New Picks (At Last)

What with remaking Rifftides, traveling, speechifying, spring planting and taking out the garbage (boy, I miss Lennie Bruce), new picks have had to wait. No more. There they are, in the middle column. … [Read more...]

CD: Cuong Vu

Cuong Vu: Vu-Tet (ArtistShare). The trumpeter ranges from placidity to wildness, often within a few bars of the same piece. What may seem near mania on the first hearing resolves into logic and strange beauty as the music becomes familiar. On the outer edge of amplification, Vu, tenor saxophonist Chris Speed, electric bassist Stomu Takeishi and drummer Ted Poor are electric in more than one sense. For all of his adventurousness, Vu is a melodist; "Now I Know (For Vina)" and "I Promise" are … [Read more...]

CD: Kendra Shank

Kendra Shank: A Spirit Free, Abbey Lincoln Songbook (Challenge). It would been have natural to assume that Abbey Lincoln's songs are so tied to her personality that no attempt to adapt them could succeed. Ms. Shank, however, manages to pay tribute to Ms. Lincoln and evoke her without imitating or caricaturing her. Given the older singer's individualism, not to say eccentricities, that is an accomplishment. Ms. Shank succeeds entirely. The band accompanying her is first rate, with notable … [Read more...]

CD: Sam Yahel

Sam Yahel Trio: Truth And Beauty (Origin). This trio was called Yaya3 when it debuted in 2002. By whatever name, organist Yahel, tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman and drummer Brian Blade depart from the standard organ trio blockbuster approach into subtlety and taste, without sacrificing propulsion. Yahel has developed impressively from his starting point, the pianistic organ style of the late Larry Young. Yahel's, Redman's and Blade's degree of anticipation and interaction is stunning on the … [Read more...]

DVD: Michel Petrucciani

2 Films: Nonstop Travels With Michel Petrucciani & Trio Live In Stuttgart (Dreyfus Jazz). The documentary film follows the late pianist in Europe and the United States. Beautifully directed and photographed, it captures his musicality, charm, wit and spunk. Memorable moments: a reunion in Big Sur with Charles Lloyd; a visit to the Steinway factory in Hamburg; playing on top of a New York skyscraper. In concert a year before he died in 1999, Petrucciani is in great form with bassist Anthony … [Read more...]

Book: Howard Mandel

Howard Mandel: Miles, Ornette, Cecil, Jazz Beyond Jazz (Routledge). Our fellow blogger also calls his web log Jazz Beyond Jazz. His book further increases listeners' ability to understand the avant garde music he knows so well. Mandel helps clear the way toward appreciation of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, who departed from standard jazz forms in the 1950s, and of Miles Davis's quite different departure in the '60s. It is a successor to and, in a way, a continuation of A.B. … [Read more...]