11th Feb2017

Dorado and Amati Schmitt ‘Sinti du Monde’ (Stunt) 4/5

by ukvibe

Jazz manouche (‘gypsy jazz’), as it is called in French, is in the direct lineage of the great Django Reinhardt and is a key element in understanding why the French have developed such a passion for jazz music, and equally why jazz in France is equated with the battle for freedom and against totalitarian regimes. The Nazis in particular were scathing of music that they dismissed as ‘decadent’ and ‘perverse’ and from a minority group that they sought to systematically eliminate. In the 1930s the bal (dance) musette tradition of working class French life combined with the swing jazz prevalent at the time in the United States met head on and the major practitioner of this vibrant new from was of course guitarist Django Reinhardt. Father and son Dorado and Amato Schmitt are the modern day inheritors of this tradition, but have sought to give the tradition a uniquely modern twist while not losing anything of the essence of its source. Both in eastern France in Lorraine in 1957, guitarist, violinist and vocalist Dorado was influenced as a teenager by the guitar sounds of Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix, but in 1978 formed his own trio that included Gino Reinhardt on acoustic bass. A decade later, a serious car accident left Dorado in a coma for eleven days, but he was determined to come back from this adversity and in 1990 reformed the band. They have gone from strength to strength ever since.This new recording with a five piece band (four of whom are guitarists including Danish musician Esben Mylle Strandvig and minus any use of drums) was actually recorded live without any editing after having performed at a live concert. It is the second album for the Stunt label and is the follow up to the well received, ‘Amati and Dorado Schmitt live’ that came out in 2014. What is interesting about the sound created is that the virtuosity of the guitar work is such that the solos at times replicate the great saxophonist of the be-bop revolution, with Charlie Parker coming to mind. A groovy interpretation of, ‘Stompin’ at the Savoy’ is equalled by the highly melodic ‘For Francko’, where the guitar seemingly sings to the listener.

The music is easily accessible and a wider audience will be interested in hearing it provided that the music is sufficiently exposed. Dorado Schmitt is an undervalued artist with a direct link to the very roots of jazz manouche. In the current world order riddled by uncertainty and anxiety, it is reassuring to hear genuinely uplifting music that has stood the test of time remarkably well and expanded its roots to incorporate new elements.

Tim Stenhouse

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10th Feb2017

Joan Baez ‘Three Classic Albums plus’ 2CD (Avid) 5/5

by ukvibe

The folk revival of the late 1950s and early-mid 1960s has been much heralded in recent years with biopics on the seminal figures such as Dave Van Ronk and Bob Dylan viewed as the figurehead, however reluctant he might have been to take on that daunting mantle. One singer who is sometimes overlooked, yet was an active participant alongside Dylan in the folk movement is Joan Baez and this fine retrospective groups together the early, and arguably the very best recordings that Baez cut both as a leader and with others. The recordings she made for Vanguard capture her voice at its zenith and this includes the eponymously titled debut from 1960. A famous interpretation of, ‘House of the rising sun’, probably influenced the Animals to record their now famous version of the folk standard. One of the loveliest songs here is the near six minute reading of, ‘Mary Hamilton’, and other favourites include, ‘Fare thee well’ and ‘John Riley’. Baez’s own Mexican and Scottish roots (a certain US President should take note here of the harmonious rapport between Mexicans and Scots. Singer Lila Downes is another fine example) made her receptive to a wider Spanish language folk tradition that Linda Ronstadt would at a much later stage use as an inspiration, and Baez delivers a beautiful folk tune in, ‘El preso numero nuevo’. Added to the first CD is an earlier 1959 recording of Baez from a various artists release in May 1959. Again the repertoire draws on the folk tradition and includes, ‘Black is the color’, a favourite of Nina Simone no less.

Her second album is divided between the two CDs, but is in keeping with the rest of the music. Baez is joined on two songs by the vocals of the Greenbriar Boys who are worth checking out on their own recordings. Here they provide gorgeous harmonies to, ‘Banks of the Ohio’ and ‘Pal of mine’. The lesser know material works well and includes a French language, ‘Plaisir d’amour’. Clearly, the young Joan Baez was soaking up all manner of musical influences. The remainder of the second CD is devoted to a live solo concert that Joan Baez recorded at various locations in 1962 with ‘Matty groves’ (which Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention would make a seminal reading of in 1969 after bluegrass folkster Doc Watson had recorded it in 1966) and ‘Kumbaya’ highlights and very little overlap with the studio recordings, apart from a new rendition of, ‘Black is the color of my true love’s hair’. Baez makes a further forage into world folk roots with the Portugese language, ‘Ate Amanha’.

As ever with Avid two-CD sets, the timing is incredibly generous with the first CD just lasting just over seventy-eight and a half minutes and the second only barely under the seventy-seven minutes mark. When the music is this good, there are absolutely no excuses for exploring the art of Joan Baez. If Shirley Collins is rightly fêted as the doyenne of English female folk singers (with the likes of Sandy Denny and Anne Briggs only marginally below), then Joan Baez is surely a prime candidate for the foremost American female singer of the postwar generation.

Tim Stenhouse

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09th Feb2017

Deodato ‘Night Cruiser’ / ‘Happy Hour’ (Robinsongs) 3/5

by ukvibe

Better known for his production talents, notably with Kool and the Gang, Eumir Deodato hails from Brazil and first made his name in his native country as a gifted arranger for the likes of Marcos Valle, Milton Nascimento and not forgetting Astrud Gilberto and the late great Tom Jobim. As a performer in his own right, he cut some moderately successful albums, but first caught the eye ans ears of an international audience when he signed for Creed Taylor’s CTI label. A series of critically acclaimed and commercially popular albums ensued, with an unexpected pop hit that went to number two in the charts, ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’. A less successful period with MCA in the mid-1970s was followed by a new contract with Warner, which is where this re-issue fits in. While a more comprehensive Warner Brothers retrospective that included his late 1970s disco hits ‘Whistle bump’ and ‘Shazam’, would have made for a stronger and indeed more cohesive overview, this pairing of Deodato’s two early 1980s albums for the label captures him at the height of his commercial success as a producer and this is reflected in the shift of emphasis from a streetwise end of era disco and lighter from of jazz-funk in the first album to a more avowedly poppier sound in the second.

The keyboardist was still only in his late thirties when ‘Night Cruiser’ was released in 1980 and by this stage he had scored a major disco/pop hit producing ‘Ladies night’ for Kool and the Gang. Their early-mid 1970s funk tinged jazz had been smoothed out with a new lead vocalist. As far as ‘Night Cruiser’ was concerned, this was Deodato’s third album for the label and the one that resonated most with a dance oriented audience. ‘East Side Strut’ contains elements of the Earth, Wind and Fire horns, with strings added by Kermit Moore and a funk-inflected bass, and as a whole comes across as a kind of catchy neo-Bob James composition. Long-time fans of the Brazilian musician will recognise the title pattern since in 1973 he cut ‘Super Strut’ and in 1974 ‘Havana Strut’, and even a ‘Watusi Strut’ from 1975. The title track was a minor hit in the UK and was a classy disco instrumental. of more interest is, ‘Uncle Funk’, which sounds very much like an updated son of, ‘Pick up the pieces’, by the Average White Band, and that includes a rasping saxophone solo from Kool and the Gang horn player Ronald Bell. A much sampled, ‘Skatin’, features a percussive intro and then funky bassline, but both the handclaps and synths sound a tad dated to these ears.

Two years later in 1982, Deodato released, ‘Happy hour’, and this time round female vocals became more prominent in his sound, with the daughter of Latin percussionist Ray Barretto, Kelly taking on the main vocal duties. The first single, ‘Keep on movin’, remains true to the sound of the previous album, but it was the second single and title track, ‘Happy hour’, that fared better commercially and was aimed squarely at the pop as well as the dance charts. Hints of the classic Chic sound and Nile Rogers rhythm guitar emerge on, Keep it in the family’, which is possibly the strongest cut on the album.

In general, Dedoato the keyboardist was less interested in the virtuosity of say George Duke or Lonnie Liston Smith, both of whom became legends in the jazz-funk idiom. Rather, he was more interested in the commercial side and the two albums are testimony to his creative talents of creating a catchy tune and turning it into a dancefloor hit with wider pop potential. He merely repeated the winning formula in his productions of others.

Tim Stenhouse

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08th Feb2017

Deniece Williams ‘Black Butterfly. The Essential Niecy’ 2CD (BBR) 4/5

by ukvibe

Blessed with an instantly recognisable and pure voice, Deniece Williams effortlessly oscillated between soul, pop and gospel music and this excellent anthology that begins in the mid-1970s and goes up to the late 1980s captures her at her finest. Reading through the authoritative sleeve notes from Christian John Wikane, it becomes evident that she was especially popular in the UK and at a time in the mid-late 1970s was disco was all the rage, Deniece Williams, with one notable exception, went counter to this trend.
Her debut solo album shares a prestigious place alongside those of Luther Vandross and Bill Withers in that they immediately made an international impact and were regarded as instant classics. Williams, like Vandross, gained useful experience as a background singer and this on a trio of Stevie Wonder albums that culimnated in, ‘Songs in the key of life’, and thus when ‘Niecy’ was released in 1976, she was far from being overawed by the recording studios. She scored a major number UK hit with ‘Free’ and if the several octave voice was sublime, then the co-production work by the sadly departed Charles Stepney and Maurice White was no less stunning. In this writer’s view the song, ‘That’s what friends are for’, from the same album is equally as strong with sublime harmonies and instrumentation supplied by Earth, Wind and Fire no less. A slow burner of a tune from the same album that is included on this anthology is, ‘If you don’t believe’. Arguably, ‘This is Niecy’, was the singer’s crowning achievement and a definitive slice of quality 1970s soul.

A year later, Williams would pair up with crooner Johnny Mathis for a classy touch of Philly-influenced soul balladry for what would become a smash UK and US pop hit, ‘Too much, too little, too late’, and the duo would continue to record together in the following decades. Interestingly, in reaching the top with this single, Mathis and Williams managed to knock off the number one spot, Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack with,’The closer I get to you’. The duos are very much comparable. At this stage in Deniece Williams’ career, producer Thom Bell played a key role. Out of kilter with the rest of her repertoire, Williams cut one out and out disco number in, ‘I’ve got the next dance’, and while formulaic in nature, it was still good enough to hit the number one spot in the disco charts and the extended 12″ version is contained here.

By the early 1980s, quality soul was back in vogue (not that it had ever really gone out, just that dance oriented music had been in fashion since the mid-1970s and soul singers such as Bobby Womack suffered commercially as a result). In 1981 Williams released the underrated lovely mid-tempo song, ‘Silly’, that became a local radio hit in both Detroit and Philadelphia, but did not go on to major national success. She diversified with a return to her gospel roots on, ‘God is amazing’, taking a leaf out of Aretha’s twin gospel-soul heritage, while covering the classic Motown, ‘It’s gonna take a miracle’ and the top ten US R & B hit, once again reunited with Mathis for an early 1980s reprise of the Ashford and Simpson penned, ‘You’re all I need to get by’.

A change of producer in 1982 with George Duke breathed new life into Williams’ career and the classy, ‘Do what you feel’ that proved to be one of those rare critical and commercial hits with the wonderfully sensitive keyboard accompaniment of Duke and this was certainly one of her finest moments. The title track of the resulting album and in fact of this compilation, ‘Black Butterfly’, is an epic pop-soul ballad penned by another ace songwriter pairing, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill, but it was in 1984 again under producer Duke that she scored a major pop hit in, ‘Let’s hear it for the boys’, that was mixed by Jellybean Benitez. This became a number once dance hit and crossed over to the upper échelons of the pop charts, capturing the flavour of the hedonistic 1980s. Thereafter Williams was re-branded as a dance diva which was too much of a straightjacket for a singer with such a wide range. A good deal of the mid-1980s material from that time onward falls into somewhat bland pop with a proto-Motown feel, typified by the underwhelming, ‘I can’t wait’. That said, such a naturally beautiful voice was always going to be capable of producing quality music under the right leadership and the string arrangements of Tom Tom 84 resulted in the lovely mid-tempo groove of, ‘The boy I left behind’. Excellent sleeve notes include numerous photos and label covers as well as page long tribute from Johnny Mathis.

Tim Stenhouse

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07th Feb2017

Andrés Landero ‘Yo Amenicí’ 2LP/CD (Vampi Soul) 4/5

by ukvibe

Colombian accordionist Andrés Landero is something of a hidden treasure in the rootsier side of cumbia music. Born in 1931 on the Caribbean coastline of Colombia in the town of San Jacinto, Landero has performed in a variety of folk styles and these encompass cumbia, gaita, merengue, pasebol, paseo and puya. He belongs to something of a golden era in Colombian music and unsurprisingly, then, joined the gold standard label Discos Fuentes in late 1965 after a first label spell with Discos Curo. This anthology covers the period 1966-1982 that includes classic material from the mid-1960s through to a second stage in his career when he returned to the Fuentes stable in 1979. As a whole, the sound is heavy on percussion, with melodious basslines and myriad rhythms that showcase the sheer variety of sub-genres performed within. Thus there is bubbling accordion and percussion on ‘La muerte de Eduardo Lora’ with vocals and also on the fast-paced, La Cigarrona’, whereas on, ‘Mi macheté’, the rhythm is a good deal choppier. One of the finest songs is, ‘Mara del Carmén’, which has a beautifully rustic staccato rhythm.At first some of the riffs may come across as repetitive, but with repeated listens that sensation soon gives way to a feeling of being engulfed in a hypnotic groove as exemplified on, ‘Cuando lo negro sea bello’. Nicknamed the ‘King of Cumbia’, Landero’s popularity spread not only across his own country, but equally beyond and was especially well received in both Bolivia and Mexico. Another compelling number is, ‘Virgen de la candelaria’, with a catchy percussive intro.

As ever with the Vampi Soul re-issue programme, evocative and colourful photos of original vinyl sleeve covers abound. Extensive bi-lingual inner sleeve notes paint a wonderful picture of the musician and provide useful historical context. If it is the truly authentic sound of Colombian cumbia that you are in search for, then you are likely to find your musical nirvana with this altogether sumptuous offering.

Tim Stenhouse

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06th Feb2017

Misha Steinhauer ‘Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake’ (Private Press) 5/5

by ukvibe

Michaela, or Misha, as she seems to prefer to be known is a native of Germany but currently lives in New York. She says of her chosen art-form “Music? It’s my life: give me a microphone, and I am where I belong.”Misha combines her own song-writing skills with a sprinkling of well-known jazz standards, but nothing seems to be off limits in terms of repertoire.

This album was recorded in Moscow and is ” a story of brokenness, depression and healing, of loneliness and learning to love and be loved.”

Here are eleven of Misha’s own compositions. The overall atmosphere is rather dark, low-key and contemplative. Although of German origin, it’s not easy to detect in Misha’s voice any trace of a Continental accent.

Hendrik Meurkens plays harmonica and vibraphone, Glauco P. Lima plays piano, Michal Jaros is on bass and Samuel Martinelle is behind the drums.

Much of the programme is taken up with ballads. However, ‘Hello, How Are You Doing?’ is rather more up-beat. I particularly enjoyed the more up-tempo reading of ‘Family Games’ with some nice bass-work from Jaros.

It is clear that Misha is a very skilled song-writer and lyricist. Although a new name to me, and I suspect to many readers, this is her seventh release. There is much to enjoy in this pleasantly varied set.

The opening track ‘Here Comes Autumn Again’ begins with harmonica setting the scene and sounds almost like a ‘standard’ song. The harmonica adds a kind of yearning to the performance.

‘No Cure’ follows and is a more up-tempo affair. ‘Where DO I Belong’ has more yearning harmonica. ‘Hello, How Are You Doing?’ features vibraphone in a variation of tone, and a slightly more funky rhythm. ‘She Wonders Why’ opens with atmospheric vibraphone. A song of sadness and of being unlucky in love.

‘Family Games’ opens with a lovely walking bass line and swings along very nicely.

‘Day and Night’ re-introduces the harmonica and is rather more up-beat than some of the earlier pieces.

‘The House is Quiet’ is much more contemplative and rather sad. The vibraphone is well to the fore once again on this one.

‘Dreaming With Eyes Wide Awake’ follows the formula set out in earlier selections, but is none the worse for that.

This is a concept album in that every song tells a story in the same way that Frank Sinatra’s album ‘The Night We Called It A Day’ did in the late 1950’s.

At times I’m reminded of the vocal delivery of Claire Martin. But more often, I’m led to think of Patricia Barber in the assured way in which Steinhauer approaches each song. In any event, this is a wonderful showcase for her writing. An album of quiet passion and power.

Alan Musson

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05th Feb2017

Cat Toren’s Human Kind (Private Press) 4/5

by ukvibe

This is the fourth release by the Vancouver born pianist Cat Toren. There is an obvious soulful spirit to the compositions and performances throughout the album, one that is clearly influenced by the free-form jazz of the late 60’s, which to my mind can be no bad thing. The band leader is joined by Xavier Del Castillo on tenor sax, Yoshie Fruchter on oud and guitar, Jake Leckie on bass and Matt Honor on drums.Human Kind has a vibrant, earthy and spiritual feel to it, which in no small part is due to the nature of the writing, coupled with some wonderful playing from saxophonist Xavier Del Castillo. Reminiscent perhaps of Charles Lloyd, his performance throughout this session enlightens and awakens something deep within. The compositions themselves also remind me of Charles Lloyd in some respect. I’m thinking of early Lloyd when he first burst onto the scene in the late 60’s and how his writing developed through the 70’s and 80’s, particularly on his ECM recordings with pianist Bobo Stenson. The tunes have an effortless time and space to them, with Toren fluently and skilfully leading the band into expressionistic and adventurous territory.

With a mix of acoustic piano and keyboards, the album’s six tracks sit nicely together, with the drums and bass underpinning everything nicely. The sax sparkles, offering both light and shade in abundance. My only comment is that for me personally, I did sometimes find the oud rather out of place here. There are times when it works well, being utilised as a textural addition to the feel of the music, but I often felt it sounded too out of step with the overall balance, sounding somewhat surplus to requirements in this particular setting.

Toren’s music is heavily influenced by a personal expression of how a resurgence of the civil rights movement is upon us, and this resonates in the music she makes. In the late 60’s John and Alice Coltrane and contemporaries were bringing jazz to new levels of experimentation and cross-culturalism, the sociopolitical climate at the time fraught with tension. Whilst Toren’s music shares the same sentiment as her predecessors, it is perhaps in some ways more easy to identify with, and ultimately to enjoy. This album certainly holds true to that tradition and will benefit organisations that fight for civil liberties and human rights. And when all is said and done, taking the music being made in isolation, this is one fine contemporary jazz album and well worth investigation.

Mike Gates

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03rd Feb2017

John Coltrane ‘Four Classic Albums’ 2 CD (Avid) 4/5

by ukvibe

For those on a limited budget, this is an ideal entry point from which to explore the music of John Coltrane and one that handily cuts across the three major labels for which the saxophonist recorded. While at present John Coltrane seems to be enjoying unprecedented attention in terms of re-issued material, the Avid series is nonetheless an attractive option for those who do not wish to shell out vast sums for a comprehensive box set, and may, in addition, be reticent to investigate the more adventurous later period offerings.It has to be stated from the outset that this is a random selection of albums, but has it’s own rationale of sorts. The first CD focuses on larger ensemble albums, while the second witnesses the early beginnings of what would become the classic quartet. Blue Note, Impulse and Atlantic are all represented.

John Coltrane recorded just one album for Blue Note as a leader (he recorded several as a sideman for others), but the 1957 offering was a veritable classic that featured a one-off line-up of Lee Morgan on trumpet, Curtis Fuller on trombone, Kenny Drew on piano, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer ‘Philly’ Joe Jones. The jewel in the crown here is the fast-paced, ‘Moment’s notice’, that has become something of a modern jazz standard, covered by Pharoah Sanders among others, and is an evergreen tune that never loses its intensity or stunning harmony. The title track is almost as good, with a horn riff that lingers. For some relief, ‘I’m old fashioned’, is a quality ballad that is handled with due care and sensitivity by Coltrane and the band. As a whole, Morgan and Coltrane made for a fabulous duo and that was probably not lost on Miles Davis who solicited the services of the tenorist for the next four years.

The ‘Africa Brass’ album is not the complete recording that has surfaced over the last fifteen years, but rather contains the original vinyl album listing of three numbers. A heavyweight reed section comprises the late Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard and Booker Little with the surprise presence of Sun Ra member. Pat Patrick on baritone saxophone. The piece ‘Africa’ is a brooding number that weaves itself into a frenzy and lasts over sixteen minutes, and filled the whole of the first side of the original vinyl. On side two of the album, the star billing is reserved for a thrilling take on the traditional number, ‘Greensleeves’. Coltrane offers up an original in, ‘Blues minor’. The second CD is memorable in that we begin to hear the smaller ensemble that would eventually morph into the classic quartet and on, Plays the blues’, three out of the four musicians are already in place. Coltrane alternates between tenor and soprano saxophones and is outstanding on the latter on both., ‘Mr Syms’ and a homage to one of his musical heroes in, ‘Blues to Bechet’. Side two of the original is especially strong with ‘Mr Day and Mr Knight’ standing out, and Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner prove to be ideal accompanists. The final album, ‘Olé’, reverts back to a slightly larger ensemble, with Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, the little known George Lane on alto saxophone and flute, and bass duties shared by Art Davis and Reggie Workman. The title track stretches out for over eighteen minutes and is a flamenco-tinged number that is intense. Tyner contributes a lovely piece in, Aisha’, while Coltrane further explores distant shores in, Dahomey dance’. All albums have been re-issued before, but even if you already have one or two of them elsewhere, the four albums on a two CD concept is still unbeatable value.

Tim Stenhouse

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02nd Feb2017

Lou Rawls ‘Black and Blue’ (American Jazz Classics) 4/5

by ukvibe

Originally the second album that Lou Rawls recorded for Capitol records, this recording has been re-issued previously, but with a different pairing altogether. In 2006 Capitol records paired the album with ‘Tobacco Road’, the third album. This time round, American Jazz Records have opted for a series of singles cut between 1959 and 1962 and that amount to fifteen additional songs, when Rawls was still seeking to establish himself and before he signed for Capitol in 1962.The original big band album features the cream of West coast jazz musicians and these include a dream horn section of Curtis Amy, Teddy Edwards and Sonny Criss, with bassist Curtis Counce and hammond organist Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes. As for the orchestra, it was conducted with arrangements made by Ozzy Matthews. Chicago born Rawls interprets an essentially blues standards repertoire, but, as befitting Rawls, his voice was a seductive combination of gospel, blues and jazz and Rawls excelled in performing at the musical intersection of these inter-related genres. Among the numbers selected for the album, the stand out tracks are a rousing, ‘I’d rather drink muddy water’, a lively ‘Everyday I have the blues’, which while not as compelling as Joe Williams’ version, is nonetheless strong, and a real favourite of Rawls that he would also record in a live context, the immortal, ‘St. James infirmary’. As far as the 45s are concerned, in truth they do not add a great deal, but are worthwhile for long-term fans who wish to have the complete set of early singles.

While the voice was distinctive and rapidly maturing, the instrumental accompaniment is somewhat non-descript and positively MOR in parts. Lou Rawls’ ability to attract a wider audience was never in doubt, but it would be another four years before he scored a gold selling album with ‘Live!’ from 1966, and then a first major single in the number one R & B hit 45, ‘Love is a hurtin’ thing’, taken from the ‘Soulin’ album. Original line notes to the album are included with a new set of notes from Mal Caesar that provide a useful historical overview to Rawls’ early career.

Tim Stenhouse

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01st Feb2017

Karin Krog and Scott Hamilton ‘The Best Things in Life’ (Stunt) 3/5

by ukvibe

Scott Hamilton is a well respected tenor saxophonist who has recorded in what is now referred to as the jazz mainstream and his fifty some albums are highly regarded and he was a stalwart of the Concord jazz label in the 1980s and 1990s. His style is very much in the lineage of Ben Webster and Lester Young. The idea of a duet recording with veteran Norwegian jazz singer Karen Krog is a largely inspiring one that for some recall a major highlight in Krog’s career, the 1970s pairing of her with another tenorist, then resident in Scandinavia, Dexter Gordon. While not on a par with that epic album, the new recording is not without its moments and was recorded in Copenhagen with Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren serving as an elegant sounding bridge and interpreter between the two leaders.
Typical of the album as a whole is the title track opener, which is a swinging affair from start to finish, with a fine tenor solo and Krog revealing a vulnerability in her voice. Not all the numbers are vocals (Krog is out on five pieces) and when the quartet has free reign to operate, they come up with gently swinging jazz as on,’Shake it, don’t break it’, which is a seldom covered original from pianist Errol Garner.

While it has to be said that Krog’s voice is not as strong as it once was and can sometimes be a little strained in parts, she does succeed in compensating with a far greater knowledge of the songbook and uses that to good effect. Vocalese comes into play on the excellent ‘Don’t get scared’, where the John Hendricks composed lyrics invites comparison with Annie Ross, and there is even a little scatting from Krog. The beautifully created cartoon front cover from http://www.yellow1.dk/ enhances the listening experience.

Tim Stenhouse

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