Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Terry Marshall, Arrival

by Icrom Bigrad

Composer/Pianist Terry Marshall has put together an enjoyable project entitled, Arrival featuring five original compositions and six well and not so well -known standards and arrangements by Marshall. There are four vocal selections featuring Iva Ambush on “Being Cool” and “Upside Down,” Kendra Johnson on “This Bitter Earth” and Johnson is joined by vocalist DeCastro Brown for “Moodies Mood For Love.”

For Arrival Marshall has a rotating cast of players, but all speak the same language so the overall effect is still a project that flows and has a consistent musical sound overall.  Marshall’s originals are catchy and fit in nice with the selected standards.  The project has a lot of straight eight selections, but the styles overall are varied and with the four vocal selections mixed in with the instrumentals the listener will always get the feeling of a cohesive project.  

 There is a plethora of groove on this recording, but it is not for a purist of any specific genre, instead it will appeal to a wide audience.  Marshall’s most impressive skill are his ability to do all of the writing and arranging and put a varied cast together that makes everything work; and of course his playing is especially concerned with inviting the listener into the musical moments that is Arrival.

Tracks: Teresa 4:32; Upside Down 4:22; This Bitter Earth 3:37; Being Cool 4:46; Nostalgia 6:24; Questions And Answers 3:57; Moodies Mood For Love 3:27; Speak To My Heart 5:08; Arrival 5:21; April In Paris 3:57; Blues 1:46. 

Personnel: Terry Marshall - Piano (all tracks); Alejandro (Ah-leh-hahn-dro) Lucini - Drums (tr.1,2,4,5,9); Harold Summey - Drums (tr.3,7); Tracey Cutler - Saxophone (tr.2,3,4,5,7); Warren Atiba (Uh-tee-buh)Taylor - Saxophone  (tr. 9); Muneer (Moo-nir) Nasser (Nae-ser) - Trumpet (tr.9); Kevin Williams - Guitar (tr.1); Ben Young - Guitar (tr.1,6,11); D.L. Watson - Guitar (tr.8); Iva Ambush - Vocals (tr.2,4); Kendra Johnson - Vocals (tr.3,7); DeCastro Brown - Vocals (tr.7); Leonardo Lucini - Bass (tr.1,2,4,5,6,9); Dave Marsh - Bass (tr.3,7,8,11); Donnie West - Bass (tr.10).

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Donna Singer, Destiny, Moment of Jazz

by Icrom Bigrad

Destiny, Moment of Jazz is a fine outing by jazz vocalist Donna Singer with longtime collaborator bassist Doug Richards. Destiny, Moment of Jazz, is a collection of seven standards (one of which is just the Doug Richards trio instrumentally -“I’ll Remember April”) and two originals by Carole Belle and Roy Singer- “This Moment of Now” and “Sweet Destiny.”

Singer has a varied program of styles and there is certainly something for every musical taste.  “This Moment of Now,” “Our Love Is Here To Stay,” and “Where or When” are medium tempo swinging toe tapers,  as well as “What A difference A Day Made” that has a rubato gospel intro that develops into relaxed swing.  “Sweet Destiny” and “Time After Time” are given a Latin treatment and “Yesterday” and “I Believe I Can Fly” are straight eight gospel/pop infused selections.

Singer offers the listener a varied program with old style flair.  Her vocal style employs ample vibrato reminiscent of the 40’s, with updated material underpinning the proceedings, an enjoyable listen that employs the walk down memory lane feeling.

Personnel:  Donna Singer (vocals); Doug Richards (bass); Billy Alfred (piano); Mike Cervone (drums).

Special Guests: Jeff Otis (guitar); Chris Pasen (flugelhorn); Nancy Wegrzyn (viola); Bobby Tee (percussion/drums).

Tracks: This Moment of Now 3:35; Our Love Is Here To Stay 3:53; Sweet Destiny 3:33; Yesterday 4:04;  I’ll Remember April 4;36; Time After Time 3:43; What A Difference A Day Made 3:02; I Believe I Can Fly 3:32; Where or When 2:39.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

MoFrancesco Quintetto, Maloca

by Jeff Becker

Well-crafted and swinging, bassist Francesco Valente presents bits of hard bop mixed with contemporary refrains, coupled with musicianship that sparkles with each track.

Maloca has a very western feel arising from its Italian composer. Valente's playing feels like a combination of classic Ray Brown, balanced with a more contemporary Christian McBride.  "Tchap" and "Maloca" both present an effervescent of youthful expressionism.   Lucena and Gaspar have searing exchanges throughout the beginning of the piece, while Valente creates a calm and reserved energy allowing his bandmates the room to stretch out on the proceedings. 

"Maloca" is infused with a hint of Latin flavor, but is not a total cop to the latin vibe, the piece is focused on stretching out with subtle chord changes by Gasper and Moreira with Valente patterning a  groovy and infectious pad, that still carries an air of understated resplendent. 

Valente's re-interpretation of Bela Bartok's "Romanian Folk Dances" is a beaming interpretation, a fierce piece to perform with skill within the classical cannon.  The piece originally featuring a violinist who must be in top form to navigate Valente re-interprets the piece into a delicate and wonderfully emotional romantic march.

The closer "Soul" written by trumpeter, Johannes Krieger, is a burning number with excellent individual lines and deeply rooted rhythms; the excitement immediately catches you up in the moment.  Maloca is an invigorating session that holds strong within tradition, while still exploring and creating a new individual sound, a solid debut from Francesco Valente and his MoFrancesco Quintetto. Highly Recommended.

Patrick Battstone and Richard Poole, The Last Taxi

by Jeff Becker

The Last Taxi sports two apt leaders at the helm.  Pianist, Patrick Battstone began performing music professionally at the age of 14, playing in various rock, blues, and R&B bands in South Western Ohio. By the time he was 18, he had received lessons from Stan Kenton and Gary Burton, had been mentored by Oscar Treadwell (Oska T.   In 1973, he attended Berklee College of Music and soon after became a student of both Mme Chaloff and Charlie Banacos. One of his bands, which featured hometown friend Grover Mooney, opened the fabled 1369 Club in Cambridge in 1976. During the 80’s, Patrick studied the works of Scriabin under the renowned Serge Conus. In 1986, he resumed jazz studies with Joanne Brackeen in NYC for a period of six years.

Richard Poole is a composer, collaborator and performing musician.  On this project he command the vibraphone and drum chair.  After attending Berklee in the early 1970’s, Richard moved to Miami, Florida and studied Music Composition (scholarship) at Miami International University, graduating in 1976. As a composer and collaborator, Richard has worked with many of the 20th century’s great jazz artists, including: Paul Bley, Mark Eagen, Don Bradon, Ira Sullivan, Curtis Fuller, George Garzone, Rebecca Parris, Johnny Walker and Jaco Pastorius.

Battstone and Poole have a history of creating deeply moving chemistry with their previous collaborations, Through an Open Door and Mystic Nights were both deeply rooted in a chamber jazz moniker.  On this effort, it was refreshing to see the two did not reinvent the wheel and kept firmly rooted in the essence of their “chamber jazz” while expanding the overall textural sound with the addition of Chris Rathbun on bass and Todd Brunel on bass clarinet.  The result was a cohesive yet invigorating conversation that ebbed and flowed with rich dialogue and enthralling discovery. 

The spontaneity of each improvisation keeps the outing fresh and filled with surprise around every corner.  The Last Taxi is meant to be savored, like the moments you spend with a longtime friend you have not seen in years; enjoy the moments and revel in the memories.  Certainly a must add to any creative improvisational or avant library.  Highly Recommended!!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Joe Beck Trio, Get Me Joe Beck

by Icrom Bigrad

Joe Beck Trio, Get Me Joe Beck (Whaling City Sound)

Joe Beck - who passed away 6 years ago at age 63, left us with his final recording Get Me Joe Beck, which was captured at a performance at Anna’s Jazz Island in Berkeley CA on Sept. 14, 2006, featuring locals Peter Barshay on bass and Dave Rokeach on drums, to round out a solid and interactive trio. Beck at the time had failing heath, but not a note would reveal this fact, he truly was shining in true form. Highlights include: “Alone Together,” “You and the Night and the Music” and “Tenderly.” A spoken word track in which Beck describes his approach to his instrument (“The guitar is a six-piece band”) gives us a unique look at the methodology, chalked full of visions about his sparkling mastery.