Mark E. Gallo - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://jazzreview.com Mon, 22 May 2017 18:23:12 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb All Music Guide to Jazz, 4th Edition by Edited by Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra and Stephen Thomas Erlewine http://jazzreview.com/book-reviews/all-music-guide-to-jazz-4th-edition-by-edited-by-vladimir-bogdanov-chris-woodstra-and-stephen-thomas-erlewine.html http://jazzreview.com/book-reviews/all-music-guide-to-jazz-4th-edition-by-edited-by-vladimir-bogdanov-chris-woodstra-and-stephen-thomas-erlewine.html This is the quintessential jazz encyclopedia. There certainly are other fine reference guides on the market, particularly Leonard Feather's groundb...
This is the quintessential jazz encyclopedia. There certainly are other fine reference guides on the market, particularly Leonard Feather's groundbreaking and classic "Encyclopedia of Jazz." But when it comes down to sheer volume of information, nothing even comes close. Consider that there are 20,000 recording reviews here. If you can imagine it, it's here. Entries from the Swedish free jazz AALY Trio to the free jazz saxophonist John Zorn are included. Bird, Diz, Duke, Count, Trane, Monk, Pops, Lady Day, Ella, Sarah and Miles are included, but so are Judy Niemak, Frank Gambale, Phil Urso and the Instant Composer's Pool Orchestra.

Under Stephane Grappelli, for instance, you'll see nearly 50 reviews. Flip to Leo Parker and you'll find four. Each entry has a brief biography of the 1700 artists profiled here and each assigns a star-system for rating the significance of the piece. As with past volumes, there is also a series of exceptionally well researched and written essays covering "A Brief History of Jazz," "Jazz Singers," "Classic Jazz" (written by Scott Yanow, who also has penned a fine book with the same title that comes highly recommended from these quarters), "Jazz/Blues Crossover," "Swing and the Big Band Era," "Latin Jazz," "Free Jazz," "Jazz Fusion," "Acid Jazz," etc. You get the picture. There are also wonderful "musical maps" that show the transition of styles and influence of players. Not sure of the difference between post-bop and bop, of trad jazz, Dixieland or classic jazz? You'll find short concise style definitions.

Jazz novices will find this to be the most complete primer imaginable. It's also a vital addition to the library of lifelong devotees. A heavy book, it doesn't suffer from being too weighty. This is not a scholarly journal, though it certainly has that built-in advantage. I find it as enjoyable to read as informative. As is the case with the whole of the AMG series, this is a reliable resource and a great day-off fun read.If you only have one jazz reference work in your library, this is the one to have. Nothing else comes close to being as complete.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mark E. Gallo) Book Reviews Wed, 27 Feb 2002 18:00:00 -0600
Before Motown û A History of Jazz in Detroit 1920-1960 by Lars Bjorn with Jim Gallert http://jazzreview.com/book-reviews/before-motown-u-a-history-of-jazz-in-detroit-1920-1960-by-lars-bjorn-with-jim-gallert.html http://jazzreview.com/book-reviews/before-motown-u-a-history-of-jazz-in-detroit-1920-1960-by-lars-bjorn-with-jim-gallert.html This scholarly look at the history of Detroit jazz is the work of college professor Bjorn and influential disc jockey Gallert, who 30 years ago was...
This scholarly look at the history of Detroit jazz is the work of college professor Bjorn and influential disc jockey Gallert, who 30 years ago was influential in shaping my love of the music with his Jazz Yesterday radio show on WDET-FM. In the course of a bit over 200 pages, the authors offer a well conceived and executed overview of a 40-year period that was arguably the most developmentally fertile in pre-Motown Detroit. Throughout these riveting pages, the reader is introduced to both well-known and obscure musicians who shaped jazz in Detroit -- and in many cases the rest of the world. Though the relevance of the subject to non-Detroiters might be called into question, the reader is asked to consider the wealth of world-class players who developed their proficiency and ultimately their reputations in this fruitful environment.

The authors provide foundational facts relative to historical race relations in the city, geographic boundaries and important landmarks before launching into the subject at hand. Early black society bands, like those of Theodore Finney and Leroy Smith, are examined, as are some nascent attempts at the forming of jazz bands. The second chapter begins to make a case for the importance of Detroit-bred jazz on a broader national stage with the introduction of McKinney's Cotton Pickers and the Jean Goldkette Orchestra (home to Bix Beiderbecke, Frankie Trumbauer, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey and Joe Venuti), in the 1920s. While the Cotton Pickers boasted the arranging talents of Don Redman, formerly of the Fletcher Henderson band, they were certainly a band up to the task and deserving of the accolades. When Redman left, Benny Carter took over the chief arranging duties. (It was here the saxophonist added trumpet to his repertoire). Consequently, the Detroit-based big band was briefly one of the most popular in the land.

By the 1930s, the Black community in Detroit called Paradise Valley home. This was reportedly a bustling city-within-a-city that boasted theatres such as the Greystone and the Paradise (which saw 40,000 come out in one 1942 week to see Cab Calloway), along with a slew of hoppin' nightspots dotting the landscape. Places like Sportree's, the Forest Club, the Bandbox, Club Plantation and the Palm Garden Caf? were alive with this new music. Drummer J.C. Heard got his start here, as did blues singer Alberta Adams. Pianist Milt Buckner (later with Lionel Hampton and others) played the Valley as a teenager.

More familiar names are introduced in the chapter entitled "Detroit and the Birth of Bop". The authors write, "Milt Jackson and Lucky Thompson grew up on the East Side of Detroit, where they played together as teenagers in the King's Aces big band. By 1945 they were back together again playing with the two major innovators of bop: Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie." There is further discussion of generally poor race relations, entrenched in the citizenry more than in most big cities. Still, the growing hip and interracial audience for jazz would continue to swell. Teddy Edwards and Howard McGhee (who would later work with Bird and Coleman Hawkins) were in residence at the Club Congo along with Wardell Gray (later with Earl Hines, Charlie Parker and Hawkins) and Al McKibbon. Frank Roslino, Art Mardigan and Art Pepper, minority white players on the scene, offered proof that jazz artists were able to transcended the social realities of the city, at least while sharing stages in the clubs. In was this environment that Tommy Flanagan, Willie Anderson, Kenny Burrell, Billy Mitchell, Julius Watkins, Barry Harris, Yusef Lateef, Curtis Fuller, Louis Hayes, brothers Oliver 'Bops Jr.' and Ali Muhammad Jackson, Hugh Lawson, Abe Woodley, Major 'Mule' Holley, Barry Harris, Frank Gant, Terry Pollard, Bess Bonnier, Lonnie Hillyer, Charles McPherson and Kirk Lightsey came up. Hillyer and McPherson were teenagers when they played with Miles at the Bluebird. Frank Foster first gained significant exposure during the year he played the same club. By the mid-1950s he and many other locals were being noticed around the country. Detroit wasn't just getting on the musical map, it was beginning to dominate the terrain. When these brilliant Detroit jazz musicians landed in New York, almost en masse, they were more than prepared. "Tommy Flanagan's first year in New York," they write, "is a case in point. During 1956 he played with bassist Oscar Pettiford, subbed for Bud Powell at Birdland, toured with Miles Davis and J.J. Johnson and recorded now classic albums with Miles Davis ("Collector's Items") and Sonny Rollins ("Saxophone Colossus")."

Roy Brooks, who gained fame with Horace Silver, remembers seeing Bird in Detroit as a 15 year old. Elvin, Thad and Hank Jones, up the road in Pontiac, hosted legendary jam sessions. Betty Carter was coming down from Flint. Bird and Diz were in residence for a couple of months in 1947. Sonny Stitt was an on and off citizen for years. Miles spent six months and spoke highly of the musicians he shared bandstands with. The Bluebird would be one of the first dates his quintet with Coltrane and Paul Chambers would play in 1955. Miles said, "Paul Chambers was from Detroit and I had lived there and so for us it was like a homecoming."

Detroit was most decidedly happening. Not just with the "name" players but for the McKinney brothers (Bassist Ray, pianist Harold and Bernard on euphonium), Sonny Red Kyner, Joe Brazil, Bert Myrick, Claire Roquemore, Ernie Farrow (whose sister Alice would marry John Coltrane), Lamonte Hamilton, Will Austin, T.J. Fowler, Todd Rhodes, Candy Johnson, Dezi McCullers, and so many others.

How the city spawned so many players of remarkable consequence in jazz history in such short order is rhetorically posed. The authors speculate that the greatest contributing factor in the jazz talent that came out of Detroit in the 1940s and 1950s, from Milt Jackson to Yusef Lateff to Kenny Burrell to Donald Byrd, was the presence of an actively promoted music program in the public schools. Sadly, music programs have all but left public schools nationally.

Space is dedicated to jump and urban blues players active in the 1940s and 1950s, from John Lee Hooker to Alberta Adams. The action at the Flame Show Bar, from which Johnny Ray, Della Reese and Jackie Wilson can claim a springboard, is discussed, as well.

To bring the book full circle, there is some discussion of the importance of Detroit jazz musicians in the creation and propagation of the Motown sound. It's accurately pointed out that the core of world-class jazz musicians responsible were never adequately credited. There is some discussion, too, of various record labels that rose and fell in Detroit before Motown. Had a local record label taken hold, the shape of jazz might have been significantly different. Maybe James Carter and his cousin Regina would be based in "Jazz Mecca" Detroit, rather than New York. Either way, Detroit developed some of the most important jazz musicians in the history of the genre. Those of us who live here are proud of that fact. Lars Bjorn and his collaborator Jim Gallert have written a book equal to the music they chronicle so superbly. Give this one 10 stars.From McKinneys Cotton Pickers to Milt Jackson Kenny Burrell and Yusef Lateef Detroit's rich jazz history rivals that of any city in the world as Lars Bjorn and his collaborator Jim Gallert make clear in this brilliant overview.'

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mark E. Gallo) Book Reviews Wed, 14 Feb 2001 18:00:00 -0600
Mercy by Bill McBirnie Duo/Quartet (featuring Robi Botos) http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/various-jazz-styles-cd-reviews/mercy-by-bill-mcbirnie-duo/quartet-featuring-robi-botos.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/various-jazz-styles-cd-reviews/mercy-by-bill-mcbirnie-duo/quartet-featuring-robi-botos.html Toronto-based Flautist Bill McBirnie presents a handful of jazz and Latin classics in a whirlwind tour of everything from a cha cha version of Hubert Laws’ dynamic "Ball…

Toronto-based Flautist Bill McBirnie presents a handful of jazz and Latin classics in a whirlwind tour of everything from a cha cha version of Hubert Laws’ dynamic "Balla Cinderella" to takes on "Yardbird Suite" and "Moment's Notice." This is not a timid musician. He came to play. In both duo and quartet formats he dazzles.

His third outing as a leader sees him gorgeously interpret "Willow Weep for Me" accompanied only by the brilliant pianist Robi Botos. The following take on the Sonny Rollins classic "Airegin" adds drummer John Sumner and bassist Pat Collins. The quartet delivers a finger-snapping version of the rarely heard Monk tune, "Stuffy Turkey." Again, the duo delivers a superb take on Luis Bonfa’s "Gentle Rain" before diving into a swinging "I’m Walkin’." The flautist takes that same trip in "Way Down Yonder In New Orleans," with just Botos joining on board. In every instance McBirnie’s technique is flawless, dynamic and often just jaw-dropping.

The juxtaposition of duo versus quartet throughout the set is well executed. Those compositions that feature the duet are nothing less than stunning, though the rhythm section is exquisite. Collins has an impressive solo on Joao Donato’s "Minha Saudade," on which Sumner’s intricate and rhythmic time keeping impressing equally.

The quartet delivers the Dizzy Gillespie-penned "Groovin’ High" at a quick paced gallop. McBirnie’s formidable chops are given a workout here that would drop a lesser player to their knees. The closing Botos-penned title piece is beautifully delivered by two unquestioned masters of their respective instruments. McBirnie’s tone is crisp and bright throughout, though he transcends rvrn his own brilliance on this delightful closer.

Bill McBirnie has been called Canada’s standout jazz flautist. I maintain he is one of the top two three in the world.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mark E. Gallo) Various Jazz Styles - CD Reviews Mon, 11 Jan 2010 18:00:00 -0600
Living In the Light by Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/blues-cd-reviews/living-in-the-light-by-ronnie-earl-and-the-broadcasters.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/blues-cd-reviews/living-in-the-light-by-ronnie-earl-and-the-broadcasters.html Ronnie Horvath didn’t start to play guitar until he was 20 years old. When he saw Muddy Waters play, the blues became his passion. It was Waters who changed his stage na…

Ronnie Horvath didn’t start to play guitar until he was 20 years old. When he saw Muddy Waters play, the blues became his passion. It was Waters who changed his stage name to Ronnie Earl when he called him up on stage unable to remember his last name some years later and it stuck. In 1979, Earl joined Roomful of Blues, a band that Count Basie famously called the best little big band in the land. He held the guitar chair with the influential band until 1983 when he left to form the original version of his Broadcasters. Some version of that band has existed since.

Earl is unquestionably one of the finest blues guitarist alive, though he is a musician who transcends categories. Over the years the influence of jazz has become more conspicuous in his playing. His website lists Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Guitar Slim, Jimmy McGriff, Jimmy Smith, Grant Green, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Wes Montgomery as influences. He has played with, among others, Rush, Big Walter Horton, Koko Taylor, John Nicholas and in Sugar Ray Norcia’s Blue Notes.

The disc at hand mixes traditional blues with guitar work that can only be described as transcendent. The opening cut "Love Love Love," sung by Dave Keller, who’s own Play for Love disc is recommended, sets the tone, combining straight-ahead, Chicago-style blues with Earl’s lyrics: "Love can change both hearts and minds/It can leave every war behind/Increase the peace in the Middle East/It isn't very hard to find." Not the most poetic perhaps, but effective enough to make the point. "Child of a Survivor" is sung by Kim Wilson, a friend of 35 years. Here Earl writes, "How can we understand the death of six million?/Or know the minds of those set free?/Liberation brought life and they all are inspiring./I’m a child of a survivor and the hope is rising."

Lyrics are not Ronnie Earl’s forte. He is a guitarist, first and foremost. He approaches much of what he does with the same spiritual sense that Carlos Santana brought to Love, Devotion, Surrender and Welcome and he has the incisive intensity and precision of Stevie Ray Vaughan. "SOS" is a deep blues instrumental workout on which his guitar is brilliantly augmented by Dave Limina’s mighty B3. The bridge here drops to a hush with beautifully and deliberately picked guitar lines over wonderful organ noodling, giving the song added drama. When it comes back full throttle to the theme, the guitar shimmers and explodes.

"Recovery Blues" is the centerpiece of the disc. Earl credits the "friends at Wednesday and Saturday meetings" as among his influences. This is a personal song as well as an inspired piece. Again Limina shines. And again, the introspective bridge works effectively, this time serving as a long fade. "Blues For Fathead," a tribute to David ‘Fathead’ Newman’s simple and efficient saxophone, has a classic organ combo groove with Lorne Entress’ drums and Jim Mouradian’s bass serving, as they do throughout, as essential foundation. Earl sounds like he’s having the time of his life here. "Blues For the South Side" is a tribute to the Windy City and his take on "Ain’t Nobody’s Business" is gorgeously rendered. The closing instrumental, "Pastorale" with its delicate lullaby quality, showcases Earl at his most introspective and expressive. This is why Ronnie Earl matters. This is the work of a master.

This latest installment from one of the most important guitarist in any genre of the past quarter century is inspired.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mark E. Gallo) Blues - CD Reviews Tue, 10 Mar 2009 13:00:00 -0500
Twisted by Rick Estrin & The Nightcats http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/blues-cd-reviews/twisted-by-rick-estrin-the-nightcats.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/blues-cd-reviews/twisted-by-rick-estrin-the-nightcats.html With Little Charlie Baty’s touring retirement from the band that bore his name for 30 years or so, the mantle has become front man Rick Estrin’s solely. Rick Estrin and …

With Little Charlie Baty’s touring retirement from the band that bore his name for 30 years or so, the mantle has become front man Rick Estrin’s solely. Rick Estrin and the Nightcats’ Alligator debut Twisted is a delight on a couple of fronts. Estrin’s unparalleled harmonica work, his sly vocalizing and songs infused with his well known acerbic wit stand out as boldly as on any previous Little Charlie & the Nightcats effort.

If anything, the harp work is more impressive. Add the super tight Nightcats rhythm team of J. Hansen and Lorenzo Farrell, drums and bass respectively, and the new "kid" in the lineup, guitarist Kid Andersen (who also co-produced with Estrin), and the result is wholly impressive. Having cut his teeth with Charlie Musselwhite, young Andersen comes to the lineup with an impressive resume and chops to spare. Baty’s are some mighty big guitar shoes to fill. He redeems himself brilliantly. His allegiance to the sound that Baty made so instantly recognizable is clear, but he’s got a few licks and tricks of his own to recommend him. too. This is nobody’s clone and clearly a young guitar icon in the making.

Some Nightcats themes are repeated, as on "Walk All Day," reflecting "The Booty Song (I Love to Watch You Walk Away)" from 1988’s Disturbing the Peace. There’s an undeniable degree of formula to the Nightcats sound. That’s OK. You know unmistakably who you’re listening to. "Take It Slow" soaked through and through with Jimmy Reed emotion, Estrin’s virtuosic harmonica is beautifully rendered. He’s more impressive yet on the chordal chromatic work of "Cool Breeze." "A Ton of Money" as getting’ over and getting’ respect and "PA Slim is Back" as homage to a rug-cuttin’ rhythm rhymer are naturals for blues radio.

Hansen takes a vocal showcase in "I’m Takin’ Out My In-Laws," a song that has nothing to do with making reservations at the best restaurant in town and everything to do with digging a nice sized hold in the back yard. The word play on "Back from the Dead" ranks among Estrin’s best in a long line of songs with humorous lyrics and serious topics: "Man, I was heart broken/chain smokin’/drinkin’ wine and takin’ dope/hit the wall/took a fall/damn near wasn’t here at all/Hey buddy, I ain’t jokin’/I came this close to croakin’/but now I’m back, back from the dead." On "Catchin’ Hell," a deep blues that could have been written anthematically for the new depression, he sings "Good times/man they never seem to last/there were hard times/ they’re gainin’ on me fast/I hear things about a turnaround/But I know only time will tell/Man, all I know right now/I’m catchin’ hell." Andersen’s guitar is a superb foil to Estrin’s emotive vocals here, giving it delicate and substantive shading.

The acoustic guitar and harp on "Someone, Somewhere" has shades of Lightnin’ Hopkins in the mix and the closing "Big Foot," a vehicle for Andersen, conjures a swingin’ rockabilly flavored Dick Dale groove with a dab of Danny Gatton in the stew. Whew!

One of the standout albums of the year? Absolutely. As good as any of the Baty/Estrin material against which it will inevitably be measured and further proof that Rick Estrin is one of the most important blues figures of the past quarter century.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mark E. Gallo) Blues - CD Reviews Wed, 04 Feb 2009 00:00:00 -0600
Depth of Emotion by Ed Saindon and Dave Liebman http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/depth-of-emotion-by-ed-saindon-and-dave-liebman.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/contemporary-jazz-cd-reviews/depth-of-emotion-by-ed-saindon-and-dave-liebman.html Vibraphonist Ed Saindon, a proponent of the 4-mallet approach, is a masterful musician capable of dazzling runs as well as of delightful passages, often in the same song…

Vibraphonist Ed Saindon, a proponent of the 4-mallet approach, is a masterful musician capable of dazzling runs as well as of delightful passages, often in the same song. The song list, written almost entirety by him, also points to the work of a creative composer. Coupled with soprano saxophonist Dave Liebman, a veteran of work with Miles Davis and Elvin Jones, among many others (McLaughlin, Metheny, etc), bassist David Clark and drummer Mark Walker, Saindon is a captivating master of his instruments.

Opening with "The Last Goodbye," a piece composed in memory of Herb Pomeroy, the renown educator with whom Saindon played in duet format with for many years, the assembled players are delicate and seem to take flight, with Liebman, especially, darting in and out of the melody. "The Healing" is textural, moody and moving, with Saindon playing beautifully.

The two covers are back to back. "Green Dolphin Street" and "Moon River" are both given impressive readings. Liebman doesn’t play outside, but he sometimes skirts the fringes on the former, while Saindon’s delightfully surprising piano takes center stage on the latter. The piano work continues on "Tokyo Nights," with Liebman offering simpatico accompaniment. Saindon’s marimba work on "Giorgio’s Theme" offers yet another aspect of his talent. Liebman stretches a bit on "Alpine Sunset," a piece that allows equal space for Clark to solo underneath.

The final five selections are solo piano pieces that are often breathtaking for their finesse and delicacy. The pieces are recorded separately, but sound like a suite in their breadth and similarity.

Surely there have been a handful of impressive vibe players. Very few of them mastered a four mallet approach. Only Gary Burton comes immediately to mind. Ed Saindon is a master player. That he is as ease and as impressive at the piano makes him that much more of an imposing musical presence. A brilliant recording.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mark E. Gallo) Contemporary Jazz - CD Reviews Mon, 30 Jul 2007 19:00:00 -0500
Letter From America by Paul Hemmings Trio with John Tchicai http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/letter-from-america-by-paul-hemmings-trio-with-john-tchicai.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/letter-from-america-by-paul-hemmings-trio-with-john-tchicai.html Paul Hemmings is a talented guitarist who is as deft a distortionist as he is an outside tight-rope experimenter, offering an aural painting that is as bold as it is exc…

Paul Hemmings is a talented guitarist who is as deft a distortionist as he is an outside tight-rope experimenter, offering an aural painting that is as bold as it is exciting. This is a successful album, not just for the coup of landing the famed avant-garde Danish saxophonist John Tchicai (a veteran of work with both John Coltrane and Archie Shepp) but for Hemmings compositional skills and the equally compelling aural/ artistic participation of the brilliant drummer, Adam Issadore, and the equally impressive electric and upright bassist, Gaku Takanashi. Combined with Hemmings outstanding guitar and mastery of the studio, this is a wholly exhilarating and expansive collection of eight brilliant original compositions. Benefiting from the drama that the musicians bring to the scores, it shifts from the rhythmic to the cacophonous sublimely.

The opening "Under A New Mexico Sky," also reprised as the finale, is worth the price of admission, alone. Here Tchicai blows a gorgeous motif under which the trio swirls and dances, with Hemmings delivering an intense guitar passage, particularly in the reprise, that dazzles. On "Radio Free America," following a radio dial scanning intro, replete with static, the assembled break into a tune that incorporates elements of Roswell Rudd with Mingus, with guitar and tenor working especially well off each other. On "The Battle New York City," bass and drums set up a hard tenor blow under which distorted guitar blows as mightily. "A Conversation In Central Park" opens with a serene music scape that brings early morning to mind before giving way to the sunshine and greater activity. The timbre and mood throughout is adventurous and riveting. Exemplary disc.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mark E. Gallo) Free Jazz / Avante Garde - CD Reviews Mon, 30 Jul 2007 01:00:00 -0500
No Gravity by Klobas Kesecker Ensemble http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/other-cd-reviews/no-gravity-by-klobas-kesecker-ensemble.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/other-cd-reviews/no-gravity-by-klobas-kesecker-ensemble.html This self-produced release exemplifies the healthy state of independent jazz. With elements of world jazz, Latin jazz and straight ahead grooves, they defy easy categori…

This self-produced release exemplifies the healthy state of independent jazz. With elements of world jazz, Latin jazz and straight ahead grooves, they defy easy categorization. Devoid of big label and big PR company push, this four piece from San Francisco forges on simply because the muse is too insistently important to ignore. Comprised of original material, with well chosen takes on familiar and obscure material, No Gravity is a wholly riveting and engaging 10-song delight. Opening with a gorgeous take on Johnny Mandel’s "Barbara’s Theme," a tune previously cut by both Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan, tenor saxophonist Gene Burkert is at once muscular and melodic, somewhat reminiscent of classic John Klemmer. With the support of Pat Klobas’ bass, Tommy Kesecker’s hypnotic vibes and David Rokeach’s steady drumming, this is the sort of opening tune that draws the listener in, always the job of the opener. The next nine numbers keep attention high. The title tune, penned by Kesecker, features guest tabla player Zakir Hussain working with Burkert’s flute to great success.

The band’s version of Benny Golson’s classic, "Along Came Betty" is notable for the interchange between the two principals. Klobas and Kesecker work wonderfully together and the drum accents push them to greater heights. Burkert, again on tenor, captures the theme’s mood superbly. Zakir’s tabla sets the stage on Klobas’ "Z-Magic." The percussive exchanges between Kesecker and Zakir is riveting. The ethereal vibraphone opening to Kesecker’s "Blues for Johnny Rae" gives way to a jaunty Latin-tinged romp - a nuanced sort of a romp, but a romp nonetheless. "Pinot Noir" is mellow, and "Lasting Ways," the longest piece at 7:34, shifts through timbres.

"Five Scapes" is a showcase for vibraphones and bass and is the most mesmerizing piece on the disc. Kesecker sets up a hypnotic motif on which Klobas builds, with a dialogue between the players that makes one wonder where the big labels have been. This is simply brilliant music. Thom Bell’s "People Make The World Go ‘Round," previously recorded by everyone from Angela Bofill to Ron Carter and Freddie Hubbard, is given a spirited reading. The closing "Let It Rain" features Pat Klobas on rainstick with Hussain’s tabla and Burkert on both flute and baritone sax. It’s a fine finish and serves as bookend to the brilliant opener. A peek at the band’s website will reveal the richly impressive histories of individual band members. The music presented here represents the whole and the ensemble has one of the most interesting and enjoyable recordings to cross this desk in some time.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mark E. Gallo) Other - CD Reviews Sun, 29 Jul 2007 19:00:00 -0500
Hits By Brits by Harry Allen http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/hits-by-brits-by-harry-allen.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/hits-by-brits-by-harry-allen.html Harry Allen is a hard blowing tenor saxophonist who, along with the equally impressive quartet that joins him on this disc, comes to impress. And he does so unequivocall…

Harry Allen is a hard blowing tenor saxophonist who, along with the equally impressive quartet that joins him on this disc, comes to impress. And he does so unequivocally. From the opening blowing session on Ray Noble’s classic "Cherokee" the pace is set. Here, Allen burns up the speakers, while guitarist Joe Cohn and trombonist John Allred trade fours with drummer Chuck Riggs over Joel Forbes muscular and steady bass.

Cohn and Allen chase each other through a medium tempo "Just In Time" with superb comping by the guitarist. Allred and Allen do the same on "I Hadn’t Anyone Till You." Allred shines on a lushly romantic "These Foolish Things," proving himself to be one of the most dynamic new trombonist to grace a sound studio in a long while. The guitar/tenor interplay on "Limehouse Blues" is explosive, propelled by bass and drums, and subdued on "The Very Thought Of You."

Allen is an inspiring player. The tenor on "You’re Blaze," for instance, is one of the most telling moments on the disc. Allen incorporates elements of Johnny Hodges and just dazzles. The same can be said for his gentle pace on "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square," on which he invests as much emotion as can be heard on any cut on the disc. One of the finest tenor players on the scene, Allen has a winner in this wonderful collection.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mark E. Gallo) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Sat, 07 Jul 2007 01:00:00 -0500
The Mists of Distant Time by Groove Apparatus http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/the-mists-of-distant-time-by-groove-apparatus.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/the-mists-of-distant-time-by-groove-apparatus.html Over the course of seven extraordinary original compositions the four-piece Groove Apparatus covers broad stylistic territory while staying within the general framework …

Over the course of seven extraordinary original compositions the four-piece Groove Apparatus covers broad stylistic territory while staying within the general framework of straight ahead material. The principals have played in contexts from atonal to Motown to classical to tenure with Pat Martino, and the experience they bring to the project reflects that rich diversity.

Opening with saxophonist Scott Robert Avidon’s buoyantly propulsive "Kiyomi’s’ Garden," a showcase for pianist Jim Ridi, the quartet assays shifting tempos and timbres effortlessly. "Blues For Alex," from the pen of drummer Edward Taylor, reminds of the Jazz Messengers at times and features a searing solo from guest trumpeter Terell Stafford. The interplay between Stafford and saxophonist Scott Robert Avidon, here on tenor, is mesmeric. Taylor’s "At The Water’s Edge," benefits from gorgeous saxophone and trumpet voicing and solid bass and drums. Ridi’s piano work is impressive and expansive. "Owen’s Lullaby," again from Taylor, is a feature for Avidon and reminds of John Klemmer, especially in the lush opening section.

Bassist Steve Swanson works his instrument melodically and rhythmically throughout. On Avidon’s "Praying Mantis," he lays a solid foundation under Ridi. On Avidon’s "Oyako Don," he sets the composition up with strong underpinnings over which Ridi and Avidon work magic lines. The closing title piece opens quiet and breathtakingly tender, reminiscent of Bill Evans. A strong bass line introduces a saxophone section before it revisits the piano, now more upbeat, with driving drums. The saxophone, muscular and sensitive, restates the theme and the outro to the tune and the collection is executed beautifully. Superb recording. One of the young year’s ten best.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Mark E. Gallo) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Wed, 27 Jun 2007 13:00:00 -0500