George Gee Big Band
Settin' the Pace - The Music of Frank Foster Under His Direction
This CD contains two Frank Foster tunes and arrangements that have never been recorded before: "Settin' the Pace" and "Bass in Yo' Face," both gems. Otherwise, eleven of the dozen tunes here were arranged by Foster, reminding us of his uniquely spirited talent and his flair for constructing intriguing charts. Recorded after a concert at Birdland on April 20, 2004, Settin' the Pace is full of what Foster calls "happy swing." And so it is, with George Gee's hard-blowing band. There's a nice showcase for guitarist Joe Cohn on "Ready Now That You Are," and some fine fronting by Carla Cook.
Personnel: George Gee (bandleader), Carla Cook (vocals, three tracks), Ed Pazant, Marshall McDonald (alto sax, flute), Michael Hashim, Lance Bryant (tenor sax, alto sax; for Bryant, add vocals), Howard Johnson (baritone sax, bass clarinet), Charles Stephens, Robert Trowers, Eddie Bert (trumbones), Jack Jeffers (bass trombone), Walt Szymanski, Steve Wiseman, Shawn Edmonds, Mark McGowan (trumpet, flugelhorn), Jon Cowherd (piano), Joe Cohn (guitar), Daryl Hall (bass), Willard Dyson (drums), Renato Thomas (percussion, one track)
Track Listing: Out of Nowhere, Settin' the Pace, Lover Come Back to Me, In a Sentimental Mood, Mambo Inn, Ready Now That You Are, Bass in Yo' Face, The Very Thought of You, When Your Lover has Gone, Autumn Leaves, Don't Want to Learn to Sing the Blues, Scrapple from the Apple
Homen de Oura
This is a joyful, tuneful CD from a "new" American guitarist and composer: Scottinho, the nom de musique of Scott Anderson. Raised on a Minnesota farm, he studied jazz and fell in love with Brazilian music. The sound of Oscar Castro-Neves put him on a plane to Bahia. In his extensive tour of Brazil, Scottinho met and played with Toninho Horta, who joins him here in two versions of the lilting "Toninho" (duet and instrumental, featuring top Brazilian musicians). Scottinho's crossover credentials are evident in his playing and his choice of bandmates. Overall, this is a beautiful melding of classic Brazilian rhythms and melodic feel with a jazzy sensibility, and Scottinho's sensitive, romantic guitar is highlighted in the two solo selections.
Personnel: Scottinho [aka Scott Anderson] (acoustic and electric guitar, voice, keyboards, dobro, composer. producer), Toninho Horta (electric guitar, voice), Jason Rigby (soprano sax, flute), Bobby Broom (electric guitar), Juarez Moreira (acoustic guitar), Marcin Fahmy (piano), Vijay Tellis-Nayak and Ricard Fiuza (keyboards), Jeff Hanley, Kelly Sill, Shawn Sommer and Ivan Correa (bass), Lincoln Cheib and Luiz Ewerling (drums), Geraldo de Oliveira (percussion), Stephanie Meis, Macin Fahmy (violin), Liz Holzman (viola), Mark Anderson (cello), Paulinho Garcia, Mari Anne Jayme, Gracyna Auguscik, Sergio Pires (voice), Beto de Freitas (berimbau)
Track Listing: Batizado, Sao Francisco, Guitar Improvisation No. 1: Saudades de Salvador, Toninho, Montanhas de Minas, Sereia, Malandragem, African Children's Song, Guitar Improvisation No. 2: Que Navio, Milton, Gouinda River, Melting of the Snow, Toninho (reprise)
Zoot Sims with the Joe Castro Trio
Live at Falcon Lair
A beauty from Fantasy's "previously unreleased" vaults: the immortal Zoots on alto, relaxed and floating in a 1956 jam session. He's joined in midair by a group of expert and swinging compadres. If the sound is slightly muted, just pretend you're sitting far back. The live spirit includes an occasional hesitation before the group gels into a tune or assigns a solo, but once they do, look out. This CD has historical significance, and it also kicks butt. Love Jefferson's sly little accents.
Personnel: Zoot Sims (alto sax), Joe Castro (piano), Leroy Vinnegar (bass), Ron Jefferson (drums)
Track Listing: A Night in Tunisia, Pennies from Heaven, I'll See You in My Dreams, It's Always You, Blues for Nat, Swinging with Rudolph, East of the Sun, J.C. Blues
Ralph Reichert Quartet with Randy Sandke
Oh, that Sandke. Such chops, such ideas, and such ease in putting them out. During his first incandescent solo on "Just in Time," I swear there was smoke curling out of my Bose. It didn't stop, either, since the Ralph Reichert Quartet lit hefty fires of its own. A live recording from Hamburg's Birdland in March of 2002, Reflections has that special open feel; it's a nicely-balanced set, with an impressive piano feature by Buggy Braune on the up-tempo, trio take on "Nancy with the Laughing Face." "What is This Thing Called Love" is an 11-minute blowfest. Whee!
Personnel: Ralph Reichert (tenor sax), Buggy Braune (piano), Andreas Henze (bass), Wolf Reichert (drums), special guest Randy Sandke (trumpet)
Track Listing: Just in Time, My Ideal, Reflections, Darn that Dream, Bernie's Tune, Nancy with the Laughing Face, It Might as Well Be Spring, What is This Thing Called Love
David Hazeltine Trio
Alice in Wonderland
The prolific, quality Japanese label Venus Records specializes in assembling top-level bands which render lively and/or luscious versions of classic jazz tunes, many of them recorded at the state-of-the-art Avatar Studio in New York. Here's yet another example: the crisply competent Hazeltine with the deep, fat sound of Mraz and the nuanced refinement of Drummond. On this date, the trio offers swirling versions of "Beautiful Love," "Sweet and Lovely," "How Deep is the Ocean," and swings the "Autumn Leaves" right out of the trees. The session also includes "For Bill," Hazeltine's tribute to Evans. And while we're on the topic, to those who slam any CD for lacking originals, I offer the following thought: should artists stop interpreting trees because they've already been painted?
Personnel: David Hazeltine (piano), George Mraz (bass), Billy Drummond (drums)
Track Listing: Beautiful Love, Sweet and Lovely, Alice in Wonderland, Autumn Leaves, When You Wish Upon a Star, For Bill, How Deep is the Ocean, Danny Boy, Tenderly
Ximo Tebar (with Joey DeFrancesco and Idris Muhammad)
Subtitled "The Jazz Guitar Trio, Vol. 4," this CD was recorded live in Barcelona in 1999. It's clear from the first track, a greasy version of Jimmy Heath's "Ginger Bread Boy," that this will be a straight-ahead romp. This is the 11th CD for award-winning Spanish guitarist Ximo Tebar, an excellent player with a warm tone that (thankfully) bears no resemblance to the Hawaiian shirt school of electric guitar; in his notes, Benny Golson calls Tebar "astounding." He's creative and classy, using his powerful chops to further the music rather than his own ego; he's also a talented scatter (see especially "Donna Lee"). DeFrancesco is in fine form less flamboyant here than he'd become and does credible Miles imitations on "But Not For Me" and "You Don't Know What Love Is." There's a swinging "Sugar" and a blazing closer, Dizzy's "The Champ." This is a good CD for dealing with the end of summer: though the leaves may fall, your spirits will rise.
Personnel: Ximo Tebar (guitar, scat vocals), Joey DeFrancesco (Hammond B3, trumpet), Idris Muhammed (drums)
Track Listing: Ginger Bread Boy, But Not For Me, Nica's Dream, Donna Lee, You Don't Know What Love Is, St. Thomas, Sugar, The Champ