Jazz CD Reviews – early May 2017

May 10, 2017

Mark Winkler The Company I Keep (Café Pacific CPCD 45135)

Sophisticated jazz singing by Mark Winkler who teams up here with fine instrumentalists and also in duet with five other singers. This album is Mark’s 15th, his career dating back to the 1970s. Singing throughout his career, he has also written the lyrics of some 250 songs. Added to all this, he is a music educator and has taught at UCLA and the LA School of Songwriting. In the songs chosen for this album, Mark reflects on the death of a loved one – something that has touched all of us all at some point. Although this might suggest gloom and darkness, instead Mark finds beauty and glimmers of hope.winkler Among these songs are six with his lyrics, while others include the work of Prince (Strollin’), George and Ira Gershwin (They Can’t Take That Away From Me), Oliver Nelson and Mark Murphy (Stolen Moments), and Leonard Bernstein with Betty Comden and Adolph Greene (Lucky To Be Me). While linking sophistication and jazz might suggest elevator music, there is nothing like that here; Mark’s interpretations have depth and understanding and his performance is enhanced by his mature vocal sound. Ensuring this album’s jazz credentials are the instrumentalists and vocalists who appear with him. Collectively, his instrumental collaborators are Ron Blake, Brian Swartz (trumpet); Bob McChesney (trombone); Don Shelton (clarinet), Bob Sheppard (tenor saxophone & clarinet); Jamieson Trotter, Rich Eames, Eric Reed, Josh Nelson, John Beasley, David Benoit (piano); Larry Koonse, Bob Mann (guitar); Lyman Medeiros, John Clayton (bass); Mike Shapiro, Jeff Hamilton, Kevin Winard (drums); Paul Cartwright (violin). The singers with whom Mark duets are Jackie Ryan (Walk Between The Raindrops), Cheryl Bentyne (Strollin’), Steve Tyrell (But It Still Ain’t So), Claire Martin (Stolen Moments), Sara Gazarek (Rainproof). These duets are especially attractive aspects of the many pleasures heard on The Company I Keep, an album that will undoubtedly appeal to many.

Tina Raymond Left Right Left (Orenda 0039)

A respected performer and teacher, drummer Tina Raymond has now made her album debut as leader. She is joined here by two instrumentalists who have graced the west coast music scene for many years: pianist Art Lande and bassist Putter Smith. Unusually for a jazz project, Left Right Left was prompted by recent political events in America and the sometimes stark issues that still divide the country. Unusual because although popular music has long touched upon politics, jazz has rarely stepped to the forefront, unlike the blues, a form that has consistently depicted division and outright discrimination. In the last hundred years folk musicians have confronted important issues with songs of protest, among themTina_Raymond_-_Left_Right_Left_Digital_Cover Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez. Songs by all of these appear here and despite their folk origins, Tina, Art and Putter deliver jazz interpretations with flair and skill (the bassist also contributing some original songs). It is self-evident that songs of protest achieve their aim through what the have to say, but no words are sung here. Thus listeners have the choice of listening to the music for its own sake, or bringing to the experience their own knowledge of the songs’ words, or at last their themes. Tina’s chosen repertoire includes songs that address respectively issues of gender discrimination and exploitation of migrant workers, Woody Guthrie’s Union Maid and Pastures Of Plenty (who could have imagined that these issues were still unresolved eighty years later); songs of protest against, and reflections on, war Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle And The Drum and Joan Baez Saigon Bride, Putter Smith’s Xxmas In Baghdad; racial matters, Smith’s White Flight, which refers to deliberate avoidance of integration, and Jame Weldon Johnson’s Lift Every Voice And Sing, which for the second half of its one hundred-plus years of existence has been an anthem of hope for black Americans. There are also songs that center upon patriotism, something that all too readily in these trying times is taken to equate with nationalism, which is a very different matter. The songs played here are Samuel A. Ward’s America and Julia Ward Howe’s Battle Hymn Of The Republic, the latter played by Art Lande with a touch of dissonance that mirrors the America of today. Despite the long-ago origins of most of what is heard here, this interesting, thought-provoking and well played album is very much music of today.

Mari Nobre Live and Alive (Chrome)

Born and raised in Italy where she first sang professionally, Mari Nobre worked in Europe before settling in the USA where she met and married bassist Leo Nobre who at the time was with Sergio Mendes. Although now resident in Los Angeles, where she leads Nobresil, a Brazilian band, Mari tours internationally. Linguistically skilled, she sings in her native language and English as well as Spanish, Portuguese and French.Live_and_Alive_Cover-page-001 This album was recorded just three weeks after Mari had undergone surgery following treatment for cancer and the music heard is vibrant and often joyous, perhaps reflecting her feelings at this moment in time. The album’s full title is Live and Alive from Gershwin to Jobim … a Musical Journey, and it contains several well-known songs, among them Fascinating Rhythm, by George and Ira Gershwin, Corcovado, Retrato Em Branco E Prato and Chega de Saudade (No More Blues), all composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim, the last-named two with lyricists Chico Buarque and Vinicius de Moraes respectively. Also heard are a standard by Victor Young and Edward Heyman, When I Fall In Love, a song by Albert Domínguez, Frenesi, well known to all who remember Artie Shaw’s swing era hit, Leonard Cohen’s Dance Me To The End of Love, Benny Golson’s Whisper Not and an original written by Mari with Patrick Lockwood, Linda. On this live date at UCLA’s Jan Popper Theatre, Mari’s attractive, fluent vocal sound is supported by saxophonist/flautist Justo Almario, pianist Daniel Szabo, guitarist Angelo Metz, bassist Leo Nobre, and drummer Sandro Feliciano. Good songs attractively sung, this should have wide appeal. Worth noting is Mar’s comment: “Since music healed me I want to return the favor and donate part of the sales from the album to the children cancer research.”

For more on Mark Winkler, Tina Raymond and Mari Nobre, including booking details, contact Mouthpiece Music.

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