Thursday, October 25, 2018
This CD is very well titled, as singer-saxman Danny Bacher takes off on a dozen mostly happy, feel-good songs. Surrounded by a sextet including pianist Allen Farnham and tenor ace Harry Allen, Bacher puts his pleasant vocal stamp on such classy titles as "Hooray For Hollywood", "Lucky To Be Me", "Lazy Afternoon", "Get Happy" and two tunes that I associate with Billie Holiday, "Getting Some Fun Out Of Life" and "Laughing At Life". Perhaps my favorite cut was Bacher's rare vocal on Clifford Brown's masterpiece, "Joy Spring". Bacher is also a skilled and clever writer, as evidenced by "In Spite Of All This, "I'm Still Happy". It's a tune which addresses many annoyances and disappointments in life, while maintaining a happy spirit in spite of them. His "here and there" soprano sax is perfectly placed, along with solos from Farnham, Allen, and trumpet/flugelhorn man Charles Caranicas. If you want to spark up your day, this is a session you'll surely enjoy. Whaling City Sound; 2018; 65:40
Thursday, October 18, 2018
If, like me, you lean in the direction of bright, joyous, boppy piano trios, you need to check out Jeb Patton. This is the first effort for the excellent Cellar Live label, and it has a lot to be admired. Joined by David Wong, bass, and Rodney Green, drums, Patton opens this live performance with a bop-drenched, Bud Powell-like Thad Jones burner called "Zec". Two Patton originals follow. The first of them, entitled "Tenth" is yet another rapid flight, and the next one, "Third Movement", is a medium tempo groove with an attractive melody line. From here, Patton and pals begin a succession of standards starting with a swinging "This Can't Be Love". The next three choices are from that miracle known as the Ellington-Strayhorn organization. In order, a Duke rarity called "Reflections in D"---I haven't heard it played since Bill Evans gave it life, and Patton does equal honor to its serenity and beauty; an Ellington staple, "Sophisticated Lady", comes next in all its splendor; finally, there's "Johnny Come Lately", a classic "smile inducer" from Duke's second in command, the brilliant Billy Strayhorn. "I'll Never Stop Loving You" is an overlooked ballad beautifully interpreted by the trio, and a medley of "Royal Garden Blues" and Wynton Kelly's "Kelly Blue" finds Patton at his Tatum-esque best. The album's closer, "Overtime" is an inspired, full-of-fun romp. Patton is the complete trio pianist: true to the tradition, but still looking forward. Jeb Patton is a joy to hear.
Cellar Live; 2018; appx. 58 min.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Since I first heard Jeff Clayton way back in 1985 at the Otter Crest Jazz Weekend, I've considered him a gifted player and a person of the highest integrity and spirituality. On this album, the first under his name in quite a spell, Jeff offers nine selections ranging from funky groove stuff to vibrant, joyous straight ahead compositions, to one or two "tear you apart" ballads. Here and there, the addition of a singer who goes by the name of "Mz Val" adds some luster to the proceedings. She's especially on target with "Guess Who I Saw Today", a tuned owned by Nancy Wilson, but handled with great feeling by this vocalist. Clayton's peerless alto is heard in various musical settings with brother John on bass; nephew Gerald on piano; and other L.A. stalwarts impressively on board here and there. Jeff Clayton is deep into his jazz heritage, and his love for his "job" is infectious. Aside from that, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
Claytonomics Music; 2017; appx. 38 min.
Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Don't ever lose track of the name Randy Ingram. He is a pianist in the league of Bill Evans, Fred Hersch and Enrico Pieranunzi. In other words, emotion is everything and every note has meaning. It is unusual to find such wondrous beauty in a young pianist. He has in fact been mentored by Hersch, and you're going to hear it in his rapturous touch, gorgeous phrasing and lyrical compositions. His originals often sound like the themes for European art films, much like those of the aforementioned Enrico Pieranunzi. On this stunning session he weaves his musical spell only with veteran bassist Drew Gress. It is, to be sure, intimacy, beauty and artful communication of the highest caliber. In addition to his creative and versatile original works, Ingram brings a few jazz standards. Among them is the masterpiece by Jimmy Rowles, "The Peacocks". It has by now become a staple in the jazz "book", and Ingram brings to life the obligatory gentle spirit of this work. Cole Porter's "Dream Dancing" is examined with affection, and "Show-Type Tune" is a Bill Evans creation with a charming, optimistic melody line. Simply put, Randy Ingram has it all going for him. He's a shoo-in for a Classic Pianos live date, and you may quote me: it WILL happen.
Sunnyside Communications; 2017; appx. 61 min.