Monday, May 27, 2019

George's Briefs!

The Briefs:  

Native Soul: What Is That Isn't?
Here's a hard boppin' quartet which, in three of the eleven selections heard here, becomes an equally hard boppin' quintet. I am unfamiliar with all of them but that makes no difference. Their program of mostly original compositions includes exhilarating solo work, strong melodic content and, by the way, they swing hard!
Cellar Music; 2019; appx. 72 min.

Lined With A Groove; Pete Coco, bass
This CD marks a debut for New York bassist Pete Coco and his trio. It consists of thirteen tunes, nearly all of which are composed by Coco's bass playing heroes, names such as Chambers, Brown, Mitchell and Hinton, among others. The trio's pianist, Sullivan Fortner, adds dramatic elegance, and veteran drummer Matt Wilson brings his usual expertise to the session. Great trio stuff throughout!
Self-produced; 2018; times not indicated.

Infinity; Tom Harrell, trumpet and flugelhorn
This CD continues Tom Harrell's lengthy association with High Note Records---over ten albums to date. In this case he opts for Charles Altura's guitars (rather than a piano), and the tenor sax of Mark Turner on ten Harrell originals. Together, they once again spotlight his entire scope. Harrell is and always has been a major innovator and influence in the jazz art.
High Note; 2019; appx. 66 min.

Jim Snidero "Waves Of Calm"

Alto marvel Jim Snidero is back with us on a new CD comprised of eight tunes, four of which are performed as a quartet. The remaining four add the peerless trumpet of Jeremy Pelt. It seems that more often in the past, leaders will open with tempos other than the usual fast-paced romp. Such is the case with the title tune, "Waves Of Calm". Three additional Snidero creations in various moods demonstrate his composing prowess. Perhaps my preference among the originals was "Dad Song". It boasted a more distinctive melody line than the other three, and it also featured an acoustic piano as opposed to the Rhodes heard on the other originals. Standards beautifully examined here include "Old Folks", "I Fall In Love Too Easily", and a real charmer in "If I Had You". Snidero covers the whole gamut here with his usual vitality, passion and heavy duty musicianship.
Savant; 2019; appx. 50 min.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Peter Clark "The 20-Man Music Machine"

Before you dismiss big bands as obsolete as an eight track, you should understand that there remains to this day scores of dedicated cats who happily participate in big bands much like this one. These guys play invigorating arrangements of standards, originals and even charts based on the changes to familiar works. Two complete examples of the latter would be "All The Things You Aren't" (get it?) and "Swansong" which you'll know from Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake". Other dependables include "Love For Sale", "Caravan", "Autumn Leaves", "Teach Me Tonight", and even "When Johnny Comes Marching Home"! Solid musicianship abounds here and widespread solo work is first class. One can hear that these guys and gals are having a blast! The band reminds me a bit of Rob McConnell's high flying ensembles---where everyone gets a chance to blow and have a grand time doing so. Hats off to those dedicated musicians keeping big bands alive and vibrant. People like THIS.
Summit Records; 2019; appx. 74 min.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Cory Weeds "Live At Frankie's Jazz Club"

I really think that all I'd need to do would be to glance at the names of the composers on this CD and it would get my nod of approval! Consider these names: Lee Morgan, Mal Waldron, Tina Brooks, Jackie McLean, George Robert, and Walter Davis, Jr. All of the titles would probably be termed underdogs. Despite strong melody lines, plenty of solo space and brimming excitement, these are not well known compositions. And what, may I ask, does this tell us of leader and alto star Cory Weeds? It tells us that he's done his jazz history work, resulting in these nine overlooked gems. All of them are potent examples of the jazz book, but perhaps my favorite is a Tina Brooks delight called "Up Tight's Creek". Another winner (among all winners) is "Formidable" by the under appreciated pianist Walter Davis, Jr. Cory's brilliant alto is joined by Terell Stafford, trumpet; Harold Mabern, piano; Michael Glynn, bass; and Julian McDonough, drums. The music just bristles with exuberance and joy. Thank you, Cory, for all you do in both the musical and business aspects of jazz. You are doing all you can to keep the music alive. We all get the message by listening to sessions such as this.
Cellar Live; 2019; appx. 65 min.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Doug McDonald "Organisms"

As you probably know by now I'm not the most wild-eyed fan of organ jazz. But it's easy to recognize when it simply works. Carey Frank is a Hammond B3 player of uncompromising skill and subtlety. And it should be added that leader Doug Mc Donald and Frank are very much on par in communicating musically. Veteran L.A. tenorman Bob Sheppard adds an appropriate bluesy contribution, and drummer Ben Scholz adds supportive zest. The ten tunes examined represent a balanced selection of standards and blues infused choices. Perhaps my two favorites are the mostly overlooked ballads "Sometime Ago" and "Too Late Now"; both are examples of top echelon songwriting. How nice to hear them once again. Other familiar "hits" include "It's You Or No One"; "Poor Butterfly"; "On The Alamo"; a medley of "Nina Never Knew" and "Indian Summer"; and Harry Edison's evergreen, "Centerpiece". Doug McDonald's superb musicianship, along with that of his colleagues, is something to be admired.
Self-produced; probably 2019; appx. 44 min.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Ehud Asherie "Wild Man Blues"

I'm happy to say that Ehud Asherie adheres to a long admired tradition that informs us that it's okay to swing. And on his latest CD he does exactly that on a menu of eight tunes covering a wide array of eras and tempos. He is joined by two highly regarded stars of the New York jazz family in Peter Washington, bass and Rodney Green, drums. There are numerous highlights here, so let's examine at least a few! The title tune, "Wild Man Blues", is a rather rare entry from two jazz giants, Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton. It is followed by one of two Charlie Parker tunes, "Parker's Mood", a staple in the Bird book. The other Parker composition is "Chasin' The Bird", a complex little melody line which, I would imagine, many other pianists would be hesitant to take on. Other favorites include classics "Flying Down To Rio", the exquisite "Autumn Nocturne", and a heartfelt ballad version of "Oh, Lady Be Good". Finally, there's an infrequently heard Dizzy Gillespie tune with a distinctively Latin tinge, and with the odd title "And Then She Stopped". Let's be clear: Ehud Asherie is a piano marvel who has done his homework. He plays all the right notes and no tune worthy of playing is outside his sphere.
Capri Records; 2019; 46:47

Monday, April 15, 2019

Bill Mays "Live At COTA"

Bill Mays is the optimum musician's musician. As a pro for fifty-five years, he's done it all: house parties; cruises; Bar Mitzvahs and weddings; long-standing studio work; accompanist to singers; film and TV composition; extensive arranging; and club and concert gigs---literally all over the world. He's absolutely A+ as a trio leader, and that's how we get to hear him, live at COTA, the Celebration Of The Arts Jazz Festival in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania. He's joined by Martin Wind, bass, and Matt Wilson, drums, at the east coast club, the Dear Head Inn. The trio opens with a "dream" medley of "Darn That Dream", and the famous prom closer (in my era), "Dream". Tender and beautiful stuff. Mays then turns a famous standard on its head with "Sun Of The East", his boppy, infectious tribute to Boston piano icon Lennie Tristano. And speaking of tributes the trio continues with another of them. This time it's Bill Evans who is remembered in another medley with his original "Your Story", and a tear-jerker by Phil Woods titled "Goodbye Mr. Evans". Other choices include another Mays creation called "Next Right Thing---An Extravagant Soft Shoe"; the ballad entry in a sparkling "Never Let Me Go"; and a Wayne Shorter classic, "Infant Eyes". The closer is a surprise and a delight. It's Bob Dorough's spritely, optimistic love song "Nothing Like You". Bill even takes a vocal chorus, and then swings to the end of this bright melody. Bill knows the following remembrance, but perhaps you don't, so here goes. In an interview with Bud Shank, I asked, "if you could only work with one pianist for the rest of your career, who would it be?" Without hesitation, he answered "Bill Mays". 'Nuff said except this: you need to buy this CD!
No Blooze Music; 2019; 55:45.