What would life be without music? A nullity, no doubt. It would surely be “an error” as Nietzsche said. And what would music be without Jazz? Wouldn’t it be a white page waiting desperately for the interplay of little black mute, but so melodious and expressive, entities to make it meaningful to some lonesome keen ears? Yes, that's Jazz: black and white meet to go beyond sensitiveness to forge out of ivory and brass, with their pain and joy, a world, so tuned to make both hell and paradise jealous. Let there be JAZZ & JAZZ Only.
Hamidou Hamdan

"It's when one is not staring that art works"
Gilbert Sorrentino

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We need to remember to take the time to show gratitude to artists by putting hands in our purses (of course if we can afford such comfort), and willingly treasure the generous intention to buy their recordings.

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hector Martignon: Second Chance (Zoho Music - 2010)

Columbian-born jazz pianist Hector Martignon firmly believes in second chances in life; whether as a form of redemption or renewal, they serve as important new opportunities. On his second ZOHO release, Second Chance presents an exciting blend of Latin-flavored music, drawing on influences ranging from Brazilian and Colombian idioms to elements of Afro-Cuban rhythms, in a vibrant frame of Latin jazz. Penned for wife Amparo, Second Chance has many meanings, the from personal to the second chances we all have in our lives to embrace opportunities that address past issues. As such, some of the pieces on this album reflect, as the pianist states "an evolved approach to melodies and arrangements already done by me in years past."In the late' 90s, the pianist recorded with percussionist Ray Barretto's band, and a score he wrote for one of those occasions is renewed here, giving "Guaji-Rita" a second wind, its slow burning arrangement making it one of the set's major highlights. Other delicious pieces given new twists are "She Said She Was From Sarajewo," and "Coqueteos," both taken from Martignon's second solo album, Foreign Affair (Candid 2000)—the latter an especially spicy number from the Colombian highlands that features saxophonist Xavier Perez and fellow countryman Edmar Castaneda, on Columbian harp. Martignon is exceptionally pronounced here, demonstrating his more than ample chops and why he's a Grammy-nominated artist. For this recording the pianist is ably accompanied by his core Foreign Affair quintet which, aside from Perez, also includes bassist Armando Gola, drummer Ludwig Afonso and percussionist Samuel Torres.The music is further enlivened by the addition of vibraphonist Tim Collins, guitarist Vinny Valentino and trumpeter/flugelhornist John Walsh. The lively, bouncy opener, "Bala Con Bala," features solos from most of the band—including guests Collins, Valentino and Walsh—on the most instrumentally challenging piece of the set.
As a child, Martignon was so taken by the 1962 movie Hatari! that he watched it six times. Seduced by Henry Manicini's sensual score, the pianist gives the movie's theme a second reading, with a light and beautiful rendition that also features some tasteful percussion accompaniment.The are many sparks on this album. Written as a ballad, the closing up-tempo standard "Alone Together" finds the pianist running his fingers along the keys and ending on a brash Cubanmontuno and syncopated piano vamp, also allowing Torres to shine at the song's end.
Spectacular, wonderful and shoulder-moving are all words that don't seem adequate in describing Second Chance,; this is clearly an exceptional session of Latin and Brazilian shaded jazz, sure to demand far more than a second spin.
(All About Jazz)

1.Bala Con Bala
2.Second Chance
6.She Said She Was From Saarajewo
7.Abre Los Ojos
9.A Long Farewell
10.Alone Together

Hector Martignon (accordion, piano)
Vinny Valentino (guitar)
Edward Perez (bass)
Armando Gola (bass)
Edmar Castaneda (harp)
Xavier Perez (saxophone)
John Walsh (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Tim Collins (vibraphone)
Ludwig Afonso (drums, percussion)
Samuel Torres (percussion)
Original Release Date: 2010 - Label: Zoho Music

Second Chance

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Conrad Herwig & Brian Lynch: Que Viva Coltrane (Criss Cross - 2003)

The world will never pay enough homage to the music of John Coltrane. Having his music translated into the Latin idiom isn't a huge stretch, considering that many of his tunes had strong Afro-Cuban roots.
Placing Trane en clave was a challenge that trombonist Conrad Herwig and trumpeter Brian Lynch happily accepted when they conceived Que Viva Coltrane , a humble offering to the immortal saxophonist in which they successfully translated some of Trane's most famous tunes into the Latin idiom.
"Lonnie's Lament" showcases the chops of flautist Mario Rivera, Herwig and Lynch, all of whom play excellent solos. The intricate arrangement of "Miles' Mode" is played in mambo rhythm, with Rivera's baritone sax leading the brass charge. Robby Ameen and Richie Flores solo on drums and congas, respectively, before Herwig and Lynch's spirited exchange take the song out on high.
Pianist Edsel Gomez states the melody on "Wise One," with Herwig's lovely solo leading into the doubling of the rhythm and crisp soloing by Lynch and Gomez. John Benitez' wicked electric bass at the beginning of "Countdown" may recall Coltrane's blistering opening, but it certainly has its roots laid down in Jaco Pastorius. The brass picks up the baton and races to the finish, with Trane's signature at the end declaring victory.
Lynch's fluegelhorn is the standout among the fine brass arrangement of "Central Park West," and "Grand Central" features another mean baritone solo by Rivera. The breezy, arrangement of "Straight Street" evokes the warmth of a Carribbean island, providing a relaxing respite before "Locomotion" brings things to a rousing end.
Although Coltrane inspired this fine disc, the arrangements and overall spirit owe as much to Tito Puente and Machito as they do to Trane. It's almost a certainty that somewhere, all three men are beaming like proud parents.
(All About jazz -  Terrell Kent Holmes)

1. Lonnie's Lament Coltrane 
2. Miles Mode Coltrane 
3. Wise One Coltrane 
4. Countdown Coltrane 
5. Central Park West Coltrane 
6. Grand Central Coltrane 
7. Straight Street Coltrane 
8. Locomotion Coltrane 

Brian Lynch: Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Arranger
Conrad Herwig: Trombone, Arranger
Mario Rivera: Flute, Sax (Tenor)
Edsel Gomez: Piano 
John Benítez: Bass 
Robert Ameen: Drums 
Richie Flores: Conga
Systems Two Recordsing Studios, Brooklyn, NY (12/15/2003) - Record Label: Criss Cross

Que Viva Coltrane
Monday, February 27, 2012

The Liam Sillery Quintet: Minor Changes (OA2 Records - 2005)

Trumpeter & flugelhornist Liam Sillery invites tenor saxophonist David Sills into the front line on this straight-ahead quintet outing for a sound reminiscent of Blue Note's heyday. The leader's musical mentors are Red Rodney, Ira Sullivan, and especially tenor man Joe Henderson. The influences show as the band opens with a lively Sillery original, "Minor Change," featuring some sparkling unison blowing to kick things off, leading into a freewheeling trumpet solo. Sillery's tone is warm and bright, and the rhythm section elevates the proceedings with a buoyant insistence. Then tenor saxophonist David Sills blows in, more intense than Sillery, smoldering, seemingly holding back a bit, sounding full of Blue Note-ish soul.
"For Jane" follows the opener. It's a mid-tempo beauty with, again, some fine soling, and the rhythm team—pianist Jesse Stacken, bassist Thomas Morgan, and drummer Richard Huntley—shines on an extended turn.
For those who grew up on the sixties mainstream sounds by the likes of Joe Henderson, Hank Mobley, Art Blakey, and a hundred other Blue Note artists, Sillery's approach sounds familiar yet fresh—for example, the trumpeter trading solos with the tenor man, the bouncing rhythms. Sillery wrote all of the tunes except Billy Preston's "You Are So Beautiful" (made famous by Joe Cocker). His horn sounds a tad fragile here, achingly, and befittingly so. It's a beautiful tune, treated well by the band, with a pint-of-ale-in-the-hand, look-you-in-the-eye confessional feeling.
Sillery and the quintet finish up with "Dial D For Dial," a bright romp, with the rhythm team kicking things forward behind the trumpeter; and again, Sills comes in with a relatively restrained but still burning turn of his own.

1. Minor Change 
2. For Jane
3. Terryís Blues
4. Prana  
5. Cecilís Bridge 
6. You Are So Beautiful 
7. Dial D for Dial 

Liam Sillery: trumet/flugelhorn; 
David Sills: tenor saxopone; 
Jesse Stacken: piano; 
Thomas Morgan: bass; 
Richard Huntley: drums.
Original Release Date: July 19, 2005 - Label: OA2 Records

Minor Changes
Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ignacio Berroa: Codes (Blue Note - 2006)

Ignacio Berroa spreads contemporary Latin jazz before him everywhere he goes. It's the music of Dizzy Gillespie, the music of Mario Bauza, and the music of Gonzalo Rubalcaba, David Sánchez, Ed Simon, John Patitucci, and the other members of Berroa's band.Along with a vibrant Latin jazz rhythm and accented melodies, the ensemble adds invigorating solos to its successful recipe. Berroa and his rhythm mates hold down the group's foundation while two superb saxophonists and two creative pianists stretch the limits of their range.What are the Codes that Berroa has chosen to express by his album's title?That's easy. He's surely referring to the universal language. His music reflects the traditional music of Cuba and Africa, the big band music of Dizzy Gillespie, the Brazilian folk essence of Antonio Carlos Jobim, and the modern jazz of Chick Corea and Wayne Shorter, as well as the contemporary freshness that exists all over the club, festival and concert circuit today. Jazz is a coded language, and Berroa's ensemble communicates in that medium fluently.La Comparsa and "Joao Su Merced dig down for a traditional look at the roots of Latin jazz. "Matrix finds the ensemble flowing with a sound that is very much of today. Pinocchio also presents a contemporary look at the heightened spirits of Latin jazz, while "Partido Alto and "Realidad y Fantasia flow smoothly with the kind of ballad qualities that remain timeless.Berroa closes with a lovely bolero that features Sánchez, Simon and Patitucci in a musical conversation that warms the heart. Throughout his session, the veteran drummer shares the spotlight and propels his stellar ensemble with the use of a language that they all understand fluently: jazz.

All About Jazz - Jim Santella)
1 - Matrix 7:39
2 - Joao Su Merced 9:39
3 - La Comparsa 9:50
4 - Partido Alto 6:07
5 - Realidad Y Fantasia 8:21
6 - Pinocchio 6:26
7 - Woody 'n' You 8:21
8 - Inutil Paissagem (Useless Landscapes) 6:40

Ignacio Berroa:  drums
Gonzalo Rubalcaba:  piano, synth.
David Sanchez:  tenor sax
Edward Simon:  piano
John Patitucci:   bass
Giovanni Hidalgo:  congas
Original Release Date: 2006 - Label: Blue Note Records

Ignacio Berroa:  Codes
Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dan Faulk: Spirits In The Night (Fresh Sound Records - 1996)

Dan Faulk is known as one of the rising young stars in the world of tenor and soprano saxophone. As a performer he has toured and recorded with the J. J. Johnson Quintet, Rufus Reid's TanaReid Quintet, and released two CD's under his own leadership. In addition to his formal studies at William Paterson and Rutgers, he had extended apprenticeships with jazz legends Barry Harris and Benny Golson, and also studied with Bill Pierce and Joe Lovano. A composer, arranger, and conductor, Dan Faulk is also a jazz scholar, one of the first recipients of Rutgers University's pioneering M.A. in Jazz History and Research. In the words of jazz historian Lewis Porter, Dan Faulk is "a phenomenal musician, a soulful improvisor and composer, a thoughtful teacher, and a real intellectual - quite a rare combination!"

1. The Night Has A Thousand Eyes
2. The Heart Blues
3. Angel Eyes
4. Stop ´n´ Go
5. Peace Waltz
6. Our Love Is Here To Stay
7. Three Cheers For Paul Chambers
8. But Beatiful
9. Black Orpheus
10. Those Dirty Blues
11. Spirits In The Night

Dan Faulk: Soprano & Tenor Sax 
Joe Martin: Bass
Jordi Rossy: Drums
Myron Walden: Alto Sax
Recorded in New York, 1996
Original Release Date: November 30, 1996 - Label: Fresh Sound Records

Spirits In The Night
Friday, February 24, 2012

Anton Schwartz - Radiant Blue (Anton Jazz - 2006)

Radiant Blue could make an excellent introduction to jazz for someone on the outside looking for a way in. Because it is based on the blues, it is accessible. And because tenor saxophonist Anton Schwartz and his capable sidemen are deadly serious about their fun, there is enough musical substance here to make sure the jazz neophyte is exposed to the real thing.
Those sidemen are guitarist Peter Bernstein, pianist Taylor Eigsti, bassist John Shifflett and drummer Tim Bulkley. They are all adept at staying in the pocket while stretching it. As for Schwartz, he has a classic clear-throated tenor sound and kicks like a mule. His zeal to communicate is fervent yet sophisticated.
Some of Schwartz’ blues grooves and melodies (“Phantom Dance,” “Blues for Now”) sound generic (although carried off with flair). More often, his tunes reveal the vast variety of emotional and intellectual content that can be expressed in the 12-bar-blues form. “Marcel Marceau” is music about silence, full of spaces. “Life & Times” is a floating suspension that eventually (powered by Eigsti) takes off and flies. A blues concept of Jobim’s “Wave” goes through a similar pattern, where the intensity sneaks up on you.
Those aforementioned neophytes with DVD-Audio capability in their systems should go for the high-resolution special DVD-Audio edition of Radiant Blue.

1. Phantom Dance
2. Alligator Strut
3. Wave
4. Slightly Off Course
5. Life & Times
6. Marcel Marceau
7. Blues For Now
8. Groundsurge
9. Hooking Up
10. Sneaking Suspicion

Anton Schwartz (tenor saxophone)  
Peter Bernstein (guitar) 
John Shifflett (bass) 
Taylor Eigsti (piano) 
Tim Bulkley (drums)
Recording information: Bay Records, Berkeley, CA (12/05/2005-12/06/2005).
DVD musical (8 août 2006)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Myron walden - This Way (Fresh Sound New Talent - 2005)

Myron Walden is a refreshing, individualistic alto saxophonist, perhaps the most original player on his instrument to come along since Kenny Garrett. Walden's sound, plaintive, shot through with a bluesy wail, is fully his own; there's nothing quite like it in jazz today. He takes lots of chances, often leaping outside the changes or bursting into swirling clusters of notes, but he never forgets to swing.
On This Way, Walden uses an instrumentation he apparently favors: a front line of alto and tenor sax and a rhythm section of bass and drums, with no chording instrument. Jimmy Greene brings his husky-toned tenor to these proceedings, adding much to the music. He swings hard and his rapport with Walden is deep. On "Sooner Than Later," a burning variation on "Sweet Georgia Brown," Greene pounces on Walden's final phrase as if he had played it himself, then charges into his own solo. The moment is electrifying and the continuity of musical thought is quite impressive.
In addition, this album benefits from Walden's pen. It consists entirely of Walden originals, all of which manifest structural and harmonic interest. There's an emphasis on cooking, with medium and fast tempos predominating. There are some Latin grooves, lots of hard swing, and only one ballad, the poignant "Too Far To Turn Back." Walden and Greene devour this material, roaring through their solos and never letting up. When Walden begins his solo on the fast "3 Up 4 Down," bassist Vicente Archer lays out, leaving only drummer E.J. Strickland to accompany the altoist. Walden and Strickland rise to the occasion with powerful interaction, generating heat, light, and excitement.
(All About Jazz - Marc Meyers)

1. What Goes Up Must Come Down 8:18
2. Right Here 7:46
3. 3 Up 4 Down 6:34
4. Swamp Thing 6:30
5. Too Far to Turn Back 2:42
6. Like I See It 7:15
7. Sooner Than Later 7:49
8. Descent From The Clouds 5:46

Myron Walden: alto sax; 
Jimmy Greene: tenor sax; 
Vicente Archer: bass; 
E.J. Strickland: drums.
All compositions by Myron Walden.
Recorded at Acoustic Recording, Brooklyn, New York (#1,2,3,6,8) and at Estudi Moraleda, Barcelona Spain (#4,5,7), 2003.
Produced by David Weiss and Myron Walden.
Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent 

Nicholas Payto - Into The Blue (Nonesuch Records - 2008)

This is a strange mixture of an album. It includes passages of extraordinary and singular beauty and others of noodling anonymity. Practically all of the interest lies in trumpeter Nicholas Payton's performances; most of the blandness comes from his band. The two best tracks, "Drucilla" and "Chinatown," are so exquisitely gorgeous that they almost make up for the grey stuff. But they're outnumbered and it's a tough battle.
The approximate dividing line is keyboard player Kevin Hays. Along with bassist Vicente Archer and percussionist Daniel Sadownick, Hays was a member of the larger group featured on Payton's previous album, the retro-fusion Sonic Trance (Warners, 2003). When Hays is on acoustic piano here, he brings something compelling to the party; when he's on Fender Rhodes, as he mostly is, he sticks to funk-lite vamps and ostinatos, and drifts his way through an overabundance of solo time as though on autopilot. He does this so unvaryingly that one can only imagine Payton approved.
The slow, lonesome "Drucilla," the opening track, raises expectations heavenwards. It's in four distinct sub-sections. The first, Payton's theme statement and embellishment, is of almost unbearable poignancy; the second, where the bass and drums get busier behind Hays' muscular solo, is more assertive; the final two sections, accompanying Payton's extended solo, each raise the temperature further. Payton's improvisation, which begins in reflective, sorrowful mode, concludes with passion, fire and optimism. The mourner transforms into a celebrant, and your spirits rise alongside him.
"Chinatown" and "The Crimson Touch," the first a bittersweet ballad, the second a skittish, off-center, mid tempo swinger, are the other two acoustic tracks, and almost as memorable.
On the other tracks, Hays and the band only really get out of their comfort zone on "Nida." An Eastern-tinged, upbeat jam revisiting trumpeter Donald Byrd's and pianist Herbie Hancock's jazz-funk templates of the 1970s, it features Hays' most engaging electric solo, and an expansive, solid improvisation from Payton over a conventionally swinging middle section. Too often, on the remaining tracks, Payton's solo flights seem entirely independent of the musicians behind him.
If Payton was to focus on the qualities which make "Drucilla," "Chinatown" and "The Crimson Touch" the creative triumphs that they are, we would have an album of truly majestic stature. He's demonstrably got it in him. Maybe next time.
(All About Jazz)

1. Drucilla
2. Let It Ride
3. Triptych
4. Chinatown
5. The Crimson Touch
6. The Backward Step
7. Nida
8. Blue
9. Fleur de Lis
10. The Charleston Hop (The Blue Steps)

Nicholas Payton (vocals, trumpet, synthesizer); 
Kevin Hays (piano, electric piano, Fender Rhodes piano, keyboards); 
Vicente Archer (acoustic bass); 
Marcus Gilmore (drums); 
Daniel Sadownick (percussion).
Release on April 15th, 2008 - Label: Nonesuch Records

It's Here
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Victor Goines - Love Dance (Criss Cross - 2007)

On his Criss Cross debut, NEW ADVENTURES, Victor Goines, a long standing member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Director of the Jazz Department at New York's prestigious Juilliard School of Music, presented his swaggering, romantic approach to the tenor saxophone and his pure melodic concept on the soprano. On LOVE DANCE, the excellent follow-up, joined by pianist Peter Martin, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Greg Hutchinson, each an A-lister of modern swing, Goines focuses more on the clarinet, which he plays with assured virtuosity and creative flair - he developed an international reputation on the instrument during his tenure with the Wynton Marsalis Septet - but also uncorks a series of authoritative tenor improvisations.
Criss Cross Records

1. Wonderful, Wonderful (Ben Raleigh / Sherman Edwards)
2. Love Dance (Ivan Lins / Vitor Martins)
3. New Arrival (James Black)
4. Cootie (Victor Goines)
5. Sunrise (Victor Goines)
6. Confirmation (Charlie Parker)
7. Midnight (Victor Goines)
8. Out The Box (Victor Goines)
9. Home (Victor Goines)

Victor Goines - soprano & tenor sax, clarinet
Peter Martin - piano
Reuben Rogers - bass guitar
Gregory Hutchinson - drums
Recorded January 7, 2007 in Brooklyn, NY, USA by Max Ross

It's Here
Monday, February 20, 2012

Clarence Penn - Penn's Landing (Criss Cross - 1996)

Working with Warner Jams at the IAJE Convention Clarence Penn proved himself to be a consummate slickster at the drum kit-never overbearing, busy, or too loud, his accents, support work and the brief breaks he was afforded proved that in spades. Now comes his debut recording as a leader and the recorded work bears out his gifts as well. Penn's Landing is a date crackling with fire right from the jump, though this is not a case of fire for the sake of firing. No carpet bomber, Penn knows how to carefully place his grenades; check out his exchange with trumpeter John Swana about 2/3 of the way through Swana's solo on Ron Blake's "RE: Evolution."
Blake on tenor sax and bassist Rodney Whitaker round out Penn's complimentary cast. The Penn-written title track with its shades of "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise," is one of those loping grooves perfect for tenor players that is remindful of John Coltrane and Elvin Jones' partnership. This is likely the best recorded showcase Ron Blake has received yet.

1. C.P. Time (Clarence Penn)
2. Re: Evaluation (Ron Blake)
3. April's Fool (Ron Blake)
4. Penn's Landing (Clarence Penn)
5. One For Tony (Rodney Whitaker)
6. Quick Fix (John Swana)
7. Barbara Anastasia (Clarence Penn)


Clarence Penn (drums); 
Ron Blake (tenor saxophone); 
John Swana (trumpet, flugel horn); 
Rodney Whitaker (bass).

Recorded December 29, 1996 in New York City, NY, USA by Max Bolleman

It's Here
Sunday, February 19, 2012

Manuel Valera: Currents - (Maxjazz Records - 2009)

Manuel Valera's fifth CD as a leader is a mix of standards, time-tested jazz compositions, and originals, with a trio including bassist James Genus and drummer Ernesto Simpson. The Cuban pianist/keyboardist is by no means exclusively a Latin jazz stylist, as evidenced by his driving post-bop treatment of "How Deep Is the Ocean," which has long lines reminiscent of Chick Corea, and an explosive take of Thelonious Monk's "We See." A hint of the influence of Bill Evans shines through in Valera's lyrical setting of "I Loves You, Porgy." The pianist also holds the music of the late Kenny Kirkland special, not only by offering a brisk Latin arrangement of Kirkland's infrequently performed "Dienda" but also with his brooding original "Ode to Kenny." The leader adds electric keyboards on several of his compositions, including the tense Latin/fusion opener "Numerico" and the introspective "Hindsight." This is yet another excellent outing for the up-and-coming pianist.

1. Numerico M. Valera
2. How Deep Is the Ocean I. Berlin
3. Ballad for Anyone M. Valera
4. We See T. Monk
5. I Fall in Love Too Easily S. Cahn
6. Ode to Kenny (Dedicated to Kenny Kirkland) M. Valera
7. Dienda K. Kirkland
8. Hindsight M. Valera
9. I Loves You Porgy G. Gershwin
10. Currents M. Valera

Manuel Valera (p,key)
James Genus (b,el-b)
Ernesto Simpson (d)
Released on October 6th, 2009 - Label: MAXJAZZ Records

It's Here
Saturday, February 18, 2012

Andreas Oberg – Six String Evolution (Resonance Records - 2010)

At the age of 18, Andreas made a name for himself on the vibrant Swedish music scene performing with many of Sweden's top artists and he was also admitted to the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm.
During recent years Andreas Oberg has been working with his own projects as well as performing with artists in many different styles such as Les Paul, Toots Thielemans, Bireli Lagrene, Larry Coryell, Barbara Hendricks, John Pisano, Martin Taylor, Stuart Hamm, Danny Gottlieb, Jimmy Rosenberg, Frank Vignola, Bucky Pizzarelli, Howard Alden, Ulf Wakenius, Joey DeFrancesco, Mark Murphy, Stochelo Rosenberg, Angelo Debarre, and Florin Nicolescu just to name a few.
Andreas Oberg has mastered many different styles and his playing has impressed listeners all over the world, with his energy and technique. Andreas has performed on TV & radio and has also been featured in several international music/guitar magazines. Andreas has made 3 solo albums and one DVD. His last solo album was released on Resonance Records (US) in March 2008.
With Six String Evolution, one of Sweden's brightest jazz stars returns to Resonance. Six String Evolution is an all-star recording with John Patitucci, Lewis Nash, Dave Kikoski, and Darmon Meader. This is the follow up release to Oberg's acclaimed Resonance debut, My Favorite Guitars.
(All About jazz)

1. Papa Gato (P. Sanchez)  
2. Madame Grenouille (J. Keezer)  
3. We'll Be Together Again (Laine, Fischer)  
4. Archibald's Dance (D. Badila)  
5. From the Bottom of My Heart (S. Wonder)  
6. Meu Bom Velho (My Dear Sir) (M. Resende)  
7. Brother to Brother (G. Vanelli)  
8. Amar a Maria (To Love Maria) (F. Machado)  
9. Compared to What (G. McDaniels)  
10. Dawn Ballad (A. Öberg)  
11. Maniac (M. Sembello)

Andreas Öberg: electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
Darmon Meader: saxophones, vocals
Filo Machado: vocals, vocal percussion
Dave Kikoski: piano, Rhodes
John Patitucci: acoustic & electric bass
Decebal Badila: electric bass
Lewis Nash: drums
Charlie Bisharat: violins
Enzo Todesco: percussion
Antal Steixner: cajon
Marius Preda: cymbalom
John Beasley: synthesizer, percussion, vibes solo
Released on May 11th, 2010 - Resonance Records

It's Here
Friday, February 17, 2012

Arturo Sandoval - A Time For Love (Concord Records - 2010)

Years ago, on The Tonight Show, host Johnny Carson asked guest Frank Sinatra what music he enjoyed listening to when "in those romantic moments." Sinatra, to the host's surprise, said he particularly enjoyed the hearing works of Debussy, Ravel and other Impressionists and Romantics. With A Time for Love, trumpet legend Arturo Sandoval steps away from the fast, hard-swinging Afro-Cuban and bebop con fuego jazz for which he is known and delivers a 14-cut romantic love letter con alma. This is fine listening, no matter what the moment might be or what Sinatra—who certainly knew his trumpeters—might have enjoyed.
With A Time for Love, Sandoval once again grabs the crown as a king of the trumpet. Leveraging luscious, intelligently refined orchestral arrangements by string wizard Jorge Calandrelli and the always terrific Shelly Berg, Sandoval uses his mile-wide sound, engaging tone and utter mastery of dynamic and melodic nuance to envelop these Great American Songbook, popular and classical selections in warmth and soul.
Since Charlie Parker did it decades ago with Charlie Parker with Strings (Mercury, 1950), jazz musicians have placed themselves in more sedate environments, emulating concert artists by being accompanied by string orchestras. Clifford Brown was one of the first pure jazz trumpeters to do so. Wynton Marsalis and Roy Hargrove followed decades later. More commercially, the Jackie Gleason albums which featured Bobby Hackett's sound did same.
For a jazz player working in this type of environment, one of the displays of maturity is restraint: the ability to take things down tempo-wise, play with the lyric and through the melody—to weave wonder with sound. Sandoval does all of this brilliantly. And, as Louis Armstrong, Bunny Berigan, Chet Baker and Jack Sheldon also did, Sandoval also sings ("Estate").
Chris Botti, another trumpet star who has played the ballad and romance game well, appears as a guest artist. Monica Mancini, a marvelous vocal talent who doesn't play on her pedigree, offers a very nice rendition of "Oblivion."
There could be a tendency to schmaltz it up in the orchestral scenario, falling prey to saccharine sliding strings and unnecessary overplay. Not here. Sandoval commands the horn and the date, emitting nothing but soul through his buttery flugelhorn, open horn and Harmon-muted trumpet. The arrangements frame him marvelously throughout. The rhythm section is beautifully understated, yet musically supportive, with Berg's piano a golden touch.
The only minor critique is the CD's enormity—twelve selections plus two bonus selections (which feature pianists Berg and Kenny Barron, respectively). While the music is terrific, it's a bit too much of a very good thing.
A Time for Love is an elegant, beautiful work of musical artistry by a true master. 
(All About Jazz - Nicholas F. Mondello)

1. Apres Un Reve 
2. Emily 
3. Speak Low 
4. Estate 
5. A Time For Love 
6. Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte (feat. Chris Botti) 
7. I Loves You Porgy 
8. Oblivion (How To Say Goodbye) 
9. Pavane 
10. Smile 
11. All The Way 
12. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes 
13. Windmills Of Your Mind 
14. Every Time We Say Goodbye 

Personnel:  Arturo Sandoval : trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals; Shelly Berg: piano; Chuck Berghofer: bass; Gregg Field: drums, percussion; Chris Botti: trumpet (6); Monica Mancini: vocals (8); Kenny Barron: piano (14).Jorge Calandrelli: conductor; Bruce Dukov: concertmaster; Natalie Legget: violin; Phillip Levy: violin; Charlie Bisharat: violin; Darius Campo: violin; Liane Mautner: violin; David Ewart: violin; Tamara Hatwan: violin; Razdan Kuyumijian: violin; Searmi Park: violin; Songa Lee: violin; Kevin Connolly: violin; Tiffany Yi Hu: violin; Robin Olson: violin; Darren McCann: viola; Harry Shirinian: viola; Keith Greene: viola; Alma Fernandez: viola; Dennis Karmazin: cello; Vanessa Freebairn-Smith: cello; Trevor Handy: cello; Christine Ermacoff: cello.
Released  on May 11th, 2010 - Label: Concord Records

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bill Frisell: All We Are Saying..... (Savoy Jazz- 2011)

Jazz guitarist Bill Frisell delves into the music of John Lennon with 2011's All We Are Saying.... A longtime fan of the Beatles singer/songwriter, Frisell (along with violinist Jenny Scheinman, guitarist Greg Leisz, bassist Tony Scherr, and drummer Kenny Wollesen) tackles such classics as "Across the Universe," "Imagine," "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," "Julia," "Beautiful Boy," and others. Hewing closely to Lennon's original versions, Frisell and company find ways to explore the melodies and emotional content of Lennon's songs without overtly changing the harmonic content of the material.
CD Universe

Track listing:
1. Across the Universe
2. Revolution
3. Nowhere Man
4. Imagine
5. Please Please Me
6. You've Got Hide Your Love Away
7. Hold On
8. In My Life
9. Come Together
10. Julia
11. Woman
12. #9 Dream
13. Love
14. Beautiful Boy
15. Mother
16. Give Peace a Chance
17. Strawberry Fields

Bill Frisell (guitar); 
Greg Leisz (acoustic guitar, steel guitar); 
Jenny Scheinman (violin); 
Kenny Wollesen (drums).
Release Date: September 27, 2011 - Label: Savoy Jazz

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ambrose Akinmusire – When The Heart Emerges Glistening (2011 - Blue Note)

A new generation of jazz musicians, unimpeded by the idiomatic constraints of tradition, has come of age since the end of the '80s-era culture wars. One such free-thinking artist is young trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, who was first discovered by saxophonist Steve Coleman at the tender age of 19. When The Heart Emerges Glisteningis his first recording for Blue Note, following his 2008 debut, Prelude...To Cora (Fresh Sound New Talent).
The session exudes a hearty romanticism, with Akinmusire's seasoned quintet delivering soulful melodies and rich harmonies that unflinchingly embrace the emotive fervor of free jazz. Blending sultry R&B motifs and driving hard bop riffs with tortuous post bop themes, their efforts are adventurous yet accessible, conveying bold expressionism tempered by dulcet beauty.
The opener, "Confessions To My Unborn Daughter," essays the quintet's strengths. Akinmusire introduces the piece a cappella, with his band mates entering, one by one, until the tune reaches a fevered pitch. Tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III and Akinmusire alternate solos, shadowing each other's lines with an uncanny familiarity; their decade plus spent playing together is revealed in their simultaneous ascension into ravishingly beautiful cacophony.
While Akinmusire and Smith elevate the bandstand with their spirited interplay, the rhythm section of Gerald Clayton (piano), Harish Ragahvan (bass) and Justin Brown (drums) fashions an endlessly shifting mosaic of tasteful accents, pulsating downbeats and clever harmonic interpolations. Expanding and contracting tempos and time signatures throughout the date, they ply fluid variations on traditional trio dynamics with ceaseless forward momentum.
After the rousing opener, the band tears through the similarly energetic "Jaya," before revealing a more introspective side. The ethereal "Henya" demonstrates the quintet's capacity for lush cinematic detail, with an effervescent guest spot from producer Jason Moran on Fender Rhodes. The remaining pieces veer between similar extremes, from the punchy swinger "Far But Few Between" and anthem-like "The Walls of Lechuguilla," to the simmering ballad "With Love" and the rhapsodic meditation "Tear Stained Suicide Manifesto." Only "My Name Is Oscar" falls short of expectations—a conceptually interesting drum duet/spoken word tribute to Oscar Grant that is well-intentioned, but emotionally detached. More successful is Akinmusire's duet with Clayton on the standard "What's New," which clarifies the trumpeter's position in the jazz continuum as a forward thinking individualist with deep roots in the tradition.
Bridging the divide between inside and outside aesthetics, Akinmusire's virtuosity encompasses numerous approaches, from poignant lyricism to abstract tonal manipulations. His ability to seamlessly integrate extended techniques into architecturally sound statements is one of the date's most compelling features, as he effortlessly bends, blurs and distorts notes between velvety consonance and bristling dissonance.
When The Heart Emerges Glistening is a significant statement from an up and coming artist whose impressive abilities as an improviser and composer suggest potential greatness in the future.
(All About Jazz -  Troy Collins)

01. Confessions To My Unborn Daughter
02. Jaya
03. Henya Bass Intro
04. Henya
05. Far But Few Between
06. With Love
07. Regret (No More)
08. Ayneh (Cora)
09. My Name is Oscar
10. The Walls Of Lechuguilla
11. What’s New
12. Tear Stained Suicide Manifesto
13. Ayneh (Campbell)

Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet (1-2, 4-7, 10-13) celeste (8), voice (9);
Walter Smith III: tenor saxophone (1-2, 4, 6, 10, 12);
Gerald Clayton: piano (1-2, 4, 6-8, 10-11, 13);
Jason Moran: Fender Rhodes (4, 12);
Harish Raghavan: bass (1-6, 10, 12); 
      Justin Brown: drums (1-2, 4-6, 9, 10, 12).

Original Release Date: April 5th 2011 - Label: Blue Note Records
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Monday, February 13, 2012

Reeds & Deeds: Cookin' (Criss Cross - 2006)

In the grand tradition of such inspired pairings as Johnny Griffin and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis or Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, tenor titans Eric Alexander and Grant Stewart team up again as Reeds and Deeds for a new outing that again highlights the saxophonists' complimentary styles.
Ably supported by David Hazeltine, John Webber, and Joe Farnsworth the pair covers a smart mix of standards from the bossa strains of "Black Orpheus" to the soulful Ammons classic "Hittin the Jug".

01. She (George Shearing)
02. So In Love (Cole Porter)
03. Never Let Me Go (Evans / Livingstone)
04. Black Orpheus (Antonio Carlos Jobim / Luis Bonfa)
05. Hittin’ The Jug (Gene Ammons)
06. Trouble Is A Man (Alec Wilder)
07. Who Can I Turn To (Anthony Newley / Leslie Bricusse)
08. Passport (Charlie Parker)

Eric Alexander (tenor saxophone); 
Grant Stewart (tenor saxophone); 
David Hazeltine (piano); 
Joe Farnsworth (drums).
Released on September 19th, 2006 - Label: Criss Cross
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ben Wolfe - No Strangers Here (MAXJAZZ - 2008)

Ever since the seminal Charlie Parker With Strings (Mercury 1950), numerous artists have attempted to add symphonic strings to jazz ensembles. Some have succeeded, but many have failed to capture a proper balance, resulting in string arrangements that sound superfluous.
Bassist Ben Wolfe's fifth album, No Strangers Here, is one example of a successful merger of two worlds—acoustic jazz quartet and classical string quartet. A compelling bassist, Wolfe came to prominence as a sideman for Harry Connick Jr., Wynton Marsalis and Diana Krall. He currently teaches at Julliard and is a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
Augmenting a jazz combo with strings is not a novel idea for Wolfe, whose previous album, My Kinda Beautiful (Planet Arts Records, 2004) featured a brass heavy jazz octet with an eight piece string section. An extended suite, "From Here I See," was commissioned by the Rubin Museum and revolved around a jazz quartet/string quartet combo. Another long-form composition, "Contradiction: Music for Sextet" was the result of a commission from Chamber Music America.
Wolfe's core quartet features saxophonist Marcus Strickland, pianist Luis Perdomo and drummer Greg Hutchinson, all rising stars on the New York scene who execute Wolfe's tightly arranged compositions with palpable commitment and panache. In addition, Wolfe regularly augments the quartet with a traditional string quartet, as well as a handful of special guests.
At their most vigorous, Wolfe's pieces recall the forward thinking hard-bop of a mid-60s Blue Note date. "The Minnick Rule" and "Circus" are labyrinthine swingers filled with hairpin rhythmic shifts and understated string accents that resound with dramatic flair. A nostalgic air often permeates the session; the subtly integrated strings reinforce Wolfe's romantic side by adding a layer of euphonious lyricism to his sumptuous writing, most notably on the title track and "Blue Envy."
The special guest appearances are well integrated. Terell Stafford's buttery trumpet soars on the spirited opening cut and offers supportive nuance on the wistful closer. Saxophonist Branford Marsalis and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts provide muscle to the escalating drama of the noirish "The Filth" while Marsalis' soprano waxes lyrical on the effervescent "Milo." Victor Goines enriches the lush "Blue Envy" with his poetic bass clarinet.
The album's string quartet tour-de-force, "Rosy & Zero," regales with expansive sonorities. Alternating austere chamber music inflected excursions with blistering post-bop interludes, the piece unfolds like a long lost, albeit highly successful, Third Stream experiment.
From bittersweet nostalgia to cinematic drama, No Strangers Here encapsulates an array of moods, textures and dynamics. Reminiscent of the string augmented ensembles of Max Roach and Charles Mingus, Wolfe's double quartet emboldens the jazz tradition with neo-classical overtones, yet never fails to swing. To quote Wynton Marsalis, "Ben Wolfe swings with authority."
All About Jazz (Troy Collins)

1  The Minnick Rule Wolfe 7:20
2  No Strangers Here Wolfe 2:31
3  Milo Wolfe 3:52
4  No Pat No Wolfe 3:34
5  The Filth Wolfe 7:55
6  Circus Wolfe 3:28
7  Blue Envy Wolfe 5:29
8  Rosy & Zero Wolfe 7:17
9  Jackie Mac Wolfe 3:42
10  Groovy Medium Wolfe 4:41

Ben Wolfe: bass;
Marcus Strickland: tenor and soprano saxophone;
Luis Perdomo: piano;
Greg Hutchinson: drums;
Cyrus Beroukhim: violin;
Jesse Mills: violin;
Kenji Bunch: viola;
Wolfram Koessell: cello;
Branford Marsalis: tenor and soprano saxophone (3, 5);
Terell Stafford: trumpet (1, 10);
Victor Goines: bass clarinet (7);
Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums (5).
(Recorded Feb 6-7, 2007 - 2008) CD MAXJAZZ 140605

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bruce Getz - Shut Wide Open (1997 - Double-Time Records)

 "Shut Wide Open" showcases the strength and vitality of three such Boston musicians. Bassist Bruce Gertz, trumpeter Ken Cervenka and tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi have worked together in various settings since the 1970s. Their rhythm section on this session is completed by pianist Bruce Barth and drummer Jorge Rossy. Both players spent time at Berklee in the 1980s and have maintained important connections on the Boston jazz scene while developing their careers in New York and beyond.
Gertz, who has developed award-winning skills as a composer as well as a solid player with a long list of credits, has three previous excellent quintet albums under his belt (Blueprint on the Evidence label, Third Eye and Discovery Zone for RAM). All included Bergonzi, a spirited modernist whose New York credits included several years in Dave Brubeck’s quartet. Other better known tenor greats, including Joe Lovano and Michael Brecker, consider him a role model.  “Jerry’s playing is full of spirit. He has a remarkable sense of time and rhythm. He plays some of the most interesting articulations and phrases that I’ve ever heard,” Gertz says. “He’s at the top of his game. He is constantly practicing, constantly growing and improving. He is always reaching for new things, and is helping me to do the same.” One of Jerry's groups features the likes of Dan Wall and Adam Nussbaum recorded on the Double-Time Records label, Just Within DTRCD-127 and Lost In The Shuffle.
As he put together this new quintet, Gertz asked the under-recorded Cervenka to be his co-leader. These longtime friends met on their first day of school at Berklee in 1972. Cervenka has taught full-time at Berklee since 1980, offering private lessons as well as courses on improvisation and the music of Miles Davis. “I’ve always loved Ken’s playing,” Gertz explains. “He is so good and really hasn’t been heard much beyond Boston. I wanted more people to hear his playing and his music.”
Barth spent several years on the road with trumpeter Terence Blanchard. He is coming into his own as a bandleader with several fine recordings. Barth's release, Don't Blame Me DTRCD-129, is also on the Double-Time Records label where he is featured in a trio setting with Ed Howard and Billy Drummond. Rossy’s musical associations include work with David Sanchez, Brad Mehldau, and Seamus Blake’s band, the Bloomdaddies.
Four of the players brought music to the studio for this session and it blends well. Gertz, for one,  said writing and arranging for the harmonic interplay between Bergonzi’s tenor and Cervenka’s trumpet “makes for a beautiful sonority. I think of my music as modern, but there is no doubt that I am rooted in the old Coltrane, Miles, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, Charles Mingus records.”  The depth, the spirit and the melodic and harmonic inventiveness in this music may remind some listeners of trumpeter and composer Tom Harrell’s music. Any Harrell fans out there will understand this compliment. This quintet’s talent and material strives for the same level of excellence.
The way these players masterfully jumped into the material and found ways to make it their own, speaks to the caliber of talent and the essence of improvisation. “The aspect of seeing a tune for the first time and playing it down, is as fresh an improvisation as you’ll get,” Cervenka says. “When you don’t know a tune and don’t have expectations, it can make for some nice solos.” In other words, when they put it down on paper, they have a plan, a goal. When they join forces with their instruments, their instincts and their solos, they bring it to life.
Ken Franckling

                                                                       1. Letter from Ghana (B. Gertz) (7:40)
2. Toots (J. Bergonzi) (8:21)
3. Shut Wide Open (K. Cervenka) (6:20)
4. Tenerife (B. Gertz) (8:52)
5. Pluto Was Here (B. Gertz) (7:07)
6. I See You (J. Bergonzi) (4:10)
7. Booga Chacha Lu (K. Cervenka) (5:34)
8. Blueprint (B. Gertz) (5:10)
9. Revolving Door (B. Barth) (10:27)

Ken Cervenka (trumpet)
Jerry Bergonzi (tenor saxophone)
Bruce Barth (piano)
Bruce Gertz (bass)
Jorge Rossy (drums)
Recorded at Berklee A Studio, Boston, MA, 6. & 7. 1. 1997.
Double-Time Records 132

It's here:  Shut Wide Open

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