COUNTING BEATS

Reviews and Recommended Jazz by Nick Bewsey

Category: Resonance Records

Larry Young, In Paris, The ORTF Recordings (Resonance Records)

The oft-repeated description of Larry Young — that he’s the John Coltrane of the organ — mostly coheres with the inventive, undeniably classic post-bop records he made with Blue Note in the 60s. The never-before released two-disc live and in-studio recordings packaged as In Paris were originally made for French radio (ORTF) in 1964 and ’65. Young fronts his own trio and plays in a session led by Coltrane-inspired tenor saxophonist Nathan Davis that includes trumpeter Woody Shaw, as well as a deft French-led band. These long form post bop tracks are delightfully swinging, bursting with in the pocket grooves and absorbing, sustained solos. Young was only 23 and 24 at the time, already a gifted and consummate musician with a lyrical, tuneful sound. Every cut rates as essential, but there’s special commendation for the blistering version of Wayne Shorter’s “Black Nile,” Young’s rhythmical “Talkin’ About J.C.” and Shaw’s 20 minute live improv extravaganza, “Zoltan,”  a track that appeared on Young’s defining Unity album.  Thanks to the excellent work by Resonance Records, the restored sonics are first-rate, as is the 68-page book of essays, interviews and photos, but just listening to this significant musical discovery of prime Larry Young is a gift of unyielding pleasure. (10 tracks total; 52 minutes, each disc)

Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchesta, All My Yesterdays (Resonance Records)

If jazz bands were like classic muscle cars measured by power and torque, the high performance Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra was an inexhaustible engine that roared. February 2016 marks the fiftieth anniversary of this historic 18-member band and All My Yesterdays is the double-disc recording that documents their debut performances in February and March 1966. Defined by super-sized swing, a bold brass section with the likes of Pepper Adams, Bob Brookmeyer and Joe Farrell, and a dream rhythm section (bassist Richard Davis, pianist Hank Jones and guitarist Sam Herman), the band’s precision, sophistication and style was trendsetting and their modern sound remains influential.

The camaraderie is tangible on this live recording by producer George Klabin when he was 19 years old, and now restored to perfection—the superb sound puts you right at a front table at the Vanguard and the feeling is electrifying. Thad Jones is the former Basie trumpeter who leads the band like a revival meeting, shouting the jazz gospel with enthusiastic approval, calling out the solos on fun, crowd-pleasing tracks “Big Dipper,” “Mornin’ Reverend” and “Back Bone.” Jones is one of the best trumpet players ever; his solo on “The Little Pixie” is loose, swinging and brings a requisite soulfulness that’s unshakeable. An essential recording. (6 tracks; 47 minutes / 11 tracks; 74 minutes)

DONALD VEGA, WITH RESPECT TO MONTY

A member of the esteemed Ron Carter Trio, Donald Vega is a contemporary pianist in the tradition of Oscar Peterson whose pleasurable, rhythmic style is perfectly matched to the melodic tunes of Monty Alexander. Continue reading

RED GARLAND TRIO, SWINGIN ON THE KORNER (Live at Keystone Korner)

A WRTI RECOMMENDED CD. Pianist Red Garland was an integral member of the Miles Davis Quintet and a key collaborator with John Coltrane and Coleman Hawkins, at a time when those leaders were swelling in popularity during the late 50s and early 60s. A player in the hard bop style, Garland also led his own bands mostly for the Prestige and Galaxy labels until he passed away in 1983, with many of his recordings still available. Read my entire review at www.wrti.org

KATHY KOSINS, TO THE LADIES OF COOL

It’s tough to dispute the discographies that turned Ella, Billie and Sarah into the reigning queens of jazz, but that has never discounted the contributions of many others, including Chris Connor, Anita O’Day, June Christy and Julie London. Count vocalist Kathy Kosins among their fans since her fifth recording, the terrific “To The Ladies Of Cool,” (Resonance Records) salutes their music and enduring legacies on an album of seldom heard standards and bubbly tunes enriched by the arrangements of pianist Tamir Hendelman whose sterling accompaniment can’t be overstated. With Kosins on top, he leads a fleet band that includes trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, bassists Kevin Axt and Paul Keller, guitarist Graham Dechter, Steve Wilkerson on reeds and percussionist Bob Leatherbarrow. “Ladies” is a class act with a strong point of view, thanks to Kosins’ dedication to the source material – she fastidiously combed through not just CD reissues but loads of obscure material made for radio broadcasts and such to find the perfect mix of tunes. As a singer, Kosins voice is pure pleasure, flecked with warmth and a golden hue that swings to the Oscar Peterson pitch of “Learnin’ The Blues” and the easy-going beat under “All I Need Is You.”  “Free and Easy” has that George Shearing vibe going on, as does “Lullaby In Rhythm,” a finger-poppin’ highlight that’s lifted by Kosins’ wordless bebop vocals and succinct band solos. Under the soft lilt of a bossa nova beat, Kosins illuminates the album’s closer, “Where Are You” by taking a lyric like “where is the happy ending” and infusing it with equal parts longing and confident independence.  But swing is the thing on “Ladies Of Cool,” and Kosins remarkable spin on these chestnuts is something you can raise a glass to.  (10 tracks; 50:32 minutes) www.resonancerecords.org  www.kathykosins.com

BILL EVANS LIVE at Art D’Lugoff’s TOP OF THE GATE

Resonance Records, founded by producer and audio engineer George Klabin, is dedicated to preserving jazz and discovering the genre’s rising stars, and has been releasing quality music at a steady pace since 2008. This independent label is meticulous with all details of their releases from the recording and mix to the graphics and packaging. On the preservation front, Klabin has rewarded music fans with treasures from his own collection, dusting off rare tapes and giving them a digital rinse; previously releasing unheard material from Freddie Hubbard (“Pinnacle: Live From Keystone Corner”) and earlier this year, the first known recordings by guitarist Wes Montgomery (“Echoes Of Indiana Avenue.”)

Pianist Bill Evans is among the most well represented jazz artist in the marketplace with dozens of domestic and import recordings available. The latest gem from Resonance Records is a never-before-released two-set gig from Evans, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morell, recorded on October 23, 1968 in Greenwich Village at Top Of The Gate, a room upstairs from The Village Gate used for additional bookings to accommodate the robust jazz scene that existed back in the day. Astonishingly, when Evans played the two sets documented here, Thelonious Monk and Charles Lloyd were sharing a double bill downstairs.

Thanks to the then 22-year-old Klabin’s decision to mike each member of the trio, the recorded sound on this 2 CD set is warm and vivid, perhaps one of the best of Bill Evans’ live recordings. Wisely, the new mix and digital restoration maintains the natural analog sound of the performances, thanks to Klabin and co-restorer Fran Gala’s ears, giving the trio’s performance the contemporary sonic kiss they deserve. For audio purists, a limited edition 3-LP 180-gram vinyl box set will also be released.

The set list varies distinctly: “Emily,” Yesterdays,” and “’Round Midnight,” are played at each set and never the same way twice; elsewhere we get swooning renditions of “Gone With The Wind,” Alfie,” In A Sentimental Mood” and a gorgeous “Here’s That Rainy Day,” among others. The only Evans original, “Turn Out The Stars” is played at the end of the first set. None of the tunes goes much past the 7-minute mark proving that Evans was a master of concision, saying more with his solos and letting his trio carry the rest. There’s a stunning version of “Someday My Prince Will Come” during the second set with Evans full bore style in the house, whisking through notes as fast as he can swing, with Eddie Gomez as the ideal foil, both complementing Evans and soloing in counterpoint. Throughout both sets, the band is spirited and by turns, relaxed and intense. The sound of the audience is peripheral, but relatively unobtrusive (they get a little noisy during “Mother Of Earl.”) “Bill Evans Live” may be the best historical jazz release of the year and a sure-fire purchase if you’re even remotely a fan of Evans and his magical trio. (www.resonancerecords.org)

Disc One – Set 1
1. Emily (Mandel & Mercer)
2. Witchcraft (C. Coleman)
3. Yesterdays (J. Kern)
4. Round Midnight (T. Monk)
5. My Funny Valentine (Rogers & Hart)
6. California Here I Come (De Sylva, Jolson & Myers)
7. Gone With The Wind (Magidson & Wrubel)
8. Alfie (B. Bacharach)
9. Turn Out The Stars (B. Evans)
Disc Two – Set 2
1. Yesterdays (J. Kern)
2. Emily (Mandel & Mercer)
3. Round Midnight (T. Monk)
4. In A Sentimental Mood (D. Ellington)
5. Autumn Leaves (J. Kosma)
6. Someday My Prince Will Come (Churchill & Morey)
7. Mother Of Earl (E. Zindar)
8. Here’s That Rainy Day (Burke & Van Heusen)

TAMIR HENDELMAN, DESTINATIONS

Who did pianist Diana Krall call when she needed a pianist for Barbara Streisand’s pop-jazz album, “Love Is The Answer?” That would be the phenomenal Israeli pianist Tamir Handelman, a guy so gifted on the keys that he draws comparisons to Oscar Peterson. “Destinations” is his sophomore record – he’s played on countless albums as a sideman and currently holds the piano chair with Jeff Hamilton’s trio – and it’s a knockout as Hendelman swings through tunes by Jobim, Fletcher Henderson, Charlie Parker and even Maurice Ravel. Bassist Marco Panascia and veteran drummer Lewis Nash complete the pianist’s super tight trio, and they sound like old chums whether darting through the changes of Charlie Parker’s “Anthropology” or reaching for the sky on the heartfelt lyricism of Fred Hersch’s “Valentine.” (12 tracks; 70:51 minutes)  www.tamirhendelman.com www.resonancerecordings.com

         

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