November 1996


All of Hal's monthly reviews will be made available here in Hal's "Picks From the Past".

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Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass - "Even Canadians get the Blues"
Never a dull moment when the "Brass" gets your attention, as they do in this new release devoted to the Blues. The original material presented here is everything you hoped a big band would do with the "blues" theme, from Moe Koffman's clarinet reading of "The Clarinet is Black and Blue", through "Blue Tag" featuring Rob, Guido Basso and Rick Wilkins, lan McDougall's composition "Do You Mean It" (wonderful piano intro by newcomer to the band Dave Restivo), "Sixth Sense" with a quirky solo by Rob, and of course the title track which has some excellent solo's by Steve McDade on trumpet and Alex Dean on tenor. What a pleasant and "funky" surprise to hear an old friend of the band, Doug Riley on B3 Organ on "The Shuffle Boogie Swamp Groove Blue", - he should be in the band more often with this style of playing.
The CD even has the best version I have heard of our National Anthem "O Canada"; as a bonus. And many of the names you will remember are still there in the sections, Ed Bickert, Arnie Chycoski, Bob Livingston, Alastair Kay, with the injection of some new blood's Jim Vivian - Ted Warren, Kevin Turcotte, all adding up to the "Best Damn Band in the Land".

Dig the cover........

Concord Jazz label CCD-4722 To Order

Various Artist - "Jazz For Joy

Produced and arranged by Don Sickler this is a pleasant and most interesting look and listen to some of the old "Christmas Chestnuts", with a fresh approach. In various settings we hear Betty Carter, Shirley Horn, Abbey Lincoln Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, Don Sickler, Jesse Davis, Ron Blake, Mark Whitfield, Stephen Scott, Christian McBride and Billy Drummond.

If you are planning purchasing some "Christmas Cheer" in CD format, this is one you should not pass up.

VERVE label 314 531 960-2To Order

Oscar Peterson meets Roy Hargrove and Ralph Moore

Despite the debilitating stroke Oscar suffered in 1993 he still swings hard and in this meeting he proves it without hesitation. Check out his solo work, especially on "Tin Tin Deo" and "Just Friends". Seven Oscar Peterson originals plus three standards performed in a powerful and concise groove make this a welcome addition to any Oscar Peterson collection. Hargrove and Moore meet the challenge of playing with Oscar well, backed by Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen and Lewis Nash. Oscar Peterson remains in command of one of the most prolific careers in jazz.

TELARC label. CD-83399To Order

Ed Bickert - "The Guitar Mastery of Ed Bickert"

This two CD package contains material from two different periods in the career of Ed Bickert. The first recordings were made by the trio during a European tour in 1979, some tracks come from the North Sea Festival, the balance from the Montreux Festival. Don Thompson on bass and Terry Clarke on drums intertwine their talents with Ed on a mix of standards and originals much to the delight of the audience.

The second recording was made in a Vancouver studio in 1993 , just a few months before saxophonist Fraser MacPherson passed away. Fraser is present on two tracks "Gone with the Wind" and "Easy Living" and plays with much passion, but he became too weak to continue the session and his regular guitarist Oliver Gannon takes his place, thus you have two guitarists of similar interests, but this is not a cutting contest, they accompany each other and play off each other's ideas. Steve Wallace is the bassist and Barry Elmes the drummer.

DSM label DSM2-3004To Order

John Scofield - "Quiet"

As the title implies this is a relaxed mood creating session, featuring John on acoustic guitar with Wayne Shorter - tenor, Steve Swallow - bass, Bill Stewart or Duduka Da Fonseca - drums, with a brass and saxophone section backing up very much in the same vein as Gil Evans did for Miles Davis. The compositions are all originals by Scofield, except "Away with Words" by Steve Swallow, and have a strong lyrical feel about them. A bittersweet melancholy runs through the session with Shorter spinning magic along with Scofield.

VERVE label 314 533 185-2To Order

Bela Fleck - "Live Art"

A voice says "It's time", footsteps up a stairwell, another voice says "I'm nervous", then thunderous applause as the musicians step out into the spotlights and take their places on stage and begin to play. It is indeed time, but the nervousness must have disappeared because they rip into an exciting, tension building tune called "New South Africa". The jazz mandolinist Bela Fleck is once again thrilling his audience with the able assistance of his own band including Paul McCandless and special guests Chick Corea and Branford Marsalis. The brilliant musicality continues throughout two CD's and then leaves one looking for more.

WARNER BROTHERS label CDW 46247To Order

Michael Brecker - "Tales from the Hudson"

This is a joyous outing for an all star unit comprising of Brecker on tenor, Pat Metheny - guitar and synth guitar, Jack DeJohnette - drums, Dave Holland - bass and Joey Calderazzo - piano. Brecker has tremendous emotional presence on the entire programme regardless of the tempo and the rest of the band catch the fire. Take special note of Metheny's intriguing blend of the "inside and outside" in his solos and the strong undercurrent of rhythm provided by DeJohnette and Holland. McCoy Tyner and Don Alias are special guests on two tracks. The contrasting styles of each musician involved help make this a highly individual and satisfying date.

IMPULSE label WD-191To Order

Additional November "Picks"

Due to limited space and the vast number of CD's worthy of recognition this month, the following abbreviated reviews certainly should be considered as viable additions to your collection:

David Sanchez - "Street Scenes"

Saxophonist Senchez proves he has a voice that is worth listening to, on tenor or soprano. With exceptional backing, especially pianist Danilo Perez, and guests Kenny Garrett and Cassandra Wilson, this recording should be in your collection.

Columbia label CK 67627To Order

Dee Dee Bridgewater - "Prelude to a Kiss"

Wonderful vocal interpretations of music of the "Master" in this tribute to Duke Ellington. Great band too, including Wynton Marsalis, Steve Turre, Charles McPherson, Bobby Watson, Cyrus Chestnut, Jeff Hamilton and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

Philips label 446 717-2To Order

Fraser MacPherson - "Someday You'll be Sorry"

Recorded during a European tour in 1979, this is another document in the legacy left behind by the late West Coast saxophonist with his trio, Oliver Gannon - guitar and Wyatt Ruther - bass. Beautiful renditions of seven old standards in concert performances well recorded by CBC.

DSM label DSM3003To Order

Dave Liebman - "Return of the Tenor"

Usually heard on Soprano saxophone, for this recording Dave switches to Tenor backed by Tony Marion, Jamey Haddad, Phil Markowitz and Vic Juris. Dave performs a set of standards with a Coltrane/Rollins flavour. Excellent recording quality in 20 bit super mapping.

Double-Time label DTRCD-109To Order

Conrad Herwig - "New York Breed"

One of the brilliant new trombone voices heard today, Herwig's mastery of the horn is well suited to this group he has surrounded himself with - Dave Liebman shows his soprano technique along with Richie Beirach - piano, Rufus Reid - bass and Adam Nussbaum - drums. An electrifying session that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat.

Double-time label DTRCD-108To Order

Ahmad Jamal - "Big Byrd - The Essence Part 2"

The pianist who brought a new dimension to jazz interpretations of old standard tunes (remember "Poinciana") is once again heard in a trio setting making magic with a mix of standard and original compositions. Special guests Donald Byrd and Joe Kennedy Jr. join the trio for one track each.

Birdology label 533 477 2To Order

Arturo Sandoval - "Swingin"

An appropriate title indeed, the ex Cuban (Irakere band member) returns to straight ahead jazz in this outing with superb support from an assorted group of musical friends. The result is eleven tracks of exceptional jazz.

GRP label GRPD 9846To Order

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