July 2004

Doug Collette By

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McCoy Tyner

Nowhere near MOR, this is nevertheless one of the great pianist's more accessible works. Arranged to include Terence Blanchard on trumpet and Gary Bartz on saxophone, the horns introduce and embellish melodies to be echoed by Tyner (and crisply punctuated by Lewis Nash on drums and young lion Christian McBride on bass). Nestled deep within those charts, however, is some intricate interplay between all five musicians, the improvisational likes of which is the heart of vigorous jazz.

Music for Two
Bela Fleck & Edgar Meyer
Sony Classical

Written, rehearsed and recorded in large part during a tour, this cd gains momentum and intensity imperceptibly as it progresses. The erstwhile duo display a classical sense of rigorous discipline and the sprightly spirit of fun derived from bluegrass. A DVD included with the package(produced by Bela's brother) documents the unself-conscious honest rapport between Meyer and Fleck as they develop this mix of originals and classical interpretations. Yet the essence of the relationship boils down to the way the pair play together, working assiduously—perhaps stubbornly—to master an intricate, difficult piece that concludes the cd and serves as a metaphor for the evolution of this entire project

Benny Green & Russell Malone

Hearing just two musicians together is to understand both the difficulty and the exhilaration inherent in playing music. This second disc of the duo's might well be a primer in this concept because the young pianist and guitarist demonstrate what a deep rapport they've by the way they complete each other's thoughts whether in quick call and response or on more lengthy melody lines. The unfettered joy with which they interact, equally evident on upbeat material or ballads, only adds to the pleasure of hearing this cd.

Greg Osby
Blue Note

Alto saxophonist/composer Osby makes the kind of vigorous jazz the true fan can never tire of and this new live album, recorded with remarkable "you are there" accuracy by Kurt Lundvall, is no exception. Yet in another curve from a man who has loved breaking balls throughout his career, Osby takes the blueprint of the band and the music of his previous St.Louis Shoes cd and reshapes it, with the notable help of trumpeter Nicholas Payton and vocalist Joan Osborne(who, like Greg, has collaborated with The Dead). If you get this album because you liked the previous one, you will not be disappointed, but you will be challenged and that again is Osby's stock in trade

Private Brubeck Remembers
Dave Brubeck

It's great to have a sense of history and few jazz musicians have more history than Dave Brubeck. Alone at the keyboard, the venerable pianist accomplishes the daunting task of communicating the gamut of emotions associated with living through World War II: the joy and relief of the conflict's end is as palpable as the tension and yearning that dominate the course of events which precede it, all of which is reflected in the touch of the man's hands on the ivories.

I'm All for You
Joe Lovano
Blue Note

Something of a contemporary jazz renaissance man, Joe Lovano has engaged himself in a wide variety of projects as his popularity has grown over the years(projects with strings and large ensembles, trios and traditional jazz homage). This cd may be his greatest challenge, however, since the saying goes ballads are the truest test of a musician's mettle. But because Lovano knows how to turn his limitations into strengths, when he is accompanied here by just about as high a profile band as you can envision—pianist Hank Jones, drummer Paul Motian and bassist George Mraz—the saxophonist can share the load to handle such tunes as "Stella by Starlight' and "Monk's Mood" with the delicacy and patience they deserve.


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