Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

8

Bill O'Connell: Imagine

John Ephland By

Sign in to view read count
Bill O'Connell's version of the standard "Willow Weep For Me" is one of those rare items: playing totally against type as a Latin burner with that classic, mesmerizing two-chord piano vamp, the only thing missing would be someone actually trying to sing this lament amidst the happy sprawl of players and arrangement O'Connell's dished up. Unlike other gestures into Latin-land that sprout from tune to tune with other jazz musicians, what makes Imagine notable is the combination of writing with strong solos, song and solo, one after the other. And then there's the group vibe.

One might recall a younger McCoy Tyner with a more syncopated buzz putting something like this out, back when he was regularly using horns (late '60s, early '70s), the ferocity and ingenuity of O'Connell's charts and his (perhaps) pent-up-and- released work on piano a thing to behold.

Then there's the rest of them. Dig the rhythmic roller-coaster fanfare that concludes this set with "Whitecaps." Drummer Richie Barshay and longtime collaborator Richie Flores burn things up inside and outside the sizzling horns of trombonist Conrad Herwig and Steve Slagle (playing both alto and soprano saxophones). There isn't a wasted note even as you get the feel that this is one loose session. With bassist Luques Curtis tethering it all together, one is left wondering where these guys are gigging next. (Hint: January 6 at New York City's Birdland.)

This hourlong set includes material for late-night soirees, such as O'Connell's floating opener "Optimism" in 7, something fit for some busy slow dancing and featuring brief intros via a powdery buff from Herwig, a little alto juice from Slagle, along with the leader's very musical turns up and down the keyboard along, a spell with Curtis rounding things out; some more slow-dancing music with another uncharacteristic (and almost unrecognizable) cover, this time across some jangley swing through John Lennon's "Imagine"; the undanceable but still engaging "Shaman's Dance"; a bit of tasty up-tempo swing with O'Connell's lively "Stepping Stones," once again showcasing some hot alto and trombone playing, more delicious ruminations from the pianist, the solos short, to the point, the music seemingly on its merry way anywhere with nary a chance for the listener to breath let alone ponder what's up; "Missing Mr. Berrios," "Jigsaw" and "25 Years" alternately offering more Latin sizzle, sweet balladic playing and swinging groove.

Apart from "Willow" and the title track, all the music derives from O'Connell's swirling imagination and lively pen. A refreshing outing with no filler or dead zones, Imagine (his 11th as a leader) may not be a groundbreaking outing, but it's certainly pure fun, very, very musical and brimming with life.

Track Listing: Optimism; Stepping Stones; Imagine; Shaman's Dance; Missing Mr. Berrios; Jigsaw; 25 Years; Willow Weep For Me; Whitecaps.

Personnel: Bill O'Connell, piano; Conrad Herwig, trombone; Steve Slagle, soprano and alto saxophones; Luques Curtis, bass; Richie Barshay, drums; Richie Flores, percussion.

Title: Imagine | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Savant Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Monk's Cha Cha

Monk's Cha Cha

Savant Records
2017

buy
Imagine

Imagine

Savant Records
2014

buy
Zócalo

Zócalo

Savant Records
2013

buy
Rhapsody In Blue

Rhapsody In Blue

Challenge Records
2011

buy
Rhapsody In Blue

Rhapsody In Blue

Challenge Records
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read Vilddjur CD/LP/Track Review
Vilddjur
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Lines in Sand CD/LP/Track Review
Lines in Sand
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It CD/LP/Track Review
Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 11, 2018
Read The Brave CD/LP/Track Review
The Brave
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Strings 1 CD/LP/Track Review
Strings 1
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Pillars CD/LP/Track Review
Pillars
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 10, 2018
Read "Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim" CD/LP/Track Review Esperanto/Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: May 13, 2018
Read "ORCASTRATUM" CD/LP/Track Review ORCASTRATUM
by Kevin Press
Published: June 16, 2018
Read "Cosmic Language" CD/LP/Track Review Cosmic Language
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read "Disarm" CD/LP/Track Review Disarm
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 8, 2018
Read "Pond Life" CD/LP/Track Review Pond Life
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: December 25, 2017
Read "My Singing Fingers" CD/LP/Track Review My Singing Fingers
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 25, 2018