Tuesday, July 17, 2018

George's Briefs:

Peter And The Wolf; The New England Jazz Ensemble
This famous classic by Serge Prokofiev is put into an excellent jazz setting by the New England Jazz Ensemble. Arrangements are full of spicy fun and crisp narration is by Giacomo Gates, in his own right one of the world's gifted bebop singers. A bit of a departure perhaps, but this session is very well crafted.
Self-produced; 2018; appx. 64 min.

Eyes Wide Open; Jamie Shew, vocals
The menu reads like this: sing quality songs and hire the best cats available to accompany. It seems Jamie Shew has done this with "Easy Living", "Mountain Greenery", "Thou Swell", "Detour Ahead", Charlie Haden's gorgeous ballad "First Song (For Ruth)" and more. Backed by a stellar L.A. quartet, Ms. Shew takes it straight ahead, never forcing the issue. She reminded me just a bit of Jackie Cain, the distinctive singer of Jackie & Roy fame. I would hope to hear more of Ms. Shew in the future.
Self-produced; 2018; appx. 63 min. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

"The Show Before The Show" Mike Jones & Penn Jillette

It was way back in 2002 that Mike Jones hooked up with the world's most magic act as pianist and musical director. Penn and Teller has over the years become a Vegas legend. But who knew that Penn Jillette, half of that entertaining duo, was also a formidable bass player! Jones has also plied his piano prowess in Sin City, and made several recordings along the way. To my knowledge, this is his  first effort with Jillette. The two players work seamlessly on eight long-admired standards and one Jones original. Style wise, Jones is focused, entertaining and exuberant; Jillette is steady and dependable. Among the familiar fare offered here, you'll find "Broadway", "But Not For Me", "Have You Met Miss Jones", "Tangerine", "Exactly Like You" and more. There's no disappearing act here. The magic is in the music.
Capri; 2018; 60:38. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Bill Anschell "Shifting Standards"

Seattle-based pianist Bill Anschell's latest CD, Shifting Standards, is very well suited to the title. He and his trio colleagues offer some melodic invention, rhythmic twists and fresh takes on nine celebrated standards. His bassist, Jeff Johnson, has been a Seattle treasure for many years. Drummer D'Vonne Lewis, a new name to me, offers subtle but strong support. The essence of these nine classics is examined with care and cohesiveness, and the creative efforts always leaves their revered melodies intact for us to enjoy. On tunes as varied as "Night In Tunisia", "Cheek To Cheek", Soul Eyes", "Jitterbug Waltz", "All Of You" and lots more, Bill Anschell and associates have provided us with a breath of fresh air on an album of true American gems.
Origin; 2018; appx. 61 min.