Jazz, March 2023

hfnalbum.pngRon Carter
Finding The Right Notes
In+Out Records IOR CD 77151-2; LP: IOR 77151-1 (two discs)

Last year, when Carter was 85, a two-hour PBS documentary told the story of a young cellist who, but for the colour of his skin, would have had an orchestral career. Instead he became the most-recorded jazz bassist in history. This soundtrack collection doesn't mine Carter's historic work with Miles Davis and others but samples recent recordings, the earliest being three 2014 tracks with the WDR Big Band. There's a fine 'Flamenco Sketches' by Carter's Foursight quartet, and 'Soft Winds' with Russell Malone on guitar, both from 2019. There are also striking bass duets with Christian McBride and Stanley Clarke. An impromptu 'Sweet Lorraine' with pianist Jon Batiste, previously unreleased, makes a happy ending. SH


Donald Byrd
Live: Cookin' With Blue Note At Montreux
Blue Note 4599839; LP: 4599840

After the 1973 Montreux Festival, a series of Cookin' With Blue Note At Montreux live albums featured several of the label's stars, but Byrd's performance went unissued even though his Black Byrd album had just been a hit. Perhaps that's not so surprising: Byrd's ten-piece band played out-and-out jazz funk, declamatory and electric, and it included some of his students from Howard University, who would soon become The Blackbyrds. Byrd's own solo work is great, notably on 'The East', where the band really gels with a hypnotic wah-wah-and-Rhodes-infused groove. Finally released on what would have been the trumpeter's 90th birthday, and well worth hearing. SH


O'Higgina & Luft
Ubuntu Music UBU 0126

Saxophonist Dave O'Higgins and guitarist Rob Luft first joined forces to produce their Play Monk & Trane album of 2019, with organist Scott Flanigan and drummer Rod Youngs. For this follow-up, they're fronting a very cohesive quintet, with Youngs still rock-solid on drums, Ross Stanley great on piano and Misha Mullov-Abbado excellent on bass. All but two of the numbers are originals, Luft deftly adding atmospheric effects as well as straight-ahead solos. There's still one tune each from Monk and Trane, respectively the slippery 'Four In One' and 'Giant Steps' – where O'Higgins and Luft make light of those daunting 'Coltrane Changes'. Thoroughly enjoyable. SH


Rebecca Nash
Redefining Element 78
Whirlwind Recordings WR4796; LP: WR4796LP (two discs)

Writing to a commission from the Bristol jazz festival, the pianist and composer themed this eight-part suite around the platinum group of metals. Inspired by US sax John O'Gallagher's book on tone-rows in improvisation, she applied his approach to the atomic numbers of platinum (78) and the other metals. If that seems too high-flown, just listen. As with Nash's first album, Peaceful King, the music is hard to categorise but finely structured and perfectly realised. Ensemble sections give way seamlessly and naturally to impassioned solos, most notably from O'Gallagher and guitarist Jamie Leeming, with a truth and logic to win you over. SH