Art Tatum & Roy Eldridge: Night and Day

Art Tatum had performed with Roy Eldridge back in 1944 at a famous concert by the Esquire All-Stars, but their paths rarely crossed afterwards until Norman Granz brought them into the studio a decade later as part of the producer's "Group Masters" project. The idea of matching Tatum with top-notch horn players sounded fine in theory, but with some exceptions, found the pianist playing over rather than with his colleagues. Yet his outing on "Night and Day" with trumpeter Roy Eldridge coheres better than one might expect. Eldridge was no stranger to battles on the bandstand, but here he focuses on sheer swing rather than try to match Tatum note-for-note. Simmons and Stoller are energized by his presence, and create a more supple pulse than one usually finds on the Granz-Tatum projects. The pianist is hardly chastened by this change of affairs, and continues to throw out his baroque runs and elaborate reconfigurations, but even he is infused with the groove. This may not quite match the impromptu give-and-take that Tatum achieved after hours in casual jams, but it comes closer than most of his studio sessions to capturing that ambiance.

October 10, 2009 · 0 comments


Red Norvo: Night and Day

Red Norvo was a fascinating jazz musician. On the one hand, he primarily played the out-of-fashion and limited xylophone up until 1944, and even after completely abandoning it for the vibraphone, basically clung to the style he'd developed on his old wooden-barred instrument. On the other hand, his playing was always hip and advanced, and he naturally embraced and fit in with the bebop movement, recording with Bird and Diz in 1945, and in 1950 forming one of the greatest of all small jazz groups – the boppish Red Norvo Trio with Tal Farlow and Charles Mingus.

Norvo's trio was a perfect blend of creative improvisation, group interaction through their telepathic responses to each other, and intricate and flexible head arrangements. The medium-tempo "Night and Day" begins with Farlow's simulated bongo pattern, utilizing the body of his guitar. Norvo plays the well-known theme in his vibrato-less style, with Tal cleverly feeding him chords on the bridge. The guitarist then solos imaginatively with Norvo comping sensitively behind him and also contributing some effective melodic counterpoint. Red's own solo typifies his approach. Since he preferred to play the vibes with the motor shut off to preserve the more natural sound he felt he got from the xylophone, he uses tremolos, rapidly repeated single notes and artful arpeggios to compensate for the lack of vibrato, while using the pedal to sustain notes. It's the harmonic sophistication and melodic ingenuity one hears on this track that made his unique improvisational concept so successful. Norvo and Farlow then inventively split the thematic exposition to take the piece out. This is a rare selection where the usually dominant Mingus remains largely in the background. This edition of Norvo's trio lasted about two years, after which the leader tried to duplicate the magic with Jimmy Raney and Red Mitchell, but it was never quite the same.

July 03, 2008 · 0 comments


Stéphane Grappelli: Night and Day

Although a number of Stéphane Grappelli CDs were released after his death in 1997, the music on most, if not all, predated this 1995 live recording. On this track, Grappelli begins with the verse in a pensive manner and then subtly embellishes the familiar melody, enhancing it with aptly placed upper-register asides. Burr's aggressive, resonant basslines are in stark contrast to Pizzarelli's laid-back rhythm guitar. Bucky solos next in his inimitable style, strummed passages mixing with delicately picked phrases and rich chords. He and Stéphane then improvise in tandem, weaving their enticing lines to a dramatically descending resolution that elicits a burst of applause. Grappelli ends the piece much as he started, softening his attack as he comes to a clever, yet unexpected conclusion utilizing just a small segment of the theme. Even at age 87, Grappelli was still an undiminished master of the jazz violin.

March 26, 2008 · 1 comment


Kenny Garrett: Night and Day

Kenny Garrett's 1986-1987 stint with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (he was concurrently a steady member of Miles Davis's group) was documented on two recordings: Feeling Good and Hard Champion. Combine Garrett's experience with Blakey and Miles with his earlier work with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band, and Garrett was well on his way to solidifying his reputation as his generation's leading altoist. Garrett's playing on this track is evidence enough, with one phenomenal idea after another arising from his improvisation. Blade anticipates Garrett's every move and supports and pushes him along throughout this standout track.

March 06, 2008 · 0 comments


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


André Previn: Night and Day (2007)

André Previn has been recording jazz for more than fifty years. But it’s still hard to pin him down. Sometimes he seems content to dig into a funky ebony and ivory bag, à la Horace Silver. At other moments he follows gingerly in the large footsteps of Leonard Bernstein or George Gershwin. But, strange to say, for all of his renown in classical music (only two of his ten Grammies are for jazz), Previn’s improvisational work hardly reflects the influence of his symphonic career. Bill Evans and Cecil Taylor – both born within a few months of Previn – often sound more inspired by classical music than the great conductor and composer from Berlin. But on “Night and Day,” from his recent solo piano recording Alone, Previn puts aside the blues licks and cocktail piano runs, and mounts a full-scale attack on Cole Porter's venerable standard. Previn's conception is artsy with a European flavor, and his reharmonization is nothing less than brilliant. Recordings of this caliber show why – in the age of Mehldau and Moran – this elder statesman of the keyboard still commands our attention.

November 10, 2007 · 0 comments


Stan Getz & Bill Evans: Night and Day

The inclusion of Elvin Jones on this recording may seem odd, and though it has some stimulating moments, it is certainly not a perfect fit. The execution of the arrangement—extended solo breaks and alternating Latin and swing grooves—is far from flawless. Evans, used to subtler drummers, has difficulty comping with Jones and their playing is at times discordant. However, this sloppiness is partly due to experimentation outside of musical comfort zones, and that alone is intriguing and makes the successes more enjoyable. Getz relishes in Jones’s presence. His playing is more pressing than normal, rhythmically animated, and altogether edgier. An interesting experiment in small group jazz.

November 09, 2007 · 0 comments


Previous Page | Next Page