Jazz CDs Pt. 2 -September 2001
same red line

Trygve Seim - Different Rivers -ECM 1744:

A most auspicious debut on ECM by a new artist, tenor/soprano saxist Trygve Seim. He co-founded a free jazz quartet called The Source, but recently his main musical interest has been traditional music from the East as well as the East European "spiritual" composers Gorecki and Paart. Including Seim, this is a 13-piece ensemble, heavy in woodwinds and brass but also featuring two drummers (playing ever to subtly), an accordion and two cellos. All ten tracks are originals by Seim, crossing many different genres in a fascinating acoustic mix that leans toward a strongly contemplative groove. The title track is a lovely lyrical work that cuts across many different musical boundaries. The piece Breathe has an inspiring recitation in English that not only fits in with Seim's thinking about his performers (most are playing instruments that require breath) but also seems to capture in a few easily understood phrases some of the basics of Bhuddist meditation practice. This unique CD is one to play at the end of a harassed workday. It has that ECM style but in a more tender and almost spiritual vein.

- John Henry


Fats Waller - The 1935 Transcriptions - Naxos Jazz Legends 8.120577:

Waller's large body of commercial recordings has been reissued many times and fans probably have most of it, but these transcriptions were new to this Wallerist. They were cut on 16-inch transcriptions for the Muzak company by the larger-than-life performer, doing all in one session of a few hours in l935. Reed man Rudy Powell joins Fats colorful piano, vocals and witticisms on the first several tracks but most of it is unadorned Fats, providing a different view of his tunes than from most of his commercial 78s of the period. The fidelity is also remarkably good, perhaps due to the skillful digital noise reduction. There are a dozen tracks, but many contain two or three tunes. A whole lotta joie de vivre from Fats - and for a song too.

- John Henry


Leon Parker - The Simple Life - Label M 495730:

Parker is a drummer but much more than that. He is into vocal jazz and "body rhythms" similar to some of Bobby McFerrin's work. On this diverse and delightful CD he has assembled some of his musical friends for what feels like a wonderful jazz session bound to get you hopping. Many of the 15 tracks were recorded at different locations, including a photo studio and under the 59th Street Bridge in New York City. Some are just a vocal with body rhythms, others bring together sax, trumpet and lots of percussion with vocalists. The highly creative vocal arrangements are by Elizabeth Kontomanou, who also performs on many of the tracks. African and Brazilian influences are strong. Such intense fun with rhythm and song - seems like it should be illegal somehow!

- John Henry


In Montreal - Charlie Haden, double-bass; Egberto Gismonti, guitar & piano - ECM 1746:

Taped at the l989 Montreal Jazz Festival, this concert was called by the writer for the Montreal Gazette "a dancing, joyous celebration of life." The duo might be considered as much a departure from mainstream jazz as the Seim ensemble above, but in a way it was a return to world-musical territory that both performers had traversed about ten years ago together with saxist Jan Garbarek in a trio setting. Brazilian guitarist/pianist Gismonti had recorded many albums for ECM. He is inspired by countryman Villa-Lobos in making use of all of his nation's vast musical cultures - indian, samba, choro, jazz, bossa nova, baiao. Other influences on his compositions include North Indian music and Mississippi delta blues. He moved late from the piano to the guitar and now performs occasionally on 8, 10 and even 14-string instruments. Seven of the nine selections are Gismonti's with the other two coming from bassist Haden. All are glorious examples of the art of the duo - two expert performers who really listen very deeply into one another. The fact this is a live performance recording makes their endlessly inventive sharing of the musical stream even more astonishing. Two of the most lyrically creative pieces are also the longest tracks on the album: Em Familia and Don Quixote.

- John Henry


Beatle Jazz - Another Bite of the Apple - Brian Melvin, drums & leader; Dave Kikoski, piano; Charles Fambrough, bass - Zebra Acoustic ZA 44411-2:

Evidently a sequel to an earlier CD of Beatles tunes in jazz which I missed, this one is good fun and shows the flexibility for varied genres that Beatles' tunes seem to have. They share that with music of J.S. Bach. The 11 tracks here include some of the Liverpool celebs most tender and lyrical hits - Michelle, Blackbird, Julia, Blue Jay Way. Melvin is a drummer of great taste who comes up with infinitely varied rhythmic grooves for these standards. Terrific driving music.

- John Henry

Jazz Improvisations on Baroque Favorites - Jacques Loussier (piano) Trio - Telarc Jazz CD-83516:

The Loussier Trio's ninth album for Telarc puts them back into a Baroque framework, but this time without the music of the composer that brought their jazz treatments to everyone's attention - J.S. Bach. Their same tasteful and low-key syncopated versions of the originals are applied to Handel (his now-famous Sarabande, always famous Largo, and the complete Concerto for Organ in F Major), Scarlatti (two sonatas), Marcello (an oboe concerto), and those two huge Baroque hits: the inspired Albinoni Adagio in G Minor and the boring Pachelbel Canon. Crossover with good taste.

- John Henry

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