I think I last used this blog title in July 2012. Here it goes once more:
Do you know the following names? Dann Zinn, Peter and Will Anderson, or David Caldwell-Mason? Probably not.
How about these names? Taylor Eigsti, Kenny Barron, Ben Wolfe, Kenny Washington, or Ari Hoenig? Those should be more familiar; some are pretty well established veterans, some are newer to the ranks, but each has a pretty long list of accomplishments as leader or sideman.
So once again, its time for introductions.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
My personal favorite is "February", with its quiet, thoughtful opening by Leak on piano, and then the entry of Allsopp on the bass clarinet, first in its lower register and later in its upper register, but always smooth and mellow to the ear. The movement in the song is noticably driven as well by a quiet yet demanding drum part.
This is a first rate CD that will be high on my list of the best of 2013 at the end of the year. There are no false steps, just eight small masterpieces to the ear.
As I have written in the past I have overcome my immediate knee-jerk reaction to pass on Zorn as I have found more and more pieces that are appealing, like "Alhambra Love Songs", "O'o", "Mount Analogue", and "The Gnostic Preludes". So I picked up Masada Guitars to look at what it was and who was playing and saw that it was Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, and Tim Sparks. That wasn't so good -- I am not a fan of what I hear from Ribot for the most part -- too much electic guitar skronks and squealing. Frisell I know can go either way, but when he is mellow his playing is wonderful. And I had no clue about Sparks, a new name to me. And was it made up of solos, duets, or trios? Acoustic or electric? And what was the format -- one song or many -- the jewel case was blank on all of that.
Good to have the iPhone and allmusic.com to refer to, since clearly nobody at the store was going to know about this disc. To make a long story short(er), All Music let me know that it was made up of 21 solo pieces from the body of Masada songs, in celebration of Masada's 10th anniversary, each selected by the individual guitarist. Seven works are played by Frisell, nine by Ribot, and five by Sparks. But that was okay too, because all but two of the works are acoustic, and surprisingly those two are played by Frisell. All Music in fact says "Those expecting an electric romp through the Masada songbook might be disappointed; Masada Guitars consists entirely of solo, mostly acoustic performances. Preconceptions aside, this is a beautiful album." Further, "Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Tim Sparks each bring their own voice to these tunes: Sparks with his rich fingerpicking... Ribot coming from his classical guitar background, [and] Bill Frisell with his unmistakable ethereal tone. Sparks' renditions are on steel string acoustic ... [and] Marc Ribot's playing on what sounds like a nylon-string classical guitar." Less was said about Sparks, but it turns out he too was classical trained, in this case by Andre Segovia, and his background is in classical, folk, and new age music.
The music lives up to the descriptions above. The mood is meditative, very mellow, and the playing is wonderfully soothing. Unfortunately the two electic pieces by Frisell break up that mood, but since all the pieces are short -- 2 to 4 minutes -- the two departures are not deal-breakers. The names of the songs may be derived from Jewish themes, but the music is not noticably middle eastern. It is just pure guitar work, some of it amazingly intricate, by three masters, and a tip of the hat to Ribot in particular for his beautiful work on those nylon strings.
For those who like Zorn and/or for those who like accoutic guitar play this is a must listen delight. Once again I am glad I didn't react immediately in the negative to the names Zorn and Ribot.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
From a large pile of recent releases I have three outstanding piano trios to suggest to readers, two by lesser known leaders and one by a long-time leader. What ties them together besides the format is the wonderful quality of the music, the lyricism, and the fact that all three groups are from outsie the U.S.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
His musical education was fostered by his father, who would transcribe great trumpeters’ solos, would take him to live gigs, and would provide excellent trumpet teachers for him. Tomasso later went on to study at the Leeds College of Music, and then spent many years working in bands and with visiting Amerian players. Among those he has played with are Scott Hamilton, Ken Peplowski, Bucky Pizzarelli, John Dankworth, and Tommy Whittle and the Pizza Express All Stars. His first recording as a sideman was in 1984, and today he is considered one of the top jazz trumpeters and recently won best trumpet category in the British Jazz Awards.
The CD is full of classic pieces like "Who Cares", "Lullaby in Rhythm", "Rockin' Chair", and "I Got it Bad and That Ain't Good". These songs and others allow Tomasso to demonstrate his range, be it the lyrical flugelhorn he displays on "Gone and Crazy", a Johnny Hodges tune, or the up-tempo swinging "Brotherhood of Man" from the play "How to Succeed in Business" that closes the CD. "The Good Life", a tune made famous by Tony Bennett, is emotionally charged by Tomasso's burnished tone and lyrical flowing lines.
A really strong mainstream outing by a wonderfully quartet.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Two new CDs to report on by two veteran tenor players. The first is "Lower East Side" (Posi-Tone 2013) by Ehud Asherie with Harry Allen, and the second "Remembering Billie" (Blue Dutchess 2013) by Scott Hamilton. Both are exactly what you would expect given the players and titles -- classic compositions, smoothly swinging (swung?) sounds, and tight arrangements. Nothing fancy, just meat and potatoes for those who love classic sounds.
Two great straight-ahead albums.
Two great straight-ahead albums.