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April 2004

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Anything Goes
The Brad Mehldau Trio
(Warner Bros)

Many of the same songs played live on the trio’s winter tour are on the disc and, in the studio as on the stage, Mehldau and his band create music from the material without ever giving short shrift to it. You can recognize a given song and, like the band itself, use the familiarity as a touchstone to move beyond it. The Mehldau trio makes music of these songs that stands on its own, on par with the material itself, no easy task and no small accomplishment. The authority with which the pianist plays is echoed in the rhythm section and the impeccable recording preserves both the bottom range of their dynamics as well as the expanse of the sound as a whole.




The Passage: Music for Steel Orchestra
Andy Narell & Calypsociation
(Heads Up)

Wondrous as it might be to watch Narell, Calysociation, and their special guests, Masekela, D’Rivera and Brecker in action performing this sublimely intricate music, it couldn’t be much superior to the listening experience of this gorgeously-recorded cd where sections of the steel orchestra take the parts of individual instrument in a conventional lineup. Chances are you will hear nothing remotely like this again in 2004... or enjoy a disc more either.


Rocksteady
Monty Alexander-Ernest Ranglin
(Telarc)

When is a jazz album a reggae album?...and vice-versa? When it’s collaboration between two figurehead musicians equally adept in the form of the Jamaican genre as well as the freedom of the genuine jazz aesthetic. Rhythm begets imagination and the other way ‘round throughout this whole album, making it an item fans of both camps can enjoy equally.


You Must Believe in Spring
Bill Evans
(Warner Jazz Masters/WSM)

The strikingly immaculate audio production on this expanded edition of one the jazz icon’s final sessions is only one of its virtues. Apart from the passion and purpose in Evans’ own playing, there’s the invention and initiative displayed by Eddie Gomez an bass and Eliot Zigmond on drums, the sum total of which adds up to a package you could use to demonstrate to the ninitated why Bill Evans is as influential as he is in the jazz pantheon.


Apogee
Warne Marsh & Pete Christlieb
(Warner Jazz Masters/WSM)

new sounds in jazz are more exhilarating than the sound of two tenors in full flight, and this aptly named album is full of such soaring sounds. The contrast between the spiraling sound of the horns and the crisp tradeoffs with the rhythm section, especially Lou Levy’s piano, render this album’s original noteworthy aspect—production by Steely Dan’s Walter Becker and Donald Fagen—a mere afterthought with this expanded remaster.


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