Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Doug MacDonald "Califournia Quartet"

Attention, jazz guitar enthusiasts! You'd be well advised to check out the underappreciated southern California guitar maven Doug MacDonald. He and his quartet take us on a ten song tour, split nicely between familiar fare and snappy, fresh originals. Along for the ride are the versatile So Cal alto man Kim Richmond; solid bass vet Harvey Newmark; and much in demand drummer Paul Kreibich. The opening tune, "Beautiful Friendship", informs us that we're in for a swingin' ride down the mainstream boulevard. Other standards examined most artfully include "If You Could See Me Now", "The Things We Did Last Summer", and "Tenderly". Several well crafted straight ahead MacDonald creations complete this highly enjoyable session. MacDonald is, as you will discover, a first cabin musician. The same may be said for his quartet mates, especially Richmond who has spent a career as an extraordinarily creative presence.

dmacmusic; 2019; appx. 40 min.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Carlos Franzetti "Ricordare"

I have been aware of Carlos Franzetti as a pianist of depth and beauty. He has long been an admirer of European film music, especially that of celebrated composer Ennio Morricone who is responsible for the very impressionistic title tune of this session. Franzetti is in superb trio company here, working with highly regarded David Finck on bass and Eliot Zigmund on drums. In addition to the Morricone opener, Franzetti, with unerring taste and lyricism, examines other film music plus five of his own silvery, full-of-feeling originals. The three standards on the album are well loved: "When You Wish Upon A Star", "Danny Boy", and "Over The Rainbow". This is music to make you sigh in appreciation that some things in life can still be beautiful and full of wonderment.
Sunnyside Communications; 2019; appx. 60 min.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Al Hood "Jazz Muses"

To be very clear right off the bat, Al Hood is a monster trumpet player. Because he's not based in New York (Denver is his home), he may be a new name to you. He has gorgeous tone, complete control and fluidity rarely heard. On this exceptional CD, Hood and his quintet present ten tunes, nine of which were composed by trumpet heroes of years gone by. How about names like Clark Terry, Blue Mitchell, Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard and more. The only exception is Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee" which is often attributed to another trumpet player by the name of Miles Davis. Among my personal faves are two luscious ballads: Bobby Shew's "Nadalin" and Clifford Brown's "LaRue" are both standout melodies and both deserve to be wider known. Hood's masterful Mile High City colleagues include Dave Hanson, piano; Peter Sommer, tenor sax; Will Swindler, alto sax; Ken Walker, bass; and Paul Romaine, drums. This is nothing less than a stunning and beautiful bebop feast. If I were to submit a top ten list of jazz CD'd of 2019, this sterling session would most assuredly be there.
Aquarian Records; 2019; appx. 66 min.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

George's Briefs!

Stories Told; Dave Zinno, bass
Bassist Dave Zinno leads a standard quintet of trumpet, tenor and rhythm section on a pallet of mostly original tunes conveying more than a tip of the hat to a Latin-Brazilian spiciness. The two familiar selections are big hits "Michelle" and "Triste". This group packs a punch and the Latin influence is only subtly present. Solid playing here.
Whaling City Sound; 2019; appx. 66 min.

The Lonely Sailor; James Fernando, solo piano
Here's some solo piano music, mostly slow and expressive original music. There's a mysterious and sad quality to much of it, as if it could have had a soundtrack to an arty European film. This may not be everyone's cup of tea. But regardless of the emotions it may bring on, it's effectively done.
Self-produced; 2018; times not indicated.

What's New: Reimagining Benny Goodman; Oran Etkin, clarinet, bass clarinet and tenor saxophone
Are you brave enough to hear some Benny Goodman classics turned upside down and inside out? 'Cause that's what happens here, and it mostly works! Etkin demonstrates a boatload of creativity on Goodman fare like "Dinah", "Running Wild", "King Porter Stomp", "After You've Gone" and more. Considering that Goodman's heyday was some eight decades ago, this may be a bit odd, but it's accessible.
Motema Music; 2015; appx. 51 min.

To And From The Heart; Steve Kuhn, piano
If you love sophisticated piano trios (and who doesn't!), three New York veterans offer some highly recommended artful music on this lovely session. Along with Steve Swallow on bass and Joey Baron on drums, Steve Kuhn's delicate touch and winning melodic beauty are found in abundance on "Never Let Me Go", "Pure Imagination", and some impressive original music as well.
Sunnyside Communications; 2018; appx. 46 min.

But Beautiful; Darren Barrett, Trumpet and Electronic Valve Instrument (EVI), Vocals, Keyboards
As the title indicates, Barrett's trumpet sound is truly beautiful. Too bad he had to ruin each and every track with a truckload of electronic effects. It's an insult to otherwise great tunes like "Con Alma", "Nica's Dream", "Invitation", "Everything Happens To Me", and other classics. Filet mignon and Alpo should never be combined.
DB Studios; 2018; times not indicated

Jump Up; Brad Turner, trumpet and flugelhorn
A new name to me, Brad Turner demonstrates a vitality and wide variety of feeling on no less than nine original compositions. Tenor man Seamus Blake is an ideal partner in this quintet as they present material to make you sit up and take notice. Perhaps the most accessible piece was "The Enthusiast", a boppy opportunity for the two to indulge in some high powered and jovial interplay.

Cellar Live [Cellar Music?] ; 2019; appx. 70 min.

Nicki Parrott "From New York To Paris"

Over the last decade or more, Nicki Parrott has distinguished herself as a gifted bassist and a perky singer as well. Now I guess if half of your fourteen-song menu deals with Paris, you'd be hard pressed not to include an accordion on the gig. But take a deep breath---it's pretty subtle. On a further instrumental note, Harry Allen's brilliant tenor sax reigns supreme here, and the arrangements on both vocals and instrumentals are well crafted. Among the New York tunes are "There's A Boat That's Leavin' Soon For New York", "Broadway", "The Brooklyn Bridge", and Dave Frishberg's wonderful "Do You Miss New York", among others. The Parisian bill brings us "I Love Paris", "I Will Wait For You", "Under Paris Skies", "If You Love Me", and more. Nicki Parrott and colleagues are in fine form on an album of standards we always enjoy hearing.
Arbors Records; 2019; appx. 59 min.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Yoko Miwa "Keep Talkin'"

Born In Japan, but now Boston based and a faculty member at Berklee College of Music, Yoko Miwa gives us a tour de force of big time chops, melodic sensibility, and impressive communication with her trio colleagues. Six of the eleven tunes are her own creations. I must say that it's a breath of fresh air to hear clearly stated melody lines and imaginative but controlled improvisation. Just the way it should be, one might say. I thought the outstanding cuts included Miwa's title tune and opener, a slick, fast paced blues, "Keep Talkin'". Other winners here were Monk's classic "In Walked Bud" and a rather rare Mingus creation called "Boogie Stop Shuffle". On all these and more, Yoko Miwa is definitely in the big leagues.
Self-produced; 2019; appx. 73 min.