Monday, October 24. 2011
Update: I've been informed that the Village Voice will not run Jazz CG #27 in its original form. As I understand it, the music section has shrunk to 2.5 pages, and my column no longer fits. We are, however, in further discussions about me continuing to review jazz for the Voice online, which might settle my two major complaints about the old system: too little space, and too much time between appearances.
Also, a reader has pointed out that I don't quite understand the ins and outs of the health care billing/payment/coverage mess. In particular, the surgeon is unlikely to have any incentive to release a patient early. As for the hospital, that depends on a bunch of variables. My view is that what happened in this case had more to do with excessive optimism and lack of cautionary data by both doctor and patient. When I understand this better I'll try to write more.
Jazz Consumer Guide is still in limbo. Normally 11-12 weeks into a cycle I'd be wrapping it up, but given that the previous column hasn't been printed yet I'm at a loss as to what to do. If I were in New York I'd take a break from Occupy Wall Street and camp out in the Voice office until I got a commitment, a kill fee check, or pepper sprayed. We've had some vague talks about possibly moving this into the more comfortable (and less expensive) world of the blogosphere, which would be better than nothing -- as an exile from New York that's how I experience the Voice anyway, although I will note that I was living in Wichita in 1969 when I first subscribed to the Voice (also, by the way, to The New York Free Press). But that was another era, another set of owners. The Voice has been coasting on its reputation for many years now, as one by one the links to its past distinctions have been broken.
Will publish an update when I know more.
I skipped posting Jazz Prospecting last week, so this one collects two weeks of work (and mail). Last Monday was tough. My wife entered the hospital at 5AM for surgery. It went as planned, and she was released on Thursday, but had further complications and she returned to the hospital Saturday noon. She's doing better now, but I don't know when she'll be able to come home without risking another backslide. (I suppose I should update last week's "In the Hospital" post: while the service was stellar, the decision to send her home turned out to be premature, more a case of everyone believing in the standard schedule than observing and understanding what was actually happening. Unsurprisingly, this also has a financial angle: as I understand it Medicare reimburses a fixed amount for a given procedure, so as long as the schedule holds the hospital makes money, but if complications ensue the hospital could lose money. However, having to return to the hospital later is most likely a separate billable matter. I doubt that anyone thought of it that way -- we were all hoping for a normal recovery -- but the flow of money certainly helped ease the way.)
Antonio Adolfo: Chora Baião (2011, AAM): Brazilian pianist, hard to say how important he is down there, but has recorded since 1969. I belatedly caught up with his 2010 Lá e Cá with daughter Carol Saboya and put it on my HM list. Saboya sings one song here, too, but these are mostly instrumentals, mostly choro or baião, uniformly nice and tasteful, nearly as ingratiating. B+(**)
Afro Bop Alliance: Una Más (2010 , OA2): Big band with extra Latin percussion: Roberto Quintero (congas) and Dave Samuels (vibes, marimba), otherwise pretty much the Vince Norman/Joe McCarthy Big band. Hot in spots, merely tepid in others; saved, I think, by Quintero. B+(*)
Rahsaan Barber: Everyday Magic (2010 , Jazz Music City): Saxophonist (tenor, alto, soprano, also flute), teaches at Belmont U. in Nashville; second album. Calls his group Everyday Magic -- Adam Agati (guitar), Jody Nardone (piano), Jerry Navarro (bass), and Nioshi Jackson (drums) -- and adds a couple guests. His tenor is strong and full-toned, and he gets some funk out of the guitar-piano combo without compromising his postbop cred. The other horns slack off a bit. B+(*)
John Basile: Amplitudes (2011, StringTime Jazz): Guitarist, b. 1955 in Boston, ninth album since 1986. Solo, plugged his guitar into an iPhone, some kind of "app," and ProTools with "no amps and some digital plug in effects." One original, mostly standards (including one Jobim), covers of tracks by John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner. B+(*)
Zach Brock: The Magic Number (2010 , Secret Fort): Violinist, b. 1974 in Lexington, KY. Third album since 2005, not counting a couple EPs. Quartet with bass, drums, and extra percussion, with some vocal exuberance toward the end. Poised with some swagger, pushes the violin up front and makes it sing. B+(**)
Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet: Apparent Distance (2011, Firehouse 12): Cornet player, has been popping up all over the place recently, but claims this as his "primary working ensemble." There's a lot to like about the group -- Jim Hobbs (alto sax), Bill Lowe (bass trombone, tuba), Mary Halvorson (guitar), Ken Filiano (bass), Tomas Fujiwara (drums) -- not least its extreme range and diversity (almost to the point of divisiveness). Yet even though the pieces fit together uncomfortably, neither of the most exposive players (Hobbs, Halvorson) break out -- most likely the gravity exuded by Filiano and (especially) Lowe keeps them in orbit. B+(***)
Ernesto Cervini Quartet: There (2010 , Anzic): Drummer, b. 1982, grew up in Toronto, studied there and at Manhattan School of Music, based in New York. Second album -- first was titled Here. Quartet: Joel Frahm (saxophones), Adrean Farrugia (piano), Dan Loomis (bass). Mainstream group, swings, most impressive when Frahm takes charge -- especially on tenor, but he's earned the right to play soprano as well -- and the group, notably the pianist, keeps up. Recorded live at Cory Weeds' Cellar Jazz Club, so everyone gets their solo space. B+(**)
Cecilia Coleman Big Band: Oh Boy! (2010 , PandaKat): Pianist, b. 1962 in Long Beach, CA; based in New York, although she teaches part-time at Cal State Long Beach. Seventh album since 1992; first with a big band (six reeds, standard brass, piano, bass, and drums) -- a few names I recognize, but not many. Wrote all the pieces. Contemporary postbop, well orchestrated but doesn't stand out either in the solos or the crispness of the section work. B+(*)
Patrick Cornelius: Maybe Steps (2010 , Posi-Tone): Alto saxophonist, from San Antonio, studied at Berklee, based in New York. Fourth (or fifth) album since 2001. Quintet with piano (Gerald Clayton), guitar (Miles Okazaki), bass (Peter Slavov), and drums (Kendrick Scott). Wrote 9 of 11 songs (covers Kurt Weill and George Shearing). Those are all strong players, but little things nag at me, like the alto tone at high speed. B+(*)
Andrew Cyrille & Haitian Fascination: Route de Frères (2005 , TUM): Drummer, b. 1939 in Brooklyn, parents (mother at least) from Haiti; has a couple dozen records since 1971 as leader, well over 100 side credits (The Hawk Relaxes seems to have been his first, but more typical was his work in Cecil Taylor's late-1960s groups). The Haitian connection here includes guitarist Alix Pascal and percussionist Frisner Agustin. The others are Lisle Atkinson on bass and Hamiett Bluiett on baritone sax: the latter's gruff but muffled sound is crucial, with everyone else just adding to the seduction. A-
Amir ElSaffar Two Rivers Ensemble: Inana (2011, Pi): Trumpet player, b. 1977 in Chicago, father Iraqi, studied classical music at DePaul before wandering into jazz. Third album since 2003. Like several other prominent second generation hyphenated-Americans, he looks back to his ancestral land for a unique angle on jazz -- the two rivers, of course, the Tigris and Euphrates. Sextet mixes Arab classicists with avant-jazzbos -- Ole Mathisen (tenor/soprano sax), Zafer Tawil (oud, perussion), Tareq Abboushi (buzuq), Carlo DeRosa (bass), Nasheet Waits (drums) -- for a dense, somber sound. B+(***)
Joel Forrester/Phillip Johnston: Live at the Hillside Club (2010 , Asynchronous): The two principals of the Microscopic Septet, which has been making interesting music since 1981 -- most recently, see Friday the Thirteenth: The Micros Play Monk. Here they play as a duo, Forrester on piano, Johnston on soprano sax, which gives you a bare framework of their act and repertoire. Four Monk songs, one from Johnston, the rest Forrester. Tempting to say this would be great if they'd just flesh it out a little: bass and drums, some extra horns with a little more weight like a baritone sax, maybe the marvelous Michael Hashim. B+(**)
Fourthought: Fourthought (2010 , Nambulo Music): New York quartet's eponymous debut album, with two principals writing all but one cover ("Green Dolphin Street") -- Nicholas Biello (alto sax, soprano sax) and Manuel Weyand (drums) -- plus Kerong Chok (piano, Fender Rhodes) and Cameron Kayne (bass). Weyand (b. Germany) and Biello met at Manhattan School of Music; Kayne hails from Buffalo, Chok from Singapore. Smart postbop, some bite to the alto. B+(*)
Roy Haynes: Roy-Alty (2011, Dreyfus): Drummer, not of the first generation of bebop drummers but came hot on their heels with a Zelig-like knack for being everywhere you'd want to be: with Lester Young at the Royal Roost in 1948, with Charlie Parker at St. Nick's in 1951, with Bud Powell and Stan Getz and Wardell Gray and Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins -- all by 1955; with Sarah Vaughan at Mister Kelly's in 1957, with Thelonious Monk at the Five Spot in 1958, on Introducing Nat Adderley. Eventually he went on to cut 30-some albums under his own name, winning Downbeat polls in categories like Jazz Artist of the Year. He'd be considered a grey eminence now, except he keeps his pate shaved and no one in history ever has looked more fit at 86. Roy Hargrove and Chick Corea get a "featuring" sticker. The booklet also spotlights what he calls the Fountain of Youth Band: Jaleel Shaw (alto sax), Martin Bejerano (piano), and David Wong (bass). Not sure if Corea plays beyond his two featured spots. Hargrove is featured on 6 of 10 tracks, Shaw is impressive throughout, and the closer (McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance") adds Marcus Strickland for a blow out. Presumably it's Haynes talking the intro to "Tin Tin Deo" (with Roberto Quintero's extra percussion) -- who else can plausibly claim to have discovered Chano Pozo? Big, bright, a celebration. B+(***)
Magos Herrera: México Azul (2010 , Sunnyside): Singer, from Mexico, seventh album since 1997. This one was cut in New Jersey with a stellar jazz group -- Tim Hagans (trumpet), Adam Rogers (guitar), Luis Perdomo (piano), John Patitucci (bass), Alex Kautz (drums), Rogerio Boccato (percussion) -- although I don't find she gets much out of them. Songs are all in Spanish, evidently mostly movie themes. Dark voice, dramatic, but one of those hard to judge singers for those of us who don't understand the language. B
Mace Hibbard: Time Gone By (2010 , MHM): Alto saxophonist, b. 1976 in Waco, TX; studied at U. Texas in Austin, based in Atlanta. Second album, hard-bop-style quintet with trumpet, piano, bass and drums. Nice tone, soulful and a bit lush. B+(**)
Mikko Innanen & Innkvisitio: Clustrophy (2009 , TUM): Saxophonist (alto, baritone, soprano), b. 1978 in Lapinjärvi, Finland. I count six albums with his name up front since 2006, plus group albums with Gourmet, Delirium, and Triot (Sudden Happiness was a Jazz CG pick in 2004). Three reed players here -- Innanen, Fredrik Ljungkvist, and Daniel Erdmann, playing various saxes, clarinets, and toy versions thereof. At center is Seppo Kantonen on synth, much splashier than electric piano or organ, plus there's Joonas Riippa on drums and, going along with the toy fascination, pocket trumpet. The splattershot noise gives you a quick jolt, especially right out of the box. Doesn't all live up to that, but breaks out in entertaining ways. B+(***)
Jazzvox Presents: In Your Own Backyard (2009-10 , OA2): Seventeen songs (only two originals) by nine singers -- three by Jo Lawry; two each by Kathleen Grace, Kelley Johnson, Kristin Korb, John Proulx, Stephanie Nakasian, Hanna Richardson; one each by Nich Anderson and Cathy Segal-Garcia -- backed minimally (most with just one of piano, bass, or guitar; no one with more than two, and no drums, but one accordion). Mixed bag, but many cuts are striking, including Anderson's "Time After Time" -- he produced, but seems to be the only one without a record out, and is the only one whose name is missing from the cover. I guess Jazzvox is his baby, and that's enough. B+(*)
Helge Lien Trio: Natsukashii (2010 , Ozella): Pianist, from Norway; fourteen albums since 2000, including some as Tri O Trang (a piano-sax-tuba trio) and HERO (piano-sax duo), but mostly trio records with this same group since 2001: Frode Berg on bass, Knut Aalefjaer on drums. My copy has a sticker with a quote from Jazzwise: "Lien creates music of unexpected depth and slow burn intensity." That is precisely correct -- I would add something about the rumbling of the undercarriage, and point out that he's closer to Jarrett than to most of ECM's northern tier pianists. B+(**)
Charles Lloyd Quartet with Maria Farantouri: Athens Concert (2010 , ECM, 2CD): Tenor saxophonist, b. 1938, built both a popular and critical rep in the late 1960s with a group that introduced Keith Jarrett. Nothing in my database for him from 1969-89 when ECM picked him up -- AMG lists 9 records 1970-83, two with four stars, most with two, and has an empty gap from 1983-89. Since joining ECM he's been on a roll, especially lately with this quartet: Jason Moran (piano), Reuben Rogers (bass), Eric Harland (drums). Farantouri is a Greek vocalist, b. 1947, has 30 or more albums, and a political record that sent her into exile during the military coup years -- I've seen reference to her as the "Joan Baez of Greece" but caution against taking that seriously. Live concert, spread over two discs. Took me a while to acclimate to her voice, which is deep and striking (the Greek Abbey Lincoln?). A couple instrumentals let the band shine on the first disc, but by the second it all meshes. A-
Luis Lopes: Lisbon Berlin Trio (2011, Clean Feed): Guitarist, from Portugal, has a couple records under his own name, more as Afterfall and Humanization 4tet, and he's shown up on the side of other very solid records. Everything he does is worthwhile, but he's mostly complemented saxophonists (like Rodrigo Amado) -- his 2009 trio What Is When seemed like a bit less, but this trio with Robert Landferman on bass and Christian Lilinger on drums settles it. His use of feedback gives this an extra charge. Also, Lilinger does exactly what you want in a free drummer. A-
Olavi Trio & Friends: Triologia (2008 , TUM): No idea how common a name Olavi is in Finland, but drummer Olavi Luohivouri rounded up two more for this project: Teppo Olavi Hauta-aho (bass), and Jari Olavi Hongisto (trombone). All, in the great Sun Ra tradition, also play percussion, with bird whistles, wood blocks, musical boxes, and toy instruments prominently featured. The "friends" show up on two tracks each: Verneri Pohjola (trumpet, also played with Louhivouri in Ilmilekki Quartet), Juhani Aaltonen (tenor sax, has been active since 1970 and should be a household name by now), and Kalle Kalima (electric guitar, had a recent album on TUM). Combination tends toward the murky side, although every now and then you'll hear something interesting. B+(*)
Dino Saluzzi: Navidad de los Andes (2010 , ECM): Argentine bandoneon player, b. 1935, twelfth album for ECM since 1982. Or maybe more: AMG has lately developed a bad habit of misfiling records under second or third artists, so they attribute this one to cellist Anja Lechner. Third artist here is Felix Saluzzi (tenor sax, clarinet): he makes very little impact here, but is a plus when he does. "Christmas in the Andes": not insuferably Xmas-y; in fact, all Saluzzi originals with a couple of co-credits. Slow, lush sounds in spare arrangements. B
Sounds and Silence: Travels With Manfred Eicher (1980-2008 , ECM): Soundtrack for a film by Peter Guyer and Norbert Wiedner, a documentary on ECM founder/producer Manfred Eicher. Leans toward the classical end of ECM's spectrum -- one Puccini cut, two Arvo Pärt, plus affinity exotica from Gurdjieff, Anouar Brahem, Dino Saluzzi, Eleni Karaindrou -- and away from conventional jazz. Enjoyed a bit of Marilyn Mazur percussion. One could easily construct a better sampler. B-
The Spokes: Not So Fast (2009 , Strudelmedia): Title is descriptive enough: hard to get much momentum without bass and drums, especially if all you have to work with are horns, plus you get that sax quartet feel with nothing but neatly puffed discrete notes. Trio: Andy Biskin (clarinet), Curtis Hasselbring (trombone), Phillip Johnston (soprano sax). All three write: Biskin 6 of 12, Johnston 4, Hasselbring 2. B+(**)
John Stein: Hi Fly (2011, Whaling City Sound): Guitarist, originally from Kansas City, studied and teaches at Berklee; ten albums since 1995. Quartet with Jake Sherman on piano and organ, John Lockwood on bass, and Ze Eduardo Nazario on drums. Wrote 5 of 10 songs, the others trending standard except for Randy Weston's title tune, the originals leaning toward John Scofield-style funk. The organ fits that mode but isn't a major factor. B+(*)
Chandler Travis: Philharmonic Blows! (2009 , Sonic Trout): Gray-beared guitarist-singer, back cover says he's 82, but I haven't found anywhere else that confirms that. AMG lists eight albums since 1993. Before that he was in a rock group called the Incredible Casuals: memorialized here in "The Day the Casuals Went to Sweden," easily the lousiest song here. What that song lacks is the squeaky, shrieking brass the albums opens and closes with, more than fulfilling the party graphics on the cover. B+(**)
Wellstone Conspiracy: Humble Origins (2010 , Origin): Second album under this group name, although there was one previous listing out the four artists: Brent Jensen (soprano sax), Bill Anschell (piano), Jeff Johnson (bass), and John Bishop (drums). The first three write pieces: 5 for Anschell, 2 for Johnson, 1 for Jensen; the other is a Lennon-McCartney piece, "Fixing a Hole." Mainstream group, with Jensen continuing to impress on soprano, and everyone contributing to the seductive flow. B+(***)
Jeff Williams: Another Time (2010 , Whirlwind): Drummer, b. 1950 in Ohio, studied at Berklee with Alan Dawson; joined Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach in 1973, has done steady work as a sideman, with a handful of albums under his own name. He wrote 5 of 8 pieces here, the other three one each from his two-horn quartet mates: Duane Eubanks (trumpet), John O'Gallagher (alto sax), John Hébert (bass). Postbop tone, draws on the avant-garde without really going there. B+(*)
Woody Witt: Pots and Kettles (2010 , Blue Bamboo Music): Tenor saxophonist (also plays some soprano), born in Omaha, studied at University of Houston and UNT, based in Houston, teaching at Houston Community College. Second album, quartet with pianist Gary Norian (who co-produced and wrote 5 of 10 songs, to Witt's 3, with two Eddie Harris covers), bass and drums, plus "special guest" Chris Cortez (guitar) on three tracks. Postbop, nice tone, elegant, graceful. 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 to date for this round, look here.
Unpacking: Found in the mail over the last two weeks:
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