|Photo: Bud Glick|
The program closes with a funky reading of Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You" and the title track. "Nearness" is propelled by Mackrel's "Pretty" Purdie drumming, Wind's dancing lines, and Ms. Sung's sweet Hammond organ playing. "Tenormore" is a fascinating puzzle, with its stop-and-start opening - here again Mackrel is the linchpin. He pushes the piece forward, plays several short interludes, engages in a rousing dialogue with Robinson, dances around his cymbals as Ms. Sung explores the many possibilities that the piece provides. Her solo is quite expansive as well as impressive. The angular closing section, with Robinson's eerie tenor sounds, is serious fun.
This is fun and serious and quite musical. Listen to this music with an open mind as the program is challenging, sweet, exciting, introspective, witty, and filled with great musicianship. Scott Robinson is a treasure!
Here's a generous taste:
Guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan played a series of shows at New York City's Village Vanguard in March of 2016. From those dates, ECM Records released "Small Town" in the Spring of 2017. It's Spring once more and now the label presents more music from that date. "Epistrophy" is a delight-filled collection of songs, a program of standards, pop tunes, folk songs, two Thelonious Monk pieces (the title tracks and "Pannonica"), and a James Bond movie theme (John Barry's "You Only Live Twice"). And, because both musicians love melody and love to improvise, the performances are never lackluster but enjoyable from beginning to end.
The two Monk tunes come back-to-back right after a lovely reading of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life." That tune features splendid counterpoint from Morgan, something he is quite adept at. The bassist also knows how to "swing" a piece as he demonstrates during Frisell's solo on the title track. "Pannonica" is quite a jaunty piece - as one gets older, it's amazing how Monk had one foot in the blues (so apparent on the "sweet" melody) and the other in jazz.
The album closes with "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning", a lovely ballad that is the perfect ending to an enjoyable musical experience. By this point in his career, one seems to know what to expect from Bill Frisell. Yet, this meeting with Thomas Morgan, who has worked with the guitarist on several recordings and tours, has so many emotional and musical highs, it's well worth taking the time to bathe in these sounds.
Here's the title track recorded live at Paste Studios in NYC: