Monday, May 13. 2013
Music: Current count 21406  rated (+23), 622  unrated (+5). Not sure what accounts for the fall off, but then don't remember much of last week.
A-list records continue to accumulate at a dizzying pace, a far cry from a couple months ago when they were scarce as hen's teeth -- clever triangulators will note that in addition to the two featured in this rather short week there are two more in the unpacking list that were first uncovered on Rhapsody. Thus far I have 41 A-list records this year, so we're still not quite on track to getting to last year's 125, but not so far behind either.
Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio + Jeb Bishop: The Flame Alphabet (2011 , Not Two): Bishop is the Chicago-based trombone player who left the Vandermark Five about five years ago, and has kept busy since then mostly guesting on projects where he easily adds to the noise level -- his tour with Cactus Truck is fresh on my mind -- but here he takes the lead without the least bit of slop in a showcase of avant-trombone that would turn the heads of Steve Swell, or for that matter Roswell Rudd: a huge improvement over Bishop's previous album with Portuguese tenor saxophonist Amado's trio, Burning Live at Jazz ao Centro. And Amado is sharp as ever, ably backed by Miguel Mira on cello and Gabriel Ferrandini on drums. A-
Jerry Bergonzi: By Any Other Name (2012 , Savant): Tenor saxophonist, from Boston, has a long list of records since 1983 but has never sounded better than in his recent streak -- I have four of his last six albums at A-, the other two just a hair under. So I was surprised when this didn't kick in, but I blame Phil Grenadier's trumpet, which ties the sax up in unison work and takes solos that add up to very little. In his own spots the saxphonist is as brusque as ever -- there just aren't enough of them. Songs are all originals, but parenthetically refer to standards. B+(**)
Jonathan Finlayson & Sicilian Defense: Moment & the Message (2012 , Pi): Trumpet player, first album after quality side credits with Steve Lehman, Steve Coleman, Tomas Fujiwara, and -- most likely; still haven't heard the album -- Mary Halvorson. Quintet with Miles Okazaki (guitar), David Virelles (piano), Keith Witty (bass), and Damion Reid (drums). No second horn keeps his out front, while the guitar and piano players are rising stars, sparkling soloists with an intriguingly complex interplay. A-
Hush Point: Hush Point (2013, Sunnyside): Postbop pianoless quartet, the two horns John McNeil's trumpet and Jeremy Udden's alto sax, with Aryeh Kobrinsky on bass and Vinnie Sperrazza on drums. I initially assumed this would be McNeil's show -- he's about 30 years senior -- but Udden outwrote him 4-to-3, Kobrinsky pitched in, and they picked up two Jimmy Giuffre tunes that seem like a shared connection. The hornwork is tight and sly, the rhythm slippery. Nothing spectacular, but could well grow on you. B+(***)
Steven Lugerner: For We Have Heard (2013, NoBusiness/Primary): Plays double reeds, clarinets, flutes, saxes. Second album, after his ambitious 2-CD debut (also has a group record, Dads, by Chives). Quartet with Darren Johnston on trumpet, Myra Melford on piano, and Matt Wilson on drums. Strong soloists in their rare spots, but the compositions come first, with most of the album is woven around the leader's intricate reeds. B+(***)
Jackie Ryan: Listen Here (2012 , Open Art): Standards singer, six or seven records since 2000; has a deep, flexible voice that over an album gains stature and authority. Arranged by bassist John Clayton, features pianist Gerald Clayton, with Graham Dechter on guitar and selected horn spots -- haven't heard much from him lately, but Rickey Woodard sounds splendid. B+(*)
Alex Snydman: Fortunate Action (2012 , self-released): Drummer, lives in Los Angeles, debut album, mostly piano trio with two cuts adding tenor/soprano sax (Cari Clements). He uses three pianists -- Doug Abrams (4 cuts), Chris Pattinshall (3), and Miro Sprague (2) -- and two bassists, with the pianists writing a bare majority of the songs; Snydman has 3.5 credits, plus covers of Ellington/Strayhorn and Herbie Hancock. Despite the credits jumble, it all sounds remarkably consistent. B+(**)
Al Thompson Jr.: City Mainstream (2012 , Alcalgar): Plays piano/keyboards, sings a bit, based in Connecticut. First album, a high energy groove thing, the horns stronger than anything the smooth jazz crowd favors -- gives it some appeal. B
Jacob Varmus: Terminal Stillness (2012 , Crows Kin): Trumpet player, from San Francisco, studied at University of Iowa, based in Brooklyn. Second album, six tracks cut with guitar (Nate Radley), piano (Kris Davis), bass (Ike Sturm), drums (Brian Woodruff); two with accordion (Jacob Garchik), bass (Gil Smuskowitz), and drums; the closer Varmus himself on piano. B+(*)
Renée Yoxon/Mark Ferguson: Here We Go Again (2012 , self-released): Singer and her pianist, based in Ottawa up in Canada, second album; original songs, slight edge to Yoxon with about half credited to both. Band selectively adds trumpet, trombone, sax, and/or guitar, and they flesh out the sound nicely. She likes to scat, and isn't bad at it. B+(*)
Some corrections on a recent Jazz Prospecting review:
Clipper Anderson: Ballad of the Sad Young Men (2008-10 , Origin): Bassist, originally from Montana, based in Seattle since 1992. Third album, if you count an Xmas with Greta Matassa's name first, plus a lot of side credits going back to 1984. Anderson sings as well as plays bass, moldy standards done in the old Sinatra mold, except that he's not Sinatra, and Darin Clendenin's piano trio doesn't pack much punch. B
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week: