Sunday, April 16, 2017

Renaud Garcia-Fons - Entremundo

Bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons' set of originals mixes together Western classical music with world music and the improvising of jazz. The resulting performances are both soothing and stimulating, with Garcia-Fons' bowed bass being quite virtuosic and expressive; his feature on "Aqâ Jân" is very impressive. The many percussion instruments add an exotic element to the music (the core trio is comprised of bass, guitar, and drums) and the leader's strong melodies are full of variety and rich themes. Despite the lack of name recognition in the U.S., this is a special release with plenty of mood variations, unexpected moments, and logical development. Entremundo grows in interest with each listen and is well worth exploring. - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Some records are instantly captivating, with an ambience that immediately draws the listener in. Others require more attention, revealing layers of reward with each successive listen. The best records do both. Bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons has managed with his latest disc, Entremundo , to create one of those rare recordings whose first spin compels the listener to play it again and again, revealing richer substance each time. That Garcia-Fons has been called "the Paganini of the double bass" is no surprise. One listen to the closing piece, the solo "Aqâ Jân," and the breadth of his capabilities is clearly evident. With his five-string double-bass giving him access to the range of a cello in addition to the deeper resonance of the traditional instrument, Garcia-Fons' virtuosity is remarkable. From percussive pizzicato to sweeping arco, his ability to coax distinct and unusual sonorities from his instrument is uncanny. And while Garcia-Fons' technical skill is evident from the first note of "Sueno Vivo," which opens the album, he is equally matched by his trio mates, percussionist Jorge "Negrito" Trasante and flamenco guitarist Antonio Ruiz "Kiko." Yet, for all their formidable abilities, Entremundo is never about needless pyrotechnical demonstration. From the light and airy folk sound of "Cristobal" to the lush classical leanings of the title track, Garcia-Fons and his trio, supplemented by a variety of musical guests on various tracks, are never less than lyrical and transcend being mere players. ntremundo means "Between Worlds," and while the majority of the record has a strong flamenco flavour that will appeal to fans of, for example, Strunz and Farah, it's distinguished by a breadth of world view. There are elements of Middle Eastern harmonies, Oriental lines and Latin American rhythms amidst the Andalusian themes of "40 Dias," the brief and dark "Doust," and "Sarebân," which blends in an Indian-inflected theme. Garcia-Fons states that the intention of the record is to be celebratory, and there is, to be sure, a vivacious joy to be found throughout. Passion runs wild, with Garcia-Fons leading the way with his vibrant and emotive playing. Few bassists straddle the line between being a supporting rhythm section instrument and a leading voice as well as Garcia-Fons. Regardless of where he is placing his priority, the augmented trio shuffles responsibilities seamlessly and effortlessly. This is strongly groove-centric music that moves the body as well as the heart. Another characteristic of exceptional records is to make one forget about the individual contributions and experience the music as a transcendent whole. While the admirable skill of all involved makes this sometimes difficult, at the end of the day the album succeeds as an incredibly broad cross-fusion of ethnic influences from around the globe. Entremundo succeeds in making music that draws a coherent link between various musical worlds and, consequently, lives up to its name by fusing the music of a diversity of cultures with an improvisational verve and, in the final analysis, a pure and unadulterated joy in making evocative and provocative music. - by John Kelman, AllAboutJazz.com

Artist: Renaud Garcia-Fons
Album: Entremundo
Year: 2004
Label: Enja Records
Runtime: 50:57

Tracks:
1.  Sueno vivo 4:46
2.  Cristobal 4:51
3.  Entremundo 3:59
4.  Mahoor 4:06
5.  40 Dias (Soleá) 4:43
6.  Entre Continentes 6:58
7.  Mursiya 0:48
8.  Rosario 5:15
9.  Doust 1:42
10.  Sareban 5:58
11.  Aqa Jan 7:51
All compositions by Renaud Garcia-Fons 

Personnel:
Renaud Garcia-Fons (Double Bass, Vocals, Tanbur, Percussion)
Jorge Trasante (Drums, Bombo, Udu, Latin Percussion)
Antonio Ruiz (Flamenco Guitar)
Claire Antonini (Tar, Cistres, Luth Baroque)
Gaston Sylvestre (Cimbalom)
Angel Sanchez-Gonzalez (Palmas, Cajon, Jaleo, Pandeiro)
Bruno Caillat (Tabla, Daf, Kanjeera)
Philippe Slovinsky (Trumpet)
Allen Hoist (Tenor Saxophone)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Charles Lloyd - Hyperion With Higgins

The December 1999 sessions that produced The Water Is Wide yielded enough material for a second album. Hyperion With Higgins is the result, and its title reflects the sad fact that Billy Higgins, Lloyd's friend and soul mate and the session's drummer, passed away not long after the music was put to tape. The music's spiritual quality is heightened by the after-the-fact dedication. Quite unlike The Water Is Wide, Hyperion With Higgins is comprised entirely of Lloyd's original compositions, although the same lineup is featured: Lloyd, Higgins, John Abercrombie, Brad Mehldau, and Larry
Grenadier. After a couple of fairly straightforward jazz pieces ("Dancing Waters, Big Sur to Bahia" and "Bharati"), the quintet delves into two longer works: "Secret Life of the Forbidden City" and the Coltrane-esque "Miss Jessye." They then romp through the title track, a spirited mid-tempo blues, before tackling the album's centerpiece: the five-part "Darkness on the Delta Suite," an ambitious, free-leaning melange of Eastern and rural blues connotations (with a brilliant solo interlude by Abercrombie). The last two pieces -- "Dervish on the Glory B" and "The Caravan Moves On" -- depart almost completely from jazz vernacular. The former recalls the upbeat, folk-like drone of the sunset portion of "Forest Flower," while the latter, featuring Lloyd on taragato, evokes not only the Middle Eastern desert, but also the inexorable march of time. Thus does a fitting homage to the departed Higgins conclude this exceptionally focused, all-original statement from Charles Lloyd. - by David R. Adler, AMG

Artist: Charles Lloyd
Album: Hyperion With Higgins
Year: 1999
Label: ECM (2001)
Runtime: 70:07

Tracks:
1.  Dancing Waters, Big Sur To Bahia 5:51
2.  Bharati 6:59
3.  Secret Life Of The Forbidden City 10:03
4.  Miss Jessye 10:21
5.  Hyperion With Higgins 7:19
6.  Darkness On The Delta Suite 12:39
7.  Dervish On The Glory B 8:23
8.  The Caravan Moves On 8:32
All compositions by Charles Lloyd

Personnel:
Charles Lloyd (Tenor Saxophone, Tárogató [Taragato], Maracas)
Billy Higgins (Drums, Percussion)
Larry Grenadier (Double Bass)
John Abercrombie (Guitar)
Brad Mehldau (Piano)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tania Maria - Europe

This is a compilation of live performances recorded during the early '90s while Maria was touring Europe. The seven tunes are mostly high energy numbers. On "Funky Tambourine," "Senso Unico," "I Can Do It" and "Bom Bom Bom," Maria plays in a quartet format, with Mitch Stein on guitar; Anthony Jackson, bass; and Steve Gadd, drums. "Chuleta" and "O Bom E" has a rhythm section of bassist Kip Reed, percussionist Armando Marcal and drummer Kim Plainfield. Trumpeter Rick Savage and saxophonist Jim Clouse are also heard on these cuts. "She's Outrageous" features bassist Sergio Brandao, percussionist Sammy Figueroa and drummer Ricky Sebastian. All tunes and arrangements are by Maria. "Funky Tambourine" builds to a crescendo with Maria's staccato piano and percussive scatting, Stein's soaring guitar, and Gadd's intense drumming. "Chuleta" [pork chop] is frenzied and spontaneous. "Senso Unico" and "O Bom E" are balladic numbers. Maria's emotional style, her funky drive and drama, propel her bandmates to exceptional levels of musicianship. - JazzTimes.com

Artist: Tania Maria
Album: Europe
Year: 1997
Label: New Note
Runtime: 51:35

Tracks:
1.  Funky Tambourine 10:09
2.  Senso Unico 8:22
3.  I Can Do It 5:47
4.  Chuleta 5:03
5.  O Bom E 5:50
6.  She's Outrageous 10:03
7.  Bom Bom Bom Tchi Tchi Tchi 6:21
All compositions by Tania Maria 

Personnel:
Tania Maria (Vocals, Piano, Keyboards)
Steve Gadd (Drums) - 1-3,7
Anthony Jackson (Bass) - 1-3,7
Mitch Stein (Guitar) - 1-3,7
Kim Plainfield (Drums) - 4,5
Kip Reed (Bass) - 4,5
Armando Marcal (Percussion) - 4,5
Rick Savage (Trumpet) - 4,5
Jim Clouse (Saxophone) - 4,5
Ricky Sebastian (Drums) - 6
Sergio Brandao (Bass) - 6
Sammy Figueroa (Percussion) - 6

Monday, March 6, 2017

Anouar Brahem - Conte de l'incoyable amour

Conte de L'incroyable Amour is Tunisian composer and oud virtuoso Anouar Brahem's follow-up to his excellent ECM debut, Barzakh. Like its predecessor, this release contains original material that mixes Arabic music and jazz improvisation and features a stellar band comprised of some of Turkey's finest musicians (this time out Brahem is joined by clarinetist Barbaros Erkose, nay (reed flute) player Kudsi Ergune, and the percussionist from Barzakh, Lassad Hosni). In contrast to Barzakh's livelier mood, though, the sound here is more meditative and even stark at times, especially on solo flights by both Brahem ("Iram Retrouvee") and Erkose ("Etincelles") and by way of Erguner's ethereal improvisations ("Diversion"). The pace picks up on the sympathetically played and joyous ensemble piece "Conte de L'incroyable Amour" and on the impassioned Brahem and Erkose duet, "Nayzak." ECM's typically sparse and airy production compliments Brahem's ascetic material without making it sound too dry. A wonderful album that, upon repeated listening, reveals many transcendent moments. - by Stephen Cook, AMG

Anouar Brahem is a Tunisian who is one of the leading present exponents of the oud, a lute-like stringed instrument. Brahem's music is anything but 'exponent'-sounding, however--he makes regular excursions into the world of jazz and crossover (a project of some years back with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek was wonderful), along with recording pieces with a more traditional sound. This cd is langorous and exotic-sounding with a good bit of a jazz feel thrown in for good measure; it is mostly quiet, introspective and wandering (even ambient), with occasional explosions of what might be termed "rhythmic urgency." It frankly takes a bit of getting used to, but if you like unpretentious, intimate music and can get into this particular blend of North African instrumentation (oud, clarinet, nai flute, and bendir and darbouka), you may well find it very attractive.- by C.H. Smith, Amazon.com

What you will hear in this album is magic solitude. Is silence. Brahem explores the mystical sounds rooted deep inside us, and only giving these his most familiar form, through his oud. This music is born for artists, for sensitive creative people. For rare moments of true happines.- by Alex Balint, Amazon.com

Artist: Anouar Brahem
Album: Conte de l'incoyable amour
Year: 1992
Label: ECM
Runtime: 59:26
Recorded: 1991. October at the Rainbow Studio (Oslo, Norway)

Tracks:
1.  Etincelles (Anouar Brahem) 3:21
2.  Le Chien sur les genoux de la devineresse (Anouar Brahem) 3:44
3.  L'oiseau de bois (Anouar Brahem) 4:48
4.  Lumiere du silence (Anouar Brahem) 5:15
5.  Conte de L'incroyable amour (Anouar Brahem) 10:51
6.  Peshrev Hidjaz Homayoun (Veli Dede) 5:03
7.  Diversion (Kudsi Erguner) 5:39
8.  Nayzak (Anouar Brahem) 5:32
9.  Battements (Anouar Brahem) 1:56
10.  En souvenir d'Iram (Anouar Brahem) 3:02
11.  Iram retrouvée (Anouar Brahem) 3:48
12.  Epilogue (Anouar Brahem) 6:21

Personnel:
Anouar Brahem (Oud)
Barbaros Erköse (Clarinet)
Kudsi Erguner (Nay)
Lassad Hosni (Bendir and Darbouka)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Rothenberg, Boone, Velez - On the Cliffs of the Heart

Celebrated musician, composer, author, and philosopher naturalist, David Rothenberg, is known for his extensive and extraordinary work researching and reacting to the relationship between humanity and nature. His performance at apexart will present examples of his work playing music live together with different creatures, from Why Birds Sing (2005) where he played with lyrerbirds, Thousand Mile Song (2008) where he joined singing humpback whales, and Bug Music (2013) where he was covered in 17-year cicadas. As a composer and jazz clarinetist, David Rothenberg has nine CDs out under his own name, including On the Cliffs of the Heart, named one of the top ten CDs by Jazziz magazine in 1995.- Apexart.org

Artist: David Rothenberg, Graeme Boone, Glen Velez
Album: On the Cliffs of the Heart
Year: 1995
Label: New Tone Records
Runtime: 57:25

Tracks: 
1.  In My Heart There Is a Discord (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 4:12
2.  Man of Constant Sorrow (Traditional) 5:13
3.  Prelude to the Dance of the Dervish (Traditional) 4:28
4.  Chikadedumpewaa (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 2:34
5.  Joie Plaisence (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 5:40
6.  Tales of the Big Drum (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 7:44
7.  I See the Great Mountains (Traditional) 4:14
8.  Aux Marches du Palais (Traditional) 7:06
9.  My Life With the Wave (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 4:52
10.  Rai for Don (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 5:59
11.  On the Cliffs of the Heart (David Rothenberg / Graeme Boone) 5:23

Personnel:
David Rothenberg (Clarinet)
Graeme Boone (Banjo)
Glen Velez (Frame Drums)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Modern Art Orchestra - Circular

Lifetime is a tricky thing. Sometimes you realize how quickly it passes only through a sudden flash of the mind, when one morning you wake up noticing that you are simply no longer the person you used to be. When I encountered this shocking experience a couple of years ago, I could not help seeing things from a different perspective: things like childhood or adulthood, being serious or having fun, playing or working. - BMCRecords.hu

Artist: Modern Art Orchestra
Album: Plays The Music Of Kristof Bacso - Circular
Year: 2014
Label: BMC Records
Runtime: 59:17
Recorded: at Pannonia Studio, Budapest, Hungary

Tracks:
1.  Circular 2:02
2.  Lunar Dance 12:33
3.  Too Many Questions Left 8:32
4.  Child's Place 11:44
5.  Nocturne 8:20
6.  Caffeine Express 6:35
7.  Variations On A Folksong 9:27
All compositions by Kristof Bacso 

Personnel:
Kristof Bacso (Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Flute)
Kornel Fekete Kovacs (Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Conductor)
David Ülkei (Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Clarinet)
Janos Aved (Tenor Saxophone, Flute)
Balazs Cserta (Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet)
Mihaly Bajusznacs (Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet)
Adam Graf (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Zoltan Bacsa (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Gabor Subicz (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Balazs Bukovinszki (Trumpet, Flugelhorn)
Gabor Bizjak (Cornet)
Zsolt Nagy (Cornet)
Attila Korb (Trombone)
Gabor Barbinek (Trombone)
Miklos Csathy (Bass Trombone)
Peter Kovacs (Tuba)
Gabor Cseke (Piano)
Marton Soos (Double Bass)
Laszlo Csizi (Drums)
Aron Komjati (Guitar) - 1,5-7
Andras Des (Percussion) - 1,5,7
Marton Fenyvesi (Guitar) - 2-4

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sonny Rollins - Newk's Time

In his early prime and well-respected, tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins cut this fine hard bop date as one of several late-'50s sessions for Blue Note. The record is part classic date, part blowing session, sporting a mix of engaging head statements and lengthy solos. Rollins takes to the spacious quartet setting, stretching out on taut versions of Miles Davis' '50s concert opener "Tune Up" and Kenny Dorham's "Asiatic Raes." Keeping the swing hard but supple are drummer Philly Joe Jones, bassist Doug Watkins, and pianist Wynton Kelly; Jones  was certainly the standout in this well-respected sampling of the best young players of the period, as he oftentimes matched the intensity and ingenuity of the star soloists he backed. Jones, in fact, puts in some career highlights on "Wonderful! Wonderful!" and "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top," just two of many wholly unique Tin Pan Alley song interpretations Rollins has done in his long career. From a career-defining period before the legendary Williamsburg Bridge layoff of two years, Rollins' Newk's Time may not make classic status in jazz roundups, but it certainly is a must for fans of this most important of classic hard bop soloists. - by Stephen Cook, AMG

Artist: Sonny Rollins
Album: Newk's Time
Year: 1957
Label: Blue Note (1990)
Runtime: 34:41

Tracks:
1.  Tune Up (Miles Davis) 5:49
2.  Asiatic Raes (Kenny Dorham) 6:01
3.  Wonderful! Wonderful! (Sherman Edwards/Ben Raleigh) 6:05
4.  The Surrey With the Fringe on Top (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II) 6:35
5.  Blues for Philly Joe (Sonny Rollins) 6:49
6.  Namely You (Gene DePaul/Johnny Mercer) 3:19

Personnel:
Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone)
Wynton Kelly (Piano)
Doug Watkins (Double Bass)
Philly Joe Jones (Drums)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Sonny Rollins - A Night at the Village Vanguard

Sonny Rollins, one of jazz's great tenors, is heard here at his peak with a pair of piano-less trios (either Wilbur Ware or Donald Bailey on bass and Elvin Jones or Pete La Roca on drums) stretching out on particularly creative versions of "Old Devil Moon," "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise," "Sonnymoon for Two," and "A Night in Tunisia," among others. Not only did Rollins have a very distinctive sound but his use of time, his sly wit, and his boppish but unpredictable style were completely his own by 1957. Truly magical. [Originally released as separate albums, A Night at the Village Vanguard has also been reissued in its entirety, complete with alternate takes.] - by Scott Yanow, AMG

The recording that resulted documents two shows in the afternoon and evening of November 3, 1957. Rollins employed different bands for the two shows. The afternoon show sported Donald Bailey on bass and Pete (La Roca) Sims on drums and the only contribution to the whole by this band is the opening "Night in Tunisia." The remainder of the recording is all Wilbur Ware on Bass and Elvin Jones on Drums. the recently released rudy Van Gelder Edition is superior to all previous releases of this material. Included here is all of the pre-song banter showing a 27 year old Rollins wowing his crowd. Also, previously edited material is restored and situated in chronologic order. All of this is dryly technical, but the music is not. This is virile and daring music performed with the hubris of youth and genius. The nakedness of the Tenor Trio is justly daunting. But, to masters of this ilk, the trio format offers that additional dimension of creativity— finding what is important in melody and harmony. Charlie Parker is barely in the grave two years befor these sides were cut. "A Night in Tunisia," "Woody 'N' You," and "I Can't Get Started" sound fresh and new. Rollins's tenor was always larger than life in a most attractive way, unlike Coltrane. His tone was full and sexy and rough and exciting on this evening in November, 1957, and so was his genius. - by Michael Bailey, AllAboutJazz.com

Artist: Sonny Rollins
Album: A Night At The Village Vanguard
Year: 1957
Label: Blue Note Records (1999, RVG Renmastered)
Runtime: 131:56

Tracks:
1.  A Night in Tunisia (Dizzy Gillespie/Frank Paparelli) 8:16
2.  I've Got You Under My Skin (Cole Porter) 10:03
3.  A Night in Tunisia (Evening Take) (Dizzy Gillespie/Frank Paparelli) 9:03
4.  Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (Oscar Hammerstein II/Sigmund Romberg) 6:43
5.  Four (Miles Davis) 8:26
6.  Introduction 0:20
7.  Woody 'n' You (Dizzy Gillespie) 8:29
8.  Introduction 0:36
9.  Old Devil Moon (E.Y. "Yip" Harburg/Burton Lane)  8:21
10.  What Is This Thing Called Love (Cole Porter) 14:03
11.  Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (Oscar Hammerstein II/Sigmund Romberg) 8:03
12.  Sonnymoon For Two (Sonny Rollins) 8:46
13.  I Can't Get Started (Vernon Duke/Ira Gershwin) 4:54
14.  I'll Remember April (Gene DePaul/Patricia Johnston/Don Raye) 9:20
15.  Get Happy (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) 9:08
16.  Striver's Row (Sonny Rollins) 5:59
17.  All The Things You Are (Oscar Hammerstein II/Jerome Kern) 6:46
18.  Get Happy (Short Version) (Harold Arlen/Ted Koehler) 4:40

Personnel:
Sonny Rollins (Tenor Saxophone)
Elvin Jones (Drums) - 2-18
Wilbur Ware (Double Bass) - 2-18
Donald Bailey (Double Bass) - 1
Pete La Roca (Drums) - 1

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