August 2006

Doug Collette By

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Bobby Previte
The Coalition Of The Willing

The jazz Renaissance man's latest project is a far cry from the more esoteric and inclusive concepts with which he's often involved. The straightforwrad simplicity that powers this high-powered instrumental rock compresses and concentrates the energy of the musicians. Each of them plays his role to the hilt. Not least, Previte's erstwhile partner Charlie Hunter, who plays electric guitar as often as bass, and whose playing reminds us of the infectious appeal of both the Beatles and the Who. With the best new band name of the year so far, The Coalition Of The Willing is also one of the best albums so far.

King Curtis
Live At Fillmore West

Cornball showbiz intros aside, listening to this classic album's new edition is akin to entering The Church of Funky Soul. It's definitive King Curtis, and his soulful take on contemporary tunes is remarkable. Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love sounds like it was written for him, as does Buddy Miles' "Them Changes . The saxophonist is the band leader but he takes flight with an all-star band. It's as much of a pleasure to hear the arrangements of the Memphis Horns or the interplay of the rhythm section as it is to hear the sax lines flying high. There are five bonus tracks in addition to a remastered version of original recording—altogether more, but still not enough, of a good thing.

SF Jazz Collective
SF Jazz Collective Vol. 2

The Collective might well refer to themselves as an orchestra given how they devise their programs on a seasonal basis. Their arrangements are also unusually sophisticated, allowing room for both improvising and ensemble playing. The vigorous musicianship here, on a selection of Coltrane material, calls to mind the majesty of a classical aggregation, in particular the way Bobby Hutcherson's glowing vibes play off the clarity of Renee Rosnes' piano work. Absolutely sublime.

Brad Mehldau Trio
House On Hill

A second collection of performances taken from one day of sessions in 2002, with the addition of two 2005-recorded songs. In contrast to the first, standards-only collection, Anything Goes, the new album features Brad Mehldau, Larry Grenadier and Jorge Rossy on original material. Given the longevity of the lineup, just shy of a decade together, you might expect interplay bordering on the telepathic, and it's near miraculous to hear how closely the three musicians play together—in perfect formation right down to a single piano harmonic note, a softly plucked bass string or a gently drawn brushstroke.

Christian McBride
Live At Tonic

Call it warts and all if you want, but with these three discs, featuring different instrumental alignments in the same loose improvisational atmosphere, you're subject to over three hours of aimlessness sprinkled with intermittent flashes of collective inspiration. The progress from composition-based to free playing may also tax some attention spans. The first disc, with the bassist's regular band, overflows with ripping energy. The second, including Charlie Hunter, fascinates for the presence of a guitar in the mix. The third follows a similar path, where turntables are legitimate instruments alongside Eric Krasno's own guitar and the trumpet of fellow Souliver Rawshawn Ross. The album positions McBride as a musician willing to take on the past, the present and the future.


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