Recent Listening: Perez, Brookmeyer, Lundgren, Gardner

Rifftides World Headquarters has welcome summer visitors and resounds with telecasts of Olympics events. Nonetheless, the staff makes time for listening. We don’t award medals, but here are brief impressions of four recent CDs that placed high with the judges.

Danilo Perez, Across The Crystal Sea (EmArcy). Inevitably, this collaboration of the pianist
Perez.jpgwith Claus Ogerman recalls Bill Evans With Symphony Orchestra (1965), which Ogerman also arranged. More than half of the themes come from classical composers–de Falla, Rachmaninoff, Massenet, Sibelius, Distler. Ogerman’s “Another Autumn” holds its own in that heavy company. Perez’s playing is shaded with subtlety, showing a distinct Evans leaning in touch, chord voicings and development of melodic lines. On two tracks, “Lazy Afternoon” and “(All of a sudden) My Heart Sings,” Cassandra Wilson sings simply and beautifully.

The Modernity of Bob Brookmeyer: The 1954 Quartets (Fresh Sound). Finally, the first of the valve trombonist’s dates with pianist Jimmy Rowles, bassist Buddy Clark and drummer Mel
Brookmeyer.jpgLewis is on CD. Originally on Norman Granz’s Clef label, this remains one of the great soloist-plus-rhythm-section encounters of the second half of the twentieth century. Six years later, they reassembled for the equally successful The Blues Hot and Cold (Verve), which has yet to make it to compact disc. The second session here is another superb 1954 Brookmeyer quartet, originally on the Pacific Jazz label, with pianist John Williams, Red Mitchell or Bill Anthony on bass and the remarkable drummer Frank Isola. This combination release is a basic repertoire item.

Jan Lundgren,
Lundgren.pngSoft Summer Breeze
(Marshmallow). In his ninth CD for the Japanese label, the Swedish pianist applies to standards by Ellington, Monk, Shearing, Porter and Berlin and others his distinctive touch and ingenuity with chords. Lundgren, bassist Jesper Lundgaard and drummer Alex Riel include superior interpretations of two rarely-played jazz classics, Al Cohn’s “Tasty Pudding” and Tadd Dameron’s “Soul Train.” Lundgren opens with an unaccompanied “Mood Indigo” that emphasizes his continuing accumulation of harmonic wisdom. More of his ingeniuty with chord voicings is on display in his introduction to “Darn That Dream” and his solo on the half-forgotten Eddie DeLange ballad “Velvet Moon.”

Derrick Gardner, A Ride To The Other Side (Owl). If the title leads you to expect free jazz,
Gardner.jpgforget it. This young trumpeter and his group, The Jazz Prophets, will remind you of Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Bill Hardman and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and perhaps the Farmer-Golson Jazztet. Mainstream hard blowing contrasts with post-bop ballad relief in Gardner’s “God’s Gift” and “Just A Touch.” There is fine playing throughout by all hands, with exceptional work by Gardner, trombonist Vincent Gardner and pianist Anthony Wonsey.

More reviews to come. In the meantime, your comments, please.

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  1. Bill Kirchner says

    Do you know Brookmeyer’s “Back Again”? Recorded in May 1978 in NYC for Sonet shortly after Bob moved back to New York from L.A.. A quintet with Thad Jones, Jimmy Rowles, George Mraz and Mel Lewis, with marvelous playing by all. Dunno if this ever made it to CD, but in any case it’s a little-known classic.
    (It did make it to CD. I just ordered it from –DR.)