The Ali Ryerson Jazz Flute Big Band – Game Changer [TrackList follows] – Capri 74124-2 *****:
Mindy Canter – Fluteus Maximus – One Session – One Take [TrackList follows] – self ****:
(Ali Ryerson: 16 flutists plus guest flutists Holly Hofmann, Hubert Laws & Nestor Torres, plus rhythm section)
(Mindy Canter – flute, keyboards, B-3, vocals; Denny Geyer – guitar, vocals; Paul Smith – doublebass; Roy Blumenfeld – drums)
What a treat for jazz flute lovers this first album is! Ryerson (who by the way has a great jazz flute SACD on DMP) mentions in her notes how there are still limited opportunities for jazz flutists, even though it has almost become a standard that saxophonists are able to double on flute. Just as John Coltrane’s album My Favorite Things was a game changer for the soprano sax, she hopes this flute orchestra will be a game changer for the flute in jazz.
It’s a most thrilling sound to be sure, and began with a master class Ryerson was teaching on jazz flute, in which she began commissioning arranger friends to write for multiple flutes with a rhythm section. In 2003 she recorded a flute trio album for Capri with Holly Hofmann and Frank Wess, and the producer of that one—Tom Burns—jumped at Ryerson’s idea of even more flutes as a recording project.
The arrangements are terrific; this really sounds like a jazz ensemble—not just an aggregation of many flutes. And the three-man rhythm section really keeps things in the groove at all times. Some of these flutists had to travel a long ways to record this CD in New York, and all on a shoestring budget. But they are all musicians who love the flute in jazz and thought the idea a great one. Most of the flutists play both C and alto flutes, though there are a few bass and one contrabass flute. The tune sources of the ten tracks are among the top names in jazz: including Clifford Brown, Wayne Shorter, Oliver Nelson, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Neal Hefti and John Coltrane, and there’s even Gabriel Faure’s Pavane. The arrangers included Mike Wofford, Bill Cunliffe, Michael Abene and Billy Kerr.
Daahoud, Ana Maria, Stolen Moments, Speak Like a Child, Con Alma, Girl Talk, Pavane, Impressions, Sail Away, Lil’ Darlin’
Mindy Canter was, like Ryerson, classical trained, and her creative influences were blues and jazz, and later: anything she could wrap her flute and keyboards around. She’s duetted with Yo-Yo Ma and in 1977 did an African Highlife album with a singer-songwriter from Sierra Leone. This is her third album, recorded all in one session and one take of each track.
Two of the dozen tunes are Canter originals and all the arrangements are by the multi-talented performer. The first original, “Slider,” has both a Latin jazz and world music feel to it. She plays some of the keyboards, B-3 and flute on most tracks. “Do It Again” comes from Steely Dan and has a sort of ‘70s sound. “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” puts a different light and groove on the tune than the Cannonball original, and the blues influence is strong in “High Heel Sneakers.” The trip thru the classics and originals illustrates the various styles in which Canter excels. Her skills on the flute fit well the Fluteus Maximus title on the CD.
Slider, Watermelon Man, Memphis Underground, Do It Again, Mercy Mercy Mercy, High Heel Sneakers, Funny How Time Slips Away, Halleluyah, 16 Tons, Over the Rainbow, Happy Trails