September 30, 2016
Carol Bach-y-Rita Minha Casa/My House (Arugula)
Lithely swinging, Carol Bach-y-Rita sings a pleasing repertoire that mixes standards, You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To, ‘Tis Autumn, Nature Boy, a show tune, Love Look Away, a jazz classic, A Night In Tunisia, with some lesser known songs, including The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines (Joni Mitchell and Charles Mingus), and While My Lady Sleeps (Bronislaw Kaper and Gus Kahn), as well as some original compositions by Carol and Mike Shapiro. The music is thus rich and varied and Carol performs with flair and imagination, supported throughout by like-mind instrumentalists who together form the group named Jazz Bliss. They are Bill Cantos, piano, Larry Koonse, guitar, John Leftwich, bass, and Mike Shapiro, drums. Fluent in several languages, Carol is drawn not only to jazz but also to the music of Brazil, an interest that is evident from the manner in which some of the songs are arranged in styles that display the rhythmic intensity of that country’s dance music. An album that will appeal both to lovers of jazz singing and those who favor the music of Latin America.
Dyad (Eric Olsen & Lou Caimano) Plays Jazz Arias (Ringwood RR 3)
On recent albums, this duo has turned for inspiration to the masters of classical music. While in less certain hands, this ‘jazzing the classics’ style can be questionable, with pianist Eric Olsen and alto saxophonist Lou Caimano the result is high quality music. Here, Eric and Lou take lovely melodies, some of them thoroughly familiar regardless of where the listener’s taste might lie, and build upon them inspired improvisations. They are joined by Randy Brecker, who plays trumpet on one track and flugelhorn on one track, and Ted Nash, who plays tenor saxophone on two tracks. The pieces heard here come from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Verdi’s Otello, Massenet’s Thais, Delibes’ Lakmé, Samuel Barber’s Vanessa and there are two from Bizet’s Carmen, the stirring Seguidilla and the sinuous Habanera. Beautiful music, reinvented with taste and respect by two immensely talented musicians.
Masumi Ormandy Sunshine In Manhattan (Miles High MHR 8626)
Surprisingly, given her light and fluid vocal sound, Masumi Ormany is 77 years old and with this début album she fulfills a lifelong dream. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given Masumi’s age, her chosen repertoire comes from the Great American Songbook. Among the songs, performed with gentle sincerity, are They Can’t Take That Away From Me, As Time Goes By, I’ll Be Seeing You, and On The Sunny Side Of The Street. The core trio supporting Masumi is pianist-arranger Lee Tomboulian, bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Tim Horner, and they are joined by guest instrumentalists Paul Meyers, guitar, Freddie Hendrix, trumpet, Sara Caswell, violin, and on an especially attractive version of Misty, veteran tenor saxophonist Houston Person.
Steve Heckman Legacy: A Coltrane Tribute (Jazzed Media JM 1074)
Many years after his death, John Coltrane remains a compelling influence on tenor saxophonists (and on players of other instruments) and he is also remembered with reverence by audiences. Certainly, Steve Heckman has been influenced by Coltrane although he has successfully avoided becoming an imitator. Here, Steve presents a live set recorded at the Hillside Club in Berkeley, California, where is accompanied by Grant Levin, piano, Eric Markowitz, bass, and Smith Dobson V, drums. Eight of the ten tracks are compositions by Coltrane and while he would often extemporize at considerable length, Steve quickly gets to the heart and soul of the music. On some tracks, Steve also plays soprano saxophone, as did Coltrane. Fine performances by a highly skilled instrumentalist.
Natalie Cressman & Mike Bono Etchings In Amber (Cressman Music)
This entertaining duo presents a set of original compositions, all of which highlight their instrumental, vocal and composing talents: Natalie Cressman sings, Mike Bono plays guitar. Six of the songs have Mike’s music and Natalie’s lyrics, while three have words and music by Natalie. The duo’s playing and Natalie’s singing have a lightly textured sound that contrasts effectively with the slightly melancholic air that surrounds some of the lyrics. Some of Mike’s compositions were written as instrumental works, thus presenting Natalie with musical challenges, which she meets and surmounts with fine results. Both of these musicians are active not only as a duo but also with several other groups in the contemporary mainstream and some on the edges of the avant-garde. A pleasant and always engaging musical excursion by two thoughtful and thought-provoking young musicians.
Music Soup Cut To The Chase (Chicken Coup/Summit CCP 7025)
Perhaps Greece is not a country that springs readily to mind when thinking of jazz in Europe, but this trio ably shows that in reality jazz is where you find it. Together for a decade, Music Soup originated with the meeting of the musical minds of organist Evgenia Karlaft and guitarist Nestor Dimopoulos, here joined by drummer Vagelis Kotzabasis to form the core trio. These three are joined by horn players Dimitris Papadopoulos, trumpet, Dimitri Vassilakis, tenor saxophone and Antonis Andreou, trombone, and drummer Anastasis Gouliaris replaces Kotzabasis on one track. Although heard mostly on organ, Evgenia plays piano on some tracks and she also sings. All the music heard here is composed by Evgenia and Nestor and is richly varied, including intimate ballads and punchy up-tempo pieces that call to mind organ-guitar bands of earlier years, although here given a thoroughly modern makeover. Worth looking out for.
Also just released is Michael Gamble The Rhythmic Serenaders (Organic OR 16552), which will be reviewed shortly.
For more on Masumi Ormandy, Steve Heckman, Natalie Cressman & Mike Bono, Dyad, Carol Bach-y-Rita, Music Soup, and Michael Gamble, contact Holly Cooper at Mouthpiece Music.
Albums by these artists are available at the usual outlets, including Amazon.
September 15, 2016
Scott Morgan Songs Of Life (Miranda MMCD 1024)
Although it is likely that few outside the New York area will have heard (or even heard of) Scott Morgan, is is clear from this, his debut album, that he is a welcome addition to the list of those who perform songs from the Great American Songbook. Here, Scott has selected songs with lyrics that have just as much if not more meaning today as they did when they were written. They also reflect Scott’s life and travels and this allows him to imbue the lyrics with emotional depth. Included in the track list are I’m Just A Lucky So-And-So, This Heart of Mine, I Just Found Out About Love, and It’s You Or No One. Also heard are Dori Caymmi Motta and the Bergmans’ Like A Lover, Lennon and McCartney’s I Will as well as two songs composed by Fred Hersch, who plays piano in Scott’s supporting group: Lazin’ Around and I’ll Follow (the latter with lyrics by Scott). Joining Scott and Fred are Matt Aronoff, bass, Ross Pederson, drums, with guest appearances by tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm on two tracks and vocalist Janis Siegal on one. A pleasing set that should find approval from many.
The Girshevich Trio Algorhythmic Society (Tapestry 76026-2)
This fine trio blends musical talents that range over several decades. Leader Vlads Girshevich studied classical piano as a very small child, turning toward jazz in his teenage years. After moving from his native Uzbekistan to the USA, he became well known on the national and international jazz festival circuit. Bassist Eddie Gomez is well known in the jazz world, notably through his ten years with Bill Evans and his spells with Steps Ahead and Chick Corea. The third member of the trio is Vlad’s son, Aleks Girshevich, twelve years old at the time of this recording, not that his age is apparent from his skillful and intelligent playing. All the music performed here was composed by Vlads and Aleks and ranges through many moods as they draw inspiration from various styles and eras.
Opaluna – Susana Pineda & Luis Salcedo Opaluna (Ridgeway)
Tastefully blending Latin American singing style with a relaxed jazz ethos, this duo presents a varied selection of songs, most of them composed Susana Pineda and Luis Salcedo, alone and together. Susana has a light, clear voice, and her interpretations go to the heart of the music. Lu’s guitar playing, fluent and inventive, show him to be both a skillful soloist and a gifted collaborator. These young musicians perform as a balanced partnership and are assured of a long and successful future. They are accompanied some tracks by bassist Jeff Denson and percussionist John Santos. Denson has been a key figure in the duo’s development, having first heard them at Berkeley’s California Jazz Conservatory where they were students and he taught.
Tim McCormick South Beat (Manatee)
A lively blend of contemporary jazz and Latin music, notably Brazilia, is heard here in performances by a punchy band led by tenor and soprano saxophonist Tom McCormick. Opening with a lively original by Tom (the album title track), the set proceeds through some very danceable music, several also composed by Tom, leavened with moments of soulful balladry, such as My Foolish Heart and Barbara. The latter is a Horace Silver composition and there is also John Coltrane’s Naima. Among the instrumentalists in Tom’s group are pianist Pete Wallace, bassists Nicky Orta and Eric England, and percussionists Carlomango Araya and David Chiverton, as well as some guest horns, notably trumpeter John Lovell.
Nine Live Sonus Inenarrabilis (Mulatta MUL 033)
The music heard here, all composed by John Clark, has a contemporary classical air with subtle touches from the jazz world. The instrumentalists who form Nine Live are John, playing French horn, Dan Cooper, bass, Lynn Bechtold, violin, Jen DeVore, cello, Stephanie Griffin, viola, Kinan Azmeh, clarinet, Michael Rabinowitz, bassoon, Rob Stephens, keyboards, and Cesare Papetti. Some of the tracks suggest that might be designed to be heard in a concert hall while others hint at a more theatrical setting. All of these pieces are rich and colorful and should appeal especially to those who favor classical music.
Albums by these artists are available at the usual outlets, including Amazon.