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The Tremble Kids All Stars - "Play Chicago Jazz"

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Extant since the mid-fifties on the European jazz scene, The Tremble Kids retain two of their original members, Werner Keller (clarinet/vocal) and Walter Leibundgut (trombone/vocal), though pianist Henri Chaix (1959), drummer Charley Antolini (1957), and trumpeter Peter Lange (1961) can hardly be considered new arrivals. Peter Schmidli (guitar) and Vincenz Kummer (bass) round out this septet in their 1997 release recorded at Winterthur, Switzerland, an outing affectionately labelled "Condon Jazz". Over the years, joined on occasion by such American notables as Buck Clayton, Roy Eldridge, Bud Freeman, and Sammy Price (to name a few), their musical sources remained relatively constant, and here they capture the essence of that tradition in a propulsive, improvisatory manner with the likes of "Blues in the Air", "Mama's Gone Goodbye", Armstrong's "Pretty Little Missie", and a rousing jam session closer, "Tutti for Eddie". A fortuitous blend of experience, passion and sheer joy makes this a compelling item. (J.S.)

Nagel Heyer 043 to order

Vache/Allred/Metz Family Jazz Band - "Side by Side"

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Two generations of jazz musicians are featured on this 1997 CD, with fathers and sons mixing up a swinging pot-pourri of numbers from the 20's, 30's and 40's. From the opening medley ("Side by Side"/"Ding Dong Daddy") to a closing J.P. Johnson's "Old Fashioned Love", the septet made up of Allan, Warren Jr, Warren Sr, Vache (clarinet, cornet, and bass respectively), John and Bill Allred (trombones), and the duo of Ed Metz Jr./Ed Metz Sr. (drums/piano), captures the flavour of that past on compositions ranging from a 1920's hit ("Japanese Sandman"), a quiet swinger from 1936 ("You Turned the Tables on Me"), to the Academy Award winner of 1947 ("Zip-a-dee-doo-dah"). There's even a moody original by Metz Sr. ("Blues for the Old Man"), as well as family outings with "No One Else But You" (Vache's), and the Metze's on "Zip-a-dee¼.", the Allred's on "Sandman". Liner notes by Vache Sr. offer insightful background to the thirteen works on the disc. The group's rendition of "Come Back Sweet Papa" is a lively highlight. (J.S.)

Nagel Heyer 042 to order

Nick Brignola - "Poinciana"

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Multi-reed instrumentalist Nick Brignola sticks to his baritone sax on this 1997 CD, and, in the company of pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Steve LaSpina, and drummer Billy Hart (with percussionist Café added on three tracks), he proves not only his "remarkable muscularity and exuberance (liner) with peppery incursions into Monk's "Well, You Needn't" and free flight explorations of Rollin's "Airegin", but also an imaginative, fluid articulation with such standards as "What'll I do?" or "When You Wish Upon a Star". A strong rhythmic support throughout, but especially with Tom Harrell's latinized "April Mist" or Strayhorn's "Upper Manhattan Medical Group", adds another dimension upon which the baritonist can pursue his improvisatory capabilities. This is salty stuff indeed, on a par with the best of Pepper Adams, Ronnie Cuber, or Cecil Payne. (J.S.)

Reservoir RSR CD 151 to order

Kenny Colman - "Dreamscape"

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Vancouver-based vocalist Kenny Colman, emerged from the virtual obscurity of the club circuit to herald, perhaps, the restoration of a popular art form too long out of vogue: the ballad singer capable of making "¼.old songs sound new and new songs sound like old friends" (liner). With touches of Tony Bennett and Andy Williams in his delivery, with the lush accompaniment of the London Philharmonic and arrangements (three) by Johnny Mandel and guest spots by harmonica virtuoso Toots Theilmans, he puts together on this 1998 release a programme of familiar and recent songs centred on the themes of promises, hopes, and lost dreams. The anticipated inclusion of such standards as "Laura", "The Days of Wine and Roses", "Stardust", or "As Time Goes By" come as no surprise; however, relatively uncharted waters are explored with Mandel's own "Where Do You Start?" and "I Wish I'd Met You", or Freddy Heineken's "You Again" and "Lost on the Wind". The voice is sure, and the accompaniment in keeping with the mood. This is no jazz recording, but rather a tasteful, pleasant outing by a man who can and likes to sing. (J.S.)

Justin Time 8466-2 to order

World Saxophone Quartet - "Selim Sivad"

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This 1998 venture by the ever-surprising WSQ is subtitled A Tribute to Miles Davis. The foursome of Hamiet Bluiett, David Murray, Oliver Lake and John Purcell present seven numbers (five by Davis) as "¼.a comprehensive, intuitive exploration¼.of that elusive spirit" that characterized his music over the years. In addition, the inclusion of drummer/pianist Jack DeJohnette and African percussionists extends an element of "improvisational fire" to the performances, especially on such numbers as the unrelenting swirl of "Seven Steps to Heaven", the polyrhythmic, somewhat funky "Tutu", and the sustained, rolling beat of "All Blues". There is also the gentle, impressionistic percussive underpinning behind the free play of horns on "Selim", and a bittersweet rendition of the lyrical "Blue in Green". " The overall effect of this collective improvisation is one of ingenuity, playfulness, and joyous communal spirit" (liner). Never a dull moment here. (J.S.)

Justin Time 119-2 to order

David Murray - "Creole" (Standard Time vol 5)

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The David Murray quintet, with James Newton (flute), Ray Drummond (bass), D.D.Jackson (piano), Billy Hart (drums), and Murray on tenor/bass clarinet, meets the percussion, flute des mornes, and guitar ensemble from Guadeloupe on this 1997 disc, a melding of Afro-American and Caribbean musical cultures. It's a heady encounter, loaded with pervasive, intricate rhythms and joyous exchanges. Murray's own compositions, "Guadeloupe Sunrise" and "Mona", offer a cornucopia of sounds and tempi, the former a mixture of rich, dark tones etched with brash discords, an instrumental call-response between guitar and tenor, while the latter is an all-out session of seething, scorching interplay of drums, tenor, flute and piano. As well, there is an animated guitar/tenor duet capturing "Guadeloupe After Dark", and infectious, melodic blending of voice and bass clarinet on "Flor Na Paul". It would have been rewarding to know more about musical sources, but the liner notes provide only minimal information, unfortunately. (J.S.)

Justin Time 115-2 to order

Jeri Brown/Leon Thomas - "Zaius"

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Vocalist Jeri Brown assembles a formidable host of musicians - john Hicks (piano), bassists Curtis Lundy and Avery Sharpe, tenormen David Murray/Don Braden, drummer Sangoma Everett - as well as the inimitable voice stylings of Leon Thomas on this 1998 CD, an eclectic collection of originals, popular standards and jazz-oriented compositions. With immaculate phrasing and a vocal range extending from deep tonal colourations to gritty, strident flights into the upper register (shades of Cleo Laine, Norma Winstone, Annie Ross!), she joins the easily recognizable Thomas on a playful version of Joe Carroll's 1956 hit "Oo-Shoo-Be-Doo-Be", the rhythmically hypnotic "The Creator Has a Master Plan", a Slam Stewartsish treatment of Sharpe's "Uncle from Ghana", and an Ellington-Monk-Berlin medley with "It Don't Mean a Thing"/"In Walked Bud"/"Blue Skies" with scat exchanges riding over the melodies. The supporting cast provides sterling rhythmic backup and sparkling solo breaks throughout, but notably on the lengthy Afrocentric title tune. (J.S.)

Justin Time 117-2 to order

Various Artists - "Jazz Montreal"

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This June, 1998 release represents a cross-section of musicians who, over the years, have contributed to the fabric of Montreal's jazz scene, either as local celebrities, long time residents, or short term visitors. Whatever their roles, they have left their respective marks on the city's musical development. The compilation here ranges from blues-oriented pieces by Johnny O'Neal, Charlie Biddle-Wray Downes and a lively orchestral number under the aegis of Oliver Jones, to swinging, up tempo originals with guitarist Richard Ring, Nelson Symonds, and the free tenor flight of Joe Henderson with pianist Jon Ballantyne. In addition, vocalist Ranee Lee introduces her own playful lyricism, Denny Christianson a funky orchestral number, and Dave Turner a bouncy alto/piano ride over a steady rhythmic pulse. A relaxed Bley/Greenwich pairing rounds off the mix. Truly a jazz compendium for all tastes, and at a budget price. (J.S.)

Justin Time JR 6650-2 to order

Various Artists - "Justin Time Records - Retrospective: 1983-1998

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A CD twofer commemorating, retrospectively , the fifteenth anniversary of Jim West's Justin Time label is now available; it has been offered free to those purchasing a $10.00 pass to Friends of the Montreal Jazz Festival, both a good marketing procedure and a worthy gesture in support of a popular cause. The slate of musicians featured, local and guests, numbers thirty or more, drawn from some 27 previously issued albums, and the range of musical genres is staggeringly vast; piano focussed pieces by Oliver Jones, Paul Bley, Jon Ballantyne, D.D.Jackson, Jaki Byard, Hilario Duran; the reeds of Fraser MacPherson, Jane Bunnett, David Murray, Hamiet Bluiett, Michael Marcus, WSQ; guitarists Sonny Greenwich, Brian Hughes, Bryan Lee; vocals from Ranee Lee, Diana Krall, Jeri Brown, and the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir; trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, violinist Billy Bang, bassist Dave Young, and the aggregations of Quartango and Denny Christianson. An impressive collection! (J.S.)

Justin Time Justsam 1515-2 to order

Highly recommended CD's without reviews, star rated as follows:

***** Excellent
**** Good

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