Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Brian Charette - Once & Future (2016)

Genre: Hammond B3 Trio
GAB's Rating: ★★★★★

Organ aficionados dismiss Brian Charette at their own disservice. With a Positone label contract in his pocket he’s stepped up his fecundity over the past year and turned out a string of albums that refuse to cow to critics that consider the instrument gauche or played out. Lesser hands accorded such liberal access to the avenues of album production would likely risk a tapering in quality to keep up. Charette’s kept his success record clean, balancing creative ideational execution with a conspicuous mindfulness aimed at fun.
The catalyst for Once & Future is at once unexpectedly self-referential and more broadly historical. At an earlier session Charette happened upon a copy of his own book 101 Hammond B3 Tips on the studio instrument and consequently started pondering the pantheon of players influential to his development. Fourteen pieces pay homage to these eclectic electric forefathers with three coming from Charette’s own design. Guitarist Will Bernard and drummer Steve Fidyk both show themselves game at exploring the guiding conceit of the date to the hilt.
The program starts orthodoxly enough with Fats Waller and the nascent organ inroad “Jitterbug Waltz” lathered here with a heaping helping of swollen, suspirating pedal sustain.  Initial predictability gets upended as Charette vaults to the other end of the stylistic organ spectrum with Larry Young’s “Tyrone”, juggling interlocking Latin and funk components while deferring to Bernard for first solo honors. Barely a quarter century separates the two compositions, but each is of seismic importance in measuring the evolution of the instrument’s importance in jazz.
Charette’s “Latin from Manhattan” intentionally matches the formidable kitsch quotient of its title with a syrupy string of fills and a light samba beat. Bernard and Fidyk recline into their roles amiably unperturbed by the lounge-scented surroundings. Freddie Roach’s “Da Bug” works over a rolling call-and-response boogaloo rhythm while Jack McDuff’s “Hot Barbecue”, a Harlem club staple from the Hammond Sixties heyday, gets its well-deserved due with declamatory titular band refrain intact.
Back-to-back burning renditions of Bud Powell’s “Dance of the Infidels” and Woody Shaw’s “Zoltan” signal another course change to more modern fare. Charette flips a switch and hits the angular, staggered theme of the former with a tumescent knife-edged tone that almost eclipses Bernard’s careful comping. The latter tune gives Fidyk the chance to share his press roll and cymbal accent expertise in tandem with the leader’s aggressive tonal swells and spirals. James Brown, Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery comprise the album’s compositional final stretch alongside a few more originals. Charette’s win column remains uncompromised throughout. Derek Taylor





John Zorn - The Mockingbird (2016)

Genre: Avant-Garde / Classical
GAB's Rating: ★★★★☆

This album was inspired by the character Scout from the classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird and shows John Zorn’s compositions at their most subtle and graceful, floating across the divide between literature and music. The trio has become a regular group that Zorn has convened to interpret some of his more understated compositions, featuring Carol Emanuel on harp, Bill Frisell on guitar and Kenny Wollesen on vibraphone and chimes. “Scout” opens the album with shimmering vibes which are met with some snarling guitar sounds (Zorn always brings out the best in Frisell) and there is a near chamber sound to some of the music, like on “Riverrun” where the harp glistens and the chimes twinkle, before things take a darker turn, hammering sounds and then pulling back to show their dynamic muscle. The milder “Child’s Play” builds through Wollesen’s melodious ringing sounds, which take center stage as guitar and harp hold back. He develops an interesting rhythm his own for this entire piece. Gentle guitar that sounds like it may come from an old time ballad opens “Porch Swing” and that deep emotional feeling that Frisell is able to conjure deepens the emotional resonance of the music as the harpist gently orbits around with gentle strums and the vibes further frame the music. Wollesen makes his mallets spritely dance as the trio joins together for the conclusion. There is a sweet and haunting melody to “Innocence” that the trio builds louder chiming together, then like a fairy tale gone wrong, the music turns progressively darker and spectral, as the heavy handed vibes become more urgent in their tone. “A Mystery” is a great track and really lives up to its title by having a quiet unsettled aura before Wollesen comes in with heavy clangs and lashes of metallic vibes sounding like the cry for help of a lost soul that deepens the mystery even further. His excellent playing allows the music to cover a range of emotion, and the wailing sound of the vibes and electric guitar is head filling and unforgettable. There is a lighter and defter movement to the music on “The Mockingbird” and while the vibes stay urgent to give the music a propulsive forward movement, the harp and guitar are in fine mettle. As the hard vibes ring out, taut guitar moves in with glistening harp to develop fine concluding textures. This is their sixth album and one of their best, presenting quiet and subtle music touching upon themes of hope and fear, sadness and courage with great tact and dignity.

1. Scout
2. Riverrun
3. Children's Play
4. Porch Swing
5. Innocence
6. Pegasus
7. A Mystery
8. The Mockingbird

Carol Emanuel: Harp
Bill Frisell: Guitar
Kenny Wollesen: Vibraphone, Chimes





Antonio Ciacca Quintet - Volare (2016)

Source: MVD
Genre: Hard-Bop
GAB's Rating: ★★★★☆

When I was running the Cellar, I was approached by pianist Antonio Ciacca about presenting Italian Jazz Days at the club to showcase the musicians and songs from the great American-Italian songbook. I couldn't make it happen then.. In October 2015 Antonio brought a group to Vancouver: Antonio (the only 100% Italian in the group); bassist Paul Gill; drummer Peter Van Nostrand; and trumpeter/vocalist Benny Benack III. The lone non-Italian in the group was yours truly. I call myself an honorary Italian. We performed one night at the Italian Cultural Centre and then went in the studio to make Volare, The Italian American Songbook. We had an absolute ball making music together. The only new name to me in the group was Benny Benack III. He is among the young musicians living in New York who display an abundance of maturity in their playing. Benack III does not sound like a 25 year old. He has so much respect for the tradition, which is wonderful and unusual to see these days. Drummer Pete van Nostrand is a mainstay on the New York jazz scene and most recently can be heard playing with Cécile McLorin Savant. His drumming always subtly pushes you and has a very nice feel to it. He isn't a stranger to Cellar Live, having recorded on Steve Einerson's Arrival. Bassist Paul Gill, who also played on that recording, is the bassist of choice for numerous New York musicians. It's no secret why. He has a huge bass sound with that bounce that I love in a bass player. When it's his time to solo Paul displays the technique of a horn player, especially when he's using the bow. The leader of this group, Antonio Ciacca, has been living in America for nine years. He is a confident bandleader who knows exactly how he wants the music to sound and isn't afraid to tell you if he's not getting what he wants. That's the way it should be. Although he is a fantastic soloist, it's Antonio's subtle arranging and thoughtful accompaniment that really stand out for me on this recording.

01 Volare
02 Chick's Tune
03 Vancouver Fal
04 Summer Night
05 Joe Avenue
06 Stairway To The Stars
07 Scotty
08 Thad Jones
09 The More I See You
10 Helen's Song

Antonio Ciacca - piano,
Cory Weeds - tenor saxophone,
Benny Benack III - trumpet/vocals,
Paul Gill - bass,
Pete van Nostrand - drums




Joonsam - A Door (2016)

Source & Label:http://originarts.com/reviews/review.php?ReviewID=2281
Genre: Modern Creative Jazz
GAB's Rating: ★★★★★

“...it's fresh perspective is a breath of fresh air...”


For his debut as a leader, South Korean bassist Joonsam Lee gathered compositions he had written since moving to New York City in 2007 that refected the wide-range of musical situations he's experienced, from concerts with his own trio to symphony performances, international tours, and working the clubs of New York. With a supple trio as the foundation - featuring Aaron Parks on piano and drummer Nate Wood - Joonsam adds the voices of Ralph Alessi on trumpet, guitarist Ben Monder, and various other instruments to fill out inspired arrangements for an engaging and far-flung set of music.

The young, South Korean bass players that's been parked in NYC when not globe trotting or over achieving, takes it downtown for a trio date that wholly original. With augmentation from other well known downtowners, this is typical of the kind of muscular, angular jazz that New York is known for, but in essence, there's nothing typical about it. Hard charging stuff that lets everyone have some like this is a long time working band, it's fresh perspective is a breath of fresh air. Solid work that really goes the distance. Check it out.  Chris Spector

01 Whirlwind 6:44
02 Zadrak 6:35
03 Boa Noite 5:07
04 23451 0:54
05 2 Tunes and Off-Hour Waiting Area 4:57
06 Love Trauma 5:20
07 Ice Skate 4:29
08 23452 0:38
09 Doraji the Flower 5:56
10 Where Water Comes Together With Other Water 7:54
11 Airport Music 4:20

Joonsam - Bass
Aaron Parks - Piano
Nate Wood - Drums
Ralph Alessi - Trumpet (1,4,5,7,8)
Ben Monder - Guitar (2,10)
Yeahwon Shin - Vocal (6)
Yvonnick Prene - Harmonica (3)
ChungEun Han - Bamboo Flute (9)


Dan Cray - Outside In (2016)

Source & Label:http://originarts.com/recordings/recording.php?TitleID=82714
Genre: Mainstream Jazz
GAB's Rating: ★★★★☆

For his second release on Origin, New York pianist Dan Cray draws on the inspiration he received from a year spent living and working out in the Sierras and hiking in Big Sur. With rising star Dayna Stephens on saxophone, along with drummer Mark Ferber and Cray's longtime bandmate, bassist Clark Sommers, Cray's mix of his own compositions and arrangements of several rarely heard standards offer a meditation on nature and the search for peace wherever you are. "This music engages both mind and spirit, not changing the world so much as brightening the day." Downbeat

Piano jazz inspired by a year of hanging out in Big Sur and it's environs, it's no wonder all those 50s jazzbos liked hanging around San Francisco. Playing with a wide openness that's new to his artillery, Cray's added colors and textures bring his New York vibe somewhere else indeed. Tasty, laid back sitting down jazz, Cray is on a roll. Well done.  Chris Spector

01.Small Sir 5:34
02.Where Springs 6:01
03.A Flower is a Lovesome Thing 7:06
04.Oblivion 5:47
05.OdP (Bird of Paradise) 5:42
06.Outside In 5:18
07.Where Are You 7:07

Dan Cray - piano
Dayna Stephens - tenor saxophone
Clark Sommers - bass
Mark Ferber - drums




Kris Allen - Beloved (2016)

Source & Label:https://trrstore.bandcamp.com/album/beloved
Genre: Post-Bop
GAB's Rating: ★★★★★

1. Lowborn 06:13
2. Mandy Have Mercy 07:49
3. Lord Help My Unbelief 04:27
4. Flores 04:28
5. One For Rory 09:09
6. Bird Bailey 04:26
7. Beloved 05:14
8. Hate The Game 04:07
9. More Yeah 03:21
10.Threequel 04:15

Kris Allen - alto and soprano (#6) saxophones
Frank Kozyra - tenor saxophone
Luques Curtis - bass
Jonathan Barber - drums




Garrison Fewell & Gianni Mimmo - Flawless Dust (2016) LONG SONG RECORDS


Last year Inverso, the album of duets by Garrison Fewell and Alessio Alberghini, was my top pick of the year, and completely coincidentally the review of this album was posted on the day that Garrison Fewell sadly passed on.  As a wonderful guitarist, Fewell was an expert accompanist, giving just the right support to those he played with whilst allowing them the space to soar and sound magnificent. He was also an outstanding soloist and could easily traverse the line between playing standard material as well as more out-there excursions and flights of fancy.

It is therefore very satisfying to welcome another set of recordings into the canon of his work.  Flawless Dust is another set of duets and another chance to hear this late and great guitarist in an intimate setting, this time with soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo.

The album starts with the title track, and the same subtlety that the Inverso pieces had, with Fewell bobbling and sliding a ‘found object’ on the open strings of his guitar, whilst Mimmo gradually enters over the course of the piece initially with multiphonic tones that sound more akin to electronic feedback.  These then blend with the notion of the electric guitar and the expectation of it, whilst creating a sustained contrast to Fewell’s higgledy-piggledy sounds.

In contrast to this is the next track ‘Song’, with Mimmo playing a free melodic line whilst Fewell accompanies underneath with some quick and choppy chords played chromatically in progression,  (READ MORE)

Flawless Dust
News from Beyond
Other Song
A Floating Caravan
Other Chat
Grainy Fabric
Ghost Song

Garrison Fewell: electric guitar, percussion
Gianni Mimmo: soprano saxophone


Peter Fraize - Facts + Figures (2016)

Facts + Figures is a new album of all original music for acoustic jazz quartet and quintet. It features compositions written over the past two decades that reflect some of the important events, places and people (facts and figures) in my life. 

Initially conceived as more of a "straight-ahead" piano-anchored quartet record (after 20+ years of recording as a leader, something that I had yet to do…), the focus began to shift during the tune and personnel selection process. I found myself drawn toward compositions that were less conventional in terms of form and structure, such as the 15-beat cycle that underpins much of "The Ides of March" and the 19-bar form of "I to I", and that I would really enjoy hearing this amazing cast of players on. 

Ultimately, I feel that I got the best of both worlds. While the music presented here honors many of the conventions of classic small-group jazz (and above all, it SWINGS), I hope that it does so in its own, unpredictable way. 

My thanks to Jon, Paul, Nathan, Leland and Gantt for their uncompromising artistry in bringing this music to life. 

My deepest love and gratitude always to Jessica, Leo, Owen, and my parents for their endless love, support and inspiration. 

1. The Ides of March 06:53
2. A Step Toward Grace 09:31
3. Euclid House 10:50
4. While He Sleeps 06:11
5. Leo 05:52
6. Freezer Full of Math 06:40
7. Life in the Ozone 08:26
8. I to I 07:28
9. Me, Then You 12:39

Released June 13, 2016 

Peter Fraize- tenor saxophone 
Paul Pieper- guitar (# 1, 3, 6, 9) 
Jon Ozment- piano (except # 3) 
Nathan Kawaller- bass 
Leland Nakamura- drums 

All compositions by Peter Fraize, EZ-arf Music/ASCAP 

Recorded on 2/2 and 3/18 2016 
Recorded and mixed by Gantt Kushner 
at Gizmo Recording Co., Silver Spring, MD 
Produced by Peter Fraize