The Jazz Digest, July 2012
Choice snips from Jazz Journal, July 2012
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From the editor
The Parliamentary Jazz Awards announced in May rounded up the usual suspects but it was sad that, due to "personal circumstances", Jazz In London, the gig listings leaflet that has done great service to jazz since the 1980s, had to withdraw from the nominations for Jazz Publication of the Year. Apropos the ongoing debate about grass roots jazz, a typical issue of this fine monthly publication reads like a snapshot of the 80s or 90s, a contrast to the perpetually edge-cutting image of jazz marketed at the more breathless end of the arts media. It suggests the grass roots scene in London is as lively as ever. In a typical issue of JIL we see names that rarely ever ping into the JJ inbox but toil on with the everyday story of jazzfolk: Don Weller, John Etheridge, John Critchinson, Trevor Tomkins, Ted Beament, John Horler, Terry Smith – even a "Back To The Flamingo Club" tribute. While a chord sequence exists it seems it will be blown – hurray.
Joe Temperley on Wynton Marsalis
He's quick to stand up against anyone who tries to take a Lochgelly tawse to Marsalis's supposed "conservatism". "Wynton's a good friend and a really smart musician. I don't understand the criticisms. What are they listening to?"
Vijay Iyer bats away suggestions of contrivance
Isn't there something un-jazz-like about making the intellectual decision to import music from another continent simply because you happen to share its heritage? "I don't agree with that. Every step of the way, developments in jazz have been the result of work and discipline and rigour and discovery and practice, and information being passed around and knowledge being cultivated."
Mainstream sticksman Steve Brown knows his onions
"If the feeling's there and people have an approach I consider to be jazz then that's fine. If they want a funk or hip-hop beat, even if they're going to improvise over it, I'd probably pass on the gig."
Inordinately accomplished Russian import Yuriy Galkin doesn't mind swinging
"I know some deliberately try to avoid be influenced by a New York sound. They try to avoid any swing at all in their writing, any hint of bebop or post-bop. I'm not like that - I'm trying to keep my mind open to all things."
Enrico Tomasso on a sound jazz upbringing
"Dick Hawdon taught me from when I was six years old. One week he'd turn up with a book of Louis Armstrong hot breaks but he also took me through the Arban tutor, to sort me out with embouchure and technique. When I wanted to go out and play football, Dad wouldn't let me out until I'd finished the latest Bunny Berigan solo he'd written out!"
Steve Voce recalls how Maynard Ferguson turned a band of plumbers and shopkeepers into a 1960s Manchester jazz phenomenon
Playing again the exciting DVD The World Of Maynard Ferguson (Sleepy Night Records) brought it all back. It was in 1967 that MF stomped all over Manchester. He was a sensation. What turned out to be one of the happiest periods of his life began when trumpeter Ernie Garside refused to shake hands with him.
A new history of jazz in Ulster chronicles a location off the beaten jazz map, but one with forgotten connections
Tracking Jazz – The Ulster Way at times is revelatory, Dempster's formidable research unearthing, for example, the information that pianist John Lewis, of Modern Jazz Quartet fame, was stationed in Northern Ireland during his military service in World War II and regularly played in Belfast's Paradiso club.
Just a taste from over 150 CD reviews in this issue:
ADAM BALDYCH & THE BALTIC GANG: IMAGINARY ROOM (ACT)
"An avowed melodist, Polish violinist Baldych presents 12 originals that touch base with ancient Nordic and Slavic folk themes as well as post-M-Base complexity. On an album of many riches, his talented cohorts are given lots of space to make their mark. Few can have escaped the recent buzz surrounding Marius Neset, and this sideman role possibly makes the best introduction to his occasionally overwhelming talents." (Fred Grand) ****
JEFF BARNHART: REFLECTIONS OF FATS (Lake)
"The amiable American has been touring both sides of the pond for some years and I enjoy his two-fisted keyboard work, spiced with good-natured vocals. Waller lovers will enjoy all the trademark keyboard twist and twirls, delivered with a very sure pair of hands." (John Chadwick) ***
BOB BROOKMEYER: FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS (Avid)
"Another value for money reissue featuring Bob Brookmeyer in four quite different but utterly compelling contexts." (Gordon Jack) *****
HOAGY CARMICHAEL: HOAGY SINGS CARMICHAEL (Phoenix)
"Whoever had the idea back in 1956 of recording Carmichael with contemporary jazz musicians did posterity a favour. It wasn't just that several of his compositions had become jazz standards but also that his singing, in its rhythmic flexibility and the liberties he took with his own melodies, had links with jazz which were inescapable." (Graham Colombé) ***
AVISHAI COHEN: DUENDE (Blue Note)
"Both players are on sparkling form, full of ideas, meshing beautifully. Cohen has a number of impressive moments in the spotlight, but he is generous in the amount of foreground time he gives Hershkovits. This is true duo music." (Barry Witherden) *****
RAVI COLTRANE: SPIRIT FICTION (Blue Note)
"This excellent record made me wish I'd heard a lot more Ravi Coltrane than I have. He has a considered, full and round sound on both soprano and tenor, and while that sound can acquire an urgent edge when needed, it evinces none of that flinty, even neurotic quality which could mark some of his father's work." (Michael Tucker) *****
STAN GETZ: FOUR CLASSIC ALBUMS (Avid)
"Wow! For an almost ludicrously generous price, you get not only one of the most significant albums of the 20th century (Focus) but three other masterworks, impeccably remastered by Dave Bennett and packaged with exemplary taste and care. It will take something almost unimaginably special to prevent this being my top choice this year." (Richard Palmer) ****
STEVE KUHN/ STEVE SWALLOW/JOEY BARON: WISTERIA (ECM)
"Kuhn's originality is difficult to pin down. On this album and others, he calls on a miscellany of jazz piano effects. What emerges, though, is a still untroubled way with a tune and a buoyancy of touch that seems to keep it airborne with ornamental diversity." (Nigel Jarrett) ****
PAT METHENY: UNITY BAND (Nonesuch)
"It seems quite fitting that the first Metheny-led project for 30 years to feature a saxophonist should enlist the services of modern master Chris Potter. With the twin attack of Dewey Redman and Michael Brecker, reforming the band heard on the 80/81 album was sadly never an option, yet Potter's seamless coalescence of declamatory emotion and cerebral deliberation neatly wraps both ends of the spectrum." (Fred Grand) ****
ARUÁN ORTIZ QUARTET: ORBITING (Fresh Sound)
"Here's a find. Ortiz seems to have studied with Muhal Richard Abrams and to have taken counsel from Wallace Roney. His record is a supremely confident blend of modern styles, superfast bop on Charlie Parker's Koko, a nod to Ornette Coleman on WRU, self-reliant exploration on the self-written title track and lots of sharp guess-the-next-note stuff suspended over rhythms that are never just generically Latin." (Brian Morton) ****
CHARLIE ROUSE: QUARTET AND QUINTET (Fresh Sound)
"This is a little gem of a compilation which calls for a re-evaluation of the saxophonist's status. By the time these sets were taped Rouse had become Thelonious Monk's tenor of choice, but there was a nagging suspicion among some critics that he wasn’t quite the front rank the job required. A better – and broader picture – emerges from these sessions." (Simon Spillett) ****
WADADA LEO SMITH: TEN FREEDOM SUMMERS (Cuneiform)
"Smith's vibrato-free trumpet ranges from an aching whisper to a clarion call, but what impress me most are Smith's chamber arrangements, the string parts on Emmett Till, for example, heartbreaking in their raw impact. Cumulatively, this is an eloquent, at times sombre, often overwhelming, piece of music, dignified in its incantatory power. An exemplary work, worth every one and more of its five stars." (Simon Adams) *****
MEL TORMÉ: SWINGS SHUBERT ALLEY + BACK IN TOWN (Phoenix)
"Mel Tormé worked with a number of fine arrangers throughout his career but his collaborations with Marty Paich represent a high-water mark in the marriage of vocalist with a jazz ensemble . . . Too Close For Comfort and Just In Time are perfect examples of the interaction between band and vocalist." (Gordon Jack) *****
BOBBY WELLINS QUARTET: BIRDS OF BRAZIL (Hep)
"Hep Jazz have done Wellins fans a great service by resuscitating the saxophonist's environmentally aware suite for jazz group and strings, arguably one of the composer's most ambitious works . . . Recommended without reservation." (Simon Spillett) *****
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