Shaun Dale - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection - jazzreview.com - Your Jazz Music Connection http://jazzreview.com Tue, 23 May 2017 00:11:50 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb The Cat Lover - The Songs Of Colin Thomas by Colin Tommis http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/jazz-vocals-cd-reviews/the-cat-lover-the-songs-of-colin-thomas-by-colin-tommis.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/jazz-vocals-cd-reviews/the-cat-lover-the-songs-of-colin-thomas-by-colin-tommis.html Despite his considerable credentials as a guitarist, composer and teacher, Colin Tommis doesn't make an appearance on his latest release, except as the writer of 10 brand n…
Despite his considerable credentials as a guitarist, composer and teacher, Colin Tommis doesn't make an appearance on his latest release, except as the writer of 10 brand new songs which he offers to "song-starved singers who have run out of good material to cover."

The material here, demonstrated by a four different singers fronting piano trios led by Huy Warren, is good, indeed, good enough to provide a challenge to even the best of singers. The lyrics are intriguingly witty, using themes and imagery that may stray from the mainstream, but with a degree of quirkiness that works to Tommis' advantage, in the same way similar stylings by, say, Cole Porter once did. Tommis takes additional liberties in the construction of melodies and phrasing, which serves to keep the songs well on the jazz side of the pop spectrum.

There's not a great deal of information offered about the performers themselves (though their names lead me to imagine that Tommis turned largely to friends and neighbors from near his home in Wales), but each makes a distinctive contribution, making the album considerably more than a simple showcase of new songs.

Whether you're one of those "song-starved singers" or simply a jazz buff in search of fine performances of strong new material, The Cat Lover is an album worth your attention.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shaun Dale) Jazz Vocals - CD Reviews Sun, 20 Jun 2004 03:07:39 -0500
A Little Bit Of Brasil by Brazilian Trombone Ensemble http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/latin-jazz-/-latin-funk-cd-reviews/a-little-bit-of-brasil-by-brazilian-trombone-ensemble.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/latin-jazz-/-latin-funk-cd-reviews/a-little-bit-of-brasil-by-brazilian-trombone-ensemble.html I've never considered the trombone particularly characteristic of Brazilian music, nor can I remember encountering a assemblage of six trombones outside a marching band, bu…
I've never considered the trombone particularly characteristic of Brazilian music, nor can I remember encountering a assemblage of six trombones outside a marching band, but in each case, I simply didn't know what I was missing.

The Brazilian Trombone Ensemble consists of a trombone sextet and a percussionist, and their arrangements on A Little Bit Of Brasil offer new insight both into the range of the instrument, particularly in combination, and of Brazilian music itself, with familiar tunes showing new dimensions in a new setting.

The album notes are written in Portuguese, a seal of authenticity, perhaps, but one from which I can glean little about the backgrounds and credentials of the players. I can only assume that they each have exemplary credits, because the demonstrate exemplary chops throughout the 13 tracks of the disc. An import disc featuring an unusual ensemble may seem like a risky choice, but unless you're allergic to brass, I can't imagine that A Little Bit Of Brasil will disappoint you.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shaun Dale) Latin Jazz / Latin Funk - CD Reviews Sat, 19 Jun 2004 23:07:39 -0500
The Illustrious Clarinetists Of Jazz: 1927-1949 by Various Artists http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/big-band-swing-cd-reviews/the-illustrious-clarinetists-of-jazz-1927-1949-by-various-artists.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/big-band-swing-cd-reviews/the-illustrious-clarinetists-of-jazz-1927-1949-by-various-artists.html Albums likely to excite music historians aren't always apt to satisfy general music listener. Many early recordings fail to measure up, both in terms of fidelity and musici…
Albums likely to excite music historians aren't always apt to satisfy general music listener. Many early recordings fail to measure up, both in terms of fidelity and musicianship, to contemporary standards, regardless of their significance as examples of historical significance. Happily, this collection is designed to provide satisfaction to both camps.

There's no denying the historical significance of performances by seminal New Orleans acts like the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and the New Orleans Wanderers, but even these earliest cuts on the disc (dating, contrary to the album's title, as far back as 1917) are rendered with the kind of care and attention in production that will please those who ordinarily don't dip that far back into the jazz legacy.

Failing to do so, though, means missing the work of clarinetists like Johnny Dodds, Larry Shields and Leon Rappolo, not to mention their bandmates such as Kid Ory, Eddie Condon and Earl Hines. The names grow more familiar as the selections move into the swing era, with appearances by Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Pee Wee Russell and Barney Bigard. Need more? There's Woody Herman, Artie Shaw and Sidney Bechet.

And it's just getting rolling. By the time the era covered by the disc draws to a close, artists like Tony Scott, Stan Hasselgood and Buddy DeFranco are exploring the instrument's potential in bop settings, alongside the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Teddy Charles, Al Hendrickson and Max Roach.

There's no doubt an insufficient appreciation among contemporary fans of the role the clarinet has played in the development of jazz. The 21 tracks collected here go a way toward giving the instrument its due.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shaun Dale) Big Band / Swing - CD Reviews Sat, 19 Jun 2004 19:07:38 -0500
Exhibition: Tribute To Joe Henderson by Rebecca Coupe Franks http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/bebop-hard-bop-cd-reviews/exhibition-tribute-to-joe-henderson-by-rebecca-coupe-franks.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/bebop-hard-bop-cd-reviews/exhibition-tribute-to-joe-henderson-by-rebecca-coupe-franks.html Trumpeter Rebecca Coupe Franks was a friend and student of Joe Henderson and his death in 2001 inspired this tribute, featuring 11 original compositions by Franks. To pay t…
Trumpeter Rebecca Coupe Franks was a friend and student of Joe Henderson and his death in 2001 inspired this tribute, featuring 11 original compositions by Franks. To pay tribute to the tenorman without playing any of the music commonly associated with him may seem unusual at first glance, but Franks determined that the best tribute lay in reflecting Henderson's influence on her own music, rather than putting her stamp on his.

Accompanied by an excellent trio, Franks does just what she set out to do. One of the consistent features of Henderson was the ability to improvise creatively while maintaining an aspect of accessibility that expanded the audience for jazz. Similarly, Franks' compositions provide room for creative soloing, both inside and ever so slightly out, that is a hallmark of great jazz, but there's a certain deference to the listener, an appreciation that at its best, jazz is an entertainment, that underpins every track, every solo.

It helps, of course, that Franks is an exceptional player, with impressive intonation and phrasing and a deft sense of improvisation. She not only has great musical ideas, she has the chops to express them. Whether she's blowing bop, shaping a ballad or making her horn dance over a Latin rhythm, she consistently makes choices that are both arresting and entertaining, making Exhibition more than a tribute to Joe Henderson, but an example of jazz at its best.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shaun Dale) BeBop / Hard Bop - CD Reviews Sat, 19 Jun 2004 15:07:38 -0500
Have You Met Miss Lee? by Vivian Lee http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/have-you-met-miss-lee-by-vivian-lee.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/have-you-met-miss-lee-by-vivian-lee.html If you're a jazz fan from anywhere near Sacramento, California, the question posed in this album's title would almost surely be met with a resounding yes. Singer Vivian Lee…
If you're a jazz fan from anywhere near Sacramento, California, the question posed in this album's title would almost surely be met with a resounding yes. Singer Vivian Lee has been a key figure on the regional jazz scene for nearly a decade, with a growing reputation in a wider circuit ranging from the Bay Area to the lounges of Lake Tahoe. If you're from a more distant locale, I encourage you to meet Miss Lee.

On her third album, Lee offers eleven standards, but there's nothing standard about her performance. Consistently putting her phrasing at the service of the lyric, Lee offers genuine emotion in place of vocal theatrics. Her versions of songs like "My Romance," "It Could Happen To You" and "It Never Entered My Mind" can be fairly described as definitive.

Lee's talents have attracted the attention of some of the best players in central California, a fine ensemble of which join her on this disc, providing accompaniment that every bit as good as her exceptional vocal talents deserve. Meeting guitarist Glenn Hair, pianists Tom Whinnery and Matt McFarland and the rest of the band is every bit as pleasurable as meeting Miss Lee, and that's a great pleasure, indeed.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shaun Dale) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Sat, 19 Jun 2004 11:07:37 -0500
Sometime Ago by Gill Cook http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/sometime-ago-by-gill-cook.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/sometime-ago-by-gill-cook.html This is the debut release of a new voice in British jazz. After years of working in rock and R&B bands across the English countryside, Gill Cook has turned her attention to…
This is the debut release of a new voice in British jazz. After years of working in rock and R&B bands across the English countryside, Gill Cook has turned her attention to jazz, and based on the result, it may be where her attention has belonged all along.

Working with a pair of British jazz veterans, drummer Trevor Tomkins and bassist Jeff Clyne, and another up and comer, pianist Malcolm Edmonstone, Cook moves through a set of fifteen standards sounding very much like a jazz veteran herself. She has a strong range, though she's most effective just above her slightly smoky middle register. More impressive than her intonation, though, is her phrasing, which elevates her efforts above pop conventions and into the true realm of jazz vocals. That's the quality that, more than anything, leads to the conclusion that whatever her background, she's a jazz natural.

There's no better example than her version of the Gershwin chestnut "'S Wonderful." I have countless versions of the song on my shelves, by some of the greatest names in jazz, and Cook's is currently the one I'd turn to by choice (the terrific work of Edmonstone on the track making it an even better pick than most).

The true mark of a jazz singer isn't the ability to perform a song, but the ability to take ownership of it. Cook lays claim to each track on the disc with a fresh approach. Sometime ago she may have been something else, but today, Gill Cook sounds very much like the future of British jazz.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shaun Dale) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Sat, 19 Jun 2004 07:07:37 -0500
One Special Night by Shawnn Monteiro http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/jazz-vocals-cd-reviews/one-special-night-by-shawnn-monteiro.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/jazz-vocals-cd-reviews/one-special-night-by-shawnn-monteiro.html Shawnn Monteiro works in the tradition of the great ladies of jazz, and springs from one of the great families of jazz. One night in 2002, she held a bit of family reunion,…
Shawnn Monteiro works in the tradition of the great ladies of jazz, and springs from one of the great families of jazz. One night in 2002, she held a bit of family reunion, gathering her father, bassist Jimmy Woode, and her godfather, trumpeter Clark Terry, with 'Papa' Jimmy Cobb on drums and her musical director, pianist John Harrison, and presented a program that celebrated their respective talents and the traditions they serve.

What a celebration it was. This was the kind of night jazz fans dream of, with a stage full of masterful players and a mood full of fun. The focus was on bop and blues, and the musicians generated the kind of mutual chemistry that audiences love, because the players so obviously love one another and what they're up to. They not only play together, they play with each other, as in Terry and Monteiro's joyful interplay during a freeform blues medley.

Clark Terry is given center stage for a time to display both his mastery of his horn and his considerable talent as a story teller, and he's a man with some stories to tell. When he announces a "low down, greasy, grimy, chit'lin type blues," he delivers, and when he turns to the Thelonious Monk book for "Let's Cool One," he shows why people have been standing in line to hear him play for over a half a century.

Terry's only one of five here, though, and there's not a disappointing performance from any member of the ensemble. Cobb and Woode offer a master class in jazz rhythm, and Harrison comps, fills and solos with ease and grace. Shawnn Moneiro hold her own with a rich voice that serves as a lead instrument in itself. It's just an amazing ensemble, and it was truly One Special Night.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shaun Dale) Jazz Vocals - CD Reviews Tue, 10 Feb 2004 18:01:12 -0600
Home Speaks To The Wandering by Dead Cat Bounce http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/home-speaks-to-the-wandering-by-dead-cat-bounce.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/free-jazz-avante-garde-cd-reviews/home-speaks-to-the-wandering-by-dead-cat-bounce.html The sounds on Home Speaks To The Wandering are as adventurous as the music of such obvious influences as the World Saxophone Quartet and Roland Kirk and as deep 'in …
The sounds on Home Speaks To The Wandering are as adventurous as the music of such obvious influences as the World Saxophone Quartet and Roland Kirk and as deep 'in the pocket' as perhaps less obvious but no less important influences as Coleman Hawkins and Sonny Rollins. More than anything, the group, performing ten original compositions by leader Matt Steckler, demonstrate that real freedom is best expressed within confines - freedom within a framework.

The framework is the jazz tradition, and the freedom is the sextet's willingness to take untraditional sidetrips while following that path. It starts with an innovative, if not unique, lineup, featuring four reeds over a rhythm section of bass and drums, and, having abandoned certain conventions in that way, they continue to investigate the unconventional in a variety of ways, without ever losing sight of their essentially conventional goal - the production of great jazz music.

It's a goal they reach. This turns out to be a great jazz album. It's great because there's virtuouso performance. It's great because there's an original vision. It's great because they take bold chances and break new ground. And, in a near contradiction, it's great because it's essentially accessible. Every time I find myself saying "Wow, I can't believe they did that!," I find myself responding "But I'm glad they did!" It's innovation with the audience in mind. Lesser talents often confuse the boldness of the experiment with the quality of the outcome. Steckler and his musical comrades never let go of the central idea that, in the end, the experiment must serve the music, and as a result they've made an album that challenges and delights.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shaun Dale) Free Jazz / Avante Garde - CD Reviews Tue, 03 Feb 2004 06:00:50 -0600
Lullabies Of Birdland by George Shearing http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/lullabies-of-birdland-by-george-shearing.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/lullabies-of-birdland-by-george-shearing.html The challenge of documenting George Shearing's remarkable contribution to the world of jazz in just a pair of CD's is daunting, but this set from Concord Records is probabl…
The challenge of documenting George Shearing's remarkable contribution to the world of jazz in just a pair of CD's is daunting, but this set from Concord Records is probably as close as you can come. From his first memorable quintet in 1949 (with vibraphonist Marjorie Hyams , guitarist Chuck Wayne, drummer Denzil Best and bassist John Levy) through decades of collaboration with artists like the Montgomery brothers (Wes, Buddy and Monk), Joe Williams, Marian McPartland, Jim Hall, Mel Torme, Tito Puente and dozens of others, not to mention a healthy sampling of Shearing's solo piano work, this collection may not have everything (no compilation could, or is intended to), but it has an extraordinary and representative range.

While his talents were more as an interpreter than an innovator, over the years Shearing introduced some great talents through his lineups, and offered some original approaches to the language of jazz, such as the piano-vibraphone interplay of his earliest quintets. Of course, he contributed one of the great melodies to the jazz songbook, as well, which offers the title for this collection and is delivered in three memorable variations in the compilation.

For people have approached, absorbed and abandoned George Shearing's music at the various stages of his career - from aspiring bebopper to Grand Old Man of Jazz - the range of the music on this collection may offer some surprises. He may have gone through many variations in lineup and material over the years, but he mastered each of them and never completely left behind what he had learned along the way, so there's great stuff here from every Shearing era. Whether this is an introduction or a recollection for you, this is an essential compilation by one of the true living legends of jazz.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shaun Dale) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Tue, 03 Feb 2004 02:00:49 -0600
Windows by Marian McPartland http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/windows-by-marian-mcpartland.html http://jazzreview.com/cd-reviews/straight-ahead-classic-cd-reviews/windows-by-marian-mcpartland.html Pianist Marian McPartland is such a jazz icon these days that it's hard to remember that just 25 years ago, as these recordings were being made, she was still working to ac…
Pianist Marian McPartland is such a jazz icon these days that it's hard to remember that just 25 years ago, as these recordings were being made, she was still working to achieve the level of recognition that her decades of accomplished performance merited. While a few women had earned respect in jazz circles, that was primarily for their work as vocalists. The idea of women as accomplished instrumental performers was still, at that late date, hard for some people to wrap their heads around.

For McPartland, that started to change in a major way in 1978, when her National Public Radio series, Piano Jazz, debuted, and she was given a wide audience who heard her sharing the air with some of the greatest figures in jazz and always holding her own. This collection, which contains two full albums recorded in 1979, one in the studio and one onstage at the Concord Jazz Festival, were among the first releases to capitalize on her new-found notoriety, and she generated some terrific performances in turn. In fairness, it can't be said her performances were terrific because of the heightened awareness of her work - her performances had always been terrific - but at a point where truly inspired performance had a chance to pay off in career terms, Marian McPartland delivered.

Disc One contains the album Portrait of Marian McPartland, an eight track studio set in which her trio (with Jake Hanna on drums and Brian Torff on bass) is augmented by Jerry Dodgion on alto and flute. Everything you like about McPartland, her innovative and lyrical solo work, her generosity as a leader and arranger, her sensitive respect for the composer, it's all here on one of the best albums of a career full of 'bests.' Dodgion is a fine addition throughout, but his flue work on the McPartland original, "Time and Time Again," that closes the set is particularly noteworthy.

Disc Two contains At The Festival, recorded at the 1979 Concord (CA) Jazz Festival, with McPartland, Torff and Hanna joined by alto saxophonist Mary Fettig for the last three tunes of an eight song set. Only 26 at the time, and already a veteran of the Stan Kenton Band, Kettig demonstrated the strength of tone and instrumental command that's made her a first call player and top jazz educator in the Bay Area to this day. I'm particularly thankful, though, for the five trio tracks, because McPartland, Torff and Hanna were truly a special ensemble, and hearing them unadorned is an unadorned joy.

The two albums that comprise this release belong in any and every Marian McPartland collection, and having them available in this format is an undiluted pleasure.

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morrice.blackwell@gmail.com (Shaun Dale) Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews Mon, 02 Feb 2004 18:00:49 -0600