Help! I've fallen behind and I can't catch up! I have collected a ton of CDs this past month that I have listened to, in almost all cases appreciated, and have not posted about. It's been a busy month for work and travel, plus my office moved as well so there was packing, unpacking, and setting up that took time.
But that is not why you are reading this. So on to a bunch of CDs.
Kikowski, Carpenter, Novak, and Sheppard"From the Hip" (BFM Jazz 2013) -- This a recording of alive perfornace in 206, largely unrehearsed, which fuels the energy and creatiity that oozes from this CD. Respectively the players listed above are the pianist, bassist, drummer, and sax player, and each shines during the perfomrance. Straight ahead, wonderful jazz. And despite how many times you have heard "Star Eyes", How Deep is the Ocean"or "Autumn Leaves", you won't be disappointed by this group's intensity, creativity and originality on those and all of the other pieces.
Iro Haarla Sextet "Kolibri" (TUM 2013)-- The sextet is Iro Haarla on piano, Verneri Pohjola on trumpet, Jari Hongisto on trombone, Kari Heinila on woodwinds, Ulf Krokfors on bass, and Markku Ounaskari on drums. Haarla is familiar to me from her two ECM recordings "Northbound" and Vespers" and has that lovely northern European sensibility that she brings her to seven original pieces. The arangements can be lush at times and free flowing, at other times a bit angular and free, and they are always interesting to hear. The interplay among the six players is interesting as they weave in and out of each others lines, and create unusual pairings of sound. The songs are sometimes inspired by the sound of birds, and thus three are names "Nightjar", "Kolibri" (hummingbird) and "Legend of the Cranes". Each piece is almost a mini-suite, with a number of separate and distintive parts making up the whole, and coonstantly challenging the listener and each other to visualize the tale being told. "Kolibri" and "Spirit Bear" are especially wonderful but the entire CD shines as a work of impresionistic jazz. Not for those who like straight-ahead music and a clear melody and rhythm; this is for those who like modern abstract works nad impressionistic jazz. A very fine recording.
Dominick Farinacci Quartet"Say It" (Pony Canyon 2013) -- Not sure why it is labelled a quartet when it actually is a quintet of Farinacci on trumpet, Ira Sullivan on soprano and tenor sax, Adam Birnbaum on piano, Ben Wolfe on bass and Carmen Intorre on drums. Farinacci released a really nice CD, "Dawn of Goodbye" (E One 2011), that was reminiscient of the work of Chet Baker and his first CD here in the U.S., but he has recorded many CDs for the Japanese market, which loves standards and straight-ahead jazz. This is precisely that, with some beautiful sounds from both Farinacci and Sullivan, a Chicago veteran with a long list of accomplished CDs as a leader and sideman. There are some up tempo bop songs, some originals by Farinacci and Sullivan, but the heart of the CD is in songs like "SayIt", Just in Time" and "Black Orpheus". This is an outstanding if a bit pricy ($23.00 via Eastwind Imports) set of ballads, bop and swing that will please those who love the straight ahead sound reminiscient of the old blue not bands of the 50's.
Junior Mance Trio +One, "Yesterdays" (Pony Canyon 2013) -- Junior Mance always makes beautiful music, and with Chip Jackson on bass and Jackie Williams on drums this is a potent trio on songs like "Willow Weep for Me",Yesterdays", Georgia on my Mind", and "Blue Monk". But the pop is deleivered by the "And One" added for this CD in the person of Eric Alexander on tenor sax who takes the beauty and depth of Mance's trio one step beynd. Just an amazing outing that is only on the Japanese label Pony Canyon, this is another $23.00 CD that is actually worth the extra bucks to hear. Masterful, pleasurable, potent, and perfect music.
Jon Davis Trio, "Beauty and the Blues" (Venus Records 2013) and John Davis "One Up Front: (Positone 2013)-- Wow, two great CDs in one calendar year for Davis, one releaswed in the U.S. by Positone and the other released in Japan by Venus Records. As would be expected based on the labels, both are largely straight-ahead, down the middle jazz trio recordings, with the CD on Positone, "One Up Front" being the more adventurous of the two with three originals by Davis and some bolder improvisations. On "One Up Front" the band includes Joris Teepe on bass and Shinnosuke Takahashi on drums. For "Beauty and the Blues" it's Ed Howard on bass and Tim Gorner on drums. In both cases you will love the music if you love great piano trios playing great music.
Ralph Alessi and Fred Hersh "Only Many" (CamJazz 2013) -- Interesting, unusual, captivating, and sucessful. The music is largely improvised, with the two plaers working in and out of each others lines, sometimes more sucessfully than other times, so it is not an even trip from start to finish. In fact the music begins a bit harshly with "Ride" but then it settles in nicely as it goes along. The improvisation on Monk's "San Francisco Holiday" is a whole new look at his music and the two expand the theme and stretch it to places where it basically disappears into the vapors. This is very expressionistic music of the modern abstract kind, which hits the mark far more than it misses. I recommend it for those who like a bit of the experimental and unknown in their music. Alessi is generally an outside player while most of Hersh's work is inside the box, so this is quite a departure, and an interesting one, for Hersch.
Bobby Avey "Be Not So Long to Speak" (Minsi Ridge 2013) -- I read a review about this on one of the blogs and purchased it, and am sure glad I did. Avey composed all but two of the songs, "P.Y.T" by Ingram and Jones and the classic "Stardust" by Hoagy Carmichael. Avey is quite a composer at a young age and his songs shine with creativity and soul. The music has long and beautiful melodies as well as wonderful, captivating and creative improvisations throughout. Avey has a beautiful touch on the keys, from light running lines to large chordal sections, and he uses his dynamics to tell his story. I think you can tell I was captivated by the music and have a very high regard for this CD. Its modern mainstream music, generally within the box but with a great deal of lovely new melodies and improvisations. Highly recommended for those who wnat to venture away from the standards a bit as well as those who love the modern mainstream style.
Angela Davis "The Art of the Melody" (Self-produced 2013) -- The title says it, this is a quartet that is all about grabbing a melody, playing it and then playing with it. Davis is a young saxophonist joined here by Chris Ziemba on piano, Linda Oh on basss, and Rajiv Jayaweera on drums. The set of nine songs a varied -- three originals by Davis, "Smile" by Charlie Chaplin, "Crazy She Calls Me", some Boz Scaggs and Tom Waits, and even the traditional "Annie Laurie". The group sounds great and Davis has a nice rich sound on her saxes that allows the music to flow beatifully from her to the hands of Ziemba on piano and Oh on bass. Nice nice music, nice grouping, and something worth listening to. Mainstream jazz but an unusual set that makes it special.
Hush Point "Hush Point" (Sunnyside 2013)-- The star players in "Hush Point" are John McNeil on trumpet and Jeremy Udden on alto sax, along with Aryeh Kobrinsky on bass and Vinnie Sperrazza on drums. This is very low key music, very quiet and pretty laid back. Meditative music for a quiet evening.
Mulgrew Miller "Solo" (Space Time Recordings 2010) -- The passing of Mulgrew Miller was the passing of one of the truly great musicians of our era, a pianist of incredible touch, dynamics and flow on everything he did, whether it was the recent outing with the Kluver Big Band that I posted on a while back, his trios on MaxJazz, and his work with Wingspan. Anything he touched was golden. I saw this CD a while back before his passing. It is European and though it was released in 2010 its was the first time I stumbled across it. Miller didn't record solo much, so this is a rare outing, a live recording from a night in Paris. Oh to have been there; this is masterful and emotional and now even more of a treasure to have. The songs are classics ---"Jordu", "Con Alma", Yardbird Suite", "Body and Soul", "Giant Steps", and more. This is a golden moment -- find it, buy it, and enjoy every second.
That's enough to digest for now, but I still have a pile to go. Great music is everywhere. Find it and listen.