Paolo Fresu, Richard Galliano, Jan Lundgren, Mare Nostrum III (ACT)
This third outing by Mare Nostrum continues the international trio’s close collaboration in a series of albums that has enjoyed considerable success. With three exceptions, the compositions in this installment are by the members of Mare Nostrum. It opens with one the French accordionist Galliano titled “”Blues sur Seine” for the storied river that flows through Paris.
Among the pleasures of the album, which in toto is a pleasure, are the Sardindian trumpeter Fresu’s “Human Requiem, which he managed to make as hopeful as it is somber, and pianist Lundgren’s “Ronneby,” named for the town on Sweden’s Baltic shore where he grew up, and did so happily, if this piece is evidence. “Ronneby’s” intriguingly Nordic harmonic departures help to make it a track to which the listener (this one, at any rate) keeps going back.
Galliano occasionally replaces the accordion by playing with equal eloquence on the bandoneon, the accordion’s close relative, popular in Uruguay and Argentina. Nonetheless, it is on the accordion that he performs his touching “Letter To My Mother.”
The three musicians are as expressive, interactive and playful in Michel Legrand’s “The Windmills Of Your Mind, Eduardo DiCapua’s and Alfredo Mazzucchi’s “I’te murria vasà” and Quincy Jones’s “Love Theme From ‘The Getaway’” as they are in their own pieces. For all the lyricism and solemnity in some tracks, this album—beautifully engineered by Lars Nilsson in Gothenburg, Sweden—exudes feelings of discovery and the joy of collaboration. Here, Mare Nostrum plays Lundgren’s “Love Land.” Video courtesy of The ACT Company.
Misha Tsiganov, Playing With The Wind (Criss Cross)
Pianist Tsiganov won the All-Russia Jazz Competition in 1990 and came to the US from St. Petersbug, Russia, to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He moved to New York in 1993 and has been a busy member of the city’s jazz community ever since, working with a wide variety of musicians including Wynton Marsalis and others in the Jazz At Lincoln Center orbit and a number of artists in New York’s Latin scene.
The sidemen on his third album for Criss Cross are a fellow Russian, trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Dan Weiss. Tsiganov’s penchant for Wayne Shorter compositions is reflected in “Virgo” and “Witch Hunt,” Shorter pieces that by now may as well be called jazz standards. Tsiganov’s fleet soloing on both is impressive. He reaches into his Russian heritage for the folk song “To Ne Veter Vetku Klonit” (“No, It’s Not A Branch Bowing To The Wind.”) Whatever the traditional rhythmic treatment of the piece may be in his homeland, Tsiganov has made it a metric fiesta involving 3/4/, 7/4 and 5/4 time signatures. The arrangement results in all of that flowing naturally and encouraging logical, however adventurous, solos from all hands. Sipiagin’s solo is particularly daring, incorporating astonishing fluidity and a stratospheric climax. The album ends with Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought Of You,” taken in slow 4/4 time with, according to quote from Tsiganov in the liner notes, “no mixed meters, no rhythmic tricks, a lot of new chords.” It’s a peaceful ending to a stimulating album.
Randy Brecker & Mats Holmquist Together with UMO Jazz Orchestra (MAMA)
Trumpeter Brecker teams with the powerful Finnish big band the UMO Jazz Orchestra and Mats Holmquist, a star arranger since he was graduated from the University of North Texas, where he got his second masters degree in composition in 1991. He already had one from from the Royal College Of Music in Stockholm. Holmquist is a major figure in modern Scandinavian music. The album contain ingenious, demanding original compositions by Holmquist. It also has his arrangements of three Chick Corea pieces and new works based on standard songs including Victor Young’s “Stella By Starlight” and Jerome Kern’s “All The Things You Are.” Holmquist’s reworking of the Kern song is listed as “All My Things” and described by Holmquist as “a conceptual piece.” Some concept.
Here is a video version, taped in concert at around the time of the studio recording.
Brecker was the trumpet soloist. The soprano saxophone solo was by Ville Vannemaa. We should mention that the audio recording has several piano solos by Seppo Kantonen, playing at his customary high level. If you are curious about the UMO Jazz Orchestra but unfamiliar with it, here is a list of its members:
Woodwinds: Ville Vannemaa, Mikko Mäkinen, Teemu Salminen, Max Zenger, Pertti Pävivinen. Trumpets: Teemu Mattsson, Timo Paasonen, Mikko Pettinen, Tero Saarti. Trombones: Heikki Tuhkanen, Mikko Mustonen, Juho Vilijanen, Mikael Lanbacka. piano, Seppo Kantonen; bass, Juho Kivivuori; drums; guitar, Mikel Ulferg.