(DELMARK) * * * *
Get ready to pop your fingers and snap your hip bones as you listen
to this scorching blues CD by guitarist and singer Eddie C Campbell. “Big World,” a steady shuffle, pays tribute to an overly tired man who foils his lady’s seduction plan by falling asleep at the crucial moment. “Tie Your Time Up” is an ode to time delays because of late running buses, telephone long talkers and the like. Campbell bemoans them all.
“My Last Affair” is a slow grinder with Campbell wailing over the fact his just ended love affair has left him despondent. There are 14 cuts here, most of which deal with loves lost or gained, or impending doom or pain.
His band is strong in its support, with driving tempos and just the right fills behind Campbell.
Karl Outten on piano and organ and Mark Cihlar on harmonica are outstanding.
If one speaks of the “jazz tradition” and the "guitar," the next words spoken should be ”Kenny Burrell”. His playing exudes the tradition of those forebearers like Charlie Christian, Barney Kessell, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall.
This is a live recording from a January 6, 1978 gig at the Statler Hotel in Buffalo, New York. Fortunately it is of fine quality and presents an excellent array of tunes beginning with a pretty ballad titled “Isabella.”
Accompanied by a fine group led by pianist Richard Wyands, Burrell takes “Will You Still Be Mine” up tempo with Wyands sharing solo time. “A Child is Born” gets the sensitive treatment it deserves from all concerned. Bassist Lisle Atkinson is exquisite with his solo. Track seven, the final offering, is Burrell’s beautiful, unaccompanied solo take on Duke Ellington’s “Single Petal of a Rose.”
“OFF THE CUFF” RICK GERMANSON TRIO (OWL) * * * *
The opener, “Quagmire,” will hook you as pianist Rick Germanson, known mostly for his work as an accompanist or sideman, steps up and exhibits strong solo chops. “Quagmire” is high energy, but its’ energy is carefully budgeted and spent. It’s pouring out of Germanson as the primary soloist, but solid and restrained from master drummer Louis Hayes who sticks to brushes on this one.
Bassist Gerald Cannon, an essential element throughout, is impeccable. On “Daytona,” Cannon gets solo space and delights with his improvisation. Balancing his program between the fiery and ballads, “Up Jumped Spring” on the ballad side is a pretty rendition of a too seldom heard tune. His 8:20 treatment of “Autumn in New York” is a patient interpretation of an all time favorite.
“EASTERN STANDARD TIME” ALAN BLAYLOCK JAZZ ORCHESTRA
(BLAYLOCK MUSIC) * * * * *
This band bursts forth with jet fueled energy on the opener, “Caravan.” It’s not just the zest with which they attack the Juan Tizol classic. The arrangement itself is classic, and the interplay of the reed section near the end is both startling and brilliant.
The zest continues with “On Green Dolphin Street” and a throbbing baritone solo by Doug Morgan followed by a top notch trombone effort by Joe Jackson.
Ballads? Yes, there is a gem version of “Body and Soul” with solos by trombonist Jeff Martin and pianist Tony Nalker. Blaylock sticks to familiar selections like; “Stella by Starlight,” “Oleo,” “All the Things You Are,” “ Love for Sale,’ “Cherokee,” and “Warm Valley,” but oh, so well done.
I came away from listening to this, my first hearing of pianist Linda Presgrave, very impressed by a number of her skills. The chemistry is all good between Presgrave and bassist Harvie S, first evidenced on Joanne Brackeen’s “Evening in Concert.” Drummer Alison Miller is also key in the tune’s subtle, rhythmic shifts. Sticking to her theme from an earlier recording, “The Journey,” which featured compositions by women, here she has ten additional selections written by females, including six by her. “Holmes for Holmes” is a light blues inspired tune dedicated to trumpeter Randy Holmes, a local St. Louis legend. Tenorist Todd Herbert is excellent delivering a blues message but without the clichés. Presgrave is particularly creative performing Bertha Hope’s “You Know Who,” and again, the cohesion of piano, bass and drums make this a standout.
(HALF NOTE) * * * * *
This is an outstanding Latin Jazz release by trombonist, educator, composer Conrad Herwig, and it deservedly garnered a Grammy nomination. Two very special guest artists join his regular seven piece unit. Pianist Eddie Palmieri is heard on three Shorter compositions: “Adam’s Apple,” “Masqualero,” and “Footprints.” Trumpeter Brian Lynch is a guest on all tracks and is an essential part of what makes this so good. It’s everything one could want in Latin jazz; pulsating percussion, brilliant, soaring solos and arrangements shining a burning light on the eight Shorter tunes. There are some superb baritone solos by Ronnie Cuber, the date’s only reed player. The mighty rhythm work is handled by pianist Luis Pedrano, bassist Ruben Rodriquez, drummer Robby Ameen and conguero Pedro Martinez.
“THE SEARCH WITHIN” SEAN JONES
(MACK AVENUE) * * * *
No standard tunes here, as young trumpet star Sean Jones pauses for a look within, and as a result, we are beneficiary to ten tunes written by Jones and two written by others.
Jones’ band is a very good one with pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Luques Curtis, alto saxophonist Brian Hogans, tenorist Walter Smith and drummer Obed Calvaire. Special guests include Gregoire Maret on harmonica, Erika Von Kleist on flute, percussionist Kahlid Bell and vocalist Carolyn Petiete.
“Life Cycles” is a beautiful ballad with Jones switching to flugelhorn, and there’s no better example of a full steam ahead swinger than “The Storm,” on which Jones contributes a remarkable and unique trumpet solo. Saxophonists Hogans and Smith are also on top as well.
“MOSTLY COLTRANE” STEVE KUHN TRIO (ECM) * * * * *
It takes a soulful musician to play the music of a soulful musical
giant such as John Coltrane. Saxophonist Joe Lovano fills the bill as, along with pianist and leader Steve Kuhn, bassist David Finck and drummer Joey Baron, they interpret nine Coltrane compositions, plus four by other composers. Thus, the title track, “Mostly Coltrane.”
The first cut, “Welcome” is an absolute grabber. I think I heard a line from “Happy Birthday,” but nevertheless, Kuhn’s gentle opening statement and Lovano’s sensitive solo made it gorgeous. Surprisingly, Lovano is not heard on Billy Eckstine’s “I Want To Talk About You” but Kuhn freshens it up with his piano artistry. Kuhn also sparkles with his unaccompanied solo on his own tune, “Trance.”
This release is a case of superior musicians performing at the highest level.
“BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES -
LIVE AT THE VIC” (AHUH) * * * * *
One of the world’s greatest male jazz singers is strong of voice on this 12 track excellent release despite his 83 years on our planet. Henderson sings from his heart and is so believable that, for example, as he sings “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word,” you wonder if his emotion is directed at a person in the live audience. Immediately at the conclusion of that song, Henderson lifts the room with an energetic up tempo interpretation of “The Song Is You.” He takes the opposite approach on “Sleepin’ Bee” with a superbly relaxed treatment of that chestnut. Henderson is allowed to use talents like his impeccable phrasing, to some degree, because of the excellent work of his accompanying musicians. Tateng Katindig is a marvelous keyboard artist. Bassist Chris Conner and drummer Roy McCurdy are tops generating just the right tempos. Some of the other tunes are; “All the Things You Are,” “Never Make Your Move Too Soon,” “Old Black Magic,” and “Living Without You” and more.
“WHEN THE HEART DANCES” LAURENCE HOBGOOD (NAIM) * * * * *
Laurence Hobgood, the man who has astonished world wide audiences
with his pianistic prowess accompanying song stylist Kurt Elling, teams with bassist Charlie Haden for this five star recording. Although Elling is heard on three tracks, “First Song,” “Stairway to the Stars,” and “Daydream,” it’s Hobgood’s show.
His composition, “When the Heart Dances” is a lively exercise with its own lovely melody. “Sanctuary,” another Hobgood original, performed solo, is an upbeat tune with occasional gospel hints. Perhaps the prettiest instrumental is “Why Did I Choose You,” performed with Haden, which sets the standard for this gorgeous ballad. Haden extracts not only the melodic theme but each and every nuance therein.
Of the three Elling tracks, my fave is “Stairway to the Stars but he is as eloquent as Elling fans would expect on all three.
“RITUALS” NICOLA CONTE (DECCA/EMARCY) * * * * *
This CD opens the door to a musical adventure, complete with Latin rhythms, a large roster of diverse vocal stylists, and refreshing original material.
“Karma Flower,” an original composed by guitarist-leader Nicola Conte, could easily be mistaken for a Sade tune. That’s because Chiara Civello and Kim Sanders share the vocals and give it that misty and mystical sound. The next track provides an abrupt change as Jose James, a baritone with a soul sound, sings another Conte original, “The Nubian Queens,” and Timo Lassy helps set the mood with a fine baritone sax solo. Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” showcases tenor vocalist Phillip Weiss, and some of the most exciting trumpet work I’ve heard in some time by Till Bronner. Bronner also leads off on the title tune, “Rituals.” This instrumental continues to swing with tenor saxophonist Daniele Scannapieco, and pianist Pietro Lussu, until a mellow Bronner returns to close it out.
Singers, the aforementioned Civello, Sanders, James, Weiss and Alice Ricciardi, the compositions and arrangements by Conte, the solid Italian jazz players who execute the material to perfection, make this a release worthy of being one of the top ten releases of 2009.
“TRADING POST” SOUTHERN EXCURSION QUARTET (ARC) * * * *
This release by the Southern Excursion Quartet gives us tracks of sheer beauty, others with a loose, free wheeling groove, and still others that are simply free.
I’d match the regal beauty of leader Don Aliquo’s tenor or soprano saxophones work against all comers, using either the late Andrew Hill’s composition, “Ashes” or Aliquo’s own beautiful tune, “Longing.” It may seem strange to bring up a competition when it comes to gorgeous music, however as one listens to Aliquo, whether he is on tenor or soprano, the mind begins to compare tone and ideas with past legends. He shares the top echelon with only a few others.
His accompanying players; pianist Michael Jefrey Stevens, bassist Jonathan Wires and drummer Tom Giampietro are excellent in their support.