Friday, March 31, 2017

Mundell Lowe, guitar & Lloyd Wells, guitar "Poor Butterfly"

Guitar students and aficionados, here's an album to celebrate! Mundell Lowe and Lloyd Wells are master musicians who remind us that the guitar can be an instrument of beauty in the right hands. Along with bassist Jim Ferguson, the two guitar mavens bring us  twelve melodies in solo, duo, and trio settings. And you know these honored tunes. Evergreens from "Line For Lyons" to "I Loves You, Porgy", or "Alice In Wonderland" to "Last Night When We Were Young" and many more. At 93 years of age, Lowe has played professionally for over 70 (!) years, and Wells is the perfect compliment on the rarely heard seven string guitar. The communication between them and bassist Ferguson is something to behold: there's nothing to prove here. Just great songs interpreted with lots of heart. 

Two Helpins' Of Collards Records; 2016; appx. 40 min.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Michael Brothers Quartet "Reunion"

As the title suggests, life's road led these players in different directions after working as a quartet twenty-some years ago in New Orleans. Of particular interest is the presence of Portland area tenor sax and clarinet mogul David Evans. His tone is somewhere out of Getz and Zoot---ultimately Lester---beautiful, swinging, lyrical and just about as perfect as you're going to encounter anywhere these days. Just pick up on his center-of-the-highway take on the opener, Billy Strayhorn's "Upper Manhattan Medical Group". Interesting to note that another Strayhorn classic "Isfahan" closes the album. In between, Evans and his Big Easy colleagues explore works by Woody Shaw, two Herbie Hancock gems, and one standard, "Nature Boy". A highlight for me was Jimmy Rowles' plaintive beauty "The Peacocks". It features Evans on clarinet and it's like fine crystal. Other quartet members are Matt Lemmler, piano; Tim Aucoin, bass; and the leader, Michael Brothers, drums. The four of them were reunited a couple of years ago and this stately, often beautiful session was the result. One can only hope that there are more reunions scheduled in the future.
Girod Records; 2016; appx. 62 min.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Rebecca Kilgore "Moonshadow Dance"

Portland singing star Rebecca Kilgore enjoys a reputation of honoring American songbook standards and finding charming obscurities mostly overlooked by others. But with this classy CD, Rebecca concentrates exclusively on new material of her own creation along with collaborations with Portland songwriter Ellen Vanderslice and pianist/vibist Mike Horsfall. There are sixteen tunes in all, and they're witty, solid, real melodies. Space won't allow us to cover all, but let's take a look at a few favorites. For example, consider "The Day I Learned French". Fluent in twenty-four hours---what a cool accomplishment. And a cool tune as well. Or how about the title tune "Moonshadow Dance"? With Vanderslice at the controls on both music and lyrics, it sounds like something Hoagy Carmichael might have written. "Birthday Song, Generic" is all Becky, words and music. A cute tune to be sure, and one with a surprise ending. "I'm Not Susceptible To Love" is a medium tempo delight that sounds like it could have been, say, a 1958 creation of Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen. On these and the remainder of the bill, Rebecca is accompanied by PDX stalwarts Randy Porter, piano; Tom Wakeling, bass; and Todd Strait, drums. A host of Portland cats are found here and there as guests. All three of these creators of fresh new songs, Becky, Ellen and Mike, have succeeded in bringing us a real breath of fresh air. Highly recommended!Cherry Pie Music; 2016; appx. 55 min.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wes Montgomery "One Night In Indy"

One Night In Indy; Wes Montgomery, guitarFor 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, March 17, 2017

Thad Jones / Mel Lewis "All My Yesterdays"

All My Yesterdays: The Debut 1966 Recordings At The Village Vanguard; The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz OrchestraFor fifty years this incredible collection of New York master musicians has held forth every Monday night at New York's jazz mecca, The Village Vanguard. Now known as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, these recordings go back to the beginning of this virtually unprecedented long run. At that time they were under the co-leadership of trumpet ace Thad Jones and the great drummer Mel Lewis. Both contributed arrangements and compositions for the orchestra. To describe their music in mere words is not easy, but I'll give it a go. This was first and foremost a JAZZ ORCHESTRA and not a "big band". The arrangements were dense and challenging. There were always surprising twists and turns. The ensemble passages filled the room with confident, in-your-face musicianship. The solos were generous in length, often demanding to pull off, and brimming with that urban, high flying "New York thing". It's understandable when your players, to name a few, include names like Hank Jones, piano; Jerome Richardson, Joe Farrell and Pepper Adams, reeds; Snooky Young and Bill Berry, trumpets; and Bob Brookmeyer and Tom McIntosh, trombones. These and a multitude of others swing through a two-CD set of mostly original material from the esteemed co-leaders. And don't overlook a 92(!)-page-booklet loaded with info and photographs. This beautifully produced set has never been released until now, thanks to the kind permission of the estates of Thad Jones and Mel Lewis. This is passionate, mind-blowing, head-turning music. In its day the Jones-Lewis Orchestra was one of a kind. Its influence remains nearly unchallenged to this very day. Get your ears ready for something special. This one's a MUST!Resonance Records; 2016; two CD's: appx. 49 min. and 75 min.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Thank you Tamir Hendelman!

What a fabulous concert on April 14th! Be sure and check out our upcoming concerts at Classic Pianos. See our concert list below. ↡

Upon hearing Tamir Hendelman perform Oscar's Peterson brilliant Canadiana Suite,
the Maestro said of Tamir:
"I must single out some wonderful and creative solo segments by a young pianist named Tamir Hendelman. It was a satisfying hear a new young voice make some exhiliarating and thoughtful these pieces. I was refreshed by the inventive passages provided by Tamir. I look forward to hearing more from him."
-----Oscar Peterson

"Tamir Hendelman was inspired by the great Oscar Peterson. Hendelman is most likely the jazz piano virtuoso of his generation."
-----George Fendel

"...taking (the) honors...(was) the versatile and valuable pianist Tamir Hendelman...."
-----Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene

Complimentary Wine And Sweet Things By Patricia Wied

WITH THANKS TO: Classic Pianos, Kirby and Amy Allen,
St. Johns Coffee Roasters, Park Lane Suites, Patrick Springer, Susan and David Gurock,
Stuart and Jackie Barthold, and Stan and Madelle Rosenfeld

Monday, March 6, 2017

Getz/Gilberto '76

Getz Gilberto '76; Stan Getz, tenor sax and Joao Gilberto, guitar and vocals; ANDMoments In Time; Stan Getz, tenor sax
These two recordings are distinctly different in that one features exquisite Brazilian melodies sung by Joao Gilberto and the other is purely American jazz classics all the way through. But there are similarities as well. Both were recorded live at San Francisco's Keystone Korner in May of 1976. And in addition to the tenor exploits of the leader, both feature a solid and sympathetic rhythm section of Joanne Brackeen, piano; Clint Houston, bass; and Billy Hart, drums. Getz Gilberto '76 puts the silky guitar and soft, understated vocals of Gilberto in the spotlight. While "Getz gets" generous solo space, one might say this is as much Gilberto's album as it is Stan's. There are thirteen Brazilian charmers in all, and you'll know many of them. Getz, who could be a bit salty at times, would say in so many words that the bossa nova "thing" defined his career to a larger extent than he would have preferred. What can't be denied however, is that it was stately, romantic music. So put this CD on your shelf right next to all those Verve bossa beauties from long ago.

The second album, Moments In Time, features the Getz tenor with the same personnel on piano, bass and drums. The S G sound, recognizable in three or four notes, opens with a Harry Warren classic, "Summer Night". After a dreamy introduction the Getz horn soars and we're underway on a glorious straight ahead set. Other highlights include Horace Silver's "Peace", Dizzy's "Con Alma" and a beautiful obscurity by Jimmy Rowles and Johnny Mercer called "Morning Star". Stan Getz was a jazz superstar. Finding newly mined gold like these two albums is a most welcome surprise. They are additions, one might say, to a legacy already well secured.

Resonance Records; 2016; appx. 55 min (Gilberto) and 63 min. (Moments)