Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Live and Recorded Recommendations

The 2010 Spring Jazz Series at Firehouse 12, 45 Crown Street in New Haven, continues on April 23 with the Armen Donelian Quintet.  Composer/pianist Donelian has been active on the jazz scene since the mid-1970s performing and recording with artists such as Mongo Santamaria, Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker, Billy Harper, and others.  He has issued 11 CDs as a leader and appeared on several dozen more. In 2000, he began a musical relationship with saxophonist Marc Mommaas that continues to this day and, so far, has produced one fine duo recording, "All or Nothing at All", released in 2005 on Sunnyside Records.

Mommaas, whose new CD "Landmarc" was just issued on Sunnyside, is in the group coming to New Haven which also features Mike Moreno (guitar), Dean Johnson (bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums.) The band is preparing material for a forthcoming recording.  They'll play 2 sets, 8:30 and 10 p.m. - tickets are available on line at www.firehouse12.com or by calling 203-785-0468. For more information about Armen Donelian (and to listen to his fine music, go to www.armenjazz.com.

The First Congregational Church of Guilford, 122 Broad Street, presents the first of 2 concerts in its "Joyful Noise!" series this Sunday (4/25) at 4 p.m.  Scheduled to perform is singer/songwriter Peter Eldridge and his group. Best known for his work with New York Voices, Eldridge has issued 3 solo CDs and the release of his new recording, "Mad Heaven" is imminent.  He is an impressive songwriter, good arranger and has a most pleasing tenor voice. Joining him for this gig will be his associate in New York Voices, Lauren Kinhan, as well as guitarist Jessie Lewis, bassist Matt Aronoff and drummer Ben Wittman.  If you like melodic music and articulate vocalists, this should be a fun concert. And, there is no admission charge - for more information, go to http://firstchurchguilford.org/.   To learn more about Peter Eldridge, go to www.petereldridge.com.

The "New Release" bin is filled to overflowing so here's a quick look at the best of the bunch.

 Stories and Negotiations - Mike Reed's People, Places & Things (482 Music) -the 3rd installment of drummer/composer Reed's tribute to the music of Chicago (circa the late 1950s and early 1960s) comes from a live August 2008 recording in the Windy City's Millennium Park and finds his original quartet ( Greg Ward, alto saxophone; Tim Haldeman, tenor saxophone; and Jason Roebke, bass) expanded to an octet wth the additions of Jeb Bishop and Julian Priester on trombones, Art Hoyle on trumpet and flugelhorn and Ira Sullivan on tenor saxophone. Both Hoyle and Priester are alumni of the Sun Ra Arkestra while Sullivan has worked with many jazz greats and created a body of work that spans nearly 5 decades (although he plays only tenor here, he's equally proficient on alto and baritone saxophones as well as trumpet and flugelhorn.)
The inspired program features Sun Ra's "El is a Sound of Joy" - one can traces of Charles Mingus music in the relentless rhythmic drive of Roebke and Reed and the overlapping horns. "Wilbur's Tune", from the pen of drummer Wilbur Campbell, flies right out of the gate and the solos, short but strong, never flag.  "Urnack", a tune Julian Priester wrote and recorded with Sun Ra in 1956, has a rubato opening with the horns moving in and around each other before Roebke lays down a rapid-fire walking bass line and the tune takes off into a swing-fueled romp. The whole octet lays into the opening theme of Clifford Jordan's "Lost and Found" as if the stage was on fire, followed by inspired work from Hoyle (inn his mid-70s at the time of this recording.)
Reed composed the rest of the material, with one song each dedicated to the older members of the band.  "Third Option (for Art Hoyle") is a bluesy, medium-tempo, piece that features fine solos from Haldeman and Ward and strong flugelhorn work from Hoyle.  "The And of 2 (for Ira Sullivan") opens with the ensemble hitting the theme before Sullivan delivers a smooth yet "killer" tenor solo.  Ward gets the longer solo and he does not disappoint with his rousing romp.  Listen to the great interjections during the solo sections, giving the piece more depth.  "Door #1 (for Julian Priester") opens out-of-tempo, with the veteran trombonist rising up over the bass and drums before the piece settles into a slow, blues-tinged, groove.  Priester and Bishop weave their sinuous lines around each other while Hoyle interjects his mellow flugelhorn.

Old Tea - Michael Musillami Trio (Playscape) - Recorded 6 months after the guitarist/composer's son took his own life, Michael Musillami's latest CD is both a tribute to his son Evan and another step forward in the Trio's impressive catalogue.  Bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller have been working with Musillami since the early years of the 21st Century and this band is a tight a unit one will hear in creative music. 

If you have ever see the guitarist play, you know how much he puts himself into the moment yet is unfailingly gentle and friendly to people outside of the spotlight.  Some of that gentle quality enters this music. "Introduction", the opening track, is an introspective and impressionistic work, over half of it is unaccompanied guitar and the rest a soft reminiscence.  The title track swings in on a pretty melody line (played by guitar and bass) and moves into a bass solo.  When Musillami takes over the spotlight, he alternates between short phrases and longer, rapid-fire, riffs (but never at a high volume.)  He kicks into high on "'King Alok", with a touch of John McLaughlin (in his Mahavishnu days) entering the sonic soup.  Schuller really drives this piece, his propulsive pounding rocking the speakers.  Yet, hear how soft he can be, with swirling cymbal work, on the very next cut, "Kitchen Tribute (collective interlude").  Fonda has become such a melodic bassist - sure, he can "walk" and "swing" with the best but his counterpoint to the guitar lines is excellent throughout (no more so than on "Evy-Boy.") His solo piece, "Jameson #30 (bass interlude"), serves a melodic intro to the Monk-influenced blues, "Umbrella Top...That's How I Roll." 
"Old Tea" is music born from a lifetime of memories and from emotions that can cripple many parents. Yet, Michael Musillami has created a program that celebrates life and the healing qualities of the creative process. By choosing to focus on the positive aspects of his son Evan, he creates a portrait filled with warmth and, yes, joy, but not cloying or sentimental.  For more information, go to www.playscape-recordings.com.

Evolution - Dave Glasser - (Here Tiz Records) - Alto saxophonist Dave Glasser is a veteran player, with stints in the Count Basie Band (under the direction of Frank Foster), Illinois Jacquet's  Big Band, pianist Barry Harris's band and the Clark Terry Quintet. For his 6th CD as a leader, he mines the rich veins of 50s and 60s mainstream jazz.  There are several bows in the direction of Thelonious Monk, from the rapid fire swing of "Rhythm-a-ning" to a pair of original pieces (one by Glasser, the other by pianist John Nyerges.)  In addition, one hears the influence of Billy Strayhorn in the lovely "Tranquility", on which Glasser's alto reaches into the higher registers without strain.  "Minor Madness" rides in atop pounding McCoy Tyner-like chords and muscular rhythms provided by Jeff Campbell (bass) and Rich Thompson (drums.)  There's a touch of John Coltrane and Arthur Blythe in the hearty alto solo.  Glasser knows how to caress a melody line, as he shows on the sweet "Blue Iridescence", a slow ballad that never drags with a long yet involving alto solo.
Although "Evolution" may not be breaking any new ground, Dave Glasser and crew eschew cliche-ridden riffs for melodies that really sing.  He's not out to show the world he can "blow with the best", he's out to make music that expresses his joy and interests.  And, that he does very well indeed. For more information about Dave Glasser, go to www.originarts.net/daveglasser/.

Fourteen Channels - The Dominant Seven and The Jazz Art Messengers (Tapestry) - When I hear such positive music, as displayed on "Fourteen Channels", I refuse to believe that jazz is dying (the number of recordings keep increasing, even as sales go down.) The 17 musicians who makes up the 2 groups on this recording are currently members or recent graduates of the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts (CCJA), a 10-year old program of workshops, camps and programs that immerse attendees in the music. All the tunes and arrangements are originals (from the members) and the playing is, is most cases, quite good.  Both ensembles feature a rhythms section of guitar, piano, bass and drums, with The Dominant 7 having a front line of a trumpeter, a baritone player and a reed player who plays alto, soprano, and tenor saxophones and flute.  The 9-member Jazz Art Messengers features 4 reed players (2 tenors and 2 altos, with clarinet and flute on several tracks)  plus a trombonist (no trumpet).

I don't have the time or space here to go into each track but, if you like mainstream jazz and want to get a taste of the future, go to www.jazzarts.org.  The music is well worth the investigation.

Uncertain Living - The Britton Brothers Band (Record Craft, self-released) - As I write this (4/20), this quintet, led by brothers John (trumpet) and Ben Britton (tenor saxophone) is out on its first tour (4 gigs in April and 5 in May) to celebrate its inaugural release.  Graduates of the Eastman School, the Brothers have created a very pleasing program of original works (plus one adaptation of a gospel tune) in the vein of The Dave Holland Quintet. One hears the influence of Holland's music in the quirky rhythms, drummer Austin Walker's explosive playing and the open-ended quality of the solos.  Pianist Jeremy Siskind is strong throughout whether soloing or supporting (his piece, "June Humidity" is an evocative ballad, with a melody line akin to "I've Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good."). Bassist Taylor Waugh supplies the throbbing underpinning and can really swing (as he displays on "Molo.")  Younger brother John displays a crisp tone and his solos are smart, delivered with assurance and a melodic eye.  Ben has a hearty tone (with a softer side, not unlike Wayne Shorter), a  predilection for rhythmic adventure and creates melodies that seem to propel forward.
Tenor saxophonist Chris Potter (longtime member of Dave Holland's bands) joins the Quintet for 2 tracks, both of which feature extended duets with Ben.
Honestly, this does not sound like a debut recording - the band works well together and there is a sense of joy in the music that comes from a shared vision.  Nothing "Uncertain" about this CD; if you like music with a strong groove as well as good soloing, check this out.  Go to www.thebrittonbrothers.com to find out more.

Next week, the music of the Ernesto Cervini Quartet, the Wayne Brasel Quartet, and Satoko Fujii will be featured.

No comments:

Post a Comment