Jazz, April 2021

hfnalbum.pngVeronica Swift
This Bitter Earth
Mack Avenue MAC1177; 2LP: MACLP1171

For her second album, the wondrously talented singer who scats like Ella and swoops like Sarah opens with a song of Dinah's, although she takes on the 2012 Max Richter mashup rather than Washington's 1961 track, and her quick vibrato is more ruffled velvet than brass. And her choices are more about content than style. 'You've Got To Be Carefully Taught' is South Pacific's once-controversial poke at racism while 'He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)' is the song King and Goffin wrote when Little Eva told them about beatings from her boyfriend. Then, from 'I'm Hip' composer Dave Frishberg, there's 'The Sports Page', about the one place in the newspaper where 'you can't say you win if you lose'. How topical can you get? SH


Dexter Gordon
Montmartre 1964
Storyville Records 1018410

A new addition to the list of live recordings from the tenorist's 14-year sojourn in Denmark, this one captures him well settled in at Copenhagen's Montmartre club, backed by Spanish pianist Tete Montoliu, local drummer Alex Riel and the already-virtuosic 18-year-old bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. You can hear the same lineup at the same place a month earlier on an album from Danish label Steeplechase, which like this one includes 'Manha de Carnival' and Gordon's catchy signature theme 'Cheesecake'. But here, in the latter, the quartet reaches new heights, with a performance that's out as a single but is easily worth the price of the album. SH


Enrico Pieranunzi/Bert Joris
Challenge CR7460

Pieranunzi's engaging trio album Common View was recorded in Sep '18, with bassist Jasper Somsen producing; Somsen was also the producer a few days earlier when Belgian trumpeter, arranger and composer Bert Joris joined the pianist in the same studio for the duo tracks heard here. Once a conservatory professor, Pieranunzi draws on classical influences rather than mining the jazz tradition, while Joris ranges from an almost Alpert-like joviality on 'Millie' to a 'Darn That Dream' wistfulness on 'How Could We Forget'. And with their great depth of musicianship and unfailing rapport, the two produce unhackneyed music that's beguilingly ear-catching. SH


Qow Trio
QOW Trio
Ubuntu Music UBU0078 (CD and LP cat no)

Big-hearted Irish tenor man Riley Stone-Lanergan looks back here to the sax giants of the past, in a format inspired by the piano-less Sonny Rollins trio recordings of the 1950s. It's a boisterous, joyful set propelled by veteran drummer Spike Wells, who in decades gone by worked with Tubby Hayes and visiting American stars. On bass is Eddie Myer, who is also part of indie rock band Turin Brakes. 'Qow', the 1974 Dewey Redman tune, gets a gutsy workout while 'Qowfirmation' is a tribute to the be-bop greats and 'Pound For Prez' a nod to Lester Young. From the opening 'Slow Boat To China' to the swinging 'It's All Right With Me', this is good to the last drop. SH