February 2004


Kollage - "Fine Print"

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Led by drummer Archie Alleyne and tenor man Doug Richardson, "One of Canada's most innovative and exciting hard-bop quintets…" is, as the name suggests, a blend of various musical influences. Other members include bassist Ron Johnston, Cuban trumpeter Alexis Baro, and pianist/arranger Michael Shand. Only several years in existence, Kollage has already gained considerable prominence in Toronto clubs and at Ontario jazz festivals with drummer Alleyne remaining "…a vigorous champion of jazz even as he approaches his 70th birthday…". Selections on this CD are originals composed by members of the quintet. Alleyne provides the impetus throughout, driving the sax, piano and trumpet from the opening "Just Another Tune", setting the rocking rhythm behind their exchanges with "Trane Schedule" or "Fine Print", pacing the subtleties of "Downtown Brown" or the balladic "Please Believe Me". Soloists are confidently cohesive, crisp and spirited, making this a compelling disc artfully capturing a strong sense of spontaneity and inventiveness. J.S.

Jazz FM91

Jeri Brown - "Firm Roots"

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Jeri's 9th album for Justin Time includes performances by pianist Tony Suggs, bassist Avery Sharpe, drummer Wali Muhammad, saxophonist Seamus Blake, percussionist Andre Martin, and cellist Erich Kory, supporting her richly sensuous vocal stylings on "new songs for her repertoire" as well as those more familiar. What she seeks is a balance of "…good songs full of timely meanings and skillful musicians sensitive to the task". Many of the songs give rise to those thought-provoking concepts important to the singer: Ron Paley's "What is Life?", Anthony Newley's "What the World Needs Now", Cedar Walton's "The Root of Life", her own "Life's Journey". Her voice expresses a vast range of emotions in clear, sensitive, heartfelt delivery. Though touches of Sarah Vaughan/Betty Carter are present, she retains an approach that is decidedly Jeri Brown's own styling. J. S.

Justin Time JUST 184-2

Roy Hargrove - "Presents the RH Factor - Hard Groove"

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First you invite some friends with a generous dash of talent, such as Steve Coleman, Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, Cornell Dupree and others. Then you get some poetry, a little rap, some hip-hop, and an over-abundance of keyboard and horn improvisations, mix in a free-style groove, shake, pour, listen and enjoy.

This is the very essence of "Hard Groove", the latest offering by Roy Hargrove. The fourteen-programme recording represents a new musical vision and direction for Roy, who is a hard-bop oriented straight ahead player, known for his fiery solos. Although I musty admit, this is not my cup of tea, "Hard Groove" is a well played, well recorded neo-soul jazz project, that is laden with funk, sultry hip-hop, sometimes a touch of R&B and of course, excitement.

Among the highlights, is the entertaining singing of Grammy winner Erykah Badu, the nice mellow guitar grooves of Cornell Dupree, and Roy's ever present meticulous horn riffs and intricate keyboard playing. "Hard Groove" is a most enjoyable recording, where versatility has been greatly up-lifted by the talents of all the contributing musicians. (C.S.)

Verve 4400651922

Eddie Henderson - "So What"

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For those who are not familiar with trumpeter Eddie Henderson, you may be surprised to know that he is a Medical Doctor, who instead of treating people with medicine, prefers to heal their souls through the medium of the jazz trumpet. After studying the trumpet at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music he worked with John Handy and Joe Henderson. However it was as an active member of the Herbie Hancock Sextet that he gained some prominence. He was one of the many trumpeters who were strongly influenced by Miles Davis; therefore it is of no surprise that this CD is a collection of tunes that are associated with the Great One.

There is a nice feeling about this recording with "straight from the heart" playing by Henderson, and with ample help by a "taking care of business" rhythm section led by pianist David Kikoski. There are nine selections on the CD, four of which have the presence of the late tenor saxophonist Bob Berg, whose breathtaking solo on the opening track "Prince of Darkness", serves to set the mood. He can be heard also on "So What", "All Blues" and " 'Round Midnight". Ed Howard is the bassist throughout, and Billy Hart and Victor Lewis share the drum chair. Although all the music presented here is a representation of Miles Davis 60's repertoire, it is interesting to note that there is no likeness to the original recordings. A statement that speaks greatly of Henderson's creativity and originality. Simply stated, this is indeed a very satisfying and worthwhile selection of jazz classics, presented in Henderson's own style. C.S.

Columbia CK 87172

Bobby Timmons - "The Prestige Trio Sessions"

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Philadelphia born pianist BobbyTimmons was a Bud Powell inspired bebop player, who over the years became famous for his gospel and funky blues clichés, so much so, that his bebop skills were almost forgotten. His versatile, soulful and churchy playing leaves no doubt as to which side of the musical spectrum he was on. Timmons was at the vanguard of the soul-jazz movement of the late 50's and early 60's, and although he may be partly forgotten today, he was to a degree responsible for the commercial success of both Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and Cannonball Adderley's Quintet. He wrote such tunes as "Dat Dere", "This Here" and the classic "Moanin' ". The tracks on this release are a combination of two long out of print Prestige albums: "Little Barefoot Soul" and "Chun-King".

On the former, he leads a trio with drummer Ray Lucas and bassist Sam Jones; the latter has Albert 'Tootie' Heath on drums and Keter Betts - bass. There are five original Timmons compositions including the opening track "Little Barefoot Soul", which starts without his participation but finally turns into a swinging hard bop number. For the most part both sessions are very up-tempo and bluesy, except for the traditional "Nobody knows the Trouble I've Seen" (a solo piano performance) and "Someone to Watch over Me" on which Timmons displays some very strong emotional and soulful playing. C.S.

Prestige PRCD 24227-2

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