot to say, since he put out a
two-disc set for his sixth release as a leader. It certainly starts
strong, in the vein of an updated Mike Stern, with guitarist Ben Monder
fuzzing out while Chris Cheek plays an avant-leaning soprano sax.
Raberg holds down a solidly stomping bass line while drummer Matt
Wilson lets fly with the cymbals while the sounds swirl around him.
It’s an ambitious opening that never lets up throughout, even if
the tempos slow a bit. Not sure why Raberg chose to do a double disc
here. The musicianship is borderline incredible for sure, and Raberg is
a talent on both the double bass and as a modern composer for small
group, but with the change of Wilson for Ted Poor on the second disc,
there is no discernible difference between the two, and it goes on a
bit long for a full listen-through. Still, it’s expertly played,
and Raberg creates interesting tones and modern jazz flavors, from hard
bop to contemporary compositional phrasing.
2008, Orbis Music, 130.
Metro is a band that has flown past my radar for five previous CDs,
which is too bad considering the talent involved. Comprised of
Keyboardist Mitchel Forman and guitarist Chuck Loeb, backed by famed
bassist Will Lee and drummer Wolfgang Haffner, this is a fusion group
with some heft. Unfortunately it’s also one that is mired a bit
in the past. The opener sounds like something off a late ‘80s
fusion disc, even as well-executed as it is. With sharp production and
precise musicianship, it’s still too synth heavy and at times
over-produced, even when it’s acoustic, as on Forman’s
flowing “Tell Me a Thousand Times.” Fans of contemporary
jazz could certainly do worse, but the faux African vocals on
“Maikl Burekka” sounds like a Weather Report knockoff, and
overall it’s lacking real bite.
2008, Marsis Jazz, 70:00.
Dig Deep, Laszlo Gardony.
Gardony is a Hungarian-born pianist and composer who embraces the trio
setting on his latest disc. The Berklee trained musician (now professor
of piano at the school) is an accomplished player, and here we hear his
compositional prowess as well. Save for a reworked, soul jazz version
of “Summertime,” it’s all Gardony’s pieces,
well played by bassist John Lockwood and drummer Yoron Israel.
Gardony’s own piano work is more chordal in nature, moving his
tunes along rather than going for flashy solos. The tunes can come
across a bit methodical and inward-facing at times, seemingly meant
more for the musicians than the consumer, and Gardony’s playing
can be too classically metered in places. But he can show some soul
too, and influences of Horace Silver and Ramsey Lewis abound here. When
it clicks, as on the nearly rockin’ “Heavy,” it can
be a wonderful collaboration. At its worst, it can be stiff, but
it’s always interesting.
2008, Sunnyside Communications, 47:00.
Moods, Rabitsch & Pawlik Quartet.
Michaela Rabitsch is the multi-talented Austrian singer-instrumentalist
that fronts this poppy jazz quartet. She is a solid vocalist and plays
a pretty darned decent trumpet and flugelhorn. Her partner, guitarist
and composer Robert Pawlik is a fine guitarist. His compositions are
strongest when he shares writing credits with Rabitsch. The two focus
more on the jazz aspect of their powers. When he leads the charge, we
get watered-down African (“Afrika”) and too-light funk
(“Put It In the Pocket”). But with Rabitsch, there is a
good give and take, as on the propelling Latin-lite of “Tren
Numero Uno.” This isn’t music that will set the jazz world
on fire, but it is nice, and fun to hear a solid female trumpeter who
can sing well too. A modern day female Chet Baker without the drug
2007, Extraplatte, 51:20.
Bossa Nova Bacchanal, Charlie Rouse.
Sometimes a reissue of something you’ve never heard before is
better than great new music. Such is the case with this reissue from
noted tenor man Rouse. These sessions, recorded in 1962 and 1965,
recall the early days when players first became aware of the great
sounds coming from the southern hemisphere, specifically Brazil. The
first session features the pleasing sounds of Rouse, guitarists Kenny
Burrell and Chauncey “Lord” Westerbrook, bassist Larry
Gales, drummer Willie Bobo and percussionists Patato Valdes and Garvin
Masseaux. They put together a lovely blend of western jazz and
Brazilian flavors, with Rouse’s breathy delivery a lulling
relayer of the melodies on tracks like “Back to the
Tropics” and “Velhos Tempos.” The second session
features Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, McCoy Tyner on piano, Bob Cranshaw
on bass and Billy Higgins on drums, though we only get to hear one
track from that session, “One for Five,” and, while
it’s a great hard-bop tune, it hardly fits with the mellow bossa
stuff happening through the rest of it. Better are the bossa tracks,
like the Afro-influenced “In Martinique,” where Rouse gets
to bounce around on his tenor in between his fluid lines. Rouse was
never the top player of his time, but this disc proves that he embraced
new styles and was able to go between bop and other genres with ease.
Plus, we get to hear Westerbrook, a lesser-known name but a welcome
acoustic and electric player, who we get to hear even better thanks to
the deft re-mastering.
2003, Blue Note, 42:40.
Clarity, Michael Dease, trombone.
At first listen I could have sworn I was listening to a veteran
trombonist, with smooth and fluid lines combined with an innate sense
of melody. Upon reading the liner notes, I find out that Dease is a
24-year-old phenom who makes it sound way too easy to be that good. I
also find out that this is his third album as a leader -- I have truly
been missing out. This kid is good, the kind of good that comes either
from years of playing with the best or from incredible talent. Dease
has a combination of both and may well just be the next defining voice
for his instrument. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he has a bevy
of great talent backing him and supporting his compositional and
playing prowess. Musicians like Victor Goines, Eric Reed and Sharel
Cassity fit tightly into his band. But it’s Dease who rings
through every time, his absolutely mellifluous tone shining on every
track, including a searing solo on his tribute to trombone great, Steve
Turre, on “One 4 Steve.” Dease, also an educator, is
clearly the leader here in all facets. His melodies move the tunes
forward, his soloing often the standout among many standouts, and his
compositions and arrangements defining him as a force well beyond his
young years. All trombone fans should take notice.
2007, Blues Back Records, 70:00.