Monday, May 27, 2019
Native Soul: What Is That Isn't?
Here's a hard boppin' quartet which, in three of the eleven selections heard here, becomes an equally hard boppin' quintet. I am unfamiliar with all of them but that makes no difference. Their program of mostly original compositions includes exhilarating solo work, strong melodic content and, by the way, they swing hard!
Cellar Music; 2019; appx. 72 min.
Lined With A Groove; Pete Coco, bass
This CD marks a debut for New York bassist Pete Coco and his trio. It consists of thirteen tunes, nearly all of which are composed by Coco's bass playing heroes, names such as Chambers, Brown, Mitchell and Hinton, among others. The trio's pianist, Sullivan Fortner, adds dramatic elegance, and veteran drummer Matt Wilson brings his usual expertise to the session. Great trio stuff throughout!
Self-produced; 2018; times not indicated.
Infinity; Tom Harrell, trumpet and flugelhorn
This CD continues Tom Harrell's lengthy association with High Note Records---over ten albums to date. In this case he opts for Charles Altura's guitars (rather than a piano), and the tenor sax of Mark Turner on ten Harrell originals. Together, they once again spotlight his entire scope. Harrell is and always has been a major innovator and influence in the jazz art.
High Note; 2019; appx. 66 min.
Alto marvel Jim Snidero is back with us on a new CD comprised of eight tunes, four of which are performed as a quartet. The remaining four add the peerless trumpet of Jeremy Pelt. It seems that more often in the past, leaders will open with tempos other than the usual fast-paced romp. Such is the case with the title tune, "Waves Of Calm". Three additional Snidero creations in various moods demonstrate his composing prowess. Perhaps my preference among the originals was "Dad Song". It boasted a more distinctive melody line than the other three, and it also featured an acoustic piano as opposed to the Rhodes heard on the other originals. Standards beautifully examined here include "Old Folks", "I Fall In Love Too Easily", and a real charmer in "If I Had You". Snidero covers the whole gamut here with his usual vitality, passion and heavy duty musicianship.
Savant; 2019; appx. 50 min.
Monday, May 13, 2019
Before you dismiss big bands as obsolete as an eight track, you should understand that there remains to this day scores of dedicated cats who happily participate in big bands much like this one. These guys play invigorating arrangements of standards, originals and even charts based on the changes to familiar works. Two complete examples of the latter would be "All The Things You Aren't" (get it?) and "Swansong" which you'll know from Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake". Other dependables include "Love For Sale", "Caravan", "Autumn Leaves", "Teach Me Tonight", and even "When Johnny Comes Marching Home"! Solid musicianship abounds here and widespread solo work is first class. One can hear that these guys and gals are having a blast! The band reminds me a bit of Rob McConnell's high flying ensembles---where everyone gets a chance to blow and have a grand time doing so. Hats off to those dedicated musicians keeping big bands alive and vibrant. People like THIS.
Summit Records; 2019; appx. 74 min.
Monday, May 6, 2019
I really think that all I'd need to do would be to glance at the names of the composers on this CD and it would get my nod of approval! Consider these names: Lee Morgan, Mal Waldron, Tina Brooks, Jackie McLean, George Robert, and Walter Davis, Jr. All of the titles would probably be termed underdogs. Despite strong melody lines, plenty of solo space and brimming excitement, these are not well known compositions. And what, may I ask, does this tell us of leader and alto star Cory Weeds? It tells us that he's done his jazz history work, resulting in these nine overlooked gems. All of them are potent examples of the jazz book, but perhaps my favorite is a Tina Brooks delight called "Up Tight's Creek". Another winner (among all winners) is "Formidable" by the under appreciated pianist Walter Davis, Jr. Cory's brilliant alto is joined by Terell Stafford, trumpet; Harold Mabern, piano; Michael Glynn, bass; and Julian McDonough, drums. The music just bristles with exuberance and joy. Thank you, Cory, for all you do in both the musical and business aspects of jazz. You are doing all you can to keep the music alive. We all get the message by listening to sessions such as this.
Cellar Live; 2019; appx. 65 min.