by: Hobert Taylor
Dr. Ed Calle and World Music 5 - America - (Mojito Records) Quintet
Dr. Ed Calle - Mamblue - (Mojito Records) Big Band
The highest level of musicianship of any recent jazz recording that has come over the transom here at KUCI is on these releases, each containing 2 CDs. To classify this music as Latin Jazz is like saying the Parthenon is Greek Architecture. It's true, but ignores the scope, dimension, and brilliance of the artifact. On the 41 recordings supervised by the master saxophonist/arranger/composer and Jazz educator Dr. Ed Calle there's a myriad of jazz traditions and performance styles. These include Cuban, Argentine, Colombian, Venezuelan, Mexican, and Caribbean, but also include be-bop, free jazz, straight ahead, smooth jazz, Broadway, and art music. There is no dead air in the arrangements, no sitting around waiting to get to the good parts. Calle is in the top tier of saxophonists, and he and every one of the hand picked musicians on these recordings displays brilliance and wisdom in their solos.
John Scofield - Past Present - (Impulse)
While on the subject of master musicians, guitarist Scofield's work stretches from Chet Baker and Miles Davis to collaborations with Medeski, Martin, and Wood. His own compositions and arrangements, notably with bassist Steve Swallow and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, (who appears on this recording), are among the most revered in jazz. These tunes are rich and fulfilling, and Scofield's tonal perfection continues to amaze.
Laurie Antonioli & Richie Beirach - Varuna - (Origin)
Antonioli is a jazz singer with operatic/art song chops. Here she co-writes several tunes and is joined by pianist Richie Beirach (Dave Liebman), and they perform signature covers that re-invent standards like their take on Coltrane's "Impressions" and Luis Bonfa's "Gentle Rain". A cover that requires special mention is her mash-up of Scriabin's Prelude in E- flat Minor and "My Funny Valentine". The original tunes are extraordinary, especially "My Love", and the "Resolution Suite".
Andrea Brachfeld - Lotus Blossom - (Jazzheads Records)
Flutist Brachfeld, ably assisted by pianist Bill O'Connell, drops this subtle and satisfying straight ahead collection of standards and originals in a quartet format.
I particularly like her New Orleans style rendition of Herbie Mann's "Memphis Underground" and her tune, "Queen Girl".
Adam Scone I Scream Scone - (Rondette Jazz)
Hammond Organ records abound this year. Some are innovative and avant-garde (Glenn Tucker), some idiosyncratic and personal (Brian Charette), and some dig deep into the tradition of the B-3 like this release by Scone. Close your eyes and you think you've found some '50's classic record at a yard sale. Adding to the authenticity of the sound is the stellar tenor work of Ian Hendrickson-Smith who channels Gene Ammons.
Michael Dease - Decisions - (Positone)
Trombonist Dease's release iss traight ahead, clean, very bluesy and accessible. I am especially enomoured of the ballad "Gorgeous Gwen", the title cut, "Decisions", "Everything Must Change", and the swingful "The Big D".