viernes, 1 de mayo de 2015

Steve Johns - Family (2015)

Label: Strikezone Records
Gab's Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Steve Johns first sat behind a drum kit at 9. That initial "session" set a course of a life in music, with schooling at The New England Conservatory of Music, on to over 3 decades of inventive time keeping with Sonny Fortune, Nat Adderley, Stanley Turrentine, Benny Carter, Randy Brecker, Larry Coryell, Jimmy Owens, Ronnie Cuber and Dr. Billy Taylor. Johns has over seventy sideman record dates to his credit, and co-leads the group Native Soul.
Considering this, it's a real surprise that Family is his first session as leader. It's titled "Family" as it features son Daryl on bass, wife Debbie Keefe Johns on saxophones and brothers from other mothers, guitarists Bob DeVos and Dave Stryker, who also produced the date for his Strikezone label.
Steve explained the reason for the recording by saying, "I've reached a pivotal  point where our son is leaving for studies at Manhattan School of Music. I wanted to capture our magic as a musical family in a bottle, so the CD idea was born."
Right away, the thought of a vanity project disappears when the first cut, "Sleepwalk" hits you. Written in the middle of the night by the leader, it's a bluesy strutter with Debbie, Dave and Daryl all hitting the mark with enthusiastic solos.
"So You Say," written by Jeff Holmes, shows the seamless transitions and threads every group strives for. Daryl's electric bass in tandem with his Dad's tasteful syncopation bond for Devos' guitar and Debbie Johns' saxophone to build the intensity of the piece.
Stryker's "Shadowboxing," Dave says, "is the kind of groove Steve and I would jam on in people's apartments when we both first came to New York." Stryker fires it up, followed by Debbie Johns exploring. Daryl's imaginative bass work demonstrates the acclaim he's received while still in his teens. At a blistering pace, the leader shows his stuff.
Capturing the aura of a 1940s film noir, "Bogie and Bacall" is an easy, late night ride, where a little rain, Stryker's acoustic guitar, Daryl's bass and Debbie's sax paint the picture in haunting fashion. This one's just waiting for the right film.
Dave Stryker describes his "Came To Believe" as "swunk." As the leader agrees, "it's swingin' on top and funky on the bottom." His self described undulating pulses push Stryker, Daryl and Debbie to make you believe in this one.
"Mixing" is a piece by master Brazilian percussionist Airto Moeira, and appeared on his first recording, "Natural Feelings" in 1970. New clothes for this one as Debbie shows her soprano sax skill, Daryl plugs in and Stryker unplugs for a nice back and forth with the leader's rhythmic inventions.
Thinking of Wayne Shorter's "Orientale Folk Song" meeting Stanley Turrentine, Bob Devos wrote "Shell Game." Devos' guitar does an easy swing with Debbie's tenor, Daryl's walking bass and Steve's bluesful touch.
"Chunk" a collaboration between Steve and Jeff Holmes moves seamlessly between 4/4 and 5/8 time. Devos warms up nicely here. The syncopation is infectious.
Unlike most family get togethers, the Johns clan has a lot to say, and many will enjoy their tales.

1. Sleepwalk
2. So You Say
3. Shadowboxing
4. Bogie and Bacall
5. Came to Believe
6. Mixing
7. DKJ
8. Shell Game
9. Chunk

Steve Johns - drums
Debbie Keefe Johns - saxophone
Daryl Johns - bass
Bob DeVos - guitar
Dave Stryker - guitar

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

Marike van Dijk - The Stereography Project (2015)

Source & Label: Brooklyn Jazz Underground
Gab's Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ 

Dutch saxophonist/composer Marike van Dijk began playing jazz as a precocious 14 year old. She went on to study at the Rotterdam Conservatory from which she graduated (cum laude) in 2006. She continued her studies at the Amsterdam Conservatory, obtaining her master’s degree in jazz performance (cum laude). In 2009 Marike was nominated for the prestigious Dutch "Deloitte jazz award" and the "Amersfoort jazz talent award". JazzNL, a foundation for promoting young Dutch jazz talent, selected her as an "artist deserving wider recognition". In May 2013 she obtained her second masters degree, this time from New York University, for which she was awarded a full scholarship by the Dutch ‘Huygens Scholarship Programme’. Prior to moving to the Big Apple, van Dijk toured Europe extensively, performing at prestigious festivals and venues with her quintet, and the European Jazz Orchestra, among others. The Brooklyn-based artist's debut album Patches of Blue was released in 2010, and she now offers the brilliant follow up, The Stereography Project.

Gil Goldstein:
"Marike van Dijk's writing has an organic quality; balanced and seems to find ratios and combinations that are based in nature. I find her music very intuitive and feel that
she has great honesty. This record will be just another step in a long career of composing."

Alan Ferber:
"Marike van Dijk gives her chamber ensemble a lot of creative latitude within her beautifully crafted compositions on "The Stereography Project." The compelling results are sure to strengthen her reputation as a bandleader and, more importantly, brighten the lives of all those lucky enough to hear it."

The Album holds 7 original compositions by Marike van Dijk and an arrangement of the beautiful 'She's Leaving Home' by Lennon/McCartney.

1.I Am Not A Robot 05:54
2.233423 06:44
3.The End 04:25
4.She's Leaving Home 05:08
5.Jean Jacques 04:21
6.Christmas 04:51
7.22e (To Everyone I Miss) 07:27
8.Walsje 04:44

Marike van Dijk (saxes/compositions)
Ben van Gelder (basscl/asax)
Lucas Pino (cl/tsax)
Anna Webber (fl/tsax)
Alan Ferber (tb)
Sita Chay (vi)
Elinor Speirs (vi)
Eric Lemmon (vla)
Amanda Gookin (vc)
Manuel Schmiedel (pi)
Rick Rosato (bass)
Mark Schilders (dr)
Ruben Samama (voice, on 'She's Leaving Home')
Defne Sahin (voice, on 'Christmas' and 'She's Leaving Home') 

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

Myra Melford - Snowy Egret (2015)

Sitting at a bar stool in a crammed West Village club during Winter Jazz Fest this year, I knew I had a dilemma on my hands after only the first few minutes of Myra Melford's appearance with her group Snowy Egret.  The trouble, I reckoned, would be that I would want to write about the group's upcoming release for the Free Jazz Blog, and while we have covered several other of Melford's projects through the years like the great Trio-M, this effort really seemed to have a strong compositional slant to it, as much as an improvisational one. I thought, maybe I should run it by the legal department or something first, but then on impulse, I decided to risk it all...

The group is impressive, and it was the their collective sound that besotted me right away. Melford of course is on piano; on guitar, Liberty Ellman; bass guitar, Stomu Takeishi; cornet, Ron Miles; and drums, Tyshawn Sorey. At this particular show, clarinetist Ben Goldberg subbed for Miles, but on record it's Miles' lyrical tone that helps round out the group’s edgy but restrained tone and energy.

Besides the group's well rounded sound, there is also a great deal of improvisation that flows seamlessly in and out of the written material. Ellman’s fretwork really shines on the recording, from the syncopated blast of energy of the opening track, to the gorgeous chordal solo on “Night of Sorrow”,  to the rock solid delivery on “First Protest” and beyond. Takeishi’s takes full advantage of the sound of his acoustic bass guitar, as opposed to the electric or upright bass, and he uses it to make the bass lines a real melodic presence. He fills in and around the spaces, for example, playing wonderfully off Melford’s bluesy references on tracks like “Night of Sorrow”. I have yet to encounter a recording - or show - where Sorey doesn’t impress in some way, and it’s no different here, his work on the kit throughout is never dominating and always spot on. Miles’ playing is a highlight on “Promise Land”, between the interplay with Melford during the track’s opening and his solo during the song, it is a treat.

As Melford explains in the liner notes, the music was initially inspired by author Eduardo Galeano's 'Memoria del fuego', a collection that mixes fiction and history to tell the story of the New World. From this, the music mixes in rhythms and textures evocative of the America's, while creating something else entirely. Snowy Egret is a really beautiful album - and though it somewhat expands the ‘free jazz’ definition of the blog, it would be a terrible shame not to rave about it a bit.

Liberty Ellman — guitar
Ron Miles — trumpet
Stomu Takeishi — acoustic bass guitar
Tyshawn Sorey — drums
Myra Melford — piano, harmonium

01. Language (5:27)
02. Night of Sorrow (6:43)
03. Promised Land (5:43)
04. Ching Ching / For Love of Fruit (5:31)
05. The Kitchen (6:55)
06. Times of Sleep and Fate (5:50)
07. Little Pockets / Everyone Pays Taxes (4:32)
08. First Protest (5:29)
09. The Virgin of Guadalupe (8:33)
10. The Strawberry (5:36)

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Chris Cortez - Top Secret! (2015)

Houston, Texas is such a hot bed of jazz music that it has its own jazz mafia. However, as of late the Houston jazz mafia's Godmother, vocalist Tianna Hall has been letting several of her high-ranking officers get away. First to go was trumpeter capo regime Carol Morgan (title), who decided to start her own jazz "Family" in New York City. Then went consigliere vocalist Jacqui Sutton (title), who decided to go legit with a professor type while remaining a jet setter. The latest to abscond is one guitarist, Chris Cortez, known as "The Strummer" around town, who has taken the business southeast to Florida. 

But not before he cut Top Secret!. (Does anyone say "cut" a record anymore?) For this recording, Cortez had Austin, Texas luthier Ed Schaefer build him a "sexy and voluptuous" arch top (the guitar-woman metaphor never growing old...such is Romance). He named the guitar "Loretta." After having spent the previous year supporting Godmother Hall, Cortez got an expanded American Songbook under his skin and that exquisite irritation resulted in Top Secret. 

Using a variety of rhythm sections and formats, Cortez puts together a detoured stroll through the American Songbook. Among a couple of well-composed originals are Earth, Wind and Fire's "That's The Way of the World" beside "Cry Me A River," and Frank Foster's "Simone" right beside "Stompin' and the Savoy." Very nice mix. Cortez's best tracks come from a little-big band, including "Cry me a River." The original "4:20," Leon Russell's "This Masquerade," and Cortez's own grand "New Blood" swing with a grace and evidence lacking from so many other releases.

01. 4:20
02. That’s the Way of the World
03. Simone
04. Stompin’ at the Savoy
05. Different Strokes
06. The Man I Love
07. Donna Lee
08. Cry Me a River
09. This Masquerade
10. New Blood

Chris Cortez; guitar, vocals (8)
Paul English: piano (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10)
Anthony Sapp: bass (1, 6)
Glen Ackerman: bass (3, 5, 9, 10)
Andre Hayward: trombone (1, 8, 9, 10)
Ken Easton: trumpet (1, 8, 9, 10)
Seth Paynter: tenor saxophone (1, 8, 9, 10)
Warren Sneed: alto saxophone (1, 8, 9, 10)
Bill Murry: bass (2, 8)
Joel Fulgham: drums (3, 6, 9
Robert Aguilar: drums (2, 8)
Greg Petito: guitar (4, 7)
Skip Nallia: piano (8)

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Junior Cook Quintet - You Leave Me Breathless (1992)

You Leave Me Breathless album for sale by Junior Cook was released Aug 01, 1994 on the SteepleChase label. Tenor saxophonist Junior Cook's final recording, cut less than two months before his death, finds the veteran hard bop stylist in surprisingly prime form, taking upbeat solos and swinging hard. You Leave Me Breathless buy CD music On this CD, one can really hear the mutual influence that Cook had on Joe Henderson. You Leave Me Breathless songs Trumpeter Valery Ponomarev is also in particularly fine form, and the rhythm section (pianist Mickey Tucker, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth) is somewhat obscure but excellent. You Leave Me Breathless album for sale Three group originals, Cedar Walton's "Fiesta Espanol" and four standards (including a warm tenor feature on "Warm Valley" and a hard-swinging "Mr.P. C." You Leave Me Breathless CD music ) comprise what was one of Junior Cook's finest sessions as a leader; he definitely exited on top. ~ Scott Yanow

Junior Cook (tenor saxophone)
Valery Ponomarov (trumpet)
Mickey Tucker (piano)
John Webber (bass)
Joe Farnsworth (drums)

1. Junior's Cook
2. Envoy
3. Warm Valley
4. Sweet Lotus Lips
5. Vierd Blues
6. You Leave Me Breathless
7. Fiesta Español
8. Mr. P.C.

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins