Short Takes Part 3, Plus Three from MCG!
Drummer Matt Wilson has been very busy lately. His name has been surfacing lately on recordings by the likes of Bill Mays, Frank Kimbrough and Denny Zeitlin, as well as a member of the either Orchestra and the Herbie Nichols Project. All of that and he sports a successful solo career. He has previously released an Arts and Crafts recording in 2001 ( Arts and Crafts ). (Hard) bopish and organic, Wake Up! possesses a c very contemporary edge, honed by mixing unruley post bop elements with the sleekest of jazz. For example, witness the transmogrification of Matt Wilson's "Free Range Chicken", from a calliope tune into seething urban funk, propelled by Stafford's informed trumpet and Golding's burping and irreverent organ. Stafford and Golding return, perfectly behaved for Jaki Byard's ballad, "Aluminum Baby." Muted, Stafford navigates the challenging melody, pushed by Golding's harmonic wheels. Curtis Stigers sings on the tony Williams composition "There Comes A Time." This song perfectly captures the free spirit of Matt Willson. His drumming is a wall of sound, filling in every crevasse. This is a superb recording by any measure.
Joe Henderson Quintet
At The Lighthouse
This is Joe Henderson 1970. The tenor saxophonist is performing here halfway between his two Blue Note periodsHe his also performing on the hinge of modernity. Miles Davis had already released In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. The nearest evidence of this is George Cables playing the electric piano. Other than that, this is full-bore blowing, Second-Great-Quintet style. The stark contrast between studio and live recordings of the period are sharply focused on this recording. Far from note perfect, Henderson and Woody Shaw are at their creative best, taking chances and winning. The performances contain three of Henderson's most famous compositions: "Caribbean Fire Dance," "Recorda-Me," "A Shade of Jade, " and "Isotope." George Cables provides the period electric piano and Ron McClure the free playing he would become noted for later. "'Round Midnight" opens with Henderson at his most full-throated and is followed by the Cedar Walton tribute of the Saxophonist, "Mode for Joe." These two pieces comprise the disc's spiritual center, grounding a very valuable re-release.
Don Friedman Trio
My Favorite Things
My Favorite Things is a class act made up of three class acts. Don Friedman has been recording as a leader or sideman since the mid-1950s and remains woefully underappreciated. His previous 441 recording, Waltz for Debbie , was very well received. Mr. Friedman is a lyrical player with muscle. His music possesses a physicality that the late Bill Evans lacked. He is joined by bassist George Mraz and drummer Lewis Nash for a swinging little trio date that turns out to be quite a significant release for 2004. The title cut is executed in the proper willowy ¾ one should expect (and offers a great alternative to the Coltrane/Tyner interactions on the same tune). The original "Schmooze Blues" shows that Friedman is no one-dimensional balladeer. He plays with great passion and aplomb. While previously mentioning Coltrane, Mr. Friedman turns an interesting "Giant Steps," treating the cornerstone tune as a swing machine. A top ten recording for sure.
Enter Sandman...Katahdin's Edge is the brainchild of pianist Willie Myette. The music is largely a is a cross between The Bad Plus and Dave BrubeckStructural and astructural at the same time. The music is at once thrillingly funky and then sedate before declaring revolution on the listener and going every which way. Myette's sheer musicality makes complex pieces such as "Step Away" and "Zargonic Effect" very listenable. John Funkhouser's bass is treated to very open solo space with drummer Mike Conner's keeping the entire soiree in time. This is a superb piece of avant-garde jazz that should satisfy fans fo everyone from Harry Connick to MM&W.
I have never heard any bad jazz come out of Italy. The Italian brand of this American export is always spiced con brio. One need not listen any further than the introduction to the opening "I Remember You" to know that there is something special about Roberto Magris and his brand of jazz. Leading his group EUROPLANE, Magris navigates both accessible and inaccessible waters with equal capability. On the Whole, his approach is free, barely tethered. The leader's piano is adventuresome, smacking of courage and determination. Recorded between 2002 and 2003, this is his newest foray into the market. This is a superb collection of standards and originals performed crisply with the brilliant Italian sensibility listeners have come to expect.
Impressions on Chopin's Nocturnes