sábado, 2 de mayo de 2015

Jax Jazz Collective - All The Things You Are (The Music of Jerome Kern) 2015

This is a marvelous approach to making jazz recordings: picking one Great American Songbook composer at time and exploring a set of his tunes, with a personal touch. Pianist Oscar Peterson released a series of tributes to the Standards tune-smith's on Verve Record back in the 1950s, tagged "Songbooks," celebrating George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern.

The Jax Jazz Collective, out of Jacksonville, Florida, seems to be starting similar journey. In 2014 it was Lotus Blossom: The Music of Billy Strayhorn (J-Bo Records). Less than a year later the group has released All The Things You Are: The Music of Jerome Kern, a vivacious journey through eight of the Broadway/movie composer's wonderful songs.

It's said that Kern didn't like jazz renditions of his songs. But he passed away in 1945, and never got to hear Oscar Peterson's take on his classics, and he didn't, of course hear Keith Jarrett's, two artists who were/are able to turn his concise tunes around and let the light shine on heretofore hidden facets of the well-crafted melodies. The same thing that the Jax Jazz Collective does.

The sextet—trumpet, two saxophones and a rhythm—open with a sparkling take on "I'm Old Fashioned," one of Kern's most familiar tunes. The horns are hot. Juan Rollan burns things up on tenor sax, taking beautiful liberties. He's followed by a tart and tight alto sax segment from Mike Emmert. There's lots of spirited unison blowing, and with the energetic rhythm section—especially drummer John "L'il John" Lumpin—the group could pass for an updated version of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

"Long Ago and Far Away" opens with leader Joshua Bowlus on Fender rhodes, giving the sound a modern resonance. Trumpeter Alphonso Horne sounds like Lee Morgan, in a relaxed mode, on his solo, his brassy contribution sandwiched between Bowlus' metallic Fender sections.

This is a fine, bopping, swinging sextet, with a first rate group approach that allows the individual voices to blossom out of the collective. Another stand out effort by the Jax Jazz Collective.

Now what's next? Cole Porter? Gershwin? Sondheim

01. I'm Old Fashioned
02. Long Ago and Far Away
03. Make Believe
04. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
05. Yesterdays
06. Nobody Else But Me
07. I've Told Ev'ry Little Star
08. All The Things You Are

Mike Emmert: alto saxophone
Juan Rollan: tenor saxophone
Alphonso Horne: trumpet (1, 2 ,4, 6, 8)
Ray Callender: trumpet (3, 5, 7)
Joshua Bowlus: piano
Stan Piper: bass
John "L'il John" Lumpkin: drums

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


John Raymond - Foreign Territory (2015)

"Trumpeter John Raymond was being ironic when he chose the title Foreign Territory for an album capturing the feeling of the classic jazz tradition perfectly.

What makes this such a fine album is the fantastic interplay among Raymond, pianist Dan Tepfer, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Billy Hart. These excellent players are also adept listeners, which is essential to building a strong improvisational and harmonic foundation. There is no simple lock-step comping here. The way they play off of each other’s thoughts and open spaces for their ideas while maintaining the songs’ coherence is a balancing act that they pull off seamlessly. This is evident from the silky title cut and hard-swinging tracks “What Do You Hear?” and “Adventurous-Lee”.

Hardbop is Raymond’s home-base but “Deeper” is an intriguing and energetic variation, what might be described as chamber bop. Raymond also takes compositional cues from the masters. The dancing- through-raindrops head of “New Blues” exemplifies admiration for the freedom and challenges of Monk-like melodic and harmonic structures while haunting and majestic “Chant” recalls one of John Coltrane’s emboldening classic quartet anthems. The improvised “Rest/Peace” begins tentatively but when the band finally lands on common ground, it sounds composed, which underscores the importance of listening. A second improvisation, “Hart of the Matter”, misses the mark because it short-changes its subject—a master of his craft like Hart should have center stage floodlit for him to let him air it out. What’s here instead is an afterthought that sounds like a tepid effort to fill in leftover studio time. Thankfully, the great drummer gets his moment in the sun on the stunning “Mark Time”. 

Back to the album’s title. The territory is familiar, yes, but explored with a refreshing contemporary perspective. Raymond leads the way with sure-handed tonality and this quartet can easily become one of the hallmark bands in the business."

Terrell Holmes (April, 2015)
The New York City Jazz Records

John Raymond, trumpet & flugelhorn
Dan Tepfer, piano
Joe Martin, bass
Billy Hart, drums

01. Foreign Territory 5:45
02. What Do You Hear? 3:38
03. Deeper 7:38
04. Rest / Peace 4:23
05. New Blues 5:32
06. Hart of the Matter 1:54
07. Mark Time 5:24
08. Chant 6:16
09. Adventurous-Lee 5:47

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Soukast / Benjamin Taubkin - Sons de Sobrevivência (2015)

Electronic threads, street party drums, lively piano runs, meditative moments, metallic zest, and rhythmic seasonings all come to the surface when pianist Benjamin Taubkin and Soukast—the duo of Simone Sou and Guilherme Kastrup, two percussionists who artfully mix sampling into their work—set sail with "Pifaiada," the opening track on Sounds Of Life.

There's no simple way to describe all of the sounds of life, so it should come as no surprise that there is no simple way to describe Sounds Of Life. It's calculation and freedom, joy and pain, isolation and togetherness, thought and action, and fluidity and solidity rolled into one. There are moments of extreme spirituality, but those can often be followed by bouts of nothingness. Some episodes are all about the act of searching and others are made complete by what is found.

This threesome constructs soundscapes that slowly evolve and reshape themselves. In one instance, ghostly passages turn into healing forces as a hypnotic musical salve of percussion, drums, keyboards, samples, and piano is mixed ("Mozambik Bembe"). Elsewhere, a spirit walk slowly turns in another direction when flute, courtesy of Taubkin, meets with electric murmurs, fixed grooves, drums, spacy washes of sound, and piano ("Fabrica De Sapos").

Taubkin and Soukast, two vastly different artistic entities, prove to be wholly complementary. Taubkin adds melodic elements and harmonic grounding to the music—two qualities that Soukast needs to grow. Soukast, in turn, creates a a world of rhythm that surrounds and supports Taubkin's explorations. Taubkin's rippling and ruminative lines gain traction with the help of the percussionists, who manage to find new avenues, directions, and pathways to take because of the pianist's work. It's a you-completely-me type of partnership that yields great results.

1. Pifaiada
2. Gota D'Àgua
3. Choro Bororo
4. Improviso (E O Que Veio Depois)
5. O Tocador
6. Mozambik Bembe
7. Fábrica De Sapos

Benjamin Taubkin: piano, keyboards, flutes
Simone Sou: drums, percussion, MPC, pans, melodic bells
Guilherme Kastrup: drums, percussion, MPC, pandeiro

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins