martes, 18 de noviembre de 2014


Source & Label: Mack Avenue
Gab's Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆  

Jimmy Greene’s new release, Beautiful Life on Mack Avenue Records, is a celebration of the life of his 6-year-old daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, whose life was tragically taken, along with 19 other children and 6 educators, on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
“I want the music to reflect the way that Ana lived,” Greene says. He fulfills that mandate with an intense, cohesive, genre-spanning program—juxtaposing the hardcore instrumental jazz for which he is best known with traditional spirituals, contemporary Christian music, standard ballads and three original songs framing his own lyrics. Animating the repertoire is a gold-standard rhythm section (Renee Rosnes, piano; Christian McBride, bass; Lewis Nash, drums), augmented at various points by guitarists Pat Metheny and Jonathan DuBose, Jr.; pianists Kenny Barron and Cyrus Chestnut; vocalists Kurt Elling, Javier Colon and Latanya Farrell; spoken word from Tony Award®-winning actress Anika Noni Rose; a 13-piece string ensemble from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra; as well as an accomplished children’s choir.
Greene himself is one of the most respected saxophonists of his generation since graduating from Hartt School of Music in 1997. He composed or arranged every selection and plays tenor and soprano saxophones as well as flute with customary authority, melodic focus and abiding soulfulness.
“In the days after my daughter was killed, playing and writing music wasn’t even a thought,” the 39-year-old saxophonist says. “I was very much in shock, grieving deeply and trying to just function coherently. Family and friends surrounded us and held us up, and we received 10,000 communications—emails, texts, Facebook messages, voice calls, letters—from people around the world. The community of musicians was front and center for that support. When I called, they responded, ‘Whatever you need, just say the word, and I’ll be there.’”
In late January 2013, Greene, feeling that “I needed to get back to some sense of routine,” resumed a regimen of practice and composition. Soon thereafter, Norman Chesky, the co-owner of Chesky Records and HDtracks, reached out with an extraordinary offer.
“An intense amount of media attention was focused on my family and all of us in Newtown, so I was fairly guarded whenever communicating with someone for the first time,” Greene relates. “But Norman offered to donate the production of a recording that I could do whenever I was ready, and to give me complete ownership. I was humbled and honored by his generosity, and began to devote my energies to the project.”
Greene decided to weave lyrics and singers into the flow for the first time on one of his recordings. “Ana loved to sing and listen to singers, and had a wonderful singing voice,” he explains. “So an album dedicated to her memory needed to have singers and songs that were important to her and me and my family.”
Beautiful Life opens with a recording of Ana singing the traditional “Saludos” (“Greetings”) at a Christmas celebration (parranda) in Puerto Rico with her mother Nelba Márquez-Greene’s family—and her father playing in the background—a year before her death. Greene segues to a section in which he and guitarist Pat Metheny perform “Come Thou Almighty King” before concluding with another family recording of Ana singing the hymn to her brother Isaiah’s piano accompaniment.
The wistful “Last Summer,” a quartet feature, evokes Greene’s impressions of the photograph of his children—captured from the rear with their arms around each other’s shoulders in the family’s backyard in Winnipeg, Canada, where Greene taught at the University of Manitoba between 2009 and 2012—that appears on the cover of Beautiful Life.
The mellow tenor voice of Javier Colon, Greene’s one-time classmate at Hartt who won the 2011 edition of NBC’s The Voice, delivers Greene’s lyric for “When I Come Home” supported by the quartet, Greene’s signifying tenor saxophone and the strings.
Greene initially recorded “Ana’s Way” instrumentally as “Ana Grace” on the 2009 recording Mission Statement. Complementing Grammy® Award-winner Kurt Elling’s characteristically penetrating, graceful interpretation is the Linden Christian School Early Years Choir, comprising classmates of Ana and Isaiah in Winnipeg; solos by Greene and Rosnes distill the oceanic emotions of the lyric. “It was brutal seeing Ana’s friends again, without Ana there amongst them,” Greene says. “But we got through it somehow, and I think the results are very touching.”
Iconic pianist Kenny Barron joins Greene for conversational readings of the Broadway songs “Where Is Love?” from Oliver and “Maybe” from Annie, the latter featuring Greene’s pure-toned soprano saxophone. “Kenny, Christian and Lewis were the rhythm section for the 1996 Thelonious Monk Competition, where I was named first runner-up,” Greene recalls. “They made me feel welcomed and comfortable, that I could do this for my life, and so I wanted them involved.”
“My daughter loved Annie, and would sing ‘Maybe’ a cappella with great pitch and rhythm in the back of the car when we were driving around,” Greene recalls. He includes “Where Is Love” in homage to Jackie McLean, his primary musical mentor, who showed Greene, then 15, the melody at their first meeting at Hartford’s Artists Collective.
The penultimate track of Beautiful Life, titled “Prayer,” is Greene’s musical setting of the text of the “Lord’s Prayer.” Cyrus Chestnut accompanies Greene’s devotional tenor saxophone; illuminating the message is Latanya Farrell (who Greene met while attending Hartt), whose powerful contralto enchanted Ana as a toddler.
Ana became a fan of Anika Noni Rose—a high school classmate of Greene’s in Bloomfield, Connecticut—after hearing her inhabit the role of Princess Tiana in the animated film The Princess and the Frog. Rose’s recitation of Greene’s optimistic soliloquy “Little Voices” precedes another appearance by the Linden Children’s Choir.
“Many people have asked what they can do to help, and this is my answer,” Greene says. “Let’s remember what happened at Sandy Hook. We can each hold up our end of the bargain, which is to somehow learn to love ourselves, and then see past ourselves and love our neighbor. That’s pretty simple, but if we all did it, I think our existence would be different.”

    Saludos/Come Thou Almighty King - with Pat Metheny
    Last Summer
    When I Come Home - with Javier Colon
    Ana's Way - with Kurt Elling
    Your Great Name
    Where Is Love? - with Kenny Barron
    Seventh Candle
    Maybe - with Kenny Barron
    Prayer - with Cyrus Chestnut and Litany Farrell
    Little Voices - with Anika Noni Rose

A portion of the proceeds from Beautiful Life will be donated to the following charities in Ana’s name:

    The Ana Grace Project of Klingberg Family Centers—initiated by Greene’s wife Nelba, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, to promote love, community and connection for every child and family through partnerships with schools, mental health providers, community organizations and faith leaders.
  The Artists Collective—where generations of children and families in Greater Hartford have gained access to world-class training in the arts


Vic Juris - Pastels (1996)

A good quartet release, featuring Juris on guitar, Phil Markowitz on piano, Jay Anderson on bass, and Matt Wilson on drums. Juris' originals range from the angular free bop of "Mergatroid" to the breezy jazz waltz of "Sim 95," to the dark balladry of "Berlin" and the intriguing 7/4 syncopation of "Bravo Rio" (the latter two performed beautifully on acoustic guitar). Tom Harrell's "Sail Away" and John Coltrane's "26-2" are inspired covers, posing starkly different improvisational challenges and showcasing the band's versatility and depth. Markowitz is characteristically dazzling, his acoustic piano balancing Juris' penchant for signal processing; their duo reading of "Sweet and Lovely" is a highlight. At times Juris' chorus-laden sound can grow wearying; when he finally shuts off the effect for the closing trio piece, "I'll Close My Eyes," his ideas come through more clearly. That said, his occasional use of a guitar-synth pickup results in some very novel phrasing. ~ David R. Adler, Rovi

Vic Juris, guitar
Phil Markowitz, piano
Jay Anderson, bass
Matt Wilson, drums

01. Will Call (4:49)
02. Sweet and Lovely (5:37)
03. Mergatroid (6:19)
04. Berlin (5:42)
05. Sail Away (7:08)
06. Sim 95 (8:16)
07. 26-2 (6:22)
08. Chop-Chop (4:07)
09. Bravo Rio (6:07)
10. I'll Close My Eyes (7:05)


Vic Juris - Night Tripper (1995)

During some of the selections on his SteepleChase CD, guitarist Vic Juris displays an echoey tone reminiscent of John Scofield while on a few other numbers he has a dryer and subtle acoustic sound. Juris' improvising is on a high level, performing "Estate," "Falling in Love With Love," two obscurities, and six group originals (four of which are his) with creativity. His sidemen (pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Steve LaSpina, and drummer Jeff Hirshfield) are alert and have quick reactions. Two high points are the eccentric "Dekooning" and a tasteful bossa nova rendition of "Estate," numbers that best show off Juris' impressive flexibility. ~ Scott Yanow

Vic Juris, guitar
Phil Markowitz, piano
Steve LaSpina, bass
Jeff Hirshfield, drums

01. I Heard You Cried Last Night
02. Dekooning
03. Liebeslied
04. Next Victim
05. Estate
06. Night Tripper
07. Without You
08. Falling In Love With Love
09. For Harry
10. Marigold


George Colligan - Ask Me Tomorrow (2014)

Source: Critical Jazz
Label: SteepleChase
Gab's Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆  

 Next to a solo piano release, the piano trio may be the most unforgiving ensemble presentations in improvisational music. The harmonic equivalent of tap dancing in a melodic minefield. This is an easy statement to make when you are an admittedly cynical critic that has reviewed more piano trios in four years than most people have heard in their lifetime. This is also a primary reason that George Colligan's Ask Me Tomorrow is a wondrous look into the cerebral vision of an artistic  journey that has come full circle. There is a syncopated synergy of harmonic movement that some of Colligan's contemporaries have ignored, perhaps forgetting the piano originated as a percussive instrument. George Colligan pulls an ambient almost ethereal like quality while pushing what is normally considered the "straight ahead" sound into the next dimension.

To focus on the minutia of Ask Me Tomorrow in terms of critical analysis would be doing an injustice to this amazing collective that is rounded off with the fabulous Linda Oh on bass and the lyrical finesse of drummer Ted Poor. While Colligan would seem to favor minor keys, odd meters and an organic pulse, the overwhelming beauty of his melodies only seem stronger for his approach. Open, warm, deceptively subtle in nuanced texture is the embodiment of what can best be referred to as capturing lighting in a bottle as this is a live studio recording, three hours in the studio and no rehearsal. The results include the percussive insistence and odd metered groove of "Insistent Linda." We are also graciously served up an intimate "Jesper's Summer House." The richness of flavor is fortified with the dynamic tension of the free formed "Two Notes, Four Chords." The hauntingly beautiful "Denmark" may well be the jewel in this amazing collection. These are all original compositions, no standards...Ask Me Tomorrow is predictable by embracing an open ended unpredictable nature.

I have been hard on George Colligan and not because I know more about music or because I have some pseudo-intellectual axe to grind but because I knew this was an artist that could go deep. We all can pull from a deeper place; artists, listeners and especially critics. This is the George Colligan I have been waiting for. While the year is still relatively young, Ask Me Tomorrow may be one of the very best recordings I have heard in my four hundred plus reviews thus far and easily one of the most memorable piano trios that I have heard in the last decade.

01 Ask Me Tomorrow
02 Two Notes Four Chords
03 Prague
04 Return To Copenhagen
05 Insistent Linda
06 Jesper's Summer House
07 Cathexis
08 Jet Blue  

LINDA OH - bass
TED POOR - drums

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


Vic Juris - For the Music (1992)

Victor E. Jurusz, Jr., known professionally as Vic Juris (b. September 26, 1953, New Jersey) is an American jazz guitarist.

Juris played with Lyn Christie early in the 1970s and made his first recordings with Eric Kloss in 1975. Soon after he joined Barry Miles (musician)'s group, remaining with Miles well into the 1980s. He recorded with Richie Cole during 1976-78 and released his first albums as a leader in the late 1970s. He then played with Don Patterson (1977), Wild Bill Davis, Jimmy Smith, and Mel Torme (1977). He put together his own quartet in 1981. Later in the 1980s he played with Bireli Lagrene (1985), Larry Coryell (1985-86), Richie Cole again (from 1986), and John Etheridge (1988). In the 1990s, he became increasingly active as a sideman, working with Dave Liebman (1991-97), Ron McClure (1992), Lee Konitz and Peggy Stern (1992), Benny Waters (1993), Jeanie Bryson (1993-94), Gary Peacock (since 1994), Steve LaSpina (since 1995), Judi Silvano (1996), Ken Serio (1996, 2007) and Joe Locke (1998).

His song "Horizon Drive" was sampled by Gang Starr in 1994 for the song "Mass Appeal" though Juris was not paid for its use.

Juris has held teaching positions at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Mason Gross School of the Arts, William Paterson University and Lehigh University.

Vic Juris (guitar)
Tim Hagans (trumpet)
Jay Anderson (bass)
Jeff Hirshfield (drums)

1. Victim
2. Sim
3. For the Music
4. If I Should Lose You
5. Folk Song
6. A Weaver of Dreams
7. You Don't Know What Love Is
8. For Emily
9. Back Row Hi Jinx