Even in these trying and uncertain times, there are some professional creative artists who recognize the need to "carry on" and make the best of a bad situation. Saxophonist Cory Weeds is one of those individuals. He is releasing O Sole Mio! Music From The Motherland on his own label, CellarMusic. Weeds has merged his talents as an alto saxophonist with Mike LeDonne's Groover Quartet featuring LeDonne on Hammond B3 organ, Eric Alexander on tenor saxophone, Peter Bernstein on guitar and Joe Farnsworth on drums. Each of these participants is a highly regarded jazz virtuoso in his own right, and has bee, or is, a leader of his own group. Support for this Italian-themed session (great Italian music and/or Italian-American composers such as Henry Mancini, Chick Corea and Pat Martino came from Guilio Recchioni of the Italian Cultural Center in Vancouver B.C.
The first two tracks in this release are both burners. The title track was comes from Naples, where it was written in 1898, and was covered by operatic tenors such as Enrico Caruso and Luciano Pavarotti. The band shows how serious they are about swinging with all the members having solos that are both juicy and individual. Mancini's well known theme "Mr.Lucky" gives this smart aggregation a chance to demonstrate their unscripted interplay, which is based on their considerable talent and vast experience. Another well-known number is "Speak Softly Love," easily recognized as the background music from the movie The Godfather. Built around Farnsworth's Latin beat, Weeds' alto opens the offering by stating the theme, after which Alexander's fluid tenor saxophone weaves and darts around the melody in exquisite fashion. Guitarist Bernstein then comes in with some crisp riffs, after which LeDonne's B3 shows off a burly yet fervent tone. This is a terrific take on the number.
Chick Corea, whose heritage is from Southern Italy, wrote "Chick's Tune," which is based on the chord changes from the popular song "You Stepped Out Of A Dream." The band keeps the pace at a high energy level with Weeds' alto leading the way. There is some stellar guitar work from Bernstein and Eric Alexander then takes his tenor sax on a euphoric run. LeDonne's B3 charges out of the gate with soulful depth followed by an extensive drum kit workout from Farnsworth. The band then takes the number out with a repeat of the theme. The final track is "Capricci Di Camere" which originated as bassist Paul Chambers' composition "Whims Of Chambers," which was also the title of his 1957 album from Blue Note. Originally structured by Chambers as a walking bass line for a blues in F, the group restates this same line to open the tune and uses it as a frame from which to explore the number. Each of the players takes a piece of the action with LeDonne at his ebullient best. At this point all one can say is "arrivederci."
O Sole Mio; Mr. Lucky; Speak Softly Love ( Theme From The Godfather); On The Stairs; Estate;
Chick's Tune; Torna A Surriento; Moody Blues; Capricci Di Camere (Whims Of Chambers)
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