Jazz, April 2023

hfnalbum.pngHouston Person
Reminiscing At Rudy's
HighNote HCD 7343

'Rudy's' means the studio created by the late Rudy van Gelder, and the veteran saxophonist could well reminisce while making this album there, as van Gelder himself recorded Person's string of soul jazz albums back in the late 1960s. This time, with guitarist Russell Malone, pianist Matthew Parish, bassist Larry Fuller and drummer Lewis Nash, he swings lightly through standards both obscure and familiar, somehow even getting away with doing 'Moon River' in a jaunty 4/4. Person also loves to slow the tempo right down, in this case on a poignant 'My Romance'. And with his big, warm tone, softer and fluffier than formerly, his playing is still melodic, unfussy, fresh and emotive. It just comes straight from the heart. SH


Bill Laurance & Michael League
Where You Wish You Were
ACT Music ACT 99613-2

From the bassist/originator and co-founding keyboardist of fusion-inclined collective Snarky Puppy comes the duo album they've long wanted to make. With Laurance on acoustic piano and League mainly on oud, they create unusual and often entrancing sound worlds, very different from Snarky – except perhaps in the bluesy, riff-based 'Bricks'. League rings the changes with fretless guitars and African ngoni, and with peerless rapport the two make music that's tight, complete, focused and full of vibrant life. Some duo albums suffer moments when the keyboard has to fill in just to keep things going, but not this one. It's an absorbing listen all the way through. SH


Oscar Peterson
On A Clear Day: Live In Zurich, 1971
Mack Avenue MAC1199; LP: MAC1199LP (two discs)

A less familiar edition of the Peterson trio, but one not to be missed. Drummer Louis Hayes played with Peterson alongside Sam Jones in the '60s, but when he rejoined briefly in 1971 Peterson had just discovered bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. NHOP is just astonishing here, and right from the start, when Hayes kicks off a frenetic tempo for Oscar to leap into and dazzle us with 'The Lamp Is Low', it's an electrifying concert. As well as the virtuosity, the incredible swing, the mastery of dynamics and the strings of fleeting quotes, you get a more intimate Peterson in for example 'Young And Foolish'. The audience was in raptures, and rightly so. SH


The Banger Factory
Banger Factory Records BF004 (CD and LP)

With this third album, The Banger Factory has become an impressive sextet. Trumpeter and leader Mark Kavuma's frontline cohorts are saxophonist/recording studio owner Theo Erskine and Ruben Fox, now on bass clarinet, while on piano is the brilliant Deschanel Gordon. Kavuma's 'Warriors' suite opens with a declamatory 'Part 1' that gives way to the epic 'Part 2', a fabulous groove with great solos. A contrast follows with the haunting 'Chomolungma', Erskine's vision of Everest, leading to Luca Caruso's drum solo, while 'Zorro' is Fox's gentle tribute to his late father, Kinetika Bloco music director Mat Fox. And Kavuma's sinuous 'Senzo' makes a happy finale. SH