Stan Getz (Legacy)
Even in its expanded edition, this album is a document of musicians playing only the notes that count. Essentially Chick Corea’s first Return to forever band, plus Getz on sax and Tony Williams on drums, the pianist’s multi-part compositions are ideal for the approach the group adopted for this album: to improvise on a theme in the simplest most direct way possible, with each individual picking right up where the other left off. This cd will startle you with its relevance: smooth jazz should be so vigorous.
Nicholas Payton (Warner Bros.)
This cd is mood music deluxe, ranging in its 18(!) tracks from snippets of conversation, to ambient sounds to the fluid motion of the trumpeter in full flight with his band. Much as Christian McBride reconstituted himself as a modern fusioneer, so does Payton in a wholly different realm of traditional jazz shot through with experimental concepts? This cd begs for repeated close listening because there is literally so much to hear.
Nightlife in Tokyo
Eric Alexander (Milestone)
Each successive album by this young gifted saxophonist serves as a microcosm of his career to date and this new one is no exception. With each solo Alexander takes, he leads his band deeper and deeper into the tune, especially the rhythm section including the redoubtable Ron Carter. And when you hear the band trading off with such glee, as drummer Joe Farnsworth and pianist Harold do on “Lock Up and bow Out,” you’re hearing lessons in the improvisatory world of jazz itself.
St. Louis Shoes
Greg Osby (Blue Note)
Each and every Osby album is a compete package, this latest one comprised of material by composers ranging from Elllington to Gershwin to Monk. Throughout, Osby takes a backseat to the arrangements of the music and the playing of such handpicked stalwarts such as Nicholas Payton and Robert Hurst. Together, they succeed in transforming a set of standards into a freewheeling jam session, the likes of which the authors no doubt intended their material.
Live at the Blue Note (Telarc)
It doesn’t demean the musicianship on this double cd set to say the remarkable sound quality of the recording is the first thing that captures your attention. The depth and clarity is simply a mirror image of the intelligence and imagination of the three players involved, who generate almost palpable electricity by their charged performances throughout.
A Tribute to Jaco Pastorius
Word of Mouth Revisited (Telarc)
You may not appreciate the influence the late visionary bassist had on the band Weather Report til you listen to this impressive package. In addition, the inspiration Jaco gave to an entire generation of bassists is captured here in microcosm: players as diverse as Jimmy Haslip(Yellowjackets) and Victor Wooten(Flecktones) stretch themselves to meet the groundbreaking standards Jaco set during his abbreviated career, while the material itself is revealed in all its memorable glory.