All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Serving jazz worldwide since 1995
All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

From the Inside Out

Three of a Perfect Pair

By Published: March 22, 2009

Koorax and Scharli proved to be sympathetic long even before this project. In 2004, each recorded "I Fall in Love Too Easily" without knowing about the other's version, and their new joint recording is the pinnacle of Obrigado. Koorax treasures each word as if it clutches her faith in romance, while Scharli's trumpet gracefully dances within the rhythms of guitarist Markus Stadler and double-bassist Thomas Durst. Koorax closes with a higher-than-high note that no words, no matter how well-written, could make you believe. Listen, and trust your own ears instead.

"The recording of 'I Fall in Love Too Easily' for the Autumn in NY CD (EMI-JSR, 2005) was a very spontaneous first-take, like most of the tracks on that album, which was recorded 'live in the studio'—I mean, I sang together with the musicians," Ithamara explained. "Since then, I've been performing the song in live concerts very often. Peter had also recorded the song in another album before, 'cause it's one of his favorite ballads too. Then we decided to record it again, mixing elements from both of our live performances. The entire Obrigado album was cut live in the studio, so this second version is closer to how I use to sing it in the concerts, including that high note near the very ending."

Art Farmer
Brass Shout / The Aztec Suite
Blue Note (Connoisseur Series)
2008

Brass / Aztec combines two releases from trumpeter/flugelhornist Art Farmer: Brass Shout, arranged by his longtime associate Benny Golson

Benny Golson
Benny Golson
b.1929
sax, tenor
, and The Aztec Suite, including its famous panoramic title track, arranged by Chico O'Farrill
Chico O'Farrill
Chico O'Farrill
1921 - 2001
composer/conductor
. Combining these two titles, both from 1959, creates an expansive survey of jazz, Latin jazz and pop played as jazz.

Swaddled and swaying within their brass construction, Golson's Latin / jazz rearrangements of "Autumn Leaves" and "April in Paris" welcome you to this rhythmic dance; Golson's tune "Five Spot After Dark" cuts a sharper groove, the sound of Saturday evening jumping into Saturday night. Composer Bobby Timmons

Bobby Timmons
Bobby Timmons
1935 - 1974
piano
sits in on "Moanin,'" the only tune with piano on either set, and spins a web of soulful funk that sounds very much like Horace Silver
Horace Silver
Horace Silver
b.1928
piano
, another jazz pianist fond of that "Spanish tinge" (and who composed the opening "Nica's Dream").

This set's obvious showpiece, O'Farrill's epic "Aztec Suite" unfurls with all the color and drama of Gone with the Wind. Each soloist steps out from, then back into the roaring ensemble, which continually moves forward into the next passage, which showcases the next soloist, and so on. Every soloist plays brilliantly, the ensemble roars majestically, and neither overpowers the other. A genuine masterpiece of ensemble Latin jazz, "Aztec" is most likely the closest that O'Farrill ever came to matching the reach and scope of Duke Ellington's suites.

Although it's been historically overshadowed by "Aztec Suite," this version of "Heat Wave" might be even better—with Farmer and his percussionists playing so furiously that they sound intent on blowing each note completely off their sheet music—because it burns just as hot but consumes less than half the time. "Woody N'You" (Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
) extends the torrid Afro-Cuban groove and explosive ensemble horns, one more stellar example from a set that's thoroughly vibrant, compelling and bursting with energy.

Danilo Perez
Across the Crystal Sea
Decca
2008

At its most basic, Crystal Sea features pianist Danilo Perez leading a quartet with bassist Christian McBride

Christian McBride
Christian McBride
b.1972
bass
and drummer Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
Lewis Nash
b.1958
drums
, supported by percussionist Luis Quintero. Cassandra Wilson
Cassandra Wilson
Cassandra Wilson
b.1955
vocalist
radiates vocals through two standards, "Lazy Afternoon" and "(All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings." Beyond these two standards, Claus Ogerman, who arranged and conducted the orchestra, contributes the melancholic closer ("Another Autumn") plus, according to his arranger's notes, five other pieces "based on classical themes I've known all my life and have always wanted to adapt and record" by Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, Massenet, Manuel de Falla and Hugo Distler.

But you almost never hear Crystal Sea at its most basic. As a consequence, it offers little jazz piano. Perez's quartet is the primary color, but only one color in Ogerman's expansive orchestral palette. Perez sits out long passages in several tunes, and is almost conspicuously absent while Wilson sings. As a result, Crystal Sea sounds more like an Ogerman orchestral album with piano than it does a Perez piano album with orchestra.

Each song captures moments of precious beauty. But most also lack that fire—or whatever is that something, that passion—with which most great music burns. For example, Ogerman moves "Lazy Afternoon" so lugubriously that the rhythmic stillness begins to feel as stifling and oppressive as 100 degrees in the shade heat.



comments powered by Disqus