All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 (or more) and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help

105

Andrei Kondakov / Igor Butman / Eddie Gomez / Lenny White: Blues for 4

Greg Simmons By
Published:
Sign in to view read count
Andrei Kondakov / Igor Butman / Eddie Gomez / Lenny White: Blues for 4 Russian music has a mile-wide streak of tragedy and sorrow running through it. If Americans hadn't invented it first, the blues could have been born on the banks of the Volga River, instead of the Mississippi. But it wasn't, so the closest thing to seeing how that might have turned out is Blues for 4, featuring a pair of Russian musicians, saxophonist Igor Butman with pianist Adrei Kondakov, along with American veterans, drummer Lenny White and the great bassist, Eddie Gomez. Recorded in 1996 and released in Russia on the Soyuz label, the album has now been re-released on Butman's own American imprint.

They nailed it. The compositions, all written by Kondakov, make for a terrific set of straight-ahead grooves, betraying no sign of their Cyrillic origins. By 1996, Butman had spent almost a decade in New York, steeping himself in the jazz world and circulating among the music's A- listers. Kondakov, still based in Russia, had been playing with a diverse, high quality selection of American and European players. By the time this record was cut their chops were down cold.

Opening with "Love and Hope" Butman's tenor work is creamy smooth, emotive, and engaging to hear. He perfectly combines terrific technical facility with an equally developed sense of taste and emotion. Switching to soprano for "Sundial," he deftly lays the soft melody over the rest of the band.

Of course, as the composer, Kondakov has a lot to say on this album. His playing, too, is smooth and well-considered, developing melodies with a combination of tight comping and expressive lead playing—the anchor of consistency for the album's overall feel. There is a lot of great piano playing, but the closing title track delivers it best: Kondakov using the full harmonic depth of the eighty-eight keys to lay down some heavyweight, two-handed blues chords with resultant room-filling sound.

The rhythm section is also first-rate and an integral part of this unit. "Lights of the Foggy Highway" opens with a Gomez vamp that repeats, retreats, and reemerges throughout the piece, as White drives a syncopated pattern under him.

In general, the recording quality is excellent, particularly on the horn and piano, perfectly complementing the music. The bass, though, is emphasized more than it should be, sounding boosted and over-ripe. In fact, during the title track, Gomez (or someone near him) bumps a microphone, sending a loud, startling thud through the speakers. Forewarned is forearmed.

A terrific album, where the music is tops and the performances are first-rate, Blues for 4 makes a strong case for the international universality of music.


Track Listing: Love and Hope; Robot's Blues; Sundial; Another Question; Lights of the Foggy Highway; Life for Two; Well, Where is the Airport; Blues for Four.

Personnel: Andrei Kondakov: piano; Igor Butman: tenor and soprano saxophone; Eddie Gomez: bass; Lenny White: drums.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Butman Music Records


Related Video

Shop For Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Igor Butman and Friends
Igor Butman and...
Butman Music Records
2014
buy
Special Opinion
Special Opinion
Butman Music Records
2013
buy
Blues for 4
Blues for 4
Butman Music Records
2011
buy
Igor Butman Orchestra
Igor Butman Orchestra...
Butman Music Records
2011
buy
Igor Butman Big Band
Igor Butman Big Band...
Butman Music Records
2010
buy
Magic Land
Magic Land
Sony Classical
2008
buy
John Coltrane John Coltrane
saxophone
Dave Brubeck Dave Brubeck
piano
Chick Corea Chick Corea
piano
Sonny Rollins Sonny Rollins
saxophone
Kenny Garrett Kenny Garrett
sax, alto
Stan Getz Stan Getz
sax, tenor
Michael Brecker Michael Brecker
sax, tenor
Dexter Gordon Dexter Gordon
sax, tenor
Brian Blade Brian Blade
drums

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.