April 2001


World Saxophone Quartet - "25th Anniversary - The New Chapter"

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The New York Times called the World Saxophone Quartet "The most original and important group to emerge since John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman redefined the art of group improvisation in the late 50's. Originally the group consisted of David Murray, Julius Hemphill, Hamiet Bluiett and Oliver Lake, all competent and established musicians in their own right. The WSQ began performing as a group in 1976. Since then they were voted best jazz group in Playboy's Reader's Poll, and have been consistent in the top group listings in the Downbeat's Annual Critics Poll.

The WSQ is a free Jazz Ensemble that has managed to attract and maintain a large and diverse following and has toured extensively throughout the United States, Japan and Europe captivating audiences with their artistry, breadth of repertoire and diversity of compositional material. This new release "The New Chapter", the sixth recording on the Justin Time label, marks 25 years, and a creation of more than 20 recordings.

This is, indeed a fine recording by the masters of free spirit and the avante-garde. Their best offering for quite some time, and is highly deserving of a place in everyone's collection. There are seven tunes on this CD, most are original compositions by members of the group. The exception being, the traditional "Goin' Home", a tune attributed to the classical composer Dvorak. David Murray included the composition mainly because of it's importance to black people, as their hymn of choice. Murray's haunting tenor solo of sombre lines, and solemn tones, truly indicates the compositions significance.

The CD opens with the R&B influenced "Suki Suki Now", a very crisp, and soulful sound with a seventies feel to it. "Bits n' Pieces" and "Over A Cloud" show Bluiett's versatility as a composer and his fondness with Funk and Blues elements.

From the strident saxophone of Oliver Lake,the soulful R&B blends of David Murray,and the incorporation of conventional bop and free jazz playing of Hamiet Bluiett, the WSQ has demonstrated once again, why they are worthy of all the accolades and fan adoration.

This CD is a winner, totally unique in every way,the addition of multi-instrumentalist John Purcell has most certainly brought a new philosphy and flexibility to the group, a valued combination that contributes very well to the beginning of the New Chapter. CS

Justin Time JUST 149-2

Assorted Artists - "The World of Swing"

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This recent CD re-releases the 20 numbers from a 1974 2XLP pot pourri of swinging aggregations from 1932 to 1965. The selections, chosen personally by the noted jazz historian/critic Stanley Dance, give recognition to many recordings destined, perhaps unwittingly, for obscurity. Arranged in chronological sequence, they "...show the changes in band instrumentation, tempos, arrangements and soloistic conceptions" (Stanley Dance). Three bonus tracks augment the original issue. Though individual solosits in the bands were often not accorded the recognition given to the more celebrated leaders, they were nevertheless the key to the bands' exciting drive and popularity. Listen to the bittersweet trombone of Benny Morton on "I Got Rhythm" (Don Redman), the pianistic sylings of Billy Kyle with "Effervescent Blues" (John Kirby), or the propulsive accents of drummer Dave Tough on "Scarecrow" (Benny Goodman). Dance's original liner notes are detailed and insightful. JS

Columbia CK 66080

Tracey Wilkins - "Bird of Paradise"

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Tracey Wilkins has an exciting and immediately pleasing vocal style that welcomes you to relax, listen and enjoy the music. On this, her third recording, she sings the lyrics of the late reggae icon, Bob Marley. For many years, Marley's music has been recorded by many jazz musicians, the likes of Monty Alexander and Courtney Pine, who immediately come to mind. This CD "Bird of Paradise" represents the first time Marley's music has been recorded by a jazz singer.

I love this CD, it's such wonderful music, from the very cheerful and soothing opener "Two Little Birds" to the earnest and solemn "Redemption Song". The cultural, happy and social elements of the music is maintained throughout, thanks to some clever and ingenious arrangements by Andy Ballantyne and Paul Ashwell.

Tracey is accompanied by a stellar tentet, which is sometimes given to an individual display of brilliance, as is the case on "Natural Mystic" and "Redemption Song". Collectively, they provide the rhythmic ingredients, exchanges and playfullness that allows Tracey to shine through with a well-crafted, well executed performance. Far removed from the environment that influenced Marley's lyrics, Tracey's musical understanding, phrasing, and interpretation is delivered with sincerity and passion.

This is indeed a fine presentation by a good jazz singer, backed by a fine and talented group of Canadian musicians. Sure proof that music has no borders, "Bird of Paradise" is without any doubt, a prime example. Pick it up, and enjoy. CS

Khalanoo KPI-001

Renee Rosnes - "With A Little Help From My Friends"

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I first saw the Regina, Saskatchewan native inthe early 1990's. She had signed with Blue Note and was about to be married.

Over the past decade Renee Rosnes has become one of the heavyweights of the ivories.

This album, sums up many of her recording accomplishments in the 90's and features the 'whose who' in the jazz world. Her husband, drummer Billy Drummond, shows up on seven of the ten selections, along with reedmen Joe Henderson, Walt Weiskopf, Chris Potter, Branford Marsalis, Steve Wilson and Wayne Shorter. Ira Coleman, Buster Williams, Peter Washington, Scott Colley, Ron Carter and Christian McBride share the bass positions, and Al Foster, Don Alias, Lewis Nash and Jack De Johnette are the drummers.

A bonus is vocalist Dianne Reeves singing the mellow "Lazy Afternoon". Four tracks are previously un-released, "The Sounds Around the House", "Gargoyles", "With a Little Help from my Friends" and "So In Love". Overall a classy recording by a classy lady. RF

Blue Note 7 2435 26584 2 8

Regina Carter - "Motor City Moments"

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This recording is violinist Regina Carter's tribute to the rich and varied musical contributions that Detroit has given the world. The Motor City has produced a lot of heavy musicians over time, jazz giants like Paul Chambers, Tommy Flanagan, the Jones family (Elvin, Thad and Hank), Kenny Burrell, and many others like Regina herself as well as James Carter and Marcus Belgrave, who appear on this recording. Motown was also a huge musical movement that defined a generation and influenced many musicians after. "Motor City Moments" pays tribute to Motown artists Stevie Wonder "Higher Ground" with African rhythms, Marvin Gaye "Don't Mess with Mr. T", from the film "Trouble Man", to the jazz musicians like Milt Jackson, Lucky Thompson, Thad Jones and Barry Harris. Regina also contributes two originals expressing her thoughts and feelings of growing up in Detroit. Stand out tracks are "The Love Theme from Spartacus" with Marcus Belgrave playing a beautiful flugelhorn solo, and "Higher Ground". Regina Carter is certainly an artist to watch, because if "Motor City Moments" is any indication, this violinist has a lot of music inside her. Musical guests include guitarist Russell Malone, drummer Lewis Nash and pianist Barry Harris. SB

Verve 314 543 927-2

Pat Metheny Trio - "Live"

This is the second recording that has been made available of this fantastic trio. Metheny along with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Bill Stewart make a lot of music together on this double CD. Metheny uses an arsenel of stringed instruments including a 42 stringed 'Pikkaso guitar', a fretless 12 string, guitar synth, and his usual electric and acoustic guitars. The added guitars really create a lot of different timbres to the trio. There is plenty of room for everyone to make a statement and the leader is not selfish with solo space. Some old Metheny favourites are re-visited such as "Bright Size Life" and "Question and Answer", on which he starts the tune playing his electric guitar and on the last half of the tune he switches to his synth guitar, which he has used to great effect over the years. He also plays his composition "James", which was actually somewhat of a radio hit in the early 80's. The standard "All the Things You Are" and Coltrane's "Giant Steps" also get a thorough work out. I hope he doesn't shelve this trio because I think they work very well as a unit. This belongs in your CD collection. SB

Warner Bros. 9 47907-2

Michael Marcus - "Sun Wheels"

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Michael Marcus is a unique soloist. He started on the R&B scene with the likes of Albert King and Bobby "Blue" Bland in the late 1970's.

Since his debut recording "Under the Wire " in 1990 he has performed concerts around the world. He is one of the few reed men playing a stritch ( a straight alto), and the straight tenor.

I had trouble with the opener "Eternal All", a bit too Colemanesque for my ears, Marcus offers a prayer. "The Zenith" in 3/4 time accordingly celebrates being alive "Pinball" is terrific, in the Charlie Parker tradition, Rahn Burton shines on Hammond B3. Other highlights of the ten original compositions, are the very funky "Sunwheels", "Midtown Sojourn" withthe tasteful rhythms of Carlos "Patao" Valdes on congas, and a duet on "Moonvoices" with Patao.

My favourite is the final selection, "We Are, Now", the fourth member of the quartet, drummer Nasheet Waits stands out on this with his exceptional rhythmic feel. RF

Justin Time JUST 156-2

John Scofield - "Works For Me"

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This new recording by the perennial guitar poll winner is a return to his swing oriented jazz. He has enlisted alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, who also likes his jazz outlook wide based, having played with Miles' funk bands of the late 80's, pianist Brad Mehldau, who I personally think is one of the heaviest musicians to come down the pike in a long time, Christian McBride on bass, and the late, great Billy Higgins on drums. This CD has the usual twists and quirks of a Scofield recording and is a very satisfying listen. His "Not You Again" is a melody based on the changes to "There Will Never Be Another You", with a humerous tongue-in-cheek title. The front line of guitar and alto sax works very well as I think the two instruments blend very well. Each musician really shines and certainly contribute to the CD's success, and I recommend it highly. Scofield is once again at the top of his game, his solos always have that 'on the edge of your seat' recklessness about them, but delivered by a highly advanced musical mind who is not afraid of adding some other influences into the mix. SB

Verve 314 549 281-2

Joe Venuti - "Never Before...Never Again"

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Legendary violinist Joe Venuti is joined here by guitarist (vocalist/actor/arranger/composer) Tony Romano whose jazz roots go back almost as far.Their mutual friendship, begun on a 1937 playing date, extended right up to Joe's passing in 1978. It was Venuti who gave Tony one of his most treasured gifts - Eddie Lang's custom-made Gibson L5 acoustic guitar. It is that instrument that Tony plays on this 1954 studio recording, an impromptu session put together by Johnny Mercer, an undertaking "...created with the assistance of 1 microphone, 2 bottles of red wine, 4 hot pepper sandwiches, and about 40 of Joe's friends...". As well, 5 bonus tracks (recorded 1953) include vocalist Romano with piano, bass, drums and trombone (on 4 cuts), and an extended interview by the performer. Venuti's exhuberance is matched by his one-of-a-kind "...stunning technique, assured swing, exquisite intonation..."; Romano proves himself a consummate accompanist, as well as a gifted singer. JS

Just A Memory JAM 9127-2

Jeri Brown - "Image in the Mirror"

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Missouri born, Jeri Brown has been based in Halifax for many years. She performed with some of the jazz world greats, including Dizzy Gillespie, Ellis Marsalis and Billy Taylor.

Her eighth recording for Justin Time takes us on a musical journey conceived and produced by the songstress.

Moody love songs, some a bit darker than my ear is attuned to, but neverheless in a style that allows Ms. Brown's terrific range, wide exposure on the eleven selections.

The late Milton Sealey composed "The Triptych" and is featured on piano adding a vocal to the Epilogue song "Lonesome Child", drummer Grady Tate also sings on two tracks, whilst bassist Avery Sharpe keeps the beat going. RF

Justin Time JUST 151-2

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