I profiled guitarist Brandon Coleman, in LEO (http://leoweekly.com/music/b-sides-135), and reviewed his album Decisions there (http://leoweekly.com/music/reviews/decisions). He and his friend and fellow University of Louisville School of music alumnus, trumpeter Craig Tweddell, profiled at http://leoweekly.com/music/b-sides-140, brought their bands to the Willis Music Performing Arts Auditorium, at 1850 S. Hurstbourne Pkwy #128, for a CD release show; a review of Tweddell’s Away With Words is scheduled to be published in LEO as well. Tweddell opened, with bandmates Jacob Duncan on alto, Todd Hildreth on electric piano, Jose Areta on bass, and Zack Kennedy on drums. “Grin. And Barret” was old school Blue Note style, with propulsive solos and a hint of “Fly Me to the Moon.” “Slumber” was aptly titled, beginning with a gentle piano solo before the band came in. Tweddell employed his mute for the upbeat “Walkin’ wit Shell” (for his dog), featuring a walking bass line. A highlight was the ballad “Thank You Jonathan Larson,” for the late creator of the musical Rent. It was a slow waltz, with Tweddell again employing his mute to good effect. “Killing Two Birds With One’s Tone” featured incisive soloing by Duncan, who then riffed behind Kennedy’s drum solo. The group closed with “Blueisville,” dedicated to keeping Louisville weird, based on a Monk-ish head, and bringing up Coleman as guest soloist.
Coleman’s quartet, with Diego Lyra on keyboards, Areta returning for bass duties, and Jeff Mellott on drums, opened with “Rewind,” which had a Brazilian feel. “New Blues” was up next, more of a ballad than a straight blues, with the soloists each building in intensity before handing off the lead to the next. “Vast” was more of a mood-creating piece, emphasizing textures over soloing. Three more from the album, “Deimos and Phobos,” a moody piece representing shapes of the moon, “Geometry,” with exploratory guitar over a funky beat, and the title track, “Decisions,” followed. Special props to Areta, who was filling in for a bassist who was ill, and was learning a great deal on the fly. This music is thoughtfully composed, not simple blues licks, and Areta delivered. They closed with a Coleman arrangement of Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time Is Here.” The following night, the bands showcased their work at Cincinnati’s Comet, and they have each released their Comet performances for purchase.
Bill Frisell returned to Louisville’s Clifton Center with his Big Sur ensemble, on Wednesday, December 4. (My interview of Frisell for this performance was in LEO, at http://leoweekly.com/music/good-chemistry-bill-frisell). This time, he performed with his Big Sur Quintet, consisting of featuring Eyvind Kang, viola; Hank Roberts, cello; Rudy Royston, drums; and Jenny Scheinman, violin, for two hours of music that ranged from dreamy to rock’n’roll surf. Most of the material was from his latest release, Big Sur, a suite commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival. The musicians used scores, but stretched and shaped the music far beyond what was on the written pages. Song titles were not announced, but themes from the album were heard throughout. The second piece was a long waltz, featuring a pizzicato viola solo with only subtle loops from Frisell underneath, which somehow meandered into a funky piece. The next piece may have been the album opener, “The Music of Glen Deven Ranch;” it had a hint of reggae and at one point sounded like an echo of the “eternity blue”refrain from the Grateful Dead’s “Blues for Allah.” which led to some heavy whammy bar playing. After a short intermission, the musicians returned with a slow blues, with emotional viola and guitar solos. Next up was a fast, riff-driven piece, followed by a pretty ballad with touches of folk and Celtic music. And then, this “string quarter + drummer” launched into outright, Ventures territory surf music; the double encore of the Beach Boys’ In My Room” and the Astronauts’ “Baja” neatly tied up the California coastline concepts. Frisell never ceases to explore music, with new projects and ensembles. Here’s hoping he comes back through with his next one.
Jeff Sherman brought his friends Hunt Butler on tenor and flute, Bruce Morrow on drums, and Mark McCulloch on bass to the Rudyard Kipling on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, November 10, for the latest in the monthly concert series presented by the Louisville Jazz Society, on whose Board I serve [disclaimer]. “C & H Sugar,” by Carol Kaye and Hampton Hawes, was mellow Latin funk, followed by a Pat Metheny piece whose name I didn’t catch, but which was fun and tricky. Sal Salvador’s “Loose Walk,” a/k/a “Blues Walk,” was classic uptempo bop, followed by the well-known Adagio from “Concierto de Aranjuez.” Sam Jones’ fast-paced blues “Bittersweet” closed out the first set. The second set was bookended by Charlie Parker’s “Scrapple from the Apple” and Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road, Jack,” with a highlight being “You Can’t Go Home Again” a Don Sebesky composition based on Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto. Sherman is a past master of modern mainstream guitar, playing with verve and taste throughout, and his colleagues added to the delightful performance.
Vibraphonist Dick Sisto and pianist Steve Allee return to the Clifton Center for a series of four concerts, in the same setting as the first, with audience members joining the musicians on stage. On November 24, the musicians will feature the spiritual music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. The concert will also celebrate the release of the quartet’s new CD. Ticket information at www.cliftoncenter.tix.com
When most folks think of Stan Getz, bossa nova and, perhaps, the later collaborations with Kenny Barron come to mind. But fusion? In March of 1972, the master saxophonist went into the studio with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Tony Williams, and Airto Moreira to produce Captain Marvel. The same lineup, without Airto, played the 1972 Montreux Jazz Festival, and their stunning performance has now been released on separate CD and DVD. Getz was hardly an elder statesman, but at 45, he was definitely of an older generation than Corea (31), Williams (26), and Clarke (21). Most of the tracks on this live set are Corea compositions from Captain Marvel, starting with the title track from that album, which would have felt in place on either of the first two Return to Forever albums. After more Latin electric jazz, the group does a rendition of “Lush Life” with Getz and Clarke’s arco bass playing an almost mournful duet. Corea’s now classic “Windows” is rendered brightly, followed by the warmth of Getz’s sax on the hard bop classic “I Remember Clifford.” Corea’s “La Fiesta” is next, with a Corea intro, followed by the busy playing of Clarke and the addition of Getz and Williams. Getz plays a strong, animated solo, followed by Corea soloing with an emphasis on space and accents rather than “lots of notes.” The closing “Times Lie” is vintage RTF-ish Corea with Getz again showing his ability to play with verve in the company of younger musicians. As between the CD and DVD, the content is the same; neither contains bonus tracks or interviews, so the consumer must choose whether s/he will be more apt to watch the concert, listen to it without the visuals, or perhaps have a DVD for home and CD for the car or office.
Live at Montreux 1972 (Eagle Rock CD & DVD, www.eaglerockent.com)
Pianist Laurence Hobgood and his friend, saxophonist Ernie Watts , returned to Kentucky Country Day on October 8 for an evening of sophisticated modern jazz, with Louisville’s own Liberation Prophecy opening. The ensemble also includes Marquis Hill – trumpet, Jared Schonig – drums, and Clark Sommers – bass. Liberation Prophecy combines jazz talents with sophisticated songwriting to create a sound which cannot be pigeonholed. Most of their set was comprised of songs from their current album, Invisible House. A highlight was the ballad “The Lazy Mist.” After a brief intermission, Hobgood, Watts and company took the stage. A rumbling piano introduction led to a hard bop flavored “The Gilded Cage,” one of several new pieces by Hobgood. Another was next, “Rip Van Winkle,” which had more of a straight four than swing feel. Hobgood began “O Wakare” (“Farewell”) with a fittingly Japanese-sounding solo, before the rest of the musicians joined in and the tempo increased, with Watts adding emotion by holding long, high notes. Hobgood offered a spoken tribute to several recently departed pianists, then offering his composition “Cedaresque” in homage to the late Cedar Walton. Watts’ sole original offering of the evening was another homage, “For Michael,” a waltz dedicated to Michael Brecker. A heartfelt saxophone solo led to a Hobgood solo which, in turn, gave way to the sole bass solo of the evening, but worth the wait. Watts returned to spar with Hill, with each horn cline complementing the other. The final selection of the night was “Septitude,” (“attitude in 7,” quipped Hobgood). A musically trained friend and I exchanged notes after the concert, and while neither of us could count the 7, we both enjoyed the swirling piece. Although the quintet only played six pieces, the group played a full hour and a half. Hobgood continues to forge a strong identity of his own as both writer and player, stepping away from the tag of “Kurt Elling’s pianist.”