Jazz & (mostly) other CDs – late-May 2016

May 24, 2016


During the past few decades the boundaries between jazz and other musical genres have become steadily more blurred. This observation is well illustrated by these four albums, which together bring a heady mix of styles.

Victor & Penny Electricity (Overtone VP 101)

For the past five or so years, Jeff Freling and Erin McGrane have been working together, touring and delighting audiences with their intriguing performances. Billed as Victor & Penny, they are heard here with their Loose Change Orchestra. Victor (Jeff) plays guitar and Penny (Erin) plays ukelele, and both sing. While Victor’s singing is confined mostly to harmonizing with Penny, she has several features. On uptempo songs, she has a slightly nasal quality that suits the music and the mood, while on ballads she her vocal sound is clear, unforced and youthful. Instrumentally, they are skilled practitioners, Victor playing several very good solos and Penny using the lighter toned sound of the ukelele as a driving to help drive the group. The most featured instrumental soloist in The Loose Change Orchestra is James Isaac on clarinet (he also plays soprano saxophone and melodica), the other leading members being Rick Willoughby, bass & ukelele bass, and Kyle Dahlquist, trombone, while also on hand are Paton Goskie, violin, and Dustin Ransom who plays accordion, mandolin, piano and Hammond B-3 organ. Nine of the ten tracks are composed by Victor and Penny (one of these, Say Goodbye, with Cody Wyoming) and they are richly varied in concept, structure and style. Among them are Day Off Boogie, which brings to mind late swing era jump bands, Rickshaw Chase, an engaging up-tempo piece that carries Klezmer echoes, and Penny’s Pounce and Hide, Seek, both with fine instrumental solos. The only non-original is Gordon (Sting) Sumner’s Moon Over Bourbon Street, which here has an air that perhaps owes more to Europe than New Orleans – although even in name the city is the most European in North America.v and p Victor & Penny have won awards from folk-oriented organizations and while jazz and folk do not readily come to mind as compatible bedfellows this raises the side issue of pigeon-holing. The term ‛folk’ actually describes a richly varied genre in much the same way that ‛jazz’ means many things to many people. Only slight broadening of the folk genre brings in some aspects of country, bluegrass for example, and it is only a very small stretch to think of the long-ago popularity of the western-swing of Bob Wills and the early work of Chet Atkins (his quartet with George Benson), as well as, more recently, several artists who move comfortably through many of these genres: Bela Flek and April Barrows come readily to mind. But all this is digressing from this very pleasing album although there is a reason for this. I hope it’s not just me, but I think it is unfairly limiting to tack a genre label onto this hugely entertaining group. That said, I think that the apparent need for labeling (by promoters, radio outlets and the like) inhibits musicians of this quality. Victor & Penny and their colleagues deserve to be heard by all who like to hear good music well played by skilful artists.

Antonio Adolfo Tropical Infinito (AAM 0710)

The musical genres blended here are Brazilian samba and hard-bop jazz of the early 1960s and while others have done this before during the past half century, pianist Antonio Adolfo does it with effortless flair and instrumental skill. Antonio is joined here by the driving rhythm team of guitarists Leo Amuedo and Claudio Spievak, bassist Jorge Helder, drummer Rafael Barata, and percussionist André Siqueira. a.a.-tropicoThere are also fine soloists in Jessé Sadoc, trumpet and flugelhorn, Marcelo Martins, saxophones, and Serginho Trombone who, appropriately enough, plays trombone. The horn players are all in fine form, Jessé delivering flowing, lyrical solos that have depth and intensity; Serghino’s playing is forcefully dramatic; Marcelo, who plays tenor and soprano, has a tough, no-nonsense approach that ably bridges to two musical genres. The pieces played here are four of Antonio’s originals, two by Benny Golson (Whisper Not and Killer Joe), Horace Silver’s Song For My Father, Oliver Nelson’s Stolen Moments, and one standard, All The Things You Are. All are arranged by Antonio and he seamlessly blends the styles and ensures that there is ample solo space for his talented colleagues. This is a lively and thoroughly entertaining set that should appeal to many, be they fans of jazz or the music of Brazil.

Carol Saboya Carolina (AAM 0709)

Brazilian singer Carol Saboya has a pleasingly soft vocal sound that admirably suits all of the music she performs. Heard here are three songs written or co-written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, (Passarim, A Felicidade, Olha, Maria), two by Latin Grammy Achievement Award winner Djavan (Avião, Faltando Um Pedaço), three by other leading Brazilian composers, as well as two pop songs, Sting’s Fragile and Lennon and McCartney’s Hello, Goodbye. carol_saboya_capaCarol is accompanied here by her constant collaborator, pianist and arranger Antonio Adolfo, along with several members of his regular group: Marcelo Martins, flute and soprano saxophone, Leo Amuedo (and Claudio Spievak), guitar, Jorge Helder, bass, Rafael Barata, drums, and André Siqueira, percussion. Throughout, the music has an engaging airiness, reflecting the spaciousness of the homeland of the performers and most of the composers and lyricists. Reflective, soothing, accomplished.

Nána Simopoulos Skins (Na Records NR 9206 2)

Noted in many areas of the arts Nána Simopoulos has composed music for several contemporary dance companies, including Dance Theatre of Harlem, scores for motion pictures and theatrical productions, as well as music for classical ensembles. An important part of Nána’s musical training came during her teenage years when she traveled from America to Greece. First recording in her own name in 1984, she has worked with leading jazz musicians including Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins, her albums including two on Enja Records.nana She has also led her own groups, including World Music of Nána. All eight tracks heard here are Nána’s own compositions and the range of her inspirational sources is readily apparent, most particularly the music and the poetry of the east. Singing and playing guitar and bouzouki, Nána is joined by a dozen instrumentalists noted in world music and in jazz, along them being saxophonist Dave Liebman, bassist Mary Ann McSweeney, and drummer Royal Hartigan. Always interesting, this new release will be welcomed by Nána’s many fans around the world.

Carla Hassett +Blue (Paulista unnumbered)

Although born in Brazil, Carla Hassett was raised in Chicago where she lived amidst the city’s Brazilian community. As a result, she was exposed to many musical forms, including those of her homeland. Becoming a professional singer, she worked with local bands singing blues, funk, pop and many of the song styles of Latin America. Settling in Los Angeles, Carla worked extensively in recording studios as backing singer to leading names in pop, as well as in film and television studios, singing on soundtracks. She also worked in musical education, including teaching at Silverlake Conservatory of Music. Although she admires, respects and sings music composed by distinguished Brazilians, Carla also writes much of the music she performs.carla blue On this album, seven of the ten songs are her own, among them the samba flavored Pois É E Tal and Sangue Da Terra, and a touch of bossa nova is heard on Sem Calor. When Carla’s sunny and airy vocal sound is combined with her lyrics she brings to life the images that her many of her compatriots must carry in their minds. She is accompanied here by instrumentalists from both her homeland her adopted country. Heard here are the sounds of the guitar, accordion, trumpet, trombone, keyboards and of course percussion. Among the players are guitarist João Pedro Mourão, bassist Andre de Santanna, and percussionist Leonardo Costa, who provide a propulsive rhythmic undertow. The closing track, South American Way, is a nod of appreciation to Carmen Miranda although Carla’s treatment comes as a welcome surprise as she reflects on the sadness of those who live far from home.

More information on all of these artists can be found at Jim Eigo’s Jazz Promo Services.

Other informative and entertaining sites to visit:-

Jazz Journal – ۝

Vintage Bandstand – ۝

Jazz Flashes – ۝

Jazz Wax – ۝

Frank Griffith – ۝

John Robert Brown – ۝

Jazz CD Reviews – early January 2015

January 10, 2015

This is becoming almost a mantra but once again I find myself listening to singers all of whom are new to me. On this occasion, there are four singers and I will take them in the order in which they came out of the package.

Lyn Stanley Potions from the 50s (A.T. Music 3103)

For this album, Lyn Stanley has chosen her repertoire from songs composed in the 1950s thus reminding her listeners that skilful songwriters did not vanish when the previous two golden decades ended. Among the songs, many of which are given interesting and agreeable new readings, are Cry Me A River, Fly Me To The Moon, In The Still Of The Night, Misty, and The Party’s Over. This is Lyn’s second album and she has a mature vocal sound, crystal clear diction that is abetted by her occasionally clipped delivery, and an obvious affection for the lyrics.lyn stanley This audible love for her material is nevertheless sufficiently relaxed to allow her to make the songs accessible to present-day ears – the songs were, after all, written more than a half-century ago. Lyn is accompanied here by several musicians in different small groups; too many to list but the pianists heard are Bill Cunliffe (5 tracks), Mike Lang (2 tracks), and Kenny Werner (7 tracks), with Mike and Kenny both playing on A Summer Place. The set ends with The Man I Love, which comes of course from an earlier time. This is a delightful set that should appeal to many, be they jazz fans or aficionados of the Great American Songbook.

Ellen LaFurn C’Est La-Furn (Invite Records 1003)

Perhaps I might be forgiven for this singer being new to me because this is Ellen LaFurn‘s debut album although she is far from being a newcomer to the music scene. Ellen worked in music as a teenager, singing backup and singing and playing flute in several bands, which is where she met her late husband, trumpet player Gerry LaFurn, who was co-leader with Charlie Persip of Superband.ellen lafurn She then raised her family, taught for some years and now, after retiring, has returned to her first love – music. Ellen has an expressive sound and good diction that helps in her understanding interpretations of lyrics. The songs she has chosen come mostly from that same endless and enduring Songbook, mingled with some that have become known for their performance in a jazz context. Among the songs heard here are I Remember You, I’ve Got The World On A String, Cherokee, Girl Talk, Watch What Happens, and I’m Old Fashioned. Accompanied by Rave Tesar, piano, Vic Cenicola, guitar, both well-featured in solos, Ron Naspo, bass, and Patrick Cuttitta, drums, Ellen delivers pleasing performances that many will enjoy.

Julie Lyon Julie (Unseen Rain UR 9957)

This is another debut album, this time bringing to wide attention singer Julie Lyon who leads her New York Quartet through a selection of songs, mostly familiar, that display her rhythmic ease and intelligent interpretations. Among the songs performed here are Love For Sale, Dr Lonnie Smith’s Too Damn Hot, for which Julie has provided lyrics, Bye Bye Blackbird, Strollin’, Dindi and Comes Love. Julie is ably backed by her quartet: Matt Lavelle, trumpet, Jack DeSalvo, guitar, Bobby Brennan, bass, and Tom Cabrera, drums.julie lyon The songs are performed in a manner that melds contemporary expectations with the older traditions from which jazz came. Julie’s accompanists provide a suitable backdrop for her and there are some well-taken solo moments from Matt Lavelle both on trumpet and on a breathily played alto clarinet. Most notable among the instrumental soloists is Jack DeSalvo who plays guitar and mandola with inventive flair. The set is rhythmically underpinned by Brennan and Cabrera, the latter providing many ear-catching moments, such as his imaginative introduction to All Or Nothing At All.

Carol Saboya/Antonio Adolfo/Hendrik Muerkens Copa Village (Antonio Adolfo Music AAM 0707)

Very well known in Brazil, her homeland, Carol Saboya brings a wholly delightful atmosphere to this album on which she is teamed with her father, pianist Antonio Adolfo, and Hendrik Muerkens, who here plays harmonica and vibraphone. Antonio is a veteran of the Brazilian and New York jazz scenes and blends the two dissimilar yet matching forms expertly as performer and composer, the latter musical skill shown here with Visão (Vision) and Pretty World, with lyricist Tiberio Gaspar (the latter song also with English lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman).copa village He also co-composed Copa Village, with Hendrik, who himself composed Como Se Fosse (As If It Was) and Nosso Mundo (Our World), both with lyricist Ana Terra, and Show De Bola (Awesome), with lyrics by Paulo Sergio Valle. The other songs, perhaps rather better known to the wider audience, are compositions by Antonio Carlos Jobim with lyricists Vinicíus De Moraes, Norman Gimbel, Jararaco, and Chico Buarque; these include The Girl From Ipanema, Agua De Beber, and Two Kites. Both Antonio and Hendrik support the singer superbly and take several good solos throughout this set. The Brazilian atmosphere is ably evoked through lilting rhythms underpinned by guitarist Claudio Spiewak, bassist Itaiguara Brandão, drummer Adriano Santos, and percussionist André Siqueira. All instrumentalists provide an ideal backdrop for Carol’s singing and the album is a thoroughly entertaining collection of evocative music.

As usual, these albums are available from Amazon.

Booking information for all these artists from Jim Eigo’s Jazz Promo Services.

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