Monday, August 29, 2005

Michel Petrucciani: Pianism


A great piano trio album. Pianist Petrucciani plays with Palle Danielsson and Eliot Zigmund for some amazingly musical jazz. This isn't a "turn on the machine, open the book, and crank em out"-type session at all: this is excellent music with thinking and consideration behind it. Petrucciani is the featured soloist, but the bassist and drummer provide more than support, adding creative musicality and taste to the overall sound of this record. There are three personalities working together here to have fun and create a true musical offering. Petrucciani's swift, accurate lines weave rhythmic patterns and melodic ribbons around the musical framework created by the bassist and drummer, who are also playing with the framework from chorus to chorus.

Two standards are played (Night and Day, and Here's That Rainy Day), but most of the material is original from Petrucciani. The pianist was only 22 at the date of this recording!

From 1985 on Blue Note - his first for that label.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Jim Hall: Jim Hall And Basses

Fantastic guitarist Jim Hall is paired up with different basses (er, bassists) to play a set in his lyrical, always interesting fashion. The contributing bassists are world-class musicians themselves:
  • Scott Colley
  • George Mraz
  • Dave Holland
  • Christain McBride
  • Charlie Haden
It is melodic, atmospheric, sometimes mellow, and filled with Hall's tasteful and perfectly chosen chords and lightly-swinging single-note lines. To me, his strummed chords and rhythmic placement especially shine - providing just enough of a contrast to his single-note melodies to create interesting sounds and feelings. The bassist, as expected, are all professional and creative, and each supports Hall and the piano-bass format perfectly.

There four freeish pieces entitled Abstract 1-4, and other classic jazz standards such as All the Things You Are, Don't Explain, and Besame Mucho (played on an acoustic guitar - most of the songs played through his characteristic mellow electric sound).


Although I usually say that I really miss the drums on a straight-ahead jazz record, this one does make for a very nice alternative, when the mood is right.

From 2001 on TelArc.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Stan Getz: Anniversary!

A straight-ahead swinging set from Getz and company (Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid, and Victor Lewis). Recorded live at the Montmarte Club in Copenhagen, Denmark, in celebration of Getz's 60th birthday. Getz's tone on ballads (I Can't Get Started, I Thought About You) is still as soft and soothing as ever, and Kenny Barron is always a pro and so enjoyable to listen to. The highlight for me on this recording is the mid-tempo Stella by Starlight, although the opening swinging number El Cahon is a great set-opener to hook you in. After Stella, Stan's Blues focuses first on Reid's creative blues ideas on his bass, before Getz sinks in... but then, when Barron gets a turn to play his behind the beat, groovy piano, watch out!). The most intense, up-tempo moments arrive late in the set, during What Is This Thing Called Love?, and leave room for some nice drum work from Victor Lewis.

Great, clean live sound at this nice club. From 1987, released on EmArCy.


Thursday, August 11, 2005

David Hazeltine: Alice in Wonderland

I picked up this CD while in Japan last week. Seems to be a Bill Evans-inspired set, a trio recording with bassist George Mraz and durmmer Billy Drummond. Recorded in 2003, and released in 2005 on the Venus label (from Tokyo).

Hazeltine's trio draws almost exclusively on material that was popular with Evans, such as Alice in Wonderland, Autumn Leaves, and How Deep in the Ocean. The pianist contributes a song titled For Bill which makes it more clear what the intention is here. Hazeltine and the trio do play in the "Evans trio" style, even copping the legendary trio's arrangements and some of Evans' characteristic turns of phrase. It is a nice record for listening to, though, if you don't let the mimicry get to you. I found it easy to enjoy.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Phineas Newborn: The Newborn Touch

What is the "Newborn Touch"? A good question. I would use the words accurate, deliberate, strong, determined, forceful and maybe even aggressive to describe it. Of course his touch on the piano is not all these things at all times. But I do get the impression that sometimes when he plays, it is almost like a hammer pounding nails - carefully, but with enough strength to drive the thing where it needs to go.

I like other of Newborn's albums quite a lot: A World of Piano!, for instance, is one of my favorites. However this one, at first listen, doesn't seem to compare very well. It is known that Newborn had some mental and physical problems during a period in his life, where he performed and recorded very little; this record was recording during one of his down periods, I believe.

Joining Newborn on this trio album are Leroy Vinnegar (bass) and Frank Butler (drums).

This album is just ok, but to be honest, I was not that interested in it upon the first listen. I found myself losing interest at several points, and rather wishing that I was listening to A World of Piano instead... I will give this another try someday, though.