Recent Listening: Jordan, Longo, Garrett

The Rifftides staff is still catching up with recent CDs, some more recent than others.

Sheila Jordan, Winter Sunshine (Justin Time). The first word in the CD’s title may refer to

Jordan.jpgJordan’s age, the second to the quality of her singing. She is seventy-nine and sounds thirty. Part of her schtick in this live recording at Montreal’s Upstairs club is to tell the audience how tired she is, but she doesn’t sound tired. She sounds like a young bebop and ballad singer with sunshine in her voice.  If there must be scatting, let it be the kind of canny scatting Jordan does in “I Remember You” and her montage of “All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm” and “Little Willie Leaps.” She praises pianist Steve Amirault, bassist Kieran Overs and drummer André White…for good reason. The chatter between songs wears thin after two or three hearings, but it is on separate tracks, and most CD players are programmable.


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Mike Longo, Float Like a Butterfly (CAP). I hope that before Oscar Peterson died last December he had a chance to hear Longo’s treatment of “Tenderly” in this 2007 CD. Longo emulates the first chorus of the master’s famous 1952 recording, then pursues his own muse with forthrightness, imagination and relaxed swing. Peterson would no doubt have been pleased with his prize student on both counts. Longo’s longtime confreres Paul West and Jimmy Wormworth are the bassist and drummer. The trio plays a couple of the leader’s own tunes and explores several by Monk, Gillespie, Shorter, Hubbard, Raksin, Van Heusen, Schwartz and others. This is an unpretentious and deeply satisfying recording, nowhere more so than in Longo’s clever blues “Diminished Returns.”

Kenny Garrett, Sketches of MD: Live At The Iridium (Mack Avenue). The alto saxophonist eases off his customary Coltrane modal intensity for a club date incorporating soul, neo-Africanisms and synthesizer funk. The MD of the title refers to Garrett’s stint with Miles Davis

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in the trumpeter’s late electronic period. The veteran tenor saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders brings to the proceedings an earthiness that rubs off on Garrett. Or is it vice versa? The rhythm section of bassist Nat Reeves, drummer Jamire Williams and keyboard player Benito Gonzalez provides the hypnotic backgrounds in this album of good-natured party music.

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