Chick Corea: Tempus Fugit

In early 1949, with sidemen Ray Brown and Max Roach, Bud Powell first recorded what would become a jazz standard, and it surely stands as one of my favorite compositions in the bebop canon. This all-star aggregation from 1996 plays it with the fire it deserves, thanks in no small part to the presence of Roy Haynes. The drummer, who first recorded with Powell the same year as the aforementioned waxing of this piece, brings much to this session. His spirit and energy seem everywhere without running roughshod over the other players. Often these "superstar" turns can be stilted affairs, but the solos here feel driven, and the ensemble work sounds fresh throughout.

August 22, 2008 · 0 comments


Toshiko Akiyoshi: Cleopatra's Dream

Bud Powell's final Blue Note session as a leader (1958) featured several memorable originals, including the minor cooker "Cleopatra's Dream." His performance was notable for its octave unison passages, and possessed a steady, inexorable momentum. Akiyoshi, who considers Powell her mentor (a photo of them sitting together in New York in 1964 is reprinted within the CD notes), creatively rearranges the piece. Bowed bass and reflective piano notes lead to an étude-type interlude, followed by an alluring vamp that flows directly into Powell's theme, played in a stop-and-start fashion with a punchy, almost Latin rhythmic pulse. Toshiko then shifts into overdrive, with fluid, dancing lines played with a light touch, some of her phrases executed with considerable technical flair. The always brilliant Nash takes a series of fiery solo breaks as he interacts with the pianist, succeeded by Drummond's deeply intoned, compelling bass improv. Akiyoshi provides still more elaborately woven runs before returning to the boppish melody. Toshiko's piano skills were largely deemphasized during her many years of writing outstanding arrangements for her Jazz Orchestra, which featured her husband, Lew Tabackin. This track is a reminder of what she can achieve at the keyboard.

April 01, 2008 · 0 comments


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