Thursday, June 30, 2011

"What Makes Sense, What's Absurd"

June 30, 2011

As I write this, the windows are all open in the house.  This is the first day in several weeks when the humidity level is tolerable. The breeze is shaking the leaves, birds are singing, swooping through our yard to get to the neighbor's feeders.  As usual, music fills the room but, today, it's neither jazz nor blues but the engrossing sounds of "Interstitials", the new recording by guitarist-vocalist-composer Joshua Stamper.

Self-recorded and self-released, the songs come from influences as wide-ranging as Aaron Copland and Nick Drake as well as Robert Wyatt and Morton Feldman (both mentioned in Stamper's notes.)  On the opening track, "Wake, Worried Sleeper, Wake", his vocals remind this listener of the more experimental (and British) side of XTC's Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding.  Another enjoyable aspect of this music is, instead of a rhythm section, underpinning the music is the trio of Paul Arbogast (low brass), Michael Cemprola (woodwinds), and Jon Rees (woodwinds, celeste).  Arbogast's trombone gives weight to the songs - however, it's hard not to smile at his bouncing, tuba-like, lines on "Incredible People" and the way Stamper's electric guitar and the saxophones dance atop the rhythm.  There's a hint of Paul McCartney on "Well", in the structure of the song (melody and rhythm) and the sweet jingle of the celeste. In the solo section, a flute takes a gentle journey atop the counterpoint of acoustic guitar, bass clarinet and trombone.  "Away My Sin" (the only instrumental of the 9 tracks) arrives with slide guitar, moaning brass and keening clarinet - as the piece progresses, a persistent and insistent guitar chord supplies the rhythm. The fine word-play of the poetry on "Press" closes the program.  Just voice and guitar until the alto flute, saxes and brass join an unidentified female voice in response to the lyrics -
"Pressed in (good measure)
Pressed out (shaken)
Pressed up (running over)
Pressed down (poured into you)"

and then, the wonder-filled final line -

"It was morning in heaven and we all knew where we were."

On this bright and beautiful morning, the birds still chatter while the chipmunks have begun their daily scamper across the yards and street.  The music of "Interstitials", having now completed its 3rd sojourn through the rooms and my mind, leaves me alert, refreshed and at peace.  Will it do the same for you; I have no idea but you may wish to try.

For more information, go to  To find out even more, go to  To listen to and buy his music, click on the player embedded below.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hitting the High Notes (Part 2)

Back to the stack of new CDs, all worth exploring.

Drummer-composer Jochen Rueckert is a versatile musicians, working in various genres from jazz to electronic to rock.  On the jazz side, he's powered the music of Marc Copland, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Sam Yahel and many others including the tenor player on this date, Mark Turner.  "Somewhere Meeting Nobody" (Pirouet) comes 13 years after the drummer's debut as a leader and, besides Turner, features guitarist Brad Shepik plus bassist Matt Penman.  The music doesn't so much attack the listener as it soothes one, pulls you in to the spare yet highly musical world of the 4 musicians. A good number of the 11 tracks drive hard, such as "Vodka Coke", "Delete Forever" (a duet with Penman) and "Dan Smith Will Teach You Guitar."  The soloists make strong statements (not sure if Turner is capable of a sloppy solo.)  Shepik's tone is on the softer side, not unlike that of Steve Cardenas in bassist Ben Allison's band. His contemplative yet exploratory solo on the title track blends blues and folk influences.  As opposed to Rueckert's debut that featured all covers, he composed 9 of the 11 tracks. The "covers" include "To Have and To Hold" composed by Martin Gore for his band, Depeche Mode, and Herbie Hancock's "The Sorcerer." 

The program, taken as a whole, feels like the second set of an extremely good live gig.  If you do not pay attention for the many subtleties in the music, you may think this is a fairly lackluster but, do not be fooled.  This music has fire and emotional depth - listen closely to the interactions of Penman and Rueckert, there's a lot going on there as well.  For more information, go to

The same lineup of instruments greets the listener on "Interface" , the 16th release as a leader for alto saxophonist Jim Snidero and his 3rd for Savant Records. It's also the 3rd straight time guitarist Paul Bollenbeck has been his partner on the front line.  The 2 players are quite attuned to each other, whether it's fiery poly-rhythmic drive of the title tracks or the sweet blend of musical voices on "Silhouette", one of several tracks where Bollenbeck switches to acoustic guitar.  Bassist Paul Gill and drummer McClenty Hunter fill out the group and its sound. 

One of the highlights of the disk is the beautiful "One by One" - opening with a handsome unaccompanied acoustic guitar reading of the theme, Snidero follows with his own short solo spotlight before Bollenbeck joins him, echoing the melody with soft guitar chords. Slowly, the bass and drums enter and the song slowly unfolds, not unlike a ballad from Charles Mingus.   Blues-soaked guitar lines give "After the Pain" its strength. Written for Snidero's mother soon after her passing, the song does not mourn as much as it celebrates her life.  On a more celebratory note, the driving rhythms and wailing melody line of "Vipor" captures the band in full voice.  Snidero "wails" above the active drums of Hunter and the insistence of Bollenbeck's acoustic guitar (and, what a fine solo he offers.)

This "sweet 16" for Jim Snidero gets better with each listen - it's quality music deserving of your full attention.  For more information, go to

You may not recognize the names of Andrew McCormack (piano) and Jason Yarde (saxophones) but, once you hear "Duo" (Joy And Ears), you'll want to find out more.  Both musicians are based in Great Britain.  Yarde is a busy arranger and producer, having worked with (among others) Kronos Quartet, Hugh Masakela and a slew of Reggae artists. He produced the debut recording of British pianist Gwilym Simcock as well as the latest release by Empirical ("Out 'N' In", reviewed here.) McCormack studied both classical and jazz in college, played with Yarde in the Jazz Warriors and issued his own Trio's debut CD in 2006. 

"Duo" was issued in 2009 but only reached my desk this Spring.  With the exception of "Tune for Toru" by British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and a lively reading of Leonard Bernstein's "Something's Coming", the CD is filled with original works.  Many of them are quiet and contemplative with Yarde's rich soprano sax in emotionally satisfying conversations with McCormack's engrossing piano lines (there are moments throughout the program where his phrases float like a feather - it's no coincidence one of the tracks is titled "Float Away.") They also have a playful side, on display during the opening moments of "I Miss the Sun" (featuring a feisty alto sax solo) and on their exuberant take of the Bernstein song. Yet, the lovely "No Time Can Tell" (with perhaps the most satisfying soprano work on the CD) and "Thank U4 2 Day" (which remind some listeners of the Jan Garbarek/Art Lande "Red Lanta" session on ECM) resound in one's mind and soul long after the notes fade.

Jason Yarde, who spent a year at William Paterson College in New Jersey, is a fine saxophonist, not afraid of displaying emotion or beauty in his music. Andrew McCormack is the perfect partner, listening, reacting, interacting, his lines articulate and finely played.  "Duo" is worth finding and diving right into - to find out more, go to  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hitting the High Notes (Part 1)

Here's a quick look at a batch of good CDs.

Alto saxophonist Phil Woods and pianist Bill Mays spent the day together on September 7, 2010, at Maggie's Farm, sound engineer Matt Balistaris's studio in the wilds of Bucks County Pennsylvania.  The result has been issued on the Palmetto label - it's a pleasure to hear the duo ramble through this program consisting of 7 standards and 2 Woods' originals. The saxophonist, 79 & 1/2 years old at the time of the recording, sounds in fine fettle while Mays, 13 years his junior, continues to be one of the most musical players on the scene.  Highlights includes Woods' "Blues for Lopes" (dedicated to his friend and clarinet teacher), the sweet (but not treacly) "Do I Love You?", the rousing take of Irving Berlin's "The Best Thing For You Is Me" (handsome coda to boot) and the other original, "Hank Jones", a touching tribute to the late pianist featuring Woods' most emotional solo. 
This music should go down as easy as summer lemonade - for more information, go to

Recorded over a number of sessions held in different years, "Colors From a Giant's Kit" (IPO Recordings) is a lovely reminder what a supremely talented pianist Sir Roland Hanna (1932-2002) was throughout his long career.  If you arrive at this recording expecting to hear purely jazz improvisations, you're in for a wonderful treat. The opening 3 tracks are Hanna originals and sound quite "modern classical."  He certainly does "swing" on John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" and shows a subtle side on Illinois Jacquet's "Robbin's Nest." Many listeners will be attracted to his "bravura" take on "Lush Life" and the gentle meditation he creates on "Naima."  Intimate, heart-felt, and quite classy, this CD is a gem.  For more information, go to and dig around.

"Signature Time" is the 5th release for pianist Laszlo Gardony on Sunnyside Records and his 4th with the rhythm section of bassist John Lockwood and drummer Yoron Israel.  The rapport the three have is palpable, making the music come alive.  Gardony writes that these tunes are "all shaped by in-the-moment inspiration and the spirit and sound of Africa." Rhythmic excitement abounds, from the gospel-soaked version of The Beatles' "Lady Madonna" to the slinky funk of George Shearing's "Lullaby of Birdland" to the Professor Longhair-inspired original, "Bourbon Street Boogie" that closes the program. Tenor saxophonist Stan Strickland shows up on several pieces, including the shuffle version of Billy Strayhorn's "Johnny Come Lately" and adds wordless vocals to "Spirit Dance."  It's hard to sit still while this music fills the room - everyone plays so well without "hogging the spotlight." The rhythm section is super and Gardony allows them to shine and, in turn, they give him plenty of support.  For more information, go to

In the hands of Dave Valentin, the flute can be a thing of "jazz beauty."  Over the course of his 30+ years on the scene, Valentin has recorded many styles of music but his contributions to "Latin Jazz" remains what he is best known.  For his new CD, "Pure Imagination" (HighNote Records), he does not stray far from his strengths.  His regular rhythm section of Robbie Ameen (drums) and Ruben Rodriguez (electric bass) plus semi-regular Richie Flores (percussion) joins the flutist and long-time associate Bill O'Connell (piano, compositions, arrangements) on this classy rhythmical romp.  Besides the 6 new pieces by the pianist, the quintet performs a joyous version of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" and the title track, a lovely take on the Leslie Bricusse/ Anthony Newley song from "Willie Wonka & The Chocolate Factory."  Arguably, the highlight of the program is the opening 3 minutes of "When Sunny Gets Blue" - Valentin triple-tracks flute, alto flute and bass flute to play the sweet melody and harmonies with no rhythm section.  It's almost a sin when the band comes in save for the fact O'Connell contributes a very impressive solo (with the overdubbed flutes as color.) Rodriguez's bass work is exemplary throughout while the tandem of Ameen and Flores create wonderful beds of rhythmic fun. Listen to "Hummingbird" and the ultra-funky "Cat Man" (replete with McCoy Tyner-like chords) - the rhythms are so infectious, it's hard to sit still. If you've got the blahs or the blues, "Pure Imagination" will cure you big time.  For more information, go to

If you enjoy "Mad Heaven", the new CD by vocalist-songwriter Peter Eldridge (pictured left), hie thee to "The Jazz Session" and listen to him chat about all things Eldridge (and more) with Jason Crane.  It's such an upbeat conversation, filled with snippets from the handsome CD (my review is here), that one cannot help but smile and then go listen to the recording.  Click on this link to listen -

Monday, June 27, 2011

O, the Places the Mind Can Go

Alto saxophonist-composer David Binney is one of the busiest musicians on the contemporary music scene.  Since the turn of the century, he has issued 15 CDs (counting the one to be reviewed here) on a variety of labels, co-led sessions with Alan Ferber and Edward Simon and produced fine recordings for pianist John Escreet, saxophonist Donny McCaslin and saxophonist Samir Zarif.

Binney's music has tremendous drive and an affinity for handsome melodies, with arrangements that allow for individual moments  but always built off the original melody.  His choice of musicians is telling as well - his music demands that you execute the rhythmic turns flawlessly and solo with abandon.  "Barefooted Town" is Binney's 5th as a leader for the Dutch Criss Cross label; this is engrossing music from beginning to end.  Producer Gerry Teekens only allows one day to record and one might figure these CDs to be "blowing" sessions.   Some of them seem to be but a large majority are thoughtful and well-planned works.  That's Binney's style - he has a vision, a theme for each production.  The new release features the graceful tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, the engaging young trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, the Cuban/Canadian pianist David Virelles, bassist Eivind Opsvik and the elegant percussion of Dan Weiss.  Weiss's drums are the lead voice on the title track, accentuating the tolling piano chords, engaging in a musical dialogue with Binney's angular also sax phrases, and introducing then stepping aside for the leader's overdubbed voices. His martial yet funky drumming sets the pace for "Seven Sixty", supporting the circular melody lines and pushing or caressing the soloists.  After the leader's high-powered romp, the intensity subsides for Akinmusire's more subdued spot, one that hints at blues phrases and African melodies. Virelles brings the energy level back up with a solo that rumbles out of the left end of the piano then charges forward with a shower of percussive chords.

Every track is worth hearing time and again.  David Binney's melodies stay with one long after the pieces end and the work of these musicians challenges and satisfies the interested listener.  Give "Barefooted Town" time to seep into your soul - it's worth the effort.  For more information, go to  

"Destinations Unknown" is the 8th release on Criss Cross for trumpeter Alex Sipiagin and another display of his excellent playing plus continuing maturity as a composer.  The Russian-born and educated Sipiagin spent much of the last several years on the road with various ensembles (including the Mingus Big Band and the Dave Holland Octet) and these compositions have their basis in his travels.  With a front line of Chris Potter (tenor saxophone) and David Binney (alto saxophone) plus a stunning rhythm section featuring Craig Taborn (piano, Fender Rhodes), Boris Kozlov (bass - he emigrated to the US at the same time as Sipiagin) and drummer extraordinaire Eric Harland, this music is continuously involving and entertaining.  The pieces afford plenty of room for Harland and Kozlov to push the beat, to create a flow and pace that challenges the soloists to create truly memorable moments.  The drummer dances beneath the leader's flugelhorn on "Videlles", buoyed by Kozlov's highly melodic bass lines and Taborn's shimmering Fender Rhodes. After a rousing drum solo, Potter builds a soulful solo until Binney takes over with a fiery turn of quick phrases and stabbing notes.  The pace slows and the intensity softens for "Calming" - opening with a well-structured bass solo that opens to a smart melody line shared by the trumpet and saxophones, Binney takes yet another pleasing solo, rising above the tolling Rhodes chords and Harland's active yet never intrusive percussion.  Sipiagin's solo is filled with long tones alternating with rapid lines and when the saxophones return, the trumpeter continues by weaving phrases around the reeds.  Taborn (on acoustic piano) and Harland set a frantic for "Fast Forward" that moves into a theme with cascading melodic fragments showering down on the listener. Sipiagin's bell-like tone and articulate lines swerve in and around the piano chords, the cymbal splashes and pedal point bass work.  Binney and Potter engage in a fiery back-and-forth over Harland's driving drums.

I'd be happy to tell you more but you should really uncover the joys of this splendid session on your own.  Mature, melodic, poly-rhythmic and smartly-turned, Alex Sipiagin's "Destinations Unknown" is a journey well worth taking.  For more information, go to

Vibraphonist-composer Chris Dingman studied at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, where Professor Jay Hoggard introduced him to the instrument he now plays so well.  The California native also studied with percussionist Pheroan ak Laff, saxophonist-conceptualist Anthony Braxton and David Nelson, a master of the South Indian mridangam.  After graduation (2002), he went on to study at the Monk Institute (then in Los Angeles) and has played alongside fellow Wes grad Steve Lehman plus worked with Harris Eisenstadt's Canada Day and Adam Rudolph's Organic Orchestra.

"Waking Dreams" (self-released) is his 1st CD as a leader and is, arguably, one of the most impressive debuts of 2011 (and there have been a number of very good ones this year.)  With a quintet of his contemporaries that includes Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Loren Stillman (saxophones), Fabian Almazan (piano), Joe Sanders (bass) and drummer Justin Brown plus guests Ryan Ferreira (guitar), Erica von Kleist (flutes) and Mark Small (bass clarinet), Dingman creates an illusionary landscape filled with shifting rhythms, richly tapered melodies and solos that rise easily from the mesmerizing sound textures.  Akinmusire, as a soloist, continues to create musical stories that are cliche-free, rarely resorting to pyrotechnics to make his point. His subtle bob-and-weave on "Jet Lag", spurred on Brown's energetic drumming and the "free" comping of Dingman is a highlight.  When the tune leaps to double-time, Stillman, Akinmusire and the leader fly around each other like dancers in ecstasy. The 27-year old Almazan, who has worked with Terence Blanchard and Gretchen Parlato, has a wonderful touch, simply melodic, at times, spare but never disappearing.  His lovely solo stroll on "Manhattan Bridge" is contemplative, soulful and emotional, setting the stage for Dingman's ruminative spot.  Ms. von Kleist's flute work appears on "Same Coin" and "Nocturnal" (the only non-original on the CD, composed by Joe Chambers) - on the former, she only plays on the theme (with Small's bass clarinet as an additional color) while, on the latter, her lovely tones ring out above the vibes and piano, then move in a graceful counterpoint to Akinmusire's clear trumpet lines.  On the title track, Stillman's feather-soft alto saxophone dances around atop Brown's active percussion, Sander's forceful bass lines and the leader's circular melodic phrases. His solo starts slowly yet immediately begins to build, with lines that go in many directions but always leading back to the melody.  After a break, Almazan takes up the vibes' circular line on his electric piano while Stillman playfully weaves his phrases around him.

"Waking Dreams" has so much to offer the listener.  Pay attention to the arrangements, how the soloists display their own voices without taking over the session, how well Dingman's vibes and Almazan's piano work together, how engaged the rhythm section is throughout the program.  Do this - put the music on, let it fill your listening space and find your own dreams in this highly evocative musical world.  For more information, go to

Listen to "Waking Dreams" on the player provided below:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Trio Takes (Part 2)

First, the don'ts - Don't listen to "A Night at the Village Vanguard" (Pirouet), the new double CD from the Bill Carrothers Trio with the top down in your car.  Don't listen during a motorcycle rally, NASCAR race or when the high school band is practicing for the graduation ceremony.  Do listen when you have the time to savor the 2 sets recorded on July 18, 2009, taped during an extended stay at the historic New York City night spot. Do revel in the reinventions of material by Clifford Brown, Richie Powell, Henry Mancini and other fine composer created by pianist Carrothers, bassist Nicolas Thys and drummer Dré Pallemaerts.  At the time of this appearance, the pianist (with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Bill Stewart) had already recorded "Joy Spring" (Pirouet), a CD dedicated to the music of the late trumpeter Brown, which was released to great critical acclaim in Spring of 2010.  Thys and Pallemaerts is Carrother's "European rhythm section" and they do an excellent job pushing the pianist as well as following his every whim.

Besides the excellent interpretations of the material from the Clifford Brown Quintet (including Duke Jordan's "Jordu"), there are several fine surprises.  Chief among them is the lovely take of Jimmy Dorsey's patriotic "This Is Worth Fighting For", a piece that an arrangement with echoes of Charles Ives.  The "First Set" closes with a sweet version of "Those Were the Days" (the melody stands out handsomely on this version as opposed to the one by Edith and Archie Bunker from "All in the Family.") During the "Second Set", Thys' long and melodic bass solo leads the listener into a New Orleans-soaked of the traditional gospel piece "Jordan Is a Hard Road To Travel." Carrothers goes it alone for a contemplative meditation on "Days of Wine and Roses" that ultimately picks up in pace as the pianist oes into his subconscious and allows himself to move far away from the original melody.

There are a number of Carrothers' original pieces scattered through the program, including "Peg" with its allusions to the music of Beethoven and the happy romp titled "Discombopulated."  The short yet wistful "Our House" closes the program with a sweet melody line, good counterpoint from Thys and  active percussion coloring from Pallemaerts.

In just under 140 minutes, the Bill Carrothers Trio creates a wonderful aural landscape for the listener willing to let go of the need to figure who he sounds like, who are the influences and the need for "speed."  There are several uptempo pieces but nothing resembling the need to just "show off one's chops."  Bill Carrothers lives in the wilds of northern Michigan, near the border of Wisconsin.  He has a fascinating website - - that is worth perusing plus his own record label, Bridge Boy Music, featuring music more of a personal nature.  Back to the "don'ts". Don't ignore this fine CD - get lost in its generosity of music, creativity and spirit.

The past year has been quite a musical ride for pianist/composer Orrin Evans, especially when it comes to his relationship to Posi-Tone Records.   Early in 2010, the Los Angeles-based label released the pianist's tribute to saxophonist Bobby Watson, "Faith in Action" followed in late October by "The End of Fear" from Tarbaby, the "trio collective" with Evans, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Nasheet Waits (plus some fine guests.)  2011 has already seen the release of the Captain Black Big Band, arguably one of the 5 best CDs of this year. 

Now, we have "Freedom", basically a trio date released under Evans' name, featuring bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Byron Landham with Anwar Marshall taking over the drum chair on 3 cuts (1 of which features Landham on persussion) and tenor saxophonist Larry McKenna on 2 tracks.  While not as dramatic and forceful as the Big Band recording, this CD contains a multitude of pleasures.  The project is dedicated to the memories of Trudy Pitts, Sid Simmons and Charles Fambrough, all who passed near the end of 2010 (Fambrough on New Years' Day 2011.)  The first track on the CD is Fambrough's "One for Honor", a delightful romp that gives the musicians plenty of space to let loose - and they do play with fire.  Burno is one of the more melodic contemporary bassists as well as being a strong foundation.  He supplies "Gray's Ferry" ( a neighborhood in South Philadelphia), a medium tempo blues featuring a bluesy solo from McKenna, a veteran of the "Philly" jazz scene who has worked with Clark Terry, Tony Bennett and many others in his long career.

Other highlights include "Shades of Green" from the pen of the late Philadelphia-based pianist, Eddie Green (he passed in 2004) and the classy, poly-rhythmic, "Hodge Podge", composed by Chris Beck, a drummer from Philly and featuring Marshall in the drum chair.  Marshall and Landham lead the way into "Oasis", an atmospheric work from Shirley Scott. The only tune without an overt Philadelphia connection is Herbie Hancock's "Just Enough" that Evans plays sans accompaniment to close the CD. Filled with rich, resonant, chords, the pianist creates a fine musical tour-de-force as he works through the melody line into his excellent solo.

In the shadow of the Big Band recording, "Freedom" may seem a bit low-key but pay attention.  Like much of what Orrin Evans has been giving to the world lately, this CD pays tribute to his city, his influences and his contemporaries.  It's mature music yet never loses its spirit and the joy of playing. It's yet another "winner' in a streak that stretches back to Evans' fine sextet of recordings for Criss Cross.  For more information, go to

I feel compelled to remind you that Jason Crane is still conducting "100 by 300" campaign in hopes to continue the fine work he has done on "The Jazz Session."  With 15 shows to go (by the end of this week), he's got less than 50% of the people he needs to fund his on-going project to talk with and promote the creations of many of the best creative musicians in the world. And, Jason will stop if he does not reach his goal and that, dear reader, is a shame.  Go to, give a listen and, if you don't think it's worth your while to know the "how & why" behind the music, that's fine.  But, if you enjoy how Crane gets to the heart of the creative process, you might want to become a sponsor.  Yes, I know there's lots of interviews shows you might be able to download for free but few as honest and human as "The Jazz Session." 

Finally, I spend a lot of time listening to new releases but always find it important to check older works when reviewing.  Last week, I wrote about "Shut Up and Dance", the CD of original compositions John Hollenbeck  composed for the Orchestre National de Jazz.  I found myself listening to works by Hollenbeck including his "Eternal Interlude" for his Large Ensemble, released in 2010 by Sunnyside. Thanks to the label, you can listen to the CD in its entirety by clicking below. And, you should listen - it's really fine music.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ensembles Large & Medium-sized + A Question

John Hollenbeck continues to move forward as a composer, arranger and drummer/percussionist. For the 10-member Orchestre National De Jazz, Daniel Yvinec artistic director, Hollenbeck has fashioned a suite of pieces (all but one dedicated to a member of the ONJ - the lone exception is "Up", the opening track that, at :29 seconds, serves as the overture.)  Titled "Shut Up and Dance" (BEE Jazz), the music on the 2-disc set will remind some listeners of the material Hollenbeck creates for the Claudia Quintet, with repetitive phrases, staccato rhythms, and dynamic variations that range from quite soft to overpowering.  Though drummer Yoann Serra is a powerful presence, electronic treatments are prevalent in the mix.  This version of the Paris, France-based ONJ, now in its 25th season, is composed of 4 reeds, 1 trumpet (saxophonist Matthieu Metzger also plays the trombophone, not really a brass instrument), 2 keyboards, guitar, bass and drums.

Much of this music has a hypnotic quality and it is easy to get lost in the "beats" and "floating" melodic phrases. There are exceptions, such as the highly percussive (and tuned percussion, at that) "Boom", one of several pieces that shows the influence of Steve Reich (especially "Drumming") and that leads into "Bob's Walk", a tribute to Bob Brookmeyer, Hollenbeck's teacher and mentor. Songs like "Praya Dance" and "Racing Heart, Heart Racing" are so intense that one wishes for some lighter pieces.  "Life Still", written for bassist Sylvain Daniel, gives some sonic relief as the bass is the lead thoughout the nearly 6-minute piece.  Following that song is "The Power of Water", the longest track (12:11) and the spotlight for Serra's driving yet melodic drum work. The melody sets a contemplative that never lets up even as the piece moves towards the climax. Here, one hears the influence of Mike Ratledge and the British "prog-rock" band, Soft Machine.

John Hollenbeck fans should find plenty to feast on with this recording from Orchestre National de Jazz.  Newcomers might be put off by the lack of "traditional" jazz forms but, stick with it and let the fine music enter your consciousness.  For more information, go to

Among the first sounds you hear on the self-titled and self-released debut recording of the Jordan Young Group is Mr. Young's crisp drum work.  Then, in comes the band - the smooth tenor saxophone of Joe Sucato, the burbling organ of Brian Charette and the clean guitar chords of Yotam Silberstein and you've got a classic sound.  The four-some rambles through "H and H", a tune by Pat Metheny, and doesn't seem to break a sweat.  That's pretty much the trend throughout the program which features tunes by all the participants (except Silberstein) and a slew of jazz standards ranging from Cole Porter's "Every Time We Say Goodbye" to "Jean de Fleur" (from Duke Pearson), Joe Henderson's "Afro-Centric" and "Angola" by Wayne Shorter. Add to that 4 short "PiNGS" from Charette, vignettes that sound like group improvs and feature tunes that move in unexpected directions.

There's nothing startling about the program nor is the music pedestrian.  Young pushes the band from the drum seat with an intensity  yet he never overplays. Even when he solos, there is an economy to his work that is refreshing.  Charette is classy throughout, Silberstein's sweet single-note runs are bluesy and playful, and Sucato is fairly mellow - the saxophonist also understands the art of the economical line, with solos that flow easily over the changes.

Young, a native of Detroit, Michigan, who now lives in Brooklyn, attended the University of Michigan and received his Master's Degree from the Manhattan School of Music. His music is anything but academic - in fact, it's a bit of throwback but not dated.  Pour a tall, cool, one or a glass of chilled pink wine and enjoy.  For more information, go to

Pianist/composer Falkner Evans has issued 3 piano trio CDs, all of which featured the irrepressible Matt Wilson on drums.  Wilson is back on Evans' new CD as is bassist Belden Bullock (who appeared on the most recent trio release) for " Points of the Moon" (CAP Records) which also features Greg Tardy (tenor saxophone), Ron Horton (trumpet) and, on the last 2 of the 9 songs, Gary Versace (organ, accordion.)

This is a deceptive recording in that it feels so "cool": nothing is rushed, the pieces are, mostly, medium tempo and the playing fairly straight-forward. Horton is his usual classy self, nice crisp tone and a sense for just the right phrase. His solo on "Drawing In" does just that, draws the listener in for a sweet ride.  Tardy shows a fair amount of "heat" on "Cheer Up", egged on the by the ferocious drums of Wilson.  One of the more interesting aspects of the program is that solos are parsed out, not everyone solos on each cut and pieces are rarely expanded beyond  a comfortable length. On the opening track, "Altered Soul", Horton and Tardy play the theme through at the beginning and end but only Evans solos. Versace joins the band for the bluesy "Over the Top", adding his burbling sound to the hard-bop attack (and, staying true to the pattern of the CD, does not solo.)  He, then, adds accordion to the title track that closes the program.  Horton creates an articulate solo over the martial drums and swelling accordion chords.  The arrangement features a long reprise of the theme for the last 2+ minutes of the song.

"Deceptive"may seem a negative description for a recording as pleasing as this one.  Not a "blowing" session (save for maybe 1 or 2 tunes), "The Point of the Moon" is filled with strong melodies and solos that give the individuals their due without turning the program into one player following another into the spotlight ad infinitum.  Take your time to let this music work into your system - it may not excite you but it will be a balm for frayed sensibilities.  To find out more, go to


Hard to argue with the Jazz Journalists Awards for 2011 (read the list by clicking here.)  I am not yet a member but I read the work of many of the people who voted in the poll and respect them all to a person.  One thing puzzles me - how did Blue Note Records win "Label of the Year"?  I don't receive most of that label's output but I purchase a fair amount (Jason Moran's Bandwagon, the new Ambrose Akinmusire, anything by Joe Lovano) - very good to excellent music all but you can't tell me that the music from independent labels such as Posi-Tone Records, BJU Records, Criss Cross and Sunnyside is not as good or as consistent (in some instances, just as forward-looking.) Just curious.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fusion Not Confusion

One might think that the duo of Aaron Goldberg and Guillermo Klein was put together just for "Bienestan" (Sunnyside) but, in actuality, the former played piano on the latter's 1997 debut "El Minotauro" (Candid Records).

For this recording (composed of 2 sessions, the first in May 2009, the second in August 2010), Goldberg plays acoustic piano and Klein Fender Rhodes.  8 of the 14 tracks are Klein originals, 2 by Charlie Parker, 2 selections from Luis Bonfa and Antonio Maria's "Manha de Carnaval"  ("Black Orpheus" and "Orfeo Negro")  and "All the Things You Are" by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II (which opens and closes the program.) The rhythm section is a classy one with drummer Eric Harland (who's appeared on all of Goldberg's solo efforts) and bassist Matt Penman.  Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon is heard on 5 tracks including the lively reading of "Moose The Mooche" (with its variable lines and shifting rhythms).  Chris Cheek plays tenor saxophone on 2 tracks alongside Zenon and soprano saxophone on Klein's lovely "Yellow Roses" (which also features the alto saxophonist.)

Goldberg's work is exemplary throughout.  His finely articulated lines make the melodies come alive.  Listen how he winds his phrases around the Fender Rhodes on "Implacable" (a piece for the leaders without rhythm section and saxophones) - Klein creates a "drone" with his hypnotic riffing, supplying both the rhythm and bottom.  "Burrito" is a tasty ballad with the feel of a Radiohead melody while "Anita" has a melody line that suggests Milton Nascimento.  The pianists feed off each others lines while the saxophonists offer both melody and counterpoint.  "Impressions de Bienestar" moves easily atop Harland's quiet yet insistent percussion. The word "bienestar" means "well-being" and the tune exemplifies the word as well as giving off a feeling of peacefulness.  There's plenty of that feling throughout the program.

"Bienestan" is also noteworthy for Klein's arrangements and the way he is able to take the melodic intensity of his large-ensemble recordings to a softer yet no less effective level for a smaller band.  With the exception of the afore-mentioned "...Mooche" and the hard-hitting, funky, relentless "Human Feel", the pieces are often slow and contemplative.  Even the more rhythmic "Orfeo Negro" takes a more thoughtful approach. Harland and Penman are stalwarts when they appear and Zenon's playfulness and melodicism is quite sweet.  Hopefully it won't be another 14 years before Aaron Goldberg and Guillermo Klein record again. Listen for yourself and decide.

Jazz composers have turned to Far East on a number of notable occasions for inspiration. Included in the list are Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn ("The Far East Suite"), Dave Brubeck ("Jazz Impressions of Japan") and guitarist Pierre Dørge, whose New Jungle Orchestra have traversed the musical universe from Polynesia to Malaysia to to Southeast Asia to Africa.

Trombonist/composer Jeff Fairbanks' Project Hansori incorporates traditional Korean and Chinese folk melodies into contemporary jazz on its impressive debut recording.  "Mulberry Street" (BJU Records) blends the talents of a 17-piece big band with traditional Korean instruments, special guest Fred Ho's mighty baritone saxophone and, one 1 track, Heun Choi Fairbanks on cello.  The fusion works nicely right from the opening track "San Da Ma", with its Korean Church hymn melody played in unison on Fairbank's trombone and guest RaMi Seo on gayageum (Korean zither.)  "Hoping for Hope" has a full "big band" sound and is based on rhythm pattern from Korean Samulnori music.  Here, the splendid rhythm section of bassist Linda Oh and drummer Bryson Kern are joined by percussionist Yosun Yoo on several traditional percussion instruments. The multi-sectioned piece rises and falls atop the rhythm, the back-and-forth of the reeds and brass and the excellent solo work of Oh, pianist Francesca Han and guitarist Sebastian Noelle (a long-time member of Argue's Secret Society as are reed player Erica von Kleist and trombonist Jennifer Wharton.)

The title track is a 4-part, 26-minute, suite that is a tone poem dedicated to the intersection of New York City's "Little Italy: and the Chinatown district.   "Entrance and Funeral March" opens the "suite" with a dirge (though the use of flute and clarinet lightens the mood a bit) before a brass band moves in (here, as in other sections of the "suite", one hears the influence of both Charles Ives and Bob Brookmeyer).  Part 2, "Scaring Evil Spirits Away with Joyful Sounds", blends Ho's majestic baritone with a chorus of 4 soprano saxophones at the onset before the band comes roaring in.  The piece slows a bit for a soaring alto sax solo from von Kleist leading to a rousing climax with the saxophones and brass firing away (take that, evil spirits!) Ho leads the band in again on Part 3, "Releasing Grief", a piece that uses Buddhist and Christian hymns played simultaneously (again, the Ives influence).  Later in the song, Ho steps out for a fiery solo before the brass plays a funeral march beneath Noelle's aggressive guitar solo.  Part 4, "The Send-off", is a wonderful collage of clashing yet sympathetic melodies and rhythms that serves to lay the piece to rest and put a wide smile on the face of the listener. 

When I first encountered "Mulberry Street", I was knocked out by its bold combinations of traditional sounds and contemporary jazz but it is so much more than that.The section writing is clean, clear and inventive, harmonies abound, the soloists first-rate, and the vision of the composer is fully realized.  At a time when there are myriad large ensemble recordings, Jeff Fairbanks' Project Hansori is one of the most impressive and satisfying.  For more information, go to and follow the links. 

Here's a download of "Scaring Away Evil Spirits..." courtesy of BJU Records and IODA Promonet - enjoy!

Mulberry Street Part II: Scaring Away Evil Spirits with Joyful Sounds (mp3)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Trio Takes (Part 1)

Yes, I know I could a review a recording every day and never cover 1/2 the piano trio CDs released in a given year.  Many I listen to once and find them hard to return to; if you're lucky, you receive a recording as involving and interesting as "The One Constant", the debut CD by the Danny Fox Trio (Songlines).  Pianist/composer Fox, bassist Chris van Voorst van Beest and drummer Max Goldman easily mix stylistic influences (there's a bit of The Bad Plus approach on certain tunes) but what catches the ear is the melodic content of this music.  There are pieces like "Sadbeard", a ballad that starts as a meditation with tolling piano chords and then changes pace into an intense 3-way conversation before returning to its minimal beginning.  The short but lovely "Even Tempered", with its classical piano line (the influence of Beethoven) and splendid arco (bowed) bass stands out with how the band never loses its focus and the song always moves forward.  There are moments on "Drama King" that have its roots in progressive rock yet the quirky, martial, beat under the piano solo takes the song in an unexpected direction.  The program is filled with moments like that, places in the songs that don't conform to any formula but the creative ideas of the trio. Hence the long "funk" section of "The Icebox" and the sweet high-hat inventions that Goldman adds under the short, playful, piano phrases - this is music that feels "live" and "alive", music that has enough "give" so that it can be fresh when played on a stage or in a club. 

The title track closes the program, its structure and piano line referring back to "Even Tempered."  But the mood is darker until Goldman kicks "up" the beat for several minutes. Then the trio literally takes the song out on a 2 minute fade without truly resolving the melody, leaving the door open for future adventures.

Danny Fox,  a Harvard graduate with a degree in Psychology, has become a busy musician, playing in Here Be Dragons with saxophonists Jon Irabagon and Andrew Neff, a 7-year gig with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and manning the piano chair in drummer Max Weinberg's Big Band. The music he creates for his Trio is neither cluttered nor static but open and satisfying while still being challenging and very entertaining.  On further listening, one notices how impressive the group's interactions are, how fine a bassist van Voorst van Beest is and the musicality of Goldman.  So, don't wait - go listen.  For more information and to hear plus see the Trio play, go to

Click below to download a track from "The One Constant", courtesy of Songlines and IODA Promonet.

Trudge (mp3)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Splendid Shades of Havana and Argentina

It's very easy for one to be drawn into "FÉ...Faith", the new solo piano CD from Cuban expatriate Gonzalo Rubalcaba and the debut release on his 5Pasion label.  The opening 2 tracks, "Derivado 1" (:31 seconds) and "Maferefun lya Lodde Me (7:02), sound more like the work of Erik Satie than the fiery path that the pianist often takes.  That's the joy of this 79-minute program; the tracks are, more often than not, contemplations and/or mood experiments.  There are 2 versions of Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" (labeled "1" and "3"), both with powerful openings that lead to quiet improvisations.  "Blue in Green 1" (the number must allude to the take) is a slow journey that pays homage to the romantic side of Bill Evans.  There are several really lovely classically-inspired pieces, such as "Joan", a long work that will remind some of Brad Mehldau's ruminations, especially as it moves into the long improvisation. Rubalcaba also pays tribute to the 20th Century Cuban composer Alejandro Garcia Caturla (1906-1940) with a handsome as well as forceful reading of his "Preludio Corto #2."

What's happily absent from this recording is pomposity, technical bravado and other grandiose gestures. For that reason, some may ignore this CD.  I say, sit quietly, pour a glass of cold water, iced tea or chilled rosé and let this music transport you beyond the mundane.  For more information, go to

Flautist-soprano saxophonist Jane Bunnett and pianist Hilario Duran delve into the Classic Songbook on "Cuban Rhapsody" (ALMA Records).  Though the program was recorded in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the music is, as the title implies, 100% Cuban.  The CD cover shows the musicians dancing and there are several pieces that have "Danza" in the title. The playfulness of works such as Ernesto Lacouna's "Danza Lacumi" and the only original on the recording, Duran's "New Danzón" are irresistible, the latter featuring Ms. Bunnett's rich flute floating over the multi-sectioned melody.  Then, there's the 5-part "Contradanzas", the first 3 composed by Manuel Saumell (1818-1870), the 4th, "Los Tres Golpos" ("The Three Bears")  by Ignacio Cervantes and arranged by Israel "Cachao" Lopes) and "Tarde En la Habana" by the contemporary Cuban composer Jose Maria Vitier. The songs move from European-inspired melodies to bouncy, rhythmical, dances, filled with splendid interplay.  The CD opens with 2 works composed by Miguel Matamoros (1894-1971), the lovely ballad "Lagrimas Negras" ("Black Tears") and the more frolicsome "Son de la Loma."  Ms. Bunnett's soprano work is quite striking on the former and her delightful flute work meshes well with the finely articulated and quite percussive piano of Duran.

Excellently recorded and handsomely packaged, "Cuban Rhapsody" gives the listener a captivating glimpse of a proud, creative, people who expressed myriad emotions through their music.  Both Ms. Bunnett and Mr. Duran play with fire, delicacy and emotion throughout.  For more information (including live dates), go to

Argentinian-born composer/bassist Pedro Giraudo came to the United States in 1996. He has worked continuously since his arrival, performing and./or recording with such artists as Pablo Ziegler, Paquito D'Rivera, Ruben Blades, Branford Marsalis, and Miguel Zenon (among many others.)  He, also, leads the Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra and, with that aggregation, has just issued "Córdoba"It's the 12-piece ensemble's 3rd release and first for the ZOHO label. 

It's an impressive lineup. There are people who work or have worked with Darcy James Argue's Secret Society (trombonist Mike Fahie and trumpeter Jonathan Powell), the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (trombonist Ryan Keberle and trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt) and Orrin Evans' Captain Black Big Band (saxophonist Todd Bashore and Greenblatt.)  The rhythm section includes the drummer Jeff Davis and the cajon of Tony De Vivo plus the fine piano playing of Jess Jurkovic.  Other members include saxophonists Will Vinson, Luke Batson and Carl Maraghi.  Giraudo has shaped a program that deftly takes the sounds of Astor Piazzolla, Duke Ellington, Maria Schneider and traditional music of Giraudo's homeland and creates a handsome aural journey back to his youth as well as dreams for a brighter future. He writes fine melodies and then crafts sectional arrangements that utilize all the voices.  Hear how the saxophones swoop around the brass in the opening sections of "Visitas", the first cut. Their sound hearkens back to the style of Glenn Miller Orchestra while the music is quite contemporary (especially Davis's propulsive drumming that never overwhelms the band or the soloists.)

Among the many highlights is the 3-part "Pueblo" which, in its nearly 22-minute span, takes the listener through a busy day in rural Argentina.   There are folk melodies, traditional rhythmic patterns, more fine drumming and ensemble work and closing with a strong "modern" feel. "Duende del Mate" ("The Dwarf of the Mate") features the leader on electric bass, a sprightly rising melody line and a smaller lineup (no trombones.)  Both the trumpet and alto saxophone solos excite the senses plus there is a short solo for De Vivo's cajon with just Davis and Giraudo for support. The lovely melody and  arrangement for "Latente" ("Dormant") has the feel of a Maria Schneider composition  - one also hears the influence in the soaring soprano sax line, in the way the melody moves around the sections and in Davis's driving yet sympathetic drumming.  

"Córdoba" is the latest installment in the growing repertoire of Pedro Giraudo. The music, bright, emotionally satisfying and mature,is filled with exciting solos, thoughtful melodies and fine harmonies.  2011 is proving to be another banner year for large ensemble recordings and Pedro Giraudo's CD is among the best.  For more information, go to

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Firehouse Spring Season Finale + CD Pick

Bassist Scott Colley is a big man, plays a big double bass and gets a big, rich tone.  He has worked with many great jazz players since graduating from Cal Arts in 1988 including Herbie Hancock and the late Andrew Hill, guitarist Jim Hall, saxophonists Chris Potter and the late Michael Brecker as well as the drummers Brian Blade and Roy Haynes.  His 7th CD as a leader, "Empire" (CAM Jazz), issued in 2010 featured Blade, trumpeter Ralph Alessi, pianist Craig Taborn and guitarist Bill Frisell. He's a melodic player whose pieces are intelligent, well-constructed works that often revolve around the interactions of the players as opposed to lots of solos.

The Scott Colley Trio is the 13th and final act in the 2011 Spring Season at Firehouse 12, undoubtedly the most successful series in the 6 years that the recording studio/performance venue has been open for shows.  Joining the bassist will be pianist Kevin Hays (raised in Greenwich, CT) and drummer Bill Stewart.  They'll play 2 sets, the first at 8:30 and the second at 10 p.m.  For ticket information, call 203-785-0468 or go to

Everywhere one looks and listens, you can hear a piano trio (notice the band above; led by a bassist, it's still a piano threesome.)  There are months when the majority of new releases feature a group composed of piano, bass and drums.  It was the preferred setting for the late Bill Evans and the very much still active Ahmad Jamal while Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio has been together nearly 3 decades.  For the past decade, The Bad Plus has created a fascinating repertoire of great originals, classic Rock covers and classical music.

Into the mix comes the Philadelphia-based Rhinoceri TrioBrendan Cooney (piano), Chris Coyle (bass) and Gregg Mervine (bass) have just issued their debut CD, "Libera Me" (self-released) - the 12 tracks range from the Gabriel Faure-penned title track to Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" to Duke Ellington's "I Like the Sunrise" (from "The Liberian Suite") to classical works by JS Bach, Richard Wagner and Claude Debussy to 6 originals.  There are easy comparisons to TBP and its penchant for clever rearrangements.  Mr. Bach's "Fugue in C Minor"gets a Brazilian lilt in the midst of its handsome melody while Debussy's "Dr. Gradus ad Parnasum" sounds as if it were arranged for Emerson, Lake and Palmer. "..Sunrise" features the pleasantly understated vocal of Samantha Rise while "Lonely Woman" is taken at a quicker, but not fast, pace and is one of the highlights of the CD.  After a lengthy bass solo, the trio rocks out on the piece.  Of the original pieces, Cooney's "Out and Up"  has a playfully skewed Latin rhythm while his "Rhinocerous" starts slowly but then jumps to a rock-ish beat with the occasional move into bop. Bassist Coyle's "WD40 (c) Blues" opens on a short drum solo before moving into a melancholy and contemplative ballad. Mervine's drum work throughout is exemplary as he thinks melodically while his pounding floor toms (especially on "Jungle Trail Comeback") and splendid use of his various cymbals is a real treat.

The debut of the Rhinoceri Trio is impressive; nowhere near as ponderous as its namesake, the band delivers a surplus of ideas, strong instrumental interactions and great promise. For more information, go to   

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Drummer's Debut + The Father of the Drummer + The Pianist as Blogger

Drummer Adam Cruz, who has worked with many of the finest contemporary jazz artists (from Tom Harrell to Chris Potter to Charlie Hunter to his long stint with pianist Danilo Perez), is now 40 years old and just got around to issuing his first CD as a leader.  "Milestone" (Sunnyside Records) has been worth waiting for. With an all-star cast, including the afore-mentioned Potter (tenor sax), Edward Simon (piano, Fender Rhodes), Ben Street (bass), Steve Cardenas (electric guitar) as well as occasional appearances from Miguel Zenon ((alto saxophone on 4 tracks) and Steve Wilson (soprano saxophone), Cruz created 8 pieces that reflect his influences yet actually display his maturity as a player, arranger and composer.  It's a long program (just under 76 minutes) with 3 tracks over 10 minutes long and none under 6:55.  That writ, there is so much to enjoy in this music. The blend of Simon's keyboards with Cardenas' guitar, the active drumming which, at times, takes on a melodic feel, the fire of Chris Potter juxtaposed with the playfulness of Miguel Zenon (however, on the ballad "Resonance", both saxophonists are subdued and supportive), the solid support of Street and the classy contributions of Wilson (the way he winds his sound around Potter's on "Crepuscular" is mighty attractive), all adds up to great listening. Steve Cardenas takes several solos, flying high on "Outer Reaches" with Wilson's soprano adding handsome colors - then, Wilson's soaring solo over the active stick and snare drum work of Cruz takes the piece in a new direction. Cruz, like Eric Harland
 and Brian Blade, rarely play how you expect them to - that does not mean they are showing off but illustrating the music, pushing the music forward in exciting and, often, unique ways.
Highlights include the rhythmically exciting "Emjé" with fine solos from Simon (such great articulated lines) and Potter as well as the funky "The Gadfly" with long, exciting, solos from Cardenas and Wilson with Potter (very Wayne Shorter-like attack from the former).

"Milestone" is definitely worth your time, awash with intelligent melodies and fine solos.  The arrangements allow for longer solos so there are tracks where not everyone has his turn yet still contributes harmonies.  The work of the rhythm section is exemplary (you'd expect that from a drummer-led session) and very entertaining.  However, it's the creativity of the musicians and the confidence of Adam Cruz that shines throughout this program.  For more information, go to

Every time I play "Free For All" (Tapestry Records), the new CD by saxophonist Jim Stranahan, a smile breaks out across my face.  Not because the Colorado resident and father of drummer Colin (my review of his new CD is here) is doing anything particularly "new" - no, it's because the music created by the little "big" band  exudes so much joy.  Besides the father and son, one hears the contributions of Pete Olstad (lead trumpet on 7 tracks, jazz trumpet on 1), Brian Chaley (jazz trumpet), Lucas Pino (tenor saxophone), Wade Sander (trombone), Glenn Zaleski (piano, electric piano) and Chris Smith (bass) with Mike Abbott (electric guitar on 2 tracks.)  The cuts range from thr Latin-flavored "Loco" that opens the CD to the be-bop fire of "I've Got No Rhythm in My Feet" to the smooth jazz/funk of "Habib's Groove." Then, there's the Crescent City jump blues of "Big Easy Bump"; Colin's drums make one want to get up and "strut" while Dad's soprano saxophone gaily dances atop the rhythm.  Zaleski's piano solo starts way down on the low notes than dances its way up leading to the funky trumpet spot.

While the playing is top-notch, a sameness creeps into the melody lines.  "Leaves Must Fall", a boppish tune based on "Autumn Leaves", has a similar melodic approach as  "I've Got No Rhythm.." and "Upside Down and All Around." The arrangements, uncredited, are smart and it certainly sounds like the band is having a great time.  Melodic issues aside, "Free For All" sounds really nice blasting out of the sound system.  For more information, go to

Try out a cut from the CD by clicking on the link below (courtesy of Tapestry Records/Capri and IODA Promonet):
Loco (mp3)

 Pianist/composer George Colligan (pictured left) recently began to blog (August 2010) and, like fellow keyboard man Ethan Iverson (, has illustrated his talent as an in-depth interviewer. His most recent interview is with bassist Dwayne Burno and should be required reading for anyone wanting to be a jazz musician.  He also does a fine job at parsing solos and explaining how they work.  Colligan recently finished a European tour with Jack DeJohnette and he wrote several posts talking about what it means to be a touring creative musician (he also posted some fine photos.) Check out his writing at