December 1999


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

Back to Current Picks

Winard Harper Sextet - "Winard"

With inspiration of many jazz percussion greats, including Max Roach and Art Blakey, Winard carries the drum torch into the 90's. The group heard here pushes the music to the edge with vigour and obvious joy. Original charts mixed with some standard compositions performed by Patrick Rickman - trumpet, J.D.Allen - tenor, George Cables - piano, Eric Revis - bass, Abdou Mboup - percussion and the leader Winard - drums. Outstanding tracks: "Float like a Butterfly", "The Believers", "Voodoo Lady". ( H.H.)

Savant SCD 2021 to order

Regina Carter - "Rhythms of the Heart"

There are not too many jazz violinists on the scene today who can grab a listener's attention as Ms. Carter does. Montreal based Mireille Proulx is another who can, and does. Carter's choice of band associates and tunes makes this release one that captures the imagination and reveals the mastery of the instrument to the fullest. Technique and feeling are foremost, and the technique does not get in the way of the feeling. She has an abundant sense of humour that is evident in her playing and is contagious, both to the other members of the band ( Werner 'Vana' Gierig - piano, Rodney Jones - guitar, Peter Washington - bass, Lewis Nash - drums, Mayra Casales - percussion with special guests Kenny Barron - piano, Richard Bona - el bass, ac guitar, african perc, vocals, Romero Lubambo - ac guitar, Cassandra Wilson - vocals on "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone") and listeners to this CD. (H.H.)

Verve 314 547 177-2 to order

Ray Vega - "Boperation"

Energetic Latin jazz sextet led by trumpet/flugelhorn player Vega (his second CD as a leader for Concord), pay tribute to great jazz trumpet stars: Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Dorham, Fats Navarro, Howard McGhee, Dizzy Gillespie, Eddie Henderson, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis, Woody Shaw, Chet Baker, Art Farmer, Donald Byrd and Lee Morgan. For those who enjoy fiery playing, Vega's sextet reprises some major jazz standards with a variety of Latin rhythm and creative twists. (H.H.)

Concord CCD-4867-2 to order

Tom Harrell - "Time's Mirror"

This is a showcase for Harrell's consummate skill as a big band composer and arranger. Exciting charts of standards and originals, inspired solos from Harrell (tpt/fglhn), Alex Foster, Don Braden (tenor), Earl Gardner (tpt), Xavier Davis (pno), Mark Gross and Craig Bailey (alto), Conrad Herwig (tbn). Outstanding tracks include "Shapes", "Daily News", "Autumn Leaves" and "Chasin' the Bird". (H.H.)

RCA 09026 63524-2 to order

Joey DeFrancesco - "Goodfellas"

Three Italian jazz artists (Joey, Joe Ascione, Frank Vignola) put on a fresh, yet humerous approach to well known compositions, including "Volare", "Fly Me to the Moon", "O Solo Mio", "All the Way". (Get the connection?). Like valpolicelli and spaghetti, this makes for a delicious and memorable meal. Bring on the cappuccino please. (H.H.)

Concord CCD-4845-2 to order

Mike LeDonne - "Then & Now"

Pianist LeDonne is a master at composing for the classic jazz quintet, here comprising of Eric Alexander - tnr, Jim Rotundi - tpt, Peter Washington - bass and Joe Farnsworth - dms. At times sounding a little like the Horace Silver or Art Blakey bands, they swing hard and fiery as a unit, and produce solos that are both soulful and gutsy. LeDonne's earlier outing for the Criss Cross label showed much promise, here he comes very much into his own and proves to be an artist to keep an eye and ear open for future work. (H.H.)

Double-Time DTRCD-153 to order

Tom Cohen - "Diggin In - Digging Out"

Drummer Cohen leads a quartet with Chris Potter - alto, Peter Madsen - pno, Peter Herbert - bass through nine tracks, five written by Madsen. The other four represents Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Sigmund Romberg, to make this a most adventurous recording. Full of surprises and obvious joy, the band is very tight and has an infectious sound. There is a noticeable impact on Cohen's playing by the late Tony Williams (he studied with Tony in 1972). (H.H.)

Double - Time DTRCD-150 to order

Jim Snidero - "The Music of Joe Henderson"

Jamey Aebersold's label Double-Time is well known for being hard hitting, and this particular session is further proof of that claim. Alto saxophonist Snidero chose to highlight the music of Henderson and surrounded himself with some exceptional talent to further explore the charts of one of the world's most important tenor players. With Joe Magnarelli - tpt, Conrad Herwig - tbn, Dave Hazeltime - pno, Dennis Irwin - bass and Kenny Washington - dms, Snidero performs some of Henderson's well known compositions: "Serenity", "Punjab", "Inner Urge", "Recorda-Me", "Black Narcissus" and some not so well known: "If", "Step Lightly" and "Afro-Centric". Stellar musicianship by all concerned, serving as a distinctive complement to Joe Henderson. (H.H.)

Double-Time DTRCD-152 to order

Dave Santoro - " Standards Band"

Bassist Santoro with Jerry Bergonzi - tnr, Bruce Barth - pno and Tom Melito - dms display some new challenges on old standards. There is a persistent feeling throughout this recording that nothing more than intellect and a deep love for the music were involved in each performance. Bergonzi's tone will impress certain fans of the tenor, especially those who are familiar with Warne Marsh and John Coltrane. Barth is, as always, captivating in his solo work. Melito keeps steady time, and listens attentively to the rest of the band. Santoro provides strong and impeccable time and intonation, and his solos are imaginative. Personal composition favourites "Time After Time", "Stairway to The Stars" and "For All We Know". (H.H.)

Double-Time DTRCD-151 to order

Eric Alexander - "Man with a Horn"

Recorded in early 1997 and released that year in Japan, where it was a best seller, this CD has finally been made available to North American audiences. The centrepiece of this superb album is Alexander's "Unsung Hero", 'a modal tune with an infectious vamp' (liner), with Alexander really stretching out. The tune refers to another saxophone giant, Eddie Harris. The band consists of Cedar Walton - pno, Dwayne Burno - bass, Joe Farnsworth - dms plus special guests Jim Rotondo - tpt and Steve Davis - tbn, on 3 of the 9 tracks. Between the compositions and contributions of the musicians involved, this makes for a beautiful recording. (H.H.)

Milestone MCD-9293-2 to order

Bob Brookmeyer & the New Art Orchestra - "New Works"

Brookmeyer has, in any setting, always impressed me with his playing, writing and arranging. This recording is another of his "shining example" projects. The recording debut of the New Art Orchestra (an 18-piece ensemble created and directed by Brookmeyer) is another challenging episode in his remarkable musical career. The recording gets under way with a four-part suite "Celebration" featuring some outstanding solo work by Scott Robinson on baritone sax. This composition was written for and played by Gerry Mulligan at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Lubeck, Germany in 1994.

"Idyll" was written for Lee Konitz, and is a melancholy ballad with a beautiful solo by Brookmeyer, plus Kris Goessens - pno and Nils Van Haften - tnr. "Duets" was commissioned for the West German Radio (WDR), as a piece for the WDR big band and features solos by Jurgin Grimm - synthesizer, Paul Heller - tnr and John Hollenbeck - dms. "Cameo", another WDR project features Brookmeyer in a reflective mood. The closer "Boom Boom" was commissioned by Danish Radio as the last movement of the "Danish Suite". Brookmeyer opens up the composition and soon sets a joyful mood for the band to latch on to. Check the trumpet solo by Ralf Hesse…… This recording is guaranteed to leave you breathless and enraptured by the 'freedom to create without boundaries' that Bob Brookmeyer has placed in this wonderful musical innovation. (H.H.)

Challenge CHR 70066 to order