Edward Kane - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://www.jazzreview.com Tue, 23 May 2017 21:32:41 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Il Bello Del Jazz by Roberto Magris' Europlane feat. Herb Geller http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/cool-jazz-cd-reviews/il-bello-del-jazz-by-roberto-magris-europlane-feat.-herb-geller.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/cool-jazz-cd-reviews/il-bello-del-jazz-by-roberto-magris-europlane-feat.-herb-geller.html Italian pianist Roberto Magris leads a pan-European quintet on the fine new CD Il Bello Del Jazz. Most notable among the group's members is the fine…

Italian pianist Roberto Magris leads a pan-European quintet on the fine new CD Il Bello Del Jazz. Most notable among the group's members is the fine alto saxophonist Herb Geller, a veteran of the West Coast jazz scene of the fifties and sixties who has long resided in Germany. The date is split more or less evenly between originals penned by either Magris or Geller on the one hand and standards on the other. The tracks more or less alternate in mood between hard bop and what could be described as a cross between impressionism and cool jazz.

Roberto Magris is a joy to listen to. The album begins with a pretty solo piano introduction that sets up his composition "No Sadness" perfectly, and on subsequent tracks he adapts to the challenges of each piece nicely--expertly handling the bop changes of Geller's "Stray Form," playing some nice blues and gospel tinged licks on Benny Carter's "Key Largo" and Adler and Ross's "A New Town Is A Blue Town," laying down nice accompaniment throughout. Geller's playing is equally remarkable, achieving airy tones on the ballads, then playing with a tenor-like robustness on the harder stuff. The rhythm team of bassist Rudi Engel, drummer Gabriele Centis and (on four tracks) guitarist Darko Jurkovic are always right there as well. Well worth seeking out.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Edward Kane) Cool Jazz - CD Reviews Fri, 14 Apr 2006 01:00:00 -0500
Minions Dominion by Delfeayo Marsalis http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/bebop-hard-bop-cd-reviews/minions-dominion-by-delfeayo-marsalis.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/bebop-hard-bop-cd-reviews/minions-dominion-by-delfeayo-marsalis.html Minions Dominion is the third album by trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis, recorded in early 2002 and finally out almost five years later. A lot of things happened duri…

Minions Dominion is the third album by trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis, recorded in early 2002 and finally out almost five years later. A lot of things happened during that span; Delfeayo's mentor and the set's drummer, Elvin Jones, passed on, and Katrina devastated Marsalis's hometown, incidentally delaying this release another year as a minor footnote. The music collected here seems none the worse for any of that, sounding fresh and, among other things, serving as a nice coda to Jones's remarkable career.

There's something very right about the association between Jones and Delfeayo Marsalis; the very visible Marsalis clan may seem like the first family of jazz, but they are not the first great family the music has known. When Delfeayo, Branford, Wynton and Jason were mere twinkles in father Ellis's eyes, brothers Elvin, Thad and Hank Jones were each en route to establishing their own musical legacies. The comfortable interplay between Elvin and Delfeayo on display on Minions Dominon doubtlessly was honed over the many years the two played together in Elvin Jones' Jazz Machine, but the common experience of being a part of a generation of great jazz players must've contributed to the musical bond as well.

The rest of the band is scarcely less accomplished, including a consistently inspired Mulgrew Miller on piano and, alternately, Donald Harrison on alto sax, and the aforementioned Branford Marsalis on tenor and soprano. The program begins with the swinging bop of "Brer Rabbit," Miller playing a swinging line atop Robert Hurst's walking bass as Delfeayo solos with an unusually assured tone for the instrument before a discursive Harrison and the others take their turns. Jones propels the tune with characteristic intensity, reminding you again what an artist he was. Other tunes conjure other moods; "Lone Warrior," written by the trombonist for the drummer, features another hard bop line, but is infused with the modality of the group Jones will always be best known for, the John Coltrane Quintet. Harrison's solo contains allusions to Coltrane's playing as well, and Edwin Livingston's figure on bass seems partially derived from Reggie Workman's playing on Coltrane's "Ole" as well.

Other noteworthy tracks include the lovely ballad "If You Only Knew," Delfeayo playing some of the most lyric trombone you will ever hear on this one, giving way to some nice smoky tenor from Branford. The title theme plays at discord, featuring some jagged changes that seem inspired by Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman before giving way to a fairly orderly blowing session. The closing "Lost in the Crescent" is an even more explicit evocation of Coltrane (beginning, I suppose, with the title, as much a reference to Coltrane's Crescent as to the Marsalis's hometown of New Orleans), the piece starting slowly and gathering steam, reaching its apogee during a busy soprano solo from Branford and returning to its mournful theme.

Minions Dominion is a major effort in every way worthy of the Marsalis name and as a posthumous addition to the catalogue of Elvin Jones. Delfeayo establishes himself as his brothers' equal as both a player and a songwriter. Let's hope he will soon match their degree of notoriety as well.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Edward Kane) BeBop / Hard Bop - CD Reviews Thu, 13 Apr 2006 19:00:00 -0500
Look At Me Now by Laika Fatien http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/jazz-vocals-cd-reviews/look-at-me-now-by-laika-fatien.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/jazz-vocals-cd-reviews/look-at-me-now-by-laika-fatien.html Look At Me Now is a gorgeous album of standards from Parisian chanteuse Laika Fatien. Her tone is graceful and clear, yet nonetheless sultry. She is accompanied…

Look At Me Now is a gorgeous album of standards from Parisian chanteuse Laika Fatien. Her tone is graceful and clear, yet nonetheless sultry. She is accompanied quite ably here by a jazz quintet highlighted by the fine tenor saxophonist David el Malek. The disc's thirteen songs range from such chestnuts as "Eleanor Rigby" and "Inchworm" to settings by the singer of such adventurous fare as Wayne Shorter's "This is For Albert Ayler" to her own original lyrics.

The mood of the album is very intimate, with pianist Pierre de Bethman, drummer Dre Pallemaerts bassist Jules Bikoko Bin'Jami, acoustic guitarist Alban Sautour, and el Malek laying down some smoky sounding cabaret jazz. Laika's voice is rich, but never overpowering. She renders the onomatopoeia of Nicholas Payton's "Zigaboogaloo" with aplomb, but never tries to bamboozle you with scat or vocalese.

Though the songs are familiar, the arrangements are all pretty fresh. On "The Best Is Yet To Come," for instance, the group sidesteps any comparison to Bennett or Sinatra with a uniquely syncopated rendering. Pierre de Bethman doesn't so much re-arrange "Eleanor Rigby" as reimagine it as a languid ballad. Released two years ago in Europe, Look At Me Now is finally hitting our shores; what a welcome import it is.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Edward Kane) Jazz Vocals - CD Reviews Wed, 08 Mar 2006 06:00:00 -0600
No Bounds by Chris Walden Big Band http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/big-band-swing-cd-reviews/no-bounds-by-chris-walden-big-band.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/big-band-swing-cd-reviews/no-bounds-by-chris-walden-big-band.html Chris Walden made his bandleading debut last year with the fine, Grammy-nominated disc Home of My Heart. Its follow up is No Bounds, which seems to suf…

Chris Walden made his bandleading debut last year with the fine, Grammy-nominated disc Home of My Heart. Its follow up is No Bounds, which seems to suffer a bit from the sophomore jinx. Though some pieces work very well and there is plenty of fine playing by the members of the Walden Big Band, the date is nonetheless compromised by the amount of corn in the playlist.

Walden stumbles out of the gate badly with an ill-advised arrangement of David Foster's theme for the Winter Olympics. I think it's arguable how well the piece works as a fanfare in the first place, but either way I don't think it's a great platform for jazz. At least tenor saxophonist Brandon Fields manages a nice solo, if nothing else. "When You Wish Upon A Star" is the first of three songs associated with Walt Disney in the set, none of which are particularly inspiring. "Someday My Price Will Come" is nice enough on its own, but doesn't stand up to the inevitable comparison with Miles Davis. The playful "It's A Small World After All" probably fares the best of the troika.

There are some very nice tracks here and there, though. The elegant "Clax's Theme" features the trumpet of Till Broner, and the ballad "Otterkam" has a great mood and a unique electric cello solo courtesy of Martin Tillman. Tierney Sutton 's vocals grace two standards, "People Will Say We're In Love" and "Smile," and the group really swings on Walden's original "Try Harder." In the end, the good outweighs the bad on No Bounds, but it still has to be reckoned something of a disappointment after such a strong effort last time from Walden.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Edward Kane) Big Band / Swing - CD Reviews Wed, 08 Mar 2006 00:00:00 -0600
Liftoff by Mark Elf http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/liftoff-by-mark-elf.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/liftoff-by-mark-elf.html Guitarist Mark Elf's Liftoff is a very enjoyable collection of classic sounding jazz. Elf's playing is meticulous, and he is joined for ten tracks by a stellar …

Guitarist Mark Elf's Liftoff is a very enjoyable collection of classic sounding jazz. Elf's playing is meticulous, and he is joined for ten tracks by a stellar rhythm section of David Hazeltine on piano, bassist Peter Washington, drummer Lewis Nash and, on the Latin-tinged "Chuy's Challenge" only, percussionist Daniel Sadownick. This is a recording that is as swinging as it is polished.

Elf contributes six originals (two repeated) and the band also provides interpretations of two standards, "Thanks For The Memory" (yes, that one) and "I've Never Been In Love Before." The title track and "Deception Blues" are each patterned off John Coltrane's "Countdown," with the latter rendered in a 12 bar pattern as the title should suggest. These also happen to be the compositions that are performed twice, so that's a lot of counting down. But the group certainly mine a lot out of the progression--it has been said more than once that you could spend a lifetime studying Giant Steps, so we certainly won't grudge the fellows for spending about fifteen minutes on it here.

Mark Elf is a guitarist with a clear tone and impeccable taste, and he is joined by as fine a rhythm section as there is. Hazeltine plays some very tasty stuff, and Nash and Washington keep a steady pulse on a nicely varied set of jazz. An entertaining effort.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Edward Kane) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Sat, 04 Mar 2006 18:00:00 -0600
Raw Materials by Vijay Iyer & Rudresh Mahanthappa http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/raw-materials-by-vijay-iyer-rudresh-mahanthappa.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/raw-materials-by-vijay-iyer-rudresh-mahanthappa.html Pianist Vijay Iyer and saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, both American jazz musicians of South Asian Indian descent, have been performing together in different ensembles …

Pianist Vijay Iyer and saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, both American jazz musicians of South Asian Indian descent, have been performing together in different ensembles for a decade. Raw Materials, their latest effort for Savoy Jazz, finds them working in a duet format. The collective and individual aesthetics of the two players are shaped by both Indian raga and avant garde jazz, both of which serve them well in this pared-down context.

While the absence of bass and drums would seem on the face of things to free the players up rhythmically, it paradoxically forces them to be more responsible in their timekeeping, particular in Iyer's case. Though the opening "The Shape of Things" kind of floats in air, Iyer's chords opening space for Mahanthappa's Coltrane-ish musings, one of the surprising things about Raw Materials is how formful most of the compositions appear to be. Mahanathappa's "Five Fingers Make a Fist," for example, has a very well defined theme that is never completely abandoned no matter how abstract the going gets.

When not playing something atmospheric like the aforementioned "The Shape of Things" or on the Hancock & Shorter-esque. "Stronger Than Itself," Vijay Iyer often plays the keys with a percussive element. "...Fist" at once recalls J.P. Johnson and early Chick Corea, while in other places his broad strokes resemble McCoy Tyner with the Coltrane Quartet in full flight. The pair comes close to straight bebop on "Fly Higher," with its titular allusion to Randy Weston. Mahanthappa plays with a rich and thick tone, sometimes rapidly, sometimes more slowly and meditatively. His playing on "Rataplan" is interesting as it appears to fit the influences of Indian music and John Coltrane, particularly Coltrane's raga inspired playing, into kind of a feedback loop. He begins the closing track "Hope" with a nice Ayler-ian solo introduction.

The decade-long collaboration and sympathetic vision of Iyer and Mahanthappa results in an interplay that is seamless and deep. The music on Raw Materials is much more developed than the name seems to indicate. Though the pieces are fairly complex, the dialog invites the listener. A rich and rewarding date.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Edward Kane) Free Jazz / Avante Garde - CD Reviews Tue, 14 Feb 2006 12:00:00 -0600
Good Night Songs by Tchicai Kohlhase Fewell http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/good-night-songs-by-tchicai-kohlhase-fewell.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/good-night-songs-by-tchicai-kohlhase-fewell.html Good Night Songs captures on two CDs a two and a half year-old live trio performance from three accomplished musicians and educators. John Tchicai, the Dutch re…

Good Night Songs captures on two CDs a two and a half year-old live trio performance from three accomplished musicians and educators. John Tchicai, the Dutch reedman and free-jazz veteran who has recorded with such greats as Don Cherry, Archie Shepp and Johns Coltrane and Lennon, is probably the most familiar name of the bunch, though guitarist Garrison Fewell and Either/Orchestra saxophonist Charlie Kohlhase each have a number of fine recordings under their belt and are certainly well respected as well.

Without proper bass and drums (Fewell at times approximates a bass line with his six string, and he and Tchicai occasionally switch to percussion), the music is free to roam off the beaten path, as on Tchicai's circuitous "On Fait La Taille." They don't ignore rhythm, though, with a nice calypso motive surfacing on "Thriftshopping." Fewell gives us a nice ballad in "X-Ray Vision" and Kohlhase contributes a bebop head on "Consolation Cake." and an interesting harmolodic one on "Start to Finish."

The name of the game here is improvisation, free and otherwise, and the trio holds some interesting discussions here. Though it probably isn't the type of record that you'll want to play over and over, Good Night Songs is full of enough musical invention to repay a few close listenings. Tchicai, Fewell and Kohlhase each demonstrate mastery of their instruments and prove a simpatico grouping.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Edward Kane) Free Jazz / Avante Garde - CD Reviews Mon, 13 Feb 2006 00:00:00 -0600
Stingy Brim by Johnnie Valetino http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/stingy-brim-by-johnnie-valetino.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/stingy-brim-by-johnnie-valetino.html Los Angeles based guitarist, Johnnie Valentino, has put together an eclectic quintet on his new OmniTone release, Stingy Brim. The use of Randy Jones on tuba in…

Los Angeles based guitarist, Johnnie Valentino, has put together an eclectic quintet on his new OmniTone release, Stingy Brim. The use of Randy Jones on tuba in lieu of a bassist is an important part of the album's overall sound, but no less distinctive are Mick Rossi on B3 as well as harmonium and Bob Sheppard on clarinet in addition to tenor. Valentino throws in a little mandolin in addition to his six string, and Mark Ferber rounds out the group on drums and percussion.

Sometimes looking backwards is necessary to moving forward, and Valentino makes interesting use of some instruments from the music's past on this modern sounding disc. The intention seems to be to draw on the traditions of New Orleans, but the sound also owes quite a bit to Henry Threadgill's recent ensembles; the title cut, with its busy rhythms and the prominent tuba recalls Threadgill's Zooid in particular. Valentino's arrangements are much more streamlined, however, the grooves more forward and the compositions a bit hookier than Threadgill's tend to be.

The drunken sounding "Dog Eggs" features some nice clarinet from Sheppard and an angular take on the blues from the guitarist in his solo. Rossi is the star of the date, especially when given the chance to wail the Hammond organ. Jones' tuba lays a steady foundation throughout and Ferber's sticks seem to be in constant motion throughout the course of the date. Though the group tends to be a little meandering in its improvisations, there is plenty of meat to work on here.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Edward Kane) Free Jazz / Avante Garde - CD Reviews Sun, 12 Feb 2006 06:00:00 -0600
Aqua by Moncef Genoud http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/various-jazz-styles-cd-reviews/aqua-by-moncef-genoud.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/various-jazz-styles-cd-reviews/aqua-by-moncef-genoud.html It is said that good thing come to those who wait, so as good as Swiss pianist Moncef Genoud's latest CD Aqua is, the two years between its 2004 recording date …

It is said that good thing come to those who wait, so as good as Swiss pianist Moncef Genoud's latest CD Aqua is, the two years between its 2004 recording date and its recent U.S. release on Savoy Jazz doesn't seem like such a terribly long period of time. The nimble and imaginative player is joined on this date by a fine group that includes bassist Scott Colley and drummer Bill Stewart, with Dee Dee Bridgewater and Michael Brecker also appearing on one and three tracks, respectively.

Genoud's style is creatively expansive, alternately stately and impressionistic, recalling Bill Evans at times in its flowing expressiveness. The set mostly consists of Genoud's ambitious originals, with a handful of standards thrown in. "Summertime" gets an interesting reading, partially deconstructed but with the tune's natural beauty left unmarred; Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" is given a nuanced turn with an unusual spatial approach, and Ms. Bridgewater helps close the date with a shimmering vocal on a gorgeously rendered "Lush Life."

Brecker, the recording's other guest, tailors his performances well to the prevailing mood of each piece he graces. His saxophone flexes some muscle on the title track, but flows smoothly on the pretty "Lovely Vij," and he varies both techniques on the complex "Mix of Keys."

Aqua is an enjoyable CD for fans of piano trio jazz. Genoud the composer writes with fair complexity, but his playing seems to streamline it a bit. The result is a very listenable disc with some real depth.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Edward Kane) Various Jazz Styles - CD Reviews Sat, 11 Feb 2006 06:00:00 -0600
Morph the Cat by Donald Fagen http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/soul-/-funk-jazz-cd-reviews/morph-the-cat-by-donald-fagen.html http://www.jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/soul-/-funk-jazz-cd-reviews/morph-the-cat-by-donald-fagen.html Morph the Cat is the third solo release from Steely Dan co-leader Donald Fagen, completing a de facto trilogy with 1982's The Nightfly and 1993's K…

Morph the Cat is the third solo release from Steely Dan co-leader Donald Fagen, completing a de facto trilogy with 1982's The Nightfly and 1993's Kamakiriad. The first volume was a nostalgic, if somewhat skewed, look backward at the America of Fagen's youth, while the second was a science fiction parable of the near future. Though there are various fantastic apparitions that make their appearances in Morph the Cat on the whole the disc is a pretty clear (not to say steely-eyed) look at contemporary life, including Fagen's own personal one as well as the wider reality that we all share.

The production features the meticulous attention to detail that we have come to expect from Fagen over the last four decades. The recording itself is impeccably clean, the songs well-crafted, the lyrics clever and considered. The musicians are top-notch, including guitarist Hugh McCracken, reedman Walt Weiskopf and, of course, Fagen himself at vocals and keyboards.

The album is bookended by the theme of "Morph the Cat." Morph is a vaporous entity that traverses the New York skyline, framing the seven remaining tracks and occasionally "stopping for a latte." Somewhat more tangible is the ghost of Ray Charles, who reveals the secrets of his genius on "What I Do." No less formidable a figure than Death himself shows up in the funky series of vignettes that make up "Brite Nightgown." Still, some earthly concerns naturally remain; "Security Joan" is a humorous blues about sex and Homeland Security, the sort of song that was just waiting to be written.

Morph the Cat, out March 14th on Reprise Records, should appeal to longtime fans of Donald Fagen and Steely Dan with its characteristic mix of humor, insight and chops. Amazingly, the once stage-shy Fagan will be taking the album on the road in the U.S and Canada for eighteen dates next month. A rare opportunity to see Donald Fagen (if not Morph) in the flesh.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Edward Kane) Soul / Funk Jazz - CD Reviews Sat, 07 Jan 2006 06:00:00 -0600