|photo by Alberto Gallo|
Caine goes its alone on "Old Putt", a quiet ballad built from tolling chords. The pianist develops the melody slowly, allowing the song to unfold like a poem. That feeling can be felt as well on the following track, "Zero Hour", the final cut on the recording. Caine's gospel-infused solo rises out of the contemplative trumpet lines, first pushing at Douglas then taking off on a glorious romp.
"Present Joys" soothes and cajoles the listener, allowing one to step away from the stress of daily life and enter a world of creative elegance (or elegant creativity). Dave Douglas and Uri Caine, both creative forces on the contemporary music scene, have created the most joyous of escapes, one that reverberates in the mind and heart long after the last notes fade. For more information, go to www.greenleafmusic.com/present-joys-released/.
Enjoy a taste of "Ham Fist":
"Numbers & Letters" is Rathbun's 6th recording for SteepleChase and, from the opening seconds, the listener knows he/she is in for an audio treat. First, Rathbun employs the splendid rhythm section of bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Bill Stewart plus Phil Markowitz on piano. Second, his compositions all have intelligent, well-shaped, melody lines and the arrangements leave plenty of room for solos. Third, he and co-producer Taylor Haskins (also, trumpet on 2 tracks) worked with recording engineer Michael Marciano to create a "clear and clean" sonic environment in which each instrument stands out without covering any of the others.
Bill Stewart really shines on this CD, his drum work so creative and often exciting. He splashes below the tenor and piano on "Pencil and Paper", adding colors and then creating a solid groove ably supported by the thick bass lines of Anderson. There are moments on "Bad Call", the opening track, where it sounds as if the drums are strutting, especially during the exciting piano solo. For the ballad "Sleep Please", his active cymbal work combines with the melodic counterpoint of the bass to move the piece forward. That track also includes a handsome melody for the soprano sax and piano that has a classical feel. Stewart relentless drive kicks "Swing Set" into a higher gear, pushing the tenor sax and piano into solos that really sparkle.
There's plenty of music on "Numbers & Letters" (nearly 70 minutes) and nary a dull moment. Andrew Rathbun and company put on quite a show with being showy. Bill Stewart deserves major kudos, not to slight the rest of the band because everyone gives their all. It's worth finding this music because the rewards are plentiful. For more information, go to www.andrewrathbun.com.
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The cover art work for "In Between" suggests Stephane Spira feels a pull from his native France (where this session was recorded) while taking note (no pun intended) of the great influences of New York City (with its rhythmic mash of jazz, hip hop. Latin and South American music.) Whatever moved Spira to create this music, the results are quite enjoyable and worth our time. For more information, go to www.spirajazz.com.