Jazz CD Reviews – late September 2016
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.