Bruce Anderson - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://jazzreview.com Tue, 23 May 2017 07:43:45 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Specially Arranged for Fay by Fay Claassen http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/jazz-vocals-cd-reviews/specially-arranged-for-fay-by-fay-claassen.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/jazz-vocals-cd-reviews/specially-arranged-for-fay-by-fay-claassen.html Vocalists in big band recordings often seem to hide or are hidden behind a wash of horns and texture. Fay has a pure, beautiful voice and she doesn’t hide anywhere on this …
Vocalists in big band recordings often seem to hide or are hidden behind a wash of horns and texture. Fay has a pure, beautiful voice and she doesn’t hide anywhere on this delightful album "Specially Arranged for Fay".

Fay sings completely "exposed", without resorting to melismatic artifice or vibrato. Few musicians have the confidence and talent to perform in that vulnerable place where technique and conviction are on full display. Fay seems completely at home, out in front in this empty intimate space. It’s easy to understand why Fay’s style has been described as "horn-like". If it hasn’t been, well, it certainly could be. She’s a vocalist who is first and foremost a musician, and a damn good one.

I never particularly cared for the tune "Nature Boy" whether played by Coltrane or anyone else. Fay’s rendition of this tune, however, is truly a delight. Her spare, relaxed vocalese and phrasing represents the best of the genre. Her delivery on other tunes "Speak Low" and "A House is Not a Home" are equally convincing and enjoyable.

The Millenium Jazz Orchestra plays as nimbly as a quartet on these tight arrangements. My first impression was surprise and frankly some bewilderment. Big bands aren’t usually this assertive and densely orchestrated. But I must say on second listening I really began to appreciate this band.

If you’re only going to buy one big band/vocalist album this year, "Specially Arranged for Fay" should probably be the one. This isn’t your grandfather’s big band, and perhaps not your father’s, either. If it is, you’ve got hip parents, for sure.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Bruce Anderson) Jazz Vocals - CD Reviews Sat, 23 Aug 2003 13:00:00 -0500
Hearts Content by Peter Bernstein http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/hearts-content-by-peter-bernstein.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/hearts-content-by-peter-bernstein.html If you have spent any time listening to jazz in New York, guitarist Peter Bernstein will be a familiar name. If Peter Bernstein isn’t familiar to you, then by all means che…
If you have spent any time listening to jazz in New York, guitarist Peter Bernstein will be a familiar name. If Peter Bernstein isn’t familiar to you, then by all means check this guy out without further ado. Pete’s probably the most talented up and coming jazz guitarist on the scene today. His recent release "Heart’s Content" on Criss Cross Jazz is a fine example of his talent, backed up by Larry Grenadier (Bass), Brad Mehldau (Piano), and Bill Stewart (Drums).

Peter is a truly an uncompromising purist of the art form. Pete has beautiful intonation, a languid, behind the beat phrasing, and a lovely lyricism that shines especially on ballads. To a large degree, Pete’s improvisation sidesteps clichés, easy harmonic formulae, and standard licks. This is refreshing for devoted listeners, but can be a little inaccessible for those fed a diet of Monheit, Mahogony, and Metheny. Especially playing live, Pete is able to create this sustained, inspired momentum when he improvises. Brad called this "slow-burn" in the liner notes, and I can’t think of a better term for the feeling.

Six of the eight tracks were composed by Pete, with a couple of standards rounding out the album. Pete is not really a "traditionalist" in many respects, but his playing reflects the best of Jim Hall and the integrity of that era. Brad Mehldau also merits some close listening (as always), and his playing is very compatible with Pete’s musical concept. My only complaint about this album is the recording/mix. Pete sounds great, but the rhythm section is a little muddy at times, and this music deserves better sonic treatment. Still, mix notwithstanding, hearing Pete play on this recording reassures me that the future of jazz guitar is safe in Pete’s hands. Buy this album, and go hear him when you’re in New York.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Bruce Anderson) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Wed, 04 Sep 2002 19:00:00 -0500
Jane Monheit at the Blue Note http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/jane-monheit-at-the-blue-note.html http://jazzreview.com/concert-reviews/jane-monheit-at-the-blue-note.html Based on the long line braving the cold wind outside the Blue Note on Saturday, mine is probably a minority opinion but I’ve got to call it like I hear it. Ms. Monheit’s recent performance at the Blue Note left me wishing I’d taken a seat at the bar where I could have made a beeline for the door after a couple tunes. Along with a drink, I’d have enjoyed those first few numbers out of curiosity. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough content, soul, or feeling to make an entire set. No amount of Ms. M
Based on the long line braving the cold wind outside the Blue Note on Saturday, mine is probably a minority opinion but I’ve got to call it like I hear it. Ms. Monheit’s recent performance at the Blue Note left me wishing I’d taken a seat at the bar where I could have made a beeline for the door after a couple tunes. Along with a drink, I’d have enjoyed those first few numbers out of curiosity. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough content, soul, or feeling to make an entire set. No amount of Ms. Monheit dramatically stroking her hair can change that musical fact.

Ms. Monheit certainly does have a remarkable vocal facility. Stylistically her approach is a marketable pop-jazz crossover hybrid, tailor made for an audience that doesn’t want to work too hard. I wouldn’t call Ms. Monheit’s contribution "jazz", but music doesn’t have to be jazz to be good, either. Not long ago I heard Cassandra Wilson at the Blue Note and although much of her set was not "jazz" in the traditional sense, it was authentic and deep seated. Ms. Monheit was neither of these; like a Beaujolais nouveau, one can’t expect too much and a second serving is unnecessary. One can hope age will improve her delivery. I know it’s Christmas and all, but people did not pay $30 to hear Ms. Monheit’s most unremarkable interpretation of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". Unfortunately, much of the rest of the set was dispensed in a similar manner, without any authoritative sensibility, and seemingly more focused on staged theatrical effect than meaning.

The Norah Jones syndrome clearly has taken a firm hold on the jazz industry. This is lamentable and leaves many of us desperately longing for the integrity of Shirley Horn or Jimmy Scott singers that had a message to deliver and something profound to teach us. Jazz is not just about entertainment or stroking your hair.

Ms. Monheit was at her best singing the Jobim composition "Waters of March", a tune that she imbues with a certain joy. At one moment she even appeared to be actively engaged with the band in musical dialogue. Imagine that! Sadly, the moment was fleeting, and we were entreated to another Christmas tune.

Ms. Monheit was accompanied by Joel Frahm (ts), Michael Kanan (p), Joe Martin (b), and Rick Montalbano (dr). I paid my bill and headed over to Fat Cat to cleanse my palate with some improvised jazz. Interestingly, an unnamed sideman of the Monheit band also appeared, no doubt possessed of the same need to play where hair stroking was not considered a musical contribution. Joining the Spike Wilner Trio (along with Jesse Davis), they burned on some uptempo standards and closed the place with a Monk tune. We all felt better.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Bruce Anderson) Concert Reviews Sat, 29 Jan 2011 09:36:45 -0600