September 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

Alex Pangman – “Live in Montreal”


Recorded in front of an audience for Radio Canada, Alex shows us once again she is without a doubt one of the best interpreters of material dating back to the early roots of jazz. She sings with conviction and makes you believe she has experienced all that the lyrics portray. Like Mildred Bailey in the early 1930’s, she has the means of setting benchmarks for the music and has developed a style that is instantly recognizable.

She is backed by a superb band comprised of Kevin Clark – trumpet, Ross Wooldridge – clarinet/sax, Danny Douglas – trombone, Jesse Barksdale – guitar, Cheong Liu – bass, Peter Hill – piano, and Chris Lamont – drums, who get plenty of opportunities to solo. Highlights include her provocative rendition of “Sweetheart I’m Yours” and “Through the Courtesy of Love”, bouncy happy tones on “Sing You Sinners” and “Serenade in the Night”. The band fulfils its role perfectly on “Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me”, one of two strictly instrumental tunes, the other being “Dinah”, which shows the rapport they have with each other, sounding at times a lot like middle period Eddie Condon’s gang. This is an exceptional recording that belongs in your collection, and a worthy introduction to those of you who have not heard of this remarkable songbird. Highly Recommended.

H. H.

Real Gone Gal RRG029

Andrew Boniwell – “StopStart”


StopStart is Andrew Boniwell’s debut CD, recorded in 1997. Boniwell is responsible for all the titles and music on this recording, original material that is inspired by Bill Frisell, Carla Bley and John Coltrane. His writing is in the post bop idiom with most of the selections being high-energy music, pleasant rather than memorable. Boniwell is a versatile pianist who thrives in a variety of settings, as does Shawn Nykwist – tenor and soprano saxophones. Bassist Stuart Steinhart and drummer Mike McClelland are more than adequate in their supporting roles.

The recording is well engineered and the band sounds well rehearsed. As is the case for numerous recordings being released, the notes tell the listener nothing about the musicians involved.


Soundcolour 001

Bill Evans – “The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961”


Some years ago I was playing some music for a bass player friend, and upon adjusting the sound I remarked, “Is that too much bass? ”. The reply was quite simply, “There is no such thing as too much bass”.

Upon listening to Bill Evans music, I feel the same way; “There is no such thing as too much Bill Evans”.

This 3-CD box set of outstanding music attests to my statement. Taken from a recording done on June 25th, 1961, (afternoon sets 1 & 2) and (evening sets 1, 2 & 3) during a two-week engagement, this is the magical trio of Evans, Paul Motian and Scott LaFaro. Actually these were the last recordings done by this trio, Scott was killed in a car crash ten days later. The recording quality is, to my ears, superb, capturing that true jazz club ambiance, a little chatter from the audience as well as the musicians, and an occasional sound of glasses clinking (not too intrusive); the fact this recording is issued in 20-bit K2 Super Coding System puts you on stage with these three marvellous musicians.

There were actually five sessions recorded on the above date, and three were released under these titles: “Sunday at the Village Vanguard”, “Waltz for Debby” and “More from the Vanguard”.

Although many of the tunes had been recorded before, mostly studio recordings, these all sound so fresh: “My Romance” swinging hard with Scott making statements over the piano, “Gloria’s Step” (take 1) full of energy from all three members, the very essence of listening to each other and propelling the tune to greater heights. No individual dominance here, a true trio. Those tunes that are repeated in other sets during the day and evening include “Gloria’s Step”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “All of You”, “My Romance”, “Detour Ahead”, “Waltz for Debby”, “Jade Visions”. There is a version of “Some other Time” from the afternoon set, where the trio is totally ‘as one’, probably more so than on any of the other tunes. If you don’t have any Bill Evans in your collection, this is a ‘must own’, and if you, like me, have many, get it anyway. It is a true masterpiece.

Very Highly Recommended.

H. H .

Riverside 3RCD-4443-2

Bud Shank – Phil Woods – “Bouncing with Bud & Phil – Live at Yoshi’s”


East meets West, that is if you remember the terms used to describe musicians from the East and West Coasts of the U.S.A. Phil Woods from the East (Hard Bop) and Bud Shank from the West (Cool School). These two very special musicians are here supported by a rhythm section of MikeWofford – piano, Bob Magnusson – bass, and Bill Goodwin – drums; equally special I might add.

Performing in front of a very enthusiastic audience the two alto players are obviously stimulated by each other and have rarely sounded better.

The tunes are lengthy; the shortest is 6 min 19 secs, the longest is 14 min 25 secs, giving the listener the opportunity to languish in the intensity of exploration of the themes whether up-tempo or ballad.

Aided by the extraordinarily inventive playing of the three sidemen, this session is extremely successful. Both Woods and Shank are authoritative; listen to Shank on “Nature Boy”, his solo spotlight, poignant and reflective in ballad form. Both Shank and Woods charge ahead with power and fury on the opening track “Bouncing with Bud” much to the delight of the audience and themselves. This is pure joy.

Woods is in top form with his spotlight “Summer Serenade”, inspiring a beautiful solo from Wofford.

Listening carefully to these tracks, one is rewarded with fine improvisation and variations on each tune. Of special interest is the lengthy “Gemma’s Eyes” building into a dancing, adventurous journey, after a beautiful piano intro.

Nothing too complex here, just beautiful music by two undisputed masters of the alto sax. An added bonus: the sound is of extreme high quality, instruments well separated and balanced. A more than worthwhile and exciting release that should appeal to fans of great jazz. Pick up this disc, and if these artists appear in your area, go out and enjoy them.

H. H.

Capri Records 74071-2

Herbie Mann/Phil Woods – “Beyond Brooklyn”
Bob Mintzer Big Band – “Live at MGG with special guest Kurt Elling”


The ultimate goal for MCG records is “….to preserve, present and promote jazz”. What better example than a pair of seasoned veterans like flutist Herbie Mann and altoist Phil Woods, musicians whose experience collectively spans almost 100 years. As the title suggests, the 12 numbers here musically define the respective paths that they have taken since their first Brooklyn gig together in 1951. Supported by a host of talented players, the duo offers a wide choice of compositions ranging from Ellington (“Azure”) and Parker (“Au Privave”) to Randy Weston (“Little Niles”) and Pettiford (“Bohemia After Dark”). Sadly, the disc is dedicated to the spirit of Herbie Mann who passed away shortly after this session (2003).

Leader/reedman Bob Mintzer assembles his 15-piece band, collectively together “….for the last 20 years”, in a live recording at the MCG Arts and Learning Centre in Pittsburgh. The selections, chosen from his last 5 or 6 recordings – from about 1994 to the present – include such originals as the Latinised “El Caborohjeno”, the lyrical “Gently”, the rhythmical “Who Who’s Walkin’”. Vocalist Kurt Elling guests with the standard “My Foolish Heart”, a quartet-accompanied “All Is Quiet”, and an expressive vocalise to a spirited rendition of Herbie Hancock’s “Eye of the Hurricane”. The ambience within the 350-seat music hall of MCG creates a special spatial environment for the presentation.


Mann/Woods – MCGJ 1012
Bob Mintzer – MCGJ 1016

Monty Alexander – “Live at the Iridium”


Listening to Monty Alexander in a nightclub, a concert setting or on CD’ is always an exhilarating experience. He has that capability of making you believe you are the only person he is playing to, with your favourite kind of music in just the right mood swings that you enjoy. He considers this ability to be “fingerprints”, indicating as he did in an interview with Richard Palmer for Jazz Journal back in 2002, that “ all musicians have different fingerprints in jazz that is ever so profoundly varied, that’s what makes our music so fabulous, the individuality”, and he used Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Nat King Cole, Erroll Garner and Oscar Peterson as typical examples.

This recording with Hassan Shakur – bass, Mark Taylor – drums and Robert Thomas, Jr – hand drums and drums [the latter is not heard on all tracks], was recorded at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City in May of 2004.

This is an album of quality jazz playing which has that Monty Alexander class written all over it, sometimes quiet “Little Darlin’ “, “My Mother’s Eyes” (‘No one plays ballads like Monty’–quote from liner notes), swinging “Work Song”, “Happylypso/Funji Mama”, “Mount Zanda”, restrained {a statement of Monty’s faith – ‘there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God’ – quote from liner notes}, disciplined “Slappin’ (short for Slappin’ the Boogie), and “Runnin’ Away”.

The empathy between the musicians is complete, each complimenting one another perfectly, an alliance of superb instrumental techniques with good taste. Throughout, Monty pays tribute to his roots with great pride.

Good informative liner notes by Ethnomusicologist –Theologian – William Edgar.

Very highly recommended.

H. H.

Telarc CD-83610

Russ Little – “Snapshot”


One of the shining stars of the trombone in Canada shows off his expertise in this recording with a stellar backing with other luminaries on the Canadian jazz scene in a variety of small group settings, including Phil Dwyer, Michael Stuart, John Johnson –saxophones, Bill McBirnie – flute, Rob Piltch, Lorne Lofsky, Mike Francis – guitars, Tom Szczesniak – piano and accordion, Brian Barlow – drums, vibraphone, marimba, congas & percussion, shaker, tambourine, Scott Alexander – bass.

Russ shows his influences, which include Tommy Dorsey, Vic Dickinson, Bill Watrous. Bill Harris, Frank Rosolino and Jack Teagarden, but has a distinctive voice and the ability to swing, sound passionate and create endless flowing ideas in each solo.

Many moods are created with songs that are like the title suggests “Snapshots” in his life, including Eddie Harris’ “Cold Duck Time”, Victor Young’s “Where Can I Go Without You?” , Eugene Amaro’s “Out on a Limb”, Stevie Wonder’s “Smile Please”, A. C. Jobim’s “One Note Samba” and his own original composition “Little Prince”. Each member of the groups represented here are inventive and delightfully creative in all of their support or solo work.

Highly Recommended

H. H.

Rhythm Tracks RT-CD0006

Zona Sul – “Pure Love”


The picture of the singer on the front cover of this CD could be a little misleading, into making the buyer think her name is Zona Sul, when in actual fact she is Sophie Wegener, the vocalist for a German based quintet that takes its name, Zona Sul, from the southernmost section of the Rio coastline.

Miss Wegener sings in four languages, English, French, Italian, and primarily Portuguese. She has a voice that is made for the subtle rhythms of the bossa nova, and she has selected mainly tunes from the Antonio Carlos Jobim songbook. The rest of Zona Sul, particularly pianist Tizian Jost, who consistently finds inventive ways to fill spaces in the arrangements, adequately supports her.

The sound of course is up to the usual standards set by Nagel Heyer, and the liner notes are most informative.

B. E.

Nagel Heyer 2039

Zoot Sims – “Americans in Paris”


Zoot Sims and John Eardley were appearing with the Gerry Mulligan Sextet in Paris in 1956 when they time out to record these tracks for Ducretet-Thomson. The programme consists of a good mix of originals by pianist Henri Renaud and Eardley and standards such as Cole Porter’s “Everything I Love” and a Quincy Jones original “Evening in Paris”. It is hard to imagine Zoot producing a dull performance, he was always reliable, really spontaneous, with unforced swing, and his ballad playing never lacked warmth. virtually every last thing that he recorded is worth buying.

He is complemented very nicely by the brisk trumpet playing of Eardley and the very fine input from the talented Renaud should not be underestimated who is exceptional in ensemble and solo playing.

This session seems to have caught fire from the first bar of music and regrettably the short playing time just flies by. The re-mastered sound is excellent.

B. E.

EMI 7243 539646-2

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Previous Picks