The Jazz Digest, June 2012

Choice snips from Jazz Journal, June 2012



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JJ OFC 0612From the editor
A press release from Edition Records says that Phronesis (along with Ambrose Akinmusire, Stefano Bollani, Mathias Eick, Tigran Hamasyan and Gretchen Parlato) will be fostered by "the 17 principal jazz festivals in Europe and North America" via the International Jazz Festival Organization (ijfo.org). It concedes that "younger jazz musicians can certainly make a name for themselves," but the IJFO feels "that jazz needs to develop a new generation of iconic musicians that younger and forthcoming generations of fans can relate to." Was there a time when jazz didn't need to propagate itself, when musical awareness, venues and styles developed organically? Maybe not; patronage has always existed in the arts and it may be nostalgic to imagine it was ever otherwise. Yet how many of the outstanding jazz figures of the past were created by committee?

Lee Ritenour on unfulfilled ambition
"I wish I was Chairman of the Board. The other day I happened to hear an old Sinatra on the radio in the car. A lot of us, especially musicians, just get amazed by his phrasing."

Robert Glasper, charged with going commercial
"It's not like I've sold out. It's just that I didn’t aim Black Radio at the jazz cats. I'm getting thousands of new mainstream fans thanks to Black Radio and they're listening to my trio records."

John Robert Brown on the new Jobim biography
Many musicians will rank Jobim alongside George Gershwin as the most famous and respected of 20th-century songwriters. Eventually, The Girl From Ipanema became the second most often played song on Earth, beaten only by a Beatles tune. "But they were four," said Jobim!

Sax and session supremo John Altman reporting one ad agency's musical fantasy
"We see a cup of black coffee, and the creamer is stirred in – so our idea is that we hear and see You're The Cream In My Coffee played on the black notes of the piano. As the cream is stirred in the tune is then played on the white notes."

Bucky Pizzarelli, one-time rock & roll sessionman on the death of the chord
"Later on it became acid rock, came down to two chords. Now it's down to one chord. Same note over and over again."

Ronald Atkins on the best of jazz strings
Bird's 1949 Just Friends sold more than any other Charlie Parker record and was one he singled out for praise. The sheer momentum of the opening chorus stands out especially.

Simon Spillett recalls Mike Garrick, champion of local produce, good or bad
Chasing the tails of American jazz gods was not his style and crucially he told me that using home-grown resources was vital to him "even if we came up with an inferior product."

Roger Farbey likes the 1968 Le Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe
This is one of the finest jazz recordings ever made and arguably the best big band recording by British musicians. It had its origins in an early 60s rehearsal band for young musicians, a sort of prototype Loose Tubes.

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Just a taste from over 100 CD reviews in this issue:


LOUIS ARMSTRONG/ OSCAR PETERSON: LOUIS ARMSTRONG MEETS OSCAR PETERSON (Phoenix)
"Norman Granz, who recorded all these, observed that Louis 'never deferred to the material. He did what he did and that was the thing that I was trying to capture.' He did capture it, of course, and the partnership between Louis and Peterson is one of the most under-recognised of Armstrong’s career. Oscar didn’t need to adapt his style significantly and Armstrong’s timelessness was such that he fitted in easily with the pianist’s comparatively modern playing." (Steve Voce) ***

BIX BEIDERBECKE: IN A MIST (Phoenix)
"One of Bix's abiding legacies was his most individualistic piano creation, In A Mist. Three similar but somewhat less impressive piano numbers, in transcriptions played by Jess Stacy, complete this excellent window into the so-called 'white jazz' world of the 20s." (John Chadwick) *****

AL COHN: FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS PLUS (Avid)
"Four LPs packed neatly into two 79-minute CDs offers good value to punters and if the music is exceptionally good that is the big bonus. The versatile and talented Al Cohn is on good form throughout all these sessions." (Derek Ansell) ****

CHICK COREA & GARY BURTON: HOT HOUSE (Concord)
"I consider Burton one of the greatest musicians on the planet, and Corea is hardly less fine. These 10 cuts are the epitome of jazz at its most noble and trenchant – brimming over with spontaneous invention but underscored by acutely judged arrangements and structural acumen. If I could give Hot House six stars out of five, I would." (Richard Palmer) *****

ROBERTO FONSECA: YO (Jazz Village)
"Yo finds Fonseca completely at ease with his formative influences. Brimming with fresh ideas and confidence, he now seems ready to move the rich Afro-Cuban musical legacy in bold new directions." (Fred Grand) ****

KENNY GARRETT: SEEDS FROM THE UNDERGROUND (Mack Avenue)
"Mark Gilbert’s May JJ profile of Garrett underlined the telling combination of simplicity and sophistication in the sound and phrasing of a man who knows how to preach and burn as well as to groove, float or fly high and this largely post-Tyner, modally sprung music offers a well-rounded picture of a musician whose work is currently as soulful as it is technically arresting." (Michael Tucker) ****

STAN GETZ: AT LARGE (Storyville)
"Jan Johansson, one of an unbroken string of fine Swedish jazz pianists from Reinhold Svensson to Jan Lundgren, does much more than punctuate the narrative. But the prevailing presence is Getz and the mood mainly introspective. There’s the sound of an anguished soul somewhere in there. The sprightly Younger Than Springtime is a rare exception. All in all, a great listen." (John Chadwick) ****

ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT: BLACK RADIO (Blue Note)
"Instrumentally speaking, Chris Dave’s drums prove a real highlight, the tightly coiled feel on Afro Blue epitomising one of modern music’s most distinctive voices. We get rather less in the way of the Evans and Hancock informed soloing here than we’ve come to expect from Glasper, but Black Radio’s focus is on collective groove rather than individual linear improvisation." (Sam Braysher) ***

BILLY HART: ALL OUR REASONS (ECM)
"The quartet's music, while constantly surprising, contains an awful lot of subtly placed context, history and tradition. As is the norm with ECM releases, the production is excellent, and Mark Turner’s tenor, in particular, sounds more beautiful and pure than I think I've ever heard it on record." (Sam Braysher) *****

LOOSE TUBES: SÄD AFRIKA (Lost Marble)
"Sweet Williams, a 12-minute set finale, demonstrates well the ability Loose Tubes had to move between various styles within single compositions, merging big band swing, African rhythms and some lovely, funky keyboard work from Django Bates into a finish that left the audience yelling for more. Proof indeed, that not far beneath that zany exterior, there was some seriously good music going on." (John Adcock) ****

LES MCCANN LTD: IN SAN FRANCISCO (Fresh Sound)
"Just 24 years old when this session was recorded live at the Jazz Workshop McCann displayed an individual approach to the music far beyond his years.The impeccable support from Lewis and Jefferson help to make this thoroughly enjoyable, heart-warming happy music a highly recommended purchase." (Brian Robinson) *****

SPORTIELLO, PARROTT, METZ: LIVE AT THE JAZZ CORNER IN HILTON HEAD (Arbors)
"Terry Teachout’s notes describe this album as 'An hour of unpretentious pleasure, served up by three pros who know their stuff.' I could not agree more! Sportiello's interpretation of Honeysuckle Rose I find simply delightful as I do the wonderfully laid-back rendition of Blue And Sentimental and the surprisingly uptempo Spanish Eyes. A very enjoyable 73 minutes." (Jerry Brown) ****

ART TATUM-BEN WEBSTER: THE ART TATUM-BEN WEBSTER QUARTET (Phoenix)
"On paper it may well sound disastrous. Tatum wasn’t a natural accompanist and by the mid-1950s Webster was already well on his way to a style that favoured space over bluster, but somehow, occasionally improbably, it actually works, largely because neither man tries to compromise. It does beg the question of why no label has as yet attempted a multi-disc anthology of Webster’s work for Norgan and Verve, surely a major oversight." (Simon Spillett) *****

FRANK TESCHEMACHER: JAZZ ME BLUES (Retrospective)
"When I mentioned to Wally Fawkes that I was to review an album of Frank Teschemacher, he said 'Ah, the sound of splintering wood.' People have differing thoughts about the clarinettist, who died when he was 25, apparently with assistance from Wild Bill Davison. Listening to the benighted Smith Ballew singing 'Round Evening I thought, no, it’s too much to put up with just to give Tesch a namecheck. And then suddenly there was a burst of clarinet from him that, in 1928, must have sounded like some kind of time-warped Parker." (Steve Voce) ***

 


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