Jung on Jazz October 1998

Jung on Jazz October 1998

(Savoy Jazz)

It is comfortable to be in the company of old friends and pianist Marc Copland sounds plenty relaxed with a lineup of familiar colleagues that includes saxophonists Michael Brecker and Joe Lovano, trumpeter Tim Hagans, bassist Gary Peacock, and drummer Bill Stewart.

Copland defines Softly with a swinging “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise.” The whirling interplay between Hagans and Lovano is astounding, as the two engage in conversation and turn in intelligent precise improvisations. Brecker guests on the Copland original “Country Home” and the tenor saxophonist’s laid-back remarks mesh perfectly with Copland’s warm and delicate probing. “Not a Ballad” is characterized by the dynamic lines dropped by Lovano and the steady, streaming bass passages of Peacock.

Softly is a wonderful introduction to the music of Copland and should lead to his other release Stompin’ with Savoy and Hagan’s No Words, which also features Copland, Stewart, and Lovano.


(Dreyfus Jazz)

Arguably one of the most influential drummers in jazz, Roy Haynes has been keeping time for almost half a century. Having played with Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Pud Powell, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Lennie Tristano, Eric Dolphy, and Thelonious Monk, it would be easier to name who the 73-year-old Haynes hasn’t played with than who he has. In recent years, the 1994 recipient of the Danish Jazzpar prize has been recording steadily for Dreyfus Jazz. Praise is the third album for Dreyfus and his twenty-first as a leader. Haynes is joined by his son, doubling on flugelhorn and cornet, David Sanchez on tenor saxophone, Kenny Garrett on both alto and soprano saxophones, David Kikoski on piano, Dwayne Burno on bass, and Daniel Moreno on percussion, he explores compositions by Chick Corea, Charlie Parker, McCoy Tyner, as well as his own selections.

Charlie Parker’s “My Little Suede Shoes” is a duet between the elder Haynes and Garrett. With the solid Haynes maintaining the tempo and groove, Garrett weaves in and out, touching on all the subtle nuances of the Bird original. The call and response that ensues is remarkable. The young Haynes is the featured soloist for the ballad “The Touch of Your Lips.” Kikoski’s lush chords introduce an arousing flugelhorn solo from Haynes, whose tone is mesmerizing. Haynes’s six-minute “Shades of Senegal” is epic percussion.

Haynes’s enormous heart could not be held by his modest frame, and that is exactly what Praise is, all heart.


Timeless Tales (For Changing Times)

(Warner Brothers)

The jazz media’s tendency to binge over an artist has mostly been detrimental to both the artist and the jazz industry as a whole. Joshua Redman has been the “flavor of the month” since he took home first prize at the Thelonious Monk Competition in 1991. The son of saxophonist Dewey Redman was “the” perfect story, graduating summa cum laude from Harvard and on his way to study law at Yale, and the jazz media went on a feeding frenzy. There is no denying that the young 29-year-old saxophonist has talent, but it is hard to justify such wide-spread adoration for a musician just beginning his career when veteran saxophonists such as Billy Harper, Odean Pope, Charles Gayle, and his father Dewey Redman remain largely ignored. Like most young musicians, Redman has a refreshing variety of influences that go beyond the scope of jazz, from Sonny Rollins to Stevie Wonder. Redman’s sixth release for Warner Brothers has him exploring the music of those influences with song selections that include music from Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and The Beatles. The quartet for Timeless Tales (For Changing Times) features Redman playing tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones, drummer Brian Blade, pianist Brad Mehldau, and bassist Larry Grenadier.

The seductive swaying of Stevie Wonder’s “Visions” is inviting. Mehldau’s lush harmonics and cultured touch magnify the moody development. Redman’s warm treatment of “How Deep Is The Ocean” is focused and familiar. Grenadier’s pacing bass lines respond to Blade’s melodic trappings and Mehldau’s lyrical intensity. “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore” is Redman’s brightest moment, as he abrasively attacks the Prince original with a colorful unpredictability. Redman brings his session to a close in rousing and impressive fashion.

These are changing times and the music of Rodgers & Hammerstein , Irving Berlin, Gershwin, and Cole Porter is timeless, but whether or not Joshua Redman is to survive the test of time remains to be seen. The young Redman has all the facilities talent-wise to do so. It is up to him to continue his growth and maturity and earn his accolades in jazz’s school of hard knocks.


Songs We Know

In jazz, as with any relationship, chemistry plays a pivotal role in cultivating stimulating conversation. Guitarist Bill Frisell has been honing his craft with Paul Motian and Joe Lovano, John Zorn, and Wayne Horvitz. Pianist Fred Hersch has extensively performed with Charlie Haden, Joe Henderson, and Stan Getz. Frisell and Hersch are a perfect fit together and it only leaves one to question why they did not rendezvous sooner. Songs We Know are a collection of standards that the pair is familiar with.

“It Might As Well Be Spring” is a delightfully mesmerizing piece, full of texture, color, and shape. Both Frisell and Hersch are abstract in their approach. “Someday My Prince Will Come” lends itself to their manipulation. Frisell’s hybrid of country, folk, and jazz music gives a modern shape to the familiar melody and Hersch’s light-hearted lyricism is a perfect balance. The duo’s fascinating rendition of “My One And Only Love” is the highlight of their collaboration. Frisell restores the standard with subtle, romantic touches. Hersch’s sense of drama is amazing, as he uses space to shade the music flawlessly.

Although Songs We Know may be less appealing to straight jazz fans, there is no denying its beauty. The couple’s ideas run together and the music they generate is at the forefront of what is contemporary American music.



The Red Door

When tenor saxophoist Scott Hamilton was paired with guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli on a 1994 quartet engagement, the idea for the Zoot Sims tribute came to life. Pizzarelli, a long time associate of Sims, was a perfect choice to join Hamilton on his new album The Red Door, a tribute to the late saxophonist. A duo recording, The Red Door is yet another in the 43-year-old tenorman’s Concord discography that has been remarkably consistent (Hamilton has recorded over 30 albums for Concord).

Hamilton is very listener friendly in his refined, smooth approach and Pizzarelli has a gentleman’s caress in his accompaniment and improvisations. The combo delivers “It Had To Be You” in laid-back fashion. Hamilton sounds a lot like Sims on a lovely reading of the familiar ballad “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You?” Hamilton’s mellow saxophone swooning is executed with the integrity of his natural ease. The mid-tempo “Just You, Just Me” finds the twosome in fine form. The communication between the tenor saxophonist and guitarist make for a delightful session.



New York is the jazz capital of the world and for an artist, making it in New York means national and sometimes international recognition. After moving to the Big Apple when he was 18, saxophonist Chris Potter immediately began lighting up the scene with memorable stints with Red Rodney, Kenny Werner, James Moody, Ray Brown, Renee Rosnes, Billy Hart, and Steve Swallow. Recently, Potter can be found on the road with Mike Mainieri’s quartet, or on stage with Paul Motian, Dave Douglas, and Dave Holland’s quintet. Now a ripe 27, Potter’s new release Vertigo, his sixth for the Concord label, has the same rhythm instrumentation as his last release Unspoken, but using Potter’s peers, fellow New Yorkers, guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Billy Drummond.

Potter negotiates through every twist and turn of “Shiva,” flexing his sax muscles, accompanied by Rosenwinkel’s searing and expressive guitar work. Potter has blossomed into one of the strongest young tenors today, not tomorrow. Potter finesses the solo introduction of “Act III, Scene I,” a reference to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with a series of lean and controlled passages. Fellow tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano guests on three of the tracks and “Modeen’s Mood,” a theme dedicated to drummer Motian is the high point of their rendezvous. With Drummond tracking the pair with radar precision, Lovano and Potter trade off, exchanging robust, mellifluous responses with each other.

Potter has as much range as there are stars in space, the possibilities are endless. With the release of Vertigo, it is only a matter of time before Potter, like Lovano, becomes the tenor to reckon with.


In This World

Tenor saxophonist Mark Turner released his self-titled debut on Warner Brothers earlier this year to mixed reviews. What most critics conveniently forgot to realize is that Turner had recorded the album two years prior to its release, and two years is a lifetime for a musician’s growth. Turner’s sophomore outing is a more accurate assessment to Turner’s current proficiency. In This World was recorded over this summer in New York and features fellow Gen-X all-stars, pianist Brad Mehldau, drummers Brian Blade and Jorge Rossy, bassist Larry Grenadier, and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Not willing to merely hang onto the coattails of John Coltrane, Turner has worked to develop his own distinctively approachable style. “Mesa” is one of six originals from the young tenor saxophonist, who builds the music with compelling lines and charismatic flourishes. Unaccompanied, Turner begins “You Know I Care” with a persuasive sensuality. Mehldau’s exquisite playing has now become his hallmark and he shifts the mood from tenderness to pure ecstasy. The subtle interaction between Blade and Grenadier tiptoeing unhurriedly through leaves the intimate setting undisturbed. Turner’s velvet whispers and his elegant logic dignifies the mellow moment as the album’s pinnacle.

Turner sounds out of this world. In This World is a sure bet to be one of the year’s finest recordings.


Spring Is Here
(Koch Jazz)

Along with Hamiet Bluiett, Ronnie Cuber, Gary Smulyan, and James Carter, Nick Brignola is recognized as one of the finest baritone saxophonists in jazz. Having performed alongside Max Roach, Stan Getz, Charles Mingus, Phil Woods, and Woody Herman, Brignola sure has the credentials. He is joined by the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra as part of a series of releases showcasing various soloists, accompanied by the orchestra, on Koch Jazz.

Brignola is the center of attention for a beautiful arrangement of “East of the Sun.” The veteran baritone player’s tasteful execution and lyrical wisdom proves why he is a consistent poll winner. An unforgettable version of “When You Wish Upon A Star” is romantic enough to have even Tinkerbell yearning for a dancing partner. Brignola’s unhurried, mild-mannered swagger is perfect. A lovely “The Very Thought of You” summarizes the essence of Spring Is Here. Brignola’s breathing baritone sax is thoroughly inviting. The saxophonist has an uncanny ability to effortlessly handle a ballad without watering down his improvisational merit.

Spring Is Here is perfect for a quiet candlelight evening for two. Laden with sultry ballads and the slow majesty of Brignola, it is a mood setter, even for the most hardest of hearts.



Magic Triangle
(Arabesque Recordings)

Trumpeter Dave Douglas may not be a household name now, but it is only a matter of time before he becomes one. Winner of the “Best Trumpeter” Award at this summer’s first annual New York Jazz Awards, Douglas has graduated from being a sideman with Anthony Braxton and John Zorn, to leading a variety of bands that includes his Sextet, his String Trio, his Tiny Bells Trio, and his Quartet with tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist James Genus, and drummer Ben Perowsky, all of whom appear on his latest release for Arabesque, Magic Triangle.

All the music on Magic Triangle are Douglas originals and he begins things with a swinging “Everyman,” forming his solos logically, sporadically accenting his mellow tone with a smear or two. “Barrage” has the trumpeter playing in unison with Potter. The duo whimsically communicate with great warmth and sweet harmony. Perowsky’s strong ride accents open up the composition. Genus’s bass lines initiate “The Ghost,” as Douglas and Potter lets the story unfold, gradually building the intensity. Douglas’s solo is a series of ascending and descending notes that demonstrate his lyrical smoothness. Potter explores the melody as he slides up and down the horn augmenting the music with an intermittent growl or scream.

Douglas’s stock is on the rise. The trumpeter may not be as publicized as fellow hornmen, Nicholas Payton, Roy Hargrove, or Wynton Marsalis, but in time Dave Douglas will be a household name.


Beautiful Love
(RED Records)

Since recording his debut for Billy Higgins’s World Stage label in 1994, tenor saxophonist Robert Stewart has emerged as one of the most progressive players of the instrument. The Bay Area native’s high-profile engagements with Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, and McCoy Tyner led to In The Gutta and The Force for Quincy Jones’s Qwest label. Beautiful Love is a 1994 session that the 29-year-old Stewart recorded for the European label, RED Records. Stewart’s quartet includes pianist Eric Tillman, bassist Jeff Littleton, and drummer Brett Sanders.

Stewart starts things off with a vibrant rendition of “Speak Low.” The tenorman’s aggressive, muscular tone dominates the tune at times, but it does not overwhelm the dynamic interplay between Tillman and Sanders. Sanders’s polished and powerful trapwork is a perfect compliment to Tillman’s chord- based solos. The ballad “Body and Soul” is eloquently enunciated by Stewart, as Tillman exudes his relaxed inventions. Stewart’s warm, flowing statements are accentuated by the firmly plucked figures of Littleton. Stewart has no trouble with “Canadian Sunset,” playing with energy and consummate authority, even getting occasionally ornery. The shifting rhythms of Littleton and Sanders only heighten the dexterous movements of Tillman and Stewart. The session concludes with a vigorous alternate take of “Speak Low.”

Stewart’s leadership and efforts on Beautiful Love lend merit to Billy Higgins’s referral that he is “perhaps the most important young artist to come along in decades”.