Russ Nolan: Naima

When I see a Coltrane cover on a self-produced CD, I usually want to run and hide. I would rather listen to the Nicholas Slonimsky thesaurus of scales played on kazoo. At least that would be a change. But wait, these guys can play, and they don't just imitate old Impulse records. Kenny Werner and cohorts mesh brilliantly in the rhythm section, achieving a light swinging sound that serves as an effective underpinning to Nolan's fluid sax work. No copycats here, just smart playing by a top-notch quartet.

April 03, 2008 · 0 comments


Toots Thielemans: Naima

Chromatic harmonica master Jean "Toots" Thielemans assembled a remarkable group of fellow musicians from both U.S. coasts to make this appealing album. In this East Coast-based lineup, onetime Pat Metheny keyboardist Lyle Mays starts John Coltrane's beautiful ode to his first wife, "Naima." Mays's feather-light touch is especially effective on his sensitive acoustic piano intro, accompanied by Christian McBride's tasteful arco bass. Toots's remarkable instrumental facility again demonstrates his ability to raise the chromatic harmonica to equality among other, more accepted jazz instruments. The sense of poignancy that he can summon is unsurpassed. Some tasteful electric guitar licks from John Scofield propel this classic tune into a more contemporary sound without any lack of respect. A nice duet between Redman's tenor and Toots's harmonica completes this marvelous interpretation of the Coltrane classic.

March 14, 2008 · 0 comments


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