Kelsey Jillette: Turn Out the Stars

What a pleasure it is to hear the talented jazz vocalist Kelsey Jillette. Above and beyond her distinctive voice, and the talented musicians she has surrounded herself with, is an admiration for the material she has chosen to interpret. The songs range from composers such as Rodgers & Hart, Fats Waller, and Billy Strayhorn to Paul Simon. Each presentation is 100% modern in arrangement, instrumentation and style.

Music author Gene Lees wrote the lyrics to the classic Bill Evans melody "Turn out the Stars," which Jillette sings above a shuffle intro. She has an intriguing voice. It is breathy, yet has a deepness at the same time. She enunciates in a cool emphatic manner that compels you to listen to every word. The instrumental break is proof that the Kelsey Jillette Group is not simply a backing band for a talented vocalist. Drummer Adam Pache's beats support the very fine efforts of guitarist Hiro Honma, baritone saxophonist Tom Abbott and B-3 player Brad Whiteley. On "Turn out the Stars," Whiteley's role is especially impressive. (He and Jillette arranged the piece as well, which may be a clue to his performance.) The Kelsey Jillette Group is the real deal. You need to give them a listen.

March 17, 2009 · 3 comments


Lage Lund: Turn Out the Stars

Guitarist Lage Lund, a young, unassuming, Norwegian-in-Brooklyn, has already amassed an impressive list of musical accomplishments. After studying at the Berklee College of Music upon arriving in the United States, Lund soon became the first electric guitarist granted a full scholarship to the Julliard Jazz Studies program in 2003, and won the prestigious Thelonious Monk Competition in 2005, where he was selected as the winner by a panel of judges who might know a thing or two about jazz guitar: Pat Martino, Earl Klugh, John Pizzarelli, Bill Frisell, Russell Malone and Stanley Jordan. Responding to why Lund won the top prize, Malone stated, "Lage wasn't flashy. He was just all music and all soul that's what we all agreed upon. Great tone, great interpreter. One of the things I liked about him was that when he played these melodies he didn't embellish them he was true to them."

"Turn out the Stars" reveals the elements of Malone's description. Lund exhibits a wise-beyond-his-years ability to strip away all but the truest sense of a standard's melody and harmonic groundwork ( la Hall and Frisell), and there's no better way to sense this gift than on Lund's interpretation of one of Bill Evans's lyrical compositions. As Lund's improvisation develops, so does its complexity, as evidenced by the web of propulsive ideas he weaves between 2:30 and 3:30. But not to worry: his classic tone and relaxed style create a fluidity that makes this heavy thinking as comfortable to listen to as his unembellished melodic statements. Busy New York players Orlando LeFleming and Rodney Green are elegant throughout, especially LeFleming's Haden-esque harmonic predictions of Lund's every move. We'll be hearing a lot more from all of these players, with Lund gently leading the way.

March 11, 2009 · 0 comments


Herbie Hancock & John McLaughlin: Turn Out The Stars

In 1994 the Verve jazz label celebrated its 50th anniversary with a shindig at Carnegie Hall. The historic venue was crammed with wonderful jazz musicians that evening. The event was filmed and portions were later broadcast on PBS. The program was composed of various musical aggregations, each celebrating a historic jazz figure. Pianist Bill Evans was saluted by two of his greatest admirers, pianist Herbie Hancock and guitarist John McLaughlin.

"Turn Out The Stars" was one of Evans's most esoteric pieces. It was heard on the Bill Evans and Jim Hall record Intermodulation and even earlier at Evan's Town Hall concert. Evans and Hall formed a compelling bond over several recordings. so it makes all the sense in the world for the tune to be performed in duet by Hancock and McLaughlin two musicians who formed their own bond in their formative years with Miles Davis. Hancock's style is slightly heavier-handed than Evans was. But this is just an indication of his power and not a detriment to his lovely presentation. McLaughlin's tone on this performance is warm and processed. In the group he was playing with at the time, The Free Spirits, this was bit of a problem because its sound would get lost beside Joey DeFrancesco's B-3 organ. Here, however, placed against a piano, the tone is quite pleasing. Each master musician plays lush chords as the other presents seamless and meaningful improvisations. The duo's interplay is telepathic. Evocative single-note runs eventually join to bring this moving tribute to Evans's legacy to an end.

July 03, 2008 · 0 comments


Bill Evans: Solo - In Memory of His Father

Two weeks before Bill Evans was scheduled to make a live recording at Town Hall, his father, Harry L. Evans, died suddenly in Ormond Beach, Florida. Evans considered canceling or postponing the concert, but instead went ahead with the event, but composed an extended solo work dedicated to his father to be premiered at Town Hall. The central section of this 14-minute composition later surfaced as the song "Turn Out the Stars," but Evans would never play it with more warmth or beauty than on this live performance. This pianist is well known for drawing on the inspiration of impressionist classical composers such as Ravel and Debussy, and in this setting these influences come to the fore. If you lifted out the improvisation, the rest of this piece could show up in a concert hall recital and most listeners would hardly realize that it was supposed to be jazz. No wonder the great interpreter of Ravel, Satie and Debussy, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, has added this Bill Evans composition to his repertoire. Evans was such a brilliant interpreter of popular standards and so prolific in his output, that it is hard to have many regrets about his recorded legacy; nonetheless, I am disappointed that he didn't do more extended works of this sort during the 14 remaining years of his life.

January 12, 2008 · 0 comments


Previous Page | Next Page