Monday, November 3. 2008
Got back to Wichita late Friday evening, after more than three weeks in Detroit. Spent those weeks working on a house there, which allowed me little time to listen, even less to write. Hence, Jazz Prospecting has been on hiatus. Always the optimist, I packed the most promising records to listen to on the trip, then didn't get to many. Don't have them unpacked yet, so they're still pending. So when I got back, I just started picking the stuff I didn't pack almost at random, which at least got me going. The backlog at this point is ridiculously vast, so there's plenty to choose from. Will do more dabbling, and more unpacking, this week. I did manage to catalog the mail that had piled up, adding about 60 records to the queue. Was very disappointed that the Anthony Braxton Mosaic Box wasn't waiting. It is the reissue event of the year/decade/century. If it doesn't arrive soon, I'll have to buy a copy -- even though I still have a pile of old Arista vinyl, I'm far from complete.
Still haven't returned to normal yet. My main computer is broke, and my first pass at fixing it failed, so I dropped it off at the shop, and they promised to take their bloody time getting around to it. (If true, my last visit there.) I'm slogging through on my old 1999-vintage Pentium III box, but can't risk much browsing on it. Still lots of things to do around the house. But at least some jazz prospecting has returned to the mix.
Lucía Pulido: Luna Menguante/Waning Moon (2006 , Adventure Music): Hot-blooded, arch-voiced Colombian chanteuse, based in New York, all the better to pick up talent like bassist Stomu Takeishi, drummer Ted Poor, clarinetist/flautist Adam Kolker, and (uncredited on the cover) trombonist Rafi Malkiel. They make all the difference, although I may be overly wary of such emoting in a language I don't adequately understand. B+(*)
Karen Emerson: From the Depths (2007-08 , Daring Kittens): Singer, first album. Has an arresting voice and interesting phrasing on bopwise material; less so on the Brazilian songs that make up nearly half of this -- presumably those recorded with Jovino Santos Neto. The problem is less that the two halves are at odds than that a handful of awkward spots gum up the works. Otherwise, she could develop into a striking vocalist. B
Jovino Santos Neto & Weber Iago: Live at Caramoor (2007 , Adventure Music): Two Brazilian pianists square off for duets or competing solos. I've always preferred the upbeat, sometimes funky, Neto over the more meditative, often classical-aspiring, Iago, but I can't swear to who plays what here. Iago offers three originals; Neto one. The balance, aside from "Alone Together," are Brazilian standards, with Jobim twice. Special bonus is Joe Lovano's soprano sax on "Wave." B
Leonardo E.M. Cioglia: Contos (2007 , Quizamba Music): Brazilian bassist, b. 1971, working in Brooklyn these days, with an interesting group: John Ellis (reeds), Mike Moreno (guitar), Stefon Harris (vibes, 4 cuts), Aaron Goldberg (piano), Antonio Sanchez (drums). Not much olde Brasil here; more like postbop, sly enough it escapes the usual traps of ornateness and/or retrovision. Ellis and Goldberg are more appealing than on their own records. (Harris too, of course.) [B+(***)]
Marco Granados: Music of Venezuela (2008, Soundbrush): Venezuelan flautist, fronting a group with cuatro, bass, and maracas, with occasional guests -- two tracks with Francisco Flores on trumpet raise the bar. Lively, bouncy stuff, played at bebop speeds -- reminds me of Sam Most more than of any Latins who come to mind, lighter and more bubbly than Dave Valentin. I like it about as much as I could imagine liking it. B
Judi Silvano: Cleome: Live Takes (2008, JSL): I think there's some market research that shows that people relate more readily to records with vocals than they do to instrumentals, and that in turn is one reason instrumental jazz remains so far out on the commercial fringe. I personally take the opposite view. I much prefer the clear sound of horns, especially when the lyrics don't signify much of anything -- and they never signify less than in scat, where the comparison to horns is most explicit. Of course, you could make scat worse by dispensing with the rhythm and letting the singer wander deaf and blind over the charts, which isn't that far removed from what Silvano does here. I find the vocal parts pretty much unlistenable here, which is a shame because the same music without vocals would easily sail into HM territory. I might even have cut them some slack, because it's not every day you get to hear the legendary George Garzone -- an especially nice touch, given that Silvano could have inexpensively featured husband Joe Lovano instead. The rhythm section is Michael Formanek on bass and Gerry Hemingway on drums, with John Lindberg slipping in on Silvano's two covers. Some remarkable patches here. If my initial reaction wasn't so visceral, I'd put it back and see what comes of it. B-
Ava Logan: So Many Stars (2006-07 , Diva Vet Music): Standards singer, originally from DC, now based in Chicago. First album. Most female singers don't readily disclose their ages, so I'll risk a guess and say that she's in her 50s. Strong, attractive voice. Does a nice job on everything here, especially "Day In Day Out" and "Detour Ahead." Backed by piano trio plus guitar. No doubt she deserves a break, but probably won't get one. B
Jay Clayton: The Peace of Wild Things: Singing and Saying the Poets (2007 , Sunnyside): English vocalist, enjoys a substantial reputation working well outside the mainstream, although I'm so far behind the learning curve I can't say much more. Dedicates this one to Jeanne Lee and Sheila Jordan. Doesn't sound much like either, but at least that gives you a sense of where she finds peers. Reminds me a bit of Laurie Anderson at her most austere, with minimal electronics and some dubbing of background vocals behind her spiel. [B+(**)]
Martin Taylor: Double Standards (2008, The Guitar Label): Taylor introduces this as "the first of a series of guitar duets that I plan to record over the next ten years." However, his duet partner this time is his self: double-tracked guitar work, sometimes settling into solo. The standards hold up, and he plays them with calm eloquence, reminding me of what I first found so attractive in his work. B+(**)
Chico Pinheiro & Anthony Wilson: Nova (2008, Goat Hill): Brazilian guitar record: Pinheiro is the effective leader, the band is mostly Brazilian, and the guest stars include Ivan Lins and Dori Caymmi, adding vocals that I don't deem much of a plus. Wilson adds a second guitar, mostly electric to Pinheiro's mostly acoustic. A couple of duet pieces are intimate and comfy. Group pieces with piano, bass, drums, percussion, and sometimes horns, are more ordinary. B
Danilo Perez & Claus Ogerman: Across the Crystal Sea (2008, Emarcy): Front cover lists Perez alone at top, followed by the title, then in faint light blue over white: "Arranged and conducted by Claus Ogerman." Spine credits both Perez and Ogerman. All but two song credits belong to Ogerman, although most are "after a theme by" things crediting Hugo Distler, Jean Sibelius, Manuel de Falla, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Jules Massenet. Perez's piano is featured, of course, but awash in a sea of Ogerman strings -- the sort of thing I can rarely stand, but this is uncloying and exceptionally pretty. Might benefit from further listening, but might as well turn sour, so consider this grade a bit more tentative (and polite) than usual. B+(*)
Peter Delano: For Dewey (1996 , Sunnyside): I remember reading a Joshua Redman blindfold test a few years back where he instantly exclaimed, "gee, doesn't pop sound great." Pop, of course, was Dewey Redman, and he had one of those sounds that didn't take a son to recognize. That was my first reaction to this previously unreleased 1996 album. Redman only plays on three (of eight) cuts: they jump out of the box, setting the frame so that Delano's piano trio cuts just seem like filler. They're more than that: first-rate postbop piano, intense, intricate, innovative. Of course, there's a lot of that elsewhere, and it never manages to sound as great as Dewey Redman's tenor sax. B+(***)
Todd Coolman: Perfect Strangers (2008, ArtistShare): Bassist, based in New York since 1978, teaches at Purchase College, has a couple of previous albums, a couple of books, a few dozen side credits going back at least to 1982. The Perfect Strangers are the composers: seven people I've never heard of who submitted pieces in response to Coolman's request. The musicians are better known: Eric Alexander (tenor sax), Brian Lynch (trumpet), Jim McNeely (piano), John Riley (drums). They make up a sparkling hard bop quintet, with Lynch standing out -- wonder if producer Jon Faddis favored him. B+(***)
John Stein: Encounter Point (2007 , Whaling City Sound): Guitarist, originally from Kansas City, has a half-dozen albums. Quartet here, mostly funk licks over Koichi Sato's electric keyboard, with a little samba wedged in, not just to make drummer Zé Eduardo Nazario feel at home. B+(*)
No final grades/notes this week on records put back for further listening the first time around.
For this cycle's collected Jazz Prospecting notes, look here.
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