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Isn't there a saying that goes something like "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach"? Stupid saying, as the Abby and Norm Group's Melodic Miner's Daughter proves.
Abby Aronson Zocher and Norman Zocher, husband and wife team, guitar and bass impresarios, teach at the prestigious Berklee School of Music. Melodic Miner's Daughter is their second outing on CD, showcasing the wide range of their musical talents. The CD opens with the four part "Canadian Suite," dedicated to the couple's second home, Prince Edward Island in Canada. As a whole, it evokes idyllic times on long summer days, a dreamy and seamlessly produced sequence with husband and wife swapping bass and guitar chores, plus some nice soprano sax work by George Garzone, one of Abby and Norm's fellow educators and one of the finest sax men on the New England jazz scene.
And when they've lulled you into into a sense of serenity with the very pretty 20 minute-plus suite, they start to get a bit gritty with Abby's groove oriented "Freestyle."
The much done classic "My Funny Valentine" is next, and on paper (or computer screen) it might seem out of place here, but for such a fine bassist, Abby is also an awfully fine singer. The group gives the song an extended workout, with Abby doing some scatting along with her bass lines near the end.
Then things go from pretty to gritty with the title tune and the Norm-penned "Miles," giving sax man Garzone some room to Blow, with a capital 'B', with the group as a wholeespecially the rhythm sectionsounding very much in the mid-sixties Miles mode. Then we're back to musical loveliness with "Caramel," featuring Abby's lilting vocals. "A Fox in the Woods ," a Garzone tune, closes the set out, Abby scatting along with the sax lines. Soaringly lovely.
A hard set to get a handle on, with such a range of styles and moods involved. But it's all done exquisitely, requiring a few listens to take it all in and proving that those who teach most definitely can, awfully well in this case.
Track Listing: The Canadian Suite: Hymn for the Open Country, CBC at Night, Always (returning), A Place Called
Home; Freestyle; My Funny Valentine; Melodic Miner's Daughter; Miles; Caramel; A Fox in the
Personnel: Abby Aronson Zocher, voice, nylon string and electric guitar, electric bass; Norm Zocher, electric
guitar, accoustic and electric bass 7 string electriccquantum guitarbass; George Garzone, tenor and
soprano sax; Bevan Manson, piano; Brooke Sofferman, drums
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.