Wayne Wallace: Fascinating Rhythm

San Francisco native Wayne Wallace continues to impress with his mastery of the Afro-Cuban idiom. His 2007 release The Reckless Search for Beauty was one of the neglected gems of the year, and his follow-up The Nature of the Beat is another small-label project that deserves to find a wider audience. This Gershwin tune is an unlikely candidate for Latin treatment -- its syncopated melody line is built on a rhythmic displacement that is more suited to prewar New York stylings than clave. But Wallace pulls out all the stops in giving a new flavor to this old song, crafting a crisp arrangement and even adding lead and background vocals in Spanish. Fascinating indeed!

August 18, 2008 · 1 comment


Tal Farlow: Fascinating Rhythm

Tal Farlow must not have received many Christmas cards from drummers. After establishing himself as a member of the drummerless Red Norvo Trio from 1949-1953, Farlow likewise dispensed with drummers for his mid-'50s trio albums with piano and bass. And here, 20 years later, he was still at it, shunning the company of drummers as if they carried bubonic plague in those unwieldy wheel-shaped cases they religiously lugged to gigs. Yet when a band can swing like this one does without aid of cymbals, snares, bongos or castanets, who needs a percussionist? While it's true that Tal's guitar chops in the '70s were not what they'd been in the '50s (whose were?), his playing still dazzles, especially when, as part of a prearranged unison with Hank Jones before the out chorus, Farlow plays a descending chordal glissando that sounds for all the world like some appreciative fan exclaiming, "Whew!" He took the word right out of my mouth.

February 23, 2008 · 0 comments


Stan Kenton: Fascinating Rhythm

Updating the Kenton dance book was a wise idea, especially when Bill Russo became the main architect of New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm. Russo's orchestral studies on classic standards sounded like notated improvisations in some cases. "Fascinating Rhythm" pits a small group against the big band for a classic call-and-response approach, plus solos by Rosolino, Kamuca, Konitz and Holman. This arrangement was later set for voices by Ward Swingle's Singers.

February 20, 2008 · 0 comments


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