May 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

The Rosenberg Trio - "Live in Samois - A Tribute to Django Reinhardt"

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On May 16, 2003, the small Belgian town of Liberchies, the birthplace of Django Reinhardt, staged a festival to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the gypsy guitarist's death at the young age of 40.

Samois-Sur Seine, just outside of Paris, the musician's final home, has become Djangoville, an annual three-day festival since 1968.

The Rosenberg Trio - Stochels - lead guitar, Nous'che - rhythm guitar and Nonnie Rosenberg - bass, have again shown their classy method of presenting some fine compositions in this live setting with sixteen well crafted selections carrying on the Reinhardt sound and tradition.

Such favourite standards as "Rose Room", "Chicago", "Flamingo" and "Ol' Man River" as well as nine from the pen of the festival honouree make this a great addition to the collection of any fan of good music.


Universal 0602498115688

Miles Davis - "Birdland 1951"

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On this newly unearthed recording we hear Miles Davis as a true jazz giant. While these radio broadcasts are not of top sound quality, Miles' work is exemplary. Taken from three sessions recorded at New York's original Birdland Club on 42nd Street in 1951, we are able to hear players who would later become some of the "who's who" in the history of jazz.

February 17th and June 2nd find Davis in the company of J. J. Johnson - trombone, Sonny Rollins - tenor, Kenny Drew - piano, Tommy Potter - bass and Art Blakey - drums. September 29th has Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis - tenor, Big Nick Nicholas - tenor, Billy Taylor - piano, Charles Mingus - bass, and Art Blakey - drums. Listen closely to the versions of "Move" [tracks 1-7-8], especially tracks 7 and 8. The 7th is taken at break-neck speed that would cut any hot shot horn man, but on track 8, while still at a good clip, slows to three-quarter time and allows Davis to catch his breath; and a brilliant solo ensues.

Again, the magnificent contributions by the musicians involved makes up for the shortcomings in the sound quality. An exceptional recording, well worth adding to your Miles Davis library.


Blue Note 7243 5 41779 2 7

Maurice Gordon - "Irie Mood"

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A translation of the word "Irie" is "Good Feeling", "Everything is alright", "Groovy", and is also used as a greeting.

Guitarist Gordon initially was self taught, but later studied for a music degree and graduated from Toronto's York University.

The ten compositions on "Irie Mood" are pleasant for the smooth jazz lover, and Gordon's technique is first-class, but the compositions lack any meat.

His musical background has been varied; he has toured the world with Jimmy Cliff and dub poet Mutabaruka, recorded with Dean Fraser and appeared at many of the jazz festivals in Jamaica, and accompanied artists such as Monty Alexander, Frank Morgan, Byard Lancaster, Othello Molineaux, Liberty Silver and others. Some of the musicians working with him on this project include Rick Lazar, Sly Dunbar, Matt Horner and Leon Duncan.

"Nuff Tings" has a Wes Montgomery feel with Maurice finally showing his chops in a true jazz performance.


Independent MGCD0001

Mariah Picot with the Bill Peterson Trio - "Notes on the Bridge"

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This is Mariah Picot's debut recording on compact disc, and she describes it as….."jazz influenced art songs with a spiritual perspective".

The vocalist performs eight of her own original selections; the remainder are from the pen of her accompanist, pianist Bill Peterson.

Peterson is a professor of jazz studies at Florida State University. Berklee College grads, Jeff Denson - bass and drummer Ronan Itzik are the other members of the trio backing Mariah.

Several choir members of the Unity of Panama City, Florida, of which Mariah is director, lend their voices to "Lucid Blue", a Latin tinged composition. "One Day in My Monet", the CD's opening track, builds from a voice-bass duo to the entire group moving rhythmically through the piece.

"Pearl Diver" by the pianist, has lyrics by Mariah, written in memory of her friend Lloyd. It too branches out from a mellow beginning to some great straight ahead jazz.

"Afternoon Cocoon" is a lovely waltz, and there is a Toronto connection to this composer. Musician Chip McNeill debuted some of Picot's tunes in performance in Toronto with Frank Falco, Kiki Misumi, Peter Telford, Jim Vivian, Dave Restivo and Barry Romberg.


Lucid Blue Music 2004 - no catalgue number given
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Billy Bang - "Vietnam: Reflections"

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Pianist John Hicks and bassist Curtis Lundy introduce the title tune with leader/violinist Bang and reedman James Spaulding and Henry Threadgill picking up the "sparkling" rhythm. "Reflections" serves as the guiding theme leading ultimately to the "Reconciliation" of memories linked to Bang's personal experiences of the Vietnam tragedy. Music such as "Ru Con", "Ly Ngua O", "Trong Com" represents Southeast Asian elements, folk forms incorporated into jazz-inspired pieces. Noteworthy are the hauntingly beautiful "Doi Moi" and "Waltz of the Water Puppets" drawn from a Vietnamese traditional theatrical form. For Bang, the music has helped in the healing process, leading him inevitably ……"into the present and forward, where we all must go".


Justin Time JUST 212-2

Keith Jarrett - "Radiance"

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If you are familiar with pianist Jarrett's solo concerts from Bremen/Lausanne and Koln in the 70's (and if not, why?), then you have a good idea of what these two concerts, from Osaka and Tokyo respectively (October 2002), have to offer. Jarrett experiments deliberately with the absence of any fixed melodic line, is unmotivated by pre-concepts, letting his hands determine musical paths to take, relying on their "subconscious musical choices" in order to pursue a sense of total improvisation. The result is a mesmerizing journey for the listener into the inexhaustibly creative world of the performer. Highly recommended.


ECM 1960/61

Dave Young Quintet - "Mainly Mingus"

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Bassist Young and his aggregation of stellar veterans from the Canadian music scene - Gary Williamson - piano, Kevin Turcotte - trumpet, Perry White - saxes, Terry Clarke - drums - have captured the propulsive drive and the free collective improvisatory spirit so characteristic of Mingus performances. From the spirited rhythmical opener "Oscar Pettiford", the torrid pace of "Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am" to the measured nostalgic portrait with "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", or the fiery exchanges of "All the Things….If Sigmund Freud's Wife was your Mother", the solo sequences by all are outstanding. Young's original "Bass Clef" captures the very essence of the Mingus mode. Originally taped for broadcast on CBC (from Toronto's Top O' the Senator, 2002), it is now released here on CD. Recommended.


Justin Time JTR 8512-2

Bill Charlap - "Plays George Gershwin-The American Soul"

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The seemingly ubiquitous trio of Bill Charlap - piano, Peter Washington - bass and Kenny Washington - drums, takes on the Gershwin songbook with élan and imagination, swinging solidly with "Who Cares?", conjuring up a scintillating "Liza", or reflecting a lyrical magic to "I Was So Young and You Were So Beautiful". The presence of great artists such as reedmen Phil Woods and Frank Wess or Nicholas Payton and Slide Hampton on trumpet and trombone respectively adds an exciting dimension to such pieces as a propulsive "Somebody Loves Me" and "Nice Work If You Can Get It", the surprising tempo shift with " 'S Wonderful", the balladic beauty to "Bess, You Is My Woman Now". The understated delicacy of Charlap's brief concluding solo "Soon" makes it truly a gem. Recommended.


Blue Note 7243 8 60669 2 3V

Joe Lovano - "Joyous Encounter"

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Though early influences emerge from time to time (Stitt/Moody), Lovano is very much his own man especially on the inventive spontaneity of "Bird's Eye View" or the harmonic changes to "Joyous Encounter", both reflecting his uniqueness as a saxophonist and composer. The trio of Hank Jones - piano, George Mraz - bass and Paul Motian - drums serves as a multi-rhythmic backdrop for Lovano's tenor excursions on such numbers as the subtly modulated, sinewy "Autumn in New York" and the jaunty "Six and Four", or for the tart, gyrating flow of the soprano sax with Monk's "Pannonica". A talent worthy of repeated playbacks.


Blue Note 7243 8 63405 2 8V

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