jazz adds february 9, 2015

kenny wheeler.  songs for quintet.  ecm.  Sometimes jazz can seem willfully cerebral but this final act from  composer/ trumpet/flugel master  kenny wheeler (1930-2014) flows  like a stream of clear water.  Recorded in 2013, previewed to mr. wheeler before his death, and released by ecm on january 14, 2015 -wheeler’s  85th birthday, what prevails is wheeler’s modesty, and melancholy tenderness.  personnel include stan sulzman, tenor;   john parricelli, guitar;  chris laurence, double bass;   martin france@drums.  if you are new to wheeler’s folio, ecm lists  much of his archive — the azimuth (w/norma winstone, john taylor)  years, collaborations with dave holland, gnu high with jarrett & dejohnette;  deer wan with towner & garbarek.  the other iconic trumpet figure.

vijay iyer.  break stuff.  ecm.  Busy guy, classically trained on the violin since age three, his piano skills–where he is among the most daring of contemporary pianist–are self taught.  this recording, number 16, rumbles along the historical jazz piano road with nods to predecessors—thelonious monk, john coltrane, billy strayhorn–and to  the ever-important spaces between the notes.   stunning, established trio includes marcus gilmore@drums and stephen crumb, double bass.

lisa parrott.  round tripper.  serious niceness.  Australian expat alto & bari player lisa parrot commands attention with her debut;  a-list band  spotlights matt wilson @ drums; chris lightcap on bass;  and guests (both Aussies)  nadje noodhuis on trumpet and carl dewhurst on guitar.  delightful, swinging, soulful:  do you think that i do not know–beyond lovely;  waltzing matilda for everyone who misses home.

jeremy pelt.  tales, musings and other reveries.   high note.   In a week of great combos, the line-up here is quite exceptional.  trumpeter/leader jeremy pelt  juggles two drummers (victor lewis & billy drummond), protest songs  (ruminations on eric garner) and classic ballads ( i only miss her when i think of her) with grace and modesty.  ben allison shines on bass, and  young pianist simona premazzi gets your attention on glass bead games with her strong left hand chords.

melissa stylianou.  no regrets.  anzic.  Gorgeous voice, gorgeous woman.  Toronto-native melissa stylianou works with a superb band to freshen up an all-standards playlist.  core musicians are pianist bruce barth, linda oh on bass; and matt wilson@drums + clarinetist anat cohen (somebody’s on my mind) &  altoist billy drewes (a nightingale can sing the blues) appearing  as guests.  pretty much  every one a winner–but my vote for courageous arrangement goes to down by salley gardens as a vocal/drum duet.

karen mantler.  business is bad.   xtra watt/ecm.  Arts songs performed by American vocalist/pianist karen mantler and trio-mates:  doug wieselman (formerly a lounge lizard)-guitar, bass clarinet;  kato hideki, bass.   daughter of jazz royalty (carla bley & michael mantler=parents), mantler possesses her mother’s musical honesty and political edginess.  and the crazy blond un-conditioned hair.  serious thoughts, lightly administered.

marc seales.  american songs, volume 3:  place & time.  origin.  Chill 80’s grooves about time and place, throughout;  there is  Chicago with curtis mayfield’s freddie’s dead + pusher man;   stevie wonder’s looking for another pure love, plus originals by leader/keyboardist marc seales.  And another cover of Wichita lineman.  high-end group–jeff johnson, bass;  fred hamilton, guitar;  dave captein, electric bass;  gary hobbs@drums.

eddie henderson.  collective portrait.  smoke sessions.  Often called dr. trumpet because eddie henderson has an M.D. from Howard U. (1968).  before that, he lived a boho childhood in San Francisco with an early trumpet lesson from  louis armstrong and miles davis, a frequent guest in his parents’ home.  fully back in the music fold, henderson collaborates with gary bartz on alto;  george cables, piano;  doug weiss, bass;  and carl allen@drums.

jim snidero.  main street.  savant.  The main event  for quartet led by altoist jim snidero is the band:  linda oh on bass;   pianist Cuban fabian almazon;  rudy royston@drums.  originals and wide spectrum of covers:  gil evans las vegas tango to trad’s the streets of laredo.

charles mcpherson.  the journey.  capri.  Altoist charles mcpherson was the saxophone “voice ” of  charlie parker in clint east wood’s film bird.  originally from Missouri, mcpherson worked his horn first in Detroit, studying with barry harris, then  working with the mingus band.  born in1939, he has been on the jazz circuit since the 1950’s , and now lives and plays on the West Coast with his group:  keith oxman, tenor;  chip stevens, piano;  ken walker, bass;  todd reid@drums.

jon davis.  moving right along.  posi-tone. Veteran pianist–recorded with jaco pastorius, studied with the holy trinity of “famous teachers” (jaki byard, madame chaloff, and lennie tristano)–settles into a piano trio session with yasushi nakamura on bass and shinnosuke takahashsi@drums.  depth and ease.

chamber 3.  grassroots.  OA2.   Trio works from Seattle drummer matt jorgensen and German guitarist christian eckert who add in German saxophonist steffen weber, and occassional phil sparks on bass.  all originals plus a tight version of cobain’s smells like teen spirit.   lean, elegant playing on origin records more experimental  OA2 imprint.


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