The music on Chico & Rita is absolutely superb. The soundtrack is captured in a perfect way and performed by Cuban pianist, bandleader and composer Bebo Valdes. It features music by Thelonious Monk, Cole Porter, Dizzy Gillespie and Freddy Cole. Chico & Rita was nominated for a 2012 academy award in the category of Best Animated Feature Film, including Premio Goya in 2011 for Best Animated Movie and an EFA from the European Film Academy among others.
VLAD WEST, known in Russia as Vladimir Sermakashev, was a child prodigy. Born in Baku (Russia) he studied piano from age 3, composition from age 5. At that early age he was playing solo piano concerts at Baku Conservatory and was taking composing and arranging lessons with well known professors. Mr. West has technique and knowledge of classical and jazz music well beyond ordinary piano player. As Mr. Starr (president of Oberlin College, Jazz Study) said about V. West in one of his books on jazz: "In his combination of grittiness and lyricism, blues feeling and sheer drive, he has few equals, in Europe certainly and even in America."
Neil Tesser, who wrote the notes for this release, calls Kizer's music "chamber jazz." Well, okay, that's one element of what the Kevin Kizer Quintet is doing. They have a violin, and there are some introspective moments that suggest at times a classical approach to jazz. But there's a lot more going on that ranges from bop to fusion to gypsy jazz, and it seems as if Kizer is out to show just how versatile he is. He succeeds admirably.
Mike Melito's The Right Time features nine songs that come squarely from the bop and hard bop traditions. The set is an interesting one from the standpoint of compositions, featuring a mix of standards, orignals and two lesser known songs from the pen of John Coltrane.
Recorded May 4-17, 2010, at the historic Blue Note in New York City, this program is a baseline of sorts, framed on piano great Bill Evans' interminable legacy. However, one of the differentiators here pertains to the respective artists' signature voices. In other hands, a set like this may just fall into the retread bucket.
A mixture of recurring motifs and improvisational soloing, the bebop stylizing of pianist Mike Longo is reflective of the generation of music where he came from, which is that of the late '50s and early '60s. A time when saying you're a fan of jazz denoted your good taste or savoir faire in music. Longo's new recording To My Surprise bolsters a collage of swinging soirees like "Limbo" buffered by the relaxing torch lit embers of "Alone Again." The tracks are made for the nightclub ambience both congenial and upbeat reminiscent of Mary Lou Williams and Roy Eldridge.
Traipsing from somber lulls to jubilant bursts, trumpeter Mike Field is a force of nature flint by a mix of bop and swing with schisms of improvisation. His new CD, Phoenix Rising from the Ashes features Carlie Howell on upright bass, Dave Chan on drums, Paul Metcalfe on tenor saxophone, and Matt Newton on piano. Produced by Field, the recording is a lavish assortment of intertwining swirls and a tussle of flourishes tethered to a sprinting stride.
In 1976 Dexter Gordon decided to move back to US after few years in Scandinavia; he got already a contract from CBS records. Gordon started jamming at the Vanguard along with the Louis Hayes/Woody Shaw Quintet and after these live recordings was produced the beautiful double album Homecoming. Michael Cuscuna – the executive producer from Columbia – noticed already Woody's talent and genius on trumpet since the mid 70's: Cuscuna produced for Muse Records all Woody's albums starting from the beautiful The Moontrane in 1974.
Award-winning local jazz vocalist, Chris Williams has been nominated in the category of Best Jazz for the Orange County Music Awards, to be held March 3 at The Grove in Anaheim.