Ron Bierman

Ron Bierman

When Ron Carter writes album notes for another bass player, I take notice. After hearing this album, I think even non-bassists will agree Kenny Davis deserves the praise. Whether soloing or under the top line with well-chosen harmonic support, his articulation is clean, his intonation dead-on, his tone rich and full. Unusual for even a bass-led group, the bowed solo on the heartfelt "Gone too Soon" makes it the date's best track. Davis goes to bluesy plucking on "Before Sunrise," and it's anothe
Julian Waterfall Pollack is a keeper. Though in his early 20s, he already has enough technique and imagination to hold attention, and he swings with the best. The opening, "Summertime," demonstrates all of the above. After a slow bluesy statement of the melody, there's a repeat in double-time with insistent single-note harmony in the left hand. Double-time prevails. Runs flash by. The left hand challenges the right in a fugal pattern with cross rhythms. Your foot needs to tap, but may not be abl
The first cut here, "Espelho de tua força," has the expectant vibe of great things to come. What does follow is Brazilian-tinged jazz driven by consistently precise and colorful percussion--friendly but not exceptional. The flute is light and fluffy, the keyboard electronically mellow, the bass plump and springy. Alexandre Cunha provides the main excitement. He's a wonderful percussionist, fluent in the idioms of both American jazz and Latin rhythms, and active, but careful to fit in as he prod
Creative drive demands new sounds and techniques. With so many terrific jazz pianists recording nowadays, it's tough to satisfy that drive—tough even to be noticed, unless you are the second coming of Art Tatum. It’s tempting to try a new approach—maybe a piano and percussion duo? Dave Anderson and Mike Wingo have given it a shot.Wingo produces a spectrum of colors not often heard accompanying a piano. His exotic set includes bongos, many cymbal sizes, and a few percussive rarities. Bongos push
This is an unusual, even strange release. The basic idea is to take an eight-note theme by Bach (from his First Invention), and play it over and over again while changing keys and keyboard tone-quality. The variations are alternated with Afro-Cuban percussion. I probably shouldn't have told you that, because part of the effect Greg Burk and Vicente Lebron are no doubt after is the surprise of mixing Bach with conga drums. Although they played together for over five years in Boston's Either/Orche
One of the ways jazz has grown is by absorbing the sounds and rhythms of other cultures. African and Latin American music were strong early influences. Today, India is making waves. Since classical Indian music has always included extensive improvisation, it seems it might have happened sooner. However, while spirituals, rumbas and African drums readily appeal to Western ears, Indian raga is a more difficult fit—its scales more exotic, its rhythms more austerely complex. But now, saxophonist R
Brazilian Voyage indeed hits some breezy, swaying Brazilian highlights, but there are stops in Germany, New York and, perhaps, Kentucky. Even the samba-like tracks are more worldly than usual. Brazil's most famous classical composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos, is represented by "Trenzinho Do Caipira." It's from his collection Bachianas Brasileiras, which honored the musical style of Bach. All of this could have turned out to be overly intellectual. It didn't. Villa-Lobos' noisy depiction of a little
The Brad Linde Ensemble honors some of the jazz giants who emerged in the middle of the last century, most of them recognized instantly now by single names. This release features styles associated with Miles and Monk. Three of the tunes were on Davis's Birth of the Cool album. Four others, including two originals, are related to the vibe of that famous recording. Rounding out the even dozen are five oft-recorded by Monk, including four of his own. The material is terrific. The arrangements, upda
Big bands haven't been mainstream for decades, but they're still with us. Alex Stewart's Making the Scene, a fascinating discussion of contemporary big-band music, lists 86 groups based in New York City alone--and Stewart says the list is incomplete. Managing a big band is difficult, and they rarely earn their members a living wage. So why are there so many? Well, jazz musicians often dig the sound—and the challenge of sitting alongside knowledgeable peers while reading new charts. Composer/arra
One of the ways jazz has grown is by absorbing the sounds and rhythms of other cultures. African and Latin American music were strong early influences. Today, India is m…
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