Hits & Misses March 1998
If this record doesn’t make the JAZZUSA year end list, contemporary jazz will have a great year. You won’t hear this Montreal based sax player and his band on the radio but trust us on this one, if you like, hot electric music, exciting Brazilian harmonies and rhythms with broad based and angular, almost be-boppish melody lines find this record. Bug the distributor Allegro at www.allegro-music.com/-allegro. All serious lovers of contemporary Brazilian jazz need to know is that the album was recorded in Canada and Brazil with guest appearances by the exciting underrated Brazilian guitarist Victor Biglione. Pianist Marcos Ariel contributes a song and his piano as well as percussion work by the brilliant percussionist Armando Marcal.
This guy’s first two records were such new age/wallpaper garbage, that we pretty much ignored his last release, “Lights Of The City” which earned the guitarist a 1997 NAC publishing award from SESAC. This record isn’t that great but it does show stylistic growth and is nicely recorded. The sequencing on this record is pretty unique and some of the rhythms aren’t your standard NAC radio fare, although he should do well there with some of the slower tunes on the album. If you’re looking for adventure, this isn’t the answer. “Jazzberry Pie,” won’t urge you to rush to sample the album before it, but it is a very listener friendly album, and we tried to hate it.
With the help of producer Ben Sidran, who worships at the altar of Mose, this Mississippi wise cracker has put together his most solid album since the 60’s. It seems since his Atlantic years of days gone by, Allison has never put together a full complete enjoyable album, but this 14 song set is right on the money.
Allison set the standard for the second generation of witty jazz piano playing vocalists molded from Hoagy Carmichael, and he obviously still has a lot yet to say. The album opens with the autobiographical “MJA, Jr.” which is very reminiscent of the “you can call me john, but you don’t have to call me …” commercials. It ends with a short poignant look at discrimination against the elderly called “Old Man Blues.” In between there’s life on “The More You Get,” conflict on “Somebody’s Gonna Have To Move” and death on “What Will It Be”.
If you’re into multi-numbered basses taking melodies, solos and carrying the bottom in the Stanley Clarke mode with a dash of new age and NAC. Stop. Bromberg is an excellent sideman, producer and he’s made better solo records. The enormous promise of Brian Bromberg still has yet to be fulfilled.
Three Day Weekend/Evan Marks/Verve
This is the third guitarist to have defected from the San Diego based band Fattburger. Steve Laury was the original and by far the best. Marks, on his second effort has just about abandoned the Wes Montgomery octave style of playing that was a trademark of Fattburger and Laury’s. That’s not why this album doesn’t work, but it certainly could have helped. The opening tune is the best on the album. It’s an exciting acid-jazz romp complete with vocoder repeating the title line “I Like My Wah-Wah Funky.” It’s down hill from there with drummer and record company exec Guy Eckstine throwing those darts looking for airplay with predictable music and uninteresting solos.. Art Porter makes one of his last recording appearances, but if you close your ears for a second, you’re sure to miss him.
We have a suspicion this is one of those records that’s marketed to alternative retail outlets like flower shops, and linen stores. The sound design is solid and done by Herbie Hancock’s personal sound designer Mars Lasar, and sax man Greg Vail certainly is showing some emotion throughout his playing. Busak is the weak link and it’s a serious breach.