Danny GreenTrio Plus Strings, One Day It Will (OA2)
Pianist Green’s earlier album Altered Narratives put strings with his trio on three tracks. The melding with a string quartet worked nicely. One Day It Will carries the idea to album length, with excellent arrangements by Green and smooth interaction among a string quartet and the trio featuring bassist Justin Grinnell and drummer Julien Cantelm. Among many highlights: the evocative languor of Green’s “October Ballad,” Cantelm’s accents amounting to commentary behind Green’s dancing solo on “As The Parrot Flies,” Grinell’s solo on the waltz “Lemon Avenue,” the richness of Kate Hatmaker’s violin on “As The Parrot Flies.” Sound quality is superb.
Jeremy Pelt, Noir en Rouge Live In Paris (High Note)
The trumpeter and his quintet recorded Noir en Rouge in Paris during a heat wave last summer. They were hot in more than one sense. Pelt, pianist Victor Gould, bassist Vicente Archer, drummer Jonathan Barber and percussionist Jacuelene Acevedo had established their unity and fire in the earlier Make Noise! for High Note. Now they refined their togetherness before the famously knowledgeable and appreciative audience at the Sunset-Sunside club. Pelt long since established himself as a great trumpeter, continually refining his inheritance of the Lee Morgan-Freddie Hubbard-Woody Shaw tradition. His mastery of harmonic language, trumpet technique, phrasing and the art of knowing what to leave out make his continuing artistic growth worth following. In Paris, the quintet concentrated on Pelt compositions with the exception of a slow, deeply felt performance of Parisian Michel LeGrand’s “I Will Wait For You” from the film The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg. One can almost hear the audience listening. Their second or two of silence following Pelt’s final note is as much a tribute as the applause and cheers that follow.
Kairos Sextet, Transition (Dafnison Music)
The Kairos Sextet are protégés of the superb Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto, who assembled them from among his students at Miami’s Frost School of Music after he came to the US a decade ago. The group has been in demand for work supporting major players including Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano, but in Transition, they are on their own, gloriously so. Prieto’s guidance may have been essential in the band’s formation, but trumpeter Sam Neufeld, saxophonists Sean Johnson and Tom Kelley, pianist Nick Lamb, bassist Jon Dadurka and drummer Johnathan Hulett have evolved into an ensemble whose solo abilities and big collective sound put them in the first rank of contemporary groups. The pieces are original compositions by the members, except for Victor Schertzinger’s classic “I Remember You.” Kelley gives it a stirring arrangement with minor-key flavors.
The Three Sounds, Groovin’ Hard, Live At The Penthouse 1964-1968 (Resonance)
There is no excuse for my having let this album languish on the shelf all these months. It is what upscale music magazines used to call a basic repertoire item. The Three Sounds thrived for a few years under the leadership of pianist Gene Harris. For most of the group’s existence, Andy Simpkins was the bassist and Bill Dowdy the drummer. Engineer and celebrated on-air host Jim Wilke recorded the group when he presented them in live broadcasts that became steady fare for Seattle-area listeners. The trio has sometimes been described as representative of jazz-rock, but their music was deeper and broader than the term suggests, as this album’s “Yours Is My Heart Alone,” “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes” and “The Shadow Of Your Smile” attest. It’s not just a question of repertoire, but of musicianship and the blues feeling with which Harris, Simpkins and Dowdy infused everything they played. That includes Ray Brown’s “A.M. Blues,” Toots Thielemans’ “Bluesette” and Three Sounds specialties like “Rat Down Front” and “The Boogaloo.” Kalil Madi or Carl Burnett substitute on drums for Dowdy on a few tracks and carry the torch splendidly. Resonance Records and Wilke deserve praise for preserving the music and finally releasing this album. Warning: It could make you decide to dust off your 1960s boogaloo moves.