martes, 4 de noviembre de 2014

Ferenc Nemeth / Attila László - Bridges Of Souls (2014)

Label: Dreamers Collective Records

Two generations, two amazing jazz musicians, one Eastern European country. Ferenc Nemeth and Attila Laszlo are among the best drummers and guitarists, respectively, Hungary has to offer. The two have combined their collective talents are composers and performers for this special collaboration called Bridges of Souls — out on October 28, 2014 from Nemeth’s Dreamers Collective Records — and it’s a pleasing mesh of Old World and New World all wrapped in a modern sensibility.

A lot of that “New World” sensibility comes not just from Nemeth and Laszlo’s detailed understanding of American music, but also by completing the quartet with two standout American musicians, Russell Ferrante (keyboards) and Jimmy Haslip (electric bass), the linchpins of the fabled fusion group The Yellowjackets, with which Ferrante remains active.

Ferrante and Haslip have also enjoyed extensive careers as first-call session players and those credentials alone justify their presence on this engagement. But the urbane strains from Nemeth and Laszlo that strikes the right balance between the contemporary drive of fusion and the complexity and dynamism of jazz. That sounds a lot like the Yellowjackets, doesn’t it? Moreover, this configuration brings us back to the original incarnation of the Yellowjackets when there was a guitar where there is now a saxophone, only Laszlo is jazzier than Robben Ford and Nemeth is…well, he’s just his uncommonly splendid self.

Nemeth grooves like all the greats, but the deft, light timbres he gets from his cymbals and snare powers songs without dominating the other players. He does this particularly well on the slyly funky “Downhill,” where Laszlo and Ferrante combine on chiming lead lines. Ferrante then peels off for piano asides that are perfectly in the pocket. Laszlo, who has been leading ensembles for four decades, is also a consummate pro at getting the right timbres: his rich, gooey notes grace that aforementioned “Downhill” and with Nemeth, pilots the twisting, mod jazz progressions of “It’s Already That” and then bastes tasty licks over it. Later on, he lets it all hang out for the soul fusion take on Radiohead’s “Creep.”

Ferrante and Haslip more than contribute their fair share of chops, too. Ferrante is just as often heard on electric piano as on acoustic piano and even leaving occasional synth washes. His diversity serves these songs well, such as the Rhodes he employs on “Dance,” where he harmonizes with Laszlo and then in a Herbie Hancock dialect engages in some engaging back and forth with the guitarist. Haslip gets in a few spotlights as well, most notably a delicate solo on “The Untouchable Number.”

It’s not like any of these guys have to solo to impress you; they collectively make “Bridges of Souls” a lithe, elegant dance that does much to show the élite musicianship of these four.

Two songs get vocal treatment. “Alone” features Charlie Horvath, and the Hungarian rock star has an endearing Joe Cocker croak. That song’s lyrics were penned by the Spaniard Lara Bello, who completely composed and sang “Little Heart.” Her Spanish accent is readily apparent on this waltzing ballad but that’s also part of the charm of her voice.

Bridges of Souls is a tasteful fusion excursion that leaves no doubt that Ferenc Nemeth has barely scratched the surface on an already impressive career and Attila Laszlo shows no sign of winding down his.

1. Bridges of Souls 6:22
2. Downhill 6:30
3. The Untouchable Number 4:48
4. It's Already That 6:27
5. Sounds of My Heart 5:41
6. Dance 4:51
7. Alone 4:54
8. Magic City 6:44
9. Little Heart 4:48
10.Creep 6:10    
11.Missing You 3:38

Attila László, guitar
Russell Ferrante, keyboards
Jimmy Haslip, bass
Ferenc Nemeth, drums

Charlie Horvath, vocals #7
Lara Bello, vocals # 9

"The most important thing I look for in a musician,
 is whether he knows how to listen."
  - Duke Ellington - 


Joey DeFrancesco - Home for the Holidays (2014) 2 CD

Keyboardist Joey DeFrancesco will release his first Christmas album, Home for the Holidays, Oct. 28 on JD Music on October 28. The recording, jointly produced by Joey and his wife Gloria DeFrancesco, is a double album featuring traditional Christmas songs such as “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Merry Christmas Baby,” “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and “Blue Christmas” plus new, original DeFrancesco compositions: the title track, “Home for the Holidays,” and “Christmas at 3 a.m.”

On various tracks DeFrancesco performs solo, with his trio, quartet and quintet. The core Trio comprises guitarist Jeff Parker, drummer George Fludas and DeFrancesco on Hammond organ, with guest musicians in other configurations including John Webber on bass, Jerry Weldon and George Coleman Sr. on tenor saxophones, and George Coleman Jr. on drums. Two songs recorded in California, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” feature Roman Banda (drums), Jose ‘Papo’ Rodriguez (percussion), Steve Wilkerson (flute) and Tony Banda (bass). DeFrancesco also plays piano and trumpet, and sings on “Blue Christmas” and “Merry Christmas Baby.”

CD 1: The Party

01. Mistletoe And Holly (3:01)
02. Home For The Holidays (4:36)
03. Baby It's Cold Outside (4:03)
04. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (4:23)
05. The Twelve Days Of Christmas (6:42)
06. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve Backup (4:16)
07. Christmas At 3 A.M (4:45)
08. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (4:48)
09. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (3:36)
10. The Christmas Song (5:15)
11. Merry Christmas Baby (4:21)
12. I'll Be Home For Christmas (4:50)
13. Blue Christmas (4:26)

CD 2: The Tradition

01. Joy To The World (2:21)
02. O Little Town Of Bethlehem (4:09)
03. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (4:01)
04. We Three Kings (4:46)
05. O Come All Ye Faithful (2:45)
06. Silent Night (5:12)
07. What Child Is This (5:24)
08. Away In A Manger (3:15)
09. The First Noel (3:58)
10. O Holy Night (4:05)


Jake Langley - Diggin' In (2004)

Guitarist Jake Langley's Diggin' In features organist Joey DeFrancesco and drummer Terry Clarke playing mostly standards in a Wes Montgomery vein. Learning that much by reading the CD cover suggests a contemporary Lee Ritenour-style treatment with enough twists from DeFrancesco's presence for an intelligent recreational listen. The sort of album, in other words, for unwinding after a long day when one isn't ready to completely submit to the mental enema of typical contemporary.

Langley, 30, a Toronto resident selected as Canada's guitarist of the year in the National Jazz Awards, possesses stylings that carries over from studies with Pat Martino and Jim Hall, plus plenty of influence from the Montgomery school. Diggin' In, his third solo album, returns to the lower-key trio playing of his debut Doug's Garage after showcasing a collection of funk/acid/Latin originals with a larger cast on Non Fiction.

Consistency is a good summary for this set, never venturing into uncomfortably exploration or hollow mailed-in territory. Langley keeps the melodies recognizable and his soloing elaborates rather than reinterprets. His plucking runs the range of leisurely to lively, easily absorbed without being completely predictable.

Montgomery's "O.G.D." has a laid back feel, for instance, but Langley spices it up with a rapid series of post bop runs. He also displays a fine command for upbeat blues on "The Garage," the lone original composition on this album. His blues-ballad rendition of Billie Holiday's "God Bless The Child" is a smooth change of pace, although it fails to leave any lasting impressions. The same might be said for the album as a whole—while it's pleasant, it may not linger beyond the moment the listener hits the "off" switch.

DeFrancesco has more acclaimed outings on his resume, but he isn't being called upon to go all out and delivers well for the setting. His tone and a bit of extra kick compared to Langley's treatments, plus offering some extra depth as an accompanist, are what will spur listeners to pick this over similar trio discs when the mood arises. Clarke gets little time on his own, but generally his loose-style playing feels like a living organism propelling things ahead.

Diggin' In doesn't cover any new territory, but does a good job within the one it does occupy as long as listeners are seeking comfort rather than a life-changing experience. It's also comforting knowing Langley is capable of mixing styles album to album, making his past and future efforts worth keeping an eye on if this one satisfies.

Jake Langley, guitar
Joey DeFrancesco, B3 organ
Terry Clarke, drums

1. Cheese Cake
2. O.G.D.
3. Blues For Jim San
4. God Bless The Child
5. The Garage
6. Gibraltar
7. Sugar


Wayne Horvitz / The Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble - At The Reception (2014)

Wayne Horvitz already has lovely. It's a tool he wields with ease in his music, be it in his Gravitas Quartet of piano/trumpet/cello/bassoon, his Sweeter Than The Day acoustic quartet or the electric Zony Mash. He even brought lovely to John Zorn's shocking Naked City bands of the 1990s. Horvitz has the ability to distill music, be it classical, jazz, film, or free, down to the essence of melody and harmony. He applies that lovely to his little big band, The Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble.

The RRCME was formed in 2012 to perform a regular gig in Seattle at a club co- owned by Horvitz. Fans of his music will find many of the compositions on At The Reception familiar, as they are taken from the aforementioned bands, Zony Mash, Sweeter Than The Day, and his 4+1 Ensemble. The twist here is that the music is spontaneously re-arranged in performance by Horvitz, who conducts here, instead of playing piano. His live re-ordering of the music is based on conduction methods learned from Butch Morris, who began with noted music, but then switched to pure improvisation conductions.

Where Morris eschewed order for instant composing, Horvitz favors a reorganization of already composed music. The casual listener probably could not tell that this is collective improvisation. Horvitz' methods evoke the on-the-fly performance changes favored by Charles Mingus' bands and the ICP Orchestra. The beauty of this music is the distance these fourteen musicians get from the head-solo-head tradition and their collective approach to music making. The pieces are efficient and effective. They swing hard and are slathered with that lovely.

Al Keith: trumpet
Samantha Boshnack: trumpet
Steve O’Brien: trumpet
Naomi Siegel: trombone
Jacob Herring: trombone
Willem de Koch: trombone
Beth Fleenor: clarinet
Kate Olson: soprano saxophone
Ivan Arteaga: alto saxophone
Skerik: tenor saxophone
Greg Sinibaldi: baritone saxophone
Ryan Burns: piano
Geoff Harper: bass
Eric Eagle: drums
Wayne Horvitz: conductor, composer

01. A Walk in the Rain
02. Forgiveness
03. Daylight
04. Trish
05. Barber Shop
06. Ironbound
07. Redux #2 (Daylight)
08. Prepaid Funeral
09. First Light
10. Sweeter Than The Day
11. Disingenuous Firefight
12. At the Reception
13. Redux #4 (Sweeter Than the Day)
14. After All These Years (Bonus Track)
15. In the Light(Bonus Track)

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins