Origin Arts: The Tsunami from Seattle
A West Coast Jazz fixture for 25 years, Marc Seals has the chops to provide piano vittles for the likes of Art Pepper, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Betty Carter, Joe Henderson, Jackie McLean, and Frank Morgan. Here he is appearing live with his "Electric Side," the pianist opens things up with a New Age-like "Waiting" that sports a break where Mr. Seales is not bashful about showing off his impressive arsenal of chops. "Enigma" has guitarist Fred Hamilton playing jam-band jazz slide guitar. No, this is not Derek Trucks playing "Mr. P.C." It is freer than that. A Coltrane connection can be drawn in the controlled ciaos that drummer Steve Korn provides behind and beneath the more impassioned playing. Seale's electric piano provides a '70s retro feel but with great virtuosity. His playing is full of fun and soul, each of which is displayed at length on the longest cut, "Long March," which is cleverly a Jazz march. "Deep River" is a beautifully rendered spiritual, performed with trio. Perfect.
Prime NumbersLive at Jazz de Opus
(Origin 82422, 2004)
Prime Numbers is a traditional jazz piano trio...almost. Bassist Jonas Tauber drives his trio of Drummer William Thomas and pianist Doug Haning through nine totally improvised originals. Comparisons between Mr. Tauber and another bassist named Jonas (Hellborg) and this trio with Jeff Sipe and Shawn Lane are not without merit. Haning channels almost pure Matthew Shipp through his piano while Tauber's bass reminds me of Steve Swallow's in the Jimmy Giuffre Trio. The pieces range from the deranged and bombastic (in a good way) "Pointillism" to the airy and nervous "Spacial Poem." This is not music for the weak of heart as it is challenging by its central free nature. However, should the listener want to hear the Bad Plus on a crystal meth bender, he or she need look no further than this recording.
Modern Jazz: A Collection of Seattle's Finest Jazz
(Origin 82423, 2004)
It only makes marketing sense to release sampler discs of music that a label has in its stables. Origin Arts has accumulated an impressive amount of impressive music. Collected on Modern Jazz are among the first releases from the Origin Arts labels Origin Records and OA2. Originally commissioned by Microsoft as a musical melange for the unveiling of the Windows® XP Media Center, Modern Jazz now exists as the second installment of Origin Records ongoing sampler series. Moods ranging from the crack ensemble work on Clay Giberson's "Incompatibility" to the awesome piano swing of Marius Nordal's "Notoriety," this collection displays the disparate yet unified spirit of the Seattle Jazz scene. I am sure that there is something in the Left Coast's water to make the entire seaboard a percolator for jazz. This Northwest variety is as rich as the coffee the region is famous for.
A Mind For Scenery
(Origin 82424, 2004)
This is a little big band record. It is also the type of big band recording I was expecting judge from the timbre of music displayed on the disc listed above and below. Portland saxophonist/composer Tim Jensen assembles eight angular originals and one standard "On Green Dolphin Street." This is cutting edge big band music that is on and beyond par with what has been produced in Scandinavia over the past number of years. The music is spacious and ill-behaved, always swinging and interesting. Mr. Jensen's leadership is sure without being smothering, allowing his side personnel to breath. The tone is immediately soulful and free with a bit of avant-garde thrown in for good measure. Those listeners who like the Either/Orchestra will certainly be pleased with this Tim Jensen offering.
(OA2 22012, 2004)
Silenciosa is a superb solo guitar recital by Joe Pass-Charlie Byrd devotee and Bay-Area veteran George Cotsirilos. Despite the title, this is not a Latin-oriented jazz recording. Mr. Cotsirilos basically very ably performs the Great American Songbook and a classical nylon string guitar. His performance is intelligent and bright with virtuosic flashes as would be thrown off by the aforementioned Pass. The ballads, ""My Romance," "Just Friends," My Foolish Heart," and "Here's that Rainy Day" are all beautifully rendered through the soft round tone of the nylon strings. There is a residual Latin quality to these works, more than likely a function of the instrument, that works very well. This is a recording that tells all listeners that we are all in it together.
(OA2 22014, 2004)