Sunday, March 30, 2014

Deep Rumba - This Night Becomes a Rumba

It is said that a master perfects technique in order to transcend it. This deeply satisfying disc, which merits a presence on 1998 best-of lists, applies the theory to rumba and proves it. Steeped in the tradition of voice- and percussion-based music, the members of Deep Rumba allow their talents and spirits to soar. The players are enormously sensitive to each other at all tempos. Most instructive is their "Sunshine of Your Love." Typically, a Latin jazz band would simply play the tune with a different beat; here the familiar rhythmic underpinning provides the basis for inspired percussion improvisation, and one doesn't notice until it's over that the melody never made an appearance. Also of note is Jerry Gonzalez' contribution on "The Bronx With Palms Trees," where his dreamy trumpet vamps weave in and out of the complex of sound, reminiscent of the tone and texture of early electric-era Miles Davis bands. Least satisfying are the couple of vocal ballads toward the end of the disc, essentially generic Latin pop fare. On a program of over 63 minutes, they were not needed as filler. - by Janet Rosen, AMG

Artist: Deep Rumba
Album: This Night Becomes A Rumba
Year: 1998
Label: Justin Time
Runtime: 63:19

1.  Vallejo (Cesar Vallejo/Kip Hanrahan/Ruben Blades) 0:23
2.  Cuentale (Puntilla Orlando Rios) 4:21
3.  Columbia Dos Santos (Puntilla Orlando Rios) 6:18
4.  Una Noche De Verano Comenca (Horacio Hernandez/Kip Hanrahan/Ciamara Laugart) 8:46
5.  Yambhoracio (Horacio Hernandez) 2:14
6.  Sunshine Of Your Love (Jack Bruce/Pete Brown/Eric Clapton) 2:49
7.  The Bronx With Palm Trees (Andy Gonzalez) 4:45
8.  Negro And Andy Run This Very Night Into The Rumba (Horacio Hernandez/Andy Gonzalez) 3:56
9.  Calma Morena (Kip Hanrahan/Ciamara Laugart) 0:54
10.  Yambu Chevoret (Puntilla Orlando Rios) 7:08
11.  Si! No! (Luis Abreu/Ciamara Laugart) 9:34
12.  I Wish You Love (Charles Trenet/Leon Chauliac) 9:51
13.  Vallejo (Reprise) (Cesar Vallejo/Kip Hanrahan/Ruben Blades) 0:43
14.  Distancia (Hernando Alfonso) 1:32

Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez (Trap Drums, Timbales)
Roby Ameen (Trap Drums)
Andy Gonzalez (Double Bass)
Puntilla Orlando Rios (Vocals, Congas)
Milton Cardona (Congas, Backing Vocals)
Ciamara Laugart (Vocals)
Abraham Rodriguez (Vocals, Clave)
Amadito Valdez (Timbales)
Ruben Blades (Vocals)
Paoli Mejias (Congas, Quinto)
Richard Flores (Congas, Quinto)
Jerry Gonzalez (Trumpet, Percussion)
Kip Hanrahan (Percussion, Backing Vocals)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Larry Coryell - The Coryells

Like father, like sons, acoustic guitarist Larry Coryell and sons Julian and Murali get together for their first recorded project, and it sounds fine. Larry tends to dominate improv space, but doesn't get in the way of his kids, who are adept in their own bluesy ways. Bassist Brain Torff and percussionist Alphonse Mouzon (no drum kit, only hand drums and tambourine) join on several selections. Murali sings in his down-home, slightly affectated manner for three cuts, quite soulfully on the Rahsaan Roland Kirk lyric re: Lester Young on "Goodbye Porkpie Hat," on the original pop blues "Somebody's Got to Win-Lose," and on Al Green's simple, funk-blues "Love & Happiness." Julian has two features by himself, with Torff only on the easy two-beat "Something Pretty" and the nice waltz "Song for Emily." The hippest workout between the three occurs during the bulk of Julian's "Sink or Swim," while up and down, cascading and tumbling, waterfall crystalline-clear guitars shine on Larry's "Transparance." Two tracks are unearthed from Larry's days with the Eleventh House: the stunning "Low-Lee-Tah" is dark, moody, and ominous, with Larry playing the intricate melody first all the way through and his sons joining in with heavy embellishments and startling improvisation; "Funky Waltz" is not so much funky as the loud original, but shaded with Native American punctuations from Mouzon. Though some speedy lines crop up here and there, this is a more musical than pyrotechnical display that proves quite enjoyable throughout. A very good first step for the Coryell family's musical bonding recorded for public display, this is definitely recommended. - by Michael G. Nastos, AMG

Artist: The Coryell Family
Album: The Coryells
Year: 1999
Label: Chesky
Runtime: 61:55

1. Sentenza Del Core - Allegro (Larry Coryell) 5:14 
2. Sentenza Del Core - Interlude (Larry Coryell) 0:27 
3. Sentenza Del Core - Adagio (Larry Coryell) 2:57 
4. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (Charles Mingus) 4:11 
5. Sink Or Swim (Julian Coryell) 3:53 
6. Zimbabwe (Larry Coryell) 5:07 
7. Low-Lee-Tah (Larry Coryell) 6:01 
8. Love And Happiness (Al Green/Mabon Hodges) 5:23 
9. Something Pretty (Julian Coryell) 3:56 
10. Trouble No More (Muddy Waters) 3:14 
11. Funky Waltz (Alphonse Mouzon) 8:18 
12. Transparence (Larry Coryell) 4:55 
13. Somebody's Got To Win, Somobody's Got To Lose (Murali Coryell) 3:49 
14. Song For Emily (Julian Coryell) 4:23

Larry Coryell (Guitar) 
Murali Coryell (Guitar, Vocals) 
Julian Coryell (Guitar) 
Alphonse Mouzon (Percussion) 
Brian Torff (Double Bass)


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Yo-Yo Ma & Bobby McFerrin - Hush

A surprisingly good collaboration from two virtuosos of their given instruments. Bobby McFerrin, the master of the voice, and Yo-Yo Ma, the master of the cello, combined to perform various pieces, from classical, traditional, and contemporary classical sectors. Some of the McFerrin compositions are quite amazing simply as compositions to begin with, but when the cello and vocal performances are added, they become something even more exciting. More than likely, the main highlight on the album is Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee," which is performed on a dual line by both musicians and allows an ample chance to note the amazing virtuosity of McFerrin, once you can distinguish the voice from the cello (yes, they follow the lines that close). For any fan of either musician, it's a wonderful find of an album. - by Adam Greenberg, AMG

Artist: Yo-Yo ma & Bobby McFerrin
Year: 1991
Label: Sony (1992)
Runtime: 46:34

1.  Grace (Bobby McFerrin) 3:54
2.  Andante (Antonio Vivaldi) 4:03
3.  Flight of the Bumblebee (Nikolai Rimsky-Kossakov) 1:08
4.  Stars (Bobby McFerrin) 4:04
5.  Hush Little Baby (Traditional) 2:36
6.  Vocalise (Sergey Rachmaninoff) 6:26
7.  Musette (J.S. Bach) 4:12
8.  Coyote (Bobby McFerrin) 2:51
9.  Allegro Prestissimo (Jean Barriere) 2:37
10.  Ave Maria (Charles Gounod) 2:37
11.  Hoedown! (Bobby McFerrin) 5:38
12.  Air (J.S. Bach) 5:11
13.  Good-Bye (Bobby McFerrin) 1:11

Yo-Yo Ma (Cello)
Bobby McFerrin (Vocals)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Nicola Conte - Other Directions

For those who became acquainted with Nicola Conte via his Bossa Per Due and Jet Sounds Revisited, Other Directions will come as a real surprise. Along with being a producer and DJ, Conte is a classically trained musician who is a multi-instrumentalist and a very accomplished arranger. His previous work in the acid jazz and electronic bossa movements could not have prepared listeners for this solid jazz and bossa nova set. Working with a tough, top-notch group of Italian jazz players -- the country's jazz scene has a built-in lyricism, whether in the vanguard realm or in the "tradition" that puts most American counterparts to shame in terms of swing -- Conte uses all but his DJ skills to create a musical tapestry that reflects the perfect meld of jazz and bossa that occurred in the early '60s while moving both musics forward with his sophisticated yet soulful and accessible arrangements. Till Bronner guests on "Sea and Sand," the disc's first cut, playing trumpet and singing in his plaintive, Chet Baker-derived style (he's a more proficient singer than his mentor). On "Wanin' Moon," Bembe Segue gets the vocal nod, but it's saxophonist Daniele Scannapieco and flugelhornist Fabrizio Bosso with their exotic yet bluesy solos that take the cake on the tune. The Afro-Brazilian rhythmics on "Nefertiti," (no relation to the Miles Davis tune) drive a wordless vocal and tight horn section that counters the intense polyrhythms as Bosso's trumpet takes the first break, wailing in the middle register with relatively few notes to capture the dark groove perfectly. Pierpaolo Bisogno's vibraphone keeps soloists and percussionists anchored in the groove. "A time for Spring" gently nods toward "Take Five," for its intro, before becoming a shimmering, pop-jazz nugget that combines bossa, cool, and post-bop. Truth be told, there isn't a dud in the bunch. The vibe is relaxed, the music open, even when complex -- check out "Dharma Bums" -- and the execution is precise and full of soulful, airy grooves. Bossa nova is the wheel on which everything turns here, and Conte knows how to shade and color his harmonics with texture and chromatic subtlety. This is a jazz record for folks who don't really like jazz, but jazz fans will be delighted by its many twists and turns, never forsaking vamps or lyricism for rhythm, while making rhythm a central tenet of each composition. This is a winner through and through. It's a shame it was only issued on Blue Note in Europe (the American label is largely clueless and is trying to score pop radio hits these days while issuing the same jazz records over and over). Other Directions is the perfect recording for American fans of fine jazz and bossa nova. It's hip, elegant, graceful, and smart. - by Thom Yurek, AMG

Artist: Nicola Conte
Album: Other Directions
Year: 2004
Label: Blue Note
Runtime: 60:24

1.  Sea and Sand (Nicola Conte) 3:58
2.  Wanin' Moon (Nicola Conte) 4:54
3.  Nefertiti (Nicola Conte) 6:19
4.  Impulso (Nicola Conte) 4:30
5.  A Time for Spring (Nicola Conte) 3:55
6.  Kind of Sunshiene (Gianluca Petrella/Nicola Conte) 5:40
7.  Aphrodite's Dream (Nicola Conte) 4:32
8.  Several Shades of Dawn (Nicola Conte) 3:36
9.  The Dharma Blues (Nicola Conte) 4:50
10.  All Gone (Harold Pinter/John Dankworth) 4:09
11.  Other Directions (Nicola Conte) 5:53
12.  The in Between (Gianni LeNoci/Nicola Conte) 4:03
13.  Le Depart (Krzysztov Komeda) 4:05

Pietro Lussu (Piano)
Pietro Ciancaglini (Double Bass)
Lorenzo Tucci (Drums)
Daniele Scannapieco (Tenor Saxophone, Flute) - 1-9,12,13
Fabrizio Bosso (Trumpet, Flugelhorn) - 1-3,5-9,12,13
Gianluca Petrella (Trombone) - 1,3-6,8,9,11,12
Nicola Conte (Guitar) - 13
Till Bronner (Vocals, Trumpet) - 1,9,10
Bembe Segue (Vocals) - 2,8
Cristina Zavalloni (Vocals) - 3,13
Pierpaolo Bisogno (Vibraphone, Bongos) - 3-6,8-10,12
Lisa Bassenge (Vocals) - 5,10
Nicola Stilo (Flute) - 5
Lucia Minetti (Vocals) - 5,9,12
Rosario Giuliani (Alto Saxophone) - 10,11


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