martes, 5 de mayo de 2015

Harvie S / Sheryl Bailey - Plucky Strum (2015)

Two musicians, two acoustic string instruments, and ten original works recorded live in the studio with no overdubs, edits, or fixes of any sort. That's Plucky Strum in a nutshell, but that's also unfairly reductive in its explanation of the project. For when the two musicians under discussion are as special and seasoned as bassist Harvie S and guitarist Sheryl Bailey, even the simplest of concepts can turn into something special.

While neither of these players is a stranger to duo settings, Plucky Strum marks the first time that these two had the opportunity to record together as a twosome. The result? Beautifully unassuming music that shows both players to be engaging conversationalists, pillars of support, and strong writers.

The playlist for Plucky Strum is chock-full of dedications. "Woods Talk," which opens the album, and "S And S," a bop-based contrafact on "Sweet Georgia Brown," are nods to this musically woodworking duo; "For Jimmy," which has Bailey painting over some soothing arco bass at first sight, is the guitarist's tip of the hat to guitar great Jimmy Wyble; "Charlie Haden" speaks to the titular figure's melodic directness and ability to always choose the right notes; "Saint Nick," penned in praise of bassist Nikki Parrott, exhibits a strong sense of swing; and "To Bea," Harvie S' homage to his dearly departed mother, comes across as a cheerful celebration of life.

The remaining tracks, which are no less agreeable, aren't attached to any specific figure(s): "Bluzin' F" is exactly what is says it is, "Ghost Dancer" is a gently flowing piece in three with a haunting guitar introduction, "Broken Glass" is a bossa-ballad hybrid, and "Before"—written by Harvie S on September 10, 2001—ends the album on an mesmerizing and sorrowful note.

While both players get plenty of solo space throughout, there's nary a superfluous gesture or unnecessary phrase to be found on Plucky Strum. There's too much wisdom and experience between these two for them to fall into a showboating trap. Instead, musical acumen, unerring taste, and simpatico sensibilities carry the day.

Harvie S | acoustic bass
Sheryl Bailey | guitar

01. Woods Talk
02. Bluzin' F
03. Ghost Dancer
04. S And S
05. Broken Glass
06. To Bea
07. For Jimmy
08. Charlie Haden
09. Saint Nick
10. Before

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Oded Lev-Ari - Threading (2015)

Label: Anzic Records
Source: Allaboutjazz
Gab's Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ 

There's more to music than often meets the eye. While educated jazz fans often laud and focus on the artists whose names adorn the cover of albums and the sidemen that support and converse with them, far fewer people applaud the work of figures like Oded Lev-Ari—those men of many hats who work out of sight, producing, arranging, and orchestrating for the better-known names.

Over the past decade, Lev-Ari's guiding hands have helped to sculpt the sound on albums from clarinetist Anat Cohen, vocalist Melissa Stylianou, trumpeter Marty Ehrlich, the vocal trio DUCHESS, and others. He's the man behind the stunning arrangements on Cohen's Noir (Anzic, 2007), the producer who helped to capture the beauty and honesty of Amy Cervini's voice on Jazz Country (Anzic, 2014), and the wizard responsible for the absorbing works presented here on Threading.

For this, the first album under his own name, Lev-Ari delivers a collection of impassioned music that warms the soul and melts the heart. Six originals and two versions of Gordon Jenkins' immortal "Goodbye" give him ample opportunity to spread his wings and fly in different air spaces during Threading. There are maudlin moods, cool streaks, triumphant expressions, tender thoughts, harmonically rich settings, and threadbare episodes. Lev-Ari uses everything at his disposal—his pen and his piano, space and silence, mass and movement, the friends and singular artists aboard for this project—to create stunning pictures that each stand apart from one another.

The first glimpse into Lev-Ari's mind comes through the title track, a piece with beautifully flowing lines, Nuevo Tango allusions, and passionate musical episodes such as the one that finds trumpeter Nadje Noordhuis evoking images of a toreador while Matt Wilson cooks with his madcap bolero-inflected snare work. It's a musical statement that moves with intensity but never boils over. "Lost And Found," which immediately follows "Threading," is nothing like its predecessor. It's a blues expression built with cool school esthetics and featuring laid back saxophone solos from Will Vinson and Brian Landrus.

With "Voices"—the longest piece on the album, lasting just over ten minutes—Lev-Ari manages to create a lengthy and memorable episodic narrative. The piece opens on foreboding cellos, but a sense of optimism quickly comes to the fore as more instruments enter and help to build a charge in the music. Once the electricity has passed, there's space and openness with fluttering sounds, a backbeat-driven section which finds upper reeds and other voices twisting around one another in ecstatic fashion, and arrival at serenity, with celestial harmonies taking over.

The remaining numbers, like those before them, each speak in different tongues. Mournful Hebraic tones filter there way through "Black Crow," a piece which takes a bluesy swing turn for Cohen's solo and gives Wilson a chance to operate with simple ideas all by his lonesome; "E And A" is a halcyon beauty, part hymn, part country romance, and wholly idyllic in its unfolding; and "The Dance" is a stirring number that features Alan Hampton, who also delivers matter-of-fact vocals on one of the versions of "Goodbye," and Jo Lawry, who matches emotions with Hampton here and adds wordless vocals that intertwine with Vinson's horn.

There's no single underlying stylistic principle behind the music on Threading, but that does nothing to diminish its power. If anything, the multifaceted nature of this album, wholly reflective of the artist who made it, enhances the listening experience. Threading thrills by tapping into so many different musical veins.  - Dan Bilawsky -

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

Vincent Herring - Night and Day (2015)

Label: Smoke Sessions Records
Gab's Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Musicians always strive to capture the spirit and energy of a live performance in the recording studio – a formidable challenge without the mirror of the live audience. With Night and Day – his second album for Smoke Sessions Records – the brilliant alto saxophonist Vincent Herring achieves this elusive goal unequivocally. On all 10 tracks of this remarkable album, all of the immediacy, excitement and visceral energy of a packed house on a Saturday night are so palpable, that the listener is always expecting an explosion of applause at the end of every solo and each track. Hard blowing, no-nonsense jazz is at the heart of this entire matter, played in its timeless essence of urgent intensity by an ensemble of superb musicians.
“This recording is special to me. I enjoyed every minute of it and I’m grateful that I was able to make it,” says Herring. “I’m still growing as a musician and person and I think it’s my best record yet.”
Renowned for his soulful and powerfully expressive playing, the explosive altoist is joined on the front line for six pieces by the equally combustible trumpeter Jeremy Pelt. The rhythm section of Mike LeDonne on piano, Brandi Disterheft on bass, and Joe Farnsworth on drums are ideally suited to the fierce energy and take-no-prisoners context, performing with exuberant fire and impeccable taste throughout. LeDonne’s spirited comping and impressive solos, and Disterheft’s impeccable time and vibrant sound combine with Farnsworth’s inventive drive and sparkling punctuation to create that synergy and unity that is essential to music of this substance. Pelt’s virtuosity and rich lyricism, even at breakneck tempos, is the perfect complement to Herring’s dynamic creativity and absolute command in executing his endless stream of ideas.
The repertoire is outstanding. There are two Herring originals, “The Adventures of Hyun Joo Lee,” a scorcher based on Coltrane’s “Countdown;” and a nicely grooved up-tempo blues, “Smoking Paul’s Stash” that closes the album. The four quartet pieces include a rip-roaring version of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” and a piece played by many alto greats, “The Gypsy,” a beautifully heartfelt ballad expressed mostly in double time. Cannonball Adderley’s “Wabash” (from the Cannonball & Coltrane album) features Herring in appropriately bluesy form; and Tex Allen’s infectious “There Is Something about You (I Don’t Know)” has a ballad-ish samba feel, built on LeDonne’s shimmering electric piano and with evocatively plaintive alto. Donald Byrd’s iconic hard-bop classic “Fly, Little Bird, Fly” is a splendid flight and Cedar Walton’s lovely Latin-tinged “Theme for Jobim” is played with deep warmth and expression. Cedar is further remembered with LeDonne’s “Walton,” a rich, complex and poignant tribute performed with the deep love that is felt for the legendary pianist and leader. His saxophonist for more than 20 years, Herring says: “All of us are Cedar’s musical children. I wish we could have played this one for him.”
This leads to another vital element of the jazz legacy that is fully at play on Night and Day – the evolution of an extraordinary artist looking at his past to forge his future. Long regarded by musicians and audiences alike as one of the foremost alto saxophonists of the modern era, Herring has developed into a leader through the longstanding tradition of apprenticeship. He’s performed with a veritable who’s who of modern jazz, including Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard, Donald Byrd, Jack DeJohnette and so many more. This album builds upon all of that experience, particularly in regard to his nine years with Nat Adderley (and continuing to uphold the Cannonball tradition in The Cannonball Legacy Band alongside Pelt), and especially through his decades long relationship with Cedar Walton, whose passing has been almost as powerfully affecting as his life influence on so many fine artists.
“Cedar Walton is not with us anymore, but his musical contributions live on. I love Cedar’s music and learned from him to carry it forward,” explains Herring. “This music is in our hands now.”
And without a doubt, with a master like Vincent Herring, those are good hands indeed.

1. Grind Hog's Day
2. Night and Day
3. The Adventures of Hyun Joo Lee
4. Walton
5. The Gypsy
6. Fly, Little Bird, Fly
7. Wabash
8. Theme for Jobim
9. There Is Something about You (I Don't Know)
10. Smoking Paul's Stash

Vincent Herring - alto saxophone
Jeremy Pelt - trumpet
Mike LeDonne - piano
Brandi Disterheft - bass
Joe Farnsworth - drums

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

Simone Gubbiotti - Resilience (2015)

Guitarist Simone Gubbiotti is a musician with a strong presence in both the USA and Europe. Based in Umbria (Italy) Simone frequents the US regularly where he performs with musicians including Sid Jacobs, Joe La Barbera, Peter Erskine, Arthur Blythe, Darek Oles, Danny Gottlieb, Adam Nussbaum and Jay Anderson.

Music was not Simone's first passion, he began his career in the world of sport where he played professionally for a number of top Italian soccer clubs including AC Milan. After sustaining a serious knee injury Simone took the decision to refocus and persue a career in music. Simone initially studied jazz guitar locally in his native Italy and later furthered is studies at the Berkly college of Music and the G.I.T in los Angeles. Simone has performed throughout Europe and the United States, both as a sideman and leader, however it is since his signing with New York based label Dot Time records that Simone has started to gain the attention he deserves.

Simone's first releases as a leader “racce di Eoni” (feat. Joe La Barbera and Darek Oles) and “Sinergy” (with Joe La Barbera and Joe Bagg) were well recieved both by the public and press. Simone’s latest release “Promise to a Friend” (2012) on Dot Time records is a set of 10 original compositions and features Peter Erskine on drums and Darek Oles on double bass.

The compositions recorded on this CD mark a milestone in Simone’s career, Simone states in the liner notes “This recording was born out of these reflections and the experiences of my personal journey over the past few years. It’s dedicated in particular to a wonderful friend who I believe saved my life. Paolo showed me that I can be who I want to be and even though Paolo is no longer with us he was able to teach me the importance of treating life with the right attitude and vision."

Simone Gubbiotti | guitar
Jay Anderson | double bass
Adam Nussbaum | drums

01. Hybrid motivation
02. September
03. African latitude
04. Resilient
05. Stop crying
06. Blue in green
07. Anomalous composer
08. Witch hunt
09. Therese
10. Requiem per un sogno

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Simone Gubbiotti - The Hammond Trio (2014)

Simone Gubbiotti follows up his debut release on Dot Time Records with a new release titled “The Hammond Trio”. As you can guess the name says it all, a classic organ trio release featuring Joe Bagg on Hammond and Joe La Barbera on Drums. Recorded in 2008 this album has been re-mastered and released as a digital only release.

Simone Gubbiotti | Guitar
Joe La Barbera | Drums
Joe Bagg | Hammond

1. Mind the gap
2. Ana Rita
3. Simon Blues
4. It could happen to you
5. J. and J.
6. Lidia
7. Beautiful love
8. E.N.
9. We will meet again

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Pete Malinverni - Emerging Markets (2015)

Gab's Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ 

I was pleased to be joined on this recording by some wonderful players, each chosen for the particular gifts he brings to the music. Trumpeter Bruce Harris has a joyful fire in his soul and one hears it throughout; tenor saxophonist Rich Perry is known in the Jazz world as an erudite practitioner whose sinewy lines reveal a deep heart; bassist Doug Weiss is a first call bandmate—always prepared, always swinging, always empathic in the music; Victor Lewis is a wonderfully compositional drummer, orchestrating in ways that always lend much to the proceedings. Make no mistake—I wrote the songs in this set—but their true natures were revealed only in the hands of these magnificent musicians.


There are cities in America where people have proven their exceeding toughness again and again through the generations. These are the people whose forebears built this country, coming with dreams of streets paved with gold—only to find on arrival that a great many of the streets were not only unpaved but that they were expected to pave them.

And pave them they did, and more. The results are the cities they built, centers of culture and magnets of industry. But when the corporations, made wealthy on the backs of these hard working people, found friendlier labor rates and fewer worker protections in the South and West, these cities—and their workforces—were left to fend for themselves.

Some have taken the punch and done just that. Having already shown they weren’t afraid of hard work, the people in these cities have found new means, through clean energy initiatives, high-tech startups, etc., to find their way back.

With all the discussion of investment in worldwide “emerging markets” I read in the business pages, I wonder whether there isn’t a cynical corporate gold lining lurking in the cheaper labor and laxer environmental restrictions found overseas.

Executive Producer Doug Moody wondered, “Why aren’t the cities left behind in our own country being seen as the real emerging markets?” Thus was born the idea of this collection of songs, a tribute to all the people who, given the opportunity, will once again do things well and honestly.

Of course, this is a recording of music first. But I work better when I have an image in front of me, a mood I can try to evoke. The feeling here is, I hope, one of encouragement, of the deep faith that the human spirit that made this country great can once again be loosed and allowed to flourish—and, this time, in a way that leaves none behind.

Pete Malinverni - New York City

Buffalo – City of No Illusions
Buffalo has endured its share of heartbreak, from economic slowdown to heavy snowfall to four consecutive losses in the Super Bowl. Through it all though, this “City of Good Neighbors” retains its optimism and the people remain strong and forward-focused. Here, I try to capture that upward chin, along with an allusion to the cataracts of Niagara Falls (my beautiful hometown!) in the Intro and Coda.

Cleveland – By the Lake
Another great industrial town of tough and good people, sitting hard by Lake Erie, whose waves are conjured by the “liquid” figure at the outset and the languid interpretation here by the fellas. Cleveland, too, is on its way back, its big-hearted, family-minded people leading the way, organizing communities and attracting businesses that will employ but not destroy.

Detroit – Still Movin’ and Groovin’
Having played an historic role in getting America moving, Detroit is looking for a new period of “re-ignition” now. It’s important to remember Detroit has also given America and the world musical gifts in its many seminal Jazz artists and its groundbreaking R&B. I tried to recall the iconic lines of the brilliant Motown bassist James Jamerson here.

Pittsburgh – Steel Will
When the steel mills of Western Pennsylvania began to close, the people and civic leaders pivoted nimbly toward a new and cleaner business model, serving as an example to all the towns mentioned here. The City at the confluence of the three rivers rightly shines now. For melodic inspiration, I looked to her native son, Stephen Foster.

Springfield – Hoop City
This Massachusetts city’s leaders made a series of bad decisions through the last part of the 20th century that cost its people dearly, and they continue to pay the price. Much industry had been there and has since left—but the City is fighting back. Springfield also gave us the great game of basketball and, so, the tune’s name. I was thinking how when one drops a b-ball, as the bounces lose impulse their sounds come closer together, actually giving the aural illusion of more energy—and so the accelerando in the Intro. We tried to capture the bounce, in the Intro and throughout.

Newark – The Eagle Flies
The Newark Eagles, who won the Negro League World Series in 1946, were the first professional baseball team owned and operated by a woman, Effa Manley. To me, the Eagles are emblematic of this great town, the contributions of whose citizens, including giving the New York City area its only 24-hour Jazz radio station, too often go unremarked. In recent years, Newark has fallen victim to perhaps well-meaning but less than productive dealings by various interests. Yet the people remain as they have always been—strong, forging a renaissance. I’m rooting for Newark.

St. Louis – The Gateway
This great city on the Mississippi, known as the “Gateway to the West,” hosted, at the height of its American importance, both the Olympics and the World’s Fair in 1904. It landed on hard times as industries moved out in the mid-20th century but has since led the way in urban revitalization. My first experiences with St. Louis included stops there at LaClede’s Landing when I worked as pianist/calliope player on the Delta Queen Steamboat, out of New Orleans. Hence, the tune owes its flavor to that music, come up from the South.

Milwaukee – Hammerin’ Hank
Another soulful town, Milwaukee’s mid-century decline, due to departing industry and the subsequent exodus by large parts of its population, is countered by the strength of the ethnic communities of which it is still rightly proud and by which it gains the resolve to move forward. This tune is named for the great Henry Aaron, who began his chase of Babe Ruth’s home run record as a Milwaukee Brave. The horn lines illustrate Aaron’s historic effort, as they “chase” each other.

Buffalo – City of No Illusions
Cleveland – By the Lake
Detroit – Still Movin’ and Groovin’
Pittsburgh – Steel Will
Springfield – Hoop City
Newark – The Eagle Flies
St. Louis – The Gateway
Milwaukee – Hammerin’ Hank

Pete Malinverni - piano
Bruce Harris - trumpet
Rich Perry - tenor saxophone
Doug Weiss - bass
Victor Lewis - drums

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

Harris Eisenstadt - Golden State II (2015)

Source: songlines

“His wise compositions suggest intricate, haunting textures that blur the distinction between the composed elements and highly personal, improvised interpretations…Exploration of the acoustic instruments’ timbral range and generous freedom enabled each musician to expand on their own unique language.”
–Eyal Hareuveni, All About Jazz (Covering The 2014 Music Unlimited Festival In Wels, Austria)

For Harris Eisenstadt’s second release with his Golden State quartet, we recorded in concert at the 2014 Vancouver jazz festival, and Michael Moore’s clarinet replaces Nicole Mitchell’s flute, as Nicole was not available for the Canadian festivals tour. As Harris says, “Golden State has been a kind of serendipitous special project. The genesis of it came about while I was in residence at California Institute of the Arts in 2012. Sara [Harris’s wife] came out with me, and I thought since Mark Dresser and Nicole Mitchell lived in Southern California, it would be a nice opportunity to get the four of us together in a small group setting. It went great, so it seemed like the project should have some life. Same thing this time around: Michael stepped in, and the direction of the group changed. It took on this interesting life in different ways than it did the first time. Michael has a beautiful, playful, lyrical style, a harmonically fluid style; a supremely natural way of playing melodically and harmonically and rhythmically all at the same time, all in such deep ways. He brings a wonderful sense of spontaneous ensemble interplay that I’ve always loved in his work with two long-standing groups, ICP Orchestra and Available Jelly. He really introduced his own sense of spontaneous orchestration to Golden State, which worked great.”

As before, the basic concept of the band is putting orchestra instruments in chamber and improvising contexts; influences include Eric Dolphy, Yusef Lateef, and the AACM, particularly Wadada Leo Smith, whom Harris studied with at CalArts, and Henry Threadgill. But there are other differences: “There’s something more straightforward about these songs in a way. They mostly follow fairly conventional forms, even head-solos-head in some cases, though with quite open approaches to solo sections and written materials. As for my own playing, I think there’s a simplicity or an economy of style meant to fit the compositions. If a song doesn’t ask for multiple high-wire acts to come off all at the same time and instead needs one focused task to unfold patiently, then that’s what I’ll do.” We’re still talking about avant-garde chamber jazz, but somehow the feel is earthier, the music is a bit more grounded in jazz, and while the recording is studio-like in its sonic precision, the vibe of a super-attentive audience can be felt in the playing.

As usual with Harris, the titles of the pieces have specific references. “The Arrangement of Unequal Things” is a quote from Richard Ford’s Canada referring to John Ruskin’s idea that composition is the arrangement of unequal things – in this case, “moving between duple and triple feels both in the written materials and as contrasting environments for clarinet and bassoon solos.” “Seven in Six” is a line in 7 on top of a longer line in 6, while “A Particularity with a Universal Resonance” is “three elegiac, meditative sections, and ultimately, a more uplifting strolling section that Michael solos on”; the title is taken from the obit for James Gandolfini in the NY Times. “A Kind of Resigned Indignation” is from the Times’ obit for Nora Ephron: “the solos and overall spirit are definitely indignant.” “Agency” is about “the ways in which each musician negotiates the composition in improvisatory ways.” “Gleaning” refers to “collecting leftover crops after a harvest, an apt reference to my compositional process. To glean also means to extract information. I supplied only so much information to the musicians; they extracted the information they needed and constantly re-cast the materials.”

Since the recording the band has played three gigs with Pascal Niggenkemper on bass, and with Chris Speed subbing for Michael in New York. “So it’s been this fluid project as it turns out, and the one constant ends up being Sara Schoenbeck on bassoon. In the end Golden State is a project built for my wife and me to get to play together in a small ensemble setting. Sara has been my longest active musical partner (in addition to our personal partnership). Since we had our son, Owen, almost six years ago, we have had less opportunity to play together. Wherever Golden State goes in the future, it will always be a small group, chamber-oriented project built on my collaboration with Sara. In a way, it’s in homage to our time together in California; I lived in Los Angeles for seven years, Sara grew up in the Bay Area then lived in L.A. for eleven years.”

Michael Moore, clarinet
Sara Schoenbeck, bassoon
Mark Dresser, contrabass
Harris Eisenstadt, drums, compositions

1. The Arrangement of Unequal Things
2. Seven in Six/A Particularity with a Universal Resonance
3. A Kind of Resigned Indignation
4. Agency
5. Gleaning

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Harris Eisenstadt Golden State - Featurette from harris eisenstadt on Vimeo.