March 2005

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:

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).

Bob Eckersley: Bob Eckersley emigrated from England in 1957 and settled in Owen Sound (Northern Ontario), where he worked as an inspector for the government on Highway construction. His interest in jazz started during the war years, and though he is not a trained musicologist, he listens from the heart and judges accordingly.

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

Previous Picks

Nancy Harrow - "Winter Dreams"

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Winter Dreams is a very thoughtful and interesting release with words and music written by vocalist Nancy Harrow. The twelve original tunes heard here chronicle the life and passions of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and is the fourth recording in a series of literary song cycles by Harrow. The sometimes-playful lyrics were written to highlight the sweetness and complexity of Fitzgerald's life as seen through his fictional characters. Legendary drummer Grady Tate shares the vocal duties with Harrow with his very clear baritone voice adding textures to tunes like the very serene "Winter Dreams" and the charming and witty "This Side of Paradise". The late Sir Roland Hanna was responsible for the arrangements, his second with Harrow.

Using his experience and feel for drama in music, Hanna evoked the jazz age of the 1920's, 30's and 40's, and carefully chose the required musical instruments. The songs are well sung, some lending a certain feel of sophistication. There are some musical theatre, carnival and cabaret from a featured all-star cast of super talented jazz musicians. Frank Wess' tenor saxophone playing is flawless, Bill Easley excels on flute, and Michael Mossman's trumpet playing is beautifully romantic. "Winter Dreams" is one of those sleeper recordings that slips in and have a special joyfulness about them. An excellent well-crafted recording that add a new dimension to the art of jazz.

C. S.

Artists House AH 27867-0001-2

Red Garland - "Red Alone"

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In the early sixties Prestige Records introduced the Moodsville series. I can remember my first purchase from those memorable recordings, this particular session, and listening for many happy hours with friends or on my own. Imagine my pleasure and excitement when this was finally re-issued in CD format and the even added honour of reviewing it.

Dallas born William "Red" Garland started his musical career as an alto sax player, later choosing the piano as his instrument of choice. His sound is very romantic, sometimes swinging hard with a very strong blues feel. He played with many of the greats in jazz including Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. "Red Alone" was his first attempt at a solo piano recording, and there is a certain magical reverence about his relaxed melodic style that gives you the feeling of actually sitting in the room with him.

Starting with "When Your Lover Has Gone" he immediately demonstrates why his harmonic ability, great sense of time and a gift for melody that translates into the perfect recording.

I strongly recommend this recording to any lover of piano, and suggest the listener pay special attention to the treatment and creative expression on "You are too Beautiful". This is a captivating performance of eight great ballads by a genius of the piano.

C. S.

Original Jazz Classics OJCCD-1102-2

David Clayton-Thomas - "Aurora"

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"David Clayton-Thomas may be the greatest blues-oriented singers to come out of this generation"

So says the opening statement of the liner notes on this new recording by him. I may tend to agree with this statement, especially as I did like his work with Blood, Sweat & Tears back in 1969, and was often criticized by my purest jazz friends for this…but then I also liked Tower of Power and Lighthouse.

This release is a very pleasant surprise with a choice of exceptional material that highlights his vocal expertise in a variety of moods. With outstanding backup from Doug Riley - piano/B-3/Wurlitzer/Fender Rhodes, Rob Piltch - acoustic and electric guitars, Jake Langley - electric guitar, (alternating on selected tracks), George Koller - acoustic bass, Terry Clarke - drums, Brian Barlow - percussion, the feeling is one of raw blues with humour, sadness and spirituality. Tracks such as "Mercy Lord Above", "Don't Explain", "Gimme That Wine" (This one brings back memories of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross), "Lucky Old Sun" and "Lazy Bones" all beg to be heard again and again to be able to capture the wonder of a group that jelled so well in a recording studio. One gets the feeling of a band just off the road after a lengthy tour rehearsing the numbers. But it also shows the pure professionalism of these musicians. Pick this one up immediately, you will not be sorry. Kudos to Jim West/Justin Time for putting this together. Highly Recommended.

H. H.

Justin Time JUST 211-2

Abdullah Ibrahim (Remixed) - "Re: Brahim" (A)
Abdullah Ibrahim - "A Celebration" (B)

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South African musician/composer Abdullah Ibrahim has pursued his unique vision of musical ideas for decades, blending elements of jazz, cultural traditions, classical music, and spiritually rooted sources. It is not surprising, therefore, that he should now seek to appeal to younger audiences used to "…their own visions of beat and flow". A host of remixers (e.g. DJ Toshio/DJ Spooky/Sonar Kollektiv) here (A) remixes Ibrahim originals with digital electronic techniques. For those with a penchant for synthesized sounds!

If the previous disc (A) is your first encounter with the music of Abdullah Ibrahim, the second CD (B) offers a celebration of his creative genius covering a period from 1973 to the present. It reveals the vast scope and groundbreaking development in his evolving musical concepts.

The pianist/vocalist/saxophonist/flautist, as soloist and accompanied by supportive sidemen, showcases some of his most well known compositions. This would be an ideal pairing with disc (A) if a broader perspective is your goal. Notes are excellent.

J. S.

Re: Brahim - Enja/Justin Time 3319-2
A Celebration - Enja/Justin Time 3320-2

John Stetch - "Exponentially Monk"

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Edmonton-born pianist John Stetch chooses here to pay homage to one of his favourite "jazz legends", Thelonious Monk. Though the latter's use of quirky rhythms and complex yet inventive melodic statements provide Stetch with pianistic challenges, there is "room for stretching out, and a healthy dose of humour". Indeed, with obvious delight, he improvises with prepared piano effects on "Thinking of One", employs deliberate cross hands with "Criss Cross", imposes on "Little Rootie Tootie" an exercise forcing the right hand to do the unusual, mixes Bach with stride on "Ask Me Now". This is a happy meld of joy and imagination!

J. S.

Justin Time 206-2

Wycliffe Gordon/Eric Reed - "We"
Ralph Reichert Quartet with Randy Sandke - "Reflections"

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Listen in Windows Media   Listen in MP3

From the opening bars of "The Lord's Prayer", we become clearly aware that the pairing of trombonist Gordon and pianist Reed is something special. The accord between the butter-toned, often powerfully deep-throated trombone and the free-spirited support of the piano is measured in the conversation-like intimacy "Paris Blues", the sensuous dialogue given to the normally up-tempo "Embraceable You", or the playful runs of "Cherokee" and the tongue-in-cheek exchanges with "Toast my Bread". The twosome explores the gamut of emotions to our delight.

Live club sessions generate an energy often missing in recorded studio performances. Such is the case here, from Hamburg's Birdland Jazz Club, featuring trumpet guest Randy Sandke with tenor man Ralph Reichert's quartet. Though the selections are recognizable standards - from a sizzling opener "Just in Time", the balladic tenderness of "Nancy with the Laughing Face" or "My Ideal", to the swinging lilt of the closing "What is this Thing Called Love" - there is a sense of spontaneous risk-taking throughout. Kudos to Sandke's supportive foursome!


"We" - Nagel Heyer 2023
"Reflections" - Nagel Heyer 2050

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