Monday, September 2. 2013
Music: Current count 21976  rated (+39), 574  unrated (-11).
Relatively slim week, especially in the unpacking section. September releases don't seem to amont to much until next week -- I have five Sept. 10 releases cued up for next week (including Lucian Ban and Vijay Iyer), four more Sept. 17 releases for the following week, and Mostly Other People Do the Killing the week after.
Wasn't initially sure whether to do The Road to Jajouka here or in Streamnotes, but the clincher was producer Billy Martin, whose Wicked Knee album, Heels Over Head, is still number two on my 2013 list -- you can make a case for him as Jazz Musician of the Year.
Looks like I should postpone my promised 1960s Recycled Goods special. Got distracted so I've been doing something else. RG will probably run later this week, although it's not clear right now when I'll hit bottom, much less resurface.
Chicago Jazz Orchestra: Burstin' Out! (2012 , Origin): Originally founded in 1978, currently directed by Jeff Lindberg, don't have a good sense of their recording history (only album in their web store is this one). Also don't recognize hardy any of the big band musicians, let alone the phalanx of strings that become noticeable whenever this hits a dull patch. However, that rarely happens: the standards repertoire is stellar, and "guest vocalist" Cyrille Aimée is a real sparkplug -- best big band singer I've heard in years. B+(***)
Tom Goehring: A Reflected Journey (2013, Mengli Music): Trumpet player, based in New York, plays in big bands led by Jamie Begian and Darcy James Argue; first album on his own, a hard bop/post-bop quintet, with Roger Rosenberg on saxes/bass clarinet and Dave Leonhardt on piano. Starts with four originals, followed by five covers -- Thad Jones and Dizzy Gillespie the obvious sources. B+(**)
Craig Hartley: Books on Tape Vol. 1 (2011 , self-released): Pianist, studied at Manhattan School of Music; first album, a trio with Carlo De Rosa (bass) and Henry Cole (drums), plus trumpet (Fabio Morgera) on two tracks. Originals, including one with lyrics sung by Dida Pelled, and one cover, "My Foolish Heart." B+(**) [September 3]
Tom Kennedy: Just Play! (2012 , Capri): Bassist, b. 1960 in St. Louis, moved to New York in 1984, fourth album since 1996's Basses Loaded, plus one as the Kennedy Brothers with pianist Ray Kennedy, and side credits back to 1985. Star-laden nonet, two tenor saxes (George Garzone, Steve Wirts), Tim Hagans (trumpet), John Allred (trombone), Renee Rosnes (piano), two guitars (Mike Stern, Lee Ritenour), Dave Weckl (drums). One piece by Stern, most of the rest jazz standards (Ellington, Rollins, Timmons, Hubbard, Walton, Brubeck), two songbook chestnuts (Young, Porter). Rich, expansive, somehow works in a nice bass solo. B+(**)
Anya Malkiel: From the Heart (2013, self-released): Standards singer, grew up in the Soviet Union, emigrating to the US in 1990. First album, backed by piano trio, Jim Schneider on tenor sax and flute, Christian Tambur on vibes. Accent threw me off a bit. B+(*)
The Miami Saxophone Quartet: Four of a Kind (2012 , Fortitude): Gary Keller on soprano, Gary Lindsay on alto, Ed Calle on tenor, Mike Brignola on baritone -- cover type changes to red for him (the name, well aside from Calle, I thought I recognized; turned out to be confusion with the late, unrelated baritonist Nick Brignola). De facto leader is Lindsay, who wrote most of the pieces and arranged the rest (sharing blame with Calle for "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"). Usual problem with sax quartets is the lack of rhythm to push things along and harmonic limits of four instruments that can only produce one note each at a time, but these guys solve those problems the old-fashioned way, by cheating -- adding a piano trio, Svet Stoyanov on mallets, and for good measure Brian Lynch on trumpet. Together they generate big band swing, and the live audience approves. B+(***) [September 3]
Ken Peplowski: Maybe September (2012 , Capri): Plays clarinet and tenor sax, has close to forty albums since 1987, several with Benny Goodman in the title, others with Ellington or Strayhorn, a mild-mannered retro-swing guy who rarely exceeds expectations, but I wound up playing this repeatedly during an afternoon of cooking and never felt the need for anything else. Basic quartet with Ted Rosenthal on piano; one original, standards by Berlin and Warren; nods to Ellington, Poulenc, and Artie Shaw; a Lennon-McCartney I can live with, a "Caroline, No" I relish. B+(***)
The Road to Jajouka: A Benefit Album (2013, Howe): Known nowadays as the Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bachir Attar, the Moroccan institution first came to worldwide attention when Brian Jones (Rolling Stones, you might recall) released a 1968 album of theirs called The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka. Attar would have been four at the time, the son of then-leader Hadj Abdesalam Attar. They have scattered albums of their own -- AMG lists eight starting with the Jones affair (which, by the way, was certainly the first album from Africa or the Middle East I ever heard) -- but this one they owe to western intermediaries: above all, Billy Martin (of Medeski & Wood fame), whose illybeats lay the techno-fusion foundation for a parade of guests, including Marc Ribot, DJ Logic, Lee Ranaldo, John Zorn, Bill Laswell, and Ornette Coleman. A-
Clark Sommers: Clark Sommers' Ba(SH) (2012 , Origin): Bassist, b. 1977 in Lake Forest, IL; claims 40 side credits over last 15 years, but this is first album under his own name. Trio, with Geof Bradfield (tenor/soprano sax, bass clarinet) and Dana Hall (drums). Moderately paced postbop, much depending on the saxophonist to shape and articulate the tone on top of the base lines, and pretty successful at that. B+(**)
Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express: Expectativas (2013, Mavo): Pianist, from Cuba, moved to US to study at New School around 1994, has a half-dozen albums since 2004. Band includes Yosvany Terry (sax), Tom Guarna (guitar), John Benitez (electric bass), and various percussionists. Lots of sophisticated stop-start rhythmic breaks, seems to be the Afro-Cuban signature. B+(*)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week: