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RECORD REVIEWS

Jazz Journal offers unrivalled coverage of recorded jazz old and new. We carry more than 20,000 words of expert comment and discography on recent jazz issues in every issue. Here's what we reviewed in the January 2013 issue:

New issues: Asgeir & Mo, Nik Bartsch, Jerry Bergonzi, Josh Berman, Jasper Blom, George Cables, Heather Cairncross, Tomasz Dabrowski, Graham Dechter, Wayne Escoffery, Digby Fairweather, Michael Feinberg, Tom Gibbs, Fred Hess, The Jive Aces, Laura Jurd, Tim Lapthorn, Rachael MacFarlane, Ron Miles, Marcus Miller, Jessica Molaskey/Dave Frishberg, Walter Norris/Leszek Możdżer, Pavillon, Enrico Rava, Jason Robinson, Scott Robinson, Elizabeth Shepherd, Steve Smith & Vital Information, The Golden Age Of Steam, Martin Tingvall, Jeremy Udden, Hiromi Uehara

Reissued or unissued archive material: Gene Ammons/Sonny Stitt, Harold Arlen, Chris Barber, Benny Carter, Ray Charles, Ethel Ennis, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Hampton Hawes, Coleman Hawkins, Quincy Jones, Irene Kral, Ramsey Lewis/Lem Winchester, Hank Mobley, Art Pepper, Buddy Rich, Nina Simone, Dakota Staton, Toots Thielemans

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Excerpts from over 50 CD reviews in the January 2013 issue of Jazz Journal:

 

JOSH BERMAN: OLD IDEA (Delmark)

"There's a gentle harmonic spaciousness, and an intensely musical virtuosity, with Berman rejecting clichéd pyrotechnics and the string of solos approach in favour of a more satisfying collective complexity . . . Old favourites such as Love Is Just Around The CornerSugar and I've Found A New Baby appear alongside modern tributes to the idiom written by Berman. The result is a totally satisfying, refreshing and delightful release." (Andy Hamilton) ****

 

DIGBY FAIRWEATHER: TO FREDERICK WITH AFFECTION (Rose Cottage)

"2012 marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Frederick Delius, in honour of which Digby was commissioned by the Delius society to write and record an eight-part jazz suite based on music by, or relating in a sense to, Delius. Digby's band perform with distinction, particularly Stringle and Ashworth, showing exemplary cohesion in group passages, and contributing creative, well-crafted solos. So credit all round, particularly to Digby, for the intelligent and imaginative concepts applied in this challenging, one-off project." (Hugh Rainey) ****

 

STAN GETZ: FOCUS/COOL VELVET (Poll Winners)

"Getz told me in the 80s that he regarded Focus as the greatest musical achievement of his life. It certainly stands with the greatest of Ellington or Gil Evans as a masterwork and one can pay no higher compliment to Getz than to say that he fitted with Sauter like Hodges fitted with Duke . . . If you haven't got Focus then your jazz collection is not complete." (Steve Voce) ****

 

TOM GIBBS: FEAR OF FLYING (Whirlwind)

"All the musicians featured here are on superb form and together demonstrate just why contemporary jazz is in such good shape . . . James Maddren on drums really shines. If you want to hear modern jazz drumming at its inventive best, listen carefully to his playing across the entirety of Fear Of Flying; it's a stellar performance." (John Adcock) ****

 

HIROMI TRIO PROJECT: MOVE (Telarc)

"Hiromi Uehara is certainly not a richly nuanced player in the mould of Mehldau or Taborn and her emotional immediacy and accessible blues-based improvisations suggest more of a latter day Erroll Garner or Oscar Peterson. Offering an incident packed 70 minutes of technical brilliance and pure escapism, Move is almost certainly Uehara's strongest and most even work to date." (Fred Grand) ****

 

LAURA JURD: LANDING GROUND (Chaos Collective)

"The clarity of vision and sophistication of execution gives us six timeless compositions and then, just to prove that she doesn't need structure and sheet music to impress, the duets allow three tantalising glimpses of the leader's sharp improvisatory skills. Plus a Belleville Rendezvous reference; what more could you want?" (Dave Foxall) ****

 

IRENE KRAL: THE BAND AND I + BETTER THAN ANYTHING (Solar)

"Irene Kral was an exceptionally talented jazz singer whose career was tragically cut short when she succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 46. She left behind a superb legacy; recordings that vividly demonstrate her blend of sophisticated elegance and understated yet driving swing. Serious students of the art of jazz singing, be they listeners or learners (or even seasoned practitioners), need to hear this singer. Recommended." (Bruce Crowther) ****

 

RACHAEL MACFARLANE: HAYLEY SINGS (Concord)

"It's a rather delightful track listing, with big-band standards Makin' Whoopee! and Sooner Or Later sitting comfortably with 60s folk-pop from Paul Simon and Carole King. MacFarlane's voice shapeshifts through the genres, switching from schmaltzy and affectedly sexy on Makin' Whoopee! to light and girlish on Feelin' Groovy with ease . . . It's evident she doesn't believe herself to be batting in the big jazz leagues but it's a charmer of an album nonetheless." (Sally Evans-Darby) ***

   

MARCUS MILLER: RENAISSANCE (Dreyfus)

"The sound and groove are inimitable and Miller, with a resumé featuring Miles Davis, David Sanborn, Mike Mainieri, the Brecker Brothers and numerous other NY luminaries from the late 70s on, has his place in history. He was one of the early handful – just after Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius – who fully realised the potential of the electric bass in the modern jazz ensemble." (Mark Gilbert) ****

 

HANK MOBLEY: WORKOUT (American Jazz Classics)

"Coltrane, Getz and Dexter Gordon, recognised by many as among the top tenor players in modern (sic) jazz are run very close by Hank Mobley – certainly on the strength of his work on this brilliant disc . . . Note for hard boppers and virtually everyone else: this is essential jazz. If not already in your collection – go get it." (Brian Robinson) *****

 

WALTER NORRIS & LESZEK MOZDZER: THE LAST SET, LIVE AT THE A-TRANE (ACT)

"I don't generally go for two-piano albums, unless they're of the Byard/Riley, T'n'T, Schlippenbach/Takase sort, but this one leapfrogs an impressive roster of 2012 releases: one of the records of the year. Shame Walter isn't still around." (Brian Morton) ****

 

PAVILLON: STRONG TEA (Pavillon)

"It would be a pity if this got bogged down in discussion of how 'suitable' the French horn is as a jazz instrument . . . Rattigan's writing comes out of the same Anglo-eclectic tradition associated with John Surman and John Warren, Kenny Wheeler and others. The voicings are rich and non-obvious and don't drift into Gil Evans pastiche, which is hard to avoid in this territory." (Brian Morton) ***

 

ART PEPPER: UNRELEASED VOL VII (Widow's Taste)

"The proximity of the applause to the mic leads me to think that this was probably an unofficial recording (Laurie Pepper suggests it's a cassette recording made from within the audience). It's certainly not up to broadcast quality." (Steve Voce) **

 

BUDDY RICH AND HIS BUDDIES: PLAYTIME (Fresh Sound)

"This set will be of special interest to admirers of vibist Mike Mainieri, leader of the acclaimed 'acoustic fusion' band Steps Ahead. In two CDs collecting the 1960 LP Playtime and two 1961 dates it shows he was no 1980s parvenu but a jazz veteran with a considerable CV . . . Mainieri told me he spent much of the 60s and more farming. Fresh Sound reminds us then of yet another exceptional musician whose star took a left turn after shining brightly at the turn of the 50s/60s. Unlike some Jordi Pujol has brought to our attention (eg, Beverly Kenney, Joy Bryan) he rose high again in the jazz firmament" (Mark Gilbert) ****

 

STEVE SMITH AND VITAL INFORMATION: LIVE! ONE GREAT NIGHT (Q-rious Music)

"Smith's work typically mixes extremely crisp rock rhythms – stunning feats of instrumental tuning, precision and ingenious creativity – with pieces driven by swinging four-to-the-bar bass lines . . . Altogether an engaging and satisfying set that must have made for a fulfilling night out in Oregon." (Mark Gilbert) ****

 

MARTIN TINGVALL: EN NY DAG (Skip)

"Stylistically, his playing on occasion contains traces of new age maestro George Winston, with the sense of space he develops between the notes, whilst on the jauntier, busier material something of the pomp of prog-rocker Rick Wakeman emerges. Purists will no doubt be wrinkling their noses at the very thought of such a concoction, but the music is superbly executed throughout." (John Adcock) *****

 

JEREMY UDDEN: FOLK ART (Fresh Sound)
"All in all, this is much more than a mere experiment in genre-mixing. Udden's compositions bring together the best features and tonal qualities of the unusual instrumentation and present an enticing, mellow and quietly exotic alternative to the high-testosterone blowing and deconstructed pop tunes that are so often at the fore of today's new jazz." (Dave Foxall) ***

 


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