October 2005

Each month we provide a series of CD reviews plus "Star Rated" items.

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. John was head of the English department in a secondary school for over 20 years. His first exposure to jazz as a teenager was the purchase of Louis Armstrong's "Struttin' with Some Barbeque" His collection of music today includes, apart from a very large jazz section; an extensive classical collection, most of which are of a contemporary concept.

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. Colin was the school programme director for the Markham Jazz Festival during its formative years. He also hosts a jazz radio show {One Flight Up} on CKLN-FM (88.1) in Toronto on Tuesday mornings from 7:00 am to 11:00 am.

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

Al Henderson Quintet – “Fathers and Sons”


Recorded live at Toronto’s Montreal Bistro (August, 2003), bassist Al Henderson and members of his quintet, Pat LaBarbera – saxes, Alex Dean – saxes, Richard Whiteman – piano, Barry Romberg – drums, stir up quite a storm with their opening “Darwin’s Ghost”, a lively fellow indeed. However, the 6 compositions by Henderson fashion many moods with titles only suggesting unstated meanings: a bouncy, fun-loving “Obscure”, a tenors/piano ballad with “Marcus M”, a nostalgic link, perhaps, between past-present to “Fathers and Sons”, as liner photographs from earlier times would indicate. The session ends as it began, with the five in collective musical animation on “Millennium Jump”. Lots of variety here!.


Cornerstone 124

Coral Egan – “My Favourite Distraction”


Montreal singer Coral Egan wrote the lyrics and the music, as well as participating with the arrangements for this recording.

Though not a jazz album as such, it will no doubt appeal to a much wider audience than her earlier CD “The Path of Least Resistance”. She is a very talented singer, with a light sounding voice, excellent phrasing, which shows with warmth on the ballads, but powerful and totally in control on the more dramatic tunes.

The band and string section made up of Montreal musicians give exceptional support to Miss Egan, and the liner notes cover all the musicians involved as well as complete lyrics. Highly recommended.


Justin Time JUST 191-2

Fortin, Leveille, Donato,Nasturica.


Luc Fortin – guitar, Richard Leveille – guitar, Michel Donato – bass, Marin Nasturica- accordion. These four very talented musicians from Montreal make for some very fine and exciting music on this CD. Michel Donato is a name that will probably be most familiar with jazz fans with his impeccable jazz credentials. The two guitarists are both master, Luc Fortin has more than thirty years experience playing jazz, rock, Latin and classical music. Richard Leveille has a master’s degree in music and he has a well-balanced artistic maturity.

Romanian born Marin Nasturica is a virtuoso of the accordion and complements the sound of session with his outstanding technique.

It’s the kind of music that is very hard to slot, but after a few plays it most certainly grows in stature. There is a blend of blues, swing, waltz, and samba with gypsy jazz a la Django Reinhardt.


DEP GIT2-2055

Michael Kaeshammer – “Strut”


The quirky rhythms of Kaeshammer’s “Twentysomething” introduces us to the creatively unique inspirations of the young pianist and to accompanists Ben Wolfe – bass, and Johnny Vidacovich – drums who assist him in framing a musical collection of playfully explorative numbers. Uniting past and present, the trio strides through Albert Ammons’ “Bass Gone Crazy” and a Wilson/Waller inspired “Sunny Morning”, dresses up “Almost A Rag” with Jelly Roll Morton-does-the rhumba rhythm, crosses gospel boundaries in “You’re A Good Dancer, Johnny”, takes a funky boppish flight into “Now?”, recasts “Blue Skies” in a new light. Kaeshammer even offers a couple of soulful vocals on “Comes Love” and “Cry To Me”. Highly Recommended.


Alma 14272

One Take – “Volume 1” {CD/DVD}


This CD adheres to the same principles as the previous disc – “without rehearsals, overdubs or edits”. Despite the absence of a “preconceived agenda”, the result is jazz improvisation at its best. The polished interaction among the four players, Joey DeFrancesco – Hammond B3 organ, Guido Basso – flugelhorn/trumpet, Lorne Lofsky – guitar, Vito Rezza – drums pays tribute to their extensive experience as well as to the excitement generated by the freedom of the recording format. The programme, chosen ad hoc, comprises six standards, including the charmingly lyrical “My Romance” and “My Funny Valentine Valentine”, the jazz samba beat of “How Insensitive”, the lively rhythmic pulse of “Walkin’ ”. The closing track offers us an intricately woven melody with “Caruso”. The DVD skilfully offers everything as described in the previous review.


Alma – ACD 14282
Alma - ADV 14299 (DVD)

One Take – “Volume 2” CD /DVD


The foursome of Phil Dwyer – saxophone, Robi Botos – piano/fender Rhodes, Marc Rogers – bass, and Terri Lyne Carrington – drums stir up a potent musical brew with this ‘single take’ session, especially the latter who adds a dynamic rhythmic propulsion to the “improvisational magic” captured not only audibly for CD but also visually for DVD. As Dwyer states: ..”it was refreshing to go into a studio and just play music”. This spontaneous approach is evident in the sheer energetic ride afforded “Freedom Jazz Dance” or “Listen Here”, the laid back pace of “Alone Together”, even the sax/drum duet of “Surrey with the Fringe on Top”. The DVD personalizes the music for us as the camera roams freely, focussing on the skilled hands of the players, capturing the nuances of the non-verbal cues exchanged in facial expressions or bodily movements, making us more fully aware of the intensity yet informality of the music-making process. Certainly, the creative abilities of the individual musicians are more readily apparent.

Alma – ACD 14382 {CD}
Alma - ADV 14399 {DVD}

Phil Dwyer/Alan Jones/Rodney Whitaker –
“Let Me Tell You About My Day”


The polished rapport of 3 veteran players, saxophonist Phil Dwyer, drummer Alan Jones, and bassist Rodney Whitaker, provides a repertoire of 9 original works as well as a playfully rearranged treatment of Sonny Rollins’ “Airegin”, a scintillating sax sortie into John Lewis’s “Afternoon in Paris”, and a ‘cool reshaping’ of the standard “I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love with Me”. Dwyer’s title tune suggests that many of his own selections have been drawn from the “flow of events” imprinted memorably in visual images – “Two White Heads”, personal perspectives – “Camp Whitaker”, or reflective fascinations – “Narcolypso”. The energy and propulsive support of bass and drums establish a secure musical meld throughout. The plaintive melody to Alan Jones’ “Refuge” cries out for deserving lyrics. Recommended.


Alma 12442

Renee Fleming – “Haunted Heart”


Operatic diva Renee Fleming introduces us to her ‘other voice’, one that is rich and sultry, that avoids the virtuosic, that reflects “a personal journey back on a road not taken”. From earlier days as a practising singer of popular songs she chooses here those “that have haunted my heart over the years”, including as well several classical favourites on the premise that “ a great song is a great song” no matter what the source. With the astute selection of Fred Hersch – piano/arranger and Bill Frisell – guitar/arranger, she ranges freely and comfortably over a varied panoply of selections from Joni Mitchell’s “River” and Lennon-McCartney’s “In My Life”, to the 1936 Oscar-nominated “When Did You Leave Heaven?” and Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times Come Again No More”, to Mahler’s “Liebst du um Schonheit” (in German). Moreover, Hersch and Frisell are superb. Highly Recommended!


Decca 000440602

Rita Coolidge – “And So Is Love”


For over 3 decades vocalist Rita Coolidge has been shaping her own musical trail, “…shifting effortlessly between pop, rock, blues, soul and country.” This lengthy experience in “genre-hopping” is now directed to a continued revitalization of her career with the full scope of the American Songbook as her source of inspiration. Chosen carefully here, the songs not only reflect her artistic ability and maturity, but also serves as memorable touchstones to vintage performances by others; hence, “The Masquerade is Over” (Nancy Wilson), “I Don’t Know Enough About You” (Peggy Lee), “Or Come Rain Come Shine” (Ray Charles. Even her own earlier hit “We’re All Alone” {1977} is given totally different interpretations here. Small group support, especially pianists Alan Pasqua and Russell Ferrante, is excellent.


Concord 2271-2

The Swingcats – “Get Happy!”


The music on this CD ranges from Jelly Roll Morton’s “King Porter Stomp” to Dizzy Gillespie’s “BeBop”, giving the listener some idea of the range of tunes the Swingcats cover. Leader {clarinet, saxophones} Frank Roberscheuten remains untouched by Coltrane or other contemporary influences and appears quite content with the sounds of the Swing Era. The emphasis throughout is on unpretentious creative swing and the result is a gem of a recording. The rhythm section, Dirk Van Der Linden – piano, Karel Algoed –bass and Moritz Gastreich – drums, gives excellent support. Vocalist Shaunette Hildabrand has a very pleasing voice; she is accurate and has clear diction.

Overall a most pleasant hour plus, of timeless mainstream jazz with the usual great sound we have to expect from Nagel Heyer.


Nagel Heyer CD 087

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Previous Picks