Monday, October 28. 2013
Music: Current count 22254  rated (+28), 569  unrated (-11).
Rated count is down this week because I spent a couple days listening to old music and not writing anything. Still managed 16 records below, with three complete surprises edging over the A- line, and very different records at that: one trad, one avant, one of those fancy orchestral big band albums I never like (except this one). Dave Bennett's two albums on Arbors don't come close to new one on Mack Avenue -- I checked the second after writing the review below. Rent Romus is a guy who's been under my radar for a long time: turns out he's been on a couple records I've heard, but they weren't very good records (and that probably wasn't his fault). Then there's Idan Santhaus' debut record, which I fully expected to dismiss with one play and a one-liner and wound up getting six spins. None are year-end list contenders, but they are real good records that opened my ears up.
Only two records in the unpacking list, by far the most barren week since I started writing Jazz CG. (Nor are those two records things I have the slightest desire for -- not that the unknown Abu Dhabi chanteuse is the certain dud that the Xmas album is.) Also note that one of those is the first 2014 release I've received, so it carries with it the extra burden of opening up next year's list file. So there's probably a seasonal aspect here, but as the year is closing I'm looking back to see what I missed, and that's a lot. I'll post Rhapsody Streamnotes later this week, and I should have close to ten jazz albums there. But there's hundreds more inaccessible through Rhapsody. I just caught up with adding records from the Free Jazz blog to my metacritic file and noticed, for instance: two new Adam Lane albums on CIMP, one on Okkadisk from Ken Vandermark/Joe McPhee, Anthony Braxton on Victo, Dennis González on Ayler, Paul Dunmall on FMR, Mary Halvorson/Kirk Knuffke on Relative Pitch, Evan Parker/Matthew Shipp on RogueArt, Lisa Mezzacappa on Not Two, a self-released Chris Kelsey project, a dozen or so records on Tzadik (most but not all by John Zorn), and much more.
Some reminders: still looking for people who want to take part in this year's Turkey Shoot (see link here). Deadline for requests is November 10 and for finished reviews is November 24, but earlier would be better. Still plenty of fat game out there, and if you want to kick around some ideas write me. Also, we have even fewer commitments to the Black Friday Special, so if you have a favorite new release this year which hardly anyone knows about, this is your opportunity to get the word out.
The monthly Jazz Prospecting rollup for October is here. This month's total is 59 records, up slightly from the previous two months, well below the 85 in July and 78 in June. The monthly rollup archive goes back to February 2012, roughly when it became clear that the Village Voice was no longer interested in publishing Jazz Consumer Guide. (Before that Jazz Prospecting was collected in column cycles. At some point I may bring them forward, and I'm also thinking about folding Rhapsody Streamnotes reviews of jazz records in here.)
Dave Bennett: Don't Be That Way (2013, Mack Avenue): Clarinet player, from Michigan, an unabashed Benny Goodman fan -- his two previous albums are Dave Bennett Salutes 100 Years of Benny and Clarinet Is King: Songs of Great Clarinetists. Mostly stays with the classics here: "Slipped Disc," "Begin the Beguine," "Sing, Sing, Sing," "Woodchopper's Ball," and reaches back even further for "St. James Infirmary" (with a vocal) and the closing "When the Saints Go Marching In." Even the one faux pas ("Yesterday," normally a kiss of death) is flat out gorgeous. With Tad Weed on piano, and Reg Schwager on guitar. A-
Randy Brecker: The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion (2011 , Piloo, CD+DVD): The Brecker Brothers were a popular band 1975-81, with Heavy Metal Be-Bop their conceptual coup although I never heard them as more than a middling funk band. They reunited for two 1992-94 albums, and dissolved irreparably when saxophonist Michael Brecker died in 2007. He's replaced by Ada Rovatti here. Only bassist Will Lee returns from the original band, but Mike Stern (guitar), George Whitty (keyboards), and Dave Weckl (drums) were on The Return of the Brecker Brothers and possibly older records. They and Oli Rockberger play on the DVD. The CD shuttles some other musicians in, with more emphasis on vocals. Some fine trumpet here, and some of the funk grooves start to win me over, but the CD ends on a down streak. B
George Cotsirilos Trio: Variations (2013, OA2): Guitarist, originally from Chicago, based in/near San Francisco, was in a group called the San Francisco Nighthawks; fifth album under his own name, third Trio, backed by Robb Fisher on bass and Ron Marabuto on drums. Seven originals, one of the covers from Ivan Lins. B+(**)
Shauli Einav: Generations (2012 , Posi-Tone): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1982 in Israel, studied at Jerusalem Academy of Music & Dance, then moved to US to Eastman School of Music, landing in New York for seven years before eventually relocating to Paris. Third album, cut in New York with a group that includes Don Friedman on piano and Itai Kriss on flute, plus bass and drums. Two Einav originals, one from Friedman, covers favor saxophonists and include two pieces by Harold Land. The tenor sax has some zip and depth, and Friedman has occasion to remind you what a fine pianist he is. A fourth album, recorded in France, is due any day now. B+(**)
Sérgio Galvăo: Phantom Fish (2013, Pimenta): Tenor/soprano saxophonist, b. 1965 in Brasilia, Brazil. Debut, piano split between Leo Genovese and Aruán Ortiz, guitar between Leni Stern and Alex Nolan. Upbeat, exhuberant even, reminds one of Gato Barbieri long ago but less willing to rough it. B+(***)
Gerry Gibbs Thrasher Dream Trio: Dream a Little Dream (2012 , Whaling City Sound): Drummer, son of vibraphonist Terry Gibbs, released an album called The Thrasher in 1996 and has kept the handle through various group projects (Thrasher Band, ELectric Thrasher Orchestra, etc.) His Dream Trio is Kenny Barron on piano and Ron Carter on bass, and it's hard to quibble over that. Four Gibbs originals, including dedications to McCoy Tyner and Don Pullen. One song each from the others, and a long list of covers including one Monk, two Hancocks, and a bit of Stevie Wonder. B+(***) [October 29]
Todd Londagin: Look Out for Love (2013, self-released): Standards singer, also plays trombone; second album after one in 2003. Band includes Pete Smith (guitar), Matt Ray (piano), Jennifer Vincent (bass), David Berger (drums). Songs like "Pennies From Heaven" and "I Concentrate on You" have seen better days, and the genre twist on Jazmine Sullivan's "Bust Your Windows" is exactly wrong. B-
Justin Morell Dectet: Subjects and Compliments (2012 , Sonic Frenzy): Guitarist, studied at UCLA and got his Ph.D. at University of Oregon; currently teaches in Atlanta. Don't know how many records he has released -- a Quartet in 1999, The Music of Steely Dan in 2002, several others possibly lapping into classical music (at at least "smaller chamber works"). Dectet has four reeds (including Bob Sheppard and Ben Wendel), three brass (trumpeter John Daversa and two trombones), guitar, piano, bass, and drums. Titles are like "Fugue in B-flat, in three voices" and "Fugue in E, in four voices" -- but the voicings are often remarkable, and the guitar adds some silk to the rhythmic flow. B+(***) [October 29]
Project Them (2013, Miles High): Bob Franceschini (tenor sax, flute) and Mark Sherman (vibes) are the leaders, with Mitchell Forman or Paolo Di Sabatino (piano), Martin Gjakonovski (bass), Adam Nussbaum (drums). Everyone in the group (save Forman) contributes songs, plus one Johnny Mandel cover. Upbeat, more hard bop than postbop, especially impressed with Franceschini -- b. 1961, nothing under his name but makes a strong impression. B+(*)
Howard Riley: Live With Repertoire (2011 , NoBusiness): Pianist, b. 1943 in England, cut some remarkable albums 1969-70 (Angle, the Penguin crowned The Day Will Come). He has a large pile of records since then -- AMG shows a gap 1971-88 but my database shows six albums in that gap and I doubt that it's anywhere near complete. (The Penguin Guide authors are huge fans, but I hadn't heard anything from Riley except the early albums.) This is solo, three original pieces with most of the others Monk tunes. B+(*)
Rent Romus' Life's Blood: Truth Teller (2013, Edgetone): Avant-saxophonist (alto/soprano), from San Francisco, studied at UC Santa Cruz in the late 1980s, drifted through various Bay Area groups (e.g., the Lords of Outland); at least eight albums since 1995. Mostly trio, with bass (Kim Cass and/or Markus Hunt) and drums (Timothy Orr), plus Rhodes on one cut. The rough stuff is sharp, engaging, and the softer spots draw you in. Hadn't recognized him before: seems like a potential SFFR. A-
Adam Rongo: Tell Your Story (2013, D Clef): Alto saxophonist, from Michigan, studied at MSU and has a couple of his professors on board for his debut album -- Etienne Charles (trumpet), Rodney Whitaker (bass) -- as well as Michael Dease (trombone), Emmet Cohen (piano), Behn Gillece (vibes), Ulysses Owens Jr. (drums), and various guests. Three originals, two pieces from the band (Dease, Gillece), a couple standards and pieces by other saxophonists (Jimmy Heath, Johnny Griffin, Steve Wilson). Upbeat, a little busy but closer in spirit to original bebop than to academically fashionable postbop. B+(*) [October 29]
Idan Santhaus: There You Are (2008-11 , Posi-Tone): Big band arranger, born and raised in Israel, moved to New York in 2001. First album under his own name, but has a couple of arranger credits, including A Different Porgy & Another Bess for Brussels Jazz Orchestra. His instrument is flute, but he only plays on one cut here. Recorded in two sets with a minority of overlapping musicians. The solos feel composed through, but he has a remarkable knack of drawing them out. A-
Nicky Schrire: Space and Time (2013, self-released): Singer, second album, wrote 4 of 12 songs, covers about half standards and half less standard (not sure where "Here Comes the Sun" goes); does them with the barest of piano accompaniment, rotating Fabian Almazan, Gerald Clayton, and Gil Goldstein. Back cover looks like it was printed in invisible ink, another example of how she shies away from contrast. Not bad, but strains my ability to discern. B
Ricardo Silveira/Vinicius Cantuária: RSVC (2013, Adventure Music): Two Brazilian guitarists, Cantuária also provides percussion and sings. This edges a bit back into Cantuária's MPB turf as opposed to the more jazz-centric Silveira; still, lovely within its limits. B+(*)
Ben Wanicur: The Excluded Middle (2012 , Middle Path): Bassist, based in San Diego, first album, with Ian Tordella on sax, Peter Sprague on guitar, and Charlie Weller on drums. Wanicur wrote five originals, added five covers including two from Wayne Shorter. Mainstream postbop, nothing you haven't heard before, but it's very nicely done. Tordella has a couple recent albums I haven't heard. Sprague cut his first in 1979 and has a lot of records I haven't heard, although I run into him often enough to recognize the name. B+(***)
Unpacking: Found in the mail last week:
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Excerpt: Tom Hull - On the Web - Entries for Monday, October 28. 2013
Tracked: Oct 31, 05:57
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