Sunday, August 15, 2010

More 'Bones

Fields of Moons - Chris Washburne and the SYOTOS Band (Jazzheads) - Chris Washburne's previous CD was recorded in the midst of the second George Bush Presidency, a dark time of war and retribution and his music, released on "Land of Nod", reflected the artist's sadness about the state of the world.  While one would be hard-pressed to say that the world is a more peaceful place at the moment, this new CD is filled with tuneful ballads and love songs.  The program, a sweet mix of originals by Washburne and several band members alongside 4 fine covers, ranges from suave Latin  tunes (such as Pedro Flores' "Obsesi√łn" and the standard "Poinciana") to a danceable take of Benny Carter's "When Lights Are Low" to a hopeful and somewhat raucous version of "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans" (fine tuba work from the leader.)  The originals stand up well, especially saxophonist Ole Mathisen's handsome "Non Spoken" (with its melody split among the saxophone and brass) and pianist Barry Olsen's lovely "Long Time Coming" (strong solos from the composer, leader and Mathisen.) The rhythm section of electric bassist Leo Traversa, drummer Diego Lopez and percussionist Cristian Rivera keep the the music percolating, even on the slower tunes.
The title track, composed by Washburne, includes a lovely melody line and an intelligent arrangement that weaves the brass and reed around each other in mesmerizing fashion.  Mathisen's soprano sax solo is exciting, especially atop the active work of Lopez, but never pushes too far.
"Fields of Moons" is a perfect panacea for those listeners beaten down by bad news or frustrated with current events.  Soothing, sensuous, heartfelt and rich in melodies and harmonies, this music will transport the listener out of any sort of doldrums.  For more information, go to www.chriswashburne.com.

Hear the title track, courtesy of Jazzhead and IODA Promonet:
Fields of Moons (mp3)


Delicious and Delightful - Steve Turre (HighNote) - Trombonist and master of the conch shells, Steve Turre seems to be incapable of making dull music.  With a top-notch band including veterans Billy Harper (tenor saxophone), Larry Willis (piano), Dion Parsons (drums) and relative newcomer Corcoran Holt (bass) plus guests Russell Malone (guitar on 2 tracks) and Pedro Martinez (African percussion on the hypnotic "Dance of the Gazelles"), Turre blends Latin, Boogaloo, blues and straight-ahead jazz into a compelling and satisfying program.  The music blasts off from the opening notes of "Light Within", Parsons' pounding drums beneath the leader's soulful conch work leads to a soulful melody.  Harper, who composed the tune, takes the first solo and just about tears the speakers open with his initial phrases. He's much more subdued on his other contribution, "Speak to Me of Love, Speak to Me of Truth", allowing space for beautiful solo statements from Willis and Turre (and no tenor solo.) The title track features guitarist Malone on a tune related to Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder" in spirit and feel. The solos are short and spirited, leaving one wishing the song was half again as long.  Turre's "Blackfoot" is a romp, with fiery solos from Parsons and Harper as well as a strong "trading eights" section that closes the piece. Malone returns on "Ray's Collard Greens", a tune Turre wrote for and performed with Ray Charles. Everybody "gets down and dirty", especially the leader on his conch shells (it still is amazing how much music Turre can create with those shells.)  Willis takes several fine solos and provides strong accompaniment throughout, his chordal work and sympathetic lines behind the soloists is always engaging.
This CD has just the right monicker, it is most certainly both "Delicious and Delightful." If it has one shortcoming, some of the tracks could be a bit longer so that the soloists could stretch out a bit more.  That said, the music has passion and light, making it worth your while to check out. For more information, go to www.steveturre.com.

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