Ravi Coltrane – Spirit Fiction ★★★★

Blue Note | Ravi Coltrane (ts), Ralph Alessi (t), Luis Perdomo, Geri Allen (p), Drew Gress, James Genus (b), EJ Strickland, and Eric Harland (d). Rec. 2010-2011

Spirit Fiction is saxophonist Ravi Coltrane’s Blue Note debut, the label’s cachet such that it immediately attracts the attention of the jazz world. Although in the years following his album debut in 1998 with Moving Pictures, Coltrane has established a secure reputation among jazz fans, his name recognition in the jazz world will now, in comparison, take off. Deservedly too, since he has conscientiously worked at forging his own voice, rather than trading off the family name and affecting the more overt characteristics of his father’s style that so many saxophonists have chosen to do.

Two ensembles are at work here, his regular quartet with up-and-coming Luis Perdomo on piano, and the group that accompanied him on his second album From the Round Box, recorded in 2000, with Geri Allen on piano. By way of contrast is a duet with EJ Strickland (‘Spring & Hudson’) and a trio with saxophonist/co-producer Joe Lovano and Geri Allen (‘Fantasm’). In between is some occasionally inspired playing culminating in ‘Marilyn & Tammy’, an album highlight.

Stuart Nicholson

Myra Melford’s Be Bread – The Whole Tree Gone ★★★

Firehouse 12 FH12-04-01-012 | Myra Melford (p), Cuong Vu (t), Ben Goldberg (clt, contra-alto clt), Brandon Ross (g, soprano g), Stomu Takeishi (acoustic b-g), and Matt Wilson (d). Rec. 2008

While the sprinkling of uncommon instruments in the line-up – soprano guitar, acoustic bass guitar, contraalto clarinet – partly account for the freshness of what is one of the best entries in Myra Melford’s already impressive discography, it is not the only thing to applaud. There is great depth in the leader’s writing and arranging that imbues this set with a real gravitas, as exemplified by a piece such as ‘A Generation Comes And Goes.’ It is a superlative example of how to create and sustain an emotionally charged mood that loosely recalls a Coltrane or Dolphy fanfare without falling into cliché.

Bass and guitar create vaguely north African shimmers of chords over which the horns drift in wistful long tones that are punctuated by discreet bell or gong effects from Matt Wilson’s percussion before the leader’s piano takes up the reins with fraught, whirling minor key figures that then steer the song through a dramatic flux of tempi and harmony. The whole piece flickers with a tense tranquility. To a certain extent, that apparent contradiction in terms pervades much of the set where the music draws from some of the plaintive lyricism of early-1970s Don Cherry yet stirs in the chordal ingenuity and structural invention that has often marked the many groups led by Carla Bley.

Very roughly speaking, there is a touch of her “fancy chamber music” aesthetic embedded in Melford’s work, but her compositional style has its own signature. The nuance and detail of jazz and classical traditions flow into the singing melodic richness that often defines the folk songs kept alive by Spanish and Mexicans for centuries because the themes are so rich they maintain a grip on the imagination. For all the complexity of her arrangements, Melford appears to relate to that cultural praxis.

Kevin Le Gendre

Wes Montgomery – So Much Guitar! / Montgomery Brothers in Canada ★★★★

Essential Jazz Classics EJC-55549 | Wes Montgomery (g), Hank Jones (p), Ron Carter (b), Lex Humphries (d), Ray Barretto (congas), and with brothers Monk (b), Buddy (p) and Paul Humphrey (d). Rec. Aug and April 1961

The first eight tracks here come from the album, which helped establish Wes Montgomery as a global guitar superstar. Though still unknown in New York, he and his brothers had won fans in California and every musician who had been through Indianapolis knew he was the real deal. The top-class studio trio led by Hank Jones, featuring the great bassist Ron Carter and boosted by leading latin percussionist Ray Barretto, held no terrors for Wes, who steams through ‘Cottontail’ like a demon.

Gentler numbers such as ‘I Wish I Knew’ and ‘While We’re Young’, the latter unaccompanied, define him as a superb balladeer whose soulful notes seem to hover meaningfully in the air. ‘Somethin’ like Bags’, dedicated to Milt Jackson, and ‘Twisted Blues’, not a true blues progression at all, are two examples of his prowess as a composer of originals made for blowing. The second session was in fact recorded earlier in Wes’ chronology. It’s a happy souvenir of the Montgomery brothers’ west coast trip, which on this night extended to a club date just over the Canadian border in the beautiful city of Vancouver.

Pianist Buddy sticks to vibes, a combination ideal for guitar, and the two instruments blend brilliantly on Parker’s latin-tinged blues, ‘Barbados’. Wes’ ballad choice, ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’, leavens the straightahead neobop of ‘Jeannine’ and ‘On Green Dolphin Street’ on a typically stylish and impressive session.

Jack Massarik

Jazzwise June 2012 Issue CD Reviews List

All these albums are reviewed in the June 2012 issue of Jazzwise - to read them all click here to subscribe here and get a FREE CD. 

CD Reviews: New Releases

John Abercrombie Quartet – Within a Song – ECM

Arild Andersen/the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra/Tommy Smith – Celebration – ECM

Brian Auger – Language of the Heart – brianauger.com

Ketil Bjørnstad – Songs From the Alder Thicket – ECM

Paul Booth – Trilateral Pathway – PBCD

Bruning/Griener/ Petrowsky/Prins – Ornette Et Cetera – Jazzwerkstatt

Euan Burton – Occurrences – Whirlwind Recordings

Cakewalk – Wired – Hubro

Marc Copland – Some More Love Songs – Pirouet PIT

George Crowley Quartet – Paper Universe – Whirlwind

Jack Davies’ Flea Circus – Jack Davies’ Flea Circus – V&V Music

The Jack Davies Big Band – The Jack Davis Big Band – V&V Music

Eh Joe – Is Love the Word? – F-IRE

Manu Dibango – Past Present Future – Border Blaster

Ergo – If Not Inertia – Cuneiform Rune

Adam Fairhall – The Imaginary Delta – SLAM SLAMCD

Lorenzo Feliciati – Frequent Flyer – Rare Noise

Fripp, Keeling, Singleton – The Wine Of Silence – DGM/Panegyric

Bill Frisell – Floratone II – Savoy Jazz

Fly – Year of the Snake – ECM

Devin Gray/Ellery Eskelin/Dave Ballou/ Michael Formanek – Dirgo Rataplan – Skirl

Mary Halvorson Quintet – Bending Bridges – Firehouse

Joel Harrison/Lorenzo Feliciati – Holy Abyss – Cunieform Records Rune

Alex Hutton Trio – Legentis – F-IRE

Henrik Jensen and Peter Ehwald – Jensen Ehwald – Music Chamber

Darius Jones Quartet – Book Of Mae’ Bul – AUM Fidelity

Angélique Kidjo – Spirit Rising – Wrasse Records

Steve Lehman Trio – Dialect Fluorescent – Pi

Leverton Fox – The Human Arm – Not Applicable

Kate McGarry – Girl Talk – Palmetto Records

Dominic Miller – 5th House – Q-Rious Music

Steve Noble and Stephen O’Malley – St. Francis Duo – Bo’Weavil

Aaron Novik – Secrets Of Secrets – Tzadik

Piero Odorici – Cedar Walton presents Piero Odorici – Savant

Eivind Opsvik – Overseas IV – Loyal Label

Oriole – Every New Day – F-IRE

Ulysses Owens Jr. – Unanimous – Criss Cross Jazz

Jeff Parker Trio – Bright Light In Winter – Delmark

Southbound – Southbound – V&V Music

Zhenya Strigalev – Smiling Organizm – Whirlwind

John Surman – Saltash Bells – ECM

Susanna – Wild Dog – Rune Grammofon

John Taylor – Giulia’s Thursdays – CamJazz

TG Collective – Release The Penguins – Palmetto Records

TrioVD – Maze – NaimNaim

Troyka – Moxxy – EditionRecords

Usonic – Diversion – Groove4dayz

 

Short Cuts: New Releases

Ray Butcher – War on the Saints – Tune Records

The Chonto/Tamura – Sonic Insurgency – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mitch Dalton and the Studio Kings – Meet… – Regius

Kate Dimbleby and Nadia Sheriff – Beware of Young Girls – No label

The Filthy Six – The Fox – Acid Jazz

Kevin Hays – Variations – Pirouet

Kepa Junkera – Ultramarinos & Coloniales – Warner Music Spain

Masabumi Kikuchi Trio – Sunrise – ECM

George King – Into The Light – ASC Records

Hannah Köpf – Flying Free – GLM

Jessica Lauren – Four – Freestyle

Massimorganti Quartet – Musiplano – Neuklang

Ole Matthiessen – Past and Present – Stunt

Hakon Storm – Zinober – Norcd

Catherine Sykes – Something Wonderful – No label

Ulrik/Koppel/Balke/Danielsson/Riel – The Adventures of a Polar Expedition – Cowbell Music

Joanna Wallfisch – Wild Swan – www.joannawallfisch.com

Jan Wouter Oostenrijk – Sharqi Blues – www.jwo.nu

Eri Yamamoto Trio – The Next Page – Aum Fidelity

Pete Zimmer – Prime of Life – Tippin’ Records

 

Reissues Archive

Cannonball Adderley Quintet – Legends Liv/Liederhalle, Stuttgart – Jazzhouse

Cannonball Adderley – Know What I Mean? – Essential Jazz Classics

Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers – Legends Liv/Sangerhalle, Unterturkheim – Jazzhouse Swr Music

Dave Brubeck Quartet – Their Last Time Out – Columbia/Legacy

Colosseum II – Strange New Flesh – Esoteric

Hank Crawford – More Soul/The Soul Clinic – Poll Winners

Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis and Johnny Griffin Quintet – Live at Minton’s Playhouse NYC – Fresh Sound Records

Miles Davis – Miles Davis – Storyville

Duke Ellington Orchestra – Big Bands Live – Jazzhaus

Herb Ellis – Softly But With That Feeling/Thank You Charlie Christian – Fresh Sound

Jerry Fielding – The Gauntlet (original soundtrack) – Perseverance

Stan Getz – Stan Getz At Large – Storyville

Michael Gibbs and the NDR Big Band – Back In The Days – Cuneiform Rune

Shirley Horn – Embers And Ashes/Where Are You Going – American Jazz Classics

Milt Jackson – Plenty, Plenty Soul – Poll Winners

Fela Kuti – Live In Detroit 1986 – Strut

Thelonious Monk – Thelonious Alone in San Francisco – Poll Winners

Wes Montgomery – Echoes of Indiana Avenue – Resonance Records

Gerry Mulligan Sextet – Legends Live/Liederhalle, Stuttgart Jazzhous – SWR music

Charles Persip and the Jazz Statesmen – Charles Persip and the Jazz Statesmen – Fresh Sound

Loose Tubes – Säd Afrika – Lost Marbles

Sonny Red – Quartet, Quintet & Sextet (2-CDs) – Fresh Sound

Nino Rota – Collector – Milan CD

Frank Sinatra – Ring-a-ding-ding and I Remember Tommy – Poll Winners Records

Frank Sinatra and Count Basie – The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings – Universal

Frank Sinatra – The Concert Sinatra – Universal

Various Artists – The Leopard Lounge Original Album Series – Rhino

 

Short Cuts: Reissues

Laurindo Almeida/Bud Shank – Brazilliance Vols 1 and 2 – Poll Winners

Evans Bradshaw/Roosevelt Wardell – Look Out / Pieces of Eighty Eight / The Revelation – Fresh Sound

John Cameron – Cover Lover/Warm and Gentle – Vocalion

Carmen McRae – Carmen for Cool Ones/Mad About The Man – Fresh Sound

Esther Phillips – Performance – CTI Masterworks

Eugene Delouche – Del’s Jazz – Beguine

Paul Quinichette/Charlie Rouse – The Chase Is On – Fresh Sound

Duke Ellington/Count Basie – Battle Royal – Essential Jazz Classics

Pete Jolly – Duo and Trio – Fresh Sound

Lee Konitz – Very Cool/Tranquility – Phoenix

John Lewis/Bill Perkins – 2 Degrees East, 3 Degrees West – Poll Winners

Shorty Rogers – The Swinging Mr Rogers – Poll Winners

Shorty Rogers – Four Classic Albums – Avid

Various Artists – Jazzmen Detroit – Fresh Sound

Various Artists – Voices in Modern – El

 

Mary Halvorson Quintet – Bending Bridges ★★★★

FH12-04-01-016 Mary Halvorson (g), Jonathan Finlayson (t), Jon Irabagon (as), John Hebert (b), and Ches Smith (d). Rec. date not stated

2010’s Saturn Sings, the first quintet record from Brooklyn-based Mary Halvorson, was very good indeed but Bending Bridges is even better, up there with her trio work and her collaborations with Anthony Braxton and Marc Ribot. The Ribot link makes sense: there can be something cosy, almost smug, about jazz guitar, but Halvorson is closer to a tradition represented by Ribot or Bill Frisell or James ‘Blood’ Ulmer or Fred Frith or Derek Bailey.

It isn’t that she necessarily sounds like any of them, although there are hints; it’s that she has the same ability to emerge victorious, from what Martin Amis would call the war against cliché. Halvorson is an increasingly strong composer too, now clearly writing with these four other voices in mind. The vocabulary can be that of the avant-garde, but there’s at least a toe in popular music: it’s no surprise that she loves Robert Wyatt. Is there a better guitarist in her generation?

– Marcus O’Dair

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