Jazz CDs, Pt. 2 - March 2003

Jay Klum, piano & vocals - Home Cookin’ - Alltribe Records ATRO722:

I read a recent discussion somewhere about how great jazz artists can overcome the most challenging problems with instruments or acoustics so that you don’t even realize there is a problem. I was reminded of that auditioning this CD from a small New Jersey label. Klum is a terrific pianist and his vocals on those of these eight standards (one in an alternate take) that she sings show off a fine voice and superb jazz inflections. However, Klum’s piano is out of tune. I sympathize with the horror stories of countless jazz and pop pianists who get stuck with really lousy pianos and have to make do anyway. But that situation doesn’t stop her from swinging like mad. Those who are less sensitive to this than me won’t even notice.She’s aided and abetted by brother Ted on both bass and tenor sax, Jeff Ballard and Eric Halvorson alternating on drums, and guitarist Ken Tubbs sitting in on two tracks. Good sound. Tracks: I Wish You Love, I Didn’t Know What Time It War, Lullaby of Birdland, You Don’t you Know What Love Is, Alone Together, Softly As In a Morning Sunrise, Spring is Here, I’ll Remember April, You Don’t Know What Love Is.

- John Henry

Here’s two instruments that are not often on the jazz front lines but should be heard more...

Christian Howes, acoustic violin & baritone violin (with Federico Lachner, piano; Pablo Martin, bass) - Jazz on Sale - Khaeon World Music KWM200302:

Don’t know how I missed this jazz violinist up til now. He’s just about the top jazz violinist working today. Not yet 30, Howes made his debut at age 16 playing the Mendelssohn violin concerto with his local symphony. He has been involved in a variety of genres, but jazz is his main gig. Due probably both to his work with unusual electronic sounds from the violin (he plays strictly acoustic on this record date) and the fact that during a particularly wild Newport Jazz appearance he flung his violin out into the audience, Howes has been called the Jimi Hendrix of the violin. His approach here shows influences of classical, pop, free jazz, Latin, and bop. Among his jazz associations has been a stint with the Steve Turre Sextet - reviewed next. Howes seems to spend considerable time in Spain, because both his pianist and bassist are based in Madrid and they recorded the soundtrack music for a recent movie distributed only in Europe. This CD was also recorded in Spain. The baritone violin he uses on some of the tracks here is even larger than a viola, with a strong baritone timbre. Tracks: Blue Monk Part 1 & 2, Amor Casi Imposible, A Child is Born, Blue in Green, When She’s Like Water, Jazz on Sale, Very Early, Falling Grace.

Steve Turre, trombone - One4J - Paying Homage to J J. Johnson - Telarc CD-83555:

Yet another multi-trombone project like the Slide Hampton one reviewed earlier. This time just a half dozen ‘bones plus rhythm section and a couple of guests. Most of the solos are taken by Turre and Robin Eubanks. And most of the 11 tunes are by trombone pioneer J. J. Johnson. Again, great resonant and swinging brass sound. Tracks: Overdrive, Wee Dot, Lament, One4J, Mr. Johnson, Short Cake, Kelo, What Is This Thing Called Love?, El Camino Real, Enigma, Minor Blues.

- John Henry

Blues Around The Clock (Various Artists); Pablo PACD-2310-973-2 CD:

The recording dates on these cuts range from 1969 to 1985, but you would not know it from the fidelity, which is quite good—I wish the DVD-A and SACD titles sounded as good! There are so many top-notch players on these tracks that there are too many to name although some of the musicians included are Count Basie, Zoot Sims, Ray Brown, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, and James Moody. Most of the songs feature large accompaniments and have bits of big band jazz flavor to them. The Muddy Waters tunes are from a smaller-scale concert in Paris. Given the fact that this disc is a compilation and that the performers are all legends in the field, it’s hard not to expect a lot of bang for the buck. Well, let’s just say that this is a tremendous blues disc and could easily convert some non-blues music enthusiasts. Every performance is a classic and a wonderful example of the blues tradition. It works well for serious listening as well as for background enjoyment. Songs included are: Blues Around The Clock, Since I Fell For You, Kick The Front Door In – Joe Turner; Just A Dream On My Mind, My Jug And I, Cherry Red – Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson; You Got Me Runnin’ (aka Baby, What You Want Me To Do?), I Want A Little Girl – Joe Turner/Jimmy Witherspoon; Woman You Must Be Crazy, Goin’ To Chicago Blues, Call It Stormy Monday – T-Bone Walker; Rollin’ ‘n’ Tumblin’, Walkin’ Blues, Got My Mojo Workin’ – Muddy Waters.

- Brian Bloom

Art Pepper & The Hollywood All-Stars - Art Standards - Galaxy/Fantasy GCD-4203-2:

In these sides made between l979 and l982 - some of the last he cut before his death - we see why Pepper is recognized as one of the alto sax greats in the history of jazz. His sidemen on these sessions include Russ Freeman, Pete Jolly, Lee Konitz, Milcho Leviev, Jack Sheldon, Sonny Stitt and Bill Watrous. The nine selections are taken from the 5-CD Galaxy boxed set of Pepper and the Hollywood All-Stars Sessions. The irony is that due to contractual agreements, the albums were originally released under some of these cohorts’ names rather than Pepper’s. The ease with which Pepper mixed bebop and swing gives him an individual sound that fans can readily identify. Tracks are; Begin the Beguine, You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To, Night and Day, Bernie’s Tune, How High the Moon, My Funny Valentine, Imagination, ‘Swonderful, The Shadow of Your Smile.

- John Henry

Jazz at Lincoln Center Presents: The Fire of the Fundamentals - Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra/Wynton Marsalis, plus Marcus Roberts, Betty Carter, Kenny Barron, Jimmy Heath, Dr. Michael White, Jay McShann, Milt Grayson - Columbia CK 57592:

This compilation is a sampling of some of the great jazz performances given at Lincoln Center and illustrating the great diversity of American jazz. They were recorded lived in l991 and 92. The booklet’s interesting essay by Stanley Crouch points out the fundamentals that are reinterpreted over and over, regardless of jazz styles - whether blues, ballads, swing, Afro-Hispanic or whatever. There are two great solos by pianist Marcus Roberts and one by Kenny Barron. The two major items here are John Coltrane’s Dahomey Dance - in a 12-minute masterpiece with Marsalis on trumpet and Roberts at the keyboard; also the same ensemble’s version of Miles Davis’ Flamenco Sketches. Milt Grayson is vocalist on the closing Strayhorn number, Multi-Colored Blue, and Betty Carter’s completely individual vocal is heard on You’re Mine You. Tracks: Jungle Blues, Trinkle Tinkle, Ellington’s Stray-Horn, Hootie Blues, Bolivar Blues, Dahomey Dance, You’re Mine You, The Crave, Flamenco Sketches, Multi-Colored Blue.

- John Henry

Now for three closing examples of jazz n' somethin’ else...

Davis Grisman Quintet - Dawgnation - Acoustic Disc ACD-49:

Virtuoso mandolinist Grisman compares the many different breeds that make up his “dawg music” to some of the most intelligent dogs being a mixture of many different breeds. Grisman’s special sound world draws from Bill Monroe, Miles Davis, Django Reinhardt, Astor Piazzolla, Stravinsky and Bartok, coming out with a trademark sound all his own. Quintet member Matt Eakle also plays flute and member Enrique Coria is Argentine-born - thus having a close connection to Piazzolla music. Above all this is a very up-sounding musical mix that should appeal to bluegrass, jazz and even classical listeners. Definitely not a dog. HDCD-encoded too. Tracks: Citizens of Dawgnation, Slade, Mellow Mang, Why Did the Mouse Marry the Elephant?, Cha Cha Chihauhua, Desert Dawg, Twin Town, Vivace, Mr. Coolberg, Dawgnation, Bluegrass at the Beach, Argentine Trio, Dawg After Dark.

Davka - Judith - (Daniel Hoffman, violins; Peter Maund, percussion; Moses Sedler, cello) - Tzadik TZ 7135:

A dozen of these 13 tracks are originals created by the trio. The San Francisco-based trio has a couple guest artists on bass, cimbalom and clarinets on this disc, which is part of the radical Jewish culture section of John Zorn’s label. They have been playing together for over a decade and draw upon Sephardic and Ashkenazi traditions as well as jazz and classical chamber music in the creation of their magical musical mix. You don’t need to be familiar with Jewish folk music or the story of Judith in the Bible in order to appreciate this evocative and melodic music-making. Tracks: Yo Semite, Judith, Zhok Von der Khuppe, Doina, Jericho, Donna’s Terkishe, Shnapps vas Gibn, Rhino Rhapsody, On Edge, Hamsin, Istanbullish, Ein Sof, Twilight Nigun.

Frank London - The Debt and other film music - Tzadik TZ 7507:

London is a trumpet player, composer, arranger and musical scholar who has scored many soundtracks for film and theater productions. Over 40 New York musicians are heard in the 28 separate cues on the disc, which comes from six different film and theater events plus two tracks described simply as Out Takes. The Debt won as Best Short Film at Cannes in l993. London has a penchant for moody Latin-jazz grooves in his writing for band, sometimes transformed into a sort of bachelor-pad sound. His music for The Master Builder of l994 uses only six female voices and tablas for some unusually evocative tone-painting. London’s part in the Jewish music renaissance is not immediately heard here, but the creativity of more experimental artists contributing music to film and theater is certainly in evidence.

- John Sunier

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