martes, 24 de marzo de 2015

Joey Calderazzo - Going Home (2015)

Label & Source: Sunnyside
Gab's Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆  

Finding opportunities for growth and development are important aspects in the process of evolving as a creative musician. Discovering and tackling new challenges helps to keep music-making a fresh and exciting occupation for many, including pianist Joey Calderazzo, who found his latest challenge in the form of the piano trio.

Since the beginning of his illustrious career, Calderazzo has mainly played in quartets led by remarkable saxophonists, namely Michael Brecker and Branford Marsalis. As a musician and composer, the pianist had become comfortable in this format, developing an intensity in his playing and predilections in his composing that those ensemble’s sizes demanded.

Calderazzo saw the establishment of his trio as a means to strengthen his craft by working on material and musical concepts that he would not ordinarily work on. He’s approaching things with a fresh and hard-won perspective, one informed by the peace of his North Carolina home for the past decade, years spent gigging and recording around the world, an unquenchable desire to just get better, and a keen awareness of what sort of project will get him there.

In light of the progress he has made in the trio format, Calderazzo views his new recording, Going Home (Sunnyside) as a snapshot of a work in progress, an experiment that continues to progress and wield an abundance of intriguing results. The recording provided an opportunity for Calderazzo to step away from his natural inclinations and approach the music in a new exciting way. He no longer felt the need to prove anything at the piano. He describes shedding both competitiveness with his contemporaries and a proclivity to sound like his idols. He simply doesn’t want to get in his own way — and the musical results are outstanding.

While a number of musicians have been featured in his trio, Calderazzo employed two musicians this time around whose contrasting strengths pushed the ensemble into fascinating new areas. Bassist Orlando Le Fleming was the instigator, continually challenging the group with his harmonic drive. Drummer Adam Cruz was a perfect foil as his controlled intensity and beautiful tone helped to refine the group’s musicality.

The music generated by the ensemble showed the musicians’ desire to balance freedom and responsibility. To stimulate this, Calderazzo intentionally wrote pieces and arranged two standards without too much structure, which created a focus on improvisation and group interplay, features that do not ordinarily stand out in studio recordings. The originals were generally sketches, moods or vibes, which provided a starting point for the ensemble’s explorations.

The program begins with “Manifold,” a ruminative piece based on twelve-tone composing techniques, utilized most notably in the bass notes being a part of the tone row, thus creating an ambiguous harmony allowing melodic freedom for the right hand. The distinctive Branford Marsalis is featured on “I Never Knew,” a ballad Calderazzo had begun for Marsalis’ soprano but was played on tenor, making it the first time Marsalis had played tenor on one of Calderazzo’s ballads. “Why Me?” is an exploratory, re-harmonized take on the Marks and Simons classic “All of Me,” which is built on a 6/8 over 4/4 pulse allowing Calderazzo to bounce freely over the time.

Perkins and Parish’s “Stars Fell on Alabama” is performed by the trio here for the first time, with Calderazzo focusing on playing melancholy melodic lines through the harmony, rather than focusing on every change of chord. One of Calderazzo’s older pieces, “Legend,” is performed open allowing the amount of information the tune provides to spur on an intriguing, in-the-moment performance. Originally presented on his duo recording with Marsalis from 2011, the spirited “One Way” is revisited here with an offbeat, New Orleans-oriented rhythmic swagger.

Having played it regularly in the past four years, Calderazzo reinvestigates one of his favorite standards, Young and Washington’s “My Foolish Heart,” in a somber, introspective mood. Written for his former bandleader, “Mike’s Song” is a piece that Michael Brecker would have destroyed and the trio’s performance does its best to live up to the saxophone legend’s tremendous musical spirit. “Going Home” closes the recording with an incredibly heartfelt and honest piece written in memory of someone who passed away too soon.

The fact that Joey Calderazzo views his recent performances and recordings with a trio as an experiment should highlight the fact that he wants to continue to hone his craft and progress as a musician. Going Home is a tremendous document of his musical process and a milestone of his progress, synthesizing his decades of creativity into something new, sublime, and supremely centered as a composer, improviser and bandleader.

Going Home - 5:31
Manifold - 7:15
I Never Knew - 7:22
Why Me? - 4:22
Stars Fell On Alabama - 6:47
Legend - 10:08
One Way - 6:11
My Foolish Heart - 7:23
Mike\'s Song - 8:25

Joey Calderazzo - piano
Orlando Le Fleming - bass
Adam Cruz - drums
Branford Marsalis - tenor saxophone #2

"Master your instrument, master the music 
& then forget all that & just play."
 - Charlie Parker -

Robben Ford - Into the sun (2015)

Label: Mascot Music
Source: Robben Ford
Gab's Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆    

Guitar virtuoso Robben Ford’s forthcoming new album Into The Sun (Mascot Label Group) shines a bright light on his artful, contemporary songwriting and the stunning playing that’s made him a favorite foil of Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison and other legends.
The five-time Grammy nominee describes the 11-song set as “one of the top recordings I’ve ever done” — a staggering observation considering his extensive discography, which embraces more than 35 albums under his own name and with his various bands. There’s also Ford’s session and sideman work, which includes hundreds of concert appearances and albums by Bonnie Raitt, Barbara Streisand, Charlie Musselwhite, KISS, Ruthie Foster, Jimmy Witherspoon and Rickie Lee Jones.
Into The Sun, which follows last year’s critically acclaimed A Day In Nashville and 2013’s Bringing It Back Home, explores the breadth of Ford’s sophisticated, visionary writing and playing, creating a new chapter in his brilliant musical history. The album features a coterie of guests: Allman Brothers guitarist and Gov’t Mule frontman Warren Haynes on “High Heels And Throwing Things,” slide guitar guru Sonny Landreth on “So Long 4 U,” Americana and blues icon Keb’ Mo’ and pedal steel wizard Robert Randolph on “Justified,” vocal sensation ZZ Ward on “Breath Of Me,” and gritty Southern rock newcomer Tyler Bryant on “Stone Cold Heaven.” Niko Bolas, whose credits include Neil Young, John Mayer and Keith Richards, engineered.
“The album is really upbeat,” Ford relates. “It has a positive vibe to it — a good time feel. There are a lot of different rhythms and colors and the way the instruments are used is really different on this. It makes me very happy to have something so diverse.”
Although Ford’s recent releases have been hailed as returns to his musical roots — which go back to his discovery of blues as a teenager in the 1960s – Into The Sun is a clear departure, using tradition as a springboard to incorporate his timeless vocabulary of jazz, pop, blues and rock into a modern framework for his poetic lyrics and the most graceful, emotionally nuanced and melodic vocal performances of his career.
“This album is obviously of these times,” Ford says. “And the rule during the recording process was to have no lid on things. I’ve worked very hard to master my craft as a musician and a songwriter, but other than relying on my strengths in those areas, I made sure there was room for new ideas and everything my collaborators brought to the music. When you’re open to different concepts and approaches, the most beautiful things can happen.”  Read more...

1. Rose Of Sharon
2. Day Of The Planets
3. Howlin’ At The Moon
4. Rainbow Cover
5. Justified (with Keb’ Mo’ & Robert Randolph)
6. Breath Of Me (with ZZ Ward)
7. High Heels And Throwing Things (with Warren Haynes)
8. Cause Of War
9. So Long 4 U (with Sonny Landreth)
10. Same Train
11. Stone Cold Heaven (with Tyler Bryant)

"Master your instrument, master the music 
& then forget all that & just play."
 - Charlie Parker -