November 2004


Each month we provide a series of CD reviews plus "Star Rated" items.

You can listen to clips of some of our picks. You'll need a RealAudio Player to do this, and you can download by clicking on the following icon:

Our reviewing staff members are:

John Sutherland: John has a keen interest in piano jazz and brings with him a wealth of knowledge in this area.

Robert Fogle: Rob is Director of Musical Services for Fogle Entertainment in Toronto, as well he hosts his own radio programme on CHRY-FM (105.5). His background as a fan, in jazz music is extensive, and he is a serious collector of all genres of the music.

Colin Smith: Colin began his interest in jazz in his native Jamaica, and since settling in Toronto has become more involved in the music he loves. He is the school programme director for the Markham Jazz Festival and hosts his own jazz show on CKLN-FM (88.1).

Bob Eckersley: Bob Eckersley emigrated from England in 1957 and settled in Owen Sound (Northern Ontario), where he worked as an inspector for the government on Highway construction. His interest in jazz started during the war years, and though he is not a trained musicologist, he listens from the heart and judges accordingly.

By way of identification, reviewer's initials are inserted at the end of each review.

Previous Picks


Mark Eisenman - "Sweet & Lovely"

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Despite the fact that pianist Mark Eisenman has "...long been a well respected member of the jazz community in Canada", and that he has appeared with innumerable musicians as a sideman over the years, this CD is only his second release under his own name. Fortuitously, the opportunity to put together a trio session came about from the conference of the International Association in Toronto (2003) where legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb agreed to join Eisenman and local bassist Pat Collins for the recording project. Though such spontaneity led to a single take only for numbers, the ten selections, including three Eisenman originals, are treated with consummate conviction and skill, ranging from lively, swinging pieces such as Wynton Kelly's "Temperance", Eiseneman's own boppish "Bird's Assurance" to a beautifully sensitive rendering of Ellington's "Reflections in D" or the waltz-like lyricism in "Someday My Prince Will Come".

J. S.

Cornerstone CRST CD 125

Benny Lackner - "Not the Same"

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Lackner, who is featured on piano as well as fender Rhodes, nordelectro, nordlead 2, and hohner pianet, is a new discovery for me. The enclosed liner is devoid of any pertinent information (unusual for Nagel Heyer). Joined by bassist Derek Nievergelt and percussionist Robert Perkins, Lackner offers a mix of selections, including 7 originals, ranging from the lyrical pieces "Will it Matter", "Bushisms", "Riverman" with decidedly melodic cores, those numbers that shift the rhythmic pulse or playfully fragment familiar themes "Umlaut", "Sheep's Dog", Monk's "Bemsha Swing", Noble's "Cherokee", to several that rely more on electronic effects "Red Hook", "Monday Morning". Throughout, Lackner maintains an improvisationally interpretative approach and at times, deft, precise sense of touch. Percussive effects lean to the metronomic at times.

J. S.

Nagel Heyer 2042

Marc Copland/Greg Osby - "Night Call"

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The pairing of pianist Copland and altoist Osby seems to have been a fortuitous meeting; "..thanks to Greg for being such a great partner in the search for the unexpected", states Marc in the liner credits. Osby's earlier sessions with the likes of Andrew Hill or Steve Coleman clearly identified him as a sax player of unpredictable complexity with an effortless outpouring of musical talent. Here he adopts a gentler accord in keeping with Copland's melodic flow of ideas, carefully considered keyboard explorations, on such pieces as "Autumn Wind", "Echoes of Another" or "Cire" with a sinuous alto against a piano backdrop. All numbers are Copland/Osby originals except "Soul Eyes"; a Mal Waldron composition afforded a wonderfully insightful interpretation.

J. S.

Nagel Heyer 2048

Donald Harrison - "Heroes"

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With early affiliations with Art Blakey, Roy Haynes and Terence Blanchard, as well as strong New Orleans roots, altoist Harrison is accompanied here by the classic tandem of Ron Carter (bass) and Billy Cobham (drums). If Carter is " a rhythm section by himself", Cobham remains the ultimate dispenser of rhythmic nuance; together they offer heated, energetic support to a master of harmonic changes - Donald Harrison. The trio swing with "Receipt Please", bestow melodic beauty to "Candlelight", propel the tempo shifts of "One of a Kind". Three Carter/Harrison duets highlight the session with "Double Trouble" (built on changes to "I Got Rhythm"), imbuing "My Funny Valentine" with "elegiac solemnity", setting up an ostinato build-up to Miles Davis' "Solar". Three additional bonus tracks (recorded with Vicente Archer - bass, and John Lamkin - drums) provide us with further alto adventures. Recommended.

J. S.

Nagel Heyer 2041

Johanne Blouin/Vic Vogel - "Until I Met You"

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Born in Quebec, songstress Johanne Blouin has already achieved popular stardom with a dozen award-winning albums to her credit. This is her premier venture into the jazz world, and she has selected a winning supporter in arranger/conductor Vic Vogel and his Big Band. She certainly has the vocal versatility, clarity of articulation, dynamic range, and tonal colour, evident in such selections as the seductively phrased "Besame Mucho", an emotionally paced "Some Other Time", or an upbeat "Deedles Blues". I especially enjoyed her handling of songs featuring a slower, lower registered presentation where mood and tempo unite with lyrical intent. Recognizing her determination to showcase a voice in all its manifestations, I felt a few pieces, "Cry Me a River", "Blues in the Night", "At Last", too exuberantly ignored lyrical fidelity. Arrangements, including solo spots, were excellent, as was the wide variety of titles chosen. Recommended.

J. S.

Justin Time JUST 207-2


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