miércoles, 17 de diciembre de 2014

Lester Bowie - The Great Pretender (2014) 2 CD

In 1981, ECM released the much acclaimed "The Great Pretender" by Lester Bowie and his band interpreting gospels in a contemporary and jazzy way, mixing tradition with humor and avant-garde outbursts.

Now, Jazzwerkstatt releases a double CD with the same title and with an almost similar concept. The first CD is fully in the same vein as the ECM album, with a band consisting of Fontella Bass, Martha Bass and David Peaston on vocals, Ari Brown on sax, Art Matthews on piano, Fred Williams on bass, Philip Wilson on drums. The live performance was recorded in Berlin in 1982.

The concept is almost the same : well-known gospel songs and hymns such as "Jesus Loves Me", "He's Got The World In His Hand", "I'm So Grateful", tracks which are also played like you would expect in any church, without trumpet or sax, just piano and vocals. But then you have the other tracks, "Mother's Mode + Peace", which is a long and jubilant free jazz piece, "Tobabo, Tobago" with its fun Carribean rhythm, the slow blues "It's A Mean Old World", and the rock'n'roller "Let The Good Times Roll", and ending with the hair-raising "The Great Pretender".

And you're right, this is a quick journey through the history of African American music, reverent, soulful, joyful and fun, and it will be a great addition to the fans of the ECM album.

The second CD is a totally different thing, and you can even wonder why both albums are sold together, because they have absolutely nothing in common, and with absolutely, I mean absolutely.

Next to Bowie on trumpet, we have William Parker on bass, and Philip Wilson on drums. The performance was recorded in New York in 1991, to my knowledge the only trio performance of Bowie, next to Kahil El'Zabar's Ritual Trio album "The Ancestors Are Among Us".

The CD starts with "Cool", a bluesy duet with William Parker that will please everybody for its beautiful and sad sound, and great pulse. "Philadelphia" is a very nervous improvisation on which Bowie's sound is raw and percussive even and soulful and inventive, a real joy to hear for fans of the master.  "Steel And Breath" has Wilson in a star role, thundering away on his kit, with Bowie taking up the challenge for some fantastic dialogues, reminiscent of their duo album.

How record labels present and promote their music is often a mystery, and this is again confirmed here by Jazzwerkstatt (which is for any interested buyer an absolute disaster website to find information), but that should not deter interested fans. If you are a fan of free music, just download the second CD from the usual sites. If you are a fan of Bowie, buy the whole thing.

Disc 1

1. Mother's Mode
2. Yes, Jesus Loves Me 
3. Tobago, Tobago
4. It's a Mean Old Man's World
5. When The Spirit Comes Back To Me
6. He's Got The Whole World In His Hand
7. I'm So Grateful
8. Let the Good Times Roll
9. Great Pretender

Disc 2

1. Cool
2. Philadelphia
3. Steel and Breath

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra - OverTime: Music of Bob Brookmeyer (2014)

A punto de cumplir medio siglo de vida (fue fundada en 1966 por Thad Jones y Mel Lewis), The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra continúa actuando en vivo en el mítico Village Vanguard, y publicando grabaciones. Su nueva entrega, OverTime, está dedicada al gran Bob Brookmeyer. El trombonista, pianista y compositor, fallecido en 2011, es el compositor de toda la música (salvo “Skylark”) y autor de todos los arreglos. De los siete temas propios, tres de ellos (“XYZ”, “The Big Time” y “Sad Song”) no han sido grabados con anterioridad, mientras que las cuatro piezas restantes de Brookmeyer fueron escritas a lo largo de los años para esta formación.

En la orquesta sobresalen varios solistas con unas muy importantes carreras individuales ya que suenan magníficamente: Dick Oatts, Gary Smullyan, Terell Stafford, Jim McNeely, David Peel, Rich Perry… aunque lo que caracteriza a la grabación por encima de las individualidades es la elegancia y sofisticación con que Brookmeyer dotó tanto a las composiciones como a los arreglos. Esto permite que la atención del oyente se pueda desplazar entre los solos y unos arreglos que resaltan las melodías. De ese modo en un mismo tema se pueden producir sucesivos cambios de tempo, o tras unos arreglos (que en cualquier momento pueden sufrir variaciones) a la orquesta le suceden unos solos o dúos stricto sensu. OverTime evidencia la enorme inteligencia musical de Bob Brookmeyer. El empleo de todos los recursos disponibles sirvieron para que él junto con otros llevasen el concepto de “jazz orchestra” a un nuevo estadio.

1. The Big Time

Suite for Three 
2. Oatts
Dick Oatts, alto saxophone

3. Scott
Scott Wendholt, flugelhorn

4. Rich
Rich Perry, tenor saxophone

5. XYZ
Solos  John Riley, drums; David Wong, bass; Jim McNeely, piano; 
Billy Drewes, soprano saxophone; Rich Perry, tenor saxophone; 
Terell Stafford, trumpet; John Mosca, trombone

6. Skylark
Solo  Dick Oatts, alto saxophone

7. At the Corner of Ralph and Gary 
Solos  Ralph Lalama, tenor saxophone; Gary Smulyan, baritone saxophone

8. Sad Song
Solo  Dick Oatts, flute


Nick Marchione
Tanya Darby
Terell Stafford
Scott Wendholt

John Mosca
Luis Bonilla
Jason Jackson (bass & tenor trombone)
Douglas Purviance (bass trombone)

Dick Oatts (alto & soprano saxophones, flute)
Billy Drewes (alto & soprano saxophones, flute)
Rich Perry (tenor saxophone, flute)
Ralph LaLama (tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet)
Gary Smulyan (baritone saxophone)

Jim McNeely (piano)
John Riley (drums)
David Wong (bass)

Frank Basile (bass clarinet) on Scott, XYZ and Sad Song
David Peel (french horn) on The Big Time, Skylark, XYZ and Sad Song
Mike Truesdell (percussion) on The Big Time, XYZ and Sad Song

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins