Full-time flutists don't get much respect in the male-dominated, hard-driving jazz culture (certain Latin leaders like Dave Valentin and Maraca Valle excepted). Truth to tell, two of the three flute specialists here don't exert enough pizzazz or subtlety to thwart those numbers. Jeremy Steig
's breathless flutery stars in the sparse 1969 and 1970 studio sets compiled into Howlin' For Judy
, with a focused rhythm team of bassist Eddie Gomez
and drummer Don Alias
. Steig puffs his huffy-wuffy flute in looping vampy overdubs: the effect is a trancey jam, intensely one-track, kinda bongo fury for a druggy Beat party orif you want to get propheticproto-fusion, with lava lamp, spliffs and day-glo flared jeans. There's no changes outside the blues and no discernible theme but an 11-minute stretch on Miles Davis' easterly "Nardis" played late in the day. Gomez and Alias lay a comfy cushion for Steig's zo-zo, wheezy-slurpy sound and dead-simple concept.
Polish fluter Krzysztof Popek
owns an attractive tone and not-too-clean if classic-honed ideas on alto flute. Estate is a mellow, straight-ahead post-bop date that, like Steig's, might've been cut in the '70s, as it covers bop hits ("Forest Flower," "Melting Pot") and the title track (Italian melody turned samba lilt by João Gilberto). Popek's frontline mate, trumpeter Piotr Wojtasik, turns pretty lines like Art Farmer. But wait a minute, now: pianist Stephen Scott unwinds more modern ideas (like cut-up lines on "Stolen Moments") and Wojtasik unveils later Freddie Hubbard licks on "Highway One." Rich support from Cameron Brown
(bass) and Victor Lewis
(drums) exceeds the norm. Anne Drummond
is something else again on Like Water
: an airy sylph whose lines burrow into the center of the band, embedding her in the middle of each light, ephemeral samba, and become one with the group sounda top Brazilian rhythm team of bassist Nilson Matta
and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca
with Klaus Mueller
's piano (and sometimes breezy string duo plus guitar). Unlike most flute soloists who tend to float over the band, Drummond somehow lets her sound emanate fluidly from ground zero in your psyche. It's an eerily delightful vibe, like sipping cachaça on a moonlit beach. The tunes, easy carioca classics by Gismonti and Horta and Camargo and similarly tipsy beauties by the band, are coconut shrimp on a passing platter.
Tracks and Personnel Howlin' for Judy
Tracks: Howlin' for Judy; Mint Tea; Alias; Waves; In The Beginning; Nardis; Permutations.
Personnel: Jeremy Steig: flutes: alto piccolo; Eddie Gomez: bass; Don Alias: drums: percussion. Estate
Tracks: Forest Flower; Estate; Highway One; Stolen Moments; Air Dancing; Melting Pot; Lazy Afternoon.
Personnel: Krzysztof Popek: alto flute; Piotr Wojtasik: trumpet; Stephen Scott: piano; Cameron Brown: bass; Victor Lewis: drums. Like Water
Tracks: Aquelas Coisas Todas; Like Water; Frevo: Curumim; Lazy Afternoon; Afoxamba; Bossa for Copacabana; Spring.
Personnel: Anne Drummond: flute; Klaus Mueller: piano; Paul Meyers: guitar; Nilson Matta: bass; Duduka da Fonseca: drums; Tom Chiu: violin; Dave Eggar: cello.