March 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

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

Prestige PRCD 24227-2

Ralph Sutton - "Live: Ralph Sutton & Friends" CD 086

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Butch Miles - "Straight on Till Morning" CD 089

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Ralph Sutton - Pete York All-Stars - "Live and Swinging" CD 091

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Ralph Sutton - Sarah Partridge - "Blame it on my Youth" CD 092

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Ralph Sutton - Wycliffe Gordon - "The Joyride" CD 2032

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For well over a decade, the Nagel Heyer family has been actively involved in producing and recording jazz and popular music that both shapes and traditionally has shaped the current sounds of its time. Performances are always flexible in blending music of past and present, and the quality of musicianship and production is consistently top-notch. The 5 CDís listed above are testament to those criteria.

For six decades Ralph Sutton (1922-2001) had been a keeper of jazz piano traditions in the stride style of James P Johnson, Willie "The Lion" Smith, and Fats Waller. Here, with a mutually responsive coterie of close friends, he celebrated Wallerís many-sided talents as pianist and entertainer, capturing them with Wallerís own compositions - (e.g.) "Squeeze Me"/"Cloths Line Ballet"/"Viperís Drag"/"Ainít Misbehaviní "; the audience at Hamburgís Hanse-Merkur Auditorium (October, 1999) enthusiastically responded to the interplay of Jon-Erik Kellsoís trumpet, Brian Ogilvieís tenor, and the rhythm section of Marty Grosz - guitar, bassist Dave Green and drummer Frankie Capp as well as leader Sutton.

Sadly, the pianist never heard this CD before his death (December 2001); however, the joy of performance is recorded for all to hear.

Veteran drummer Butch Miles jump-starts his sextet of trumpet/tenor/trombone/piano and bass on 11 numbers, many of which are arranged and composed by trumpeter Bob Ojeda. Miles wished to offer "everything from a trio to an octet, inviting old friend, tenor man/flautist Frank Wess and a classical guitarist (Alex Saudargas) to augment the group on occasion. The session explores tempi and moods as well as the strengths of particular musicians - Wessís tenor and Lynn Seatonís bass on "Frankís Blues", the beautiful strains of Kenny Drew Jr.ís piano with Billy Strayhornís "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing", the Latin beat of Ojedaís "After Hours" to Milesí on sticks and Wess on flute, or Seatonís solo on "Cute".

The barriers between rock and jazz music gradually disappeared for British drummer Peter York as he moved from the Spencer Davis rock group of the 60ís to an affinity for the sounds of the Alex Welsh Band and eventually a 3-year stint with Chris Barber. A move to Germany in 1988 led to the formulation of his own jazz group and a recording date (with help from the Nagel-Heyer family). Here he leads his successful quintet in an exciting array of numbers familiar to jazz fans, from Ellingtonís "Isfahan", Horace Silverís "Sister Sadie", to Basieís hit "Shiny Stockings". Outstanding soloists throughout are trombonist Roy Williams and reedman Alan Barnes. Catch Roy on "All the Things You Are"!

If you are hearing the voice of Sarah Partridge for the first time (as I am), you are in for a pleasant surprise. Raised in a home that adored female vocalists and Frank Sinatra, Sarah offers here a collection of familiar standards in a variety of contexts that reveal her creative approaches in a natural, ungimicky style - clear, suited to lyrics and instrumentation, thoughtfully balanced in selection of material. Aptly titled by her producer, Frank Nagel-Heyer, the album captures the range and versatility of her song stylings whether itís to light Latin rhythms "Just One of Those Things", solid blues oriented "Every Day I Have the Blues", or with a gentle rock beat "This Canít be Love". Ten of the fourteen numbers are trio-supported, with special kudos going to pianist Daniel May. Recommended.

Multi-instrumentalist (trombone/trumpet/tuba/piano/et al) Wycliffe Gordon has played with Wynton Marsalis groups for a number of years, and has distinguished himself as an original, adventurous, innovative musical presence, capable of playing in any jazz context. Ten of the eleven selections here are his own compositions. Produced by Daniel Nagel-Heyer, the sextet has fun, as the albumís title suggests. From the opening raucous growl of the blues, the island hopping tempo of "The Island Boy", the jaunty playfulness, Mingus-like, with the group dynamics in "They Call Him Sugar Rob", to Monkís interactive "Letís Call This", the music bristles with energy. Gordon at the piano "Blooz Talkiní " is a romp not to be missed. An outstanding release!

Access to Nagel-Heyer CDís in Canada is available through (click on to the "Linkís" page). J.S.

Jason Moran - "The Bandwagon" Blue Note 7243 5 80917 2 4

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Martial Solal - "NY-1 Live at the Village Vanguard" Blue Note 7243 5 84232 2 8

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Bud Powell - "The Scene Changes" Blue Note 7243 5 80907 2 7

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Blue Note was one of the first labels to cater exclusively to the jazz fan (1939), and it continues to fulfill that function to this day. Pianist/Composer Bud Powell was one of the seminal exponents of Bebop to appear on Blue note discs (late 40,s). Ironically praised as an inspirational jazz figure yet criticized for his often-erratic behaviour and technique, his impact on other musicians has been unquestionable, as demonstrated here on this 1958 release with Paul Chambers - bass and Art Taylor - drums, with a panoply of his own compositions. He was a percussive player who used his left hand sparingly, often just for chording; the right would transpose tempo or mood in sudden emotionally charged outbursts sometimes running arpeggio runs clear off the keyboard. Listen here to "Cominí Up", and judge for yourself.

For those of us, like myself, who were interested in the post-war development of jazz in Europe, pianist Solal was a Parisian fixture working with the likes of Kenny Clarke, Don Byas or Sidney Bechet. His sophisticated, technically proficient approach to jazz reflected, at times, traces of Art Tatum or Bud Powell, yet remained his own unique interpretations of standards sprinkled with swinging originals. His early trios of the 50ís featured players such as Daniel Humair and Pierre Michelot. After a 1963 Newport appearance (through George Wein), Solalís reputation took on international proportions. There is a certain irony in this recording. Recorded in the Village Vanguard just a short week after September 11th, 2001, Solal was once again playing to an audience that had recently witnessed the trauma of images and realities closely tied to a war of terror. For many patrons, his music breathed a sense of sanity in time of need; for some, Solal was a discovery whose existence had hitherto been unknown.

This is my second encounter with the fresh, imaginative, unpredictable music of Jason Moran. The first Modernistic, made my top ten list. This session recorded at the Village Vanguard in November of the same year (2002), will undoubtedly do the same. There is some repetition of material from the first, but audience reaction helps to measure the success of the effort. What emerges more strongly for me is Moranís pursuit of the affinities between non-musical sources and musical patterns, links suggested in "Ringing My Phone" in which the piano duplicates the rhythmic vocal dialogue "straight outta Istanbul", reflected in the strongly rhythmical phrasing of the 1982 rap hit "Planet Rock", melded into the historical narrative with piano of "Gentle Shifts South" nostalgic in its blending of information and music. As well, the trio of Moran - piano, Tarus Mateen - bass, and Nasheet Waits - drums offers some scintillating interaction with numbers such as "Another One", or "Gangsterism on Stages", while the sudden descent to Brahmsí gorgeous "Intermezzo, Op 118, No2" continues to confound yet please the listener. All is as refreshingly different as the music of Monk must have seemed in its time. J.S.

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