Recent CDs: John Ellis

John Ellis, Dance Like There's No Tomorrow (Hyena). Ellis's quartet makes party music infected with parade beats, gospel, tango ("Three Legged Tango In Jackson Square"), comedy ("Zydeco Clowns On The Lam") sentiment worn up, rather than on, the sleeve ("I Miss You Molly") and assorted other ingredients. Think of gumbo. Ellis plays soprano saxophone and bass clarinet, but his individuality shines most brightly on tenor saxophone. His superb support troops are organist and accordianist Gary … [Read more...]

Recent CDs: Fresu, Galliano, Lundgren

Paolo Fresu, Richard Galliano, Jan Lundgren, Mare Nostrum (ACT). In the hands of three masters, another unusual combination of instruments produces music that can transport listeners into dreaminess unless they are concentrating on the depth of its inventiveness. The Italian trumpeter Fresu, the French accordianist Galliano and the Swedish pianist Lundgren (l. to r.) blend in a program of their own compositions and one each by Jobim, Trenet and Ravel. The name of Lundgren's title piece … [Read more...]

Recent CDs: Silver

Horace Silver, Live At Newport '58 (Blue Note). It is a treat to hear a newly discovered live performance by the pianist, composer and bandleader whose quintets were among the most interesting and stimulating of the so-called hard bop period. Tenor saxophonist Junior Cook and trumpeter Louis Smith had a good day as soloists. It is unlikely that Cook -- consistently excellent, always underrated -- had bad days. Smith was in and out of the band quickly. He is impressive, particularly in the … [Read more...]

Recent CDs: Caliman

Hadley Caliman, Gratitude (Origin). I wrote in Jazz Matters about Caliman in a 1979 performance with Freddie Hubbard's band: As the evening progressed, Caliman's playing took on much of the intensity and coloration of John Coltrane's work, but he is a more directly rhythmic player than Coltrane was toward the end of his life and from that standpoint is reminiscent of Dexter Gordon. Whatever his influences, Caliman is an inventive and cheerful soloist. Caliman recently retired as a college … [Read more...]

Recent CDs: Mann

Herbie Mann's Californians, (Fresh Sound). This compilation reissue contains all of the Riverside album called Great Ideas Of Western Mann plus tracks from Riverside's Blues For Tomorrow and Verve's The Golden Flute Of Herbie Mann. In all cases, Jimmy Rowles is on piano, with Buddy Clark on bass and Mel Lewis on drums. For the rhythm section alone, this would be a desirable CD, but Mann's bass clarinet and Jack Sheldon's trumpet work on seven of the pieces make it an essential example of all … [Read more...]