Thursday, December 28, 2017
In this era of one beautiful jazz label after another going belly up, it's rewarding to see the steady progress of Cellar Live. Based in Vancouver, B.C., Cellar Live has showcased young players totally dedicated to the revered tradition of straight ahead jazz. On this perfectly delightful session we become acquainted with P J Perry, a deep in the shed alto sax man. His rhythm section is headed by Jon Mayer, a longtime contributor to the Classic Piano Series here in PDX. The rhythm section is completed by Steve Wallace, bass; and Quincy Davis, drums. Recorded live at Edmonton, Alberta's Yardbird Suite, Perry and friends are flawless on jazz favorites "Stablemates", "Two Bass Hit" and "Quasimodo". Standards include "We'll Be Together Again" and "Summer Night". The latter tune is incidentally mistakenly listed as "Close Your Eyes"! One might note that the first three notes of both are precisely the same. On all these and more, P J Perry makes it clear that he's ready for us to sit up and take notice.
Cellar Live; 2017; appx. 62 min.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
You probably haven't given this much thought. I know I haven't. But how many trombone leader records can you think of in the last year or two? Not many, I'd guess. And in part, that's what makes Bob Ferrell's new CD most welcome to the ear. His repertoire is nicely split between jazz tunes, blues, an original or two, and one semi-standard, "My Secret Love". Remember Doris Day's version? This ain't it! Ferrell opts for a burly tone with hints of J J Johnson. But to my ear he sounds more like Frank Rosolino. Ferrell's colleagues include some well spoken reeds and horns, and the solo work is generous and quite spirited. There are a few vocals by Dwight West: "Yard Bird Suite", "Don't Go To Strangers" and "Every Day I Have The Blues". He's a fine singer, somewhere in the tradition of Eddie Jefferson or Giacomo Gates. As for the leader, Bob Ferrell is definitely a player and band leader worthy of wider recognition.
BFM Productions; 2017; appx. 54 min.
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Woodwind master. That describes Adrian Cunningham. And he plays them all with unbridled joy and enthusiasm. I might add that any leader who surrounds himself with Ted Rosenthal piano; John Clayton, bass; and Jeff Hamilton, drums, is assured my attention. It should be clearly noted also that Cunningham can write lilting, varied melodies as well. The opener for example is a spirited, gospel-like entry called "The Source". "Getting Down Uptown" gives us a touch of funk while "Rachel's Dance", a flute feature, is a happy, rollicking, shuffle beat blues. "Appalachia" employs a head-shaking tempo that might be thought of as a jazz version of a bluegrass party. Then there's "Autumn Moon Over The Calm Lake". You'll picture a peaceful Japanese country scene. Standards include dependables like "Let's Fall In Love" and "Mood Indigo", and two rarely heard gems are also great choices: Sidney Bechet's "Petite Fleur" and Bud Powell's "Tempus Fugit" couldn't be more different from each other, but both are album highlights. Cunningham, in this stunning company, sounds as though he was destined to play this style of music. And he does it with blue ribbon results.
Arbors Records; 2017; appx. 62 min.
Thursday, December 7, 2017
In that other world of rock and pop, the guitar long ago became a disrespected bowl of fuzzy electronic mush. With that horror show in mind, it's especially nice to welcome a record like this. Jacques Lesure swings vigorously, plays entirely within a jazz context, and chooses colleagues who share these lofty musical values. Eric Reed, piano; Tony Dumas, bass; and Willie Jones III, drums, are all in-demand pros who complement Lesure's guitar brilliance from note one. The session is made up of seven tunes, three of which will likely be familiar. The opener, "The Lamp Is Low", is taken at a semi-quick tempo and informs us that good things are about to unfold. The two other standards include an appropriately upbeat version of "Put On A Happy Face"; and a definite album highlight, Cedar Walton's near classic "Holy Land". Lesure's every note is clean, brisk and confident, and Eric Reed contributes solos worthy of his highly admired reputation. There's even a crafty blues here and it's called "That's Mr. Burrell, Thank You". It suggests pretty clearly the source of Mr. Lesure's inspiration!
WJ3 Records; 2017; appx. 38 min.