Andrea Balducci Bloom Schema 2012 Italian vocalist Andrea Balducci is so earnestly hip and so perfectly coiffed (he is a lawyer, after all) he is almost a metaphor: a talented metaphor. His debut recording, Bloom is equally hip and coiffed as the singer himself. With a keen ear for the edge of nostalgia, Balducci assembles a repertoire from 1960s American popular music. The heady brief Balducci prepares for us is one almost too slick to be real or serious, but he stops well before the edge of maudlin pathos. ...read more
Francy Boland Playing With the Trio Schema 2013 Duke Ellington's rare trio recordings are always a treat. Money Jungle (United Artist, 1963) a trio session Ellington made with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach is readily memorable. The big band leader Ellington was clearly able to hold his own in the smaller, more intimate, trio format. More than that, Ellington easily displayed his orchestral thinking even in the company of such modern jazz giants. It is the pianist's identity most carefully archived in these trio settings. Belgian pianist ...read more
Simin Tander Where Water Travels Home Jazzhaus 2014 German-Afghani vocalist and composer Simin Tander follows up her well-received debut recording Wagma (Neuklang, 2011). She again prefers the company of her trio: pianist Jeroen van Vliet, who also provides judicious electronic effects; stand- out bassist Cord Heineking; and drummer Etienne Nillesen, with augmentation by Alex Simu on clarinet and Niti Ranjan Biswas on tabla. Polyglot in the extreme, Tander sings in English, French and, most compellingly, in her native Pashto. Yau Tar De Grewan" infuses a European sensibility with the saffron melody of ...read more
Oran Etkin Gathering Light Motema 2014 Multi-reedist Oran Etkin gathers his scattered points of inspiration from the whole of the Eastern Hemisphere and a good bit of the Western one. Etkin's main horn is the bass clarinet...not completely unheard of, Eric Dolphy played a mean one, but one heard infrequently enough that it remains almost a novelty. Etkin opens Gathering Light with Ki Narto Saboo's Gambang Suling," his bass clarinet reaching eastward toward the Indian Ocean and parts tropical. The original Taxi Dance" pits Etkin's clarinet against Curtis Fowlkes' Teagarden-inspired trombone. If ...read more
April is no more the cruelest month than the moon is made of cheese. For consideration this month we have nine recordings from far and wide: Antonio Adolfo to Little Feat far and wide. Antonio Adolfo Rio, Choro, Jazz AAM Music 2014 Before there was Bossa Nova, there was Choro, which itself was a eutection of European, American and African musical elements. One of the greatest Choro composers was Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth. Nazareth and his music is the focus of Brazilian pianist Antonio Adolfo, whose previous recordings in ...read more
Writer's note: Music writing is an avocation. It is not what I do for a living. It exists as that undertaking I do for the satisfaction of possibly educating others about this single essential art. But the reality is I have less and less time to write. As a result, I am limiting my writing to two Bailey's Bundles" submitted monthly: my current Jazz Quanta" addressing instrumental music and now my Jazz Vocals" capturing my thoughts on vocal jazz. These will serve as my main outlets for writing. I will continue to write full reviews, particularly of music related books, ...read more
bal * lad :noun \'ba- ləd\ A slow popular song that is typically about love. The ballad remains one of the most durable vehicles in any music genre. In jazz, it is a make-or-break format capable of revealing the haves and haves not in the jazz vocals department. There have been many nonpareil jazz ballad singers, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Shirley Horn immediately come to mind. Among the men are Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett and Chet Baker, the latter being the only real jazzer of the bunch, but no ...read more
The traditional jazz piano trio (piano, double bass and drums) remains a robust and productive format for jazz performance and interpretation. Here are three examples supporting this. Phishbacher Trio Dreamcatcher Jazz Sick Records 2014 Pianist and composer Walter Fischbacher with his wife, singer/composer Elisabeth Lohninger manage their Lofish Recording Studio in New York City when not pursuing each other's well- received recording careers. Fischbacher and his trio have enjoyed a productive new millennium, releasing their sixth recording, Dreamcatcher. Fischbacher eschews electronics in favor of piano trio for interpretations of ...read more
On a bright spring Thursday afternoon, June 28, 1928, Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five entered the Okeh Studios in Chicago Illinois to record Three Perfect Minutes" of music in the guise of Joe King" Oliver's immortal West End Blues." Describing Armstrong's West End" cornet solo, Gunther Schuller opined that it was, ..."an impassioned almost stammering repetitive phrase that seems to float, completely unencumbered, above the accompaniment." Thus, the most important recording in jazz history. What does this have to do with the present Rare Noise releases by Jamie Saft/Joe Morris and Chat Noir? ...read more
RareNoise, chant, drunken big band...Good Lawd! Free Nelson Mandoomjazz The Shape of Doomjazz to Come/Saxophone Giganticus RareNoise 2014 You have to love RareNoise Records for inventive sonic turbulence. Add to this alto saxophonist Rebecca Sneddon sense of humor aping the title of this double EP" from two of the most famous saxophone recordings of the 1950s: Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz To Come (Atlantic, 1959) and Sonny Rollins' Saxophone Colossus (Prestige, 1956). What The Shape of Doomjazz to Come/Saxophone Giganticus does is turn that tradition on its ear ...read more
Here are three well-recorded solo piano recitals by three very different pianists playing three equally different jazz repertoires. In spite of these apparent differences, the three artists approach their material in a similarly spacious way. The results are encouraging. Bernie Worrell Elevation: The Upper Air M.O.D. Technologies 2014 There are a couple of things going on in this release. First, this is the first solo piano recording by Bernie Worrell. Worrell was a founding member of George Clinton's Parliament/Funkadelic, not exactly the musician one would expect to make ...read more
Latin vocal jazz is alive and well. Each year curiously seems to produce more and more of this commodity. No matter. While the majority is very good indeed, there are those recordings that rise above the mix into the exceptional. These are three of them. Carmen Cuesta Toda Una Vida... Tweedy Records 2014 Following her well-received bossa nova offering, Mi Bossa Nova (Tweedy Records, 2010), Madrid singer Carmen Cuesta turns her attention to the bolero in Toda Una Vida. The singer retains the impressive production and guitar talents of ...read more
February's Jazz Quanta is a beautifully mixed bag of blues, jazz instrumental and classical. There is never a dull moment. Renee' and the Walkaways--The Walkaway Sessions (Self Produced, 2013). Vocalist Renee' Cheek heads up the piquant gumbo talent of her very own band, the Walkaways. The Walkaway Sessions is a Louisiana grassroots affair produced by David Hyde, who also provides bass playing. The music is a rich roux drawing equally from the blues, country, zydeco, Tex-Mex and jazz...but make it heavy on the country. Originals No Regrets," Poor Cold Heart" and I Don't Need You" are the ...read more
The beauty of having written for All About Jazz since the early years is that I was given one of the first personal columns, Bailey's Bundles," as named by publisher Michael Ricci. I have used it mostly for thematically-based multiple record reviews, then my end-of-the-year lists. As the years sped on, I began to concentrate on reviewing jazz vocals releases and my output addressing instrumental music began to shrink while the same amount of said material still knocked at my door. I am using Bailey's Bundle's" to help remedy this. I am subtitling this monthly series Jazz Quanta" in keeping ...read more
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