Buddy Rich: In a Zone of His Own
Once past that, the band gives a pretty good account of itself, and Taylor is certainly a stellar timekeeper, even though he's no Buddy Rich (no one ever has been, or arguably ever will be). "Wind Machine" is followed by Mike Tomaro's fusion piece, "Conspiracy Theory," the ambitious "Good News Suite" (with a long and impressive solo by Taylor) and "Too Close for Comfort," on which Frater has the same problems with intonation that she had on the CD (when she can be heard above the ensemble). Mention should be made here that several numbers are listed out of sequence on the DVD's jacket (but in the correct order on the menu). The fast-moving "Hit & Run," one of five numbers not on the CD (and on which Taylor perhaps comes closest to emulating Rich), is next up, followed by Pat Metheny's lyrical "It's Just Talk" (inaudible vocalese by Frater), Bob Mintzer's carefree "Party Time," A.J. Ellis' funky "Chicken," the familiar "West Side Story" medley and, last but not least, a smashing encore, Pete Meyers' unrivaled arrangement of Cole Porter's "Love for Sale." Young tenor saxophonist Vasilis Xenopolous is the most frequently heard soloist, and while he's bright and technically sound, he has a way to go to catch up to Don Menza, Steve Marcus or Jay Corre, to name only three of Rich's peerless tenor standouts. Others who create an auspicious impression include alto Richard Sheppard, trumpeter Ed Benstead, tenor Dan Faulkner and pianist Hilary Cameron.
Taylor, who saw Buddy Rich at age twelve and was so impressed he "wound up doing this," does it quite well indeed, and it's reassuring to see and hear someone who is dedicated to keeping Rich's musical heritage alive and swinging. As noted, the concert has its sonic flaws but neither Taylor nor the band can be faulted for that. In spite of its blemishes, one of the better big-band DVDs in recent memory.
In Smaller Packages . . .
Mike Longo Trio
A Celebration of Diz and Miles
Consolidated Artists Productions
Pianist Mike Longo, best known for his long association with the legendary trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, for whom he served as music director, celebrates Diz and his equally acclaimed contemporary, Miles Davis, in a live trio session from which trumpets are conspicuously absent. The "celebration," in this case, centers not on the instrument Gillespie and Davis played but rather on the music they wrote, which arguably exceeds even their finest work as instrumentalistsand that is saying a mouthful, as they are generally regarded as two of the most brilliant and creative jazz trumpeters who ever lived. Problem is, Diz and Miles wrote so many memorable tunes that it's impossible to squeeze them into one hour-long performance, even as medleys. Longo has thus chosen five songs by Diz, four by Miles, and the standards "Summertime" (an early-Davis staple) and "You Don't Know What Love Is."
Aside from any thematic scenario, it should be noted that Longo is a first-rate player, as are his teammates, bassist Paul West and drummer Ray Mosca, who have been keeping close company with the leader for many years and are immediately responsive to any changes in emphasis or mood. After opening with Davis' introspective "All Blues," the trio explores one of Gillespie's most enchanting melodies, "Con Alma." A pair of popular works by Miles ("Milestones," "Freddie Freeloader") and two by Gillespie ("Ow!," "Here 'Tiz") lead to "Summertime." The concert sweeps to its denouement with Dizzy's dynamic "Tour de Force," "What Love Is" and Miles' quirky "So What," ending with Dizzy's exhilarating "Night in Tunisia." The unrehearsed performance (Longo gave a list of tunes to the musicians shortly before the curtain went up, and that was that) was recorded in the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium at the Baha'i Center in New York City, where Longo and his wife, Dottie (who are Baha'is, as was Gillespie), present jazz concerts each Tuesday evening.
While sound quality is for the most part admirable, Longo's piano is the slightest bit over-mic'ed, which at times lessens its clarity, but only on fortissimo passages, and even then to a trivial degree. Otherwise, there's not much to censure, as Longo, West and Mosca pledge their allegiance to Diz and Miles with a thoroughly engaging concert that sounds anything but unrehearsed.
A Tribute to Paul Desmond
Primrose Lane Music