Jazz, December 2020

hfnalbum.pngAllison Neale
Quietly There
Ubuntu Music UB0062

This Seattle-born, UK-based alto saxophonist can if she chooses sound exactly like Desmond or, as on the title track here, a little like Getz. Following a long musical partnership with guitarist Dave Cliff, who sadly retired due to illness, Neale led a great quartet with pianist Leon Greening. But for her fifth album, her first for Ubuntu, Neale revisits the 'space and openness' of a guitar-based quartet, as Peter Bernstein joins her favoured bass and drum team of Dave Green and Steve Brown. They bring sprightly life to a tune that often drags, 'Midnight Sun', they dig happily into John Lewis's cool blues 'Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West', and cheer up some songbook standards too. Carefree, melodic, delightful. SH


Ron Miles
Rainbow Sign
Blue Note 0731333; 2LPs: 0731334

Denver-based trumpeter and composer Ron Miles holds a senior teaching position but has also recorded many albums, including one with Ginger Baker and half-a-dozen with guitarist Bill Frisell. Most recently, Frisell appeared on Miles's three albums for the German label Yellowbird. For the last of these, I Am Man, pianist Jason Moran, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Brian Blade completed the quintet that also appears here on Miles's Blue Note debut. It's music that sounds fractured at first, but with an almost supernatural rapport between Miles and Frisell. They play the unexpected and yet it all fits, just as Miles's pieces are intricate and yet direct. SH


John Coltrane
Giant Steps (60th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
Atlantic Records/Rhino 0349784839 (two discs); 2LPs: 0349784834

Just weeks after he'd played on Kind Of Blue with Miles Davis, Coltrane recorded this epochal album. His composition 'Giant Steps' modulates constantly with the 'Coltrane changes' that have challenged generations of players and are the subject of many a learned treatise. But you also get the beautiful 'Naima', the fast and fiery 'Mr PC', and four other fine tracks, while this new edition adds a second disc containing eight selected out-takes. Completists will already have the remaining 20 out-takes, which were in the 1995 Heavyweight Champion CD box set, but for streaming or download these are now included in a 35-track Super Deluxe Edition. Whew! SH


Thelonious Monk
Palo Alto
Impulse! 0711285; LP: 0711284

Thankfully now available, this stunning album captures Monk live in Oct '68, when he was under contract to Columbia. After a short postponement of its July 31 issue date, Impulse! announced that the digital release would be via Sony Music. The music was recorded at Palo Alto High School thanks to the efforts of 16-year old student Danny Scher, who'd precociously booked the Monk quartet for an afternoon benefit concert. It's full of a joyous, unstrained feeling, and is such a vibrant, atmospheric recording that you forgive imperfect balance and the creaking piano bench. Whether you've a shelf-full of Monk albums or none at all, you must have this one. SH