miércoles, 29 de abril de 2015

Burak Bedikyan - Leap of Faith (2015)

An elegant yet diverse exploration of melodic possibilities. Burak Bedikyan is one of the finest artists on the horizon.

Leap of Faith is a positive reaffirmation that an artist can manipulate melody and take that harmonic road less traveled while moving past the technical pretentiousness that have so many improvisational musicians stuck in an overly pretentious rut. Back after the critically acclaimed Circle of Life. The band works with a lyrical sense of purpose, the synergy of lyrical thought is relaxed yet ever changing. The organic heartbeat of Leap of Faith alone is enough to have this release already hovering as a "Best of 2015" effort. 

While meter and dynamics morph into a deceptively subtle hybrid of both his Turkish / Armenian heritage and the music we refer to as jazz in the United States, nothing is predominant as the music flows with an ease and swing that moves past random categorization. These compositions are more compared to harmonic conversations as each member has valuable contributions. Bassist Ron McClure may well be the most underrated bassist working today while drummer Billy Drummond remains in the pocket helping to conduct the rhythmic train. Chris Cheek plays both tenor and soprano and fits hand in glove with Bedikyan's musical direction. 

This most formidable of 4tets is literally flawless as Leap of Faith takes the piano quartet and turns the tables into a working band sound for the next generation. All originals, no covers and nothing is "phoned in" for an recording. Wonderful highlights include "Ashes to Ashes" and the title number "Leap of Faith." For improvisational music fans there is very little here not to like, flawless.

Burak Bedikyan: Piano
Chris Cheek: Tenor and Soprano Saxophone
Ron McClure: Bass
Billy Drummond: Drums

01. Astral Traveller
02. Prelude No. 1 Birth of Innocense
03. Hommage a Bud et Francis
04. Ashes to Ashes
05. Leap of Faith
06. Hydrogen Atom
07. Prelude No. 2 Lonely Planet
08. The Unspoken
09. Der Zor (Deir Ez-Zor)
10. Gravity

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Burak Bedikyan - Circle of Life (2013)

Burak Bedikyan is a former classical pianist from Turkey who turned to jazz in 1996. For this set he enlisted a high-class US lineup: saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Bill Stewart, who perform with characteristically inventive energy and involvement. Bedikyan's background might have steered this album toward a world-jazz agenda, and some east-west connections do feature, but it begins in an unabashedly American-bebop mood, with the opening First Steps a genuflection to Thelonious Monk, and a later tribute to the Tommy Flanagan reflecting much of his glossily offhand relaxation. There's also a respectful exploration of the Beatles' Here, There and Everywhere, though it's more memorable for Washington's pushing countermelodies and Stewart's snare-drum bustle than the leader's personal vision. Circle of Life rather uneasily straddles conventional and original agendas, but the pianist sounds at his most incisive and intense on freer episodes – like the first part of Prayer for Forgiveness, in which he and Chris Potter vehemently skip, dance and dart around each other. This is an interesting overture for the Turkish newcomer, but it sounds like there's much more in reserve.

Burak Bedikyan: Piano
Chris Potter:Tenor Saxophone
Peter Washington: Bass
Bill Stewart: Drums

01. First Steps
02. Here, There, Everywhere
03. Do You Still Have Hope?
04. For Old Times Sake
05. Prayer for Forgiveness Part 1: Delusion
06. Prayer for Forgiveness Part 2: Serenity
07. Joy of Giving
08. TF (for Tommy Flanagan)
09. Intro
10. Melancholia
11. Circle of Life
12. 19.01.2007 (in the memory of Hrant Dink)

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Coleman / Ahearn Quartet - Cooper Ridge (2014)

Drummer Christian Coleman is an astute fit for Steeplechase’s LookOut imprint, a series that seeks to the raise the profiles of deserving musicians by providing vehicles for their debut recording efforts. Exactly how he hooked up with Australian pianist Gavin Ahearn is a bit of a mystery given the dearth of accompanying liner notes outside basic biographical sketches, but their creative kinship is audible from the first notes of the opening “Fly Away Butterfly.”

Iranian-American bassist Sam Minaie is a bit of an unknown commodity as well, although apparently a former student of Charlie Haden. Not so with tenorist Jon Irabagon, whose credits with Mostly Other People Do the Killing and other projects have been all over the jazz press for the past half-decade. His presence certainly gives the album instant critical cachet, but as swiftly becomes apparent the rhythm section at his flanks is able to endure on its own merits.

Hearing Irabagon in these comparatively tempered surroundings initially feels a bit incongruous, but as The Observer (his 2009 quartet outing with Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid and Victor Lewis) ably indicated, he’s a chameleon with a capricious color palette suited to virtually any jazz situation. Coleman’s “Trample” cribs from Monk in a manner akin to Joe Henderson’s classic “Isotope.” Coleman hangs back for much of the first half of Ahearn’s variable-speed “Vortex” providing sparse accents and leaving the composer and then Irabagon to have ample says before pushing forcefully to the foreground with a tempo shift. Minaie gets a spotlight on “Bearspray,” building a detailed improvisation against Coleman’s deft commentary.Ahearn’s mellifluous variations guide the action on “Mount Wellington” with Coleman threading in graceful textures on brushes and Minaie supplying a steady throb. Irabagon aligns to the amorous inclination as well, his lines at once searching and elegant — and distanced from the sort of fire-breathing ferocity that is his vernacular in other contexts. The mood carries into “The Kelley House” another layered composition from Coleman staggered with tension-and-release signposts that stretch it a bit past its sell date. Cymbal accents and a centering bass line frame another fluttering flight by Irabagon that favors the upper register of his horn. Minaie’s solo also draws attention for its density and acuity. Ahearn’s brief, but buoyantly brisk “Tuk Tuk” signals the tail end of the set with Coleman’s lush if slightly rote sounding ballad “Maid Melly” bringing up the rear. Irabagon may be the ace in Coleman’s debut deck, but the drummer demonstrates that the faith accorded in him through this opportunity isn’t a wasted investment.

Christian Coleman (drums)
Gavin Ahearn (piano)
Jon Irabagon (tenor saxophone)
Sam Minaie (bass)

1. Fly Away Butterfly
2. Trample
3. Vortex
4. Bearspray
5. Mount Wellington
6. The Kelley House
7. Tuk Tuk
8. Take Me To The Goldmine
9. Maid Melly

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Kevin Eubanks & Stanley Jordan - Duets (2015)

We know Kevin Eubanks as a long-time leader and guitarist for The Tonight Show band, as well as a string of solo albums. Stanley Jordan, of course, turned the jazz world on its ear in the mid 80's with his revolutionary two-handed tapping technique on the guitar fretboard. Both musicians have been used to being in the spotlight. As such, one might expect a showy, flashy set of tracks on their Duets album. Yet, Duets is an understated album full of tasteful playing with considerable attention to melody and feel.

Eubanks and Jordan have been friends for years, and with Eubanks a veteran accompanist due to his Tonight Show tenure, it was only a matter of time before the two guitarists managed to align their schedules to record together. Just because two musicians get along well personally, though, doesn't always mean it will translate well to a duet format. A duet should be a conversation, and a sharing of simpatico ideas between players with similar skills and objectives. Duets is just such an album. All ten tracks were recorded in the space of a week in Eubanks' home studio. This relatively short time period helps gives the album a focus and unity. There's a flow from song to song, and an overall mellow mood in the selections, ranging from a handful of original compositions to jazz standards ("Nature Boy," "Summertime," "Blue in Green," " A Child is Born") and a pair of contemporary pop songs by Adele and Ellie Goulding. 

"Morning Sun," an original, leads things off like a slow breaking dawn, guitar notes spiraling around each other, gaining momentum until the sun breaks over the horizon, each player letting loose flurries of notes, like light scattering across the sky. 

A little further in, "Summertime" features a sultry bass groove over which acoustic blues licks dance like those "fish jumping" in the original vocal version of the song. In fact, there's a surprising amount of acoustic guitar for a jazz album by two players known primarily for their skill on electric instruments. As well as "Summertime," acoustic figures prominently on the moody "Vibes," the funky "Old School Jam," and the closing "Goin' On Home."

That's not to say this is an acoustic album. Their cover of Adele's "Someone Like You," for example, features rock-style electric guitar. Likewise, plenty of plugged-in jazz guitar interplay is found on "Nature Boy" and a smooth, wistful version of "Lights," originally an electro-pop hit for Ellie Goulding.

Eubanks and Jordan are virtuoso guitar players, but they're also adept at other instruments, adding extra variety to this release by contributing piano to "Someone Like You," "A Child is Born" and "Blue in Green."

In the end, both artists bring decades of wide ranging musical influences and experiences to Duets, sometimes very different from each other and sometimes similar. Despite, or maybe because of that, they've created here a natural, organic sounding meeting of the minds, and of the fingers.

Kevin Eubanks: guitar, piano, bass
Stanley Jordan: guitar, piano

01. Morning Sun
02. Summertime
03. Nature Boy
04. Someone Like You
05. A Child is Born
06. Old School Jam
07. Vibes
08. Blue in Green
09. Lights
10. Goin' On Home


Benny Sharoni (featuring Jim Rotondi) - Slant Signature (2015)

Source: jazzpolice

With his second CD, Slant Signature (2015, Papaya Records), saxophonist Benny Sharoni has moved the bar up a notch from his previously released Eternal Elixir (2010, Papaya), which garnered rave reviews.  Sharoni’s longtime quartet appears on the new release, with pianist Joe Barbato, bassist Todd Baker, and drummer Steve Langone, plus special guests, trumpeter Jim Rotondi and guitarist Mike Mele.  Mele also played on Sharoni’s Eternal Elixir.  Although this was Rotondi’s first time performing with the Sharoni ensemble, he sounded as if he'd been with the band for a long time.  Sharoni mentions that the bottom line is that the music moves and inspires people.  He says, “This record is 99% heart.  The band is full of heart and joy and intensity and everybody’s mission was to make the most beautiful music they could.”

Sharoni’s home for many years has been Boston, MA, where he has spent time not only performing but also composing. Five of his original tunes are on his new CD, along with three famous classy jazz tunes -- Freddie Hubbard’s “Down Under,” Lee Morgan’s “Ceora,” and Ray Bryant’s “Tonk.”  They are all done with lots of favorable flavor. The musicians support each other to the max and everyone plays an important part in every tune. The front line, Sharoni, Rotondi, and Mele, are perfect and backed 1000% by the rhythm team of Barbato, Baker, and Langone.

One of several jazz influences for Sharoni has always been Sonny Rollins.  His powerful tone is reminiscent of Rollins on his original "Minor City Blues." You can hear just how tight this band is by listening to Sharoni’s compositions “Subterranean Samba” and “The Bodega."  Another Sharoni original, “Bitter Drops,” has relaxed blues lines and gives way to outstanding solos from Sharoni, Mele, and Barbato.  On the title track, Sharoni's “Slant Signature,” the group performs immaculately.  It is an up-tempo and hard-driving piece.

Benny Sharoni (tenor saxophone)
Jim Rotondi (trumpet)
Joe Barbato (piano)
Mike Mele (guitar)
Todd Baker (bass)
Steve Langone (drums)

1. Minor City
2. Down Under
3. Subterranean Samba
4. Ceora
5. Slant Signature
6. The Bodega
7. Bitter Drops
8. Tonk

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins