|Photo: Jimmy Katz|
Notice in the picture above that Mr. Byron is holding a tenor saxophone. He employs the instrument on three tracks; his delightful exploratory "Joe Btfspik", Ortiz's wide-ranging and classically inspired "Numbers", plus the playful take of the Ellington/ Bubber Miley classic "Black and Tan Fantasy". That last piece, from 1927, has long been a staple of the jazz canon and the duo is faithful to the melody and the rhythm but certainly stretch out in the solo sections. The humor is subtle but the swing is powerful, especially in Ortiz's left hand. The clarity of the mix allows for both instruments to stand out without either musician dominating the piece.
|Photo: Guenther Groeger|
"Random Dances and (A)tonalities" grabs your attention from the opening lilt of "Tete's Blues" to the quiet fade of "Impressions..." This is music that Aruán Ortiz and Don Byron developed slowly before committing to the recording. It never feels pedantic or "safe" - these are two musicians who can and will play anything not to show off but to get inside the music and find the humanity within. Splendid!
Here's the Ellington/Miley piece:
Myra Melford creates music that makes one think deeply As you surrender to the myriad sounds created on any of her albums, you often enter into a universe that is welcoming yet challenging. With Snowy Egret, she works alongside musicians of equal musical status, interpreters and creators of the highest order. Recorded in the Firehouse 12 studios in New Haven CT by Nick Lloyd (who also mixed and mastered the album), "The Other Side of Air" crackles and sparkles while opening new pathways for us to follow.
For more information, go to www.myramelford.com.
Here's the fascinating opening track:
This is an album to keep playing on repeat throughout the Holidays. Even grumpy old writers take heart from hearing Duchess blend its voices to bring good joy for all (and nary a hint of snark).
For more information, go to www.duchesstrio.com.
Here's one of the gems: