CD Reviews - July 2009
by George Fendel, and Kyle
by George Fendel
Sight, Adam Rogers, guitar.
Adam Rogers demonstrates continued guitar mastery in a trio setting
with John Patitucci on bass and Clarence Penn on drums. As in past
recordings, Rogers’ guitar breathes, allowing for a great deal of
space. But when he puts it in overdrive, Rogers delivers. His mixture
of originals is balanced by several standards. The first of these, “I
Hear a Rhapsody,” is given a brisk, up-to-date reading. Jerome Kern’s
“Yesterdays” is interpreted in a stop-and-go manner, certainly new
attire for the old evergreen. The Thelonious Monk classic, “Let’s Cool
One,” swings with authority, and Rogers chooses “Beautiful Love” as his
ballad. Just so you know that Rogers maintains a connection to classic
bop lines, there’s a groovy rendition of Charlie Parker’s “Dexterity.”
Some of Rogers’ original music is a bit challenging melody-wise, but I
found “Hourglass,” at a bristling tempo, to be the standout. Rogers
seems to hold all the winning cards in this scintillating trio date.
Criss Cross, 2009, 61:56.
Live At Mr. Kelly’s, Ella Fitzgerald, vocals.
OK, Ella fans, you’d better scoop this one up, because apparently Verve
Records didn’t give it much fanfare when it came out in 2007. I
recently discovered it, and let me put it this way: if you loved Ella,
vintage 1958, you’re going to celebrate this NEVER BEFORE RELEASED
two-CD set. It sat in the Verve vault for nearly 50 years, and didn’t
deserve such a fate. Ella’s in her absolute prime with a trio of Lou
Levy (piano), Max Bennett (bass) and Gus Johnson (drums). She caresses
these tunes and shmoozes the audience, often substituting lyrics for
the ones she forgot. Among a multitude of highlights are: scatting as
only Ella could do on “Perdido,” a tip of the hat to Dinah Washington
on “Love Me or Leave Me,” a rich and delicious reading of two ballads
from Porgy and Bess; a pull-out-all-the-stops “Exactly Like You,” and
even a couple of Sinatra staples, complete with verses, “Witchcraft”
and “In the Wee Small Hours of The Morning.” These selections and
nearly twenty more comprised the last two sets of a three week
appearance at Chicago’s famous Mr. Kelly’s, and Ella doesn’t hold
anything back. She was one of a kind, ultra hip, disarmingly delightful
with an audience, and, for time immemorial, The First Lady of Song.
Verve Records, 2007, CD #1: 68:25, CD #2: 44:19.
Mutual Admiration Society 2, Joe Locke, vibes, David Hazeltine, piano.
Joe Locke seems to be carving his considerable talent increasingly into
our consciousness with quite a few recordings and guest shots in the
last few years. And David Hazeltine, with a dozen or so stellar CDs to
his credit and frequent sideman appearances as well, is also climbing
the ladder of fame. And both deserve the success that has come their
way. On this second meeting on the Sharp Nine label, the two players
join forces with Essiet Essiet on bass and Billy Drummond on drums,
themselves respected veterans. Most of the tunes are originals by one
or the other of the leaders. Their creations boast all the basics of
quality straight-ahead jazz: keep it swinging; play melody lines of
substance; don’t forget that pretty is to be admired; keep it clean and
make it sing. For me, the session’s top award goes to a gorgeous
version of Jimmy Rowles’ “The Peacocks.” It’s a tune which has earned
the status of jazz standard, and these guys find the delicacy and
beauty. This quartet effortlessly brings you a buoyant, bright CD well
worth a listen.
Sharp Nine, 2009, 54:26.
Plays For Monk, Bobby Broom, guitar.
If you’re like me, you can never get enough Monk, whether it’s the
iconic pianist-composer himself, or, as in this case, an affectionate
tribute by another player. Bobby Broom’s recent album for Origin
Records is a showcase of Monk’s greatest hits, played with style and a
bit of Monk-ian wit here and there by the talented Broom and his trio.
Bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Kobie Watkins keep it subtle and
swinging in support of Broom’s energy bursts. All tunes except “Lulu’s
Back in Town” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” are Monk originals. Broom
doesn’t attempt to re-invent any of the Monk melodies, and perhaps that
indeed is part of the charm of this recording. The two ballads are
“Ruby, My Dear” and “Reflections,” two diamonds in the Monk book.
Interesting to note the exclusion of “‘Round Midnight.” Could it have
reached the saturation point? Anyway, hats off to Bobby Broom and his
trio for this delightful trip down Monk Boulevard.
Origin Records, 2009, 56:40.
You’ve Got A Friend, Kevin Hays, piano.
You know me. I don’t have much patience for pop tunes. But I have to be
fair and acknowledge legitimately well-written tunes. Often their best
interpretations are done by jazz musicians, and that’s the case with
the first three (!) selections herein: “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Bridge
Over Troubled Water” and “Fool on the Hill.” Hays successfully finds
myriads of possibilities and musical roads, thus giving these tunes
welcome and refreshing new musical garb. But after these, Hays turns to
the tried and true with Monk’s “Think of One”; the standard “Sweet and
Lovely”; Bob Dorough’s cheerful “Nothing Like You”; and Charlie
Parker’s bop flight, “Cheryl.” It all adds up to an album that explores
tunes from varied genres and widely divergent composers. With playing
mates Doug Weiss (bass) and Bill Stewart (drums), Hays has come out
with a menu of tunes which are refreshing, artful, and, not to be
Jazz Eyes, 2009, 45:56.
Skylines, Kevin Deitz, bass.
If you’re seeking proof that Portland’s resident jazz musicians more
than hold their own with anyone, anywhere, check out Kevin Deitz’s
array of original compositions featuring a plethora of Portlanders.
Deitz writes melody lines that are contagiously swinging or elegantly
flowing. And some marvelous Portland-based players are given generous
opportunities to strut their stuff. A few examples: Paul Mazzio’s
exquisite flugelhorn solo on “New Beginnings”; Tim Jensen’s flight on
flute and John Stowell’s rarefied guitar work on “Arch Cape”; Tony
Pacini’s sparkling piano solo on “I Forgot About You” or his more
nostalgic side on “Romantic Novel”; the teaming of Mazzio’s trumpet and
Renato Caranto’ tenor on “Sunny Side Up”; Mike Horsfall’s high energy
vibes solo on “San Juan”; and George Mitchell’s tasty piano solos
throughout. Kevin Deitz displays impressive skills as a composer, be it
up-tempo romps, ballads or even Latin-tinged vehicles. He has long been
admired (just ask the musicians) in Portland as a talented and
versatile bassist. Now we get to hear what he’s been up to as a
composer as well. He was wise indeed to enlist the assistance of some
of our best jazz musicians.
Origin, 2009, 49:54.
More Dedications, Chip White, drums, poetry.
Drummer Chip White has played with more jazz luminaries than you can
shake a stick at, and he’s hired some heavyweights for this session as
well: Mulgrew Miller, Steve Nelson, Wycliffe Gordon and Duane Eubanks,
among others. White’s compositions are solid, swinging and
well-conceived. The idea he explores here is to write for his various
soloists as he honors their predecessors with titles like “Bag of
Blues,” “A Rhythm Round for Clifford Brown” “Booker Little’s Chops,” “A
Touch of Hutch” and “The Continuing Saga of Miles.” There’s a great
deal of joy and a real celebratory atmosphere to these tunes, and the
solos are passionate and on target. The big surprise comes when you
slip CD #2 into your player and pick up on some hip jazz poetry
dedicated to these same musicians. This well-thought out set is a
delightful listening experience, and one only hopes that Chip White
will give us more of this concept in the future. www.chipwhitejazz.com .
Self-produced, 2009, CD#1: 63:27, CD#2: 13:42.
Off The Cuff, Rick Germanson, piano.
Chalk up another head-shaking new name in pianist Rick Germanson. The
Milwaukee native settled in New York in 1998, and since then has worked
with giants young and older like Joe Magnarelli, Eric Alexander, Eddie
Henderson, Tom Harrell and Charles McPherson. When you’re traveling in
those circles, you’d better have your jazz mapquest conveniently at
your side. And Germanson comes through with authority with colleagues
Gerald Cannon (bass) and Louis Hayes (drums). His CD opens with three
originals that display both his powerful and delicate sides. Then comes
the surprise: it’s Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring.” But the hook
here is that its usual springy quick tempo is abandoned in favor of
playing it as a ballad. And a new, beautifully attired tune is the
result. Other standards included a ripping version of “This Time the
Dream’s on Me”; a refreshing take on the pop opus “Wives and Lovers”;
and a dreamy “Autumn in New York.” These and several additional
scintillating originals complete a debut from a pianist who’s only
going to conquer more mountains on that jazz mapquest.
Owl Studios, 2009, 51:50.
Skykomish, Craig Buhler, clarinet, saxophones.
I think the idea here was to re-cast some pop hits into higher-class
jazz settings, and Buhler and lots of friends do a pretty darn good job
of it. The only problem was that I’ve been turned off by pop music for
so long, most of the titles were totally unfamiliar to me. Perhaps
names such as “What a Fool Believes,” “When You Believe,” “Creepin’,”
“Waiting for a Girl,” “Flash Dance” and “Save the Best for Last” are
blasts from the past that you remember fondly. I didn’t known ‘em at
the time of their original performances, but I’m sure they’re all
better dressed up here than ever before. A few did ring a familiar
bell, all of them well-performed (for what they are). I’m not convinced
that songs like this have earned the good care and creativity that
Buhler gives them. I’d sure like to see what he can do with
contemporary composers with names like Legrand, Frishberg, Mandel and
the Bergmans. craigbuhler.com.
Discernment Music, 2008, 54:33.
The A, B, Cs Of Jazz, John Allred, trombone, Jeff Barnhart, piano, Danny Coots, drums.
For quite a few years now, Arbors Records has established itself as
home for dependable swing jazz. This quartet (don’t forget Dave Stone
on bass) continues in that tradition, and you’ll know it from the first
notes of “Pick Yourself Up.” Musicians in this style always sound to me
like they’re having more fun than anyone else at the party. And why not
when one considers such ripe old chestnuts as “All Through The Night,”
“Just One of Those Things,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “Some of These Days”
and “Jitterbug Waltz.” Allred, who can play in any setting, really
brings it on these tunes, and Barnhart, a new name to me, sounds like
the ideal swing/stride style pianist. The surprise of the set is
Charlie Haden’s beautiful ballad, “First Song.” Some of you may
remember a stunning version by Stan Getz or a delicate vocal
interpretation by Haden’s wife, Ruth Cameron. I can only say that I
hope Haden has a chance to hear this exquisite take. All in all, the
Arbors recipe is intact here: joyous, gimmick-free music making. What
more can one ask?
Arbors, 2009, 67:07.
Come Right In, N. Glenn Davis, drums.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Glenn Davis has forged a long career both
teaching and playing in Boston and in his hometown where he now holds
forth. On this, his second Jazzed Media release, he once again brings
in guest alto maven Phil Woods, but this time on only three tunes. But
Woods makes the most of each opportunity on a vigorous opener, “A
Different Day,” “Just a Tadd” (Davis’s bop-drenched tribute to Tadd
Dameron), and the all time bebop ballad, “If You Could See Me Now.” The
other horn players are new names to me, but Dave Sterner (alto and
soprano) and Jack Schantz (trumpet and flugelhorn) add a well-honed,
seasoned sound to Davis’s program. His rhythm mates Mark Soskin (piano)
and Dean Johnson (bass), also account for themselves admirably. Most of
the tunes are Davis originals performed, as we sometimes like to say,
right down the center of the jazz highway. A couple of particularly
impressive tunes were “Walkin’ The Blues,” a happy, heady melody; and
“Time Remembered,” the Bill Evans tune which serves here as a standout
piano vehicle for Soskin. All told, we can thank Glenn Davis for
assembling a crew of spirited, gifted musicians and Jazzed Media for
continuing to find a place for excellent musicians to be heard.
Jazzed Media, 2009, 61:30.
The Music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, Grant Stewart, tenor sax.
With the year only half over, I can say with assurance that this CD
would make my top ten 2009 list of jazz releases. Grant Stewart is a
breath of fresh air, playing so brilliantly in the great straight ahead
tradition. I dare say he’d be quite capable of trying to impress you
with edgy, outside stuff, but instead Stewart honors the paths honed by
such heroes as Duke and Strays. Of course, if you’re going to be a ten,
it’s best to surround yourself with equally gifted players. Stewart’s
pals all meet the test. Tardo Hammer may well be the hottest bebop
pianist since Bud Powell and Barry Harris. And Paul Gill on bass and
Joe Farnsworth on drums round a quartet in place to interpret these
great tunes with everything they’ve got! And what great tunes!
“Raincheck,” “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart,” “It Don’t Mean a
Thing,” and a few lesser known gems in “Angelica,” “The Feeling of
Jazz” and “Tonight I Shall Sleep.” Stewart is one of the brightest
lights in the present generation of serious jazz musicians. This CD
represents both another step in an impressive discography and a victory
for the good guys.
Sharp Nine, 2009, 59:23.
World On A String, Paul Meyers, guitar.
Paul Meyers seems to take his acoustic guitar in two directions,
contemporary and bossa nova. Down the contemp corridor, I rather liked
his quirky melody line on an original that he titles “Panama.” There
were some exceptional harmonics on another Meyers tune called “River,”
and Meyers and guest saxman Donny McCaslin get into a boppy mode on
“North Meets South.” On the bossa side, I liked the flowing melody line
of “Eyes that Smile.” A bit of this and a bit of that seems to be the
order of the day, and Meyers’ ideas are often quite refreshing.
Miles High Records, 2009, 63:42.
Form, Danny Grissett, piano.
Danny Grisett abandons the trio format he used on two earlier Criss
Cross releases in favor of a sextet for this one. His front line of
Steve Davis (trombone), Seamus Blake (tenor sax) and newcomer Ambrose
Akinmusire (trumpet) is impressive on an array of Grissett originals,
Monk’s “Ugly Beauty,” Herbie Hancock’s “King Cobra” and one tune from
the heyday of songwriting, Irving Berlin’s “Let’s Face the Music and
Dance.” Grissett continues to establish himself as an often riveting
and original pianist.
Criss Cross, 2009, 60.
Spring Forward, Bill Banfield, guitar.
If you like the in-your-face, funky guitar sound found all over the
dial on smooth jazz radio stations, this may be your cup of tea. To my
ear, it’s tough to decipher a melody line. Banfield has listened to a
lot of George Benson from the period after Benson went to the other
side. Even a straight ahead take on Wes Montgomery’s “The Thumb” or a
funk-laden version of Coltrane’s “Equinox” can’t do much to rescue this
CD. I’ll bet Banfield could keep it down the center of bebop boulevard
if he so desired. But on this outing, it appears he may going for the
Innova Records, 2009, 62:53.
Extensions, Phoenix Jazz Group.
No, they’re not from Arizona. They’re a Canadian quartet of musicians
with impressive credentials. PJG is comprised of John McLellan, piano,
Charlie Bell, sax, Art Lang, bass, and Nick Macerello, drums. Their
program of all original music swings with ease. Try a tune like “Time
to Decide,” on which the band brings in guest trumpeter Mike Malone.
Among other highlights were “Bonavista,” a lightly Latin piece
featuring guest flutist Ken Hadley, and “A Promise Kept,” a heartfelt
piano tribute to Bill Evans. phoenixjazzgroup.com.
Self-produced, 2008, 56:52.
National Pastime, Dave Glenn, trombone.
One month of watching 18 baseball games in six cities created the
inspiration for Dave Glenn to write eight pieces for this sextet. The
title tune depicts the feeling of anticipation on entering a stadium:
the smell of beer and hot dogs, etc. Other tunes pay tribute to
baseball heroes like Roberto Clemente or Hank Aaron, while still others
express, as ABC used to say, the thrill of victory and the agony of
defeat. Dave Scott’s trumpet and Rich Perry’s tenor, along with Glenn’s
rich trombone licks, are major contributors on this fine performance.
Coming True, Mon David, vocals.
A new male jazz singer from The Philippines? Who would have guessed it?
But that’s what we have in Mon David (pronounced MOAN-daVEED). He gets
us off to the races with a sizzling scat vocal on Wayne Shorter’s
“Footprints,” but also delivers a ballad like “Some Other Time” with
great feeling. Other standouts include “There Is No Greater Love,” “No
More Blues” and even the old Glenn Miller opus, “Moonlight Serenade.”
Shades of Mark Murphy in that Mon David phrases, scats and simply
sounds like a real deal jazz singer. I was impressed!
FreeHam Records, 2009, 49:04.
by Kyle O'Brien
Karla’s Sermon, Robert Moore & the Wildcats.
This disc, recorded live in Alabama, features trumpeter/vocalist Moore
in a septet setting, getting funky with a mix of standards and
originals. It starts with a soul jazz blueser, the title track, which
sets up a highly listenable, grooving disc. With a funky version of
“Lover Man,” Moore proves he has vocal chops, singing with a gravelly,
Dr. John-like growl. He can over-emote a bit, but his voice is engaging
and fun. Songwriting duties are mostly Moore’s, but one by his
guitarist, Mark Kimball, “Lug Nuts,” is a fun, medium bopper. Moore’s
tunes are melodic and let his musicians lay back on the beat, giving a
relaxed feel throughout, especially on tracks like the slow blues “I’ll
Be Moving Along,” and the whimsical “Marche L’Idiots.” Moore’s band is
loose and playful but all listen well to each other, and saxophonist
Gary Wheat stands out as a soloist. The sense of fun keeps this disc a
2009, RomoMusic, 61:07.
Sleeping Lady, New West.
This guitar trio isn’t exactly jazz, but their blend of instrumental
folk and contemporary styles is quite pleasing. The three guitarists --
Brady Cohan, Perry Smith, and John Storie -- are all fine players and
work together to create a cohesive trio. The stated purpose of this
disc is to capture the natural sound of master luthier Jeff Traugott’s
handmade guitars, and the trio has done a terrific job. The often
plaintive tunes, like the light waltz “Birthday Girl,” are lovely,
evoking a sense of place. The guitars are sonorous and the recording
quality is natural and crisp. Guest vocalist Gretchen Parlato adds
nice, whispery vocals on two tracks. Try listening to this one on a
drive along the coast.
2009, New West, 46:17.
Vast, East West Quintet.
The opening track on this disc builds more like a bombastic rock tune
than a jazz tune, which is kind of the point of this genre-bending band
from Brooklyn. Groups like this and the Bad Plus are changing the way
we hear and play jazz. Adding elements of rock, funk and even punk has
made our American music all the more distinct. From that over-the-top
track, “The Triumph,” East West travels through a multitude of styles,
from contemporary jazz (“Over the Falls”) to hard-bop-meets-rock (“Vast
Pt. 1 & 2”) to slow waltz (“Daffodill 11”) and areas in between.
It’s adventurous music played by a highly able quintet. They seem to be
happy exploring the spaces between the genres, blending, molding and
meshing to make a new sound that still manages to be all jazz. Who
cares if it goes over the top on occasion.
2009, Native Language Music, 58:30.
Confeddie, Hailey Niswanger, alto saxophone.
Young saxophonist Niswanger shows chops from the top of the disc, doing
a precision lick on Monk’s “Four in One.” From there she goes on to an
impressive, if slightly meandering solo. She is obviously a talent and
her style is suited to the hard and post bop tunes she plays, including
Herbie Hancock’s “Oliloqui Valley” and Joe Henderson’s “Serenity.” She
shows off a smooth, open tone on Kenny Dorham’s “La Mesha,” and even
shows a knack for fine bop writing on the title track, an angular
bopper she says is in the style of saxophonist Eddie Harris. Niswanger
is backed by a tight group that includes drummer Mark Whitfield Jr.,
pianist Michael Palma and bassist Greg Chapin. She is a talented player
and shows signs of being a solid composer, but she could use some focus
on her soloing rather than just shooting hot licks into the air.
2009, Hailey Niswanger, 50:44.
Labyrinth, Jacam Manricks.
The title of this disc is apt. There is a sometimes dizzying feeling to
Manricks’s compositions, full of spaces, close harmonies and cascading
notations. It’s not confusing, but does have a feel of wandering,
searching for ways through to the center. There are spots of clarity
but the compositions jump back and forth between tonal and atonal,
making for long, melodic lines interspersed with rat-a-tat spurts. It’s
especially true on the title track, where Manricks peppers us with
staccato riffs and precision runs on his alto saxophone. The album is
very deliberate, walking us along the path while leaving plenty of room
for discovery. It’s not an easy album, but the tones by the band, which
includes a chamber orchestra on a couple tracks, makes for a colorful,
textural disc. This is compositional, themed jazz done quite well.
2009, Manricks Music, 57:54.
Narrow Margin, Andrew Green.
Ever since Duke Ellington did the soundtrack for “Anatomy of a Murder,”
jazz artists and composers have been trying to create the perfect film
noir soundtrack. This is one of those recordings. But rather than
trying to go the big band route, guitarist/composer Green has gathered
a tight group of six to take us on a ride through the dark streets of a
city. Using a 1952 film as his inspiration, he titles tracks “Midnight
Novelette,” “.45 Auto” and “Black Roses” to get us in the mood. While
there is a cohesive musical narrative throughout, it’s a concept that
takes itself a bit too literally. But thematically it works, with
retro-noir, dark chords and a generous use of space. Green is a superb
guitarist and his group helps create the feel of the disc, especially
saxophonist Bill McHenry, who uses a gritty tone. Green updates the
noir concept enough to be relevant but is definitely influenced by the
noir soundtracks that came before him.
2008, Microphonic Records, 50:47.
Strange Neighbor, Hashem Assadullahi Quintet.
Saxophonist Assadullahi recently returned from a stint on faculty at a
university in Thailand. While his time overseas doesn’t have a direct
influence on the music, it’s possible that the Eugene-based composer
might include some eastern influences on his next outing. The disc here
is a bold, sometimes brash modern jazz recording. It starts with a mash
of horns and rhythms, which dissipates into a pensive, long-toned
ponder, “Hypothesis B - The Widower,” which utilizes lengthy tones and
percussive accents by drummer Jason Palmer, between deliberate,
melancholy horn lines. Those lines are courtesy of Assadullahi and
trumpeter Ron Miles, a fantastic player who here plays a G trumpet.
Things pick up from there with the third of five “Hypothesis” tracks.
The music borders on the avant garde, kept together by a solid,
guitar-based rhythm section that includes guitarist Justin Morell and
bassist Josh Tower. The album lives up to its title, since most
neighbors might consider the music a tad strange. But it is
well-played, compositional improvisation. There are moments of quiet
and beauty here, as on “Hypothesis D - The Gossip,” and even a little
retro-bop, on the oddly intriguing, “Near...Far...” Assadullahi gives
the rest of the band plenty of time to shine, and it’s a musically
collaborative effort. But the disc will be a bit too obscure for
straight ahead jazz fans.
2009, 8bells, 54:18.
Beyond Liquid Glass, The Conduit Trio.
This recording is more in the mold of a Mike Stern disc, where he
utilized distorted guitars and rock themes to forward his jazz
interpretation. Indeed, the disc starts with an instrumental rock tune,
“Smelling Salts,” which made me wonder why I was reviewing it for a
jazz publication. But digging deeper, I found this an intriguing blend
of modern rock and contemporary jazz, played ably by composer/guitarist
Robert Branch, bassist David Furnas and drummer Joshua English. The New
Mexico-based trio is tight and plays the style with energy. Branch is
an impressive electric guitarist and he utilizes effects and loops to
bring depth to the sound without losing the human aspect of it all.
This is fusion done right, though it’s not exactly new sounding. This
same sort of fusion has been done by Stern, Steve Morse and Steve Vai.
But Branch and company are keeping a viable genre alive with their
2008, Robert Branch/DSB Music, 1:17:10.
Excerpts from an Online Dating Service, Nicholas Urie Large Ensemble.
Composer Urie used actual excerpts from online dating sites as
inspiration for this disc, which I find inspiring: Something modern and
new in jazz dealing with the digital realm in a fun and somewhat crazed
way. The large ensemble handles frenetic pacing, two-step rhythms and
wild vocals sung cabaret style by Christine Correa. It’s social
experimentation as music, and Urie does a great job of showing the
vulnerability of online daters with text actually taken directly from
the sites. With lyrics like “Are you stressed, achy, sore? Maybe more?
Abusive ex? I’m just here for sex,” we see closely into the lives of
lonely people behind their keyboards. But Urie uses levity and musical
interludes to break up the chapters of the album. It’s fun, it’s
inventive and an impressive debut for the composer. There’s even a bit
of sympathy for those involved, though it’s much more about the
banality of the process. Plus, the band is impressive in its muscle.
2009, Red Piano Records, 52:36.
Under the Water, Satoko Fujii and Myra Melford.
The improvisational nature of this music makes it interesting but not
always the most listenable. A water theme brings cohesion to the
compositions, and the inventiveness of pianists Fujii and Melford are
impressive. Still, this will not be everyone’s cup of tea. The disc
starts with a duo improvisation, “Yadokari (hermit crab),” which is
essentially the two doing sound effects with the piano that sound like
water and a crab. Fun, certainly, and the use of space defines the
water theme. The conservatory-like atmosphere here doesn’t allow for
enough fun, though, and the lack of melodies makes this disc stretch
farther than its 54 minutes. Fujii and Melford are both accomplished
players, but their compositions are more like soundscapes than tunes,
which is probably more intriguing live than on recording.
2009, Libra, 54:22.