Stan Getz & Kenny Barron: Night and Day

After a short up-tempo intro, Getz and Barron launch the theme in a brisk, radiant manner that could lift the spirits of the most depressed listener. This is among the last of Getz. He's sick, and he knows it. Still he wants to give his utmost to the audience of Copenhagen's legendary (and now defunct) Montmartre Club that gave him so much over the years. What's more, Getz is with his favorite accompanist of this late period, the great Kenny Barron. The empathy between them is immense, and each plays with his heart as well as his fingers. Few of us were at the Montmartre in March '91, but we can listen to them at home now, night and day.

February 04, 2008 · 0 comments

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Gary Thomas: Lush Life

Although Gary Thomas is better known for hard-driving improv than for playing classic ballads, on this track he spends more time playing the theme of this wonderful Strayhorn composition than improvising. And he does so as a master stylist, tackling the melody with a tenor timbre that doesn't sound as dark as usual. Pat Metheny supports him on acoustic guitar in a very basic and unsophisticated way, as close to the natural sound of the instrument as possible. This duet remains not only a fine version of a timeless standard, but an unexpected foray out of their usual paths by two great musicians.

January 31, 2008 · 0 comments

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Carol Sloane: Let's Face the Music and Dance

Sloane can indeed be called "a singer's singer," possessing a gorgeous vibrato, impeccable taste and keen interpretative ability. She takes this standard at a more languid pace than usual, which only plays to her strengths. She wants to tell a story and always wants the listener to appreciate the lyrics. At 6:48, there's generous space given for masterful solos by Charlap and Alden, two players always worth hearing.

January 30, 2008 · 0 comments

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Dianne Reeves: Love for Sale

On this live track the interaction between Dianne Reeves and her rhythm section is tremendous. They shift speed without notice, the singer goes from words to scat with an incredible ease, and she lets her pianist and drummer improvise in a way that seems to flow naturally in the course of the performance, far from some of those formally announced solos. Above all, though they are tackling a song with meaningful words, their interpretation is based on rhythm more than on meaning. Yet their incredible rhythmic drive fits the re-harmonized melody like a glove, and makes sense too.

January 29, 2008 · 0 comments

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Eddy Louiss and Michel Petrucciani: Summertime

Organ and piano duets are infrequent in jazz. But when it comes to musicians like Louiss and Petrucciani, the choice of the instrument is less relevant than the pleasure of the dialogue, and music flows so naturally from their fingers that it can almost be frightening. This is especially obvious on "Summertime," which has been played by almost everybody. Louiss's and Petrucciani's freshness and lack of over-sophistication return the song to its roots as a vehicle for improvisation. Moreover, in their hands these instruments make a gorgeous blend. Dialogue, pleasure, gorgeous blend … these musicians wouldn't be French, by any chance?

January 27, 2008 · 0 comments

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Dianne Reeves: Body and Soul

On this very special evening at the New Morning club in Paris, Dianne Reeves was in fantastic shape, and the rendering she gave of this standard of standards is historic. The African-like wordless vocals over the piano vamp in the re-harmonized intro set the scene: it’s definitely going to be about body and about soul! So, for almost nine minutes, the singer and her band explore rhythms (Latin, funk…), textures (from the thickest to the thinnest) and registers (highs and lows that make your skin creep) in a fascinating ad lib rubato way. Pure magic!

January 27, 2008 · 0 comments

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McCoy Tyner featuring Michael Brecker: Flying High

This cut and for that matter this album is as much a celebration of McCoy Tyner's fine post-Coltrane work and compositional skills as it is a glimpse into what was the beginning of the zenith of the late, great Michael Brecker's playing. Pushed into a format that invariably commands comparison to his inspiration, John Coltrane, Brecker is at once reverential to the spirit of master, while at the same time clearly defining this outing with his own markedly developed style. Tyner for all his work with the master was always "… laying down a carpet for Trane" as Coltrane's preceding pianist Steve Kuhn once told me in an interview. In this fine and at times frenetic composition Tyner shows he is no stranger to taut, driving melodies that accentuate his trademark cascade of sound and allow an unleashed Brecker the space to soar to Olympian heights. Tyner has stepped up as the leader here and it shows. Despite the inevitable comparison between Coltrane and Brecker on the equally brilliant "Impressions," which is also featured on this album, it is "Flying High" that pays homage to the spirit of Coltrane, but in a language that is all Tyner and Brecker in true musical simpatico. I was privileged to have witnessed McCoy Tyner and Michael Brecker play much of this album at a date in New York City's Iridium nightclub a year or two prior to the announcement of Michael's ultimately fatal illness. His playing on this track is to me close to still having him in all his spirited glory here with us today. This is a must-have Brecker performance.

January 25, 2008 · 0 comments

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