Jazz CD Reviews
Jazz CD Reviews Part 2 of 2
Published on March 1, 2005
March 2005 Part 2 of 2 [Pt. 1]
Spicy Latin/Caribbean sounds in our next pair of discs…
Sakésho – We Want You To Say (Andy Narell, steel pans; Mario Canonge, piano/Fender Rhodes/vocals; Michel Alibo, bass/vocals; Jean Philippe Fanfant, drums, vocals) – Heads Up HUCD 3094 ****:
This album appears to have grown out of steel drum star Andy Narell going to Paris and meeting the steel band there known as Calpsociation, with whom he is now recording and touring. The quartet is like a chamber version of Narell and the steel band, but with the addition of vocals. His three cohorts in the group hail from Martinique, Guadeloupe and France so the sound of the pans must be well-known to them. They invited in a guest vocalist on one track and a flutist on another. The non-English tracks should be no problem – this is infectious, bouncing music that’s full of life and vigor. Three of the nine tunes are by Narell. The disc’s title is a clever trick to get fans to pronounce their name correctly – it has the ké in a different color, showing the pronunciation to be sah-KAY-sho.
Tracks: Bwa Moudong, Ewa Belia, One More Touch, Dance Ska La, We Want You to Say, Baby Steps, Jou La Pli, Cha-cha Ou Inmin Mwen, Izo’s Mood.
Negroni’s Trio (Jose Negroni, piano; Nomar Negroni, drums; Jaime Rivera, basses) – Universal Music Latino B00003043-02 ****:
A simple and unassuming little CD in a cardboard package, but it packs a wallop of fiery Latin jazz licks. As one of the tunes is titled, they really do Rev It Up. Without a big percussion section this little trio burns thru ten tracks – mostly originals but two surprises: One is a chance to hear a really alternative version of Wayne Shorter’s Footprints that’s a kick, and the other to dig a Latin version of a tune you probably never thought of that way – Gershwin’s Summertime. Good sonics assists the impact of the tasty tracks; this is the best piano trio disc I’ve heard in some time.
Tracks: Los Duendes, Waiting for You, Mavi, Summertime, Sentimental Mood, Bougainvillea, Red Light, Footprints, On Time, Rev It Up
Bradley Leighton, alto flute – Just Doin’ Our Thang (with Rob Whitlock, B3; Duncan Moore, drums; Bob Boss, guitar; Allan Philips, percussion/keyboard – Pacific Coast Jazz 2 60001-4 ****:
Wow – alto flute and B3 jazz – this I gotta love! Reminds me of the Ryerson/Beck alto flute and guitar duo on a couple DMP SACDs, but with the added shakin’ bass end of the B3 organ and the variety of percussion effects possible between the drums and percussionist. Sounds sorta like a swinging Ivy League Caucasian flutist is sitting in with a down n’ dirty B3 trio at a black blues club – let’s hear it for diversity! Leighton’s rich warm tone is quite a contrast to the usual raucous sax you would normally hear if the trio expanded to a quartet. And while I dig a little of that I’m nuts for a lot of this! Four originals spice up the dozen tracks – three of them from Leighton himself. Two of the tracks, including the opening B3 standard Sunny, delve into a Latin groove and the producer’s own Deep Sea is a lovely bossa nova. If this is an example of what comes out of this small San Diego-area jazz label, I want to hear more right away.
Tracks: Sunny, Now’s the Time, Pink Panther Theme, Summertime, Breezin,’ Carefree, Europa, Lazy Summer Days, Ain’t No Sunshine, Deep Sea, Easy Morning, Speak Low.
Collier & Dean – Duets (Tom Collier, vibes; Dan Dean, electric bass) – Origin Records 82440 ****:
Speaking of duos, here’s another one you don’t run into every day. Collier started his career early, playing the marimba on the Lawrence Welk Show at age 9. Tom and Dan’s families ended up in Seattle, where the two began performing and recording together. Later at the U. of Washington Tom met and worked with clarinetist Bill Smith, heard on many Dave Brubeck recordings. Bringing in Dan on bass made the Bill Smith Trio. Both also spent time in Los Angeles, and during their careers they have played with such as Dave Grusin, Howard Roberts, Eddie Harris, and Diane Shuur. Only a few years ago did they finally decide to record a duo album together, and this is it.
They’ve chosen some great tunes – from such as Gerry Mulligan, Larry Coryell, Coltrane, Miles, Dave Holland and Mick Jagger – and added four of their originals, making a total of 11. This pairing is sort of a musical tightrope-walking, much as doing a solo piano session without the usual rhythm section. it is immediately obvious that these two have had a long musical relationship and can therefore go on some pretty wild improvisational explorations without falling on their musical faces. Their creativity and widely-spanning musical chops make the album a delight to hear, without any fear of boredom due to the unusual duo instrumentation.
Tracks: Lines, Five Brothers, Now & Then, Giant Steps, Countess Li, What a Shame, Backwoods Song, Pacific Aire, Rockavibabe, So What?, Kill the Butler.
Solar – Sons of Cosmic Consciousness (Eli Yamin, piano/voice; Adam Bernstein, acoustic bass/voice; Andy Demos, drum kit/tabla/percussion/tenor sax) – Aztec Records AZ-001 ****:
This dynamic trio creates a lot of sound when needed, but is assisted here and there by a couple guest vocalists and a percussionist. Solar’s goal is to recognize the whole history of the music, and the extreme diversity of their offerings seems to be doing that with gusto. You’ll hear a Mingus tune with a protest message in its title, another harking back to Country Joe & the Fish, a Monk standard, a jazz waltz in the style of Randy Weston, and a very moving version of Kurt Weill’s September Song which the band says is their reflection on 9/11. And the celestial concert is closed out with who else by Sun Ra. This CD should appeal to many younger people just dabbling in jazz for the first time, and miraculously it’s been done without hip-hop, turntablists or funk. Thank God.
Tracks: Samba De Aztec, Reincarnation l968, Remember Rockefeller at Attica, In/Out, Waltz On the Hudson, Rhythm-a-ning, Perk Up (for Walter Perkins), September Song, Prototype for Constructive Dialog, Solar 2002, Come On, Love in Outer Space.
Hiroshima – Obon – Heads Up HUCD 3098 ****:
While more world music/rock than jazz, Hiroshima’s 13th recording seems to fit this category better because it is their first entirely instrumental album. It also marks the 25th anniversary of the Asian American now-sextet. The band was founded in LA by former husband & wife Dan and June Kuramoto. June is one of the world’s leading koto players and probably the only one in a rock group. The band also includes shakuhachi and Taiko drums, while the 11 guest musicians on the date include flan and Er-hu players.
Their album title comes from Buddhist legend; Obon is a time to remember ancestors, relatives and friends who have died, and is also a time to raise the spirit in celebration. Hiroshima – named after one of the two Japanese cities destroyed by nuclear bombs in WWII – wanted to include in their remembrances that his is the 60th anniversary of the imprisonment of many Japanese-Americans during that war. In fact the families of both Dan and June were relocated to internment camps while their uncles fought and died in the U.S. Army. The track Atomic Cafe is not being sarcastic but refers to a favorite 1970s hangout in LA’s Tokyo district. Another entertainment spot honored is the famous Hermosa Beach jazz club The Lighthouse. There is a lullaby honoring Paris and a tribute to Nelson Mandela. “Heritage” closes the album and honors the ancestors of Dan, June and their son Danny.
Tracks: Swiss Ming, China Latina, Kototsu-han, Atomic Cafe, Obon 25, One Thursday Morning, Mr. Robben, Paris (Ici Avec Moi), Pharoah, The Lighthouse, Heritage.
Amina Figarova, piano – Come Escape With Me (with Bart Platteau, flutes; Marcel Reys, trumpet/Flugelhorn; Tom Beek, alto & soprano sax; Kurt van Hercki, tenor sax; Wiro Mahieu, acoustic bass; Chris Strik, drums) – Munich Records BMCD 465 ****:
With the photo of the performer on the cover as well as the CD title, I assumed this was another jazz vocalist and prepared to send it on to one of my reviewers specializing in that area. Then I looked at the track titles, which seemed not your usual vocal numbers. Finally I saw the performer credits and realized this was an instrumental septet. Figarova is Azerbaijan in origin and lives in Rotterdam. She is an important figure in the younger generation active in the hotbed of musical creativity centered around jazz in the Amsterdam area. She studied at both the Rotterdam Conservatory and Berklee in Boston.
All dozen tunes are Amina’s originals. Though based strongly in bop, they are romantic, evocative, and make full use of the many capabilities of her skilled sidemen. They have been performing together for five years and have recorded two previous CDs, so this not a drop-in-the-studio and read-the-music session. Flutist Platteau is especially a standout on various flutes, including wooden ones (he’s also married to Figarova). The diversity of Dutch jazz is what captures my interest, and while not getting into the wilder forays of ensembles such as Wm. Breuker or I Compani, Figarova’s septet exhibits a milder version of such creative processing of varied musical influences.
Tracks: Come escape with me, Hot on the Trail, Flight of Fancy, Mr. T.M., Dancing in the Wind, Buckshot Blues, Zealot, Awakening, Blues for Wiro, Destiny, Market Place, Reaching out to you.
— Above Reviews by John Henry