Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Overjoyed is a completely fitting title for this former Seattle resident who follows the premise that it's okay to swing! Proof lies in Fuller's lengthy associations with Ray Brown and Jeff Hamilton, both of them among jazzdom's swingingest. Fuller is, to my ear, a disciple of a jazz god named Oscar Peterson. On this delicious CD, Fuller honors Oscar with Bossa Beguine, one of Oscar's choice but lesser known compositions. Keeping things in the family, he also pays tribute to bassist Brown with Ray's tune "Lined With A Groove". Among the standards here are delicately rendered choices like "How Long Has This Been Going On", "Mona Lisa", and "Never Let Me Go". And Fuller's trio, with Hassan Shakur on bass and Lewis Nash on drums, also finds time for a few from "The Real Book" in Wes Montgomery's "Fried Pies"; Ray Bryant's rarely heard "Cubano Chant"; and even the jazz hit "Got My Mojo Workin'". A few of Fuller's well crafted originals complete the album of twelve titles in all. As he has done on previous releases, Larry Fuller keeps the faith, playing great tunes within an honored jazz tradition. Capri Records does it again!
Capri Records; 2019; appx. 54 min.
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
I've seen the name Greg Abate (pronounced Ah-BAH-tay) "just around the corner" in the jazz world for a number of years. But this is my first chance to put him to the test. He's a hard bopper to be sure and takes no prisoners in this exuberant live performance. Eight of the eleven tunes are his own creations and he blows four instruments here. I heard the likes of Phil Woods, Pepper Adams, Cannonball Adderley and even Richie Cole all hovering somewhere nearby. The two standards covered here couldn't be more different: Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" and Joe Henderson's "Inner Urge". Abate works flawlessly with a spirited rhythm section led by high flying pianist Tim Ray. The quartet is completed by bassist John Lockwood and drummer Mark Walker. This very versatile bop maven and his colleagues offer a swinging, satisfying performance. It's real deal jazz...no excuses and no pretense!
Whaling City Sound; 2019; 71:59
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Not many would take on a project honoring singer-pianist Shirley Horn. She was the ultimate sensuous straight to your heart singer, and a pianist of great skill and feeling as well. So, Coniece Washington, thank you for honoring the music of Shirley Horn with this exceptional performance. I might add here that her accompaniment, led by the understated piano of Vince Evans, is very much like Shirley's long time trio mates. Some of the deeply felt tunes covered here include "Here's To Life", "The Island", "Dindi", "How Am I To Know", and "A Time For Love", to name a few. Shirley Horn was a jazz goddess with a one of a kind ability to reach the listener with her musical gift. Kudos to Coniece and friends for this lovely session in Shirley's honor.
Self-produced; 2019; appx. 60 min.
Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Most Latin or Brazilian recordings, as beautiful and exciting as they often are, don't get reviewed here because I consider them world or ethnic music rather than jazz. That may be my own "mishegas" but here's one that works as a gorgeous guitar recital of mostly familiar bossa and standard Latin fare like Tico Tico, Delicado, Manha De Carnaval, Samba De Orfeu and others. Barbosa-Lima works to perfection, both individually on some selections, and with fellow guitarist Larry Del Casale on others. The other decision which makes this session differ from most Latin fare, is the exclusion of highly percussive instrumentation. As a result, this comes off more as a very attractive guitar recital than anything else. The group is completed by piano, bass and percussion, but not every guy plays on every track. There are fifteen tunes in all and each is a joy to hear.
Zoho Music; 2019; appx. 51 min.
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
A new name to me, Mike Allen brings forth a very stately tenor sound rich in tradition. In this pianoless setting, Allen joins forces with two monsters of the Gotham midway, Peter Washington on bass and Lewis Nash on drums. You might remember a certain tenor player who was among the pioneers of a pianoless group; his name is Sonny Rollins. Allen and friends open with a Duke Pearson rarity, a medium tempo entry called "Big Bertha". The spirit of John Coltrane lurks nearby, as Allen and company perform a standard associated with Coltrane, "A Weaver Of Dreams", and "Miles' Mode", a Trane original. Two additional standards very reverently approached here are the Gershwin evergreen "Someone To Watch Over Me" and Duke Ellington's classic, "Solitude". Allen also delivers the goods with a few more of his creations in varying tempos and moods. The trio closes with a rarely heard Charles Mingus tune called "Jelly Roll". One might say that Mike Allen combines a sense of jazz and bop tradition with a contemporary creative edge. I think you'll find that it all works out very nicely.
Cellar Live; 2019; appx. 60 min.
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
A few decades back we experienced a renaissance of the ragtime composer Scott Joplin. All these years later we still encounter occasional visits to Joplin's charming and unique compositions. Pianist and educator Tom McDermott has had a nearly lifelong love of the Joplin art. He displays it here on sixteen selections, most of which are Joplin's creations. McDermott explains that he takes some liberties (well chosen, I might add) here and there. Be that as it may, this in its entirety comes off as a lovely tribute to the ragtime master. No doubt the two most familiar tunes are "The Entertainer" and my personal favorite, "The Easy Winners". Tom McDermott honors the genius of Scott Joplin with every note.
Arbors Records; 2019; appx. 72 min.
Wednesday, August 7, 2019
One of the most important contributors to a very cool and restrained form of jazz was the brilliant, blind composer, pianist and teacher, Lennie Tristano. A "school" of players was built in Tristano's shadow, and a few whom he influenced were Warne Marsh, Lee Konitz, Alan Broadbent, and Gary Foster. In the case of Foster, he's been acclaimed as a "do anything" alto player for decades. But early on he came under Lennie's spell. And this two CD set proves that present day Gary Foster is still drawn to the Tristano connection. His tenor playing partner here is Mark Turner. Although he's more contemporary, he demonstrates great skill with the Tristano repertoire. The bassist Putter Smith is a longtime member of the aforementioned Broadbent trio. As such, he too is well acquainted with Lennie's musical journey. The drummer is Joe La Barbera, a master in the LA jazz panorama. Recorded live way back in 2003, this first ever [?] release features long cuts (a total of just seven selections on two CD's!). So if you're a Lennie admirer, you'll recognize titles like Marsh's "Background Music", Konitz's "Subconscious Lee", Tristano's "Lennie's Pennies" and perhaps his best known composition "317 East 32nd Street". Turner and Foster are just about perfect in interplay AND polished and groovy in generous solo adventures. Although Lennie was a pianist, it makes sense that there's no piano here because Marsh and Konitz often recorded in a pianoless setting. Kudos to Tom Burns and Capri Records for this masterful glimpse into a very important segment of jazz history.
Capri Records; 2 CDs; 2019; appx. 52 min. and 37 min.