Monday, October 7, 2019

Gasser 3: Espresso Galattico

The Gasser 3 is Jürg Gasser on tenor saxophone, Peter K. Frey on bass, and Dieter Ulrich on drums. As near as I can tell, Espresso Galattico is Gasser’s first recording since working with the large Swiss band Skyline back in 1991. His gruff sound and investigatory approach to improvisation are beautifully complemented by bassist Frey, most often heard as half of the long-running Kontrabassduo Daniel Studer/Peter K. Frey, and drummer Ulrich, who has been active on the Swiss free jazz scene since his recording debut with the Urs Blochlinger Tettet in 1985. This trio makes quiet and tightly focused freely improvised music, with the occasional foray into more intense modes of expression. On temptations and off we go, we encounter some powerhouse saxophone playing by Gasser, who’s clearly been hard at work while staying away from recording microphones for more than a quarter century. There is a decided emphasis on rapid responses within the trio, and while the notion that improvisers are having a musical conversation might be a trifle clichéd, that idea is effectively exemplified by units like the Gasser Trio. It’s always a pleasure to hear committed musicians in an egalitarian foray into free improvisation, and that’s precisely what Espresso Galattico delivers. Recommended.
Leo CD LR 845; Jürg Gasser (ts) Peter K. Frey (b) Dieter Ulrich (d, buegel); poss. Friedrichshafen, Germany, August 22-23, 2015; espresso galattico/ temptations/ ewig währt am längsten/ slow fox/ softly, but .../ talking/ joke/ off we go/ ciao; 51:58.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Rajna Swaminathan: Of Agency and Abstraction

Rajna Swaminathan plays mrudangam, the two-headed drum of the Carnatic music tradition in India. On Of Agency and Abstraction, Swaminathan drives her RAJAS Ensemble in a thoroughly winning fusion of Indian and jazz improvisation. Trumpeter Amir ElSaffar, tenor saxophonist Maria Grand, guitarist Miles Okazaki and bassist Stephen Crump are no strangers to cross-cultural endeavors, and they bring their combined experiences to bear on Swaminathan’s captivating compositions. Add violinist Anjna Swaminathan and vocalist Ganavya Doraiswamy for a immersive experience with a dozen original compositions. Swaminathan’s delicately nuanced hand drumming guides the music with a firm sense of direction. The instrumental focus shifts from tune to tune, with the singing violin of Anjna Swaminathan often out in front. Noteworthy passages, and there are many, include the arco bass and guitar introduction to Vigil, Doraiswamy’s keening vocal on the relaxed Departures, the swirl of trumpet, violin and tenor sax on Communitas, Okazaki’s fractured guitar solo on Retrograde, the relaxed interplay between Grand’s tenor and Swaminathan’s violin on the loping Rush, Grand’s expansive tenor solo on Vagabonds, and throughout, Swaminathan’s invigorating rhythmic complexity. Since the Fifties, there have been more than a few projects that have combined jazz and Indian music in various proportions. In her compositions and well-crafted arrangements, Swaminathan’s music achieves a seamless blend that’s uniquely satisfying. Absolutely recommended.
Biophilia Records; RAJAS Ensemble: Amir ElSaffar (tpt) Maria Grand (ts) Anjna Swaminathan (vln) Miles Okazaki (g) Stephan Crump (b) Rajna Swaminathan (mrudangam) Ganavya Doraiswamy (vcl); Astoria, NY, December 18-20, 2017; Offering/ Peregrination/ Vigil/ Departures/ Ripple Effect/ Communitas/ Retrograde/ Chasing the Gradient/ Rush/ Vagabonds/ Tangled Hierarchy/ Yathi; 72:09.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Claudio Scolari, Daniele Cavalca & Simone Scolari: Natural Impulse

Restless energy and a dark lyricism are the key characteristics of Natural Impulse, an intriguing hour of sounds generated by the trio of Claudio Scolari, Daniele Cavalca & Simone Scolari. Various combinations of instruments underlie the inquisitive trumpet played by Simone Scolari. Cavalca and Claudio Scolari play all the other instruments, and are credited with composing and producing the music. From those facts, I would hazard a guess that they conjured up the backing tracks and then had Simone Scolari play over them. I suppose it’s also possible that they played live with trumpet, then overdubbed additional material. But no matter how they put this music together, it happily retains a spontaneous feeling. The unpredictably mutating mesh of synths, bass, drums and percussion, piano, electric piano, and vibes is endlessly engaging and full of surprising juxtapositions. Chasing Inspiration is a favorite, with trumpeter Scolari soaring over the spacious synthesizer and drum backing. The trumpeter lays out on the title track, a slowly percolating groove featuring Cavalca’s piano with overdubbed bass and drums. He also sits out the synth-heavy and spaced out Uptown Night Trip. Vibes, drums and synths begin the absorbing Insomnia, which develops into a stuttering rhythm as Scolari’s trumpet matches wits with Cavalca’s synthesizer gurgles and beeps. Hard to describe, perhaps, but Natural Impulse is an easily accessible and fertile mix of electric and acoustic sounds. A fun disc, easily recommended.
Principal CSDC 06; Simone Scolari (tpt) Claudio Scolari (d, perc, synth) Daniele Cavalca (synth, Fender Rhodes el p, vib, b; d on*); no recording information; Unknown Destination*/ American Skyscrapers/ Chasing Inspiration*/ Natural Impulse/ Moon Mood/ Dear John/ Uptown Night Trip*/ Insomnia*/ Over the Horizon/ South Hemisphere; 60:56.

Monday, September 30, 2019

The OGJB Quartet: Bamako

The OGJB Quartet is a new band with four long-established musicians. The initials stand for saxophonist Oliver Lake, cornetist Graham Haynes, bassist Joe Fonda, and drummer Barry Altschul. As Fonda tells the story in the lengthy and copiously annotated booklet for their initial release, Bamako, his original plan was a trio with Altschul and Lake. When Kunle Mwanga of Earth Art Productions suggested adding Haynes to make it a quartet, Fonda and Altschul thought it was a great idea. Judging by this impressive debut, it seems they made the right choice. The program revisits previously recorded compositions, including Altschul’s Be Out S’Cool and Just a Simple Song, and Lake’s Stick and Is It Alright?, adds a couple of new tunes, and concludes with two examples of balanced and friendly group improvising, totaling about 10 minutes. Fonda and Altschul have performed together frequently, first in the FAB Trio with Billy Bang, and then The 3DomFactor with Jon Irabagon. These connections, and many more, are explored in Lawrence Donohue-Greene’s richly informative liner essay, and that web of relationships is evident in the “perfect synergy” that Joe Fonda finds within this unit. Haynes and Lake blend their instrumental voices with great care, with a range that extends from their peacefully entwined solos on Just a Simple Song to the more jagged and aggressive call and response on Lake’s Is It Alright? Their most unexpected collaboration is Haynes’ musical setting for Lake reading his poem Broken In Parts, with the composer on dousn’gouni, Fonda on bass, and Altschul on mbira. All told, an inspired and inspiring release. Warmly recommended.
TUM CD 050; Graham Haynes (cnt; dousn’gouni on *) Oliver Lake (as, ss; recitation on *) Joe Fonda (b) Barry Altschul (d, perc; mbira on *); Listen to Dr. Cornel West/ Bamako*/ Be Out S’Cool/ Stick/ GS #2/ Just a Simple Song/ Is It Alright?/ 3 Phrase 09/ OGJB #2/ OGJB #1; 63:17.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Dave Douglas: Devotion

Let’s stipulate that when the ever-astonishing drummer Andrew Cyrille is present on a recording session, it will be music well worth hearing, again and again. And so it is with Devotion, as Cyrille joins trumpeter Dave Douglas and pianist extraordinaire Uri Caine for a beautifully realized collection of original compositions by Douglas, plus the title track, an 1818 composition by Alexander Johnson. Douglas and Caine have been playing together for decades at this point. As a duo practice, they’ve been working with the Sacred Harp tradition of choral music. That’s where the Johnson tune comes from, but the influence permeates Douglas’ pieces. Especially potent in this regard is the solemn ode to Dizzy Gillespie that Douglas calls We Pray. As Douglas informs us in a brief liner note, most of the pieces are devoted to specific individuals, including a pair for Italian pianist Franco D’Andrea (the quick-moving D’Andrea and the smooth ballad Francis of Anthony) and another pair for influential pianist and composer Carla Bley (the poised and bouncy Miljøsang and False Allegiances, a dark tango). The trio situation is a particularly fertile setting for powerful improvising and interactivity, and this unit certainly makes the most of its considerable resources. With three musical masters committed and at the top of their games, Devotion is a very special recording, with some stunning music that is often touched by something like grace. Not to be missed. Greenleaf Music GRE-CD-1071; Dave Douglas (tpt) Uri Caine (p) Andrew Cyrille (d, perc); Astoria, NY, September 23, 2018; Curly/ D’Andrea/ Francis of Anthony/ Miljøsang/ False Allegiances/ Prefontaine/ Pacific/ Rose and Thorn/ We Pray/ Devotion; 54:21.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Michael Vlatkovich 5 Winds: Five Of Us

One of my favorite aspects of the first wave of jazz recordings in stereo, around 1957 and 1958, was the direct relationship between where musicians were positioned physically in the studio and the spatial dimensions of the finished product. When, for example, the baritone saxophone player was at the far left, he was also on that side of your listening room. The peripatetic and imaginative trombonist Michael Vlatkovich creates different musical situations for himself wherever he goes. Five Of Us is new from the innovative pfMENTUM label, source of many Vlatkovich projects, and the music is presented in that old school style. The ensemble is Michael Vlatkovich 5 Winds, with a line-up, from left to right, of the great David Mott on baritone saxophone, Lina Allemano on trumpet, Mr. Vlatkovich in the dead center with his trombone, Nicole Rampersaud on trumpet, and Peter Lutek on tenor saxophone and frankenpipe, which I discovered is “an attempt at converting a traditional Highland bagpipe into a MIDI controller.” (Lutek also expertly recorded, mixed, and mastered the disc.) Vlatkovich, who wrote all the pieces, authors some of the most cheerfully odd music you’ve ever heard, as you might guess from a glance at some of his song titles. The first nine tracks comprise the 5 Winds Suite, and there’s so much beauty packed into the melody and arrangement of Part 1: Six, the listener is ready for anything, secure in the feeling that whatever the 5 Winds throw at you will make you happy. And so it is, for more than an hour. It seems that limitations, particularly self-imposed ones, often lead to creative breakthroughs. Three brass and two reeds is an unusual combination, but a potent one when the players are as self-assured and accomplished as Vlatkovich and his partners. Key attractions are the leader’s limber and expressive trombone, the sheer beauty of the melody of For You, the gorgeous brass wail on a piece like Part 5: Five, Mott’s creamy baritone, and Vlatkovich’s inventive charts. I’ve enjoyed quite a lot of Vlatkovich’s music over the years, but Five Of Us might be his best outing of all. Heartily recommended. pfMENTUM PFMCD130; Lina Allemano, Nicole Rampersaud (tpt) Michael Vlatkovich (tbn) Peter Lutek (ts, frankenpipe) David Mott (bari s); Toronto, ON, June 3, 2015; Please Help Me I’m Blowing Bubbles/ 5 Winds Suite (Part 1: Six; Part 2: Twenty-Six; Part 3: Nineteen -> No. 7, Part 4: Zero; Part 5: Five; Part 6: One; Part 7: Twenty-Four; Part 8: Nineteen; Part 9: Ninety-Three)/ For You/ Natural Identical Flowers/ People in My Wallet/ (Alt), The Recognition of Rhythm in the Life of Worldly Things/ What Question Did the Man with Seven Ears and Three Eyes Ask the Plastic Surgeon?/ For the Protection of Yourself and Others You’ll Need to Wear Your Space Suit; 64:44.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Andrew Munsey: High Tide

Drummer Andrew Munsey makes his bandleading debut with High Tide, powering a quintet with Steph Richards on trumpet and flugelhorn, Ochion Jewell on tenor saxophone, Amino Belyamani on acoustic and electric pianos, and Sam Minaie on bass. As recordist and/or drummer, Munsey has worked closely with Richards on all of her recordings. Bassist Minaie played on Richards’ Take The Neon Lights and along with keyboardist Belyamani, is a member of saxophonist Jewell’s quartet. That makes for plenty of shared history within the group, so the quintet’s ability to seamlessly shift gears comes as no surprise. Munsey wrote all the pieces, except for Les Cing Doigts: Lento, the sixth section of Igor Stravinsky’s 1921 piano composition, respectfully arranged for quintet. Munsey’s originals come in a variety of styles. His drums lead us into the opening title track, a vaguely boppish number with an enticingly twisted melody line. Belyamani takes a nicely flowing piano solo on this one. On pieces like the brief Petite Feast and the even shorter Driftwood, the structure blurs the line between a solo and its accompaniment. Then there are more developed songs like Seedling, with a charming tenor solo, and Requite, a thoughtfully styled ballad with a theme out of the Fifties or Sixties. It sounds a bit like a Horace Silver tune played very slowly. The performance is graced by a peaceful and mildly obsessive piano solo by Belyamani and an unexpectedly lyrical solo by Richards on flugelhorn. Undertow is a dark and brooding number, with moans from the saxophone, brassy wheezes from the trumpet, and some mildly creepy stabs of electric piano. Schema is poised and minimal, as a nervously repeated piano note, complemented by rudimentary drumming and a simple bass line, underpins the occasional melody played in unison by Jewell and Richards. Bassist Minaie makes the most of his solo spot. Minaie’s delicately buzzing arco introduces the short Prelude: Tree Fruit, which features a stately melody imparted by saxophone and trumpet. The theme is elaborated and caressed in the slow groove of Skyline, which closes the set on a warmly exultant note. Tidal Wave is tough to pigeonhole, which is a good thing. This exciting and absorbing batch of well-played modern instrumentals is well worth hearing.
Birdwatcher; Steph Richards (tpt, flgh) Ochion Jewell (ts, kalimba) Amino Belyamani (p, Rhodes el p) Sam Minaie (b) Andrew Munsey (d); Brooklyn, NY, no dates specified; High Tide/ Petite Feast/ Seedling/ Driftwood/ Requite/ Undertow/ Schema/ Les Cing Doigts: Lento/ Prelude: Tree Fruit/ Skyline; 51:58.

Steph Richards times four

There was a time when I could keep pretty good track of all the musicians in the jazz world that I was interested in hearing. By tracking musicians from album to album, I would discover yet more names to follow. Alas, there are always more players to listen to, I'm getting older, and the existence of the internet mocks my internal database of improvisers. Still, there’s plenty of value to be gained by tracing a particular musician’s path, enjoying her work and, in the process, discovering yet more music to savor. The work of trumpeter Steph Richards occasions these thoughts.
My first exposure to her playing was Trio Music, a 2017 recording by Vinny Golia, Steph Richards & Bert Turetzky. I’ve been a Golia fan for ages, and I know he’s a busy guy. Double bass wizard Bert Turetzky is in his eighties. So based on her companions, I gathered that Steph Richards will be someone definitely worth hearing, and now having listened I’m not disappointed. Her dark sound seems to be infinitely adaptable, from wobbly to clear and bright. The quickness of her responses and her self-assured attitude in this freely improvised batch of performances are a delight. Turetzky, with his arco rumbles, and Golia, with his panoply of woodwinds and “ethnic aerophones,” are lively collaborators who first recorded as a duo back in 1986 for Golia’s Nine Winds imprint. Previous trio sessions for the pair have added such luminaries as trombonist George Lewis (1996 and 2003), trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith (1997), and bassist Barre Phillips (1998), which puts Richards in very good company. Over the course of a dozen fairly short improvisations, the trio explores a range of moods and approaches. The spaciousness of the music and the superbly recorded and mixed sound (thanks to Andrew Munsey, who we’ll get back to in this post) are a real plus here, helping the listener truly appreciate the individual sounds of each musician. While I have my favorites, including the buzzy and gnarly Cerberus (and what a great name for a trio improv!) and the unsettled slip-slide of Atazoy, any music fan that listens to Trio Music with an open heart will find much to enjoy. pfMENTUM PFMCD117; Steph Richards (tpt, flgh) Vinny Golia (winds, ethnic aerophones) Bert Turetzky (b); San Diego, CA, April 23, 2017; Solana/ Proprioception/ Cerberus/ As I was Saying…/ $19.95/ SunnySide Up/ Desert Wind/ Hector Shear makes his entrance…(could they really exist in Maine?)/ Atazoy/ The Paradox of Zazu Pitts/ Descendant Un Escalier/ The Duo That Became A Trio; 53:26.

Now that I knew that her work merited close attention, I latched onto Resonant Bodies, a duo project from 2015 featuring Stephanie Richards on trumpet, flugelhorn, and percussion, with percussionist Andrew Drury limiting himself to just a floor tom and timpani. When the pair listened to what they’d improvised, again recorded by Andrew Munsey, “the timbres suggested thawing glaciers to us--groaning, cracking, splitting, of large masses of ancient ice under extreme pressure, moving and melting.” Hence the album’s title, Thaw, with the fairly brief tracks named after glaciers on five continents. The duo conjure up some truly odd combinations of sounds, with the source often unrecognizable. There’s an appealing rawness to their encounters, as they ignore many of the usual qualities of music like melody, harmony, and tempo, in favor of brutal expression. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it’s a trip worth taking for fans of boldly adventurous improvising. Different Track 50004; Stephanie Richards (tpt, snare d, flgh, timpani) Andrew Drury (floor tom, timpani); San Diego, CA, November 2015; THAW/ Kilimanjaro 2040/ Fracture (for Larsen C)/ Mendenhall/ Drangajökull/ Kangiata Nunaata Sermia/ Nisqually/ Thwaites/ Panchchuli/ Snow Dome/ Athabasca/ RETREAT; 28:32.

Released, like Thaw, in the spring of 2018, Stephanie Richards’s first recording under her own name is Fullmoon. The format is another duet, this time with electronic musician Dino J.A. Deane who live-samples her trumpet and manipulates the results back into the mix. This makes for a wild and almost limitless encounter, sometimes busy, sometimes sparse, but always deeply intriguing. As a way of making music, improvised music in general is especially suited for headphone listening, and Fullmoon is a great example. Close listening reveals both the nuances of Richards’ mercurial trumpet and the finely honed interactions of instrument and sampler. By and large, Richards maintains a fairly clean, brassy sound, allowing Deane to “mess it up” with whatever effects he brings to bear. Highlights include the other-worldly atmosphere evoked on piano, the chilly purity of the very brief half moon, and the calmly meditative gong (part I). All told, a fascinating recital, rich in surprises and well worth a listen. Relative Pitch RPR1066 (CD, lp): Stephanie Richards (tpt, flgh, perc) Dino J.A. Deane (sampler); prob. San Diego, CA, no dates specified; new moon/ snare/ piano/ half moon/ gong (pt. 1)/ gong (pt. 2)/ timpani/ full moon (pt. 1)/ full moon (pt. 2); 32:46.

Steph Richards’ most recent release is Take The Neon Lights, where she helms a quartet with James Carney on piano, Sam Minaie on bass, and Andrew Munsey on drums. Richards, who composed all the tunes, co-produced the set with Munsey, who also mixed and mastered the session. Richards, who can whisper and growl with equal commitment, employs a wide vocabulary of shrieks, burbles, and fluttery bursts of sound. Add to that her careful manipulation of mutes and a trick bag of extended techniques, all allied to a fertile and fearless musical imagination. Richards’ open-ended compositions, doubtlessly influenced by her work with notable composers and bandleaders like Anthony Braxton and Henry Threadgill, also build on her unconventional approach to the trumpet. Tunes like the mysterious and hard-driving Brooklyn Machine, the disquieting Rumor of War, and the densely propulsive Stalked By Tall Buildings unfold in series of unexpected twists and turns. Richards’ peregrinations are, naturally, the main focus here, but pianist Carney is worth some attention as well. From his scattered inside-the-piano work on Time and Grime to his brisk and meaty solo on Skull of Theatres, Carney seems preternaturally attuned to the many nuances of Richards’ playing. With Minaie and Munsey maintaining a careful rhythmic scaffold, and the adventuresome Carney matching wits with Richards, Take The Neon Lights is a compelling and nearly irresistible release. Recommended. Birdwatcher BW008; Stephanie Richards (tpt, flgh) James Carney (p) Sam Minaie (b) Andrew Munsey (d); Paramus, NJ, no dates specified; Take The Neon Lights and Wear A Crown/ Brooklyn Machine/ Time and Grime/ Rumor of War/ Transitory (Gleams)/ Skull of Theatres/ Stalked By Tall Buildings/ All the Years of Our Lives; 44:02.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Paul May & Carolyn Hume: Kill The Lights

When the drums and keyboard duo of Paul May & Carolyn Hume suggests that you Kill The Lights, they’re making a valuable suggestion for listening to their new Leo release. With the occasional quiet assistance of guitarist Bernd Rest, Hume and May devote the 44 minutes of Kill The Lights to a soundtrack for the flow of images that will seep into your mind if you rest easily in the dark as it plays. In essence, the musicians have subjected themselves to a disciplined sort of quiet improvisation so that listeners can be freed of any expectations in creating their own narratives. The overall sensation is peaceful and soothing. Hume is as dreamy on piano as she is on electronic keyboards, while May’s minimalist style is grounded in the deep thumps of a bass drum. Any kind of detailed discussion of the proceedings would be largely besides the point. But I do want to say that anyone who includes “intimate metals” as part of his percussion setup is okay in my book.
Leo CD LR 847; Carolyn Hume (p, kybds) Paul May (d, “intimate metals”) Bernd Rest (g); London, England, no dates specified; Horizontal Blue/ Sentry/ Surrender/ Shadow and Dust/ The Blacksmith and the Butcher’s Wife/ Kill the Lights; 44:24.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Houston Person: I’m Just A Lucky So And So

Veteran tenorman Houston Person is in his eighties, but he’s still blowing with his usual soulful and bluesy elegance on his latest HighNote release, I’m Just A Lucky So And So. The basic quartet, with Lafayette Harris on piano, Matthew Parrish, and Kenny Washington on drums, is augmented by trumpeter Eddie Allen and guitarist Rodney Jones on many of the pieces. A funky introduction by Jones is a bit startling at the beginning of Willow Weep For Me, but things settle down soon enough as Person caresses the familiar theme. One of the special pleasures of a Houston Person session is the care that he puts into song selection. A few of the pieces in the repertoire are familiar vehicles for improvisers, like Willow Weep For Me and Who Can I Turn To. But more often than not, Person has resurrected numbers that are not nearly as well-known. Music by Sammy Cahn, represented here by Wonder Why, I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry, and Day by Day, seems to be especially favored by Person. As pianist Harris, a Person associate since 2014, told Willard Jenkins for his liner notes, the saxophonist has opened him up to “so many great songs that musicians don’t play and sometimes haven’t even heard!” The biggest surprise is the funky closer, Next Time You See Me, a hit for Junior Parker back in 1957 and not a common vehicle for improvisers. The most obscure piece is Alone With Just My Dreams, a posthumously uncovered song by bassist George Duvivier which was the title track of a 1991 album by trumpeter Joe Wilder. Befitting the source, bassist Parrish takes the introductory chorus. Parrish, a long-time member of pianist David Leonhardt’s group who appeared on Person’s Rain Or Shine in 2017, fits in perfectly. Guitarist Jones contributes the date’s sole original composition, the blues-like Song for a Rainbow. Trumpeter Allen is in excellent form throughout. He’s especially effective on Billy Eckstine’s I Want to Talk About You. The rhythm section of Jones, Harris, Parrish, and Washington is warmly supportive and faultlessly swinging at any tempo. Houston’s graceful approach to melody and his unfailingly lovely saxophone sound make all of his projects a joy to listen to over and over, and I’m Just A Lucky So And So is no exception. Happily recommended.
HighNote HCD 7327; Eddie Allen (tp on 1,3,4,6,8-10) Houston Person (ts) Lafayette Harris (p) Rodney Jones (g on 1,2,5,6,8,10) Matthew Parrish (b) Kenny Washington (d); Englewood Cliffs, NJ, November 30, 2018; 1.Willow Weep For Me/ 2.Wonder Why/ 3. I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry/ 4.I’m Just a Lucky So and So/ 5.Who Can I Turn To/ 6.Day by Day/ 7.Alone With Just My Dreams/ 8.Song for a Rainbow/ 9.I Want to Talk About You/ 10.Next Time You See Me; 55:32.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Dave Liebman/ Adam Rudolph/ Hamid Drake: CHI

Improvisation must be as old as music itself. After all, the first sounds we might recognize as musical arose from nothing. But of course, the tools have changed radically over the millennia, and the deeply conjoined trio of Dave Liebman, Adam Rudolph, and Hamid Drake uses anything they can to create something from nothing on their new CD, CHI. Saxophones, an array of percussion instruments from around the world, voices, electronics, and the occasional piano meet in a invigorating display of instant communication. Rudolph and Drake go back a long way together, to their time in the Mandingo Griot Society in the late Seventies. And since the late Sixties, Dave Liebman has established himself on hundreds of recordings as a free spirit and a reliably potent musical force. Their improvisations here range from under 3 minutes for the introductory Becoming to the quarter-hour of Emergence, and the titles they’ve assigned to their free-wheeling inventions are roughly descriptive of the music. Thus Flux is mostly a continuous changing flow with some intense drumming and an aggressive soprano saxophone solo. Continuum builds on Drake’s cymbal beat and Rudolph’s hand drums, with a keening saxophone emerging after two minutes and leading the way into a passionate musical conversation. The carefully sculpted Formless Form features Liebman’s slightly hesitant piano and steady but delicate percussion. Percussion dominates the first section of Emergence. Liebman enters with a sinuous soprano line, and the piece slowly builds to a exciting three-way improvisation. The sax drops out, the drummers engage one another, and the mood changes for a while into a more pastoral kind of feeling before revving up again and slowly drifting off. Whirl ends the program of nearly an hour with a piece centered on Rudolph’s sintir, a bass lute used by the Gnawa people of northern Africa. His swirling bass lines meld with Drake’s frame drum and lilting saxophone lines from Liebman to create a mellow conclusion to their encounter. Recommended.
RareNoise RNR102; Dave Liebman (ss, ts, p on *, wooden recorder) Adam Rudolph (hand drumset [kongos, djembe, tarija], p on #, sintir, multi-phonic vcl, perc, elec) Hamid Drake (d, vcl, frame drum, perc); NYC, May 8, 2018; Becoming#/ Flux/ Continuum/ Formless Form*/ Emergence / Whirl; 56:00.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Exodos: Heuristics

Exodos is a multi-national quartet, with brassman Guy Bettini, Fabio Martini on alto sax and various clarinets, and the dynamic and boldly interactive bass and drums team of Luca Sisera and Gerry Hemingway. Their Leo release is called Heuristics, defined as an approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method. There’s no guarantee that any given solution be optimal, merely sufficient for reaching an immediate goal. When the goal is a satisfying variety of improvised music, the field of possibilities is limited only by the imaginations of the players. This 59-minute disc of totally improvised sound is structured as if it were a Greek drama, with a Prologos followed by a Parados, the first song sung by the chorus after its entrance from the side wings. The main action alternates sections called epeisodias with songs called stasimons until we arrive at the conclusion, or exodos. The opening track beckons us slowly into the quartet’s edgy and restrained musical world. A conversation between Bettini and Martini is enlivened by Hemingway’s clattering drums and bright cymbals. Soon a turbo-charged four-way colloquy is under way. Parados begins with a carefully modulated opening section that features an inquisitive bass line from Sisera with Martini’s alto sax responding and fairly quiet comments from Hemingway wielding brushes. Eventually the drumming becomes more assertive, and Martini yields to the bright tone of Bettini, who takes an eminently thoughtful solo (on trumpet?). A brief collective improvisation ensues, only to slowly dissolve and return to silence. The first of 3 Epeisodias is the longest piece in the set, and unfortunately, it’s also the kind of piece that’s more interesting to play than to listen to. The band is mired in playing long tones without any tempo for the first half of the piece and the music never develops into much of interest. Stasimon A is better, though still working in a minimalist style. At least there’s more interaction among the players, and an attractively conversational aspect to the music. With Epeisodia 2, things are back on track as each musician is playing more forcefully. Their boldness and occasionally aggressive attitude results in some of the most absorbing music of the date. Stasimon B is a gas, with brassy buzzes, some sauntering alto saxophone, swooping bass, and vigorous drumming. Even with some tedious passages, Heuristics is full of particularly bright moments. These include Martini’s stuttering alto solo on Prologos, a provocative trumpet solo by Bettini in the final section of Stasimon A, Sisera’s tender bass solo at the start of Epeisodia 3, the light-hearted bass and clarinet duet later in the same piece, Bettini’s buzzing solo (cornet?) on the closer, and Hemingway just about everywhere. Definitely worth a listen.
Leo CD LR 832; Guy Bettini (cnt, tpt, flgh) Fabio Martini (clarinets, as) Luca Sisera (b) Gerry Hemingway (d, vcl); Basel, Switzerland, April 6-7, 2017; Prologos/ Parados/ Epeisodia 1/ Stasimon A/ Epeisodia 2/ Stasimon B/ Epeisodia 3/ Exodus; 59:01.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Christy Doran: 144 Strings For A Broken Chord

Christy Doran enlisted 19 fellow electric guitarists, 4 electric bassists, one lonely drummer, and a conductor for a 7-part composition he calls 144 Strings For A Broken Chord. Even before I started to listen to this rather beautiful music, I was captivated by a photograph of the entire band on stage with an impressive array of guitars, amps and pedals. Expecting a total onslaught of sound, I was pleasantly surprised when the opener, Cannon Street Canon, proved to be a nuanced exploration of the classical structure. The contrapuntal format is perfectly suited to this agglomeration of guitars. Doran built the band around his current trio with bassist Franco Fontanarrosa and drummer Lukas Mantel. He gives Fontanarrosa the only solo on Cannon Street Canon. Curiously, Doran doesn’t solo himself on any of the tunes. While most of the pieces make some room for solos, they tend to be quite short, and the full ensemble is really the focus. Andromeda begins with a four note melody. With licks passed around the ensemble over a perky beat from Mantel, the band proceeds to develop and elaborate on the simple theme for over 11 minutes. Bassist Wolfgang Zwiauer and guitarist Walter Beltrami are the featured soloists over richly textured guitar lines. The jittery Gunslingers is next, the occasion for a series of brief solos by guitarists Christopher Guilfoyle, Yves Reichmuth, and Philippe Emanuel Schåppi popping out of the ensemble, followed by an electric bass duet by Fontanarrosa and Andi Schnellmann. A broken chord is one in which the notes are played successively, and with so many strings available, there are plenty of possibilities for precisely how this can work. Broken Chords is a wild tune with tempo shifts and dynamic extremes amid the entrancing weave of electric guitars. Laurent Méteau’s screaming guitar solo is one of the disc’s many highlights. I am particularly taken with the funky and audacious Bad News Babe, a multi-part piece loaded with dissonant power chords and piercing licks. There’s a heavy metal feel to a number of sections, which hint both at parody and homage without ever really deciding which. Like all of Doran’s pieces in this setting, it’s got delicate sections right up against more robust passages. This is the longest track on the session, at just over 13 minutes, but the fullness of the sound and the intriguing paths that the music carves out justify the length. What follows is the shortest track, Goin’ In On the Way Out, with a lovely section of guitarists playing part of a scale, then passing the baton, as it were, to another player. The finale, Bows and Wahs, is deeply mysterious, with a dark subterranean feeling for most of its 10-minute length. Lukas Mantel’s steady and minimalist drumming holds down the center, with guitars and basses flowing around him, quietly at first but building slowly into an intense scrum of sound. Franz Hellmüller takes an energetically spunky solo to conclude the tune, and the disc. Via the thoroughly committed playing by all hands of Doran’s well-crafted compositions and the conducting of John Voirol, what could have been an undifferentiated mess is an eminently viable format and a triumph for all concerned. Definitely recommended, and the transparent sound quality and careful mix make 144 Strings a superb listen on headphones.
Between The Lines BTLCHR71245; Walter Beltrami, Manuel Büchel, Glauco Cataldo, Christy Doran, Lucia D’Errico, Dave Gisler, Christopher Guilfoyle, Franz Hellmüller, Laurent Méteau, Urs Müller, Yves Reichmuth, Florian Respondek, Simon Rupp, Philippe Emanuel Schåppi, Philipp Schaufelberger, Nicolas Stettler, Urs Vögeli, Christian Winiker, Christian Zemp, Gael Zwahlen (g) Martina Berther, Franco Fontanarrosa, Andi Schnellmann, Wolfgang Zwiauer (el b) Lukas Mantel (d) John Voirol (cond); Stalden, Switzerland, September 13-15, 2016; Cannon Street Canon/ Andromeda/ Gunslingers/ Broken Chords/ Bad News Babe/ Goin’ In On the Way Out/ Bows and Wahs; 59:47.

Friday, August 2, 2019

George Cables: I’m All Smiles

George Cables, a master of modern jazz piano, has had more than his share of health problems over the last few years and was unable to play for a while. But he’s back on the scene, and his latest trio venture, I’m All Smiles, functions as the best “thank you” to his many well-wishers that they could have hoped for. Many of the selections impart definite messages, like the opening Young at Heart, the popular Love is a Many- Splendored Thing from 1955, and the title track, first heard on Broadway in The Yearling (1965). The nicely balanced program also includes Wayne Shorter’s Speak No Evil, Consuelo Velázquez’s immortal Bésame Mucho, Freddie Hubbard’s durable Thermo, Jaco Pastorius’ Three Views of a Secret, one Cables original (the brightly optimistic Celebration) and a pair of tunes by Thelonious Monk. A curiously upbeat and choppy version of Ugly Beauty is performed by the trio, while a spirited solo piano rendition of Monk’s Mood ends the disc with a flourish. Suffice it to say that Cables sounds strong and is swinging as hard as ever. Essiet Essiet on bass and the veteran Victor Lewis provide impeccable support throughout. This disc was recorded in a single day in the studio, and I can’t help but get the feeling that Cables was champing at the bit to get back to music-making. Welcome back, George Cables! I’m All Smiles is a real winner, and happily recommended.
HighNote HCD 7322; George Cables (p) Essiet Essiet (b, exc. on *) Victor Lewis (d, exc. on *); NYC, October 26, 2018; Young at Heart/ I’m All Smiles/ Speak No Evil/ Besame Mucho/ Ugly Beauty/ Love is a Many-Splendored Thing/ Celebration/ Three Views of a Secret/ Thermo/ Monk’s Mood*; 58:24.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Lafayette Gilchrist: Dark Matter

Listen to enough music of all kinds, and after a while you can tell pretty quickly if there’s anything really happening on a particular disc. It took me just a few seconds of listening to pianist Lafayette Gilchrist’s solo album Dark Matter, to realize that I was in for a real treat. Gilchrist’s musical associates have included Oliver Lake, Hamid Drake, Carl Grubbs, and, crucially, David Murray as a member of his Black Saint Quartet. This is his second solo effort, after 2012's The View From Here. He’s heard here in concert at the University of Baltimore, his home town. Gilchrist starts the set with For the Go-Go, a blues in tribute to the Washington, DC/Baltimore go-go music scene he grew up with. The pianist is smoking and stomping from the start, and all I can say is that virtually any jazz fan will be happy to just sit back and let Gilchrist take you into his confidence as his original compositions roll over you. The finely detailed recording by Gilchrist’s co-producer Wendell Patrick captures his rich piano sound and his close attention to the dynamics of a tune. There are hints of both Monk and Bud Powell in his piano style, along with occasional forays into free territory. Gilchrist is continually harking back to earlier pianists like Earl Hines, Willie “The Lion” Smith, and Duke Ellington, with his left hand particularly active for a modern player. Gilchrist really has it all: a highly individual touch, a powerful rhythmic drive, a deep affinity for the blues, appealing compositions, and the ability to play the hell out of them. There are a number of jarring edits between songs that mar the flow of the music, but aside from that, Dark Matter is a genuine triumph, and one of the albums of the year so far. Don’t miss it.
Lafayette Gilchrist Music CDcds 005; Lafayette Gilchrist (p); Baltimore, MD, September 18, 2016; For the Go-Go/ Child’s Play/ Dark Matter/ The Love Bind/ Spontaneous Combustion/ And You Know/ Blues for Our Marches to End/ Old Whale Bones/ Happy Birthday Sucker/ Black Flight/ Greetings; 67:59.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

David Kikoski: Phoenix Rising

Pianist David Kikoski leads a quartet with Eric Alexander on tenor, Peter Washington on bass, and Joe Farnsworth on drums on Phoenix Rising, his debut release for HighNote Records. No surprise given these personalities, but the band is swinging like mad on the opening title track, co-composed by Kikoski and Alexander. It’s also no surprise that they keep it up throughout this winning session. Kikoski, who has been heard on many recordings since his debut with drummer Fabio Jegher in 1982, is probably best known for his extended relationship with the great drummer Roy Haynes from the mid-Eighties through the early part of this century. To my mind, no one needs a stronger recommendation than the imprimatur of Mr. Haynes to seriously spend some time with Kikoski and friends. Except for the opening track, and Alexander’s Kik It, a jumping blues that follows it, the repertoire is a considered selection of standards plus John Coltrane’s Lazy Bird. Jimmy Webb’s Wichita Lineman, made famous by Glen Campbell in 1968, may raise a few eyebrows, but a quick glance at a discography tells me that it’s been recorded over 50 times by jazz musicians, including J.J. Johnson, Freddie Hubbard, and Sonny Stitt. From Kikoski’s lush introduction, it’s easy to hear why it’s so appealing: a fascinating chord progression, a memorable melody and a sense of drama, even without the lyrics. The quartet does it justice, at just about the original tempo, with Kikoski and Alexander soloing in a relaxed manner. Save for the two originals, the balance of the program is older than Webb’s classic, and from the straightforwardly swinging way that everyone’s playing, you could be forgiven for listening to this disc blindly and thinking that the music is thirty or forty years old. Respecting the tradition, of course, is far from a bad thing, especially when the match of players and program is as well-designed as it is here. Standout tracks include a romp through If I Were a Bell, in the Miles Davis arrangement but with the twist of an extra tag, a rollicking version of Love For Sale, and a supersonically charged look at Lazy Bird, with Alexander and Kikoski deftly navigating this classic theme. But truth to tell, you really can’t grow wrong dipping into this CD anywhere. Alexander and Kikoski have been pals for years, but this is the first time that the two have recorded together. Here’s looking forward to more collaborations from this well-matched pair. Easily recommended.
HighNote HCD 7328; Eric Alexander (ts) David Kikoski (p) Peter Washington (b) Joe Farnsworth (d); Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 20, 2018; Phoenix Rising/ Kik It/ Wichita Lineman/ If I Were a Bell/ Emily/ Love for Sale/ My One and Only Love/ Lazy Bird/ Willow Weep for Me; 59:16.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Luca Sisera ROOFER: Starlex Complex

Bassist Luca Sisera writes boldly complicated music for Luca Sisera ROOFER, his quintet with a front line of Marcus Twerenbold on trombone and Michael Jaeger on tenor sax, and a rhythm section of Sisera, pianist Yves Theiler, and drummer Michi Stulz. I’ve wondered about the band’s name, and the press release for Starlex Complex, the group’s third release, finally answers that question. Pirmin Bossart writes that “so-called ‘roofers’ are climbers who clamber up high structures without safety equipment ...” which makes perfect metaphorical sense for this wild and woolly compositions of Sisera and the utterly fearless performances of his band. When I reviewed the band’s first CD (Prospect, Leo Records, 2014), I wrote the listener can “never be exactly sure where the tunes are headed, but [one] can trust this unit to make the process a hell of a lot of fun.” A few years later, and with more playing time as a group, that statement seems more true than ever. The individual parts may not be too daunting, but the ways that Sisera puts them together are usually surprising and unexpected. It’s harder than usual to describe Sisera’s music in words, but let me try. The staccato theme of Starlex Complex quickly leads into a long boppish theme voiced by Twerenbold and Jaeger over the high-stepping rhythm section before the trombonist breaks the spell for a dark-toned solo. He’s joined by Jaeger for a duel of solos while piano, bass, and drums grow agitated and aggressive. As the rhythms calm down, Twerenbold takes over again and the piece abruptly comes to a halt. That description just begins to scratch the surface of what’s going on. This is music that demands and rewards repeated close listenings to appreciate the details of what Sisera and his bandmates are up to. The second track is the carefully paced Internal Body Messenger. That yields to the exuberant Struggle Bubble, with a theme that reminds me of Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke, of all things, before moving on to an almost giddy group improvisation with a busily propulsive bass solo. The already blurred line between composition and improvisation is essentially erased for the spacy Nairs, seven minutes of whooshes, blurs, and cymbal hits. Until the last minute, there are occasional stately piano chords that are thrown in, seemingly at random, could come from a different piece altogether. But all of a sudden, Theiler’s piano grows more assertive and moves to the forefront in what amounts to a musical coup. Mama Helix is a favorite of mine. This starkly dramatic and swirling piece has parts that fit together in the strangest ways. There’s a section that features a trombone and saxophone chase, a lush solo piano interlude, and inspired drumming by Stulz. Missing Chan(n)els Part 1 offers a sweetly conversational bass solo before heading directly into Part 2, a upbeat bebop theme with a tenor solo that’s languid at first, slowly building up to some more intense playing. A similarly constructed piano solo follows, energetically supported by Sisera and Stulz. Making her only appearance on the date, Isa Weiss swoops in with some wordless vocalizing for Missing Chan(n)els Part 3, soaring above and harmonizing with trombonist Twerenbold and saxophonist Jaeger over a busy vamp by the rhythm section. Starlex Extro, a brief collective improvisation, concludes the disc with a sense of unresolved mystery. In sum, another exciting and absorbing collection from this endlessly provocative Swiss ensemble. Definitely recommended.
nWog 023; Marcus Twerenbold (tbn) Michael Jaeger (ts) Yves Theiler (p) Luca Sisera (b) Michi Stulz (d) Isa Wiss (vcl on *); Winterthur, Switzerland, October 29-31, 2018; Starlex Complex/ Internal Body Messenger/ Struggle Bubble/ Nairs/ Mama Helix/ Missing Chan(n)els Part 1/ Missing Chan(n)els Part 2/ Missing Chan(n)els Part 3*/ Starlex Extro; 47:25.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Rich Halley: Terra Incognita

Pianist Matthew Shipp’s working trio with  Michael Bisio on bass and Newman Taylor Baker on drums is capable of generating plenty of sparks when they convene. Add the tenor saxophonist Rich Halley, and the proceedings grow downright combustible on Terra Incognita. Halley is based in Portland, Oregon, but he travels annually to northern California in May for a small jazz festival that he curates. When Shipp, Bisio, and Baker came to the 2018 festival for a trio set, Halley played in a trio on the following day with Bisio and Baker. This studio recording came together that August, with the saxophonist making his way to Brooklyn for the date. Working in this quartet format is something of a departure for Halley, who hasn’t recorded with any pianist since 1988. His tenor commands your attention for his rugged and muscular sound, dense with passion and displaying an almost endless imagination. Each of the six spontaneous compositions are credited to all four musicians, with Baker’s crisp and direct drumming often used as the starting point. From the sauntering Forager and the graceful The Elms to the tempestuous title track, the players find plenty of common ground to explore. Especially worthy of note are Shipp’s relaxed solo on Forager, Halley’s passionate and barely under control solo on Centripetal, Bisio’s inquistive solo that closes Terra Incognita, and throughout, Baker’s disciplined dynamics. It’s a true meeting of the minds, and a journey into Terra Incognita that all fans of improvised music will find worth taking. Recommended.
Pine Eagle 012; Rich Halley (ts) Matthew Shipp (p) Michael Bisio (b) Newman Taylor Baker (d); Brooklyn, NY, August 21, 2018; Opening/ Forager/ Centripetal/ The Elms/ Terra Incognita/ The Journey; 59:07.

Giant Step Arts: The First Three Releases

Jimmy Katz has been photographing jazz artists for more than thirty years, and his work has graced hundreds of magazine and CD covers, as well as been collected in four books. He’s also a recording engineer, and he brings all his skills to his latest project, the non-profit Giant Step Arts. Katz writes that he was “interested in supporting the highest level of creativity in ... jazz. Giant Step Arts will give musicians the opportunity to fulfill their dreams with no strings attached.” Katz also emphasizes “that the musicians have total control of their artistic projects.” The label is dedicated to premiere live performances, with their first three releases out now.

       First up is Rhyme And Reason by trumpeter Jason Palmer, with Palmer joined by tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Matt Brewer, and drummer Kendrick Scott. Recorded live at the Jazz Gallery in New York, Rhyme And Reason finds the band stretching out at length on eight of Palmer’s intricately attractive original compositions. There’s plenty of shared history among the musicians, which leads to a healthy environment for powerful improvising. And that’s what we get, with a bounty of inspired soloing by some of the most creative players around. Palmer and Turner make a exceptional team, with the trumpeter’s fire and personal logic matched by Turner’s usually cooler presence and slippery solo style. At first listen, it felt like nearly every tune seemed to go on to too long, with only Blue Grotto clocking in at under ten minutes. After spending more time with the discs, I’m more attuned to the way the quartet operates on stage. Obviously, a live concert and a studio recording make different demands on players and listeners, and it takes the right attitude and attentiveness to immerse yourself in a club date like this one. Among the many high points over an hour and three quarters of dynamic interplay are Palmer’s dark and adventurous solo on the opening Herbs in a Glass, the trumpeter’s brash unaccompanied introduction to the title song, the entwined melodic lines of bass, trumpet, and tenor on Blue Grotto, the bright funk of The Hampton Inn, Turner’s playful solo on Waltz for Diana, and the rousing solos by Turner and Palmer in the hard-charging Kalispel Bay that closes the show. The peppy and buoyant rhythm team of Brewer and Scott never falters in keeping the music moving along smartly. Katz’s detailed and transparent recording enhances the music, and like the best in-concert documents, puts the listener right in the middle of things. As the cliché goes, it’s the next best thing to being there.

Drummer Johnathan Blake, perhaps best known for his ongoing association with Tom Harrell’s band, has appeared on dozens of albums since his recording debut with Bob Berg in 2001. His third release as a leader is Trion, where he leads a trio at the Jazz Gallery with Chris Potter, sticking to tenor saxophone, and Linda May Han Oh on bass. Blake starts off the first disc with a two-minute drum solo before the trio gleefully dissects Sting’s Synchronicity 1 with a gruffly authoritative Potter leading the charge. Bassist Oh takes a powerful and moving solo as well, leading into Potter and Blake trading phrases with utter abandon. It’s a deeply involving performance, and that’s from someone who never could stand listening to The Police. The supremely melodic Oh takes center stage with an extended introduction to her own Trope. The song has a tricky theme, arranged as a delicate dance of bass and saxophone with Blake’s understated drums in support. Potter’s part is a tour de force of modern tenor playing, and Oh responds with another vigorous display of her prowess and formidable technique. The late bassist Charles Fambrough wrote One for Honor, and it first appeared on McCoy Tyner’s Horizon (1979). Here the appealing theme receives a high-spirited treatment, featuring more electrifying tenor work by Potter over furious swing from Blake’s drums and Oh’s testifying bass line. A pair of Blake originals concludes the first disc. High School Daze is a mid-tempo blues with a backbeat. Potter, who manages to sound at home in just about any musical environment, is really in his element with this pace and feeling. Oh is no slouch either, with a busy and spicy solo after Potter’s opening spot. She has the relatively rare bassist’s knack of constructing extended solos that maintain interest and never lose the pulse. No Bebop Daddy also features a potent bass solo, with Blake keeping up the pulse. A loose and bluesy Potter even sneaks a little bebop in at the end of his sax solo. Like the first disc, part two starts out with a few minutes of solo drums to set the stage. Two originals by Potter come next. Good Hope is the occasion for some deft triangulation with Oh’s throbbing bass, Blake’s assertive drums, and Potter’s angular saxophone lines in a friendly competition for the spotlight. My attention settled on the lightning fast interactions of the trio as they build this dynamic performance over 11 minutes. The first half of Eagle features a long melodic statement by Potter, shadowed by Oh’s complimentary bass line. Oh takes over for a characteristically involving solo before Potter returns with rough and tumble closing statement. Relaxin’ at Camarillo is a Charlie Parker tune, first recorded for Dial in 1947, which makes it by far the oldest tune in the set. The trio takes it out for a spin, and uncovers plenty of life left in this venerable blues. The calm Blue Heart was composed by Blake’s father, violinist John Blake, who passed away in 2014. This previously unrecorded tune gets a suitably respectful and emotional treatment from the trio. Johnathan Blake’s West Berkley St. ends the second disc with a bit of funky fun.
Trion presents a well-selected and sequenced program, highly effective soloing and the instantaneous interplay of a truly unified trio. Unreservedly recommended.

Over the course of more than forty albums as leader, saxophonist Eric Alexander has played with many piano masters, including frequent dates with such luminaries as Harold Mabern, John Hicks, David Hazeltine, and Mike LeDonne. But I could only find one instance, the 2016 Venus release Just One Of Those Things, in a trio format with just bass and drums. Leap Of Faith, drawn from two nights at the Jazz Gallery, reprises the piano-less trio with Doug Weiss on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums. The immensely fluent and imaginative Alexander seems set on exploring the freer aspects of the hard bop sound that he’s known for. Dispensing with a chordal instrument is a way for him to open up the music. Penning a new batch of tunes and working with two musicians that he has little history with contribute mightily to his new direction. Alexander says that he has “always incorporated bits and pieces of what people might consider the avant-garde into what I do, so this was just a matter of letting that take over.” Brawny and totally self-assured, Alexander takes off into the stratosphere on a quick-tempoed swinger like Mars, egged on by Weiss’ busy bass lines and Blake’s steady rolling drums and splashy cymbals. The two fairly short pieces, Corazon Perdido with a little taste of Alexander on piano, and Magyar, a trifle adapted from music by Bartók, don’t do much for me, but that leaves plenty of fine music. Standouts include the aptly named Hard Blues, with some ferocious tenor work, the smoothly evocative ballad Big Richard, the electrifying Frenzy, previously recorded by One For All and on Alexander’s Second Impression CD, and that album’s title track, a jumping blues which closes the disc with some intense Coltrane-inspired blowing. You think you know Eric Alexander’s playing? Take a Leap Of Faith and discover fresh aspects of his musicianship. Recommended.
Palmer: Giant Step Arts GSA001; Jason Palmer (tpt) Mark Turner (ts) Matt Brewer (b) Kendrick Scott (d); NYC, June 7-8, 2018; Disc 1 (47:34): Herbs in a Glass/ Rhyme and Reason/ Blue Grotto/ Sadhana. Disc 2 (58:39): The Hampton Inn (for Alan)/ Mark’s Place/ Waltz for Diana/ Kalispel Bay.
Blake: Giant Step Arts GSA002; Chris Potter (ts) Linda May Han Oh (b) Johnathan Blake (d); NYC, January 21-22, 2018; Disc 1 (61:47): Calodendrum/ Synchronicity 1/ Trope (Linda intro)/ Trope/ One for Honor/ High School Daze/ No Bebop Daddy. Disc 2 (51:21): Bedrum/ Good Hope/ Eagle/ Relaxin’ at Camarillo/ Blue Heart/ West Berkley St.
Alexander: Giant Step Arts GSA003; Eric Alexander (ts; p on *) Doug Weiss (b) Johnathan Blake (d); NYC, May 8 & August 7, 2018; Luquitas/ Mars/ Corazon Perdido*/ Hard Blues/ Frenzy/ Big Richard/ Magyar/ Second Impression; 57:15.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Vinny Golia and Ken Filiano: Elongation

Vinny Golia and Ken Filiano engage in an extended musical dialogue on the stimulating Elongation. Multi-instrumentalist Golia, whose command of an array of wind instruments is unparalleled, is heard here on saxello, sopranino and tenor saxes, bass clarinet, flutes from Turkey (ney) and Bulgaria (kaval), and djura gaida, a Bulgarian bagpipe. His link with bassist Filiano goes back to the middle Eighties, and the two have recorded together on dozens of projects since then, including a previous duo album in 1996, The Art Of Negotiation for CIMP Records. Those years of collaboration pay off here as Golia and Filiano match wits with breathtaking speed and bravura. A moment by moment recap of their endeavors is pointless, as well as impossible. Suffice it to note that Elongation is a fervent and inspired 62 minutes of bold duets, enlivened by Golia’s ongoing sonic explorations of instruments from all the cultures of the world. The recording was made in 2009, the CD was issued in 2016, but I just ran across this in a pile of review discs. Good taste is timeless, right?
pfMENTUM CD098/Ninewinds; Vinny Golia (djura gaida [Bulgarian bagpipe], saxello, sop sax, ts, bcl, Turkish ney, kaval) Ken Filiano (b, elec); Valencia, CA, May 19, 2009; Prologue/ Elongation, section A/ Elongation, section B/ Written in H2O/ Elongation, section C/ Your final Phone call arrives for Victoria Galli/ Elongation, section D/ Elongation, section E/ Siri/ Elongation, section F/ Epilogue; 62:53.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster

It’s taken many years for this concert to be issued, but it was worth the wait for about 90 minutes of Mark Turner Meets Gary Foster. The two saxophonists joined forces with the bass and drums team of Putter Smith and Joe La Barbera for this stirring performance at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California in 2003. With the repertoire stemming mainly from the co-leaders interest in composers in the Lennie Tristano orbit, the first set kicks off with Warne Marsh’s Background Music. Not surprisingly for this group of musicians, the emphasis is on hard swinging and unfettered melodic invention in extended, free-wheeling improvs. Everyone gets to solo on the opener, in a time-honored routine designed to introduce each player to the audience. First Foster, then Turner, Smith and La Barbara take their turns, before the saxophonists play a friendly call and response sequence then return to the head. Sonny Red’s ‘Teef is next, a tune introduced on a Louis Hayes album for Vee-Jay back in 1960 and a real favorite for Foster, who has recorded it half a dozen times since 1979. Putter Smith played on a few of those recordings, and he takes the first solo here. Foster follows with a beautifully flowing solo before ceding the spotlight to a seemingly off-hand but well-constructed solo by Turner. Tristano’s Lennie’s Pennies is up next in a delightfully brisk rendition which opens with the saxes in deep communion on the theme, then dives into a masterful duet before a powerhouse solo by Turner. An extended look at the Arlen/Mercer classic Come Rain or Come Shine, featuring an exciting opening cadenza by Turner, concludes the first set. Another Tristano classic, 317 East 32nd Street, opens the late show with more lovely sax styling and a warmly melodic bass solo by Smith. That’s followed by a relatively brief and tender look at What’s New?, and to close, a delicious and sensual quarter-hour with Lee Konitz’s Subconscious-Lee. It was crystal clear from statements by Foster and Turner (in the booklet for Our Métier, a Mark Masters Ensemble recording from 2017 that they both played on) that the two men form an inter-generational mutual admiration society. There are plenty of reasons why they might feel that way, and most of them are on full display in this most enjoyable documentation. Joyfully recommended.
Capri 74156; Gary Foster (as) Mark Turner (ts) Putter Smith (b) Joe La Barbera (d); Claremont, CA, February 8, 2003; Disc 1 (52:07): Background Music/ ‘Teef/ Lennie’s Pennies/ Come Rain or Come Shine. Disc 2 (35:18): 317 East 32nd Street/ What’s New?/ Subconscious-Lee.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Wayne Peet Trio: What The?

Keyboardist, occasional bandleader, and recording engineer par excellence Wayne Peet has long been a mainstay of the Southern California improvised music scene. He first recorded with guitarist Nels Cline back in 1980 as part of a large ensemble led by bassist Roberto Miranda, and they’ve worked together sporadically in the decades since. Peet, Cline, and drummer Russell Bizzett are the Wayne Peet Trio, captured live in Peets’s Los Angeles studio over two days in 2006 for the just-issued What The? on the pfMENTUM label. An earlier edition of the band, with guitarist G.E. Stinson joining the fun, recorded Live At Al’s Bar in 1999, also for pfMENTUM. Here the trio stretches out at length on four of Peet’s tunes, Cline’s supercharged Chase to the Cut, and four group improvisations. Peet is heard mostly on organ, with little touches of clavinet and theremin. For the most part, the music just sort of flows along as riffs come and go. The focus drifts between Cline and Peet with no one voice dominant for very long. The music is often pretty laid-back, though they do build up a head of steam in parts of Capable Faith and again towards the end of the fifteen-minute extravaganza Improv 3 - Special Feeling, as Cline’s effects-laden guitar threatens to break things wide open. There’s also a deliciously rambunctious passage in the middle of Improv 2 - Above & Beyond the Bend. While organ groups tend to aim for danceability and a soulful, blues feeling, that vibe is mostly absent here in favor of an atmospheric approach to sound and the free exchange of musical ideas. Mostly, but not altogether, as the trio slams through the concluding title track on waves of electric guitar, snaky organ, muscular pedal bass, and Bizzett’s fierce beats. Peet’s musical world embraces the happy accidents of improvisation and the surprises that result from allowing the music to go in any direction. What The? is a kick, with thanks to Peet and pfMENTUM for rescuing this set from the archives.
pfMENTUM PFMCD127; Wayne Peet (Hammond B3 organ, clav, theremin, FX) Nels Cline (g, FX) Russell Bizzett (d); Los Angeles, CA, June 6-7, 2006; Capable Faith/ Devout Vulgarity/ Improv 1 - Immoral Dilemma/ Improv 3 - Special Feeling/ Chase to the Cut/ Hushbubba/ Improv 2 - Above & Beyond the Bend/ Improv 4 - Momently/ What the?; 75:49.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Matt Mitchell: Phalanx Ambassadors

Keyboardist Matt Mitchell is one of the busiest musicians in New York, working with such ornery conceptualists as Tim Berne, Henry Threadgill, Dave Douglas, Steve Coleman, and John Hollenbeck, among others. Phalanx Ambassadors, just his fourth release as a leader since 2013's Fiction, a duo set with percussionist Ches Smith, is the first documentation of this eponymous quintet. Mitchell is joined by Miles Okazaki on guitar, Patricia Brennan on vibes and marimba, Kim Cass on bass, and Kate Gentile on drums for passionate performances of Mitchell’s fascinatingly intricate compositions. Okazaki, also a mainstay of Coleman’s groups, characterizes Mitchell’s compositions as an “endlessly branching decision tree ...” The composer himself declares his pieces here as “the most challenging music I’ve ever written for a band ...” Mitchell, equally adept on piano and all manner of electronic keyboards, sticks mostly to the acoustic variety for this session, which had a lengthy gestation of composing and rehearsals until the ensemble was ready to document the compositions in a studio. The band slams into stretch goal to open the show, with Gentile’s busy drums leading the way. Bassist Cass takes a complex and propulsive solo next, followed by a brisk turn by Mitchell. After barely two minutes, you’re either thoroughly captivated by the dense goings-on, or you’re ready to stop and turn to something more easily apprehended. Put me firmly in the captivated camp, since as soon as I made my way through this 45-minute project for the first time, I was more than ready to take it from the top all over again to try and attend to more of the details that fly by. Terse melodies, unexpected harmonic twists, surprise dissonances, and forceful polyrhythms combine with the unerring commitment of the players to make Mitchell’s difficult music utterly absorbing as it unfolds. (Makes for great headphone listening, by the way, for the opportunity to concentrate and hear more detail.) Mitchell notes one of his recurrent goals “in creating music such as this: to try and make something that will continually and variably make sense, even as it sometimes doesn’t until it does.” Let that percolate in your brain for a spell, then turn your attention to Phalanx Ambassadors for a healthy dose of idiosyncratic and beautifully realized performances that fulfill that goal admirably. Highly recommended.
Pi Recordings PI81; Matt Mitchell (p; Prophet 6 synth on *) Miles Okazaki (el g) Patricia Brennan (vib, marimba) Kim Cass (b) Kate Gentile (d); Rhinebeck, NY, December 13-14; stretch goal/ taut pry/ zoom romp/ phasic haze ramps/ ssgg/ be irreparable*/ mind aortal cicatrix; 45:41.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

David Cruz: EP

Canadian guitarist David Cruz offers a musical calling card on his EP with half a dozen trio performances designed to entice listeners and maybe get himself a few gigs too. Cruz has a clean sound, an easy-going manner of soloing, and the good taste that leads him to program tunes like Sam Rivers’ Beatrice, Billy Strayhorn’s Take the ‘A’ Train, and John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. Sympathetically supported by bassist William Dietrich and drummer Miles Fuller, Cruz makes a strong first impression with this set. His version of ‘A’ Train is sweetly downtempo, bringing out the innate lyricism of Strayhorn’s much-beloved anthem. The vigorous In Hindsight, one of three original tunes, swings hard, with strong solos from all hands. Avery, another Cruz composition, is a tender ballad that lopes along with style. Giant Steps is the quintessential test for a modern saxophonist, and it sounds equally challenging on guitar. With Fuller’s drumming driving the trio, their version is fluid and dynamic, but at just over two minutes, they don’t give themselves much of a chance to improvise. The EP concludes with another Cruz original, Chocolate Blackout, a cheerful mid-tempo number that leaves this listener feeling pretty good. Spend half an hour with David Cruz’s EP and you’ll experience some enjoyable guitar - based jazz. Well worth a listen.
Self-produced; David Cruz (g) William Dietrich (b) Miles Fuller (d); Toronto, ON, February 2019; Beatrice/ Take the ‘A’ Train/ In Hindsight/ Avery/ Giant Steps/ Chocolate Blackout; 27:15.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Monk, Monk, More Monk!

A big part of learning about jazz for me consisted of haunting cut-out bins (remember those?) and buying bargain copies of albums that, for one reason or another, attracted me. I remember seeing the cover of Thelonious Himself and wondering about this cool cat on the cover ( I knew very little about jazz at the time, but I was familiar with John Coltrane, so when I saw that he played saxophone on the last track of what was otherwise a solo piano album, that Lp came home with me. It was the start of nearly half a century of totally loving the music and the playing of Thelonious Sphere Monk. At first, with the exception of ‘Round Midnight, hardly anyone played Monk’s songs aside from the maestro himself and a few disciples like Steve Lacy and Johnny Griffin (in the quintet he co-led with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis). Over time, as more and more musicians were drawn to his material, entire albums of Monk’s compositions began to appear. A trickle of tribute sessions turned into a flood, and before long, Monk’s tunes were showing up all over the place. Then, in 2005. came the first “complete” release, Monk’s Casino by the Alexander von Schlippenbach quintet, which offered 57 tracks on three CDs. Trumpeter Don Sickler and guitarist Steve Cardenas collaborated on the Thelonious Monk Fake Book, with lead sheets for 70 tunes, including several that Monk himself never recorded. 2017 was the centenary of Monk’s birth, and in celebration, we now have two more complete collections of Monk songs. Both are six-disc sets. Work: The Complete Compositions Of Thelonious Monk is a solo guitar effort by Miles Okazaki, self-published on Bandcamp, while Monk’s Dreams by the Frank Kimbrough quartet was issued by Sunnyside Records. Since there’s never enough Monk to listen to, note also the releases of pianist Andrés Vial Plays Thelonious Monk: Sphereology Volume 1, with the hint of more to come, and Duck Baker Plays Monk. with renowned finger-style guitarist Baker giving us versions of nine Monk songs.
All of which makes this a great time to indulge in a Monk Marathon. I’d suggest you start with a little of the master composer himself, whether it’s some of his critically important Blue Note sessions, the illustrious Riverside period, or even the Columbia years. Getting a bit of Monk’s playing freshly into your skull sets the stage and whets the appetite for more interpretations. Then turn your attention to the audacious Work: The Complete Compositions Of Thelonious Monk, where Miles Okazaki has devoted a large chunk of time to learning and playing Monk’s tunes on his lightly amplified 1978 Gibson Charlie Christian ES-175 archtop guitar, guided by Monk’s admonition to Steve Lacy in 1960: “Stop playing all those weird notes, play the melody!” His priority, he writes in his extensive essay that accompanies this download-only effort, “was to make a natural and lifelike improvisational performance” of each tune. In this, he has succeeded admirably. The simple and unvarying setup combined with the naturalistic recording process, overseen by fellow guitarist Liberty Ellman, allows the listener to hone in on Okazaki’s ever-beautiful delineations of Monk’s tunes. In addition to his introductory essay, Okazaki also includes notes on each of the songs, limning his approach to each one. The pieces are thoughtfully sequenced on the equivalent of 6 CDs, each one ending with a blues. That’s a lot of guitar to take in, so let me make a further suggestion: alternate the 6 discs of Okazaki’s set with the 6 discs of Frank Kimbrough and friends.

On Monk's Dreams, the much-admired Frank Kimbrough manages to almost never sound like Monk while playing his tunes. That’s not a surprise, since the composer had his own distinctive and inimitable approach to the keyboard, but when you play Monk’s music on the piano, comparisons are unavoidable. Working with multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson, mostly heard on tenor saxophone, bassist Rufus Reid, and drummer Billy Drummond, Kimbrough varies the program by mixing solo, trio and duet tracks into the flow. On the first disc, for instance, Reflections is caressed by the duo of Robinson on bass sax (!) and Reid on bass, and the disc concludes with a springy version of Blue Sphere performed by Drummond on drums and Robinson on tenor. Kimbrough goes it alone on Crepuscule With Nellie to open the second disc, and goes on to play Ruby, My Dear as a duet with Robinson’s tenor sax. There are way too many highlights to note throughout this collection to more than a few. On the first two discs alone, there’s Robinson’s well-constructed tenor solo on Played Twice, Robinson back on bass sax for Little Rootie Tootie, Kimbrough’s crisp accompaniment and lovely solo on San Francisco Holiday, and the pianist’s unhurried solo look at Functional. And everywhere, the listener can delight in the solid bass work of Rufus Reid and the unbridled enthusiasm and swing of drummer Billy Drummond. In a liner note, co-producer and recording engineer Matt Balitsaris discusses the sessions and notes that virtually everything you hear is a first or second take. The entire project took just six days to record 68 tunes, with Kimbrough’s solo pieces done a month later. The top-notch results arise from the obvious dedication and fierce commitment of the musicians. As Balitsaris exults, the players recorded this music “with such a collaborative spirit that it feels as Monk might have been in the room.” Monk’s Dreams is a tremendous achievement, and it is strongly recommended.

Continue your Monk Marathon with pianist Andrés Vial, who tackles some less-familiar numbers on Plays Thelonious Monk: Sphereology Volume 1. The lead-off track is the obscure Bluehawk, a seldom-played Monk tune that the composer recorded just once, on 1959's Thelonious Alone In San Francisco. Dezron Douglas on bass and Rodney Green on drums set the pace, and Vial and guitarist Peter Bernstein state the theme together before Bernstein takes off on a typically lively and lyrical solo. Vial follows with a fluid and suitably bluesy solo before turning the spotlight over to Douglas for a chorus before the band takes the tune out. Vial convened two quartets a couple of months apart for this release, each featuring guitarist Bernstein, with bassist Martin Heslop and drummer André White on the earlier date, replaced by Douglas and Green for the second session. While there’s sometimes the feeling that the rough edges of Monk’s tunes have been smoothed down a bit, there’s also the sense that Vial and his bandmates have really inhabited the material. The propulsive Think of One is particularly fine, including an inventive piano solo by Vial. Equally tasty is the quartet’s jaunty version of Green Chimneys, with a wonderfully snappy drum solo by Green. Light Blue is on the slow side, with a punchy guitar solo by Bernstein and a smoothly incisive turn by Vial. Bernstein shines again in a duet with Vial for a meditative look at Ask Me Now. The Heslop-White rhythm team is heard on the last three tracks of the disc. Introspection coasts right along, with some adept comping by Vial during Bernstein’s extended solo. Their version of Work features a bouncy piano solo and a happily swinging series of four-bar trades by Bernstein and Vial with drummer White. The disc ends with another tune rarely played by the composer, Functional. Vial and his bandmates give this blues a late at night, last set kind of feeling. It’s a fine way to end the date, and leave the listener looking forward to the next installment.

Last, and far from least, is Duck Baker Plays Monk, a vinyl-only release from Triple Point Records. The label has also produced a vinyl reissue of an earlier gem by Duck Baker, the 1996 album Spinning Song : Duck Baker Plays The Music Of Herbie Nichols, originally released in Japan on the Avant label. In a liner essay for the Monk project, Baker notes a significant difference between the two tribute albums. The Nichols project resulted from a suggestion by John Zorn at a time when Baker hadn’t arranged any of the tunes. He “had been fooling around with Monk’s tunes for almost all of my musical life” when the time came to make this album. Baker goes on to note that he learned a lot of Monk songs by ear, with tips from fellow guitarists like Ton Van Bergeyk and Davy Graham. He also praises the assistance of the late Roswell Rudd, an occasional collaborator and expert on Monk and Nichols, who contributed some voicings to these pieces, and also wrote a typically insightful essay for this release. It seems to this non-musician that learning a song by transcribing it from record, listening to it over and over again until you think you’ve got it, has to incorporate it into your musical muscles in a very different way than reading it from sheet music. The process of learning by ears yields more freedom to subsequent interpretations. Think of Charles Mingus teaching his bands to play his tunes by singing and playing them. The result here is that Baker’s versions of nine Monk compositions are exquisitely playful, with the melodies and harmonies thoroughly assimilated and distilled from a lifetime of listening and playing. In Baker’s vision, Jackie-ing is more introverted than usual, ‘Round Midnight, a song you think you know, sounds utterly refreshed in his hands, and the deceptively simple Light Blue sounds like it was written for guitar. This is a truly beautiful album, ranging, as Rudd notes, “from moments of profound simplicity to those of bristling complexity ...” Since 1976, Duck Baker has proved through his recordings of material ranging, per his website, from “traditional Irish music through old-time mountain music and bluegrass to blues, gospel, and ragtime to swing and modern jazz, to free improvisation” that there’s no music that he can’t make his own. On Plays Monk, he’s done it again. Strongly recommended, and the perfect coda to a Monk marathon.
Miles Okazaki: self-produced; Miles Okazaki (g); Brooklyn, NY, September 2017-May 2018; Volume 1 (46:43): Locomotive/ Brilliant Corners/ Gallop’s Gallop/ Light Blue/ Evidence/ Crepuscule with Nellie/ San Francisco Holiday/ Monk’s Point/ Shuffle Boil/ Jackie-ing/ Criss Cross/ Introspection/ Functional. Volume 2 (48:19): We See/ Sixteen/ Misterioso/ Humph/ Teo/ Hornin’ In/ Raise Four/ Skippy/ Pannonica/ Think of One/ Well You Needn’t/ Bolivar Blues. Disc 3 (45:58): Monk’s Dream/ Little Rootie Tootie/ Eronel/ Thelonious/ Ruby, My Dear/ Four in One/ Blue Hawk/ Stuffy Turkey/ A Merrier Christmas/ Played Twice/ Bemsha Swing/ Blues Five Spot. Volume 4 (48:10): Bye-Ya/ Who Knows/ Green Chimneys/ Blue Sphere/ Ugly Beauty/ Oska T./ Hackensack/ Ask Me Know/ I Mean You/ 52nd Street Theme/ Something in Blue. Volume 5 (47:49): Nutty/ Off Minor/ Two Timer/ In Walked Bud/ Monk’s Mood/ Let’s Call This/ Let’s Cool One/ Children’s Song/ Boo Boo’s Birthday/ Rhythm-a-ning/ North of the Sunset. Volume 6 (47:31): Epistrophy/ Coming on the Hudson/ Bright Mississippi/ Trinkle, Tinkle/ Reflections/ Brake’s Sake/ Straight, No Chaser/ Friday the 13th/ ‘Round Midnight/ Work/ Blue Monk.
Frank Kimbrough: Sunnyside SSC 4032; Scott Robinson (ts, bass sax, echo cnt, tpt, contrabass sarrusophone, bcl) Frank Kimbrough (p) Rufus Reid (b) Billy Drummond (d); Pipersville, PA, May 22-24 & 28-30, [band] and June 20, 2018 [solo piano]; Disc 1 (57:02): Thelonious/ Light Blue/ Played Twice/ Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are/ Ask Me Now/ Humph/ Bright Mississippi/ Reflections/ Bemsha Swing/ Teo/ Blue Sphere. Disc 2 (54:20): Crepuscule with Nellie/ Think of One/ 52nd St. Theme/ Eronel/ Bluehawk/ Little Rootie Tootie/ Two Timer/ Ruby, My Dear/ Boo Boo's Birthday/ San Francisco Holiday/ Functional/ I Mean You. Disc 3 (57:01): Shuffle Boil/ Monk's Dream/ Evidence/ Misterioso/ Four in One/ Brake's Sake/ Pannonica/ Bye-ya/ North of the Sunset/ Introspection/ We See/ In Walked Bud. Disc 4 (60:06): Nutty/ Trinkle Tinkle/ Blues Five Spot/ 'Round Midnight/ Jackie-ing/ Well You Needn't/ Sixteen/ Locomotive/ Gallop's Gallop/ Children's Song/ Blue Monk/ Friday the 13th. Disc 5 (52:11): Criss Cross/ Raise Four/ Let's Call This/ Who Knows/ A Merrier Christmas/ Stuffy Turkey/ Monk's Point/ Work/ Brilliant Corners/ Off Minor/ Hackensack/ Oska T. Disc 6 (50:38): Let's Cool One/ Hornin' In/ Coming on the Hudson/ Straight No Chaser/ Monk's Mood/ Green Chimneys/ Rhythm-a-ning/ Ugly Beauty/ Skippy/ Something in Blue/ Epistrophy.
Andrés Vial: Chromatic Audio 111417; Andrés Vial (p) Peter Bernstein (g) Dezron Douglas (1-6) or Martin Heslop (8-10) (b) Rodney Green (1-6) or André White (8-10) (d); Mount Vernon, NY, November 14 (1-6) or September 16 (7-10), 2017; 1.Bluehawk/ 2.Coming on the Hudson/ 3.Think of One/ 4.Ugly Beauty/ 5.Green Chimneys/ 6.Light Blue/ 7.Ask Me Now/ 8.Introspection/ 9.Work/ 10.Functional; 58:58.
Duck Baker: Triple Point Records TPR 271 (Lp only); Duck Baker (g); Cary, NC, November 8-10, 2010, exc. *Balso (Reggio Emilia), Italy, November 23, 2015; Side A: Blue Monk/ Off Minor/ *Bemsha Swing/ Round Midnight. Side B: Light Blue/ Straight, No Chaser/ *Jackie-ing/In Walked Bud/ Misterioso; 46:25.