You may have noticed how infrequently I have been posting lately (after my August boast to catch up on the back-log of CDs on my desk) but a new job and family responsibilities have eaten into my writing time. Listening time has actually increased (90 minutes on the road 2 mornings a week plus plenty of time in my home office) but the time to translate my thoughts into sentences (and coherent ones, at that) has decreased (go figure).
Instead, here's a short look at several recordings that caught my ear and that are worth your time.
Saxophonist Eli Degibri (tenor and soprano) has assembled his "dream" band for his second recording on the Anzic label. "Israeli Song" finds him in the company of pianist Brad Mehldau, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster. The quartet spent a day in December 2009 at Sear Sound in New York City and it was time well spent. First thing one notices is just how much Foster brings to the program. His escapades around the drum kit on the opening cut, Mehldau's "Unrequited", is not only exciting but masterful. For the saxophonist's "Judy The Dog", his splashing cymbals propel the soloists forward with urgency. Add Carter's melodic yet supportive bass work and the piece is irresistible. There are several duo tracks on the recording, including a lovely tenor/ acoustic bass reading of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (Carter's chordal work is quite attractive) and a powerful tenor/drums rendition of Dizzy Gillespie's "Bebop." The title tune pairs Mehldau's expressive piano with the Degibri's melodic tenor - the influence of classical music on both players as well as their love for harmonies makes the piece stand out. For more information, go to www.degibri.com.
"As Always" is an hour well-spent with Dave Liebman and his Big Band. There are no false notes, no lazy arrangements, no "treading water" beneath the soloist - instead, the music is exciting, challenging yet approachable, with Liebman playing inspired, modern, music. To find out more about this CD, go to www.daveliebman.com. Jason Crane interviewed Dave Liebman for the 200th episode of "The Jazz Session" and it's well worth listening to - go to http://thejazzsession.com/2010/09/16/the-jazz-session-200-dave-liebman/.
Bobby Avey may remind some of Vijay Iyer and Jason Moran, pianists who infuse their melodies with rhythmic drive and many harmonic possibilities (John Escreet is another young musician cut from that same broad cloth.) This music has great drive, filled with surprising turns, fine solos, and savvy interplay. Go find this CD, live with the music for a while, and it will give you many rewards. For more information, go to www.bobbyavey.com/.