Joe Lovano: Dewey Said

In explaining the origins of “Dewey Said,” a track from Joe Lovano’s second Soul Note release, Village Rhythm, the saxophonist explained that it “was written for both Miles Dewey Davis, and Dewey Redman. The first four bars are reminiscent of a phrase that reminded me of both of those cats.” Those justly inspired first four bars are encapsulated from quick solo bursts from Paul Motian, followed by a clamorous, clever, tuneful drum solo after the head. After a brief statement from Werner, Harrell enters with his clean and crisp, equal-parts-horizontal-and-vertical solo statement. Then Lovano enters at an already raised intensity level and delivers a statement complete with extended, across-the-changes lines and rhythmic unraveling through the altering of accents and/or riff placement within a measure, as evidenced by his run from about 3:40-3:55. As has become expected in Lovano’s world, the end of the solo climaxes with intense upper register screams, heightened by his ability to continue incorporating legit melodic moves while living up there in the stratosphere. A fine representation of early Lovano.

October 13, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Branford Marsalis: Royal Garden Blues

For the title track of his album Royal Garden Blues, Branford Marsalis demonstrates how to re-invent a classic song. While he could have re-arranged the tune into something barely recognizable, he keeps the song intact and dutifully plays the theme from beginning to end before jumping into his improvisation. Pianist Larry Willis drops out as soon as the theme ends, and Marsalis (with the amazing rhythm team of Ron Carter and Al Foster) launches into a free-bop solo. Without the piano, Marsalis implies all sorts of extended harmony that would have surprised the original composers. Marsalis uses bits of the melody all through his solo and displays incredible control on the straight horn. Willis' single-line solo is much more straight-forward, but still offers stretching of the harmonies. Foster is full of fireworks throughout the performance, while Carter's interactions are quite subtle. The biggest shock is when the tune comes back at the end: the improvisations have been so adventurous that if the theme had been edited out on each end and the recording given an original title, jazz fans and critics would have argued endlessly about the harmonic source of the piece.

September 17, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Ray Brown Trio: Lady Be Good

When I was just getting really serious about the music, and going out and buying records with the allowance my mother would give me every week, I remember going to the store specifically saying, “I’ve got to buy a Ray Brown record.” Don’t know why I didn’t buy an Oscar Peterson record. But instead, I went right to the Ray Brown section, I’m kind of thumbing through the records, and I saw Soular Energy, I saw Don’t Forget the Blues, I saw Something For Lester, and I saw The Red Hot Ray Brown Trio. I just liked the cover. It was red, had this yellow writing, and it said “red-hot,” so I thought, “Well, it must be swinging.” So I picked up that one. So that has a REAL soft spot in my heart because it was my first Ray Brown recording. Not the best record to listen to if you really want to get a good dose of Ray Brown, because he’s not really playing very much on it. It’s Gene Harris’ record almost, Mickey Roker is playing drums, and Ray and Mickey are swinging real hard. But "Lady Be Good" is the one track where you get that classic Ray Brown intro... There’s a little inside joke with people in the Ray Brown family. He had this one intro that he put on almost every song he ever arranged. If he couldn’t think of an intro, he would play this. He would slap his E-string real hard, he’d play a low G on the E-string, and it was BOHM-BOHM, MMM, MMM-HMM, MMM-HMM, MMM-HMM, MMM...BOHM-BOHM. DE-MMM, MMM-HMM... He plays that intro on about 50 different arrangements he has, and that might have been one of the first times he used that intro. All of us in the Ray Brown family, John Clayton, Benny Green, Diana Krall, Geoff Keezer, Geoff Hutchinson, Kareem Riggins, Russell Malone...we all hear that intro, and we just die laughing.

September 16, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Bill Frisell: Hard Plains Drifter

John Zorn has called on Bill Frisell to fill the guitar seat in many of his groups for upwards of 25 years now – beginning with Frisell’s contribution to Zorn’s The Big Gundown in 1984-85. Through the years, Frisell was a member of Zorn’s thrash-metal-jazz-and-everything-else group Naked City, performed on many of Zorn’s Filmworks releases, and contributed solo acoustic guitar readings of Zorn’s world-music compositions on Masada Guitars.

This thirteen-plus minute whirlwind track is one of their most collaborative efforts. Penned by Frisell and produced and arranged by Zorn, the Bill Frisell Band moves through every imaginable genre here, playing heavy metal for a few bars, moving to a country groove, then swinging behind a guitar solo before moving on to a brand new set of stylistic vignettes. For a real treat, check out the chart for the entire tune in Frisell’s Songbook – you’ll find that there are 38 sections to this tune that are all briefly notated with musical lines/chord changes and all-capitalized stylistic commands (for example: 28. FREE QUARTET / 29. SOLO / 30. MEMPHIS GROOVE / 31. REGGAE / 32. NEW ORLEANS / 33. THRASH… GO CRAZY). It’s surely the most challenging and unique track in the Frisell discography – and a tour-de-force documentation of the thriving relationship of two of jazz’s renegade composers/performers.

September 16, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Bill Frisell: Throughout

Bill Frisell embarked on a freelancing career in the late 1970s that found him performing in Boston, New York, and Belgium, the last of which he moved to briefly in 1978. While gigging throughout Europe, Frisell met ECM founder/producer Manfred Eicher, who, impressed by the young guitarist, invited him to become an unofficial “house guitarist” for the label in the late 1970s, appearing on such releases as Eberhard Weber’s Fluid Rustle and Later That Evening, Arild Andersen’s A Molde Concert, Paul Motian’s Psalm, and Jan Garbarek’s Paths, Prints. With these experiences in hand, Eicher invited Frisell to record as a leader for the ECM label in August of 1982, which resulted in the guitarist’s debut recording, In Line.

A lot can be learned of Frisell’s method and style from these initial recordings. To begin with, with the exception of bassist Arild Andersen’s accompaniment on five of the nine tracks, In Line is a solo performance, or, more accurately, multiple layers of Frisell’s guitar. On the bass-less “Throughout,” the guitarist sets a high precedent for his career-long concentration on mood and texture, achieved here with his combination of minimalist acoustic and electric guitars, the use of volume, delay and chorus pedals and his dichotomous presentation of the sheer beauty and simplicity of a folk-song melody and the presence of mysteriously dissonant intervals and tone clusters.

Even when playing along with himself, there’s a palpable playfulness and sense of spontaneity here – the joy of sailing into uncharted waters with the tapes rolling – that’s also a dependable feature of the Frisell experience.

September 16, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Bill Frisell: Lonesome

Between the release of his debut recording, In Line, and the date of this session (early ’87), Bill Frisell busily recorded with Chet Baker, Bob Moses, Tim Berne, Paul Motian, Marc Johnson, John Zorn, Paul Bley, and released his first full-band record, an ECM outing entitled Rambler that features Kenny Wheeler and Paul Motian. However, Frisell truly embarked on establishing a career as a leader with this first steady group, comprising the diversely creative lineup of cellist Hank Roberts, electric bassist Kermit Driscoll, and drummer Joey Baron. Upon first listen, one can immediately tell that Frisell had found his early musical foils here. Both the serious technical talents and collective senses of humor of his “Band” mates enhance his compositional and improvisational nuances.

“Lonesome” is an enduring Frisell composition consisting of two six-bar “A” sections, an eight-bar “B” section, and a concluding, slightly-expanded eight-bar “A” section. Frisell’s sweet folk melody, played on acoustic guitar, is peppered with metallic percussion (amidst a country-rock brushes groove) from Baron, modestly vital support from Driscoll, and some attractively discordant trills from Roberts. Frisell’s brief improvisation features some time spent exploring mood and texture, as well as a few stand-alone bop lines that remind us, amidst the multitude of sonic goings-on, that the man can play. This tune has been performed by many of Frisell’s various group throughout the years, yet few retain the charm of this original version.

September 15, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Billy Pierce: Star Eyes

It was producer/pianist James Williams' idea to put saxophonist Billy Pierce into the studio with just pianist Hank Jones and drummer Roy Haynes, shades of Lester Young with Nat Cole and Buddy Rich or Benny Carter with Art Tatum and Louis Bellson. Fortunately, Pierce had spent three years with Art Blakey (alongside other "young lions" such as Wynton Marsalis and Bobby Watson), and was in the midst of a seven-year long stint with Tony Williams' quintet, so the challenging trio format and the stature of his bandmates was not nearly as intimidating as one might expect for the young saxophonist. Blakey for one had called Pierce "my best tenor player since Wayne Shorter." Alas, Pierce would gradually turn his focus to teaching jazz at the Berklee College of Music (where Mark Turner and Miguel Zenon have been among his students), but his impressive Equilateral session will forever be a key reminder of his ability as a player.

Of course, Jones and Haynes knew "Star Eyes" intimately, having both performed it with Charlie Parker back in the day, but Pierce more than holds his own on this rewarding version. Jones plays the familiar intro before Pierce warmly intones the theme, augmented by the pianist's undulating chords and Haynes' sleek snare drum accents. Jones solos first in his distinctively florid yet at the same time tasteful style, his lines constantly darting and shifting perspective, but seeming to always coalesce in their thematic faithfulness. Pierce's improvisation is brash and almost blustering in spots, his woody tone adding heft to his fleet-fingered runs and swirling circular phrases. Jones' intricate comping and Haynes' urgent but unobtrusive polyrhythms are memorable examples of their individual artistry. Along with Pierce, in the end this engaged trio has shown its respect for the bebop vernacular while also preferring to take the road less traveled.

September 15, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Emily Remler: Waltz for My Grandfather

On this moving piece, which Remler wrote for her grandfather, she is joined by a great rhythm section that is anchored heavily by the beautiful bass playing of Don Thompson. Remler herself shows maturity well beyond her years (25 at the time of this recording), playing harmonic structures that are very fitting, given the nature and the title of the song. I'm particularly impressed by how expressive Remler is without saying too much or overdoing it. It's obvious that she could play but she shows that a soloist could be inviting without resorting to over the top melodic or harmonic explorations. There are certain runs Remler executes on this song that remind me of Pat Metheny and I have a feeling she secretly had an affinity for his playing.

Don Thompson plays a great bass solo towards the end of the solo section before the band comes back to the head and he augments the harmonic movements of Remler during the A section with well placed notes from the upper register of the bass. Another great song from one of the giants of 1980s jazz music.

September 14, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Emily Remler: Blues for Herb

Emily Remler's playing was one of a kind. Although she sounded like guitarists of the past, she was lucky enough to bring her own voice to an instrument that was historically dominated by men. On her last album before her untimely death due to heart failure, Remler wrote a lasting tribute to one of her idols, Herb Ellis, who was instrumental in getting her on the bill at the Concord Jazz Festival, which also helped her secure a record deal with Concord Records. Joined by bop master Hank Jones, who appears on several of her earlier releases, Remler constructs very nice melodic ideas on this song, utilizing the full range of her instrument. Hank Jones follows Remler's solo with his own blend of technical wizardry and Buster Williams holds everything down with solid bass work throughout the entire piece.

All in all, this is a very fitting tribute for Ellis but it's ironic though that Remler would be the one who departed this earth before her time was up. I highly recommend this release to any guitar fans out there who might not be familiar with the work of this late, great musician.

September 14, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Emily Remler: Strollin'

On this laid back Horace Silver piece, Emily Remler and company bring back the swing like it's 1959 all over again. Remler has such a nice, refined sound on this track. Her solo consists of some nice textures and she flips her rhythm up nicely as well, deviating between eighth note rhythms and at other times blistering fast sixteenth note rhythms. Although I would have like to heard Hank Jones play a longer solo, he still plays some tasteful lines. Like we would expect anything different from him!

All in all, "Strollin'" is a good example of Remler's ability to play straight ahead and the song works well in regards to her playing style. Although she would only be on this earth for a short time, I'm glad that she was able to give the jazz world enough of a taste of her music to leave a long, lasting impression. Very few musicians have come out of the gate running like she did and this song is a shining example to her musical spirit. R.I.P.

September 13, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Emily Remler: The Firefly

On her debut album for Concord Records, Emily Remler came out of nowhere to claim her rightful spot as one of the brightest young guitarists in jazz music. Accompanied by legendary pianist Hank Jones, this quartet burns over the title track of this album. It's hard to believe that Remler hadn't played a lick of jazz until she was sixteen years old but you wouldn't know that by listening to this album. It's obvious that she was well versed in the style of Wes Montgomery but Remler brings a different flavor to this. She's not just some carbon copy. There's a strong sense of assurance in her playing that you don't hear in today's young players.

What makes this song work is the vulnerability that comes across at times in the playing of Remler. She's right at home with Hank Jones and the two of them complement each other wonderfully and with grand precision. This debut is definitely one that opened my ears when I first heard it. It's a stunning testament to a guitarist that rightfully deserved her place among the legends of jazz guitar and she earned every note she ever played on that Gibson ES-330.

September 13, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Bill Frisell: Little Brother Bobby

Hank Roberts’ sound incorporates the diverse styles of jazz, classical, rock and folk. As a student at the Berklee School of Music, Hank was able to hone and sharpen his performance expertise, creating an original improvisational style. Upon relocating to New York City in the 1980s, he began an association with Bill Frisell, which continues today.. Roberts made his debut with Frisell on the guitarist’s album Lookout for Hope, which featured the song “Little Brother Bobby,” a tour de force that showcases his contributions to contemporary jazz cello.

The song exhibits Frisell’s reverb-soaked tone, which works brilliantly with Roberts’ smooth melodic resonance. Roberts displays a lyrical performance style that contains equal parts avant-garde, classical and traditional folk methods. The overall quality of his tone remains the same throughout the subtle shifts in tempo and character. Though Baron sometimes supplies discordant rhythmic patterns, the interaction between Frisell and Roberts is what makes the song flourish and thrive, with Hank performing with a more legato technique when Frisell is displaying a more staccato sound. The subsequent rhythmic counterpoint enhances the overall excitement of the piece and is a testament to the talents of Hank Roberts.

September 10, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Dave Holland: Life Cycle-Resolution

By the early 1980s, bassist Dave Holland had already cut his teeth with a who’s who of jazz superstars including Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Stan Getz. In the late 1960s, Holland began to play the cello while working with the group Circle. In 1982, he released the album Life Cycle, his first album of unaccompanied cello compositions. As the last section of a five-part suite, “Resolution” is a brilliant example of the capabilities of the modern unaccompanied cello.

Holland begins the piece with an exciting arco passage that calls to mind the compositions of an early influence, Béla Bartók. The arco phrase comes to a sudden halt at 1:05 where Dave switches to pizzicato without losing any intensity. The pizzicato passage easily segues into a bluesy section beginning at 2:39 where Holland fully evokes the textures of the blues with the simple addition of minor thirds. The song captures more emotions than entire albums can, with the cello being the instrument to accomplish such a feat.

September 10, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


David Eyges: Crossroads

Alongside Abdul Wadud, David Eyges refined the presence of the cello in smaller ensembles. Originally trained at the Manhattan School of Music, Eyges heard blues musicians such as John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters after leaving college and as a result, he developed an earthy, blues-based style. The title composition from his 1981 album Crossroads is a perfect example of Eyges’ unique style.

Eyges begins the song by performing a motif with strong emphasis on beats one and three giving the entire song a rock-like feel. Eyges displays a great rhythmic interplay with the ensemble, displaying more of a solid accompaniment role than Murray. The relationship between Eyges and Lancaster is of special importance with the two men developing a call and response pattern early on, resulting in an exciting push and pull element throughout. Murray also contributes to the push and pull effect, switching between an even pulse on the ride cymbal to a swing feel. This change in feel interrupts the atmosphere at times, resulting in ebbs and flow with the rhythm throughout the song. These interruptions keep Eyges and Lancaster on their toes, allowing them to experiment with different phrasings and ornamentations.

September 10, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Julius Hemphill: Body

As one of the few jazz musicians to play only the cello (as opposed to doubling on bass) Abdul Wadud is equally versed in both classical and jazz styles. Wadud’s resume includes stints with everyone from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra to Arthur Blythe. His work reached a particular peak of experimentation on the song “Body” from Julius Hemphill’s 1980 album Flat-Out Jump Suite. Wadud firmly grasps the funky feel of the song by performing with a raw bluesy touch. Wadud’s wide and distinct sound stands out when he plays in unison with Hemphill and Dara. The song goes through several tempos and textures, with Wadud adding slight ornamentations during each change. When the song moves into a swing feel, Abdul goes back and forth between a walking bass line and chordal accompaniment. Though his is the only stringed instrument in the ensemble, his performance is the heart of the song and an excellent addition to contemporary jazz cello style.

September 10, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Previous Page | Next Page