July 2004


Each month we provide a series of CD reviews plus "Star Rated" items.

You can listen to clips of some of our picks. You'll need a RealAudio Player to do this, and you can download by clicking on the following icon:

Our reviewing staff members are:

Sean Bray: Sean is a guitarist based in Toronto, Canada. He studied at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music, leads his own group, and has four CD's released under his own name, and has performed at numerous concerts and club dates. You can visit Sean's site at www.seanbray.com.

John Sutherland: John has a keen interest in piano jazz and brings with him a wealth of knowledge in this area.

Robert Fogle: Rob is Director of Musical Services for Fogle Entertainment in Toronto, as well he hosts his own radio programme on CHRY-FM (105.5). His background as a fan, in jazz music is extensive, and he is a serious collector of all genres of the music.

Colin Smith: Colin began his interest in jazz in his native Jamaica, and since settling in Toronto has become more involved in the music he loves. He is the school programme director for the Markham Jazz Festival and hosts his own jazz show on CKLN-FM (88.1).

By way of identification, reviewer's initials are inserted at the end of each review.

Previous Picks

Zoot Sims with the Joe Castro Trio

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Zoot Sims never made a recording that was less than good. This particular recording is his fourth on alto instead of his usual tenor. At the time of the recording, April 1st, 1956, the 31 year old Zoot, his big band years behind him was now a highly recognized swinging tenor player, a jobbing musician travelling the world playing with various rhythm sections in whatever town he had a gig.
We have pianist Joe Castro to thank for inviting Zoot along to record at a private recording studio, which was also used by many West Coast veterans such as Stan Getz and members of the Stan Kenton Orchestra. The studio was owned by Castro and wife Doris Duke, and was located in their mansion at Falcon Lair.
The set starts off with a swinging version of "Night in Tunisia", followed by "Pennies from Heaven" and "I'll See You in my Dreams". On "It's Always You" the tempo slows down a little for this Van Heusen-Burke tune. The CD consists of mostly of standards, the exceptions being "Blues for Nat", "Swinging with Rudolph" and "J.C.Blues", which Joe Castro wrote. He is a more than adequate pianist and both bassist Leroy Vinnegar, who has his share of walking solos, and drummer Ron Jefferson keep things moving along nicely.
Admirers of Zoot will enjoy this recording and will instantly realize it is yet another swinger from the late Mr.Sims (died March 23, 1985).
The recording is quite acceptable and the liner notes most informative. B.E.

Pablo PACD 2310-977-2

Ken Peplowski – “Easy to Remember”

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This CD starts off with a vocal and piano styling of Bobby Short on the title track “ Easy to Remember”, followed by a very melodic Ken Peplowski on clarinet. This sets the mood for a very laid back session. But to say this is late night music with a good book and your favourite bottle of wine, would be doing the CD an injustice. Not that the aforementioned should be ignored. Whether on clarinet or tenor Peplowski has the ability to get inside a tune and make it his own, at any tempo. With tunes from Ellington, “Single Petal of a Rose”, Cole Porter’s “Everything I Love”, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Louisa”, Billy Strayhorn’s “Love Came”, and other major composers, you know you are in for some magic.

Mention should be made of Joe Cohn (Al Cohn’s son), who is an excellent guitarist, and of Ted Rosenthal, whose credentials go back to Gerry Mulligan’s last Quartet. Whether comping or soloing, both of these musicians make great contributions to the music heard here.

Kim Liggert sings “Junk”, a tune written by Paul McCartney. Kim is a Kansas City Diva with one CD to her credit, but her voice is hard to classify from one small hearing on this particular CD.

The bonus track “High on You” was written by Al Cohn gets into a really good groove where everyone has the opportunity to stretch out.

The sound on this recording is of the usual high quality we have come to expect from Nagel-Heyer, and there are some enlightening liner notes by Ken Peplowski.

This is a worthy addition to your Peplowski library. B.E.

Nagel Heyer 2043

David Sanborn - "Time Again"

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Alto saxophonist David Sanborn leads a group of talented musicians that include Steve Gadd - drums, Christian McBride - bass, Russell Malone - guitar, Mike Mainieri - vibes, Randy Brecker - trumpet/flugelhorn, Gil Goldstein -piano through a selection of familiar pop and jazz standards. Some compositions were previously made popular by other artists, for example: "Comin' Home Baby" was a great success for flutist Herbie Mann, while "Harlem Nocturne" has the dubious honour for being the most popular theme songs for many television shows.
Sanborn can easily be described as one of the most influential musicians of recent time. He has a distinctive sound, that is extremely passionate, his sustained, sometimes crying high notes can be described by some, as uplifting, or by others as absolutely boring.
This recording is one with many highlights; the musicians worked well together, and at any given time, are fully aware of each other's involvement. Duke Pearson's "Cristo Redentor" is given a new treatment, with the help of some very well arranged background voices. I rather like the funky feel on "Tequila" which is helped along nicely by the superb playing of percussionist Louis Quintero. This is a pleasant recording with all the necessary elements required to suit diverse needs. I have no doubt the many Sanborn fans will readily embrace it.

Verve 4400655782

Howard Alden/Bucky Pizzarelli - “In a Mellow Tone”.

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Guitarists Alden and Pizzarelli, both swinging on 7-string instruments, are as compatible harmonically and melodically as a Klingon mind meld. They switch roles from chordal to single string virtuosity with ease, yet this was the first occasion that they had recorded together. With the exception of the original “Blues for Emmett”, the duo offer a wealth of classic numbers from Ellington’s “Do Nothing ‘Till You Hear From Me”, Claude Thornhill’s “Snowfall”, Ray Noble’s “Cherokee” and “The Very Thought of You”, Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz”, to standards such as “Moonglow” and “What’s New?”. Alden’s solos with Bix’s “In the Dark” and “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” are a testament to the scope of the 7-string guitar. J.S.

Concord CCD 2207-2

Jim Cullum Jazz Band – “Super Satch”

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Jim Cullum Jazz Band – “Fireworks”

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The Jim Cullum Jazz Band, solidly based in San Antonio, Texas, has been pleasing audiences with its traditionally hot ensemble playing for over 35 years. It has released numerous recordings, and has achieved worldwide recognition as one of the best traditional bands at home and abroad, significantly linked to the constancy of its personnel during that time.
The Stomp Off disc, Super Satch (1986), as the title suggests, is a tribute to numbers made famous by Louis Armstrong, not to imitate Louis but to serve as inspirational touchstones to his genius. The band’s reinterpretations are delightful in their fervour and insightfulness, with the front-line tandem of Cullum - cornet, Allan Vache - clarinet, and Ed Hubble - trombone leading the way on “Potato Head Blues”, “Hustlin’ and Bustlin’ for Baby”, or “SOL Blues”. Highlights include the piano/bass/banjo triumvirate stepping out from the ensemble with “Fireworks”, and the group’s handling of “Weather Bird Rag” with everyone given an individual role to play.

The live broadcasts – Riverwalk - from The Landing, a band-owned jazz club along San Antonio’s Riverwalk, began in 1988 and continue, with over 1000 performances already aired across the country and abroad. “This CD contains the cream….” From 1988 to 1995, with special guests invited to share their talents with the long-time performers in the band. It’s a heady line-up, with the likes of Dick Hyman – piano, Clark Terry – vocal/flugelhorn, Lionel Hampton – vibes, and vocalists Joe Williams and Linda Hopkins added to the mix. Terry does his “Mumbles” routine to the audience’s delight, and Linda Hopkins offers a classic rendition of Handy’s “St. Louis Blues”. An historic recording of “Doin’ the New Low-Down” (1928 – with Don Redman & Bojangles) shifts seamlessly to the present group with dancer Savion Glover picking up the rhythmic tap of the early master. The disc serves as an excellent introduction to the entire series. J.S.

“Super Satch” - Stomp Off 1148
“Fireworks” - Riverwalk RWCD-6

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