Friday, September 16, 2022

The Recuperation Playlist (Part Two)

 

Like many top-notch bass players, Chicago-based Clark Sommers is often first-call.  He has done numerous tours with vocalist Kurt Elling, with pianist Darrell Grant, the late tenor sax giant Von Freeman, vocalist Jeff Baker, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the 13-member Chicago Yestet, and guitarist Bobby Bloom (plus many others). For the past decade, the bassist has led the Ba(SH) Trio with saxophonist Geof Bradfield (tenor and soprano saxes plus bass clarinet) and drummer Dana Hall. That group has issued two excellent albums and Sommers' two compatriots are the foundation of the latest version of his Lens quintet. Sommers and Bradfield, along with drummer Kendrick Scott, guitarist Jeff Parker, and pianist/ organist Gary Versace released its first album, the self-titled "Lens", on eyes&ears Records in 2017. The quintet's second album, "Intertwine", is now out on Outside In Music now featuring guitarist Matt Gold, tenor saxophonist Chris Madsen, and drummer Hall.

Replacing the keyboards with the guitar acts to "open up" the sound of the quintet. The new album, which clocks in at nearly 74 minutes, never feels over-stuffed or sounds dull––instead, Sommers has composed music with strong melodies that gives the ensemble plenty of room to create cogent solos and for Hall to experiment underneath the solid foundations the leaders creates.  "Also Tomorrow" opens the 12-song program, the two tenor saxes combining to present the melody while the drums and bass play a skipping rhythm.  "James Marshall" follows and the title is a reference to James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix. You can hear the influence of the great guitarist in the structure of the song but Gold's solo certainly goes its own original way. There's a bluesy solo from Bradfield and exciting statement from Madsen that leads the piece to its powerful close.


Sommers the composer keeps one guessing as to what direction the next track are going to take.. There's the swinging hard-bop of "Second Guess", the lovely and mysterious modalities of "Ancient Voice" (where Bradfield's bass clarinet blends nicely with Madsen's tenor sax), the bluesy funk of "Weeks and Weeks" (where the handsome melody runs counter to the down-home feel of the rhythm section) which leads into "Invisible Arrow" that again has the open play feel of the earlier tracks.  

The up-tempo title tracks closes the program. Again, it's the skipping quality of the drums that gives the handsome melody the room to move and expand. The blend of soprano and tenor over Gold's rippling guitar lines is so attractive. The track also features a melodically rich solo from the leader and rousing call and response by the saxes that leads the piece and album to a gentle finish.

"Intertwine", for this listener, is an album that I start at the beginning, go to the end and start all over again. The bountiful melodies and rhythms wash through the room and, in the long run, are greatly rewarding.  Clark Sommers Lens is an ensemble that begs to be seen live so it can work its musical magic on an attentive and appreciative audience. In the meantime, this album is a true treat! 

To find out more, go to www.clarksommers.com.


Most modern music fans know Elan Mehler as co-producer and Artistic Director of Newvelle Records, the label that has been producing ultra-high quality vinyl albums in a subscription series since 2016.  There's much more than music––each package features impressive art work, informative liner notes, and more.  Most people don't know that Mehler is a fine pianist––the fifth" season featured Mehler in a musical conversation with trumpeter Dave Douglas and, in 2020, his duo album with vocalist Becca Stevens was issued as a "digital-only" release. 

This month, Newvelle issues a new quartet of albums under the name of "The Renewal Collection". Subscribers purchase four vinyl albums including new work from Mehler, saxophonist Michael Blake, saxophonist Dave Liebman, and trumpeter/ flugelhornist Nadje Noordhuis.  All four will be issued digitally one month at a time. The impetus for this collection is how music was able to soothe so many souls during the worst months of the Pandemic.  "There Is a Dance" finds Mehler in a trio conversation with acoustic bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Francisco Mela––if you love piano trios, this is worth your time.  While most people will point to Bill Evans or Keith Jarrett or Bud Powell as the most influential piano trios, this 13-song (the digital release has two more tracks than the vinyl) reminds this listener of the cooperative trio of Geri Allen, Charlie Haden, and Paul Motian that recorded for Soul Note and DIW (Japan) in the late 1980s and 1990s.  

In his liner notes, the pianist writes that "I’ve spent my whole life with this music – listening to this music – practicing this music – relying on this music – struggling with this music – and – when it’s good – welcoming this music’s arrival from the quietest place in my heart." (There's much more to understand about this recording in the notes).  The music ranges from the sweet blues of "East Side Blues" to deep introspection of the title track to lovely gospel sounds of "When You Were Blind" to the Frank Kimbrough influence that permeates "The Shakes" to the lyrical "We Spin" to the Erik Satie gentleness of "Ruby D."  Scherr and Mela are the perfect partners––while neither solos, they listen intently to the pianist either following as Mehler moves through his solos or gently prodding him or just quietly interacting.  One of the aspects of this music that stands out is how articulate and musical Elan Mehler is.  

What might happen to the active listener as he or she goes deeper into "There Is a Dance" is that a sense of calm should spread through the body.  This music is not about technique, about swing, or volume; inevitably, it's about healing, about acceptance, about moving forward into a better state of being.  Power need not be about pushing someone away until they push back; it can also be about pulling one into a hug and giving thanks for being alive.  Elan Mehler may have struggled to bring this music to life but the results are life-affirming.  

For more information, go to www.newvelle-records.com/products/the-renewal-collection.  If you would rather the digital release, go to https://newvellerecords.bandcamp.com/album/there-is-a-dance

Enjoy the gospel-blues of "When You Were Blind":


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The Recuperation Playlist (Part 1)

Life is often wild and crazy with all sorts of mayhem right outside your window, on your screens, and in your ears.  When the craziness moves indoors and becomes personal, one looks for escapes to give a sense of normalcy. We saw that in the pandemic where virtual concerts, streaming movies, and myriad television shows became even more of the "norm".  

On a personal level, my life got crazy this Summer with the need for Open Heart Surgery in July and, just this past week, contracting a case of COVID.  I thank the Doctors, Physicians Assistants, and nurses for their care over these past few months. I thank the higher powers for the music that has gotten me through the surgery, illness, and continued recuperation.

Haven't posted much but I have been listened to a lot of great music. Now, I plan to make several posts about the best of those albums (in no particular order).

As far as I am concerned, any new release by Miguel Zenón is cause for joy.  Since his debut album as a leader (in 2002), he has grown as a composer, arranger, and alto saxophonist. The native of San Juan, Puerto Rico also spent 14 seasons with the SF Jazz Collective and has recorded with a slew of artists from Kurt Elling to Charlie Haden to Fred Hersch to Antonio Sanchez and many more.  His long-tenured quartet includes pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Henry Cole, all of whom save Cole (who joined the ensemble in 2006) is as impressive as any working group playing today!

His latest release on Miel Music, his 15th as a leader or co-leader, is "Musica De Las Americas", a recording that illustrates how "American music" is an on-going fusion of elements from all corners of the American continent (North, Central, South and the Caribbean) and is tied to the rhythms that traveled in slave ships from Africa but also to the indigenous tribes the Spanish discovered when they arrived in the 15th Century.  Zenón composed all the pieces, not only giving the listener a stunning listening experience but also infusing this music with history. For instance, the opening track "Tainos y Caribes", tells the tale of two indigenous tribes who live in peace in the Caribbean and northeastern South America respectively who were wiped out within several decades after the arrival of the Conquistadors.  The powerful music, built upon the the polyrhythmic attack of Cole plus the thunderous piano and thrumming bass, paints a portrait of vibrant societies. 

Photo: Jimmy Katz
Four of the eight tracks feature guest percussionists. The silky smooth "Navegando (Las Estrellas Nos Guian") adds the five-person Los Pleneros De La Cresta who add not only exciting rhythms but also vocals to the story of the Indigenous tribes that traveled the waters of the Caribbean and Atlantic in handmade boats following the stars.  Percussionist Paoli Mejias pairs with Cole to create a vibrant backdrop for the powerful "Opresión y Revolución" (listen below), which draws on elements of Haitian Voodoo music to tells its story of uprising and self-rule (though the Haitians have paid an extremely steep price ever since). Victor Emmanuelli brings the Bomba drum (barril) into "Bambula", a song that illustrates how the drum the song is named for created a rhythmic pattern that once can hear in musical styles of Cuba, the Caribbean, Central America, New Orleans, and today's reggaeton. "Antillano" closes the album, celebrating the Antilles with young conga master Daniel Diaz helping to propel the playful bounce and sway of the music. 

Throughout "Musicas De Las Americas", Miguel Zenón and the band play with fire, abandon, and joy.  They build off each other's lines and emotions to create music that stands out for its spontaneity, celebrating the many and varied cultures of the American continent.  This is music played by a band that deserves to be seen and heard in person––go to https://miguelzenon.com/ to find out more and see where this most accomplished ensembles is appearing.  You'll also see that the saxophonist is playing with other ensembles over the next few months, all of which looks exciting. If you don't get out to see them, this wonderful new album will brighten your life!

Here's the Quartet with percussionist Paoli Mejias on "Operesión y Revolución":



Photo: Anna Yatskevich
Pianist and composer Pablo Ablanedo moved to the United States from his native Argentina in the early 1990s to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. After graduating, he stayed in the US forming an Octet in 1999 filled with New York City-based artists to play his original music.  Like his fellow Argentine Guillermo Klein, his music fuses influences from his homeland with the Black Creative Music he has come into contact over his 25+ years since moving. Over the course of four albums, Ablanedo has impressed listeners and reviewers with his ability to make music jumps with originality.

In 2019, Newvelle Records brought Ablanedo back into the studio with most of the musicians who helped to create his 2001 debut album "From Down There" for a follow-up.  The results, "Christeza", was issued as part of the label's Fifth Season and now is available as a download from the label's Bandcamp page (see below).  Take a look at the personnel––many have gone on in the two decades since uniting for the first album to have international careers as both leaders and sideman.  One thing that stands out for this listener is the immediacy of Ablandeo's compositions, whether it's the percussive ballad "La Señal" that opens the eight-song program (the digital version has a "bonus track") or the playful call-and-response of "Karmavaleando" or the gentle swaying of "Winter Variations" (note how the intensity picks up throughout the piece), the melodies and the rhythms are well-defined and build off each other.

While the compositions stand out, there is brilliant musicianship throughout as well. There's a touch of Thelonious Monk in Ablanedo's introduction to "Plaisantriste" which unwinds to a delightful clarinet solo from Anat Cohen. Do also listen to the smashing support of bassist Fernando Huergo, drummer Franco Pinna, and guitarist Ben Monder.  Ms. Cohen also stands out on "Ti Mi Do" as does violinist Jenny Scheinman. There's a tinge of Aaron Copland in the deliberate melody line and chords behind the front line and pay attention how the rest of the group enters behind the soloists.  The spotlight is on Ben Monder for "Bipolarious"––after the sharp-edged intro, the guitarist dances atop the ever-intensifying rhythm.  The title track has a mysterious, rubato, opening as if getting ready to go into "Sketches of Spain", especially when trumpeter Diego Urcola takes the lead; his long-held sparse notes keeps the mystery alive throughout the piece

The digital download closes "Christeza" with a rhythmic take on Kenny Dorham's "Una Mas". The brilliant rhythm section of Pinna and Huergo lead the way with tenor saxophonist Jerome Sabbagh (the only other member of the ensemble on the track) playing the theme as well as a powerful solo.  But, it's the bass and drums that makes this track stand out.  A delightful finish to a wonder-filled album. Pablo Ablanedo does not record very often but when he does, it's so rewarding to listen.  Kudos to the great band, to the composer, leader, and pianist, and to co-producers Elan Mehler and JC Morisseau for such fine modern music!

To find out more and to purchase the album, go to  https://pabloablanedo.bandcamp.com/album/chistreza. To find out more about the leader, go to www.pabloablanedo.com/

Hear "Karmavaleando": 


Personnel:

Pablo Ablanedo on piano, & compositions:
Anat Cohen on clarinet,
Jenny Scheinman on violin,
Chris Cheek on tenor and soprano saxophone,
Jerome Sabbagh on tenor and soprano saxophone, 
Diego Urcola on trumpet, 
Ben Monder on guitar, 
Fernando Huergo on electric bass, 
Franco Pinna on drums, 
Daniel Ian Smith on additional saxophones on "Karmavaleando" and "Bipolarious."

Friday, September 2, 2022

Mr. Iversen Composes & Performs

 The New England Conservatory in Boston, MA, just issued the video of Ethan Iverson premier performance of his first "Piano Sonata" which took place in Jordan Hall in the Spring of this year. Countless music fans know his work with The Bad Plus, dance aficionados know of his long association with choreographer Mark Morris, and then there is his excellent blog "Do The Math".  

Mr. Iverson has absorbed a myriad of influences during his time as a performer, composer, writer, and educator; you can hear some of those influences and much more in the video below! Enjoy!



Friday, August 5, 2022

They Play Ms. Bley

I have been impressed by a number of new albums released this Summer that are soft in volume but musically and emotionally strong.  

The trio of Steve Cardenas (guitar), Ted Nash (tenor + soprano saxophones, clarinet), and Ben Allison (bass) have played on each other's albums and in live concerts for more than two decades. Nash and Allison were connected as founding members of the New York City-based Jazz Composers Collective (very active in the 1990s) while Cardenas began recording as a member of the bassist's group around the turn of the century.  As an ensemble, they've recorded three albums, 2018's "Quiet Revolution" (Sonic Camera, Allison's label), 2019s "Somewhere Else – West Side Story Songs" (Plastic Sax, Nash's label), and the recently released (July 2022) "Healing Power – The Music of Carla Bley" (Sunnyside Records, the label Cardenas records for). Their 2018 debut was dedicated to the music of reed master Jimmy Guiffre and his work with guitarist Jim Hall–the shape and sound of the lineup was perfect for an exploration of that composer's music and also worked really well for the Bernstein/Sondheim songs on the second recording..

For the trio's third release, they turn to Carla Bley whose unique musical stylings has kept listeners and critics entranced and guessing for over five decades.  She has led numerous ensembles including both a small and large big band as well as, most recently, a trio with bassist Steve Swallow and saxophonist Andy Sheppard.  Her music reveals all sorts of influence but Ms. Bley has always a penchant for smartly-crafted melodies. The songs on "Healing Power" come from throughout the composer's career; not only do Messrs. Cardenas, Nash, & Allison do the music justice, they make the songs their own.  The nine-song program opens with one of her most famous pieces "Ida Lupino".  Composed in 1964 and first recorded by her-then husband Paul Bley, the music is quite introspective and has a lovely melody.  Allison's quiet bass lines creates a perfect foundation for the solos.

Photo: Ludovico Granvassu
The second track, "Donkey", is even older (1962) and swings nicely with a be-bop line worthy of Charlie Parker. With the exception of "Lawns" and the title track (both from 1987), all the tracks are from the mid-1960s.  The music shows both the composer's versatility and her willingness to carve out her own compositional space in the fertile Creative Music scene.  The listener should be thrilled by the mysterious and emotional "Olhos de Gato" (listen below) as well as the playful "King Korn" (both pieces that feature Nash on clarinet).  The former has a Spanish "tinge"(a hint of flamenco) plus splendid short  solos from all three musicians. Meanwhile, the latter track has a sweet bluesy feel–the main "body" of the piece is a three-way conversation that is bright, musical, with a touch of humor.

The program closes with the blues-drenched title track; note the interaction of the bass and guitar on Cardenas's sweet solo plus how Nash "gets down" over the sympathetic background.  Yes, "Healing Power" just might cure what ails the world (ah, we can dream) but this soft yet dynamic session will make you smile as it reminds you just how impressive a composer Carla Bley has been through her long and continuing career.  Kudos to Steve Cardenas, Ben Allison, and Ted Nash!!

For more information about the trio, go to https://benallison.com/the-trio.  To hear more and purchase the album, go to https://stevecardenas.bandcamp.com/album/healing-power-the-music-of-carla-bley

Hear them play "Olhos de Gato":


Here's the title track:

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Charles Mingus at 100: Just as Contemporary, Just as Meaningful

Plenty of attention being paid to bassist, composer, activist, author, and bandleader Charles Mingus (1922-1979) in this year, the 100th anniversary of his birth.  Those of us who followed Mingus when he was alive knew how important he was as a link from the bebop generation  to the new Black Music of the late 1960s and into the 1970s. If you listen closely to the music of The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Dave Holland, Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey, Dave Douglas, you can, at times, hear the Mingusian approach. 

Into the mix steps bassist Ethan Philion.  The Chicago-based musician has made a name for himself working alongside saxophonist Greg Ward, violinist Mark Feldman, saxophonists Gary Bartz and Ernest Dawkins plus many others. He was chosen in 2015 to take part in the Betty Carter Jazz Residency at Lincoln Center where he worked/studied with pianist Jason Moran, bassist Eric Revis, vocalist Carmen Lundy, saxophonist JD Allen, and others. Currently, Philion leads three ensembles including a piano trio, a piano-less quartet, and a 10-piece ensemble dubbed Meditations on Mingus––it's that last group whose new recording, released August 26 on Sunnyside Records, that we're concerned with in this post. Arranged and produced by the bassist, "Meditations on Mingus" features Russ Johnson and Victor Garcia (trumpets), Rajiv Halim, Geof Bradfield, and Max Bessessen (saxes, bass clarinet, flutes), Norman Palm and Brendan Whalen (trombones), Alex Lombre (piano) and Dana Hall (drums).

The eight-song, 76-minute, program features pieces Mingus fans will recognize plus a few surprises.  The album opens with "Once Upon a Times, There was a Holding Corporation called Old America" which was composed for "Mingus at Monterey 1965" but not heard until a 1966 live recording at UCLA.  It's an episodic adventure that plays to the strengths of both the collective and individual soloists. "Meditation for a Pair of Wirecutters" also showed up in 1966 ––at 15:11, it's the longest track on the disk and, as most of these pieces, goes in several directions, from a piano solo over arco bass to a lovely bass clarinet solo (Bradfield) over shifting rhythms to powerful ensemble work.  Philion's arrangement allows all the instruments to be heard even when the music gets cluttered. Hall's drum playing is exemplary throughout but especially on "...Wirecutters".  

Longtime favorites such as "Haitian Fight Song" and the rip-roaring "Better Get It In Your Soul" sparkle with splendid playing, the ensemble joyously dancing through the melodies before the solos.  The former track opens with a powerful bass statement leading into the familiar intro before melody comes rolling in. The buildup to the full ensemble is great fun with trumpets blaring, bluesy trombones, and thick piano chords. Powerful solos from Palm (trombone), pianist Lombre, and the leader stand out. "Better Get It...", with its delectable soul-gospel melody, features fire in the rhythm section, delightful "shouts" from the brass and reeds during the piano solo, a powerful alto sax solo (Bessessen), and a "stomping" drum spot for Hall. The music is so infectious you'll want to press "repeat"! Dig the coda!!

There's a lovely take of "Self-Portrait in Three Colors" with a long and powerful trumpet solo from Johnson over different ensemble backgrounds. Also, check out the bluesy, playful "Prayer for Passive Resistance" with a smashing alto solo from Rajiv Halim.  "Remember Rockefeller at Attica" from 1975's "Changes One" gets a sparkling arrangement (with a little hint of "Fables of Faubus" thrown in to enforce the fact how stupid Governors can be)––the pace is powerful led by the throbbing bass and dancing drums.  

Thanks to Ethan Philion and to "Meditations on Mingus" for reminding us that there are many ways to interpret the music of a Master and how rewarding it can be to dive right in. Play it loud! 

For more information, go to https://ethanphilion.com/. To preorder the album, go to  https://sunnysiderecords.bandcamp.com/album/meditations-on-mingus-2.

Here's the band in action on "Haitian Fight Song":

Friday, July 29, 2022

Off-Kilter Yet On Point

Photo: Peter Koloff

Trombonist and composer John Yao is a busy musician and teacher. He leads several different ensembles including a hard-hitting 17-member big band, he has played in and continues to play in numerous ensembles including Terraza 7 Big Band, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and Manuel Valera's New Cuban Express Big Band. Yao has issued five albums as a leader or co-leader including two with his Quintet, one with the Big Band, and one with the piano-less quintet known as Triceratops.  That group has a unique front line––besides the trombonist/composer stands Jon Irabagon (tenor and soprillo saxophones) and Billy Drewes (alto and soprano saxophones). Their 2019 debut album, "How We Do" (See Tao Records) featured the rhythm section of Peter Brendler (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums); my review stated "the eight-song program is a delight from start to finish" and upon listening again recently, I stand by that review (read here).  

Triceratops second album, "Off-Kilter" (See Tao), finds the original lineup intact save for Robert Sabin who is now the bassist.  The sound of the band has not changed with the blend of the reeds with the trombone creating fascinating interplay. What stands out for this listener is that Yao's compositions (he composed eight of the nine pieces on this album with Billy Drewes contributing the other). His melodies are so strong, well-developed, and not just quick themes for blowing over. Take "Crosstalk" with its interweaving lines for the front line, bopping beat, and the solid walking bass line.  Listen below to "Labyrinth" and how the playful intro gives way to a delightful blues with a few side-trips (into tempo changes, speed-ups, slow-downs). The quintet keeps one on the edge of your seat to see where the music is going  next. A piece such as "The Morphing Line" has the feel of Dave Holland's Prime Directive especially in the flexibility of the rhythm section (Ferber is fantastic throughout the program).  It's not imitative, just uses Holland's sound as a springboard. 

The title track closes the album. The music moves at a high speed and the solo peels off from the melody.  Drewes' alto spot leaps above the rumbling bass line and the rapid-fire drumming.  The solo concludes with a return to the opening theme and––no surprise––the tempo downshifts for a moment so that the front line can play a short chorale with Ferber adding to the melody.  Then, a rapid ascending bass line leads the band back to the original tempo and the opening melody with cut-outs for a call-and-response with Ferber.  

"Off-Kilter" is right on target, modern music for adventurous minds.  John Yao's Triceratops is quite alive, playing with fire, with joy, spirited interactions that jump out of the speakers.  Throughout the program, the blend that Billy Drewes and Jon Irabgon get with the leader is fun to listen to and, at times, quite exciting.  Give this music a good, close, listen and the rewards will be plentiful!

For more information, go to www.johnyao.com.  To hear more and to purchase this and other albums by Mr. Yao, go to https://johnyao.bandcamp.com/album/off-kilter

Hear the mysterious yet playful "Labyrinth":

Thursday, July 28, 2022

New Voice From Montreal

One of the treats of reviewing music is that I get plenty of albums that seem to come out of nowhere by artists I don't know.  And, sometimes, I'm pleasantly surprised! Out of Canada via Montreal comes the debut album of pianist and composer Kate Wyatt.  The Vancouver B.C native is certainly not unknown in her native nation having worked with the late Kenny Wheeler, with composer and bandleader Christine Jensen, vocalist Jay Clayton, the Orchestre de National de Jazz de Montreal (ONJ), and with her husband, bassist Adrien Vedady.  She's a richly-melodic and thoughtful musician not given to displays of technique but always working to give her music depth. 

"Artifact" (self-released) is Kate Wyatt's debut as a leader. The seven-song program, all but one (Billy Strayhorn's lovely "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing") composed by the leader, finds the pianist in the company of her husband on bass, trumpeter Lex French, and drummer Jim Doxas.  The trumpeter hails from New Zealand but moved to Montreal in 2016 and is making a name for himself. Doxas should be well-known to American audiences having worked and recorded with his tenor sax-playing brother Chet in the quartet known as Riverside with Dave Douglas and Steve Swallow.  What stands out most while listening to this music is how well the quartet plays together; they listen to each, respond, push a bit, never losing sight of the leader's goal which is to celebrate the melodic and harmonic aspects of each piece without ignoring the rhythmic possibilities. 

Photo: Evan Shay
Several of the tracks will bring to mind the "open-air" music of Kenny Wheeler––certainly the title track which opens the album does.  The piece takes its time cycling through the melody before French takes his solo. He wraps his notes around the richly melodic bass and the spare piano chords. Some of his smears sound like those of the late Lester Bowie.  Ms. Wyatt's solo rolls forward atop interactive drums and thick, foundational, bass lines.  Later in the album, "Antepenultimate" also has tinges of Wheeler.  Still, "Short Stories" is a playful strut with lively walking bass lines and dancing cymbals. There's more playfulness of "Lhotse Face"––listen below at how well this unit works together.

The ballads on the album are excellent.The Strayhorn song is quite lovely; French "sings" the melody and, after Vedady's handsome spotlight and Ms. Wyatt's sweet melodic adventure, creates a splendid solo of his own.  "Underwater Chant" is slower yet contains a full melody, more lovely trumpet, fine counterpoint, quiet yet "just right" drum and cymbal work. Even so, French's solo is quite playful as if he is trying to cajole the band into following him (they don't and he comes back to the fold). He does set the tone for the piano spot. 

The program closes with "Duet", another delightful melody and, surprisingly, featuring all four musicians. Listen to how the music skips like a young person on a sunny Spring day, full of life and energy, ready to take on the world.  

"Artifact" is a delightful debut album, filled with melody, spirit, and a joy for playing together that gives the listener hope, hope that music can bring our world back from the brink of madness.  I'm glad that Kate Wyatt finally found the time to get her music recorded because this album is a gem. Highly recommended!!

For more information, go to www.katewyattpiano.com/. To hear more and purchase the album, go to 
 

Hear "Lhotse Face":