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RECORD REVIEWS

Jazz Journal offers unrivalled coverage of recorded jazz old and new, with more than 20,000 words of expert comment and discography on recent jazz releases in every issue

Complete list of albums reviewed in JJ May 2018 (see below for sample reviews):

Annes: Frost (Flugur 008)
Arthurs, Tom: One Year (Ozella 077)
Atom String Quartet: Seifert (Zbigniew Seifert Foundation CD-FZS-1)
Bailey, Pearl: Takes Two To Tango (Retrospective 4324)
Baker, Duck: Duck Baker Plays Monk (Triple Point 271)
Biali, Laila: Laila Biali (ACT 9041)
Biel, Julia: Julia Biel (RKT 050/KH013)
Blade, Brian/The Fellowship: Body And Shadow (Blue Note, no number)
Blicher Hemmer Gadd: Omara (C-Nut 09)
Broder, Owen/The American Roots Project: Heritage (ArtistShare, no number)
Brönner, Till/Dieter Ilg: Nightfall (Okeh 889854921125)
Catherine, Philip: Selected Works 1974-1982 (Warner Music 0 190295 857097)
Cherrie, Mark: Joining The Dots (Trio 599)
Coltrane, John: My Favorite Things (Green Corner 100895)
Corea, Chick/Steve Gadd Band, The: Chinese Butterfly (Stretch/Concord Jazz, no number)
Crowd Company: Stone & Sky (Vintage League 003)
Dagan, Ori: Nathaniel: A Tribute To Nat King Cole (ScatCat 03)
Di Meola, Al: Opus (e.a.r Music, no number)
Dorsey, Jimmy: The Jimmy Dorsey Hits Collection 1935-57 (Acrobat 7511)
Einarsson, Tomas R./Eypor Gunnarsson: Innst Inni (Blanott 017)
Elephant 9: Greatest Show On Earth (Rune Grammofon 2198)
Esperanza, Alejandro-Marino Garcimartin: Compañeros De Aventuras (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 1008)
Evans, Bill: New Jazz Conceptions (Poll Winners 27364)
Ferguson, Maynard: M.F. Horn 4 & 5 / Live At Jimmy's (Beat Goes On 1307)
Ferguson, Maynard: Memories Of Maynard/The Best Of The Columbia Years (SNR 005)
Finch, Catrin/Seckou Keita: Soar (Bendigedig 12)
Fitzgerald, Ella: Sings The Cole Porter Song Book (Poll Winners 27363)
Golia, Vinny/Wind Quartet: Live At The Century City Playhouse (Dark Tree 08)
Guarna, Tom: The Wishing Stones (Destiny 0016)
Hamilton, Linley: Making Other Arrangements (Teddy D 001/linleyhamilton.com)
Held, Pablo: Glow II (Pirouet 3102)
Holroyd, Bob: The Cage (HML 01)
Israels, Chuck: Concerto Peligroso (Dot Time 9064)
Kenton, Stan: Concerts In Miniature Volume Twenty One (Sounds Of Yester Year 2080)
Kuhn, Joachim: Love & Peace (ACT 9861)
Lasky, Simon: About The Moment (33Jazz 272)
Liebman, Dave/Tatsuya Nakatani/Adam Rudolph: The Unknowable (Rare Noise 089)
Linton, Errol: Packing My Bags (Brassdog 0001)
Low-Fly Quintet: Stop For A While (Losen 188)
Lucky Dog:  (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 542)
Marutyri: Creation Of The Invisible (Challenge 73444)
Mildlife: Phase (Research 02)
Miller, Glenn: Live On The Air 1938-1942 (Sepia 1316)
Møller, Lars/Thor Madsen & Jonas Johansen: Jazz Explorer Trio (Global Jazz Explorer 001)
Monk, Thelonious: Monk's Dream (State Of Art 81215)
Mulligan, Gerry: Four Classic Albums (Third Set) (Avid 1282)
Murphy, Chris: Water Under The Bridge (Teahouse 005)
Neame, Ivo: Moksha (Edition 1108)
Nicole Jo: 20 (Suisa LC 05699)
Pafitis, Loizos: The Underdog (loizospafitis.bandcamp.com)
Payne, Cecil: The Music Of Cecil Payne (Strata-East 19734, vinyl)
Pinera, Diego: Despertando (ACT 9854)
Pintchik, Leslie: You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl! (Pintch Hard 004)
Popkin, Lenny: Time Set (Lifeline/Paris Jazz Corner 103)
Previte, Bobby: Rhapsody (Rare Noise 090)
Prima, Louis: The Wildest Show At Tahoe (Jackpot 48781)
Pugach, Dan: Plus One (Unit 4816)
Rafalides, Christos: Near & Dear (MRL 006)
Rollins, Sonny: Way Out West (Craft Records 00021)
Saft, Jamie: Solo A Genova (Rare Noise 088)
Schaerer, Andreas: A Novel Of Anomaly (ACT 9853)
Scheen Jazzorkester/Jon Øystein Rosland: Temanoar (Losen 177)
Scozzesi, Dolores: Here Comes The Sun (Café Pacific 14050)
Seifert, Zbigniew: Solo Violin (Wydawca CD-FZS-3)
Seifert, Zbigniew: Live In Solothurn (Wydawca CD-FZS-2)
Series, David: Meerkat Parade (daveseries.com)
Shaw, Artie: These Foolish Things: The Decca Years (Sepia 1314)
Small, Andrew: What Happens Now? (Ashwood 040)
Smith, Lonnie/Dr: All In My Mind (Blue Note, no number)
Snowpoet: Thought You Knew (Edition 1105)
Svensson, Ewan: Sometime Ago (ESM-Prod 1704)
Vantomme: Vegir Feat. Tony Levin (MoonJune 090)
Various: Oscar, With Love (Mack Avenue 1134)
Various: Soho Scene '63 (Rhythm And Blues Records 043)
Violet Spin: Spin (Unit 4829)
Washington, Reggie: Rainbow Shadow Vol. 2 (Jammin' Colors)
Wright, Lewis/Kit Downes: Duets (Signum Classics 529)
Yokoi, Yuko: Verde (yuko-yokoi.com)


Examples of the 78 album reviews in this issue (see more reviews as printed; subscribe to see 12 months of the print edition of Jazz Journal
, including over 20,000 words of CD review each issue):


TILL BRÖNNER/DIETER ILG
NIGHTFAL
L
A Thousand Kisses Deep; The Fifth Of Beethoven; Nightfall; Nobody Else But Me; Air; Scream And Shout; Wetterstein; Eleanor Rigby; Peng! Peng!; Body And Soul; Ach Bleib Mit Deiner Gnade (50.08)
Brönner (t, flh); Ilg (b). Krün, Germany, October 2017.
Okeh 889854921125
****

Two exceptionally talented instrumentalists, Brönner and Ilg are rightly respected for their work in various contexts. They have played as a duo for some time but this appears to be their first duo album. Hearing them in this format it is clear with every note that they deserve their following and the praise they have received. Given the nature of the instrumentation, Brönner has most solo space and his fluidity and invention is excellent throughout. The sound he draws from the trumpet is full and rounded and is even richer when he plays flugelhorn. Ilg is primarily responsible for underpinning these performances with always interesting playing and when he does solo it is similarly flowing and inventive.

The better known of the titles heard here, Nobody Else But Me (Kern, Hammerstein), Eleanor Rigby (Lennon, McCartney), Body And Soul (Green), and Air (J.S. Bach), are all used as foundations for building absorbing improvisations and although straying some distance from the familiar melodies, they are never too far out. There are also three originals by Brönner and Ilg and The Fifth is Ornette Coleman’s. Whatever the source, all of this fine duo’s music is always accessible. A wholly admirable album that will appeal not only to the many admirers of these two musicians but also to any who might be unfamiliar with their work but like their jazz forceful, dynamic yet always tasteful and melodic. Warmly recommended.
Bruce Crowther



JOHN COLTRANE
MY FAVORITE THINGS
CD1: (1) My Favorite Things; Ev’rytime We Say Goodbye; Summertime; But Not For Me; (2) One And Four (aka Mr Day); Exotica; Like Sonny; Exotica (alt take) (61.17)
CD2: (1) My Favorite Things; Ev’rytime We Say Goodbye; Summertime; But Not For Me; (3) Impressions; Naima; My Favorite Things (69.19)

(1) Coltrane (ss, ts); McCoy Tyner (p); Steve Davis (b); Elvin Jones (d). New York City, 21-26 October 1960.
(2) Coltrane (ts); McCoy Tyner (p); Steve Davis (b); Billy Higgins (d). Los Angeles, 8 September 1960.
(3) Coltrane (ss, ts); McCoy Tyner (p); Art Davis, Reggie Workman (b); Elvin Jones (d). Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, Rhode Island, 1 July 1961.

Green Corner 100895
****

Why anyone would want the same music in both mono and stereo versions is puzzling, but this seems to be a new dimension in collecting. In this case it seems particularly weird, since the mono Atlantic release of My Favorite Things was especially good, and the stereo recording is no improvement.

The disc was one of several turning points in Coltrane’s career and marked his deployment of the soprano saxophone. It created quite a shock to audiences in England when he offered half-hour workouts on Richard Rodgers’s melody from The Sound Of Music at UK concerts the following year. Trane turned the tune inside out in, at times, tortuous fashion. He reharmonised both Summertime and But Not For Me and offered a poignant reading of Ev’rytime We Say Goodbye, giving all these standards fresh legs and unsuspected qualities.

The month before his first Atlantic milestone, Coltrane recorded the (2) tracks in Los Angeles with Billy Higgins on drums. This venture for Roulette produced only half an album made up of three originals by the leader with an extra take of Exotica surfacing later. Tyner, hot from the Jazztet, made his first entries with Coltrane here, staying for the next five years. He sounded fresh and exuberant on these titles, not always the case when handed one of those endless “drone” roles in JC’s extended searches.

The Newport items, bulking out the second CD (mono version) has an even longer Favorite Things, which tends to pall, but more measured attempts at Impressions and Naima. Two bassists were on this gig – can’t think why. Impressions is announced as So What (which it is, more or less). Trane was moving into ever more strident territory, and his cutting edge is much sharper on this live set.
Mark Gardner


THE CHICK COREA AND STEVE GADD BAND
CHINESE BUTTERFLY

CD1: Chick’s Chums; Serenity; Like I Was Sayin’; A Spanish Song; Chinese Butterfly (43.29)
CD2: Return to Forever; Wake-Up Call; Gadd-Zooks (52.00)
Corea (p, kyb); Gadd (d); Lionel Louke (g, v); Steve Wilson (s, f); Carlitos Del Puerto (b); Luisito Quintero (pc); Philip Bailey (v). 2017.
Stretch Records/Concord Jazz, no number
****

Last year Chick Corea and Steve Gadd reunited for the former’s 75th birthday shows in New York as well as announcing a new band and a new record. The concerts were packed, poignant and marked around 52 years since the pianist and drummer first jammed together in Long Island, a session that led to them joining Chuck Mangione’s band, playing in the first edition of Return to Forever and between 1976 and 1981 collaborating on some of the most revered music in Corea’s catalogue.

Chinese Butterfly is Corea and Gadd’s debut as equal leaders and sits confidently alongside these classics. Fans of Corea’s Spanish suffused 70s fusion will be delighted to discover that this sprawling new double-disc set almost goes out of its way to reference that period, despite being recorded by an all-new band (completed by an American saxophonist, West-African guitarist, South American percussionist and a Cuban bassist). You can almost hear one of Chick’s more gymnastic Elektric ensembles dancing over the funky, John McLaughlin penned Chick’s Chums, and the soft samba vibe of Serenity suggests the 1976 My Spanish Heart. Soft strumming and vocals from Lionel Loueke float over the dominant plink of Corea’s classically disciplined lines, while the soft patter of brushes and bass lay a warm bed for flute.

The drums are to the fore throughout and following the old formula of nuggets like Night Streets, Nite Sprite and Lenore, selections such as A Spanish Song or the conga and cowbell heavy title track give Gadd plenty to dig his heels into. At 72, he’s typically a more understated player, but he noticeably stretches out on this record. If not unfolding deft grooves around Corea’s often frenetic figures in a revised version of Return To Forever, he’s lighting explosive solos under Like I Was Sayin’, a funky track licked with a melodious Rhodes riff reminiscent of So What, and a highlight of an album worth waiting over 50 years for.
Mark Youll


CHUCK ISRAELS JAZZ ORCHESTRA
CONCERTO PELIGROSO

Margot’s Mood; Two Degree East, Three Degrees West; Fractal Shadows; Concerto Peligroso; Delicate Balance; All The Pretty Horses; The Sound Of Sonny; Dark Tapestry; Frankie And Johnnie; Swingin’ For The Fences; Monk’s Dream (71.13)
Charlie Porter (t); John Moak (tb); John Nastos (as, f); Davis Evans (ts, f); Robert Crowell (bar, bcl); Dan Faehnle (elg); Miles Black (p); Israels (b); Michael Raynor (d) Jessica Israels (v). 31 January, 2 February 2017.
Dot Time 9064
*****

Veteran bassist Israels has assembled a fine nonet here to play a variety of compositions which he has arranged himself. The gently pulsing Two Degrees will be remembered by many for the classic performance recorded by John Lewis with Jim Hall for Pacific Jazz in the early 1960s. This version glides along much in the same relaxed manner as the original with Faehnle’s guitar kicking things off and Evan’s tenor sax warm and blustery. Fractal Shadows is a slow ballad with some stirring trombone from Moak starting off the solo sequence. Porter is up next with a crisp and cool trumpet outing. There are so many possibilities for variety and individual expression in the nonet format that you wonder why it is not used more frequently. Israels certainly makes the most of the form here with some well-constructed tracks and plenty of solo spaces for all although his own are fairly brief and played with a big, rich sound.

The Sound Of Sonny takes off with piano, bass and drums playing Toot, Toot, Tootsie in the manner that Rollins played in on his 1957 Riverside record. Pianist Miles Black gets a smooth and free-flowing solo here in which he manages to quote from Sonny Clark’s lines on that old Rollins disc. The treatment overall though, as with all these tracks, is a homage to some past masters done in a fresh and original manner. David Evans plays tenor with a good, fresh swagger but there are shades of Rollins to be heard here and there. Chuck’s daughter Jessica makes one appearance singing the vocal line on Dark Tapestry. Monk’s Dream, with bowed bass and some tongue in cheek jagged piano, is good fun to finish.
Derek Ansell


DAVE LIEBMAN, TATSUYA NAKATANI, ADAM RUDOLPH
THE UNKNOWABLE

Benediction (Opening); The Simple Truth; Late Moon; The Unknowable; Skyway Dream; Transmutations; The Turning; Present Time; Distant Twilight; Iconographic; Cosmogram; Premonition; Benediction (Closing) (48.58) Liebman (ss, ts, f, native American f; recorder; piri; elp); Nakatani (d; gongs; metal pc; misc pc); Rudolph (bgo; djembe; tarija; zabumba; thumb pianos; sinter; mbuti harp; other misc pc; overtone f; elp; live elec processing). New Jersey, July 2016.
RareNoise 089
*****

You’ll probably guess from the instrumentation, if not the titles, that this programme can’t be pigeon-holed into any of the mainstream jazz categories, notwithstanding Liebman’s sometime associations with the likes of Miles Davis, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner. No surprise really, as he’s always been an adventurous player, and was a prominent figure in the NYC loft movement of the early 70s. He has never settled into a comfortable rut and this session again demonstrates how open and wide-ranging his music is.

His colleagues bring varied experience to bear. Rudolph has a track record of work in world music and Nakatani describes himself as primarily a sound artist, focusing on the concept of “Ma”, which can be interpreted as “the space or interval between perceptual events”. So, The Saints it ain’t, but I was smitten from the start of Benediction, which unveils a magical, evanescent soundscape. From there on all kinds of worlds are visited. For example, Cosmogram evokes the chamber music of the Second Viennese School, Premonition is hardcore improv, Skyway Dream has hints of Africa, Late Moon suggests traditional Japanese music and theatre... until the reprise of Benediction transports you to a remote and beautiful mountain top. On the way there are tracks such as The Simple Truth and Present Time which feature what most of us would accept as simon-pure contemporary jazz.

The whole shebang was completely improvised. I don’t know how many discussions, if any, there were beforehand about the shape performances should take, but the finished album (also available as an LP or download) offers three highly individual talents melded into a marvellous single entity. Yep, I liked it.
Barry Witherden


LENNY POPKIN
TIME SET
(1) Fuga À 4 In C Major BWV 846; Gloria From The Missa Mi-Mi; Praeludium In C Major BWV 846; Circular Logic; (2) Call; Andromeda; Play; Time Set; Salon; Danse (60.17)
(1) Popkin (ts) NYC, 1971-2000. (2) Popkin (ts); Gilles Naturel (b); Carol Tristano (d). NYC, 2000 and Paris, 24 May 2006.
Lifeline/Paris Jazz Corner 103
***

For decades now an encounter with Lenny Popkin has awaited the intrepid explorer of the Tristano school who gets beyond Ted Brown. Both players are deeply informed by the work of the pianist and composer and Warne Marsh, the school’s primary tenor sax advocate. “Schooling” in this case happily doesn’t result in music schooled to within an inch of its life. Popkin’s improvisations are as intuitive as any listener could wish for, although considered, as though he’s working and reflecting simultaneously.

His love of composition, and indeed his respect for Tristano-ite precedent as the composer’s works were being played live by Marsh and Lee Konitz decades back, is manifested in his two renderings of J.S. Bach pieces, namely Fuga and Praeludium, both of which are overdubbed, a technique which on this occasion adds to the music’s allure, as opposed to rendering it sterile.

Whilst two thirds of the trio make up Lennie Tristano’s ideal of the quietly ticking rhythm section, his daughter Carol and bassist Naturel are dynamic in their lack of interventionism, which means that Popkin’s often allusive lines are given more than sufficient freedom to roam.
Nic Jones


SONNY ROLLINS
WAY OUT WEST – 60TH ANNIVERSARY DE-LUXE EDITION

LP1: I’m An Old Cowhand; Solitude; Come, Gone; Wagon Wheels; There Is No Greater Love; Way Out West (43.17) LP2: Monologue: You Gotta Dig The Lyrics; I’m An Old Cowhand; Dialogue: Titling Come, Gone; Come Gone; There Is No Greater Love; Way Out West; Way Out West (41.42)
Rollins (ts); Ray Brown (b); Shelly Manne (d). Los Angeles, 7 March 1957.
Craft Records 00021
*****

In 1956/57 the young Rollins had hit a peak of improvisational maturity and in just under two years produced Saxophone Colossus, Tenor Madness and Newk’s Time along with this master session. This is a set for collectors as well as music lovers although many will be both. The high quality of Roy DuNann’s original sound recording along with careful remastering onto premium vinyl makes this music sound as though it was recorded yesterday; only the spaces between the instruments indicates a vintage taping.

Rollins’ playing on LP1 is of the very best, from the opening I’m An Old Cowhand with Manne’s fine clickety-clack accompaniment providing the “I want that cat out on the range all the way” backing that Rollins sought to the final lyrical bars of Way Out West. Sonny’s warm, ripe ballad playing on Solitude and Greater Love is also excellent, a fine contrast to his choppy staccato and inventive improvisations on the other tracks. Brown too is on great form with his counterlines and his strong bass solos as the three musicians coalesce ideally to produce the first of many Sonny trio recordings without any chordal instrument.

The second LP is also a gem with two alternate takes previously released on CD and two more released here for the first time. The newly issued No Greater Love is different to the original issue and very rhapsodic; it’s almost as good as the one first issued – which is saying something. The two additional versions of Way Out West are both worthy of first choice and choosing the right one to put on the original must have been difficult.

These three had played in the earlier part of the evening of 6 March in clubs, had calls for club or studio work the next day and produced this master recording from 3 am until about 7.30 am. Yet the music on every track is as fresh as today’s milk. This two-disc set, exclusive to vinyl, includes also some snippets of studio chatter which will not, I’m convinced, go unappreciated by most jazz enthusiasts.
Derek Ansell


ZBIGNIEW SEIFERT
VARIOSPHERES LIVE IN SOLOTHURN
Untitled; Man Of The Light; Way To Oasis; The Sound Of Gold; Turbulent Plover; On The Farm (76.45)
Seifert (vn); Michel Herr (p, elp, kyb); Hans Hartmann (b); Janusz Stefanski (d). Solothurn, Switzerland, 18 January 1976.
Zbigniew Seifert Foundation CD- FZS-2
****

SOLO VIOLIN
Confessions; Kind Of Time; Birds; Evening Psalm (46.49)
Seifert (vn). Bremen, Germany, 19 May 1976.
Zbigniew Seifert Foundation CD- FZS-3
****

Starting out as a violinist and alto saxophonist, Seifert was influenced early in his career by John Coltrane, this influence remaining when the violin became his principal instrument. In his short professional life he established a lasting reputation, winning European accolades as soloist and as leader of a quartet. Best known for his work in quartet format and his collaborations with Tomasz Stańko, he also played solo, prompted by a successful appearance when he answered an unexpected call to fill a suddenly vacated slot at a festival.

Taken chronologically, these two albums offer Seifert as both quartet leader and as unfettered soloist. Playing post-bop jazz that borders on free improvisation, there is no shortage of unexpected musical diversions. Expectedly, Seifert is the main soloist in the quartet and Herr, too, solos well and also provides a percussive accompaniment. Stefanski plays with relentless ferocity, while Hartmann is effective if perhaps a touch undermiked. Recorded during the 2nd International Swiss Jazz Days, this has remained unreleased until now.

The solo set came about by chance. A guitar duo was unable to play the Forum 76 music week in Bremen and Seifert was a last-minute replacement. A few weeks before this he had been diagnosed with cancer and the release of an LP of this performance helped with medical fees. Powerful, dramatic and driving, Seifert’s instrumental command is striking and allows him to play complex solo lines with the bow while his fingering provides supporting accompaniment. Students of the violin will find this inspiring, if a little daunting, and aficionados of this instrument will find it absorbing, if somewhat demanding.
Bruce Crowther


ARTIE SHAW
THESE FOOLISH THINGS: THE DECCA YEARS

CD1: Orinoco; Mucho De Nada; Love Is The Sweetest Thing; I Get A Kick Out Of You; There Must Be Something Better Than Love; Nothin’ For Nothin’; Love Walked In; So Easy; He’s Gone Away; Foggy, Foggy Dew; The Continental; I’ll Remember April; Crumbum, The Shekemoko Shuffle; Count Every Star; If You Were Only Mine; I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles; You’re Mine, You; I Love The Guy; Just Say I Love Her; Don’t Worry ’Bout Me; It’s A Long Way To Tipperary; Show Me The Way To Go Home; Jingle Bells (72.39)
CD2: Where Or When; White Christmas; Autumn Leaves; Serenade In Blue; My Kinda Love; Dancing On The Ceiling; I Waited A Little Too Long; I May Hate Myself In The Morning; Travellin’; Where There’s Smoke; My Little Nest Of Heavenly Blue; These Foolish Things; In The Still Of The Night; That Old Black Magic; It Could Happen To You; I’ll Be Seeing You; They Can’t Take That Away From Me; All The Things You Are; September Song; In The Still Of The Night; Long Ago And Far Away; I Remember You; More Than You Know; My Funny Valentine (71.05)

Shaw (cl) with a dozen or so of his bands recorded between 1949 and 1955.
Sepia 1314
****

You won’t read much in the books about Artie Shaw’s greatest big band. It lasted for three months in 1949 and shows its tip here in the first four sides (not its best). Shaw put it together to earn money to pay tax debts. It included Cohn, Sims, Steward and sometimes Marmarosa and the library was written by Mulligan, Burns and Cohn amongst others. It folded at the beginning of 1950 and Artie entered into the cycle of a dozen or so bands that made up these more commercial and less rewarding sides for Decca. But there’s still lots of good stuff, mainly from the leader’s clarinet. Artie had done his best to get to grips with bebop and used its phrasing if not its harmonies in his solos.

There are the odd standouts, including the string-laden title song, but sadly the Gramercy Five mostly appears as backing to Mary Ann McCall and June Hutton (paradoxically the most interesting Gramercy Five was to record in 1954). It has two polished instrumentals here, Crumbum and Shekomeko Shuffle, beautifully voiced for Shaw, Lee Castle, Don Lanphere, Jimmy Raney and Teddy Kotick. The Five immediately gives way to two romantic tracks from Dick Haymes which are nevertheless graced by the kind of clarinet that would appeal here. That’s the kind of compromise sequence you have to accept here. It’s all cleanly recorded. Gordon Jenkins and an overwhelming choir deter Artie on Bubbles. There are other vocalists, some horrible, whom you might not like, usually offset by a good clarinet chorus.

You should know that what you are getting is a lot of good tunes commercially aimed and decorated by the great clarinet. Shaw fans will certainly want it, but not so many others will. Four stars for the enjoyment I got from it!
Steve Voce


VARIOUS
OSCAR, WITH LOVE
CD1: (1) The Contessa; (2) Blues For Smedley; (3) Céline’s Waltz; (4) Bossa Beguine; (5) Cool Walk; (6) Dream Of Me; (7) Sushi; (8) If I Love Again; (9) On Danish Shore; (10) Ballad For Benny Carter; (11) A Little Jazz Exercise; (12) Tranquille; (13) Take Me Home (66.16)
CD2: (1) Announcement; (2) If You Only Knew; (3) Love Ballade; (4) The Gentle Waltz; (5) Summertime; (6) Laurentide Waltz; (7) Morning; (8) Harcourt Nights; (9) Wheatland; (10) Why Think About Tomorrow? (56.05)
CD3: (1) One For Oscar; (2) The Smudge; (3) Sir Lancewell; (4) Dear Oscar; (5) I Remember OP; (6) Oscar’s New Camera; (7) OP’s Boogie; (8) Trust; (9) Emmanuel; (10) Look What You’ve Done To Me; (11) Goodbye Old Friend; (12) Hymn To Freedom; (13) When Summer Comes (56.18)
CD1: (1) Makoto Ozone (p). (2) Robi Botos (p). (3) Oliver Jones (p). Dave Young (b). (4) Gerald Clayton (p). (5) Benny Green (p). (6) Michel Legrand (p). (7) Renee & Bill Charlap (p). (8) Ramsey Lewis (p). (9) Justin Kauflin (p). (10) Kenny Barron (p). (11) Makoto Ozone (p). (12) Monty Alexander (p), Dave Young (b). (13) Hiromi Uehara (p).
CD2: (1) Bill Charlap (p). (2) Benny Green (p). (3) Renee Rosnes (p). (4) Monty Alexander (p), Dave Young (b). (5) Justin Kauflin (p). (6) Ramsey Lewis (p). (7) Gerald Clayton (p). (8) Michel Legrand (p). (9) Robi Botos (p). (10) Oliver Jones (p), Dave Young (b). CD3: (1) Chick Corea (p). (2) Kenny Barron (p). (3) Lance Anderson (p). (4) Makoto Ozone (p). (5) Oliver Jones (p), Dave Young (b). (6) Hiromi Uehara (p). (7) Lance Anderson (p). (8) Monty Alexander (p), Dave Young (b). (9) Robi Botos (p). (10) Audrey Morris (p & v). (11) Dave Young (b). (12) Gerald Clayton (p). (13) Robi Botos (p). Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, October 2014 to September 2015.
Mack Avenue 1134
*****

Originally released in 2015 as a special three-CD set produced by Oscar Peterson’s widow Kelly on her own label, and dedicated to him and his friend and mentor Norman Granz, this tribute by 17 pianists – all playing the magnificent Bösendorfer Imperial Grand piano in Oscar Peterson’s Ontario home studio – is now available on Mack Avenue records in a “standard” edition. I was fortunate to receive the “deluxe” version – which comes with an 11-page booklet, a photo gallery and exemplary essays by Kelly Peterson and daughter Céline, succinct track-by-track analyses by academic, trumpeter and director of The Count Basie Orchestra, Scotty Barnhart (which should be required reading for every aspiring CD annotator) and warm reminiscences by Monty Alexander, Lance Anderson, Kenny Barron, Bill Charlap, Chick Corea, Benny Green, Michel Legrand, Ramsey Lewis and other ardent Petersonians.

A glance at the soloists listed above will also show the names of younger and lesser-known pianists – Robi Botos, Gerald Clayton, Justin Kauflin, Makoto Ozone and Hiromi – all of whom were honoured to be invited to play Peterson compositions (some never recorded): The Contessa, Dream Of Me, If I Love Again, Take Me Home, Morning, Summertime, Goodbye Old Friend (a bass solo by Dave Young), established standards – On Danish Shore, Hymn To Freedom, Wheatland, A Little Jazz Exercise, The Smudge, or compositions dedicated to the master – Ballad For Benny Carter, Laurentide Waltz, One For Oscar, and Oscar’s New Camera. Kelly Peterson recalled: “I was overwhelmed by their respect for Oscar. Each of them expressed how humbled they were to be present on ‘hallowed ground’ in Oscar’s studio”.

Among the many highlights of this remarkable assemblage are: CD1: Makoto Ozone’s gentle rendition of The Contessa and an acrobatic A Little Jazz Exercise, Robi Botos’s elemental Blues For Smedley, octogenarian Michel Legrand’s sublime Dream Of Me, and Renee Rosnes’s & Bill Charlap’s Sushi. CD2 is devoted to ballads composed by or dedicated to Oscar. Although 10 languorous performances might be thought soporific, the contrasting talents of Charlap (Announcement), Rosnes (Love Ballad), Green (If You Only Knew), Ramsey Lewis (Laurentide Waltz) and Legrand (Harcourt Nights) have the opposite effect. CD3 has more up-tempo tracks, notably Chick Corea’s One For Oscar, Anderson’s “down-home” OP’s Boogie, Clayton’s authoritative rendition of the majestic Hymn To Freedom, and Barron’s joyous The Smudge. OP, one instinctively feels, would have applauded these virtuoso performances exclusively by his friends – and on his favourite instrument.
John White

 


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