Friday, May 30, 2014

Ferenc, Gypsy Dream

For those who respond to the Gypsy jazz-Gypsy music revival there is another good one today. Gypsy Dream (Mesa/Blue Moon 2352) features the violin of Ferenc Illenyi, who has the proper passion and liquid approach of the style down very well, very expressively.

He is out front in a small ensemble that owes something to the Reinhardt-Grappelli Hot Club sound. Erich Avinger does some quasi-Django guitar in a nice way and the addition of Andrew Leinhard on piano gives the music a slightly different emphasis. There are various guests throughout the program, with Chris Maresh a constant on acoustic bass.

This is especially a showcase for Ferenc, who has a beautiful sound and a classical-plus-improvisatory prowess. The music varies between Django favorites, Gypsy fusion and the old-style Gypsy sound.

It is quite well done. If you appreciate the Gypsy revival but don't want to stay too firmly in the Hot Club sound, this one ranges much more widely. And you don't feel like you are listening to rehashed Reinhardt-Grappelli as much as experiencing another take on the tradition.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Trumpets and Drums, Live in Ljubljana, Wooley-Evans-Black-Lytton

There are combinations that hit you straight off, sometimes before you even hear the music. The combination of two modern trumpet masters, Nate Wooley and Peter Evans, with two excellent drummers, Jim Black and Paul Lytton, was one that got my attention before I even played the CD. Trumpets and Drums, they matter-of-factly call themselves. The album Live at Ljubljana (Clean Feed 282) lives up to expectations.

What perhaps straight-off makes for interest is the contrast between the very extroverted, in-your-face, sonically brash outness of Peter Evans and Paul Lytton versus the slightly more considered dash of Nate Wooley and Jim Black. That in a way is a caricature because things never line up that simply with the four concerned. But nevertheless it points out what is a complementary working combination that comes through quite nicely on this set.

Wooley amplifies his trumpet for a wide-ranging sound. Similarly Black manipulates electronics in addition to his drumming. Evans plays a piccolo trumpet along with his usual standard trumpet and Lytton as expected gives us the added colors of extra percussion to his kit.

The music unfolds freely as one long, continuous performance. There are moments of aural experimentation, color building and there are times when the quartet takes it to the stars. A vivid sense of interaction, pacing and keen concentration from all four make it work excellently.

If you know these players you can imagine what the four together can do. They do it here and they do it very, very well. Grab onto this one and head for parts unknown.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Rhys Tivey, No Voice No More

Trumpeter-composer Rhys Tivey may be young (we all were at one time) but he has already formed a particular way of making music, as heard on his quartet disk No Voice No More (self released).

The stage is set for us by the title cut, a pentatonic lament. We have no voice any longer; music will be our voice. From there we go on to three more Tivey numbers, then a cooperative work in five parts by the entire quartet. The music closes out with the standard "My One and Only Love".

The group is a well-matched one. Pianist Jean-Michel Pilc plays an important role fleshing out the harmonic implications of the numbers and soloing in that very developed way of his. Tivey has a matter-of-fact tone on trumpet with a brooding quality in the middle-to-lower register, some brilliance at the top and a very definite feel for phrasing directly and memorably. No, not like Miles, exactly, but pared down to essentials in ways Miles might have appreciated.

The drums-bass rhythm team of Ross Pederson and Sam Minaie has a role to fill in the music and does so with the right feel.

The Tivey numbers stand out as distinctive; the five part "Dream" series is key centered and freely inventive. The foursome come up with a moody stance that is pre-patterned as well as free-wrought, which stands out in ways that stay in the mind. The standard has a Chet Baker-like vocal which perhaps may be classed as inessential. But no matter.

Tivey has determined to strike out on his own. This introduction gives us reason to appreciate his single-mindedness. Pilc sounds great too and the whole band gives you a very special sound that gets your attention and doesn't let go. Keep going, Rhys Tivey! Give this one a listen.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Juhani Aaltonen, To Future Memories

I paid less attention to Finnish tenor jazzman Juhani Aaltonen in previous years than I might have. Then two years ago I heard him in a 2-CD duet with Heikki Sarmanto and it woke me up. I posted on it here on April 30, 2012. Now I am back with another.

This one, To Future Memories (TUM 036), finds Juhani fronting a sextet, with his regular quartet of Iro Haarla (piano and harp), Reino Laine (drums) and Ulf Krokfors (bass) plus the addition of a second bassist, Ville Herrala, and percussionist Tatu Ronkko.

This is a moving program of the sextet playing the music of Antti Hytti, who has a somewhat melancholy way yet also shows the spiritual influence of mature Trane and Pharoah Sanders.

The combination of songs and players works splendidly. Juhani thrives articulating the often balladic melodies and working off of them on tenor, flute and alto flute. Pianist Iro Haarla plays a prominent role in a post-Tyner, post-Alice Coltrane zone. The full rhythm section of two bassists and two drummer-percussionists adds much fullness and color.

The music has a consistently free, rubato flow to it that works well with the compositions.

It may be a bit of a sleeper, but a few close listens convinces you that this is music that is very worthwhile. It is not out to scorch you so much as set a mood that is uncompromisingly free yet contemplative.

I once again am impressed. This is an album to live with over a long period of time. It keeps sounding better to me. Kudos!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Zoot Sims, Compatability, 1955

First, a confession. For various reasons when I first started seriously listening to jazz I deliberately avoided what was called the "cool school" in jazz and generally the white cats who played it. I read all the various diatribes against the music and took it to heart. Then I listened closely to Miles Davis and his Birth of the Cool sessions. The music moved me very much. Next thing you know I was listening to some of the cool jazz that came after and found I liked much of it.

Now Zoot Sims was never really quite the cool school tenorist, but he was lumped in for various reasons--especially because some of his associations were in the cool zone. It took me a little while but eventually I got to hear Zoot with Al Cohn and with other cats. These many years later I am a confirmed Zootaholic. I don't believe he ever made a bad record, though naturally some are better than others. But Zoot had something and it was just about always with him throughout his long career.

So when Delmark sent me their reissue of Compatability (Jump-Delmark 12 36), a 1955 session for the long defunct Jump label, I took notice.

The album was originally released as a 10-inch LP back then. Sometime in the '70s it apparently came out on a 12-incher with alternate takes. The CD issue we have before us includes 13 cuts with the various alternate takes and we can assume that's the full date.

It was originally put out under the leadership of trumpeter Hall Daniels, who arranged the originals and standards for octet as influenced by the Birth of the Cool contrapuntal style that was quite the thing at the time. The arrangements are good, Hall sounds fine, but Zoot Sims and baritonist Bob Cooper stand out as the best soloists here.

It may not be Zoot's greatest outing but he sounds good and everybody swings along nicely. If you are a Zoot fan you'll eat it up. If not it may not be indispensible. But it's very nice regardless.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Swingle Singers, Weather to Fly

Some groups manage to create music of substance over long periods of time. The vocal unit Swingle Singers first came to the world's attention in the '60s with their patent wordless, swinging versions of baroque classics. That music struck a nerve so much that you heard them virtually everywhere for a time and justifiably so. I believe they garnered five Grammys in that period.

The next recorded performance I heard personally was as a central part of Luciano Berio's Sinfonia. And that was a sign that they could move in many different directions as they saw fit.

They've been together more or less continuously (with a hiatus in the '70s) since 1962. The original members may no longer be with us or have gone on to other things, but the contemporary version of the group shows the same excellence of arrangement and ability, as witnessed by their latest album Weather to Fly (Village Jazz).

The album is a greatly diverse potpourri of contemporary song and shows off the beautiful sound of their voices in tandem and individually. I was surprised to hear them do Chick Corea's well-known "Spain" in a way that refurbished the song in my head and made me appreciate it all over again. The album has much going for it, one thing being unpredictability. This is not cutting-edge or avant but it is excellent in its very own fashion and covers much ground.

I was surprised, in a way, to find that the album is in every way ravishing. It is what it is, but if you like beautiful vocal arrangements well executed you are likely to get with this in a big way. May they continue another 100 years! Recommended.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Abdelhai Bennani Trio, Present

The Moroccan tenor saxophonist Abdelhai Bennani has been rather prolific in the past few years, mostly with self-released excursions on the cooperative label JaZt Tapes. He's back with a trio outing on that label, Present (JaZt Tapes 038).

This one has some clout to it thanks in part to the trio format. Benjamin Duboc on double bass and Didier Lasserre, drums, have a long and effective involvement in the free music-avant jazz-free jazz scene and their presence gives some dimension to Abdelhai's saxophony.

Maestro Bennani is a player with a distinct note-swallowing way of phrasing, a very grainy sound at times and a free approach. He sounds completely at ease here and the trio thrives in putting together a very loose and free set. It's something those into the new thing will appreciate, as I did.

To find out more and how to order, go to

Lena Bloch, Feathery

Lena Bloch plays the tenor saxophone. Like Richard Tabnik, whose music we considered a few days ago, she has been influenced by the Tristano school of jazz players. In her case she fell in with Lee Konitz after some considerable shedding and found that Konitz, Marsh and Tristano himself gave her something, a base within which she could express her individuality.

Her debut album, after much dues paying, shedding and gigging, is with us. Feathery (Thirteenth Note 006) gives us a good look at her music in a quartet setting--with Dave Miller on guitar, Cameron Brown, bass, and Billy Mintz, drums.

It's a wide-ranging set with a couple of Tristano school numbers and some band originals. They alternate between a swinging pulse bop and post-bop approach and some more free expressions. She is a looser player than someone like Konitz in his typical identity. She is not a line weaving speed-demon here as much as a player with real creative inventive qualities.

The band plays a full four-way role with plenty of time and space for their soloing and interacting.

Lena comes through with an interesting, even exciting debut. I hope we continue to hear from her and see where she goes but for now this is a promising start.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet, LP

Ignore the West Coast musically these days at your own peril. It may have an underground feel to the scene, but then so does Brooklyn and Chicago, Lisbon and London. Much good-to-excellent music is being made in the world as we speak, and much of it gets little-to-no attention in the mass consumption sense. We shouldn't expect it to be different right now. Some future world may see things in another light, but for now the mass of mass consumption is generally looked down upon and given its directives from on high culturally.

So if you don't like that, switch it off. There's plenty of alternative music still out there, flourishing. Such an example is the Invisible Astro Healing Rhythm Quartet and their vinyl LP on Epigraph (LP-002).

It's a West Coast outfit that starts where Miles Davis's last cohesive psychedelic band (the one with Pete Cosey) left off. It thrives on driving a riff out of the planet and into the heavens. These are Earthlings though so we should talk about the who before we get far into the what. It's a live quartet date supplemented by the addition of two horns. The regular quartet consists of Jordan Aguirre on electric guitar and organ, Andrew Koeth, electric bass and organ, Brenndan Morlan on electric guitar and electric bass, and Alex Sarad on drums. The horns are well-represented by Kris Tiner on trumpet and Phillip Greenlief on tenor.

I implied earlier this starts with the space-funk of '70s Miles. It does. But it also has both a Sun Ra sort of space ethnicity and sometimes a bit of Ethiopian funk tonality.

Now the band itself doesn't stand out for its solo work though there is some and it is not uninteresting. They lay down the riffs effectively and get space colors to go with it. The horns have parts to play that add to it all but also are the soloists that most get that part of things going.

The live ambiance adds to the total sound, as does the warmth of the analog LP.

Now this is not going to overturn the universe and it is not meant to do so. It is some infectious groove and space mongering and for that it gets to you after a while.

Maybe not indispensable, but very cool to have and hear!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Richard Tabnik Trio, Symphony for Jazz Trio, A Prayer for Peace

Not everyone on the contemporary jazz scene falls neatly into tradition versus avant, trad versus free, pulse versus freetime, etc. In fact most of the players if not all out there in the "new" category have a strong sense of history and open themselves to it to varying degrees depending on the project and playing association at hand at any given time.

This strikes me as especially true of alto master Richard Tabnik, his trio and their Symphony for Jazz Trio, A Prayer for Peace (New Artists 1053 2-CDs). Those who have followed pianist Connie Crothers and her recordings and appearances over the years will recognize Richard as a long-time member of Connie's regular ensemble.

What is particularly satisfying about Maestro Tabnik's playing is the way he re-channels a Tristano influence into a personal contemporary sound and point of view. He does not sound so much like the original Tristano sax acolytes Konitz and Marsh as much as he takes the impetus of Lennie's asymmetrical across-the-bar phrasings and opens them up to a free zone, which may have implied changes underneath, but fly far afield chromatically and expressively to something most definitely post-new-thing. He has that cry and he can generate good improv ideas for sustained excitement over long periods.

And that at least in part is what he is doing on A Prayer for Peace. They begin with some shorter pieces. Then the latter half of the set is the "symphony" proper--in the sense that the entire performances has a unity that in part is kept together by thematic development. That you will recognize with repeated listens. And in between start and finish we are treated to some very vibrant and together jazz from a trio that is well-matched and continually generative improvisationally. The live setting for this session only adds to the sense of spontaneity-within-form.

Adam Lane comes through on bass throughout with beautiful walking and commentary from his corner of the rhythm section as well as extended solo spots that bring home his centrality among the new scene bass players today. Drummer Roger Mancuso is a fellow Crothers group member who has played with Tabnik for a long time and gives out with the very swinging and varied support needed.

And then of course this is Richard's chance to really stretch out and he takes full advantage with some hot-plate scorching and a freely ranging imagination. Sometimes all this takes place on top of implied changes, such as "I'll Remember April" changes at the start. Other times there is a looser harmonic framework. And always there is a very fully open harmonic-melodic sensibility that you listen to with open ears to fully understand.

One thing to consider. This is a great deal of music. You may want to take on one CD at a sitting on first hear. But the rewards are directly proportionate to the time and space the band and you, the listener, devote to making this music sound. It is well worth the effort.

Tabnik shows us why he remains a crucial force in jazz today--and he does it wholly on his own terms. Kudos!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bob Gluck Featuring Andrew Sterman, Tropelets

Some music seems born out of a vast personal experience. Pianist-composer-electronic magician Bob Gluck's Tropelets (Ictus 173) is one such example, and a very good one at that. He recently lost his father, Stan, and dedicates this album to his loving memory. This album was recorded before that but in a way it has a summing-up quality, an appreciation of and reverence for the Judaic background both shared.

The music on this album is comprised out of melodic elements drawn from Judaic cantillation, the tradition of liturgical recitation that goes back very many centuries. Bob on piano and various integrated electronic/electro-acoustic sounds shares improvisational inspirations with Andrew Sterman on soprano sax. All springs out of cantorial melody.

This sort of project generally stands or falls on what is done with the sources. Bob and Andrew do something very contemporary and lucid in a modern avant jazz zone. To say that it works is an understatement. It manages to convey cantoral melodic essences while taking those generative templates far afield into a music of today.

It is music that creates synergies between old and new, traditional and modern, the historical and the immediate. The synergies are very moving and satisfying to hear. This one achieves something wholly other by driving a creative wedge between opposite poles and creating a new space within that fulcrum edge-point.

Gluck and Sterman create some phenomenal music!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ali Bello, Connection, Caracas-New York

It's true in some ways that we can never really go home again, as Thomas Wolfe wrote so eloquently about. Home may still be there in space, yet time has changed it to something different. But we can take home with us wherever we go. I suppose you could say that is what violinist and Venezuelan native Ali Bello is all about. He takes his roots with him and combines them in a lively jazz-meets-Latin-meets-Venezuelan set Connection, Caracas-New York (Zoho 201313).

A mix of Spanish guitars, electric instruments, drums and local percussion, and jazz horns at times ably and excitingly back Ali on this set of nine numbers. Many of them are Ali Bello originals and some others may well have traditional melodies involved, but I cannot be sure other than to say that some of those partake of traditional and modern elements. Some are clearly Latin jazz in intent and sound.

Ali Bello is a wonderful player with a beautiful tone (he has classical training), a traditional approach that is very much tempered with a jazz sensibility and prowess.

You should hear this if you look for something outside the run-of-the-mill! Very nice indeed.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mark Weinstein, Latin Jazz Underground

The idea of a "progressive" form of Latin Jazz has been with us for a while, yet less of it hits the light of day these days than some of us might wish. I for one am glad that Mark Weinstein's Latin Jazz Underground (Zoho 201403) has reached our ears, for it fully explores the progressive realm in its very own way.

On it we have some very hip tunes by pianist Aruan Ortiz (2), one by Weinstein, plus some less-played jazz standards by Sam Rivers, Andrew Hill, Ornette Coleman, and the evergreen "Nature Boy".

The quintet of Weinstein, Ortiz, plus Rashaan Carter on bass, Gerald Cleaver on drums and Roman Diaz on percussion makes sure everything is both advanced in the Latin and in the modern jazz zone. Weinstein plays the standard, the alto and the bass flutes with immediacy and finesse. Ortiz and his Latin-and-beyond pianism makes for a strongly effective welding of advanced and out. The rhythm section adeptly moves from Afro-Latin to free, swing and back with an ease and sureness that all but guarantees that this one hits its various targets invariably, with artistry.

Latin Jazz Underground is a winner in every way!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Creative Music Studio, Archive Selections, Vol. 1

Karl Berger and associates started the Creative Music Studio in upstate New York many decades ago as a forum for the new avant jazz, a place for people to learn, for artists of distinction to have residency and to concertize with the latest music.

Fortunately the tapes were rolling over the years and we now have a three-CD set that issues Archive Selections, Vol. 1 (Innova 805), the first installment in what one hopes will be a long series of releases.

The music is divided with each disk representing a particular category of the music: "Small Ensembles", "Orchestral Music" and "World Music". There is so much noteworthy music here that I can only touch glancingly on the program and its highlights.

"Small Ensembles" has some wonderful duos of Charles Brackeen and Ed Blackwell that make you once again realize what a loss it was when Ed passed. David Izenson makes a rare appearance with his own trio that includes Karl on piano and Ingrid Sertso on vocals. The Leroy Jenkins-James Emery Duo has some very concentrated free moments.

"Orchestral Music" is an especially intriguing disk because the logistical and financial considerations with putting out this kind of music means it is more rare than it should be. We get three sets of compositions, by Olu Dara, Oliver Lake and Roscoe Mitchell, all music of great interest.

Finally "World Music" gives us sets by Ismet Siral, Nana Vasconcelos, and Foday Suso and the Mandingo Griot Society, the latter being especially irresistible as Foday gets a real head of steam going with Hamid Drake, Adam Rudolph and John Marsh laying down some especially moving grooves underneath.

Well that in short is the bare skeleton of what this CD set is about. You should go to the Innova site to get the full details of the program.

Not everything is a masterpiece, of course, but everything is of extraordinary interest for those who dig the advanced new music/avant jazz scene. If you are you will no doubt be as glad as I am to have this set to listen to repeatedly. It is a treasure! I look forward to subsequent volumes.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Matt Wilson Quartet + John Medeski, Gathering Call

Jazz marches on. It does not stand still. Nothing does unless it dies and jazz is not dead by any means. On the contrary.

Take drummer Matt Wilson's Quartet. They are joined by John Medeski on piano for a very lively Gathering Call (Palmetto 2169). The group blows strong because the players are strong like that. Jeff Lederer settles in nicely here on tenor, soprano and clarinet. Kirk Knuffke, who we've heard some great work from lately, takes the cornet chair. Chris Lightcap establishes a strong lower foundation on bass. Then of course Medeski and Wilson.

The Wilson tunes are well-written, memorable and establish the mood for some heavy blowing most of the time. Then there is Duke's "Main Stem"--where we are treated to Jeff's allusion to Paul Gonsalves--along with another, lesser-known Duke, a traditional tune and some other neglected jazz repertoire goodies.

This is ultra-modern hard- and post-bop that drives onto the edge of mainstream in an unforced, natural, heated way. Everybody pulls the weight as if it were light. Don't get me wrong, they work it. But in a way that seems second-nature to them, as the considerable work each spent getting to this level allows.

I do recommend this one heartily. Wilson is a drummer of magnitude. Now we see he is a leader of magnitude as well.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Jazz Combustion Uprising, Self-Immolation

I remember at Berklee my first two roommates were as different as could be. One, with whom I got along with well, was a real jazz player and we had much to share in our enthusiasms for Mingus, McLean and Miles. The other was into rock and perhaps not as cognisant of the jazz element. We used to rib him about it and he finally came back with...a Fats Navarro album! Why Fats is a long story but we approved.

I think of this because on the Jazz Combustion Uprising Album Self-Immolation (self-released) that is up for discussion today the most fetching theme "Bike Lanes (Coming)" could be the first several bars of a Fats Navarro solo. They do something with it--including lyrics and a vocal part--that sticks in the mind but I go back and remember Fats as I've been hearing this CD over the past week, and so remember that roommate too.

No matter. The point perhaps to be gained is that the group Jazz Combustion Uprising has a good sense of roots and still manages to get fresh sounds going. It's a Frisco-based unit of Henry Hung on trumpet, Grant Levin, piano, Andrew Ryan on drums, David "Elaine" Alt on saxophones, and Kenny Annis on bass. There are several guests including vocalist Alicia Bell for "Bike Lanes".

I dig the tunes here, which embody bop and post-bop with a flair. And the soloists are hipply into the roots--Henry Hung gets some wonderful sounds that recall, yes, maybe a little Fats and those that have come after. He has a beautiful tone and chooses well between notes. The same could be said for pianist Grant Levin. Elaine Alt sounds effective as well in a post-Bird mode, sometime pretty post-, too! The rhythm team chugs along nicely. It swings.

So when old school gets done this well, with all the fire and creativity that you have to have to make this work...all that is there. I won't pretend I know what the Mid-Eastern/North African theme is about here and so I won't comment on that.

This is good grooving bop-and-after with some real players. That's all you need to know.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Craig Hartley, Books On Tape, Vol. 1

A title that is a kind of spoof starts off this review. Pianist Craig Hartley has called his recent album Books On Tape, Vol. 1 (Self-Released) but neither is it "on tape" nor is it a book. Craig Hartley instead gives us a full set of his piano, his trio and a few guests dropping in for a few cuts.

Craig explains in the liners that the compositions (eight in all plus one standard) came in some way out of his life experiences, so in that sense this is like a book. It captures some of Craig's life through his music. On the other hand there is a piece called "Books On Tape" to be found on the disk. Craig explains that the piece was inspired by spending many hours in the Yale practice rooms and how much different music one could hear simultaneously in the background while practicing there.

In any case Craig Hartley plays in a bop-and-after zone. He is a changes-oriented player, I won't say in the manner of Bill Evans because Hartley has an improvisatory originality-in-tradition that has something to do with Evans and the harmonically rich invention that surrounds his way, but there is also an articulate after-bop lining quality that Craig has that is original in its very swinging fashion--that looks to bop-liner right-hand-horn pianists (which of course Evans was too, especially towards the end) and does something with that as well.

The trio is a good one in Carlo De Rosa on bass and Henry Cole on drums. They give Hartley the platform to launch off of and swinging happens consistently. Fabio Morgera joins on trumpet for two cuts and most definitely adds something to the proceedings. Vocalist Dida Pelled lends her voice to one tune, a nice ballad.

The compositional Hartley is critical here. These are more than blowing tunes and he writes some good ones. But Hartley the pianist is the focus and he comes off modern and rooted in a way worth hearing.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Ira Sullivan Presents the Jim Holman Trio, Special Guest Roger Humphries, Blue Skies

Ira Sullivan! Bop master of the tenor sax and trumpet, fixture of the Chicago and then the Florida scene, now 82 plus years young, still has the spark. You can hear it on Ira Sullivan Presents the Jim Holman Trio: Blue Skies (Delmark 5010). Two sessions from 2011-12 pit Sullivan with young pianist Jim Holman, his trio, and for five tracks includes drummer-legend Roger Humphries.

Bop-and-after is the medium and the message with a modernized feel. The hard bop anthem "Along Came Betty" gets good treatment, as does Miles' "Blue in Green," "Solar" and standards like "Someday My Prince Will Come" and "Just in Time".

The band swings nicely, especially with Maestro Humphries on drums, who sounds excellent here. Jim Holman swings and bops with some very good finesse. He's young but he's dug very deeply into the tradition and manages to sound less like somebody in particular and more like himself than you might expect at age 24. Ira sounds beautiful on both instruments, reminding us how seminal he has been and continues to be.

So there is a celebration of sorts to be heard here. Clearly everybody deeply digs in and shows their love and commitment to the music. That is cause for big smiles and a great set.

Oh, yeah!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Billy Hart Quartet, One is the Other

For all the years drummer Billy Hart has been out there doing it, with all kinds of beacon lighters and in all shades of time and tempo, you must feel the justness that he finally has come to a steady and engaging position as bandleader, head of the Billy Hart Quartet. As the group now has a second effort released on ECM, One is Another (ECM B0020033-02), there are further reasons to feel he is finally getting his due.

It is natural (at least for me) to feel the justice of this. He is one of the leading drummers of our lifetime, no question, and his place in the limelight as deserved as any. The second outing features a large slice of what the quartet can and does cover, with originals and a standard, with channelings of the later history of jazz, with players and playing that have the vanguard feel.

Mark Turner's tenor plays an important role here, as you may well imagine, but then pianist Ethan Iverson has a fundamental presence too. Bassist Ben Street gets the anchor firmly planted and Billy Hart's playing is as freely loquacious as ever.

If one might expect Billy's band to have a little more fire than it does here, that is putting an expectation on things that the artists choose to bypass. It's no less a great effort for its relative calm and no one could be accused of holding back. So you readjust your sites and you get some really beautifully played jazz here.

All the more power and acclaim to Billy Hart! Listen to this one, by all means.