A Tribute to Jackie McLean The Essence All Stars Essence HipBop HIDD 8015 (Reissue) The focus here is on the composing talent of alto saxophonist Jackie McLean. When one thinks of musicians like McLean (or Hank Mobley or Sonny Clark) the first thing that comes to mind is their skill as stimulating players. But damn, they could also be talented composers. Many of the pieces they wrote for their Blue Note and Prestige sessions in the fifties and sixties really deserve to be heard played by others. The so-called Essence All Stars turns out to be a trio made up of pianist LaMont Johnson, bassist Rodney Whitaker, and drummer ldris Muhammad th·at's beefed up by one or, in some cases, two reedmen on the six compositions written by McLean. There's also an homage to the altoist written by LaMont Johnson and performed by his trio. On each of the McLean pieces we hear one or more of the eight saxophonists involved in this project. Highlights include Abraham Burton's fine alto work on Ballad For Doll and Vince Herring and Javon Jackson's atmospheric reading ·of Midtown Blues (Herring on alto and Jackson on tenor). The other reedmen, all of whom demonstrate their musical admiration for Jackie McLean, are Donald Harrison, alto; Craig Handy, tenor; Joe Lovano, tenor; Branford Marsalis, soprano and tenor, and Justin Robinson, alto. It's interesting to hear how much their individual styles have been coloured by McLean's own patented ' fire in the belly' approach. An enjoyable tribute to a most deserving player/composer. For My Father Hank Jones Justin Time JUST 209-2 Don Brown Precise but loose, relaxed but not casual, polished but not glossy- all good definitions of Hank Jones and his music over the years, and certainly applicable to the pianist's new release on the Montreal jazz label Justin Time. 64 Given the length (more than 60 years) and expanse (probably over 1000 record appearances!) of his recording career, Jones could be expected to coast a little, but there's nothing in this collection to show he has lost a step. Not that he has ever been a sprinter: his cool, tasty, musical style has rarely been heard calling attention to itself, or breaking into a sweat. With George Mraz on bass and drummer Dennis Mackrel (almost always playing brushes) as perfect accompanists, Jones offers a lightly swinging programme of familiar and more-rare tunes that shows his musicality. Of special interest is a four-tune grouping of Ellington/ Strayhorn compositions in the middle of the disc, including one of my favourites, Lotus Blossom . . Standards include Easy To Love and Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise and real jazz tunes by Milt Jackson (the blues SKJ), Tom Harrell's Because I Love You, and a Harold Mabern's almost-a-spiritual (There But For The) Grace Of God. For a man who has done so much already it's gratifying to hear that Hank Jones' talent is undiminished in his ninth decade. Perhaps Justin Time should do an annual session with him, leading up to a special centennial project. I vote for a solo piano release as the next one. Ted O'Reilly The Art of Improvisation (DVD) Keith Jarrett EuroArts 2054118 British biographer and jazz musician Ian Carr first interviewed Keith Jarrett in London in 1977 prior to a solo piano performance in England's capital. This was the beginning of a long relationship between the two which has culminated in a DVD entitled "Keith Jarrett; The Art of Improvisation" . As the title suggests, musings and theories are offered regarding the demands and complexity of improvisation as well as the lack of respect it receives as a viable art-form . Film footage goes back even further than Jarrett's association with Carr to the late 1960s when the eccentric, innovative pianist first gained international recognition as part of the Charles Lloyd Quartet. Subsequent collaborations with Miles Davis, Charlie Haden, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, and Gary Burton are also offered throughout. Ample time is spent on Jarrett's over thirty year professional relationship with German record producer Manfred Eicher as well as his current trio with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack De Johnette. The delicate topic of Jarrett's struggle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is briefly covered as well as the role his wife Rose Anne has played in his personal and professional life since the 1970s. The DVD's intellectual content and impressive footage could easily make it a staple in academic settings for years to come and perhaps in the homes of informed jazz aficionados. Eli Eisenberg Live from the Montreux Archives (DVD) AI Di Meola, Jean-Luc Ponty, Stanley Clarke Eagle Eye EE 39091-9 WWW. THEWHOLENOTE.COM This year's line-up at both the TD Downtown Jazz Festival and the Ottawa International Jazz Festival includes the Trio! of violinist Jean-Luc Panty, bassist Stanley Clarke, and banjo player Bela Fleck. Early beginnings of this jazz Supergroup are captured on a new DVD filmed live at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1994 with Panty, Clarke, and guitarist AI DiMeola. The phrase 'The Rite of ·strings' emerges frequently on the video but the catchy title is conspicuously absent from the video's cover and printed material. The musical theme of stringed instruments minus percus- sian serves up a predominantly Latin-flavoured repertoire of nine compositions by all three band members, drawing on previous collaborations, notably with pianist Chick Corea. Unaccompanied solo efforts occur halfway through the video with DiMeola and Panty making sonic explorations through digital effects and Clarke quoting his well-known recordings "School Days" and "Bass Folk Song" from the 1970s. There are unfortunate lapses in the show, partly due to a somewhat reserved Montreux audience which was lucky to receive two encores from the group: Panty's Songfor John with a guest appearance by- Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander, and DiMeola's Indigo. Not all is lost, however, as impressive camera work and camaraderie between the three band members make for some enjoyable viewing and listening. Eli Eisenberg POTPOURRI Coconuts Groove- Viva Latin Jazz Various Artists ' Crista! Records CR 310 Crista! Records of France has released a unique and fun collection as part of their "Original Sound Deluxe" series. "Coconuts Groove - Viva Latin Jazz" showcases songs, mostly from the 30's and 40's, with Afro-Caribbean and South American influences. The performers range from Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Argentineans like Machito and Oscar Alleman to jazz cats like Gerry Mulligan and Charlie Parker, to mainstream singers like Nat King Cole and the Andrew Sisters and obscure performers like Nappy Lamare & His Levee Loungers. The songs also run the gamut. Novelty tunes like The Carioca (two versions) rub shoulders with more serious tunes like Duke Ellington's Caravan, here performed by Dizzy Gillespie. The liner notes are a complete riot. Writer Noel Balen has a very colourful writing style, but whoever did the translation from the original French has a rather tenuous grasp of the English language. You're left scratching your head at j ULY 1- SEPTEMBER 7 2005
A VERY PERSONAL ALBUM OF SONGS THAT SPEAK TO - AND FROM - THE HEART. Renee Fleming brings her voice and spirit to an eclectic mix of ballads, standards and popular songs, with the help of jazz mavericks Bill Frisell and Fred Hersch. Fleming has also contributed a liner essay describing the evolution of Haunted Heart and her love affair with "a road not taken" . www.reneefleming.com - Young Soprano Katherine jenkins is the Uk's best selling new Classical artist! 'LA DIVA' is Katherine's North American debut! Beautiful songs include "Time to Say Goodbye", " Caruso", " 0 Sole Mio", "Laudate Oominum" and "You Never Walk Alone". SECRETGA [ I?. GS Secret Garden have had huge International success. The new album 'Earthsongs' once again demonstrates Rolf Lovland's unquestionable writing talents as it combines beautifully melodic songs with earthy upbeat tracks. Tenor Russell Watson features on "Always There". www.secretgarden.no - 1lable RONAN: The ever popular Irish Tenor Ronan Tynan with his debut solo album on Decca, 'Ronan'. Performing much loved songs such as "Man of La Mancha", "Mansions of the Lord" and "Come in From the Rain". www.ronantynan.net - Available Now DONNY OSMOND IIVr AT FniN~IIIU;~,.t This is a must-see live concert featuring exciting performances from Donny's latest CD, 'What 1 Meant to Say' which includes older favourites like "Puppy Love" and "Soldier of Love". Capture the magic that can only be Donny Osmond ... Live! Exciting bonus footage included! www.donny.com I Gill Dual Disc BOND EXPLOSIVE Highly successful string group Bond, with an amazing 'Best of' package-'Explosive' and all on a Dual Disc--- which has a CD on one side and exclusive DVD content on the reverse · wow! Now you can see your favourite Classical Crossover group in action with sizzling music videos and photo gallery! A must have for all Bond fans! www.bondmusic.net - Available Now
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The flip side: festival fascination