Here's an amazing mini documentary about Bill Evans. And the only studio session recorded with Jack DeJohnette on drums! The recording is absolutely beautiful. Check this out...
Friday, November 25, 2016
Friday, November 18, 2016
For me, it's a toss-up. But I can come up with three names (more if I were pressed) who might be considered as the top dog guitarist of the mid-20th century era. How about Kenny Burell, Jim Hall and Wes Montgomery? So, how great a delight is it to unearth this previously unissued set recorded live in an Indianapolis jazz club way back in 1959?! To make things even sweeter, the pianist on the date is Chicago hero Eddie Higgins, a real champion of elegance. The rhythm section is completed by drummer Walter Perkins and, despite concerted effort to identify him, an unknown bassist. By 1959, Wes's style was well-defined. It featured distinctive single note passages, subtle chord work, and his trademark brilliance in playing in octave style. Higgins also gets a chance to shine on some solo passages which show his allegiance to standouts like Teddy Wilson and Hank Jones. The tunes, six in all, range from Neal Hefti's "Li'l Darlin'" to Monk's "Ruby, My Dear" to Duke's "Prelude To A Kiss" and more. I for one could listen to music like this all day long and never tire of it. We owe a debt of gratitude to Resonance Records for bringing this and numerous other treasures to our attention over the past decade.
Resonance Records; 2016; appx. 41 min.
Friday, November 11, 2016
By now, Tom Harrell is no newcomer to the jazz brigade. The liner note writer for this CD referred to him as “a player who brings brains and beauty to his music.” And that certainly holds true on this new recording. Harrell’s all-original musical palette concentrates on titles and melodies associated with India and the East. The word ‘prana,’ a term familiar to those who practice yoga, refers to the essential life-force. Several of Harrell’s compositions bear witness to these sensibilities, but underneath it all is Harrell’s riveting trumpet and flugelhorn. Not unlike the solos of Miles Davis, Harrell’s sound is often one of intense beauty and melancholy. His colleagues on the date, all new names to me, account well for themselves, but it is primarily Harrell’s heavyweight musicianship on display here. Be warned, this isn’t Diz ‘n Bud playing bop. Indeed, there is a very contemporary muse at work here. On that note, I would have preferred the exclusion of the Fender Rhodes. Never on my top ten list, it is used on about half of the eight tunes. Other than that, go right ahead and dig Tom Harrell’s monster chops! High Note, 2009, 56:09.
Friday, November 4, 2016
I am not aware that this important recording has ever been available until now. That’s strange, because first, it was Lester Young’s last music statement. He died just 13 days later upon his return to New York. And second, it’s “really good Lester,” regardless of what you might have read about his “decline.” With a Paris-based quintet which included the under-rated Rene Urtreger, piano, Jimmy Gourley, guitar, George Joyner, bass, and Kenny Clarke, drums, Prez and friends explore over a dozen classics, including “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” “Lady Be Good,” “Three Little Words,” “I Can’t Get Started,” “Pennies From Heaven” and a bunch more. As one might expect, knowing Lester’s preference for a soothing, in-the-pocket sound, that’s the order of the day from these five accomplished cats. Don’t overlook Urtreger’s silvery piano solos. Likewise guitarist Gourley. This is nothing less than a major addition to the discography of one the truly “unforgettables.” To the present day, Lester Young remains a jazz original and an artist who inspired countless others who followed. You can hear it in every note.
American Jazz Classics, 2012; 63 minutes.
A couple of years ago, when Volume one of this music was issued, my review said, in part, that an apparent “Volume two” would be welcomed and anticipated with delight. Well, here it is. By now you’re probably aware that for me, Broadbent occupies the top rung of the jazz piano ladder. His playing is a listening adventure that gathers in the glories of J.S. Bach, Chopin, Lennie Tristano, Bud Powell and Bill Evans. But mostly it’s all about Broadbent and his consistency in providing music that swings and is beautiful. Once again, he’s with long-time associates Putter Smith, bass, and Kendall Kay, drums, and he writes another chapter in just what the classic piano trio is all about. His peerless interpretations of two standards, “Yesterdays” and “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” get this set off to a stirring beginning. They’re followed by the first of four original compositions: a medium tempo exercise in the blues called “Blues In ‘n Out.” “Wandering Road” is his musical statement on one aspect of the life of a musician. George Shearing’s outstanding composition, “Coneption,” follows. It’s a rarely heard gem and Broadbent makes it an album highlight. Always an admirer of the richness of Tadd Dameron’s compositions, Broadbent then launches into “Sing a Song of Dameron,” a beauty. But then, beauty was a Tadd trademark. The session is completed with “Three For All,” Broadabent’s bright and bouyant take on the changes to “Just Friends.” Let me simply state it this way: Alan Broadbent is my miracle piano player. Find out for yourself by buying this CD. And don’t miss hearing him in person for two nights, August 28 and 29, here in River City.
Chilly Bin Records; 2012; appx. 60 minutes.
I know I’ve made it clear in the past that I’m not exactly a walking ad for jazz organ. So this B-3 record is going to appeal to those of you who are more into such things. Smith’s trio includes Peter Bernstein on guitar and Billy Drummond on drums. I guess what appeals to me is that Smith, rather like Jimmy Smith, doesn’t go for the funky r&b sound so common in these groups. Instead, he takes a very straight-ahead approach with some evergreen tunes like “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” “Softly As in a Morning Sunrise,” and even Charlie Parker’s bop line, “My Little Suede Shoes.” Among Smith’s original compositions, there’s a nifty blues called “That Ain’t Right”; a burner called “Turning Point”; and a medium-up, fresh melody line called “Too Damn Hot.” Bernstein is always on track no matter the assignment, and his authoritative guitar is on target in this setting. To my way of thinking, this is about as good as it gets in the B-3 ballpark.
Criss Cross, 2009, 65:07.
Just when I thought I had everything Bill Evans ever released (either during his lifetime or posthumously), here comes this 50+ minute treasure with Bill, Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell. It doesn’t matter a bit that nearly every tune in the set has appeared on previous Evans recordings. It is, after all, another chance to hear an acknowledged piano genius playing before an enraptured, appreciative audience of Parisians. You know the tunes: “Up With the Lark,” “Quiet Now,” “Midnight Mood,” “Twelve Toned Tune,” “If You Could See Me Now,” “Waltz for Debby” and the surprise of the set, Gordon Jenkins’ “Goodbye,” a tune Evans rarely played. His originals, “34 Skidoo,” “Sugar Plum” and the stunning ballad, “The Two Lonely People,” complete the set. Bill Evans collectors (like me!) are going to scoop this one up and relish every minute of it.
Gambit Records, 2009, 53:27.
Over the last couple of years, Rudy Van Gelder, the sound maven of hundreds of jazz recordings, has re-mastered some classic Blue Note sides, this among them. Sonny Clark might have never conquered the summit on the jazz mountain, but his rather limited amount of work remains highly valued and always swinging. For this 1962 session, he invited Tommy Turrentine, Charlie Rouse, Butch Warren and Billy Higgins to the studio to participate in a feast of formidable fare. From the opening notes of Clark’s by-now familiar “Somethin’ Special,” you’ll know that this gathering was indeed, something’ special. Clark was a clear headed, post bop pianist who never wasted a note. The one and only standard on the date is Jimmy Van Heasen’s “Deep In a Dream.” Other than that, it’s a program of Clark’s clean, engaging melody lines and the playing of his inspired colleagues. It’s been said in music that time is the ultimate test, and this ensemble from nearly fifty hears ago, sounds very much like they could have been in the studio a week ago Thursday! If you’ve somehow missed out on the music of Sonny Clark, here’s your chance to encounter one of the ‘quiet’ greats of jazz.
Blue Note (reissue), 2008, 55:16.
By now, Tom Harrell is no newcomer to the jazz brigade. The liner note writer for this CD referred to him as “a player who brings brains and beauty to his music.” And that certainly holds true on this new recording. Harrell’s all-original musical palette concentrates on titles and melodies associated with India and the East. The word ‘prana,’ a term familiar to those who practice yoga, refers to the essential life-force. Several of Harrell’s compositions bear witness to these sensibilities, but underneath it all is Harrell’s riveting trumpet and flugelhorn. Not unlike the solos of Miles Davis, Harrell’s sound is often one of intense beauty and melancholy. His colleagues on the date, all new names to me, account well for themselves, but it is primarily Harrell’s heavyweight musicianship on display here. Be warned, this isn’t Diz ‘n Bud playing bop. Indeed, there is a very contemporary muse at work here. On that note, I would have preferred the exclusion of the Fender Rhodes. Never on my top ten list, it is used on about half of the eight tunes. Other than that, go right ahead and dig Tom Harrell’s monster chops!
High Note, 2009, 56:09.
High Note, 2009, 56:09.