At Last: New Picks

Approved

Following a long dry spell, we return with new recommendations of three CDs, a DVD and a book. They cover music for a sci-fi adventure champion, the release of a legendary Gerry Mulligan concert in its entirety, the further adventures of a saxophonist who combines power with economy, a film about the ultimate road father, and the life story of a pianist who balances her famous charm and musicianship with understated toughness that has made for a long career. For a while, you’ll see the … [Read more...]

CD: Gerry Mulligan

Mulligan Santa Monica

Gerry Mulligan and the Concert Jazz Band, Santa Monica 1960 (Fresh Sound) Mulligan’s Concert Jazz Band had three fewer musicians than most big jazz outfits. Its size permitted precision, flexibility and subtlety, yet the band had the power of sprung steel. In this concert from a half century ago, the CJB is as fresh as yesterday. Arrangements by Mulligan, Bob Brookmeyer, Al Cohn and Johnny Mandel set standards to which big band writers still aspire. Bassist Buddy Clark and drummer Mel Lewis … [Read more...]

CD: JD Allen

Allen Matador

JD Allen Trio: The Matador And The Bull (Savant) The tenor saxophonist has changed record labels but not sidemen or his conciseness. While many of his contemporaries’ solos demand endurance by player and listener alike, Allen expresses himself in short bursts of creativity; the longest track here runs 4:45, including pauses that induce reflection. The CD and tune titles suggest the bullring. If such thematic dressing attracts an audience, so much the better, but the drama and passion of the … [Read more...]

CD: Scott Robinson

Robinson Savage

Scott Robinson: Bronze Nemesis (Doc-Tone) Robinson unleashes his imagination and a substantial cross section of his instrumental arsenal to pay homage to the 20th century pulp fiction adventure hero Doc Savage. He uses the colossal contrabass sax to great effect, but his otherworldly theremin wins the weird-atmosphere sweepstakes. Novelty aside, the music is entertaining and high in quality. Pianist Ted Rosenthal, drummer Dennis Mackrel, bassists Pat O’Leary and— on one track—the late Dennis … [Read more...]

DVD: Woody Herman

Herman Blue Flame

Woody Herman, Blue Flame: Portrait Of A Jazz Legend (Jazzed Media) Producer Graham Carter traces Herman’s career from a vaudeville childhood through leadership of a succession of big bands that made him a formative influence in jazz for more than 50 years. Photographs, film and early television trace development of the Herman herds. There are rare scenes of sidemen including Stan Getz, Serge Chaloff and Bill Harris in action, and complete sequences of performances by later editions of the … [Read more...]