October 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:

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

Dave Brubeck - "Private Brubeck Remembers"

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This 2-CD release consists of a one-hour interview with Brubeck by Walter Cronkite, and 14 solo piano performances. Both the interview and the music are of Brubeck's experiences during WWII.

The impressions and reminiscences by PFC Brubeck on CD #1 of his adventures during that period are of some interest, nice to have, but I don't think repeated play would hold much interest.

The second CD continues the WW11 memories, only this time at the piano to illustrate various aspects of his service during the period 1942 to1946. It does not take much imagination to realize that the majority of tunes are from the great American song book that were so popular during that horrendous period, the exceptions being "Weep no More" and "We Crossed the Rhine", both written by Brubeck during his band leading years in the army. This musical exploration reads like a diary starting with "For All We Know", and ending with "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To". Along the way, numbers like "I'll Get By", "Don't Worry 'Bout Me" and "The Last Time I Saw Paris" seem so very appropriate for that period.

Pure nostalgia, no doubt, but with someone as prominent as Dave Brubeck at the piano, I think we can indulge him his look back in history. This elder statesman of jazz has nothing to prove; his place in jazz history is already assured.

Informative notes and old photos, all contributed by Mr. Brubeck.


Telarc CD-83605

Frode Berg - "Dig It!"

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This CD is a perfect example that the great American art form is not restricted to the American continent. The four musicians, three Norwegians and one Brit, make up this stimulating and entertaining album. All the music was written by Berg or British pianist Powell, the exception being John Coltrane's "Giant Steps".

It is a pity the liner notes don't tell us much more about these fine musicians. Great solos abound throughout the recording. Everyone except drummer Andreas Bye, who has tremendous drive, gets his chance to enhance the performance showing exceptional technique. The music heard is contemporary and modern and swings hard.

"Dig It", the title tune, is the probably the most adventurous, a little on the outside, but still a good groove. "Giant Steps" is taken at a different tempo than is usually heard, but it works remarkably well, with a funky beat set up by the 6-string electric bass of Berg, and strong flowing lines from tenor saxophonist Petter Wettre.

My only regret is that I think this CD will be overlooked in the record bins in North America; if this had been recorded by New York musicians, I feel sure it would have a larger audience, but it is well worth looking for. Of course you can order on-line by going to www.nagelheyer.com.

This group of European musicians can be exceptionally proud of this release.

Mention should be made of the outstanding sound quality garnered by the Nagel Heyer engineers. All jazz CD's should sound this good. Highly recommended.


Nagel Heyer 2040

Jaymz Bee' Royal Jelly Orchestra - "Seriously Happy"

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Roll back the rug, put on your dancin' boots. This is Party time, Toe tappin' music, and any other cliché you can think of, they all apply to this CD, as all numbers are mid to up-tempo.

The emphasis throughout is on unpretentious creative swing and basically a programme of well-known and well loved standards, with one exception "Who Wouldn't Care For You", sung by Alex Pangman, a young lady who has the maturity beyond her years. In fact all the female singers shine in their particular spots. Sarah McElcheran arranged three numbers "You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby", 'Get Happy", and "Something's Gotta Give", for Christopher Plock, Sandra Caldwell and Jennifer Ryan respectively.

The men come across as more of the rough and ready type, and I don't mean this is a derogatory sense, but more belters than balladeers.

Excellent ensemble playing and great solos by members of the band. Jaymz Bee certainly succeeds in making some "Seriously Happy Music".

It is appropriate to mention the band and vocalists:

Peter Appleyard - vibes, Kevin Clark - cornet, Brandi Disterheft - bass, Dave Dunlop - trumpet, Chris Gale - tenor sax, Dave McMorrow - piano, Christoper Plock - baritone sax and flute, Terry Promane - trombone, Tony Quarrington - guitar, Great Bob Scott - drums and percussion, Richard Underhill - alto sax, Ross Wooldrige - tenor sax and clarinet.

Vocalists: Julie Michels, Dee Kaye, Alex Pangman, Christopher Plock, Sandra Caldwell, Lawrence Bayne, Lyne Tremblay, Big Rude Jake, Roger Clown, Dave Howard, Jennifer Ryan, Great Bob Scott.


Wychwood Park 2 70026

Jack Teagarden - "Muskrat Ramble"

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Previously un-issued, this release is a comprehensive remembrance of a night in Vancouver, British Columbia at the Orpheum Theatre, July 28, 1958. The programme covers a good percentage of the Dixieland warhorses. Big T must have played this kind of jazz all of his adult life and now drawing to the end of his long and esteemed career and still on the road he had lost some of his dexterity, it was beginning to tell and he does sound a little fatigued at times.

His partners on the front line seem to get the lions share of the solos, but then a below par Jack Teagarden was still something to be reckoned with. There are no fancy charts or stylized arrangements, but the band sounds well rehearsed and everyone plays well and the album is thus a very fitting memento to that evening long ago.

After two up-tempo tunes with good solos all round, pianist Don Ewell is featured on "Atlanta Blues" and " A Hand Full of Keys". Jack Teagarden's vocals are featured on "Beale Street Blues", "St James Infirmary" and "Old Pigeon-Toed Joad", but unfortunately he is off mike for the vocals and announcements between tunes.

My only quibble is that the liner notes, though telling a comprehensive life history of Jack Teagarden fail to mention the members of the band. Don Ewell is announced by Teagarden before his performance but is the only member of the band to be so honoured.

A little research has shown however that in 1958 he was on the road with Dick Oakley - cornet, Jerry Fuller - clarinet, Don Ewell - piano, Stan Puls - bass and Ronnie Greb - drums. All of these musicians sound at ease playing in the classic manner.


Just A Memory JAM 9149-2

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