Various Artists: Everybody Wants To Be A Cat: Disney Jazz Volume 1 (2011)
What a discovery; what a great idea. Producer Jason Olaine has taken songs from a number of Disney moviessome rarely recorded by jazz musiciansand made fresh new versions, utilizing some of today's most well-known jazz artists.
The performers range from 90 year-old piano legend Dave Brubeck to 17 year-old Canadian vocalist Nikki Yanofsky; established horn players such as trumpeter Roy Hargrove and saxophonist Joshua Redman; and international performers including Israeli-born/US-based guitarist Gilad Hekselman and avant-garde Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez.. Olaine has given these diverse artists full control, and they have mined 13 gems from the Disney catalog.
Hargrove delivers a sprightly, hard bop rendition of the sparkling "Everybody Wants to Be A Cat," from 1970's The AristoCats, while accordionist Gil Goldstein provides the haunting opening to Esperanza Spalding's creative arrangement of "Chim Chim Cher-ee," from Mary Poppins (1964), the bassist later vocalizing along with her bowed lines to underscore the song's evocative mood
Brubeck gets two selections: first, a swinging version of "Someday My Prince Will Come," from 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, where the pianist breezes through the lilting melody, before coming on strong with his trademark chordal fury; later, he gives fine accompaniment to singer Roberta Gambarini on the theme song to Alice in Wonderland (1951).
Regina Carter's exotic violin merges with accordionist Gary Versace and kora master Yacouba Sissoko in the captivating and ear-opening "Find Yourself," from Cars (2006), while Redman adds depth to the innocuous "You've Got A Friend in Me, " from Toy Story (1995), the tenor saxophonist's creative energy unleashed in a trio with bassist Matt Penman and drummer Gregory Hutchinson.
The irrepressible The Bad Plus is mind-blowing on a rousing version of "Gaston," from Beauty and the Beast (1991), taking this French-flavored tune through creative hijinks to a stirring climax, delivered with the brio of an Edith Piaf ballad.
On the many strengths of Olaine's Everybody Wants To Be A Cat: Disney Jazz Volume 1, hopefully Volume 2 won't be far behind.
Track Listing: Everybody Wants To Be A Cat; Chim Chim Cher-Ee; Some Day My Prince Will Come; Find Yourself; You've Got A Friend In Me; He's A Tramp; Feed The Birds (Tuppence A Bag); Gaston; Alice In Wonderland; The Bare Necessities; It's A Small World; Belle; Circle Of Life.
Personnel: Roy Hargrove: trumpet (1); Justin Robinson: alto saxophone (1); Ameen Saleem: bass (1); Thaddeus Dixon: drums (1) Esperanza Spalding: bass, vocal (2); Gil Goldstein: piano, accordion (2); Dave Brubeck: piano (3, 9); Michael Moore: bass (3, 9); Randy Jones: drums (3, 9); Regina Carter: violin (4); Gary Versace: accordion (4); Yacoba Sissoko: kora (4); Chris Lightcap: bass(4); Alvester Garnett: drums, percussion (4); Joshua Redman: tenor saxophone (5); Matt Penman: bass (5); Gregory Hutchinson: drums (5); Dianne Reeves: vocal (6); Peter Martin: piano (6); James Genus: bass (6); Alvester Garnett: drums (6); Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar and piano (7); Joshua Thurston-Milgrom: bass (7); Tobias Backhaus: drums (7); Ethan Iverson: piano (8); Reid Anderson: bass (8); Dave King: drums (8); Roberta Gambarini: vocal (9); Alfredo Rodriguez: piano and percussion (10); Nikki Yanofsky: vocal (11); Paul Shrofel: piano (11); Rob Fahle: bass (11); Geoffrey Lang: drums (11); Rod DiLauro: trumpet (11); Pat Vetter: alto saxophone (11); Christopher Smith: trombone (11); Jean Frechette: baritone saxophone (11); Gilad Hekselman: guitar (12); Joe Martin: bass (12); Obed Calvaire: drums, percussion (12); Mark Rapp: trumpet (13); Jamie Reynolds: piano, keyboards (13); Rene Hart: bass (13); Greg Gonzales: drums (13).
Record Label: Disney Records