June 1999


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

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Kiwi Jazz Pack (6CD's) - various labels
(Music from New Zealand (90's)

RealAudio Sample

This 6-pack from New Zealand certainly opens doors to the unknown. Unfamiliar recording labels abound as well – Parachute/Jazz Yellow Eye/Zulu/Southbound/Odd/Pagan. However, the performances, chiefly from the 90’s, capture a broad stylistic agenda ranging from the slightly funky, multi-paced, Latin-tinged excursions of Bluetrain to the moody, low-key, bluesy elements of Bluespeak with Greg Johnson’s Chet Baker-like vocal/trumpet explorations. Then there’s the Nairobi Trio, treading a narrow path between folk and jazz, full of textural surprises and subtle mood shifts, or the tightly-knit group, Sustenance, with tricky tempo changes led by sinewy reedman, Colin Hemmingsen, and loose, zestful instrumental/vocal excursions by Strange Fruit, highlighted with Barbara Cartwright’s throaty" Mr.Khool", and an impressionistic "Warsaw 5 A M". Add to this the high-spirited Wellington-based aggregation, C.L.Bob, light-hearted and klezmer-like "Cartoon Donkey", expressively tender "Jane", with occasional Lester Bowie flourishes "Endings", and one can readily see jazz, in its many guises, is alive and well down under. With very few exceptions, all compositions are original. Graham Reid’s liner notes are brief but rewarding to the uninformed. (J.S.)

C.L.BobEye 015
BluetrainParachute PMD 01
Strange FruitOdd 2
Nairobi TrioZulu GCD 001
SustenanceSouthbound SD o1
BluespeakPagan PACD 1099

World Saxophone Quartet - "M’Bizo"

RealAudio Sample
Recorded in Paris (1998), the WSQ dedicates this music (compositions by saxophonist David Murray) to all musicians who had to leave their homeland. Sandwiched between the swelling rhythms and percussively-driven voices/saxes of the opening "cautionary tale for children" ("Snanapo"), and the strong yet tender melodic lines of "Matshidiso", lies the heart of the music – a three-part suite ("M’Bizo"), inspired by the late South African bassist, Johnny Dyani, commissioned for inclusion in the Carnavalcade during the 1998 celebrations for the World Cup of Soccer in Paris. An infectious blend of many moods, it reflects a mosaic of South African roots, gospel and jazz, with earthy vocal choruses balanced against spontaneous saxophone explosions, concluding in a high- spirited, carnival-like atmosphere of gyrating rhythms. Indeed, this music is "…very accessible" to any whose tastes favour excitement, drama, propulsion as necessary ingredients. (J.S.)

Justin Time JUST 123-2 to order

Alex Pangman - "They Say"

RealAudio Sample
This stunning debut by 22-year-old swing vocalist Alex Pangman will knock your socks off! Alex sings like an angel on classic American songs from the 20’s and 30’s, originally recorded by Billie Holiday and Annette Hanshaw. Stellar backing musicians include Jeff Healey – trumpet/guitar, Steve Mellor – clarinet, Richard Sudhalter – trumpet/cornet, John Royan – piano, Colin Bray – bass and Steve Torrico – drums. Ardour, gorgeous tones and imagination capture fifteen songs including "Sing You Sinners", "Daddy Won’t you Please Come Home", "Let yourself Go", "I’ll Never Say ‘Never Again’ Again, "Three Little Words" and "After You’ve Gone". A beautifully recorded jewel from Canada’s Sweetheart of Swing". (D.W.)

Sensation 769 748 018-2 to order

Nando Michelin - "Art"

RealAudio Sample
Based on the premise that "Visual art and music are reciprocally inspirational" (liner), Uruguayan pianist Nando Michelin weaves a musical collage of 9 compositions, personal responses to artists/paintings that have special meaning for him. Though carefully orchestrated, the numbers reveal Michelin’s skills both as a melodist and improviser, pursuing, with tenorman Jerry Bergonzi, the multidirectional chordal patterns on "Juan Gris", shifting the moods with "Nude" or "Paul Gauguin", exploring the transitory perspectives (with Latin beat) of "Marc Chagall", or mirroring the stark contrasts suggested by "Joan Miro". The rhythm section works well in varying the backgrounds for the quintet’s ever-changing array of musical canvasses. Liner notes are extensive, informative, and insightful. (J.S.)

Double Time DTRCD-144 to order

Susannah McCorkle - "From Broken Hearts to Blue Skies"

RealAudio Sample
On this, her 17th album (1998), Susannah McCorkle proves once a gain that she is the premier interpreter of American popular song. But she’s more than that; she is the refurbisher of the obscure, the refreshingly innovative delineator of the readily recognizable, meticulously imbuing each song with her own matchless delivery. This musical palette includes carefully chosen associations with Billie Holiday ("Laughing at Life"), Bessie Smith ("I Ain’t Gonna Play No Second Fiddle"), Ray Charles ("Losing Hand"), Django Reinhardt ("Nuages"), a trio of Jobim favourites, a smattering of standards, and the totally unexpected – Mancini/Mercer’s bluesy, laid-back "A Phone Call to the Past", the child-like perspective of "Stop Time" from an unheralded musical, Frishberg’s delightful "I Want To Be A Sideman". Moreover, the sensitive arrangements of pianist/director Allan Farnham, and evocative solos, especially Farnham, Dick Oatts – soprano/tenor and Al Gafa – guitar, are ideally suited to the subtle shifts of mood and lyrics. Highly recommended. (J.S.)

Concord CCD-4857-2 to order

Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra - "Live in Swing City"

What began as a TV session, a "…shoot for a Great Performances documentary on the life and music of Duke Ellington, co-produced by WNET, NHK and Storyville films (1998), is here prepared for commercial release on CD. With Ellington’s centenary at hand, it seems appropriate that his music should be the focus of such a venture. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis leads the 14-piece aggregation (including baritonist Joe Temperley, trumpeter Marcus Printup, pianist Cyrus Chestnut), with special guests Illinois Jacquet – tenor and vocalists Dianne Reeves/Milt Grayson. From the beginning, with everyone riding the "Happy Go Lucky Local" and strolling Harlem’s "Main Stem", through Grayson’s rendering of Strayhorn’s "Multi-Coloured Blue", the haunting strains of "Black and Tan Fantasy", or the vented riffs of "Harlem Air Shaft", to Marsalis’ fluent handling of "Portrait of Louis Armstrong", both the fidelity to the Ducal sound and the musicianship are superb. Background crowd reaction certainly gives the flavour of a lively concert performance. I think the Duke would have been pleased with this one. (J.S.)

Columbia CK 69898 to order

Rabih Abou-Khalil - "Yara"

RealAudio Sample
Rabih Abou-Khalil, master of the flute and oud (an 11-string lute), walks the musical line between his traditional Lebanese roots and the "new" western music, both classical and jazz. A professed disciple of the singer/lutenist Wadih-Al-Safi, he follows a preference for extended Arab music beyond its accepted boundaries as evidenced by his recordings from the mid-80’s with such players as Charlie Mariano, Sonny Fortune, Glen Moore, or Steve Swallow. Arab music has always favoured improvisation, though ensemble playing generally supersedes virtuosic soloing. On this 1998 CD, Abou-Khalil’s own music for the film Yara, he offers the listener "…rhythm and atmospheric sound…evocative imagery…" (liner) that transcends the visual link to the film. Scored for oud, violin, cello and frame drums, the result is a fascinatingly balanced blend of diverse and freshly-inspired sounds, quite accessible to western ears, especially those fans of the emerging "world music" scene. (J.S.)

Enja ENJ-9360-2 to order

Highly recommended CD's without reviews, star rated as follows:

***** Excellent
**** Good




Label & Cat.No.


Ryan Kisor

The Usual Suspects

Fable/WEA 54267-2


Lew Soloff

With a Song in my Heart

Milestone MCD-9290-2


Avisha Cohen


Stretch SCD-9021-2


Joe Locke

Slander (And Other Love Songs)

Milestone MCD-9284-2


McCoy Tyner

And the Latin All-Stars

Telarc CD-83462


Jeri Brown

I’ve Got Your Number

Justin Time JUST 122-2


Branford Marsalis


Columbia CK 69655


Buddy DeFranco/Dave McKenna

Do Nothing Till you Hear From Me

Concord CCD-4851-2


Gary Keller

Blues For an Old New Age

Double Time DTRCD-147


Keith Ingham

A Mellow Bit of Rhythm

Sackville SKCD2-3063


Bob Barnard/Jim Galloway

What’s New

Sackville SKCD2-3064


Junior Mance


Sackville SKCD2-3065


Eric Vloeimans

Bitches and Fairy Tales

Challenge CHR 70061


Jim Hall/Bob Brookmeyer

Live at The North Sea Jazz Festival

Challenge CHR 70063


Joe Chambers


Blue Note 7243 4 96685 2 2-V


Hilario Duran

Habana Nocturna

Justin Time JUST 125-2




Joe Harriott

Free From

Redial 538 184-2


Horace Silver

Blowin’ the Blues Away

Blue Note 7243 4 95342 2 3


Ella Fitzgerald

In Budapest

Pablo 5308-2