Jazz, October 2021

hfnalbum.pngSamara Joy
Samara Joy
Whirlwind Recordings WR4776; LP: WR4776LP

Samara fittingly scooped the Sarah Vaughan vocal award in 2019, having studied Sarah (along with Billie, Ella, and Nat King Cole) at SUNY Purchase. Still only 21, she recorded this set of standards under the aegis of Matt Pierson, noted producer of Brad Mehldau and Sophie Milman. She's backed by the trio of Pasquale Grasso, also on the faculty at Purchase. He uses his astonishing technique to emulate Art Tatum and Bud Powell rather than other guitarists – though on 'Stardust' he sneaks in Charlie Christian's chord solo. His unremitting virtuosity is almost too much, but Samara floats over it. A lovely voice, perfect time, beautiful diction, effortless grace as an interpreter. Above all, she wins your heart. SH


Jazzland Recordings Norway 377 935 6 (CD/LP)

This begins with rain falling and birds singing in the Maridalen valley above Oslo. But soon you're in the old wooden church where three young musicians found a place to practice, took the name of the valley for their trio and made a recording. With limpid purity and keen-eared precision, saxophonist Anders Hefre and trumpeter Jonas Lilmork Vemøy harmonise to the sonorous bass of Andreas Rødland Haga, the music rich and full, though there's no chordal instrument. In deliberately shocking contrast, the last track's urban processed sounds, done via a '50s Tandberg tape deck, make you appreciate the rest of the album's natural sonics even more. SH


Miles Davis
Merci Miles! Live At Vienne 1991
Warner/Rhino 0349784461 (two discs); 2LPs: 0349784462

Though some numbers can be seen on YouTube, the full-length video of this concert from Miles's last European tour was never issued. So Merci Miles! offers a first chance to hear the whole soundtrack, including two songs by Prince as well as 'Amandla', 'Human Nature' and 'Time After Time', for example. After Vienna, Miles was recorded live at Montreux with Quincy Jones and George Gruntz, and in Paris in an all-star 'Miles and friends' show that's yet to be issued officially. But here, leading his own sextet with alto saxist Kenny Garrett, 'lead bass' player Foley and a phenomenal rhythm section in telepathic cohesion, he is as brilliant and unfettered as ever. SH


Martial Solal
Coming Yesterday/Live At Salle Gaveau 2019
Challenge Records CR7516

It perhaps seems incredible that Solal, who was born in 1927 and played with Django Reinhardt in 1950, could still be delighting audiences in 2019. But this solo piano concert was a swansong. When it was over Solal decided that it would be his last, because 'When energy is no longer available it is better to stop'. Yet there was no shortage of energy that evening as he shook up favourite standards and stirred in an Ellington medley. As a composer, Solal's jazz concertos reveal the depth of his studies. As a solo pianist, he flits at the speed of thought from theme to theme, style to style. Follow him for an enjoyable and invigorating musical journey. SH