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CD Reviews - December 2009
by George Fendel, and Kyle O'Brien

Reviews by George Fendel

Prana Dance, Tom Harrell, trumpet, flugelhorn.
By now, Tom Harrell is no newcomer to the jazz brigade. The liner note writer for this CD referred to him as “a player who brings brains and beauty to his music.” And that certainly holds true on this new recording. Harrell’s all-original musical palette concentrates on titles and melodies associated with India and the East. The word ‘prana,’ a term familiar to those who practice yoga, refers to the essential life-force. Several of Harrell’s compositions bear witness to these sensibilities, but underneath it all is Harrell’s riveting trumpet and flugelhorn. Not unlike the solos of Miles Davis, Harrell’s sound is often one of intense beauty and melancholy. His colleagues on the date, all new names to me, account well for themselves, but it is primarily Harrell’s heavyweight musicianship on display here. Be warned, this isn’t Diz ‘n Bud playing bop. Indeed, there is a very contemporary muse at work here. On that note, I would have preferred the exclusion of the Fender Rhodes. Never on my top ten list, it is used on about half of the eight tunes. Other than that, go right ahead and dig Tom Harrell’s monster chops!
High Note, 2009, 56:09.

New Strides, Jeb Patton, piano.
In my musical world, the piano rules. There’s nothing that quite compares to or thrills like a virile, swinging piano trio. So go and ahead and add Jeb Patton to your list of must-hear jazz pianists. His trio includes David Wong, bass, and Pete Van Nostrand, drums; new names to me. From the first few bars of “Billy,” the energetic opener, you know that Patton and crew are here to play the real deal. The CD continues at a high level with a menu of standards including “My Ideal,” a brisk “If Ever I Would Leave You,” a dreamy “Estate” and finally, Cole Porter’s lovely opus “Dream Dancing.” Jimmy Heath guests on soprano for a stunning “Last Night When We Were Young,” and brother Albert Tootie Heath checks in on drums for a few tunes. Among the Patton originals, a couple of highlights include an invigorating “The Music Goes On,” and “Sir Roland,” a buoyant tribute to another piano great, Sir Roland Hanna. You’ve got to admire Patton’s perspective. Unlike the myriad of pianists today who insist on giving you something new and out, Patton is here to play straight-down-the-highway jazz piano. And there’s still something to be said for that!
MaxJazz, 2009, 63:46.

Eloquence, Steve Davis, trombone.
Judging from their initial group of releases, you’re going to like Jazz Legacy Productions or JLP, a new label on the scene. From the first notes of tune one, Bird’s “Yardbird Suite,” you can hear the joy of the players on this session. Steve Davis, an established trombone voice from the younger generation of post-bop players, brought in friends Hank Jones, piano; Nat Reeves, bass; and Joe Farnsworth, drums, for a close-to-the-vest session of valuable gems such as “How Deep Is the Ocean,” “It Could Happen to You,” “My Ship,” “Django,” “Lament” and even “When the Saints Go Marching In.” To this list, add a few worthwhile originals, and some top-flight guests, such as Roy Hargrove, trumpet, Steve Nelson, vibes and John Lee, acoustic bass guitar. This feels like the most comfortable pair of shoes in your closet -- the sound of musicians playing the timeless melodies that are at the very heart of jazz. Nobody hides here; they are all engaged in playing at the top, whether supportive or solo. So let’s welcome JLP to the jazz family. May they continue delighting us with recordings such as this.
Jazz Legacy Productions, 2009, 67:17.

Leapin’ And Lopin’, Sonny Clark, piano.
Over the last couple of years, Rudy Van Gelder, the sound maven of hundreds of jazz recordings, has re-mastered some classic Blue Note sides, this among them. Sonny Clark might have never conquered the summit on the jazz mountain, but his rather limited amount of work remains highly valued and always swinging. For this 1962 session, he invited Tommy Turrentine, Charlie Rouse, Butch Warren and Billy Higgins to the studio to participate in a feast of formidable fare. From the opening notes of Clark’s by-now familiar “Somethin’ Special,” you’ll know that this gathering was indeed, something’ special. Clark was a clear headed, post bop pianist who never wasted a note. The one and only standard on the date is Jimmy Van Heasen’s “Deep In a Dream.” Other than that, it’s a program of Clark’s clean, engaging melody lines and the playing of his inspired colleagues. It’s been said in music that time is the ultimate test, and this ensemble from nearly fifty hears ago, sounds very much like they could have been in the studio a week ago Thursday!  If you’ve somehow missed out on the music of Sonny Clark, here’s your chance to encounter one of the ‘quiet’ greats of jazz.
Blue Note (reissue), 2008, 55:16.

A Song For You, Ernestine Anderson, vocals.
Ernestine Anderson has pretty much spent a career putting all that music and energy and joy out there, and if you have the ears for all that, you’re gonna like it. Her voice is a unique instrument, immediately recognizable. You’ll pick up on just how much she puts into a song from the first lines of “This Can’t Be Love,” her swinging opening tune. Ernestine then changes pace and puts out as dramaticreading of “A Song for You” as you’ve ever heard. The program shifts gears once again with a delightful “Make Someone Happy” and then hits a homer on “Skylark,” a breathy beauty. Additional standards rounding out this exceptional recording include “A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening,” “Day by Day,” “For All We Know” and a delicious ballad treatment of “Candy.” Houston Person adds some subtle tenor touches throughout, a perfect compliment to our singer. One might compare Anderson to Carmen McRae in her ability to tell the story the lyrics convey. And don’t forget, where there’s Anderson, there’s at least a touch of the blues. This album is the real deal, and I’d bet that you’ll return to it again and again.
High Note, 2009, 44:58.

Live In Paris, 1974, Bill Evans, piano.
Just when I thought I had everything Bill Evans ever released (either during his lifetime or posthumously), here comes this 50+ minute treasure with Bill, Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell. It doesn’t matter a bit that nearly every tune in the set has appeared on previous Evans recordings. It is, after all, another chance to hear an acknowledged piano genius playing before an enraptured, appreciative audience of Parisians. You know the tunes:  “Up With the Lark,” “Quiet Now,” “Midnight Mood,” “Twelve Toned Tune,” “If You Could See Me Now,” “Waltz for Debby” and the surprise of the set, Gordon Jenkins’ “Goodbye,” a tune Evans rarely played. His originals, “34 Skidoo,” “Sugar Plum” and the stunning ballad, “The Two Lonely People,” complete the set. Bill Evans collectors (like me!) are going to scoop this one up and relish every minute of it.
Gambit Records, 2009, 53:27.

Introducing Keyon Harrold,  trumpet.
“You’ve got to go after it every time you hit that stage.”  So says 28-year-old St. Louis native Keyon Harrold. Having completed studies at New York’s New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, Harrold is establishing himself as a growing presence in Gotham’s jazz scene. Seven of the eight compositions performed here are his originals. The only exception is Horace Silver’s “Peace.” It is played here with a bossa-like approach, most likely a first for this classic of the jazz repertoire. And, amazingly, it works well. For this date, Harrold brought along musicians from his generation, including Marcus Strickland, saxophones; Danny Grissett, piano; Dezron Douglas, bass; E.J. Strickland, drums; and Jeremy Most, guitar. This is high-energy music, sometimes a bit beyond my musical horizon. I did, however, especially like his original tune, “Keyon Beyond,” featuring some superb soprano solo work from Strickland and a particularly riveting trumpet solo from Harrold. If you want an idea of where the younger generation is headed, this may be part of your answer. While I can’t say I was exactly spellbound by it, the playing is at a very high level. You’d better be able to cut it if you’re going to play in the Apple.
Criss Cross, 2009, 58:53.

Eastern Standard Time, The Reese Project.
I must admit I’m not a wild-eyed flute fan. But, having said that, I sure liked what I heard from flutist Tom Reese and his very unusual quartet. You see, it’s comprised of flute, cello, guitar and drums! Have you ever heard of such a thing? Well, you’d do yourself a favor by checking these guys out. The album title is a bit odd because only half the tunes are standards. But they are definitely good ones, such as “Just Friends,” “Alone Together,” “Meditation,” “Out Of Nowhere,” “When Sunny Gets Blue” and “Black Orpheus.” Among the original tunes, I liked the mellow sound of “Blues Deli,” the boppy, happy feeling of “Somethin’s Brewin’,” and the crisp melody line of the oddly titled “Altoid Junkie.” Reese is clearly some kind of monster on flute, and this quartet plays very much together. A find for feverish fans favoring flute, but some of the rest of you will undoubtedly dig it as well. (www.ReeseProject.com)
In The Groove Records, 2009, 58:13.

Five Live, Mike LeDonne, piano.
I have a feeling that the musicians have long been aware that Mike LeDonne is one of the high wire pianists currently playing. Now it’s your turn to find out. LeDonne, who sometimes plays B-3, sticks exclusively to the piano on this scintillating quintet date recorded live at Smoke, a New York jazz club. Of course it doesn’t do anything to hinder the proceedings when you get like-minded blowing session cats on your date, and that’s what LeDonne did: Eric Alexander, tenor; Jeremy Pelt, trumpet; John Weber, bass; and Joe Farnsworth, drums. As the leader stated. “We’re not trying to prove anything, and we’re all able to just let it fly.”  And fly they did, right from the start on “Encounter,” a blistering opener based on “Love For Sale.” “Hands,” another rapid fire vehicle, is dedicated to pianist Harold Mabern, and “Good Times” is Pelt’s groovy medium tempo composition. An album highlight is a revisit with Diz’s “Manteca,” always a good tune for a horn section. These and others comprise a straight-ahead, swinging session loaded with upbeat material and superb solo work from young masters of their craft.
High Note, 2009, 63:35.

Sinatra: New York, Frank Sinatra, vocals.
Look out! Here comes a four CD/one DVD set featuring over 70 PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED tracks from the king of the hill, Frank Sinatra. Based on the teaser CD sent to me for review, this is a relaxed, hip, conversational Sinatra having a great time in his ‘almost’ home town (he grew up in Hoboken). These concerts were recorded at venues like Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall. So you just know that Frank’s going to give it all he’s got. And as always, the leader is particularly electrifying. You can check out a complete tune list by going to www.sinatra.com. But to wet your whistle a bit, how about “Oh Look At Me Now,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “My Kind Of Town,” “Luck Be a Lady,” and “Theme From New York, New York.” And that’s just for starters! Speaking only for myself, I can’t wait to fork over the cash for a never released multi-set from THE KING. All hail Frank Sinatra!
Reprise Records, 2009, times not yet available.

The Opener, Curtis Fuller, trombone.
Another of these Rudy Van Gelder reissues finds trombonist Curtis Fuller in some heady company. Namely Hank Mobley, Bobby Timmons, Paul Chambers and Art Taylor. It seems to me that one of the trademarks of Blue Note Records was to lead off with a ripping original or a blues at a fast tempo. So what do Fuller and company begin with?  How about “A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening” … taken, as it should be, as a ballad. It doesn’t take long to find that dependable blues concoction, though, and this time it’s the unexplained title, “Hugore.” Mobley gets an especially rich solo. The guys then move on to an Oscar Pettiford calypso aptly titled “Oscarlypso.” I’d bet that perhaps someone in the studio suggested the rarely heard ballad “Here’s to My Lady,” and Fuller nails it with some help from soloists Timmons and Chambers. “Lizzy’s Bounce” is a cousin of Hugore although it’s taken at a faster clip. The session ends with an altogether delightful and brisk rendering of the Gershwin tune, “Soon.” Everyone gets in on the action solo-wise on this feel-good closer. This was Curtis Fuller’s first leadership role, causing Bud Powell, who at that time had never heard of him, to remark, “man, that cat can blow.”  Bud had it right, and the proof is in the hearing.
Blue Note, 2008, 36:34.

The Art Of Organizing, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Hammond B-3 organ.
I know I’ve made it clear in the past that I’m not exactly a walking ad for jazz organ. So this B-3 record is going to appeal to those of you who are more into such things. Smith’s trio includes Peter Bernstein on guitar and Billy Drummond on drums. I guess what appeals to me is that Smith, rather like Jimmy Smith, doesn’t go for the funky r&b sound so common in these groups. Instead, he takes a very straight-ahead approach with some evergreen tunes like “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” “Softly As in a Morning Sunrise,” and even Charlie Parker’s bop line, “My Little Suede Shoes.” Among Smith’s original compositions, there’s a nifty blues called “That Ain’t Right”; a burner called “Turning Point”; and a medium-up, fresh melody line called “Too Damn Hot.” Bernstein is always on track no matter the assignment, and his authoritative guitar is on target in this setting. To my way of thinking, this is about as good as it gets in the B-3 ballpark.
Criss Cross, 2009, 65:07.


Golden Earrings, Laura Theodore, vocals, Joe Beck, guitars.
To my knowledge, this was the last recording for guitar wizard Joe Beck. He passed away last year at age 62. On this duo project, Beck plays much of the set on a hybrid alto guitar, which he preferred during his last decade or more. Laura Theodore, the singer on the date, presents a program of tunes associated with Peggy Lee. I had some trouble trying to find her jazz chops, thinking that she fits more comfortably in the pop arena.
Whaling City Sound, 2009, 46:39.

Time’s Up, ESP.
There’s so much talent out there that we can’t begin to discover it all. Here are four guys who write very lyrical, swinging melody lines and back it up with some startlingly good playing. They are Brian Scherer, saxes and flute; John Magnante, guitars; Matthew Vacanti, bass; and Karl Sterling, drums. I really liked their original music because it was accessible, melodic, sensible jazz, and I didn’t have to delve into it nor “figure it out.”  All tunes were originals, and well written. On their next album, how about a few standards? (www.espjazz.org)   
Spider Records, 2007-2009, 54:18.

Relentless, Sharel Cassity, alto and soprano sax, flute.
Don’tcha just love it when you read of all these dynamite young musicians with advanced degrees from heavenly places like, in the case of Sharel Cassity, Julliard? For the record, it’s pronounced sha-REL, and what I assume is her debut CD is down the straight and narrow path featuring six (out of eight) of her own compositions. Her sextet includes some soaring colleagues, and a few welcome guests drop by as well. This is high-flying, energetic post bop. (www.sharelcassity.com)
Jazz Legacy Productions, 2009, 47:29.

Bellwether, Seamus Blake, tenor and soprano saxophones.
Why is it that: 1) most every tenor player under the age of 50 finds it necessary to double on soprano sax? It’s not a jazz requirement; 2) so many players nowadays completely avoid songs from the great American Songbook and those of a wealth of jazz composers in favor of their own material? Are they naive enough to think that Ellington, Gershwin, Porter and Monk are dated? I’m not picking on Seamus Blake. He’s a skilled player and much of his music resonates with me. But where is the sense of jazz history?  I want it back.
Criss Cross, 2009, 61:03.

Yesterday’s Man, Mark Saltman, bass and William Knowles, piano.
Get a few extraneous items off this record, and it would likely come out pretty nicely. First, the steel drums gotta go. They’re okay if you’re doing a Calypso Holiday album, but no thanks in a jazz context. Next, nix the singer. Not a bad voice, but obviously from a let’s be hip and contemporary setting. She belongs in r&b, not jazz. And how about the incessant funk rhythms which abound here? Either you’re the real deal or you’re not. Given all these shortcomings, the horn players on the disc sound like they could really blow in the right kind of setting.
Pacific Coast Jazz, 2009, 54:08.

Bach To The Blues, David Leonhardt, piano.
Perhaps some of you remember the name Jacques Loussier, a pianist who has spent most of a career putting classical music in a jazz trio setting. That’s a dangerous thing to do, inviting the ire of both classical and jazz listeners. But Loussier did it with class, and so does David Leonhart. He takes on famous melodies by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and others, carefully respectful of their pedigrees, but with just enough improvisation and musical personality to appeal to jazz listeners. (www.davidjazz.com)
Big Bang Records, 2009, 62:43.

Swahili, Clark Terry, trumpet.
Here’s a reissue from 2006 which only recently found its way into my hands. It’s an old Clark Terry date from 1955, with arrangements by Quincy Jones. Its focus is original material by both Jones and Terry. With colleagues on board such as Horace Silver, Jimmy Cleveland and Art Blakey, you’re guaranteed a treat. As a bonus, there’s eight additional tracks which first saw the light of day under the name Jimmy Hamilton and the New York Jazz Quintet. Terry gets generous solo space so the pairing of the two sessions works well.
Lone Hill Jazz, 2006, 76:00.

Reviews by Kyle O'Brien

An Old Soul, Mark Buselli featuring the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra.
The title means two things; one is that Buselli arranges this big band music as it was done in the heyday of the swing era – straightforward, with attention to melody and how all the parts work together to propel that melody; and as a tribute to the artist’s late golden retriever (how sweet). As a big band album it delivers with those straightforward arrangements of some not so classic tunes and a few originals. “My Shining Hour” kicks it off with a nice swing, followed up by the original, “135 B. Chiswick,” which features Buselli’s laid-back flugelhorn. Buselli is currently the Director of Jazz Studies at Ball State University, and the band is a collaboration with trombonist Brent Wallarab. The 16-piece band is powered by horns, but the taut rhythm section sets the tone, as on the modern but true-to-melody version of “Angel Eyes,” where they lay back on the beat and let the music bubble under, a la Neil Hefti, while young vocalist Kelleen Strutz works the melody. It’s a fine band with solid soloists, and Buselli’s arrangements let the songs develop and flow, but they’re not quite as polished as Fedchock’s New York group or Bob Florence’s classic groups. Still, nice outing from an under-appreciated genre.
2009, Owl Studios, 60 minutes.

Songs Spun of Gold, Elli Fordyce.
Fordyce is an on-and-off-again singer. Her career has been stalled by family, a bad car accident and personal issues, but at 72 she is back and singing to make up for lost time. She has an engaging voice, with a tinge of age to tell of her experiences. Her easygoing style is easy to like, especially on the laid-back bossa delivery of “Desafinado,” and the plaintive ballad “Softly, As I Leave You.” She has a theatrical sense of timing, sounding at times as though she is on stage performing to an Off-Broadway audience, which at times is endearing and other times a bit over the top. Her voice occasionally wavers as well, but never veers far enough to be distracting. The song choices are mostly safe and familiar, letting her loosen up and enjoy her singing, even doing a decent job scatting on “Pick Yourself Up.” The duo with Jim Malloy on “Oops” is playful and fun, but the relaxed nature of the song goes into the campy category. Fordyce is a talent who may deserve some recognition, but this isn’t a ringing endorsement.
2009, Fordyce Music, 53:15.

The Seeker, Sean Nowell.
Nowell is a saxophonist who also happens to be an intriguing modern jazz composer. The opening lines of his “New York Vibe” show off his full, mellow tone, but that quickly evolves as the medium bopper builds into a Coltrane frenzy. Nowell has plenty to say as a soloist, venturing from smoother sounds to fiery runs and squonks that fit within his realm. Nowell seems most comfortable with post bop, but he changes it up with middle eastern tonalities and rhythms on “Oy Matze Matze,” and genre-mixing ballads, as on Lennon and McCartney’s “I Will.” Nowell is a muscular talent, and his band, which includes pianist Art Hirahara and drummer Joe Abbatantuono, creates a colorful backdrop for Nowell’s saxophone musings.
2009, Posi-Tone Records,47:50.

Dedicated, Ralph Bowen.
Bowen’s tenor sax is one of the more lyrical in jazz. Even when playing complicated lines and obtuse melodies, he manages to bring a melodicism to the tunes. This longtime New York player takes a big dose of hard bop as his inspiration, and he has the chops to pull it off. Here, with John Patitucci on bass, Sean Jones on trumpet, Adam Rogers on guitar and Antonio Sanchez on drums, he slams through a set of tunes dedicated to other musicians, presumably Bowen’s mentors. The blistering “Qaiyam” is dedicated to Jim Blackley, and Rogers rips up the fretboard on his solo. “Mr. Bebop,” for David Baker, is an affable bopper, with Bowen and Jones sharing an intricate melody with lines that rival anything Parker and Gillespie did in their heyday. This is a must have for fans of bop, and Bowen is a player who should be on more jazz fans’ radar.
2009. Posi-Tone Records, 42:20.

Next Page,” Yotam Silberstein.
Guitarist Silberstein was raised in Israel and continued his jazz education in New York, bringing a bi-continental influence to his playing. His playing is decidedly western, as on the soul jazz waltz of “Borsht,” an easy groover that shows off his soulful playing alongside Sam Yahel’s groovy B-3 organ. This is an almost typical B-3 trio, save for the inclusion of Chris Cheek on tenor, who, when he is featured, makes the most of his time with inspired solos, as on the slinky “Foolin’ Myself.” The recording sounds a bit retro, which works in this setting. Silberstein’s rich tone and fluid lines are a pleasure to hear, and his tunes fit his playing perfectly. While nothing is terribly complicated compositionally, it doesn’t need to be. With a little more diversity, and possibly some more influence from his homeland, Silberstein could break through to the top.
2009, Posi-Tone Records, 60 minutes.

John Pondel, John Pondel.
What Pondel lacks in originality in titling this album, he makes up for in compositional integrity. His understated tunes are filled with complex chords that move the action forward, as on “Jake’s Dilemma,” a groover that keeps tension through quietude. Pondel’s solos are more texture than flash, utilizing chord stabs to make a hushed statement. With saxophonist and flutist David Binney, Pondel, bassist Scott Colley and percussionist Marivaldo Dos Santos discover space and the value of a note. While the chords are complex and build tension, the use of dynamics makes this an album that needs to be listened to actively rather than passively.
2009, Real Guy Productions, 39:55.

Fall, Gian Tornatore.
Tornatore is an up-and-coming saxophonist and composer who is a student of jazz. He is currently pursuing his doctoral at the Teachers College of Columbia University, and his studious nature shows in his tunes, which play with rapidly changing chords, much like Coltrane and Metheny. But the tunes are missing passion. Tornatore is technically a very good player. His lines are fluid and complex, but his compositions don’t grab the listener and bring them in. Rather, they wash over and don’t leave an indelible mark. Tornatore needs to get himself off of the theory train and find the emotion that will take him to the next level.
2009, Fresh Sound New Talent, 60 minutes.

Blues for Brother Ray, Jim Rotondi.
Trumpeter Rotondi was a member of the late Ray Charles’s big band, and here he pays tribute to his mentor. Kicking off with a funky soul version of Ray’s hit, “What’d I Say,” Rotondi makes it clear that this will be an instrumental homage. With Mike LeDonne driving the tune with his B-3 organ, Rotondi and saxophonist Eric Alexander are free to roam with their horns, and guitarist Peter Bernstein impresses, as usual, with his lyrical soloing. There have been plenty of tributes to Ray since his death, but this one will probably please jazz fans the most. It is played flawlessly by this group, which also includes drummer Joe Farnsworth. Tribute albums can often get mired in trying to sound like the original artist. That’s thankfully not the case here. It’s soul jazz at it’s finest, with Rotondi leading a cohesive band through tunes like “Cry Me a River” and a near ballad-like version of “Makin’ Whoopee,” with Rotondi’s flugelhorn singing the melody. Even “Georgia” gets a Rotondi makeover as a rapid double-time bopper. I think Ray would approve.
2009, Posi-Tone Records, 51:55.

Hometown, Sam Yahel.
Yahel is known more for his work on the B-3 organ, but here he unplugs and plays his original instrument, the piano. Yahel admits that he’s more of a natural organist and that it’s more of a struggle to play piano, but you’d never know by listening to this trio disc, with Matt Penman on bass and Jochen Ruckert on drums. The piano gives Yahel a chance to experiment with different styles, like the frenetic, chamber-like version of Monk’s “Think of One.” Yahel executes the intricate melody perfectly, then launches into a searching solo with complex single note runs and a valuable use of space. The title track is a burning bop that lets Yahel explore the length of the keyboard, and he seems to favor those single note lines over big chords, which makes the sound more sparse and open. The judicious use of space makes this an enjoyable disc. So many players try to fill up the spaces and not let things evolve, which is not a problem for Yahel and company. Had I known Yahel was such an invigorating pianist, I would have loved to hear him record an album like this earlier.
2009, Posi-Tone Records, 60 minutes.

Bach to the Blues, The David Leonhardt Trio.
Leonhardt is an accomplished pianist and has played with many of the top names in jazz. Here he decides to take Bach and put it to jazz. It’s not a new concept. There have been successful meldings of jazz and classical over the years, but this is sadly not one of them. It’s nothing against Leonhardt’s playing, which is fine, especially when the swing kicks in, as on Bach’s “Prelude in G Major,” where Leonhardt gets to improvise on the riff built by Bach. Bach isn’t the only composer that gets the jazz treatment. Debussy’s “Claire de Lune” and Chopin’s “Mazurka in C Major” are among the classics covered. But one doesn’t know if this is jazz lite or classical lite with a jazz twist. It’s too mellow to be a groundbreaker, and Bach’s contrapuntal lines just don’t sing as well backed with drums and bass, no matter how well played. If there was more meat to the arrangements it might be a better classical-meets-jazz disc, but it just doesn’t do enough justice to either genre to be interesting.
2009, Big Bang Records, 60 minutes.

Copyright 2009, Jazz Society of Oregon