by: Hobart Taylor
Dave Liebman/Joe Lovano - Compassion:The Music of John Coltrane - (Resonance Records)
Let's start out by saying that the declarative drum solo by Billy Hart that opens the title cut, followed close on by Phil Markowitz jagged chordal stabs with Ron McClure's loping heartbeat bassline underneath, sets the the stage for the soulful moans of two voices as one, as Liebman and Lovano come together and diverge in Coltrane's agonectasy.
Recorded in 2007 in New York for BBC 3, but just now released, this extraordinary recording is not another attempt at cloning Coltrane, (several releases a year try that and fail, especially when they succeed). It is instead an homage paid by two of the world's premier woodwind players who stay themselves exactly, and rather than performing note for note recapitulations, bring their prodigious skills to revering the message and essence of the tunes. While Liebman and Lovano front the ensemble, the whole sound is simpatico, just as it was with Trane and McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones.
It is all amazing stuff, but check out lesser known compositions such as "Reverend King", which features flute and alto clarinet and is a profound and pure evocation, and the sublime "Ole"
Charles Lloyd New Quartet - Passin Thru - (Blue Note)
A master of the golden age who still walks amongst us is Charles Lloyd. Recorded last July in concert in Santa Fe, Lloyd is joined here by Jason (I call him Supermoran) Moran on piano, Reuben Rogers, bass, and drummer Eric Harland. Lloyd plays out and in, free jazz and blues based, and also, in his tradition, deeply spiritual and reflective music. On the first cut,"Dream Weaver", Moran goes South African on us and the evocation of township jazz rocks the house. Lloyd then shifts to being entirely in the moment with "Part 5, Ruminations", swings out with "Nu blues", gets all ballady with "How Can I Tell You", before blowing the lid off with "Tagore on the Delta". The title cut, "Passin' Thru" is a joyful and muted controlled explosion. Moran's playing here is a force of nature. The recording ends in prayer, "Shiva's Prayer". Shiva and Llyold, destroyers of worlds so that new ones can emerge.
Sam Amidon - The Following Mountain - (Nonesuch Records)
So I suppose people call this folk music. I mean the guy sings soulful overarching notes, there are guitars involved, and melodies and themes are evocative of natural settings. But the essential sensibility is improvisational and deeply skew. Amidon uses various electronic instrumentation, broken rhythms, and deep but subtle surprise, so I call it jazz. Very good jazz. I am enamored of the cuts "Another Story Told", "Warren", and "April".
Tale of Us - Endless - (Deutsche Grammophon)
Electronica isn't a genre alone. It echoes moods and ideas synonymous with multiple genres and nature itself. The Italian sound artists/ djs Carmine Conte and Matteo Milleri, were stars in Ibiza operating out the club DC 10. Their music on this CD is deeply reflective, supple rhythms under ambient waves. Neo-Classical yeah. Deep House, yeah. Modal Jazz, yeah.
Justin Walter - Unseen Forces - (Kranky)
Electronica again, with processed trumpet, werkbench (dual sequencers that let you sample and alter rhythms in real time), and piano, all played by Walter. Creative music that takes simple progressions, deconstructs them and via call and response allows the artist to respond in real time to the variations established by the machines. The result: something like Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor playing "Dance".
Grant Stewart Trio - Roll On - (Cellar Live)
Standards, but not pop, performed with veracity, swing and elan by Canadian tenor player Stewart. Be Bop sort of like Charlie Parker out takes.
Tom Dempsey/Tim Ferguson Quartet - Waltz New - (OA2 Records)
Guitarist Dempsey and tenor player Joel Frahm front this pleasantly swinging happy-jazz ensemble.They focus mainly on compositions by the renowned guitarist Jim Hall. They make all the right moves. driving straight down the road cruising at 60.
Larry Newcomb Quartet with Bucky Pizzarelli - Living Tribute - (Essential Messenger)
More guitar based jazz that on the surface is clean, classical, and safe performance of the standard repertoire. Newcomb takes the electric, and on glorious rhythm and alternating lead is the grand old man of guitar swing Bucky Pizzarelli. Newcomb is no slouch, playing evocative leads and the band cooks, but it is Pizzarelli who steals the show. At 91, Pizzarelli, as did his fellow New Jerseyan and friend Les Paul, makes his guitar sing.
Spike Wilner Trio - Odalisque - (Cellar Live)
You could say pianist/composer Wilner recreates the post bop/soul jazz of the late 60's mixed in with modal changes that electrify. Or his ballads are thoughtful. For example, the title tune feels almost Russian in it's moody reflection. A odalisque is a female attendant to great ladies in a seraglio, and is also the title of a lush a romantic painting by Ingres of a lovely plush woman looking over her shoulder. The reference feels very apt. Or he can be bop with the best as on "You", which is to say he is a versatile and inspiring performer.