April 2003


Ry Cooder-Manuel Galban - "Mambo Sinuendo"

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This is Ry Cooder of the Buena Vista Social Club's first record in 15 years as producer/leader. He has fused late 50's Cuban and American pop in collaboration with legendary Cuban guitarist Manuel Galban. Most of the album was actually recorded in Havana.

The 50's hit parade composition, Prez Prado's "Patricia" is given a brand new coat. "Mambo Sinuendo" features a hit parade favourite, guest trumpet man Herb Alpert and "Secret Love", a Doris Day hit parader is presented with some nice guitar work from Mr. Galban. Special mention must go to two members of the rhythm section, Miguel "Anga" Diaz - congas and Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez - bass. These two members hold things together. The old pro, Galban shines throughout and a special word must be said about the multi-talented Ry Cooder's musical prowess, he is heard playing guitar, steel guitar, tres, vibes, electric piano and organ.

Nonesuch / Pero Verde 2-79691

Kenny Garrett - "KG Standard of Language"

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A Miles Davis Alumnus and winner of numerous awards in recent years, Kenny Garrett's latest release opens with a burning version, possibly too burning, of Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love", a selection that Charlie Parker re-wrote many times. He slows to half speed for track two, "Kurita Sensei", the first of nine originals by Garrett. "Native Tongue" has an island feel' to it. Other than "Just a Second to Catch my Breath", a nice enough ballad, most of the rest of the recording is typical of what we have come to expect from the 'new breed' of jazz musician. Call me a square, but I still like to hear an artist interpret the "Great American Songbook", or at least be melodic. Garrett is indeed a fine player, but there is no original formula here. He was in Toronto, Ontario for the 50th anniversary of the famous Charlie Parker-Dizzy Gillespie Massey Hall Concert of 1953. This album is an extension of that concert, which held no surprises.

Personel: Garrett - alto & soprano saxophones, Vernell Brown - piano, Charnett Moffett - bass, Chris Dave - drums, Eric Harland - drums on "Standard of Language". R.F.

Warner Bros 48404-2

Anna Callahan - "My Ideal"

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Anna Callahan is a quadruple threat; she has a very entertaining approach to vocalizing, plays a most respectable flugelhorn/trumpet and proves that her writing skills have been well crafted with some catchy arrangements.

The trumpet/vocal combination goes back to at least Louis Armstrong, and horn man Chet Baker also presented the double duty with much success. Ms. Callahan is showing us how it's done in the 21st century.

This debut recording draws from many decades of great musical composition. "The Moon Looks Down and Laughs" written by Kalmar, Silvers and Ruby, a Billie Holiday staple from the late 30's. "I've Never Been In Love Before" a Frank Loesser tune from Guys and Dolls are given the special Callahan treatment. Jobim's "Triste" gives way for some pleasant instrumental work.

Three other standards and five well thought out originals complete a terrific album. Special notice must be taken of pianist Karen Hammack, another new name to me; she provides some very sensitive accompaniment. R.F.

For more information on Anna Callahan visit www.annacallahan.com

Angharad Records

Pat Coil - "True North"

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I first saw Pat Coil in the late 1970's or early 1980's playing piano in the Woody Herman Band. His musical beginnings go back much further however, when he was a boy, Stan Kenton hid him behind some drum cases underneath the piano at what turned out to be a very memorable concert for the young aspiring musician.

Coil has also worked with, among others, Carmen McRae, Nancy Wilson, Barry Manilow, Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick, Bette Midler and Pat Metheny, and he has also written for many top movie and TV projects.

This album "True North" shows the compositional side of the pianist. Recorded in 2002, the eight selections reflect the many moods of Pat.

"Skeets", written for a Cleveland pianist, swings quite freely; "The Last Session" reflects his farewell to L.A. and its TV/Film work, en route to Nashville. "The Edge" was composed for Scott Henderson when Pat was a member of his band; never recorded before, it is a romper. "Sco" Is a tribute to, whom else, a Coil favourite, guitarist John Scofield. "Waltz for C" is for his wife Colleen.

"Hang Time" is for all of the friends that he has made in his lifetime, especially the musicians. "True North" inspired by a Steven Covey book, shows Pat's spirituality. This disc has its fair share of versatility and lots of enjoyable twists and turns. R.F.

Liberty Hill Music 44167 02682

Chucho Valdes - "Fantasia Cubana"

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During the 70's/80's, pianist-composer Valdes led one of Cuba's most popular bands Irakere with "…smooth arrangements and ear to the dance floor….intelligent insight into Afro-American and Afro-Cuban music…. The best in conservatoire-trained players……" (Wire: October 1986). Musicians such as Paquito D'Rivera and Arturo Sandoval graced its ranks. In February 2002, Valdes was given the rare opportunity to record a solo album, supervised by the renowned producer Max Wilcox. The repertoire was to be partially classical (Debussy, Ravel, Chopin) as well as by Cuban composers, including his own compositions. Wilcox was "….stunned by the inventiveness, drama and poetry of his music making". His breadth of vision and insightful interpretations of the classics are memorable on this 2002 solo release. His ease of transitions from the dramatic power at the keyboard "Tumbao", to a delicately unfolding lyricism of "La Campesina", or the sudden incorporation of free-wheeling Tatum-like runs "My Reverie"/"Impromptu" are testament to his inexhaustible virtuosity and dexterity. Highly recommended. J.S.

Blue Note 57189

Chet Baker - "Oh You Crazy Moon"

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Yet another Chet Baker album!

This 1978 recording made for German radio offers some excellent work from the latter part of the trumpet/vocalist' career.

There are only six selections on the CD, but the shortest is just under nine minutes in length. "The Touch Of Your Lips" a 1930's ballad is the opener and is strictly a vocal showcase for Baker, no trumpet solos on this one. Wayne Shorter's "Beautiful Black Eyes" is a hard swinging bossa nova; Chet is at his best, showing great technique and maturity. "Oh You Crazy Moon", the title track, was actually the first collaboration between songsmiths Burke and Van Huesen and a part of Chet's repertoire for an age. Pianist Phil Markowitz adds nicely to the vocal on this one.

The Quartet, Baker, Markowitz, bassist Scott Lee and drummer Jeff Brillinger have turns on Cole Porter's "Love For Sale". A wispy version of "Once Upon a Summertime", written by Michel LeGrand is next on this excellent recording. And finally, what else but "My Funny Valentine" (Chet's signature tune). The audience reacts immediately to Mr. B's vocal version of the standard he first recorded as a member of the Gerry Mulligan Quartet in 1952. R.F.

Enja-Justin Time JENJ 3304-2

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