May 2003


Rosemary Clooney - "The Last Concert"

RealAudio Sample

A fortuitous vacation in Hawaii provided her with the opportunity to record with the Honolulu Symphony and Big Kahuna's Copa Cat Pack, a rare accompaniment of some 80 skilled musicians. In addition, several short tracks of dialogue capture the "warm and affectionate personality" that pervaded her unique approach to song over five decades. Rosemary eases through "Sentimental Journey" and "I'm Confessin' That I Love You", her distinctive intonations backed by an ever-responsive orchestral backdrop, picks up the tempo in a bouncy rendition of "Just in Time", imbues the familiar lyrics of "Happiness Is Just A Thing Called Joe", and "Rockin' Chair" with her uniquely infectious interpretations. Two of her favourite vocalists - Crosby and Sinatra, are her focus on "Ol'Man River", "The Singer", and "They Can't Take That Away From Me". The closing - intended to" honour the victims, to salute the heroes" of the recent 9/11 tragedy - is a moving and timeless version of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America". It's a memorable musical experience for what was to be the final concert and recording in a lengthy career. J.S.

Concord CCD-2166-2

Remi Bolduc - "Tchat"

RealAudio Sample

Alto saxophonist Remi Bolduc has worked on the Montreal jazz scene for over 15 years, visiting NYC in the early 90's to play with other musicians as well. There he met pianist Kenny Werner, and the duo were soon playing partners, featured together eventually at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Their "… engaging musical conversations" are always rhythmically fluid, able to re-harmonize melodies at will or interpolate exciting cadenzas in keeping with their dual roles. Two standards and nine Bolduc/Werner originals are offered on this release [2003]. Highlighted among the latter are a contemplative and compellingly lyrical "A la Memoire de Michel", the call-response accord between players on "In Tune", the evolving harmonic patterns and melodic expressiveness to "Amitie avec un Grand A", and two solo explorations, "Corrosion"(Bolduc) and "In Voice"(Werner). There is a consistently high comfort level between the players throughout. J.S.

Justin Time JTR 8500-2

Dee Dee Bridgewater - "This is New"

RealAudio Sample

The music of Kurt Weill is ideally suited to the theatrical qualities of Dee Dee Bridgewater's voice with her multi-faceted stylistic shifts from the lyrically explorative to the dramatically complex, from sultry to raucous, from deeply emotional to energetically charged - all accomplished with ease and a diction superbly phrased. Accompanied by 8 musicians deployed in various combinations throughout the 11 numbers, the choice of arrangements adds to the success of the music with its .. "cross-cultural touches…" in rhythms and tempi, the occasional use of bandoneaon or flamenco "Youkali"/ "Bilbao Song", the distinctive solo breaks with "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" [piano/alto sax], "This is New" [organ], "Speak Low" [trombone], or "Here I'll Stay" [guitar/bass]. Dee Dee's voice itself takes on instrumental proportions on "The Saga of Jenny" or "September Song". Weill has never been more invigoratingly interpreted. Highly recommended. J.S.

Verve 44001168842

Ron Carter - "Songs For You"

RealAudio Sample

This fine reissue combines two Carter LP's "A Song For You" [1978] and "Parfait" [1980], both recorded by Rudy Van Gelder.

Ron Carter probably has more credits to his name than any other bassist in the history of recorded music, to date: over one thousand.

Originally a cello player in his pre-teens in Detroit and a would be symphony player, he settled in New York in the early 1960's. He played with Chico Hamilton, Eric Dolphy and Don Ellis; moonlighted as a studio musician, played jingles, performed on television, in movies and Broadway pit orchestras while working on a master's degree in music. Later he had musical associations with Thelonious monk, Jaki Byard, Bobby Timmins, Cannonball Adderley, Art Farmer and came to major prominence with Miles Davis. Since the 1960's Carter has appeared on over 550 sessions recorded by his friend Rudy Van Gelder, the most of any bassist.

These two sessions have the leader on both acoustic and piccolo basses. Pianist Kenny Barron plays on five of the selections from the first session (Song for You). There are a total of eleven compositions, eight of which are Carter originals. Leon Russell's "Song For You", "Someday My Prince Will Come", a personal favourite rendition here, and "'Round Midnight" are the three standards. "Blues for D.P." (Duke Pearson) and "N.O.Blues" complete with four cellists have a really nice feel. "New Waltz" and "Receipt Please" are mainstays of the repertoire of Jim Hall from Carter's long association with the guitarist. R.F.

Milestone MCD-4709-2

Monica Mancini - "Cinema Paradiso"

RealAudio Sample

A sensitive understanding of the enormous role that music contributes to the success of a film undoubtedly evolved from Monica's …"having grown up in a house permeated with some of the best film music in history", a legacy passed down from her father, Henry Mancini. Backed by rich and spacious orchestral arrangements, the lyrical delicacy of her voice captures a "wonderful cross-section of the best of musical romanticism that the movies can provide" from "A Day In The Life Of A Fool" (from Black Orpheus), "The Shadow of Your Smile" (The Sandpiper), "Too Late Now" (Royal Wedding), "The Summer Knows" (The Summer of '42), to "Baby Mine" (that tender moment from the 1941 animated film, Dumbo), and "Over the Rainbow" (from the 1939 classic, The Wizard of Oz). Monica's insightful renditions send us back to those videos to recapture these moments in context. J.S.

Concord CCD-4988-2

Cal Tjader - "Concerts in the Sun"

RealAudio Sample

For many years the vibraphone's place in jazz has been well documented and associated with artists like Lionel Hampton, Milt Jackson, Gary Burton, Bobby Hutcherson and Peter Appleyard, to name just a few. However in the hands of Cal Tjader, the instrument takes wings that gracefully lift you to another dimension. Tjader was the most famous non-Latino leader of Latin bands, and along with Dizzy Gillespie was the American musician mainly responsible for introducing Afro Cuban rhythms into mainstream jazz. In addition, he also plays the vibraphone in a manner that embraces both styles. He recorded extensively for Fantasy and Verve labels, and performed with Kenny Burrell and Anita O'Day. In 1965 he had a minor hit with a tune entitled "Soul Sauce".

"Concerts in the Sun" features a selection of ten never previously released tracks culled from two famous outdoor concerts that were held in Honolulu and California during 1960. The first six tracks are performed in a mainstream vein, sometimes alternating with ballads and blues. The first set opens with Cole Porter's "Love for Sale", a tune that finds Tjader serving up a spirited, up-tempo bop flavoured solo, with the rest of the group merrily swinging along. The ever popular ballad "My Romance" provides a chance for the Oakland-born pianist Lonnie Hewitt to display his bright, infectious two handed playing, a nice feature that is evident throughout the recording.

The final tracks are reserved for a delightful display of Afro-Cuban energy featuring the masterful playing of Mongo Santamaria on congas and bongos. Ray Bryant's "Cubano Chant", and Mongo's "Afro Blue". The closing track is a toe-tapping mambo rendition of Johnny Mercer's "Day In Day Out". Although the band played well, while allowing everyone space to shine, it is undoubtedly the joyous, rhythmic playing of Tjader that lifts this recording beyond the realm of ordinary. Highly recommended. C.S.

Fantasy FCD-9688-2

Previous Picks