Blue Canvas – Brandi Disterheft with Harold Mabern & Joe Farnsworth – Justin Time

Blue Canvas – Brandi Disterheft with Harold Mabern & Joe Farnsworth – Justin Time JUST 255-2, 44:55 ****:

A smart and expressive release.

(Brandi Disterheft – acoustic bass, cello, vocals; Harold Mabern – piano; Joe Farnsworth – drums)

Guy Dixon, writing for Canada’s Globe & Mail on July 20,2009, offered the following headline: “It’s 3 AM, and a Canadian bassist is looking for her big break”.  The article went on to describe how Brandi Disterheft was attempting to break into the jazz scene in New York City, after playing in and around Toronto, Canada during the previous decade. Now some eight years on, Disterheft appears to have paid her dues. She has brought together pianist Harold Mabern, one of the few remaining hard bop standouts, along with one of the stalwarts of  New York jazz circles, drummer Joe Farnsworth, to deliver a smart and expressive release entitled Blue Canvas.

The recording session is a mix of mostly well-known jazz standards along with several Disterheft originals, all of which demonstrate a certain harmonic expressiveness, that works well in a trio setting. The set opens with a Bobby Timmons/Jon Hendricks’ opus “Dis Here” which has seen its share of interpretations. Mabern takes control of the number from the outset with some rollicking two-handed piano, which is then followed by a Disterheft solo that shows her big tone. There is also some crips drumming from Farnsworth resulting in a solid opening track.

Brandi Disterheft is the composer of the two companion pieces “Prelude To The Crippling Thrill” and “Crippling Thrill”. The former is entirely a solo effort by the bassist as she demonstrates her brawny prowess. The main composition features a breathy Blossom Dearie style vocal by Disterheft,  but the piece is more interesting due to the slinky rhythmic piano of Mabern.

Trumpeter Clifford Brown died in a car accident in 1956 at the age of 25 just as he was reaching his peak as a performer. While he was not a huge composer, two of his numbers are on display here, including the well-known “Daahoud” and the lesser-known “George’s Dilemma”. Filled with Errol Garner-like touches from Mabern, “Daahoud” is given a  probing ethos that delivers on its originality.  The title track “Blue Canvas” is a Disterheft original that romps along with another of the bassist’s vocals, that is reminiscent of Nat King Cole’s I’m An Errand Boy For Rhythm. Her bass touch is also on display showing abundant curiosity.

Tadd Dameron was one of the most distinguished composers/arrangers of the bop era with a string of recognizable compositions to his name including “Our Delight”. On this track Disterheft establishes the theme on bass, and then carries the number through several choruses before giving way to Mabern’s piano. He, in turn, completes his efforts with panache, and is followed by an extended whirling drumming break by Farnsworth.

Over the coming months, Brandi Disterheft and her cohorts will be on tour to support the release of this CD including the Montreal Jazz Festival on July 8, 2017. If they come to your area, it will be worthwhile taking the time to listen to them.

TrackList: Dis Here; Prelude To Crippling Thrill; Crippling Thrill; Beehive; Daahoud; Blue Canvas; George’s Dilemma; When The Mood Is Right; Our Delight; Willow Weep For Me

—Pierre Giroux

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