Live Recordings 2005

Mark F. Turner By

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The ambience and energy of live jazz is best experienced in person, but if you can't make the event to see your artist of interest, then these new recordings may be the next best thing. From varied settings, locals, and ensembles they give an audible glimpse of what live jazz has to offer.

Terry Gibbs
Feelin' Good: Live in Studio
Mack Avenue Records

Octogenarian vibraphonist Terry Gibbs, who has performed on countless studio sessions, desired a different vibe for his next recording. "I wanted it to be like we were performing in a club. The idea was for us to set up as if it were a club where we could see each other's faces and establish rapport with each musician.... And from listening to this live studio recording and the audience's reaction to the music, Gibbs certainly succeeded in his goals. The studio concert can be summed up in one word: fun.

Gibbs pulled this off by assembling the right players—including tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, B3 organ heavy Joey DeFrancesco, guitarist Dan Faehnle, percussionist Ray Armando, and Gibbs' son drummer Gerry Gibbs. Together they heartily swing through a set of standards, popular covers, and originals. Gibbs still has great chops and delivers pleasant sounds from his mallets. As expected, Alexander and DeFrancesco are stellar, and Faehnle smokes on guitar on the opening track. The music is uninhibited and spontaneous; everyone gets a chance to engage on this accessible recording, which doesn't take itself too seriously outside the goal of creating some good music and having a good time.

Dave Liebman and Phil Markowitz
Manhattan Dialogues
Zoho Records

Respected and accomplished musicians saxophonist Dave Liebman and pianist Phil Markowitz translate music theory to reality in this duo performance before students and faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, where Liebman expounds the principles of his course and book A Chromatic Approach to Jazz Melody and Harmony. The resulting concert is truly a dialogue of improvisation between two voices. The ten compositions comprise a mix of standards and originals that allow the instruments to converge and communicate intricately.

From the brooding opening notes of the first composition, the musicians speak in varied pitches and engage in dialogues. Liebman's saxophone is spirited, taunting, and explosive, whereas Markowitz brings his abstract-expressionism forte with depth, outré, and power. The fact that this is a highly listenable recording is a testament to the talent of each musician. Personal at times on selections like "Philippe under the Green Bridge, or exhibiting intense playing on the standard "The Night Has 1000 Eyes, this is a jazz concert of a different persuasion.

Guillermo Klein y Los Guachos
Live In Barcelona
Fresh Sound New Talent

Woven with the colorful tapestry of a full jazz orchestra, this live recording in Barcelona captures the music of Argentinean pianist/composer Guillermo Klein, who is noted for his cerebral, progressive, and culturally rich music. The concert was captured in the intimate setting of the Luz de Gas Theatre-hall and it conveys closeness between the musicians and an enthusiastic audience. The highly orchestrated compositions range from the gaucho-istic opening piece "Blues de Liz to the street vibes of "Juana and the romanticism of "Ojos Cerrados, featuring vocalist Carme Canela.

Klein uses his orchestra to its full potential. The music changes through many forms, like along the surreal lines of "Intercambio Moral, where the piano and other instruments provide dissonant notes behind the somber melody. The dancing rhythm of "Child's Play is threaded with a funky guitar riff; "Chucaro, laden with complex horn arrangements, beautiful flute work, and rich percussion. The intricacies of Klein's writing skills are captured on "Richard, with its moving horn work, addition of voice, and detailed melodic patterns and solos. There are many memorable individual efforts, but the accent is unmistakably on the orchestra as a whole, which fully realizes its role through Klein's ingenious use of music and interpretation to capture one's imagination.

Full House
Champagne Taste
Nagel Heyer

There's a serious retro vibe to this recording featuring a shared venture between pianist David Hazeltine and trumpeter Jim Rotondi. The resultant collaboration birthed the group Full House, which recorded two dates at the Smoke Jazz Club in New York City in 2002. The music draws heavily from '70s and '80s R&B, and smooth jazz accentuated by catchy beats and enough funk to get your toes tapping. The bass guitar on "Afreaka lays down a familiar riff, holding down the some cool Fender Rhodes action and electronically processed trumpet sounds.

The sound is great and the mood is cool but there's a feeling that you want these musicians to really cut loose, get down, and (insert your words for all-out performing). These seasoned artists are quite capable of delivering more spirited playing. The solos are more restrained and seem just a tad too chilled. Things do open up on the later cuts "Out Of This World and "Howayou, and the group does a very smooth remake of "Reason, by the '70s power soul group "Earth Wind and Fire. For lounge lizard neophytes this may serve the purpose, but for those who want their funk uncut, this may not be the ticket.

Feelin' Good: Live in Studio

Tracks: 1. Smoke 'Em Up; 2. Things Ain't What They Used to Be; 3. Misty; 4. This Masquerade; 5. And That's Why They Call It the Blues; 6. St. Louis Blues; 7. Wave; 8. Waltz Rubiot; 9. Hey Jim; 10.What's New Burke; 11. Sugar; 12. Hot Rod.

Personnel: Terry Gibbs: vibes; Eric Alexander: saxophone; Joey DeFrancesco: Hammond B3 organ; Dan Faehnle: guitar; Ray Armando: percussion; Gerry Gibbs: drums.

Manhattan Dialogues

Tracks: 1. Teacher of Our Child Dave; 2. "7" Intro; 3. "7"; 4. Philippe Under the Green Bridge; 5. Sno' Peas; 6. Jung; 7. Off By One; 8. Mahoning; 9. The Night Has 1000 Eyes; 10. 'Round Midnight.

Personnel: Dave Liebman: saxophones; Phil Markowitz: piano.

Live In Barcelona

Tracks: 1. Blues de Liz; 2. Con Brasil Adentro - Fuga X; 3. Juana; 4. Child's Play; 5. Intercambio Moral; 6. Chucaro; 7. El Espejo; 8. Ojos Cerrados; 9. Richard; 10. El Camino; 11. La Ultima; 12. Flores.

Personnel: Guillermo Klein: piano, vocals; Chris Cheek: tenor and soprano saxophones; Bill McHenry: tenor and soprano saxophones; Gorka Benitez:tenor saxophone, flute; Sandro Tomasi: trombone; Taylor Haskins: trumpet; Juan Cruz de Urquiza: trumpet; Ben Monder: guitar; Fernando Huergo: bass; Richard Nant: timpani, percussion; Jeff Ballard: drums; Carme Canela: vocals.

Champagne Taste

Tracks: 1. Afreaka; 2. Pound Cake; 3. P.S.; 4. Mamacita; 5. Reasons; 6. Champagne Taste; 7. Love For Sale; 8. OOTW (Into); 9. Out Of This World; 10. Howayou; 11. Voodoo.

Personnel: Jim Rotondi: trumpet, synthesizer; David Hazeltine: Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3; Greg Skaff: guitar; Barak Mori: bass; Joe Strasser: drums.


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