March 1997


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

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Betty Carter - I'm Yours, You're Mine

Miss Carter's newest takes the listener on another journey into a magic world of new found lyricism. When it comes to quality in the music and the musicians she surrounds herself with (where does she get them?), she is reliable as the sun on a tropical isle. Her singing is of the highest order and she can bend and reshape notes in such a manner that you wonder how she will ever get out of the corners she sometimes places herself in. She allows her chosen sidemen plenty of space to take chances too, making the result a thrilling adventure. Curtis Lundy is the bassist, Gregory Hutchinson - drums, Xavier Davis - piano, plus the addition of Mark Shim on tenor and Andre Hayward - trombone. Matt Hughes replaces Lundy on most of the tracks which include "This Time", "Close your Eyes", "East of the Sun", and a wonderful interpretation of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Useless Landscape" sung in Portugese and English.

Verve 314 533 182-2 To Order

Jimmy Smith - "Angel Eyes"

The B3 master is back with a set of ballads and blues and some very special guests to assist him with a well chosen set of tunes. The rapport the veteran jazz musician establishes with his younger collaborators is a joy throughout the whole 9 tracks. The mood is set from the opening moments of "Stolen Moments" with statements from Jimmy, Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, Mark Whitfield, Christian McBride and Gregory Hutchinson. Jimmy brings one of the members of the band to the fore for each track and lays down a nice groove behind them. "Angel Eyes" has some Wes Montgomery inspired work from Mark Whitfield, "You better go now" is all Jimmy and Roy. "Bess, Oh where's my Bess" and "What a wonderful World" are solo spots for Mr.Smith and he creates a warm and embraceable mood. For a more upbeat and aggressive setting check out the reissue of Jimmy's "Got My Mojo Working" and "Hochie Coochie Man" (2 LP's now available on one CD) in the company of an orchestra lead by Oliver Nelson. Both of these CD's are worthy of your attention.

Verve 314 527 632-2 To Order

Got my Mojo Working

Verve 314 533 828-2To Order

Carol Welsman - Inclined

To quote some comments made by fellow musicians: "Carol Welsman is undoubtedly the best jazz vocalist on the scene today" (Peter Appleyard). "Her day has come. She has to be heard by everyone because she is so talented. Harmonically she is fantastic". (Guido Basso). Carol Welsman is the perfect example of a vocal musician. She has a warm, relaxing, well-paced sound......."(Ranee Lee). This her second recording and should certainly draw much attention to the remarkable talent she displays both in her vocals and piano playing. Listen closely to her interpretation of "Fever" done here with just piano and the gentle flugelhorn of Guido Basso, the uptempo version of "My Favourite Things" with a rousing solo by Phil Dywer on tenor, and "Fais Comme L'Oiseau" sung in French featuring guitarist Rob Piltch, and of course the title track "Inclined" and "New Day" both original compositions by Carol with some intriguing lyrics. "Samba De Uma Nota So" (One Note Samba) shows off another aspect of the talents of Carol, her ability to sing in fluent Portugese. Koch International is planning to produce albums by Carol in both French and Italian.

Kudos to co-producer Gordon Sheard for this CD.

Welcar Music WMCD 363 To Order

Leroy Jones - Props for Pops

As the title would suggest this is a recording dedicated to the memory of Louis (Pops) Armstrong . There is a definitive New Orleans feel to the music by these young musicians, and it is not the choice of tunes that bring this to the fore.Leroy has a brilliant tone, imaginative phrasing and his ideas flow easily. And he swings hard all the time, with lightening fast phrases a la Clifford Brown. Jones and trombonist Craig Klein (the only other front line instrument) read each other's minds with clairvoyance on most of the tracks. Leroy sings too, and the voice is steeped in the early jazz tradition. The rhythm section changes on many of the sessions so we get to hear pianists Richard Rhypps, Glenn Patscha, Thaddeus Richard, and Harry Connick,Jr. Kerry Lewis and Reginald Veal share the bass chores and Gerald French, Shannon Powell split the drum chair between them.Tunes range from "Struttin' with Some Barbeque", "Baby Won't you please come Home" (Craig Klein sounding a lot like the late Vic Dickenson), "Jeepers Creepers", "What a Wonderful World" (the spotlight on Leroy's trumpet and vocal plus some strings), "When it's Sleepy Time Down South" and "Beale Street Blues". Revisit New Orleans with Leroy Jones and enjoy the wonderful memory of "Pops".

Noptee/Columbia CK 67643 To Order

Dodo Marmarosa - Up in Dodo's Room

The subtitle of this CD is "The complete Dial sessions: 1946-1947 and features one of the most brilliant pianists to rise out of the Bop era. There were not many players who could work with the legendary Charlie "Bird" Parker for any length of time due to Parker's overpowering ideas. No matter how good you were, Parker was always better, but Dodo (Michael) Marmarosa was one musician who played piano for the Bird for over two years but did not record that frequently in order to get exposure. These sessions feature Dodo in trio settings with Harry Babasin on cello and Jackie Mills - drums, some solo piano performances, two sextet dates with Howard McGhee as leader and one session with the Charlie Parker Septet which included Miles Davis and Lucky Thompson. It is in the solo and trio performances that one gets to hear the brilliance and highly original bop influenced lines that made most of his contemporaries feel like an an anticlimax.

Jazz Classics CD-JZCL-6008 To Order

Howard McGhee - Trumpet at Tempo

More rare sessions from the same time period as the above Marmaroso dates. Actually Marmaroso is on one of the dates here with an alternate take of one of the tunes that appear on the above date "Dilated Pupils". McGhee was probably one of the best known Bop trumpet players after Dizzy Gillespie in the late 1940's and one of the most recorded artists in that period. His solos show a constant flow of ideas, perhaps with fewer surprises and less humour than Gillespie, but swinging constantly.These recordings are probably some of the best he did in the company of Teddy Edwards, James Moody, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown and J.C.Heard amongst others. This CD has 21 tracks taken from four different recording dates and is hard driving music that is characteristic of the vitality of the period.Imaginative music from then practically unknown artists which is a must in any person's collection which has a BeBop section.

Classic Jazz CD-JZCL-6009 To Order

John Arpin - The Complete Piano Works of Scott Joplin (1868-1917)

Considered by many to be the world's best "ragtime" player, pianist John Arpin performs the music of the undisputed "King of Ragtime". Although ragtime has been played on virtually every instrument that exists, as well as full scale bands and orchestras it is essentially a piano music, and in the hands of Arpin it comes to life again. Many clubs have been formed to keep this music intact, and pianist musicologist Joshua Rifkin in 1971 recorded an album of Joplin's pieces for the Nonesuch label which became a hit. This led to the movie "The Sting" and later the Broadway show "Treemonisha" and thus a new interest in ragtime was born. Now we have this remarkable four CD set of superbly recorded versions of Joplin's compositions. Many of the popular well known rags are here but the strength is in the rare and "not so well known" titles, and the manner in which Arpin approaches them.

Classical Heritage CH 1715 To Order

Fred Hersch plays Rodgers & Hammerstein

Pianist-Composer Fred Hersch seems very much at home with the music of composers of popular music from the past, composers he obviously admires tremendously as is the case here with a celebration of piano solos of some of Rodgers & Hammersteins better known works, but then what tunes did they write that didn't become well known.Hersch is a true musician with virtuostic gifts and a rare insight formed with close studies in both jazz and classical music and obviously much hard work. He has proven himself with the likes of Art Farmer, Lee Konitz, Stan Getz, Toots Thielmans and Joe Henderson and it is a rare opportunity to hear him in a solo setting. This one is well chosen and the music is a delight.

Nonesuch 9414-2To Order

Oscar Peterson - The Jazz Soul of Oscar Peterson/Affinity

Two for the price of one is this exceptional recording of Mr. Peterson in trio format with Ray Brown - bass and Ed Thigpen - drums from 1959 - "Soul" and 1962 "Affinity". I treasure the "live" sessions done at the London House in Chicago with this trio and "West Side Story", "Something Warm" and "Very Tall" (with Milt Jackson added) and the superb MPS recordings done later, but it is gratifying to see these two sessions finally re-issued as they are Oscar Peterson at a very high peak with two like minded musicians who are constantly giving their best. From "Soul" rekindle the warmth of "Con Alma", "The Maidens of Cadiz" and "Woody 'n' You". Of the Affinity tracks the beautiful "Waltz for Debby" is given another reading, different from the original Bill Evans recording, savour once again "Gravy Waltz", relax to the ballad "Baubles, Bangles, and Beads" and listen very closely to Ray Brown's solo on "Six and Four". The transfer to CD ensures that the sound quality is enhanced and we can add two more exceptional Peterson sessions to our collection.

Verve 314 533 100-2 To Order

Dave Turner/Nelson Symonds - The Pulse Brothers

Recorded in 1993, and from the same session that gave us "Thank you for your Hospitality" (DSM-3001) the fiery saxophone voice we hear in the Vic Vogel Big Band is heard here in extended performances of mostly standard tunes in the company of the legendary guitarist Norman Symonds , Dave Gelfand - bass and Claude Lavergne - drums. The audience in the Resto Bar where this was recorded are for the most part quite attentive and this inspires the group to great heights. Best tracks include the ballad "Like someone in Love", "Black Orpheus" done in the expected Bossa rhythm, a moving up tempo version of "You stepped out of a Dream" and the Charlie Parker composition "Au Privave" with an exciting and inventive solo by Symonds.

DSM 3006 To Order

Tony Bennett on Holiday

Being a great admirer of both Billie Holiday and Tony Bennett I looked forward to this release with some excitement and I am not dissapointed. The treatment of the 19 classic selections chosen is a pure tribute from Tony to "Lady Day". He has captured the true feeling of the sadness that haunted Billie, but at no time does he attempt to emulate her. The piano of long time Tony Bennett's accompanist Ralph Sharon is at the forefront throughout most of the songs, there are strings conducted by Jorge Calandrelli on numerous tracks. Bennett remains a voice to marvel at, his mastery of these tunes is testament to that, listen to what he does with "Willow weep for me" bending notes, adding breathy tones to capture your attention and give feeling to the lyrics. Adding a new dimension to "What a little Moonlight can Do". I can hear the pain in the voice of Billie's original version of "These Foolish Things" and "Good Morning Heartache" in Tony's interpretations. "God Bless the Child" has the voice of Billie added in a duet with Tony, very much the same way that Natalie Cole did with her late father Nat King Cole for a recording. This is a delightful memory of one of the world's greatest singers done with much love by another great singer. The portrait of Billie on the CD jacket was also done by Tony.

Columbia CK 67774 To Order

John Abercrombie/Andy Laverne - Where we Were

The duo of Abercrombie and Laverne captured live in early 1996 comes off in a relaxed manner, as if they had been working together for a long time getting to understand each other's inermost thoughts musically. These excursions vary from a couple of well known standard tunes to originals by Laverne and Abercrombie and Bill Evan's "Turn out the Stars". Laverne's playing is so full of ideas he flows through each piece with ease pushing himself to the limit with his improvisation. Likewise with Abercrombie whether soloing or comping. These are two mature voices engaging in creative and energetic music.

Double-Time Records DTRCD-110 To Order

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