Jazz CD Reviews – late March 2015

March 24, 2015

Rodrigo Lima Saga (JSR 6063/4)

Best known thus far as an accompanist, notably touring as a member of Ithamara Koorax’s band, this debut album by Rodrigo Lima is a real treat for lovers of the guitar and the music of Brazil. The musical styles heard here include choro, Novos Cariocas, samba, Canção Praieira, and bossa nova, Altinho, and much else that has become familiar to international audiences over the years.rod lima Although it is the guitar, mainly classical and also electric, that is prominent, Rodrigo is impressively joined by guest artists, among whom are Anat Cohen, saxophone, Hugo Fattoruso, keyboards, Hubert Laws, flute, Ithamara Koorax and Aline Morena, vocal, Mike Mainieri, vibraphone, Raul de Souza, trombone, Zé Eduardo Nazário, João Palma and Laudir de Oliveira, percussion, and Hermeto Pascoal, keyboards, while most of the arrangements are by Rodrigo and Arnaldo DeSouteiro. Mostly on this double album are heard original compositions by Rodrigo, and there are also some on which he collaborated with Pascoal, João Cavalcanti, Pedro Rocha and others, as well as a 20-minute jazz and Latin-tinged exploration of the 3rd Movement of Brahms’ 3rd Symphony. In contrast to the excellent instrumental combinations heard here there is a fine solo performance of A Velha Sozinha by Rodrigo on acoustic guitar. Throughout, the music is romantic, melodic, with flowing lines and always a joy to hear. Well known in South America, especially in Brazil, his homeland, Rodrigo Lima also plays extensively in Europe, especially in Spain. This release must surely expand his international audience.

Rachel Caswell All I Know (Turtle Ridge TRR-002)

Any singer choosing to present her art in the exposed setting of a duet needs to be good at what she does and Rachel Caswell certainly is that. It takes confidence, too, appearing in this setting and again Rachel has that confidence. The result is an excellent album, mainly of standards, that acts as a showcase for a singer who must surely and quickly build an international following. On seven of the twelve tracks, Rachel is accompanied by guitarist Dave Stryker, while on the other five she is in company with bassist Jeremy Allen.RachelCaswell-Cover Throughout this set, Rachel delivers subtle jazz improvisations that enhance the original songs and remain always respectful of the intentions of the composers. Her vocal sound is graceful with a sinewy hint that adds immeasurably to her interpretations. Among the songs are If I Should Lose You, One For My Baby, Agua de Beber, I Fall In Love Too Easily and Feelin’ Groovy. This set should appeal to jazz and popular song audiences alike. Its appeal to fellow jazz singers will be clear from what Sheila Jordan has said of her: “Rachel is a wonderful singer with a deep feeling and a fantastic improvisational talent complemented by a lovely rich sound.”

For more information on Rachel Caswell, see Jim Eigo‘s website.

Mavis Rivers Mavis and Swing Along With Mavis (Warners 8122795 8480 and 7385)

The name of Mavis Rivers comes up only rarely when talking or reading about jazz singers and that’s a pity because she was exceptionally good. I recall reviewing some of her albums many years ago and also playing tracks on my long-gone radio show but I confess to having forgotten all about her. Mavis’s name has come to mind now with the review in March’s Jazz Journal of two reissued albums. Among the best of her recorded work, they are a very good introduction to her, especially as they come in Warner’s low-cost reissues from Japan. Only 62 when she died, Mavis packed a great deal of music into her life and fortunately for us she left a substantial recorded legacy that vividly demonstrates not only her vocal skills but also her ability to present her talent in a rich variety of settings. She was born Mavis Chloe Rivers into a large and musically-inclined family on 19 May 1929 in Apia, Western Samoa. With the outbreak of World War II the family moved to the American part of Samoa where, backed by a band led by her father, Moody Charles Rivers, she entertained American servicemen. After the war, the family moved to Auckland, New Zealand, and by 1948 she was singing on radio and the following year began her recording career. Some of her recordings from this period can be heard on The TANZA, Stebbing and Zodiac Years on Ode Records.mavis tanza Not surprisingly, most of the music Mavis recorded at this time reflected her Polynesian background, but her vocal skill and her admirable sound are already very much in evidence.

In 1953 Mavis came to the USA on a scholarship to study music at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah (her family were Mormons). She came back to the USA in 1955, this time to Los Angeles, where she found work singing in clubs at night (a secretarial day job was necessary), including playing with a Hawaiian band. The bass player in this band was Glicerio Reyes Catingub (known as David), with whom she formed a musical and personal relationship and they were married on 4 October 1955. After a brief spell out of music when her two sons, Matthew and Reynaldo, were born, Mavis resumed working, playing clubs in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. As the 1950s rolled over into the 1960s, Mavis was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist and also recorded extensively, first for Capitol Records and then for Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label. Two of the Reprise albums are those reissued on Warners and reviewed by Brian Robinson in Jazz Journal.mavis mavis Giving 4 and 5 stars respectively to Mavis and Swing Along With Mavis,mavis swing along the reviewer points out that both benefit from very good charts and backing, the first with Marty Paich, the second with Van Alexander, with the former band including a host of leading jazzmen. These sessions come from 1961 and there was another very good Reprise recording date that year, Mavis Meets Shorty, this one teaming Mavis with Shorty Rogers, on trumpet and fluegelhorn, with charts by Chuck Sagle. All three of these Reprise albums are together on a 2014 Fresh Sound double album. In 1964 mavis shortyMavis made another excellent album, this time with Red Norvo, with whom she often appeared live; this was for the Vee-Jay label, We Remember Mildred Bailey. Mavis not only worked with Norvo, but also with George Shearing and André Previn; that she regularly kept company with musicians of this caliber speaks volumes for her own skills and how other musicians regarded her.mavis red

Just as Mavis had come from a musical family, so her own family continued the tradition with her alto saxophonist and bandleader son Matt Catingub becoming a respected figure on the Los Angeles studio and jazz scenes. Apart from regularly playing together in California, in the early 1980s mother and son appeared in Auckland, New Zealand, at a Royal Variety Performance for Queen Elizabeth. Mavis and Matt also recorded together on his Sea Breeze albums My Mommy And Me and Hi-Tech Big Band. The 1980s also brought a new album under her own name, It’s A Good Day, for Delos. Mavis continued to work through the rest of the 1980s and into the 1990s, including appearing on another of Matt Catingub’s recording sessions, this one also for Sea Breeze, I’m Getting Cement All Over Ewe.mavis mommy They continued playing live dates together and it was at one of these, at the Vine Street Bar and Grill on 29 May 1992, that she suffered a stroke. Rushed to Queen of Angels-Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital, she died. Following her death, her son reported that only days earlier they had been speaking of fellow singer Sylvia Syms who died after performing and Mavis had said that this was a “great way for a singer to go,” adding “I’d like to go the same way.”

Thanks to references to her by Marc Myers on his JazzWax website in January 2012, and to the re-release in 2015 of some of her albums, the name of Mavis Rivers lives on. Still not nearly as prominent in the minds of lovers of jazz singing as should be the case, now there is no excuse for not listening to and admiring the work of this exceptional jazz artist.

To buy any of the CDs mentioned here you can as usual go to Amazon.

Jazz CD Reviews – February 2015

February 10, 2015

Dale Bruning Thanks For The Memory . . . Jim Hall (Jazz Link Enterprises JLECD 1214)

This wonderfully melodic double album was recorded live at Dazzle Jazz Club in Denver over two evenings in September 2014. These concerts brought together guitarists Dale Bruning and Bill Frisell, long ago teacher and pupil, to pay tribute to their mutual friend and fellow guitar master, Jim Hall, who died in December 2013. Drawing music from the Great American Songbook as well as some well-known pieces from Spain and Brazil and Jim Hall’s own pen, Dale and Bill are supremely lyrical and inventive as they expand upon lovely melodies. The other four members of Dale’s sextet on this occasion are Ron Miles (cornet), Mark Patterson (trombone), Mark Simon (bass) and Paul Romaine (drums). All these musicians play with admirable skill and ingenuity, their solos displaying empathy with the composers of the music, the arranger (Dale), and – not at all surprisingly for musicians of this caliber – with one another.TFTM CD Cover  2x2 R Sadowsky photo 2014 The repertoire presented here includes Cole Porter’s You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s My Funny Valentine andWith A Song in My Heart, Sonny Rollins’ St. Thomas, a gorgeous Body And Soul; a long and always engaging performance of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto; two very different versions of Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin’s Thanks For The Memory, one by the sextet, the other by only cornet and trombone backed by Dale’s guitar; and three Jim Hall originals, All Across The City, Careful and Big Blues. These two CDs are filled with musical delights that will bring pleasure to those who love music from the melodic mainstream of jazz and especially to jazz guitar enthusiasts who will aspire to and admire the skill of these masters of their art.

There is much more of Dale Bruning’s music reviewed elsewhere on this site; take a look at Jazz Guitar – Music & Words in October 2012 and Jazz CD Reviews in October 2013. More information, including booking details, can be seen at Jazz Link Enterprises, which is also where this CD can be bought. There is also an article on Dale Bruning in the August 2014 issue of Jazz Journal.

 

Judi Silvano My Dance (JSL Records 010)

Here, Judi Silvano sings a collection of songs that are all her own compositions, with her lyrics on four of them, on which she is accompanied by the always engaging pianist Michael Abene. On two previous CDs by Judi I have heard and reviewed, she worked with small groups (one of them including Michael) while on another she was in a duo with pianist Mal Waldron (Riding A Zephyr on Soul Note). Remarking on that album, I wrote: ‛The result is a rewarding, often intense, musical experience; one that will be especially valued by those with an ear for new departures in jazz that expand and enhance the repertoire.’ The last part of this remark stemmed from the fact that on that occasion the songs were all compositions by Waldron with lyrics by Judi.judi silvano This new set bears some resemblances because here Judy is again accompanied by only a pianist, while again the songs are all originals. The resulting set is an always intriguing demonstration of the mutual understanding that can develop between musicians when thinking alike and playing with close attention to one another’s musical needs. As Judi says, ‛It’s a duo project of deep collaborations and intimate moments interpreting my melodies and stories.’ Some of the songs have been in Judi’s and Michael’s repertoire for a while and are performed with new lyrics while others are new for this album. On several of the tracks, Judi presents scat vocals that suit the overall mood. All those who have a liking for contemporary jazz and improvised music will find much here that is to their liking.

 

Roger Davidson & Pablo Aslan Live At Caffè Vivaldi (Soundbrush SR4001)

Playing mostly his own always lyrical compositions, pianist Roger Davidson finds an ideal collaborator in Argentine bass player Pablo Aslan. Roger’s delicately shaded touch is the perfect way to present his often graceful music that is always absorbing. The secure underpinning of Pablo’s bass also helps maintain the lightly swinging atmosphere that cloaks this live session. Pablo’s love for his country’s musical tradition can be heard on his album, Buenos Aires Tango Standards (Zoho). Here, apart from Roger’s work, there are three tracks by other composers: Irving Berlin’s How Deep Is The Ocean, Angel Villoldo’s El Choclo, and an especially lovely interpretation of Stelvio Cipriani’s Anónimo Veneziano.roger davidson This said, the greater part of the music is Roger Davidson’s and he is as interesting in his role as composer as he is when performing. Throughout, he demonstrates his complete command of the jazz and Latin idioms that are only a small part of his musical interests and ability, which ranges through chamber music and symphonic works to encompass aspects of popular music, the last named being especially apparent in his love for the music of Brazil. Altogether, this concert is a delight and will appeal to all those who admire jazz piano to which Roger and Pablo apply touches of South American warmth and romance.

Keri Johnsrud This Side Of Morning (KJ Music KJ 0029)

For this, her latest album, Keri Johnsrud introduces another facet of her talent, that of songwriter. Where her début set, All Blue, was mainly standards plus some lesser-known items from the past, here she sings ten songs written by herself in collaboration with pianist Kevin Bales, whose accompaniment here smoothly enfolds Keri’s youthfully fresh and warm vocal sound. As might be expected, her interpretations are filled with profound understanding of the lyrics. Highly musical, Keri studied piano and trumpet and has worked extensively in vocal groups of all sizes up to and including choirs, in various parts of the USA and also in Europe.keri johnsrud As a solo singer, Keri has worked nightspots in her home state of Iowa as well as in Atlanta, Chicago, where she is now based, and New York, and is now becoming much more widely known. Also heard on this album are Larry Kohut, bass, Jon Deitemyer, drums, as well as guitarist Neal Alger and vibraphonist Stephen Lynerd. Keri’s is an enjoyable voice on today’s jazz scene, and this new album, which is due for release on 7 April 2015, will be admired by many.

Uptown Jazz Vocal Quartet Vocal Madness (HouseKat unnumbered)

Starting out in Washington, DC, the Uptown Jazz Vocal Quartet is an exceptional vocal group. Add to this, alto saxophonist Richie Cole, a great admirer of the UJVQ, and the stage is set for a hugely entertaining hour of music making. The group’s members are Ginny Carr, Robert McBride, Holly Shockey and André Enceneat, while other instrumentalists heard include pianist Alan Blackman, guitarist Steve Herberman, bassist Max Murray, and drummer Frank Russo. Richie’s recognition of the quartet’s qualities was based upon his experience of working extensively with The Manhattan Transfer (he was on three of their Grammy-winning albums) and it is most assuredly not misplaced. Apart from the vocal skills of the quartet, the saxophonist was also attuned to the arranging and songwriting talent of lead singer Ginny Carr.uptown vocal jq Among the twelve songs on this release are heard five originals by Richie, arranged by Ginny, and four of Ginny’s own compositions. The flawless harmonizing of the singers, along with some vocal solo moments, blend well with the alto saxophonist’s outstanding solos. All this front-line music-making is admirably underpinned by the rhythm section and there are also well-taken guest appearances by Chris Walker, trumpet, Jen Krupa, trombone, Chris Vadala, alto saxophone, and Leigh Pilzer, tenor saxophone. This fine set is a swinging assurance that this kind of jazz singing is in good hands. The album is dedicated to ManTran founder Tim Hauser who died recently; not only is this appropriate, he would surely have approved.

For more information on Judi Silvano, Roger Davidson, Keri Johnsrud and the Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet, take a look at Jim Eigo’s website. As always, these albums are available from Amazon.

Jazz CD Reviews – early October 2014

September 30, 2014

Maria Jacobs Here Comes Winter (Iwarble Music)

This is Maria Jacobs’ fifth album and is a delightful memory jog that has sent me searching for the other four. Those previous albums were No Frills, Free As A Dove, Chasing Dreams and The Art of the Duo, the last-named with guitarist Bob Fraser whose eloquent accompaniment is also most prominent here. On this outing, Maria sings a pleasing selection of songs, five of which are her own work (two in collaboration). The other songs include standards and three by Joni Mitchell, a songwriter currently very much favored by young singers. After about a decade in Los Angeles, Maria has recently returned to the city where she was born, Cleveland, Ohio, and that is definitely a loss to the Pacific coast’s music scene and a considerable gain to the mid-west. Spreading her musical range, Maria has appeared regularly in Cleveland with her band, 4Get the Girl (whose debut album is in the works). Also appearing on Here Comes Winter are bassists Brian Wildman and Bob Curry, organist David Streiter, and synthesizer and keyboard player Cliff Habian, who is Maria’s co-composer on Til Forever Comes and Fall In Love Again. It is increasingly common for young singers to perform their own songs, which are rarely if ever picked up by their peers. It would be a shame of Maria’s songs are ignored; they are much too good for that. If you have yet to encounter Maria Jacobs, examples of her warm-toned vocal sound can be heard on her website and it is a sound that fits perfectly with the mood of romantic introspection that cloaks this very attractive release.

Rotem Sivan For Emotional Use Only (Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 451)

A relative newcomer on the American jazz scene, Rotem Sivan is a strikingly gifted guitarist who intriguingly combines contemporary musical developments with traditional concepts. Since coming to New York in 2008 to study at the New School, Rotem has steadily built a following and this, his second album, makes clear the reasons for his popularity. rotem sivan cdAll but one of the tracks here are Rotem’s originals, and listeners will find much that is immediately appealing and melodically satisfying. Throughout this album, Rotem plays lines that at first hearing seem to be deceptively simple and it is this aspect that most readily brings to mind earlier jazz guitar stylists. On this set, Rotem is joined by bassist Haggai Cohen Milo and drummer Mark McLean, and although Rotem is center-stage his companions are much more than merely accompanists; this is very much a trio of like minds. This is a musician to look out for; through him it will be fascinating to follow the continuing story the guitar in jazz.

 

As always, these albums can be found at either the artists’ websites or at Amazon.

Information on booking etc can be found at Jim Eigo’s site.

And don’t forget that every issue of Jazz Journal contains dozens if record reviews, as well as articles and interviews, covering all aspects of this music, from then till now.

Jazz Guitar – Music & Words

October 30, 2012

Starting in 1996, master guitarist Dale Bruning and jazz writer and producer Jude Hibler have presented live shows under the banner of their Colorado-based company, Jazz Link Enterprises. In particular and of especial interest to all who love the music of the great American songwriters are their Timeless Music of Great Composers Concerts. In these, Jude narrates the life of a chosen composer from the golden age of American popular music, explaining with anecdotes the origins of some of the most memorable songs. Then, Dale performs superb interpretations of these songs, usually with his various-sized ensembles. Among many songwriters whose work they have performed in this way are Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart/Oscar Hammerstein II, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter. In these shows, the narration is informed and succinct, adding immeasurably to the audience’s enjoyment and understanding of the music. From time to time, through their record company, Dale and Jude have released CDs of some of their shows. Understandably, though sadly, the narration is omitted although the CD buyer can enjoy a taste of this through the accompanying liner notes. On the CDs so far released are tributes to composers Harold Arlen, Harry Warren and George Gershwin. dalebruning-haroldarlen cdThese albums are: The Timeless Music of Harold Arlen (Jazz Link Enterprises JLECD 6029), The Timeless Music of Harry Warren (JLECD 7938), Music Of Gershwin, By George! (JLECD-6804). On all of these releases the significance of the particular composers is vividly apparent and it also emerges why they have long found favor with jazz musicians.

There are other concert collaborations between Dale and Jude on different themes and among these is one that was recorded live at Dazzle Restaurant & Lounge in Denver. This is Classical Connections – Vol I & Vol II (JLECD 4860 & JLECD 7482). The choice of music here is, as always, exemplary and includes Besame Mucho, Lover Come Back To Me, The Breeze And I, Baubles, Bangles And Beads, which sit comfortably alongside pieces from the classical repertoire, by J.S. Bach, Joaquin Rodrigo and Aaron Copeland. Particularly interesting are examples of the way in which popular music has drawn from the classical repertoire: classical connections cda Chopin Fantasy, used as the base for I’m Always Chasing Rainbows, and Sarasate’s Gypsy Airs, reinvented as You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To. Among Dale’s accompanying musicians on these occasions are pianist Jeff Jenkins, bassists Mark Simon and Michael Moore, and drummer Paul Romaine. On Classical Connections, flautist Ali Ryerson is added and her skill on both concert flute and alto flute is wholly admirable.

Other fine examples of Dale Bruning’s playing released by Jazz Link Enterprises include Reunion (JLECD 440072) and Just Between Us (JLECD 0240). dalebruning-reunion cdOn these double CDs he is joined by fellow guitarist (and former pupil) Bill Frisell for richly evocative explorations of the great heritage of jazz guitar; and in the case of Just Between Us, exemplary bassist Michael Moore joins Dale and Bill. On Reunion are song book classics, like Body And Soul and All The Things You Are, and jazz standards, such as ’Round Midnight and Anthropology, all of them revitalized by these outstanding musicians; while on Just Between Us can be heard Whisper Not, Dancing in the Dark, Her Tender Countenance. Just Between Us CD cover Then there is Easy Does It! (JLECD 8711), on which Dale plays the music of a long-time friend, Charles Eakin. dalebruning-easy does it cdWith his quartet (Chiaraluce, Simon, Romaine), Dale explores elegant melodies with warmth, wit and understanding. This is an exceptional tribute to a fine composer and for some it will be an introduction to someone thus far overlooked.

Throughout all of the live performances and CDs presented by Dale Bruning and Jude Hibler can be heard seriously good music, played with skill, flair and imagination by fine musicians who with seemingly effortless ease convey their love for some of the best songs ever written. My reviews of some of the albums mentioned above can be seen in Jazz Journal.

Examples of the writing of Jude Hibler can be found through her website, which is where some of her excellent photographic work can also be seen.

Included on Dale Bruning’s website are details of his guitar music books, the third of which, Dale Bruning’s Jazz Guitar Series, Vol III: Phrasing & Scales, scheduled for publication late 2012 – early 2013.

Betty Bennett & Mundell Lowe

October 10, 2012

Swinging majestically past their 90th birthdays, jazz singer Betty Bennett and jazz guitarist Mundell Lowe are glowing examples to us all – inside or outside the music business. Although Betty has not sung publicly for a little while, she still keeps busy and takes a special interest in the career of her husband who has an engagement book as full as he wants it to be and in recent years, Mundy has played not only in the USA but also on tour in Europe. As his performances vividly demonstrate, neither his dexterity nor his invention show any signs of diminishing.

In case you have yet to encounter Betty and Mundy, here is a little background information:

 

The lady who sang with the band …

Betty Bennett was born 23 October 1921 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child, she hoped to become an opera singer, studying voice and piano. Her direction was changed when, by way of records, her mother introduced her to the music of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Loving what she heard of these jazz musicians, Betty quickly became proficient in jazz singing, displaying a natural talent for the form. While still very young, she joined Georgie Auld’s band and then in quick succession spent time in the late swing era big bands led by Claude Thornhill, Alvino Rey, and Charlie Ventura and she was also briefly with Stan Kenton and Woody Herman. The Ventura band bore the promo tag ‘Bop for the People’ and Betty’s contemporary vocal styling was a perfect fit. More than her contemporaries, Betty bridged swing and bop. Apart from airshots, Betty’s recording career got underway with 1949-1951 sessions by the Ventura band, including performances of Yankee Clipper, Too Marvelous For Words and I Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind. Betty’s experiences in these years are entertainingly recounted in her autobiography, The Ladies Who Sing With The Band, which was published by Scarecrow Press in 2000.

Betty recorded her first own-name album for Trend in 1953, the songs including Nobody’s Heart, Time After Time and You’re Nearer. Two years later, she recorded for Atlantic Records accompanied by a band led by André Previn, whom she had married in 1952. In the band for Nobody Else But Me were Shorty Rogers, who with Previn also wrote the charts, Frank Rosolino, Bob Cooper, Jimmy Giuffre, Barney Kessell and Shelly Manne. Similarly star-studded were the trio and quartet Previn fronted for a 1959 United Artists date, the aptly titled I Love To Sing, on which are Conte Candoli, Red Mitchell, and Irv Cottler.

In addition to jazz club dates, Betty had begun appearing on the jazz festival circuit and in 1975 she celebrated a new personal relationship when she and Mundell Lowe were married at a ceremony held at the Monterey Jazz Festival.

 

A man for all sessions …

Mundell Lowe’s career had begun way back in 1935. He was born 21 April 1922, in Laurel, Mississippi and began playing guitar at the age of six. At age thirteen he set out for New Orleans where he haunted clubs before his Baptist minister father found him and hauled him back home. Determined on a career in music, he was soon in Nashville where he played in Pee Wee King’s band. Briefly in Jan Savitt’s band, military service intervened but, fortuitously, he landed in a camp near New Orleans and soon encountered John Hammond Jnr. After the war, Mundy and Hammond met up again and the entrepreneur introduced him to Ray McKinley, now leader of the Glenn Miller band, all of this helping open doors. The second half of the 1940s and on through the 1950s saw Mundy playing guitar in clubs and on record dates with an astonishing array of late swing era notables and many rising stars of early bop. These musicians include Buck Clayton, Miles Davis, Benny Goodman, Wardell Gray, Billie Holiday, Fats Navarro, Red Norvo, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Lester Young.

During the 1950s, Mundy played regularly in the NBC television studio orchestra and he was also musical director on the Today show. Aside from music, he also acted on and off Broadway, but music remained the main thrust of his life and he played and often recorded with musicians such as Georgie Auld, Ruby Braff, Mel Powell, Tony Scott, Ben Webster, the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra, and Joe Venuti.

Mundell Lowe cd

Among numerous own-name releases is 1957’s A Grand Night For Swinging, released on OJC, on which his collaborators are Gene Quill, Billy Taylor, Les Grinage, and Ed Thigpen; while on a 1990 trio date, Telarc’s Old Friends, he linked up with André Previn and Ray Brown. Over the years, Mundy also backed many singers on record dates, among them LaVern Baker, Tony Bennett, Connee Boswell, Ruth Brown, Chris Connor, Sammy Davis Jnr., Carmen McRae, Helen Merrill, Lee Wiley. Mundy continued to work in television and radio after his 1965 move to Los Angeles, a time when he was recognized as a writer of scores for films and television and also as an exponent of 12-tone music.

Two minds in harmony …

The marriage of Betty Bennett and Mundell Lowe at Monterey in 1975 was also a joining of musical minds as is apparent from the 1990 Fresh Sound recording session that resulted in The Song Is You. Here, accompanied by Bob Cooper, George Cables, Monty Budwig, and Roy McCurdy, the couple perform fine interpretations of songs such as You Must Believe In Spring, No More Blues, I Thought About You and The Eagle And Me.

Separately and together, over the years Betty Bennett and Mundell Lowe have made significant contributions to jazz that are always lithely swinging. Betty’s singing, lyrically profound and musically adventurous, and Mundy’s elegant and deceptively sparse exploration of the often overlooked subtleties of many compositions, have allowed them to create memorable interpretations of standards from the repertoire of both jazz and popular song.

Betty’s extensive collection of photographs and other memorabilia is now with Rutgers University’s Institute of Jazz Studies, although some photos can be seen on Marc Myers’ JazzWax website.

As for Mundy, his own website is where you can find details of this indefatigable jazz musician’s forthcoming gigs.

 

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