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Straight-Ahead - CD Reviews (1956)

Brian Landrus is a talented, young, multi-reedist whose primary horn is the baritone saxophone. Though more attuned to the post-Coltrane sound, his technique and sound on the bari evoke great old school players such as Nick Brignola and Pepper Adams. He's also an extremely capable flutist and clarinetist. I particularly enjoyed his rich, woody bass, clarinet tone. Though clearly a modernist conversant with the more edgy variants of jazz and improvised music, Landrus' debut recording, Forward to
Connecticut native Mike DiRubbo has made a name for himself as a featured saxophonist in New York-based groups led by trombonist Steve Davis, pianist David Hazeltine and many others. His sixth release as a leader, Chronos (Posi-Tone), is a hard-blowing, straight-ahead affair with organist Brian Charette and drummer Rudy Royston. The disc features nine original compositions by DiRubbo and Charette, ranging from up-tempo burners and bouncy waltzes, to modal workouts and Latin-inspired grooves. Pri
Guitarist Russel Malone has maintained a prolific balance over the last couple of decades as both a leader and sideman to jazz luminaries, such as Diana Krall, Harry Connick, Jr. and Sonny Rollins. It comes as a surprise to realize that his ninth solo release Triple Play is his first trio project. With the stripped down line up of bassist David Wong and drummer Montez Coleman, Malone finds himself fully exposed without the cushion of a piano or organ. With a choice selection of standards and ori
The fourth in a series of loosely-structured, jam session recordings for the Canadian-based Alma Records, One Take: Volume Four features Hammond organ giant Joey DeFrancesco with a trio of veteran Toronto jazz musicians performing a cozy set of straight-ahead standard fare. Fronting the session is saxophonist Phil Dwyer who displays a robust tenor tone and performs with swinging lyricism through "There is No Greater Love" and "Tenderly." A somewhat unusual twist to the seemingly predictable proc
Pianist Jacky Terrasson is a painter on the keyboard, and this can be heard in the jazz portraits created in his new release Push. Since the early nineties, European born Terrasson has been lauded as a bright new star. His eponymous debut on Blue Note in 1995 predicted a successful career in the United States and worldwide. From the beginning, Terrasson has displayed power, passion and creativity to spare. As well, he is a talented arranger, as witnessed by his unique take on well-known tunes. H
There are rare instances in any art expression when all the elements gets together to create a piece of art that borders on perfection. When a good painter or sculptor get that moment of inspiration or when a good script, director and actors coincide in the creation of a movie classic.John Beasley Grammy nominated album Positootly is a good example of what happens when masters instrumentalists, the kind of instrumentalists you rarely find outside of Jazz, gets together. This is what Jazz is all
Well, let’s see. There’s this disc entitled Standard Transmission (Origin). There’s this cat, Bruce Williamson, playing reeds and backed by a rhythm section...and, we have the great, time-tested standards by Rodgers and Hart, Ray Noble and Monk, among others. This ought to be rather routine, so then, let’s press “Play.”This first track, Rodgers and Hart’s “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” features Williamson’s energetic alto saxophone playing, while his overdubbed bass clarinet provides inter
Things yet unknown is the debut album from Michigan native trombonist Shawn Bell. Shawn is a young musician who studied at Michigan University and Northern Illinois University. All the music on Things yet unknown are Shawn Bell originals except You stepped out of a dream and In the wee small hours.The trombone is a difficult instrument to play, and to play trombone in a Jazz band, even harder. The fact that there is not as many famous jazz trombonists, even though the trombone has been part of J
There is a very good reason why tenor and soprano, as well as sometime alto, saxophonist Joe Lovano is one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. It’s because he has devoted his life to finding new ways to express improvised melodic conceptualizations, because his harmonic language continues to evolve and develop, and because he has found new means for elaborating on and breaking through rhythmic patterns. But mostly, because Lovano continues to practice and develop his instrumental techni
Europeans always liked and supported jazz since the beginning, when they first heard James Reese's Europe HellFigthers. At the beginning of the 20th century when jazz was regarded as inferior black music, some European classical composers were among the first to recognize the richness and the quality of this new music. And when jazz legends like Miles, Duke and Dizzy went to Europe, especially to France, they were treated as royalty in a time when back in the U.S., they were not allowed to stay
Achingly soulful with a hint of apathetic teenage angst, from top to bottom, Spiral drips with an honesty that has been lacking with many of the latest jazz offerings of the past decade. Trimmed out with guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Jamire Williams, Dr. Smith’s current touring band, the tunes on this album run the gauntlet, from Slide Hampton and Frank Loesser to Rodgers and Hart. Not limited by the three man line-up, Spiral is full of textual nuance that rumbles by the listener with
On the surface, putting together a duo album seems like a pretty straight-ahead idea: you get some tunes together and head to the studio. All too often though, the mojo that keeps a duo album from going stale runs out. Without the collaboration that comes with putting together four or five players in a room, melodic lines float about unanswered and the comping of the guitar can become labored. The energy and spontaneous creativity that is needed to breathe life into the album deflates. Flights:
Saxophonist Dan White began his musical studies on piano before switching over to the saxophone at a young age. Raised in Williamsville, NY, he is currently a junior at Ohio State University studying music. Fran’s Place is his first full-length self-released recording. The seven tunes were all recorded on one day in August of 2009.White is accompanied by a trio including Buffalo native Chris Ziemba on Fender Rhodes. Ziemba, who is quickly making musical waves with invites to such hig
Acoustic and electric bassist Terje Gewelt hails from Norway, where he grew up in a small town on the southeastern coast. Starting on the guitar at the age of 10 he switched to the bass at age of 14 and never looked back. Studies with the great Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen and playing with Norwegian pianist Atle Bakken, only strengthened the young musician. Studies in the United States at the Bass Institute in Los Angeles, with Jeff Berlin and Bob Magnuson, led to playing gigs in clubs wi
Saxophonist and pianist Brian Hogans has been making the jazz world take notice. The Morrow, GA native has worked with artists like James Williams, Winard Harper and as a regular in the Sean Jones Quintet. A switch hitter with fantastic abilities on both saxophone and piano (he subbed as a piano player in Jones’ band for a period), Hogans focuses on the alto and soprano saxophones on this, his debut CD. Joined by an all-star backing band including Aaron Goldberg on piano, this recording tears
Imagine that the classic quintet albums recorded by the late Tony Williams now have the following instrumentation: tenor saxophone, trumpet, drums and Hammond B-3 organ. This scenario makes up almost half the performances on Back Home, organist Pat Bianchi’s second release. This recording is balanced out when Bianchi leads a second ensemble featuring the more traditional organ trio with guitar and drums.Bianchi’s hard-bop quartet, tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, trumpeter Terell Stafford, and
It wasn’t until tenor saxophonist, flutist and clarinetist Takao Iwaki was 19 that he took his first private lesson. Late, by American standards for studying individually, Iwaki was eventually accepted by the Berklee College of Music where he studied with famed musician George Garzone and was a member of Phil Wilson’s Rainbow Big Band. With a Bachelor’s degree in Jazz Composition in hand Iwaki worked mainly for the Caribbean Cruise line for the first three years following graduation. In 2008
After winning the 2008 International Massimo Urbani Award, Philology Records offered Italian pianist Francesco Marziani the opportunity of recording his debut. So here it is, the first album from one of the new italian jazz talents, Francesco Marziani. In My Own Sweet Way was recorded with bassist Massimo Moriconi and drummer Massimo Manzi.Besides being an excellent pianist with great knowlege of the jazz language, and flawless technique, Francesco is an accomplished composer. His compositions a
CD Review: Alva Nelson - Soul EyesAlva Nelson new album, Soul Eyes is a combination of mostly original compositions with some jazz classics. Nelson is a pianist with great technique equally good playing the fast tunes like Synonymous Dichotomy or the slow ballads like Soul Eyes, Some other time and Song for Keisha.Gemini Baby has sort of a slow samba feeling, a track with rhythms that invites you to dance. In contrast, Sanctified blues like the title suggests is a classic blues. Both are great c
The music of this trio sounds so full and powerful. Since the first notes of the first track, "My heart stood still", everyone shine without getting in each others way, just like a jazz group should be. Some of the music is relaxing but intense at the same time like the music of the second track, "Who can I turn to". Michael Bates shows his great technique on the bass intro of "Last train to Brooklyn", giving way to the wonderful piano melodies on this Alex Levin original piece.Is the first time