If like me you place a lot of value in revered tunes from the great American Songbook, you should check out guitarist Andy Pratt's excellent trio. His no frills, no gimmicks approach is completed by bassist Joe Policastro and drummer Phil Gratteau. Pratt sings on many of the selections in a pleasant musicianly manner. You'll know many of the tunes and among them are a few rare surprises, Consider the Gershwin classic “Soon”, the Tony Bennett “semi-hit” “When Joanna Loved Me”, a pop hit from the '50's called “Patricia”, and lots more. I for one would prefer a bit more of Pratt's super guitar work and a little less vocalizing. However, it was an upper to hear these songs from the past. Nice going, guys!
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
There's one new name here and that's the leader and very swinging pianist on the date, Charles Chen. The remaining members of the quartet have honored the jazz art for a long time. Consider Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. But the big pleasant surprise is tenor sax man Ralph Moore. I've wondered about Moore for a couple of decades. He seemed to have disappeared, so what a delight to once again hear his very personal, in-the-pocket tone working with the above named threesome! Pianist Chen shows his prowess both on piano and as a composer on five of the selections heard here. He is featured on the standard “These Foolish Things”, and it's delicate, sensible, and perfect. Among his originals, I was particularly impressed with Chen's “Golson”. It focuses upon a medium tempo delight with a very lyrical melody line---just the way tenor giant Benny Golson used to write them. Really, all the originals were standouts. Other familiar fare are “How About You”, “Be My Love” (remember Mario Lanza?), and Charlie Parker's “Passport”. All told, this is the real thing. Welcome back to Ralph Moore and a high five to Charles Chen and the Washingtons!
Cellar; 2024; appx. 48 min.
Thursday, January 25, 2024
Alphabetically, here are some jazz pianists I admire. Undoubtedly, I've overlooked a few. If you care to add names to this list, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally, Denny Zeitlin
Monday, January 22, 2024
Sunday, January 21, 2024
We're supplying you with a list of partial lyrics to very well known American Songbook classics.How many actual titles can you identify? Hit melodies and lyrics ALL by Cole Porter:
1. only use four letter words
2. mere alcohol
3. we'll meet now and then
4. east, west, north, and the south of you
5. no more blues songs
6. every moment of the year
7. it does seem a shame
8. your face is lovely
9. you're Mickey Mouse
10. use your mentality
Saturday, January 20, 2024
Janet Evra; Meet Me In Paris
As the title suggests, this is a charming recital with an accent on French material. There's a happy musicality here featuring singer and bassist Janet Evra. Both the familiar and the rather obscure are on board. A very hip little ensemble works seamlessly with the leader. This is a definite detour in the jazz world. But it works ever so intimately.
Plum Jazz Records; 2023; times not indicated.
Joe Wittman; Trio Works
Jazz guitar fans need to check this one out! Joe Wittman leads a guitar-bass-drums trio on six of his own compositions plus two standards, “Sweet Lorraine” and Mel Torme's “Born To Be Blue”. Unlike the bevy of funk guitar things out there, this is simply a solid jazz group jammin' for fun.
Sol Records; 2023; appx. 45 min.
Constantine Alexander; Firetet
From the opening notes of this session, you'll understand why it's called Firetet. For the record, this is actually a quintet led by the trumpet and flugelhorn of Constantine Alexander. On seven originals, Alexander and friends present a contemporary hard bop that is challenging, swinging and authentic. Tempos vary, solos are demanding and vigorous, and all these new names are exuberant and fully involved as modern real deal players.
Self-produced; 2023; appx. 52 min.
Thursday, January 18, 2024
Speaking of new names, here's Thomas Linger. His quartet includes some seasoned players who know when to turn on the heat AND when to display a more modest but always swinging approach. Linger himself always sounds impressively right in the center of the jazz tradition. Joined by Peter Bernstein on guitar; Vasushi Nakamura, bass; and Joe Farnsworth, drums, this lyrical quartet tells the truth on nine fresh, invigorating originals and one classic standard: I always love hearing Billy Strayhorn's masterpiece, “Lush Life”. To put it simply, this is yet another jazz triumph for Cellar Music.
Cellar Music; 2023; appx. 56 min.