Carla Bley and Her Remarkable Big Band: Awful Coffee

Carla Bley evokes the Swing Era on this up-tempo jump tune, which features wonderful, idiomatically incorrect solos by baritone saxophonist Julian Arguelles and a tenor saxophonist—either Andy Sheppard or Christophe Panzani (probably the former, though credit is not provided in the booklet). Originally commissioned by Orchestra Jazz della Sardegna, this is the kind of large-scale project at which Bley has historically excelled when given the resources. The opening head is simple and even a bit slight; things heat up during the solos, which are immeasurably enhanced by Bley's ever-varying background figures. Trumpeter Lew Soloff ties things up with a fiery if conventional solo, leading back to a recap of the opening riff. Spirited, well-crafted, imaginative and straightforward fun—few contemporary jazz composers reanimate the musty big band format as well as Carla Bley.

August 29, 2008 · 0 comments


Esbjörn Svensson Trio: When God Created the Coffeebreak

An off-kilter left-hand bassline that is doubled by Dan Berglund shows off the skills of these instrumental experts in one of the few straight-up classical references in this album. Svensson himself was criticized for not being a virtuoso at times, but he understood the value of studying Bach just like Bill Evans did. In fact, the link is closer than one might think due to Svensson's trio gaining a wealth of knowledge in their early days by "trying to play in the sound of Bill Evans," which meant not to copy the style, but the mood of tunes such as "Nardis" and "'Round Midnight."

July 25, 2008 · 0 comments


Philip Catherine: Coffee Groove

A brisk, rhythmically challenging theme, with a twist of the songs that made the Blue Note label famous in the '60s. The Belgian guitarist starts the new millennium with an all-European quartet that fits him like a glove. On bass and drums is a tight, powerful Dutch-Belgian pair, whose support any soloist would dream of. The frontline is busy with the leader’s both rooted and innovative guitar lines, that fuse the best of jazz harmonies and rock’s energy. On the trumpet, Bert Joris has no problem, with his strong and delicate musicianship, following the path of Chet Baker and Tom Harrell, in whose bands Catherine played at length. As far as jazz is concerned, Belgium is definitely not a small country!

January 10, 2008 · 0 comments


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