Brew Moore: I Can't Believe that You're in Love with Me

Milton Aubrey "Brew" Moore believed that "Anyone who doesn't play like Lester Young is wrong," and remained faithful to Prez's style throughout his short and sparsely documented career. Unlike his contemporaries Stan Getz and Zoot Sims, Moore's approach remained relatively unchanged over the years. Having said that, at his best he swung very hard and was a nimble and inventive improviser who was rightfully extolled by Jack Kerouac in his novel Desolation Angels (Chapter 97): "Brew Moore is blowing on tenor saxophone...and he plays perfect harmony to any tune they bring up—he pays little attention to anyone, he drinks his beer, he gets loaded and eye-heavy, but he never misses a beat or a note, because music is in his heart, and in music he has found that pure message to give to the world." Plagued by a drinking problem (hence his nickname "Brew"), Moore died in 1973 after falling down a stairway in Copenhagen, just days following his receipt of a large inheritance. He was only 49.

For his first album as leader in 1956, Moore fronted a group of obscure local San Francisco area musicians. On the track "I Can't Believe that You're in Love with Me," his tenor surges confidently through the theme and his solo with a perfectly matched buoyant rhythmic pulse and flowing phraseology, his somewhat foggy tone recalling Zoot Sims. Moore's sidemen acquit themsleves quite well, especially John Marabuto, whose piano solo is played with both a sound and percussive attack similar to that of Eddie Costa.

August 03, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


George Garzone: Have You Met Miss Jones

Garzone is of course best known as a member of the legendary Boston trio The Fringe, which he co-founded in 1972. For his 1996 CD away from that group, Four's and Two's, he was joined by Joe Lovano, whose then recently released CDs Quartets and Rush Hour were helping to further establish him as one of jazz's rising stars. As can be heard throughout Four's and Two's, and perhaps most vividly on the seemingly always inspiring standard "Have You Met Miss Jones," the lesser-known Garzone more than holds his own with Lovano, the two backed by an airtight rhythm section.

Garzone's captivating LennieTristano-like reharmonization, or countermelody, with Lovano weaving in wisps of the original melody, stunningly launches this essential track. Garzone's solo is typically complex, as he appears to be conducting a responsive dialogue with himself between intriguing constructs played alternately in the upper or lower registers of his horn. (A transcription of this terrific solo is included in the CD's notes.) Calderazzo follows with a swinging, driving pulse that animates his impressively formed and delivered runs. Like Garzone, Lovano's improvisational approach is oblique, his meaty phrasing and tonal variations plunging deep into the heart of the tune's attractive harmonies. After John Lockwood's brief Paul Chambers-sounding bass interlude, the two horns again engage in the swirling in-an-out revision of the theme.

August 03, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Donny McCaslin: Uppercut

Donny McCaslin has a steely, angular sound and urgency in his music. As a prolific sideman with such incubators of progressive music as the Maria Schneider Orchestra and the Dave Douglas Quintet, he can mold his playing to the needs of demanding composers and arrangers. When he offers his own material, we hear where his musical heart lies.

On the quick tempo “Uppercut”, McCaslin takes us through a catchy repeating melody for two choruses. At the bridge, his phrasing morphs seamlessly from swinging bellowing lows to bright, jagged highs before he restates the melody once again. Colley offers a lively, dancing bass solo as Monder comps lightly behind him. This soft but spirited section contrasts perfectly with the approaching storm. As he volleys a flurry of notes, McCaslin skillfully bobs and weaves around the tune’s core. Sanchez and Simon prod him on with punctuation where needed, until McCaslin settles into a natural cadence. Crescendos of sound pour from his horn like the sweat from an exhausted boxer’s brow. Ever inventive, ever more urgent and with little pause for reflection, this torrent of energy builds to an exhilarating climax. McCaslin’s corner men Colley, Sanchez and Simon keep him firmly in the ring until he returns to the refrain to settle the score with his final exclamatory and victorious blow.

July 29, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Stan Getz: Voyage

During this extraordinary 1987 Copenhagen concert, the man we have come to know as “The Sound” pauses to request that a particularly annoying television light be turned off the stage. As the light dims, someone makes an offstage quip about docking his fee. Getz pithily responds, “Bull____ you’ll lower my salary,” to the delight of his audience. That exchange didn’t make it onto the album, but the dazzling performance which followed fortunately did.

Kenny Barron’s harmonic minor hard bop masterpiece is the perfect vehicle to demonstrate the intensity smoldering just below the surface of this legendary tenor man. At times Getz reaches into the lower octaves, pulling snarling, bearish phrases from the depths, throwing them in the air, suspending the lines in Edvard Munch-like screams; at other times he thinks, points and shoots, a musical marksman hitting his target every time. Given the near-perfection of this cut, you would think it was a studio take, but for the applause. Even now, it’s still amazing to remember that this was done live, under the intense heat of television crew lighting.

Getz’s body of work with Barron remains a paragon of pure energy and intuitivism and that synergy is evident here. The warm, deadly accurate support of Reid and Lewis help elevate this track to the status of must-have recording in any jazz lover’s library.

July 13, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Stan Getz: I Can't Get Started

Stan Getz wasn’t exactly prolix, preferring to let his Selmer MarkVI do the talking for him. But on the occasions when he did speak, he revealed a dry, edgy wit. Paraphrasing a line from Tony Bennett’s signature tune, he tells the audience at the Montmarte Club, “I left my heart in Copenhagen,” eliciting a round of enthusiastic applause. Then he adds, “I said the same thing last night in Stockholm.” The Danes would forgive his teasing as he opened the next number with a languid, sultry intro, the bridge of “I Can’t Get Started,” setting up a hypnotic interpretation of the timeless ballad.

In this flawless performance the trio backs each note of his breathtaking solo with perfect understanding, the changes seemingly suspended in time and space as they transition seamlessly between twos and a relaxed walking swing. Then Getz demonstrates his generosity and respect by turning the rest of the number over to Kenny Barron, who delivers inspired, delicate piano effusions. The interconnectivity between Lewis, Reid and Barron comes close to telepathy, with punctuating bass and drums hanging on nearly every crystalline note, until a rubato ending gently settles the whole affair back on terra firma.

This is a prime example of why jazz should never lose its function as a live art. What you are hearing in this track is the spontaneous creation of a masterpiece by five highly evolved players. Yes, you heard right, five: one sax man, one pianist, one bassist, one drummer- and one living, breathing, appreciative audience. We must never forget the importance of this relationship.

July 13, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Marcus Strickland: Moon Ruler

On this drum and bass inspired song, E.J. Strickland holds it down for everyone involved. Marcus opens up the song with a simple melody, which is then doubled up by bassist Brad Jones. After the drum and bass theme, the band kicks back into a nice funk groove, where Brad Jones sounds a little like Paul Jackson of Headhunters fame. Lund throws on the effects during the funk part adding the last ingredient. Marcus really excels when he plays in the upper register of the tenor and this tune is a perfect example. Lund follows Strickland with yet another deep, interesting solo. His playing on the second disc of this album really does it for me. He really elevates when its his turn to solo. This track showcases some great playing from everyone involved. Pour one out for this highly slept on group of players.

July 10, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Wayne Shorter: Armageddon

Sometimes I really don't know where to start with Wayne Shorter. His music has touched me for so long now that it's amazing I don't get tired listening to some of the same discs over and over again but I can listen to them forever. That is unless "Armageddon" comes. But this "Armageddon" is much more swinging and happier than the battle that's supposed to signify the official end to our collective existence. This song opens up with one of Shorter's catchiest introductions. The melody is clearly stated but it is also nice and sustained with wonderful unison from Lee Morgan and Wayne. I really like this band and I think they should have recorded more. One thing that separates the Shorter recordings with some of Coletrane's band is the composition. Coltrane would've sounded stronger to me if he had been recording Wayne's tunes, but hey, that's a whole other subject.

For anyone that likes Wayne and wants to inject a little Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner into their jazz diet, this is the track. Coming from his first recording for Blue Note after recording for the Vee-Jay label, Night Dreamer satisfies on every level possible.

July 10, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Wayne Shorter: El Gaucho

On one of his many hard bop classics from the 1960s, Wayne Shorter teams up with frequent collaborator Herbie Hancock along with bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Joe Chambers. This is a nice little Latin number with some fun changes. Melodically, Shorter sticks with the pentatonic approach that is found in many of his compositions from this time and this tune is yet another pentatonic example. The rhythm section meshes well on this song, but as usual Herbie's performance is the most commanding, with impeccable piano comping and a great solo.

It's the opinion of this writer that Shorter is the one true genius of his generation, forging ahead of the pack during the 1960s. His solo albums, work with Miles Davis and future work with Weather Report all solidify this position.

July 10, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Eddie Harris & Ellis Marsalis: Deacceleration

This refreshing recording session featuring the Chicago-born Eddie Harris and the New Orleans native Ellis Marsalis took place in 1985. Having worked successfully as a duo in a New Orleans club in the mid-eighties, the two successfully duplicate the alchemy of their live performances in this studio session. The lack of a rhythm section in no way diminishes the effectiveness of this session, relying instead on Marsalis’s creative use of variations of tempo and attack in his accompaniment. On the Harris composition "Deacceleration", the two show an affinity that is palpable, playing off each other’s spontaneous ideas. Building in and out of dramatic tension in this clever composition, Marsalis sets the stage for the incendiary saxophonist, who enters in his squealing high-register attack mode. In the reprise, they build to an impressive peak, then segue into a softened refrain which moves from a lulling, reflective stillness into a poignant, fading cry. Thankfully, this gem gets a second chance for renewed appreciation.

July 09, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


George Adams-Dannie Richmond: More Sightings

No, this was not a Charles Mingus tribute band. Mingus Dynasty had taken on that responsibility right after Mingus's death in 1979. However, the adventurous spirit of Mingus lived on in this quintet as well, made up as it was of four Mingus alumni—Dannie Richmond (23 years), Jimmy Knepper (6), George Adams (4), and Hugh Lawson (briefly in the mid-'70's). Perhaps not quite as dynamic as the the better-known group Adams co-led with another Mingus sideman, Don Pullen, this Adams-Richmond unit also produced its fair share of provocative music.

Adams' tune "More Sightings" is played in unison by tenor and trombone, a rousing theme that alternates between smooth linear passages and jabbing machine-gun like bursts. The fiery, earthy style of Adams is on full display during his solo, as he varies his attack incessantly and yet always keeps the composition's harmonic structure in sight. Knepper responds with a gruff but nimble exploration of his own. Lawson's lively, boppish solo makes you appreciate once again this largely unheralded and forgotten pianist. Richmond then expertly delineates the components of the theme, bringing it to life percussively with nary a wasted drum stroke. This was an ensemble with a distinctive sound, comprised of players who possessed strikingly individual styles.

July 06, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Teddy Edwards: Midnight Creeper

Edwards was 73 years-old at the time of this session in 1997, and his appealing style was captured vividly throughout. His playing combines a blues-based approach with a mellow assortment of phrasings derived from the vocabulary of bebop. Although Edwards never recorded prolifically as a leader, his underrated talent got him numerous gigs with bands led by, among others, Max Roach, Gerald Wilson, Benny Carter, Milt Jackson, Jimmy Smith, Sarah Vaughan, Benny Goodman, and even Tom Waits. Edwards may be best known for his 1947 recording with Dexter Gordon, "The Duel," while he was a part of the Central Avenue jazz scene in Los Angeles, the city where he resided for almost all his adult life.

Producer Houston Person wisely allowed Rudy Van Gelder to spin his magic sound-wise, and Edwards is nowhere better heard on record than during this extended nine-minute version of "Tenderly." While the CD's title, Midnight Creeper, refers to an Edwards tune by that name, it could just as easily refer to his playing on "Tenderly." The saxophonist creeps up on you and casts a spell, from his supple opening run to his lush-toned, expansive handling of the melody, which he laces with alluring and uplifting embellishments. A dramatic, melancholy mood has been established, but Edwards' solo is something else entirely, blues-drenched from the start, as his tone hardens and he soulfully both blusters and tiptoes through his thematic excursion. The equally underappreciated Richard Wyands keeps a low flame burning during his gently assertive piano solo. Edwards reappears with sensuous come-hither held notes, and proceeds on to a peak in expression and dynamics, followed by a coda that swirls and shouts exuberantly.

July 06, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Gerry Mulligan-Ben Webster: Tell Me When

The Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster album is best known for its exquisite version of Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge," but Mulligan's endearing gem of a ballad, "Tell Me When," should not be overlooked. The fact that Mulligan and Webster are so relaxed and in sync with one another on both of these tracks (as well as the other nine selections) is largely due to their friendship and having played together in Los Angeles prior to going into the studio. As Mulligan told Phil Schaap in 1990: "Ben and I were a focused, near-functioning little band. That's why it it worked and of course it's all related to our mutual esteem and musical rapport."

Jimmy Rowles' short-lived, but dark and slightly foreboding intro does not prepare the listener for Webster's luscious, buoyant recital of the winsome "Tell Me When" theme, as Mulligan plays tenderly apt obbligatos along with him. Webster's solo is generally evocative of his main influence, Coleman Hawkins, in the effervescent contours of his lines, but Ben's creamy tone is unmistakably his own. The glorious interweaving of tenor and baritone as they renegotiate the melody is unforgettably poignant and soothing. Unlike on "Chelsea Bridge," Mulligan regrettably does not take a solo, but Webster more than makes up for the omission.

July 06, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Andy Sheppard: La Tristesse Du Roi

A fifteen minute jazz performance is much like a fifteen round boxing match. The participants can't lay it all out in the first round—otherwise they won't last the distance. Or, if they do, they risk leaving the audience behind, worn and exhausted. Instead, the great performers learn how to pace themselves, adjust to the flow, and wait for their right moments. Andy Sheppard and the aurally aware unit of musicians he has assembled for his outstanding Movements in Colour compact disk do just that on this track. The opening several minutes is mostly muted sound pastels that only gradually come together into a musical heartbeat. The rhythm section coheres perfectly—Eivind Aarset, the Bill Frisell of Norway, proves again that he really deserves to be better known in the US, Andersen solos with guitar-like fluidity, and tabla player Kuljit Bhamra carries the pulse with such life that no trapset is needed or missed. But Sheppard is the vital ingredient, playing with spirit yet never with abandon. Often he stays in pentatonic and diatonic territory, but his solo is a gem. He draws the listener in more deeply with each passing minute. The rest of the CD matches the promise of this opening track, and the disk is likely to make my "best of the year" list.

July 06, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Coleman Hawkins: Hawk's Variation Parts 1 & 2

On an undetermined date sometime between June 1946 and January 1947, Coleman Hawkins recorded one of the most daring and innovative performances of his career: an unaccompanied tenor solo track titled "Picasso" , named after producer Norman Granz's favorite painter. "Picasso" is considered to be the first recorded unaccompanied performance by a jazz saxophonist, laying the groundwork for future solo efforts by Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz, Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy and others. "Picasso" was the result of intense preparation by Hawkins and he is reputed to have spent roughly eight hours in the studio working out his ideas, first at the piano and then on his horn.

Hawkins was said to have been nurturing the idea of a solo piece long before "Picasso" was recorded, and "Hawk's Variation" is the little-known precursor of "Picasso." The original record of "Hawk's Variation" was recorded for the Selmer company as a promotional demo of their newest line of saxophones, most likely the Super Balanced Action series given the time frame.

Part 1 alternates between a medium swing feel and some quasi-rubato passages, and is built largely of sequential figures based on more or less standard harmonic practices of the period. The fascinating part of "Hawk's Variation" is part 2. It consists of a full chorus improvisation on the chord changes of Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" with no thematic statement. Hawkins was an early champion of Monk's and employed him as his pianist on some record dates in 1944. However, the most pervasive influence on Hawkins' work here is Art Tatum. Tatum was the primary inspiration for Hawkins' vertical approach to chords and his use of substitute harmonies. Hawkins plumbs the depths of the song's harmonies to the nth degree while creating lyrical melodic lines and swinging in his inimitable way.

July 02, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Sean Nowell: Jamie's Decision

“Jamie’s Decision” is a fetching Sean Nowell composition that encourages repeat listening. The gorgeous melody allows Nowell’s rich saxophone timbre to lull you into its spell. Just when you start to get comfortable, he changes the time signature to bring you about. Eggar’s cello meshes nicely with Nowell’s saxophone and Hirahara’s piano, which gives the proceedings the quality of chamber jazz.. Abbatantuono produces a rich assortment of percussive sounds that fill in the lulls at precisely the right places and move the piece along without ever being brash. This is a little gem of a composition that is satisfyingly complete as it builds and releases tension with an accomplished air of subdued maturity.

June 30, 2009 · 0 comments

Tags:


Previous Page | Next Page