recommendations: March 2007 Archives

The Cannonball Adderley Quintet In San Francisco (Riverside). This is the 1959 recording that made Adderley and his band famous and the Riverside label a stable enterprise. It is one of five albums inititating a new series of recordings overseen by Orrin Keepnews, now well into his second half-century as a leading jazz producer. It includes previously unissued takes of "You Got It!" and of "This Here," the hit indelibly associated with Adderley. If you have never discovered the excitement and joy Cannonball generated with his brother Nat, Bobby Timmons, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes, this welcome reissue is the perfect introduction. The first batch of the Keepnews Collection reissues also has CDs by Thelonious Monk, Joe Henderson, Wes Montgomery and Kenny Dorham. Thoughts about them later. I presume that there will be more to come, from Bill Evans, for instance, George Russell, Jimmy Heath, Yusef Lateef, Clifford Jordan, Bobby Hutcherson, Mulgrew Miller and other beneficiaries of the Keepnews touch.

March 29, 2007 1:06 AM | | Comments (0)

Jack Reilly, Pure Passion (Unichrom). In his mid-seventies, Reilly continues on his independent way as a pianist inspired by many predecessors but shaped by his own expansive harmonic vision. In several of his CDs, I have heard no more ravishing expression of that vision than in his radical, utterly gorgeous, reharmonization of the famous Dizzy Gillespie coda to Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight." His "Das Fryderyk" reinforces my conviction that if Chopin had been born fifty years later, he would been a great blues player. This solo album contains pieces by composers including Kern, Rodgers, Victor Young, Vernon Duke and Gershwin. Its cover proclaims, "10 Standards, 6 Originals." In Reilly's hands, they are all original.

March 29, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

John Stowell, Swan Tones, Volume 1 (Soloway). One of the pleasures of the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival last month was hearing the guitarist John Stowell in several contexts including concerts, workshops and jam sessions. A free spirit, Stowell lives in Portland, Oregon, but mostly makes his living on the road. The road takes him to Europe, Asia and all parts of the United States. He paused long enough in Portland to record this solo album on a new guitar called, because of its long neck, The Swan. Soloway describes this session as a "remarkable spontaneous performance." Indeed it is. Stowell invents new melodies and variations based for the most part on songbook standards or jazz classics. Part of the fun of hearing them is identifying those songs. The title of "John The Giant" is bit of a giveaway. Others, "Will We Be One?" and "Ginger's Dance," for instance, may require finely tuned ears. Tune your ears and relax.

March 29, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (0)

Bill Mays Trio Live At WVIA (Bill Mays Music). In their years as one of the few firmly established working trios in the upper ranks of jazz, pianist Mays, bassist Martin Wind and drummer Matt Wilson have developed uncanny empathy. Here, Mays largely concentrates on his compositions. He makes an exception with an adventurous version of "Darn That Dream." From time to time, he goes outside by going inside the piano, using the strings as a harp. Wilson's ingenuity with rhythm and unusual percussion instruments and Wind's virtuosity, particularly with the bow, are on full display. Video and sound quality are first rate in this program played for an audience in a Pennsylvania television studio. This is an instance of a musician guiding his own business interests by issuing a DVD without middlemen.

March 29, 2007 1:03 AM | | Comments (0)

Terence M. Ripmaster, Willis Conover: Broadcasting Jazz To The World (iUniverse). Rifftides readers may remember a series of postings about Conover that began with this one. Through his Voice Of America broadcasts, Conover practiced cultural diplomacy that made friends for the United States during one of the most perilous periods of its existence, the Cold War. He accomplished his mission without politics, with dignity, with understatement and taste. His country rewarded him with ingratitude and disregard. Ripmaster's biography, though uneven and in need of editing attention, provides valuable information about Conover's career and the esteem he generated around the world for jazz and America. At a time when the administration is working to downgrade the VOA's English language broadcasting capability, the Conover story underlines how badly the US needs a neutral instrument of foreign policy to create good will around the world.

The Rifftides archive (right-hand column) contains a number of postings and comments about Conover, including the effort to win him a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom. Click on "Edit," then "Find on this page," and enter "Conover."

March 29, 2007 1:02 AM | | Comments (0)

Tierney Sutton Band: On The Other Side (Telarc). The title is a phrase from Harold Arlen's and Ted Koehler's "Get Happy." Sutton and her band, one of the most tightly integrated small groups at work today, contrast the song's sunny lyrics with a deliberate pace and a minor-key setting. The result is the unlikely combination of a sense of irony with the song's essential optimism. As performed and programmed by Sutton and the band, the album's eleven classic standard songs comprise a suite that constitutes a meditation on happiness or, in three cases, its bittersweet opposite. Sutton's "You Are My Sunshine" is the most moving version I have heard since Sheila Jordan's 1962 recording with George Russell. Jack Sheldon's two guest appearances include a gorgeous trumpet solo on "Glad To Be Unhappy," and inspired singing and playing on "I Want To Be Happy."

March 3, 2007 1:06 AM | | Comments (0)

Steve Kuhn Trio: Live At Birdland (Blue Note). The veteran pianist recreates the trio he led twenty years ago with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster. Deeply admired, always in demand, but never given the recognition his talent warrants, Kuhn is playing with greater depth and emotional charge than ever. It is good to see him get the exposure that comes with a release on a major label and good to hear him confident and assured with the fine support of Carter and Foster and an enthusiastic audience.

March 3, 2007 1:05 AM | | Comments (0)

Larry Willis: The Big Push (High Note). Al Foster is also on drums here, fully integrated into a superb trio with pianist Willis and bassist Buster Williams. Willis's desirability as a sideman has kept him busy since the 1960s with leaders as varied as Hugh Masakela, Cannonball Adderley, Carla Bley, David "Fathead" Newman, Roy Hargrove and Blood, Sweat and Tears. The past few years, he has been stepping out more often as a featured soloist. This CD, a balanced mix of familiar and original pieces, is among his best work, with a gorgeous treatment of Burton Lane's "Everything I Have Is Yours."

March 3, 2007 1:04 AM | | Comments (0)

Dizzy Gillespie: Dizzy's Dream Band (Fox Lorber). This 1982 concert at Lincoln Center is a basic repertoire item for any collector of jazz DVDs. The sidemen and women in the specially assembled big band included Gillespie alumni from four decades, among them Jimmy Heath, Milt Jackson and John Lewis, with guest appearances by Max Roach and Gerry Mulligan. Dizzy was in high spirits and top playing form.

March 3, 2007 1:03 AM | | Comments (0)

Alec Wilder: American Popular Song (Oxford). I have referred to this book so often over the years in articles, reviews and my own books that it makes sense to recommend it here. Wilder, with the indispensable assistance of James T. Maher, created an essential critical guide to the greatest songs and songwriters of the classic era of popular music. His opinions are strong and occasionally wrongheaded, but his overall grasp of what makes a good song remains unequaled. The one important songwriter whose work is not evaluated in the book is Alec Wilder. As Gene Lees has suggested, this is a book to be not merely read, but studied.

March 3, 2007 1:02 AM | | Comments (0)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the recommendations category from March 2007.

recommendations: January 2007 is the previous archive.

recommendations: May 2007 is the next archive.

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John Rockwell on the arts
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Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude

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Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
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Jerome Weeks on Books
Quick Study
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera

Drama Queen
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
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John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary
Modern Art Notes
Tyler Green's modern & contemporary art blog
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