Jazz

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Steve Harris  |  Sep 06, 2014
Last Dance - ECM 378 0524 In 2007, when they hadn’t worked together for 30 years, pianist and bassist met during the making of a film about Haden, and Jarrett invited Haden to his home studio. They spent four days recording, and some of the results were heard on the 2010 album Jasmine. In this new collection, tunes include the jazz standards ‘Dance Of The Infidels’ by Bud Powell and Monk’s ‘’Round Midnight’ as well as ballads like ‘My Old Flame’. With a second album celebrating the same reunion, you’ll think that you’re in for more of the same, and it’s true.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010
Pianist and bassist hadn’t worked together since the end of Jarrett’s American Quartet in 1976, but after meeting in 2007 during the making of a film about Haden, they spent four days recording in Jarrett’s home studio. ‘It has a very dry sound and we didn’t want to have the recording sound like anything but what we were hearing while we played. So it is direct and straightforward,’ writes Jarrett. A far cry from the glossy, groomed perfection of so many ECM issues, it is intimate, immediate and communicative.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010
For his third ECM project as leader, the celebrated drummer put together a new group, but it’s a group of old friends. Bassist Pino Palladino is a collaborator of many years, while pianist Jason Rebello played with Katché in Sting’s band. Norwegian saxophonist Tore Brunberg, often sounding like a soft-focus Garbarek, is a long-term ECM labelmate. Guests are guitarist Jacob Young and trumpeter Kami Lyle, who adds lyrics to ‘Stay With You’ with her impossibly warbly yet captivating vocal.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010
Revisiting favourite old songs, the late great composer’s singer daughter has the luxury of Phil Ramone as producer, as well as some special guest stars. Stevie Wonder does a fabulous harmonica obbligato on ‘Blame It On The Sun’, while Brian Wilson and Take 6 vocalize amazingly behind her on ‘God Only Knows’. One of the best realisations, if not a jazzy one, is the opener ‘These Days’, with the unmistakeable liquid voice and soft guitar of composer Jackson Browne. This isn’t to be confused with the title track, the Billy Joel song, more wistful than ironic in Mancini’s hands.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010
After a brilliant start as a boy classical pianist, the teenage Cowley played in a Blues Brothers tribute band, then plunged into electronic pop with the Brand New Heavies and Zero 7 and his own group Fragile State. Returning to the piano, he formed the trio which recorded Displaced in 2006 and Loud Louder Stop in 2008. For their third album the trio are still together, or to be more accurate, more together than ever. They play as one.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010
Still possibly best known for his work with the late Max Roach, here the muscular tenor player has assembled his own absolutely stellar octet. While Wynton Marsalis alumnus Walter Blanding brings in a wily, fluid tenor, James Carter adds a stirring and gutsy baritone sax, and the ebullient trumpets are David Weiss and Terell Stafford. Behind pianist George Burton and bassist Lee Smith is the drive of Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts. This line-up produces some wonderfully buoyant ensemble playing, not least on a stomping, pedal-point opener that sounds a bit like the start of Janáček’s Sinfonietta.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010
Probably Europe’s most sought-after bassist, Jasper Høiby has an authority and impact that grabs your attention and holds it. Here his trio Phronesis are heard live at The Forge in London, but with a different drummer: regular Anton Eger couldn’t make the dates, so Høiby drafted in American Mark Guiliana, with spectacular results. From the start, in the opening ‘Blue Inspiration’, Guiliana and the very fine pianist Ivo Neame push each other to greater heights around the sonorous pivot of a simple repeated bass figure. Then, typically, Høiby opens out and the piece blossoms into new shapes.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010
Clearly 2006 was a good year for the great accordionist. He’d just formed his brilliant Tangaria Quartet, and with mandolin player Hamilton De Holanda guesting, they wowed the audience at the Marciac jazz festival in August. September found the group in Sao Paulo and, again with stunning contributions from De Holanda, they recorded Luz Negra. It’s actually the contents of that album that you get here, plus ‘Tango Pour Claude’ and ‘New York Tango’, which opened and closed the Live In Marciac 2006 album.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
When Hamilton arrived, British saxist and Woodville label owner Barnes suggested using tunes that Johnny Hodges had recorded with his own band in the early 1950s. And according to Barnes, the American tenor master got all the themes and changes down after a single run-through. Neither of them attempts to sound like Hodges, though, and just as well. While Barnes’ bop-tinged alto skeeters around the chords, Hamilton carries right on with his beautiful, fluid and unhurried swing phrasing, effortlessly conjuring up the spirit of Lester Young.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010
Growing up in Oklahoma, Cassity got her first alto saxophone for Christmas at age nine. She moved to New York in 1999 and completed her masters’ at Juilliard in 2007. Her 2008 debut Just For You, on DW Records, was standards-based, but this time she brings her great energy and technique to originals which enliven their straightahead genre with dextrous metrical trickery. Guest horns swell the ranks on some tracks, but the core quintet includes long-time musical partner Michael Dease, a virtuoso trombonist still imbued with the melody and whimsy of an earlier era.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
With a large element of theatre, Kinch alternates raps and instrumental numbers, and the theme is the modern slavery of debt: ‘Today’s fetters are mostly invisible,’ he says. Guest vocalist Jason MacDougall is effective on ‘Help’, Eska Mtungwazi sings superbly on ‘Escape’, but it is Kinch who brilliantly leads a whole cast of speakers in ‘Paris Heights’, satirising the brutality of debt collection. But the other musicians are great too, Femi Temowo on guitar chording like a keyboard when he’s not soloing, and multi-reed player Shabaka Hutchings adding an arresting bass clarinet solo on ‘Trade’. In ‘On The Treadmill’ the mournful horn ensemble echoes early Ellington.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010
A Francophile who loves to sing in French, Stacey Kent had a big following across La Manche even before Breakfast On The Morning Tram helped her popularity explode in 2007. So why shouldn’t she do a whole French album? She chose songs associated with the greats of French pop from Moustaki and Misraki to Biolay and Barbara, most just as catchy as ‘La Venus Du Melo’, now also issued as a single. As before, pianist Graham Harvey on piano and guitarist John Parricelli join Kent’s sax-playing husband Jim Tomlinson to play his uncluttered, mood-enhancing arrangements. Hearing Parricelli and Tomlinson on ‘C’est Le Printemps’, they might as well be Byrd and Getz.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010
Never content to stand still, Clarke offers another new concept and striking new sonics. His is still the dominant voice, especially leading with his Alembic tenor bass, yet there’s an emphasis on group contributions, the tunes direct and even lyrical. Behind him is regular keyboardist Ruslan Sirota, but the main guest is Hiromi, whose pianism soars effortlessly over the electric soundbed on ‘No Mystery’ and three other tracks. You also hear singer Cheryl Bentine, guitarists Charles Altura and Rob Bacon, and saxist Bob Sheppard.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010
Tia Fuller has toured and played to huge audiences as a sax soloist in Beyoncé’s all-female band, but she’s her own boss here for her second Mack Avenue album. This time she’s joined by sister Shamie Royston on piano, but as on 2007’s Healing Space it’s Miriam Sullivan on bass and Beyoncé bandmate Kim Thompson on drums, with Sean Jones guesting on trumpet. The only non-original is her Cannonball-influenced ‘Can’t Get Started’, a ballad feature also for her other guests, vibraphonist Warren Wolf and bassist Christian McBride, who injects incomparable swing into two other numbers. A feast, here, of great and often joyous playing.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010
Between 1961 and 1971, Britain’s best-loved poet became Britain’s most hated jazz critic, at least by other critics. In his Telegraph reviews, Philip Larkin was to Coltrane, Ornette and Miles what Brian Sewell is to Hirst, Emin and Serota. Filling the first two discs here is a treasury of Armstrong, Bechet, Condon and so on, the 78s Larkin loved, if not necessarily the artists’ best works. The third and fourth CDs collate items he reviewed and actually liked, mainly reissues.

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