Jazz

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Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010
A live album can be special, even if it’s not quite the complete concert you expect. This one takes four numbers cut in late 2004 at the Sunside club in Paris and artfully stirs in three 2009 tracks from London’s 606 Club. It was in ’87, after four years with Art Blakey, that an assignment at the Guildhall School brought Toussaint to the UK, and he never went back. His quartet here includes the distinctive British pianist Andrew McCormack, while guitarist Jerome Barde contributes nice solos to two of the Paris tracks.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 08, 2010
After long pursuit of their separate careers, the three Heath Brothers first played under that name in 1975. Percy Heath, the MJQ’s revered bass player, died in 2005, and so the younger brothers, saxophonist Jimmy and drummer Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath, dedicated Endurance to his memory. With the youthful Jeb Patton on piano and David Wong on bass they get things moving on the restless chords of ‘Changes’. Later, an evocative ‘Autumn In New York’ seems to waltz gently in 4/4, and then Jimmy is beautifully reflective in ‘Ballad From Leadership Suite’, which he wrote for the inauguration of a Howard University president in 1996.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
When Hamilton arrived, British saxist and Woodville label owner Barnes suggested using tunes that Johnny Hodges had recorded with his own band in the early 1950s. And according to Barnes, the American tenor master got all the themes and changes down after a single run-through. Neither of them attempts to sound like Hodges, though, and just as well. While Barnes’ bop-tinged alto skeeters around the chords, Hamilton carries right on with his beautiful, fluid and unhurried swing phrasing, effortlessly conjuring up the spirit of Lester Young.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
She’d recorded albums and won a following in France, but it was last year’s Voyage, her debut for the German ACT label, that put Korean-born singer Youn Sun Nah on the wider European map. Here she travels once again with her distinguished Nordic labelmates, guitarist Ulf Wakenius and bassist Lars Daniellson, who’ve proved ideal musical company. They reach the Middle East with a breathtaking piece of scat virtuosity called ‘Breakfast In Baghdad’. But Nah can also be beguiling when accompanied only by the quiet and gentle sounds of her own kalimba, as on ‘My Favourite Things’ and, much more successfully, on the stunning title track.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
You might not think of chamber music as ‘for the masses,’ as the PR blurb has it, but then, the brilliant bassist’s reference point is the Chamber Music Society of Oregon, the community orchestra that she joined as a five-year-old violin prodigy. Her Heads Up debut Esperanza traversed many genres, but this one brings classical sounds to the mix, with a string trio including supreme session cellist David Eggar, weaving music of rich complexity. Spalding’s vocal flights can seem too indulgent, though she’s helped out on two numbers by the ever-fascinating Gretchen Parlato and on one by a weary-sounding Milton Nascimento. But still, a fresh, inspiring album.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 07, 2010
With a large element of theatre, Kinch alternates raps and instrumental numbers, and the theme is the modern slavery of debt: ‘Today’s fetters are mostly invisible,’ he says. Guest vocalist Jason MacDougall is effective on ‘Help’, Eska Mtungwazi sings superbly on ‘Escape’, but it is Kinch who brilliantly leads a whole cast of speakers in ‘Paris Heights’, satirising the brutality of debt collection. But the other musicians are great too, Femi Temowo on guitar chording like a keyboard when he’s not soloing, and multi-reed player Shabaka Hutchings adding an arresting bass clarinet solo on ‘Trade’. In ‘On The Treadmill’ the mournful horn ensemble echoes early Ellington.

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