Thursday, October 23, 2014

CDs of Note – Short Takes

Taking a closer look at CD’s by the Hutchinson Andrew Trio, the Mike Longo Trio and Marianne Solivan….

Hutchinson Andrew Trio, Prairie Modern (Chronograph)
This one is like a fine wine that sits on the rack, unopened for many months, getting better and better with age. Then you pop the cork, or pop it into the CD player, and say “wow.” It’s a 2013 release that somehow didn’t grab my attention until a week or so ago. The Western Canada-based Hutchinson Andrew Trio hails from the prairie country of Alberta. Pianist Chris Andrew, bassist Kodi Hutchinson and drummer Karl Schwonik are the principals here, joined on six of 13 tracks by New York-based saxophonist Donny McCaslin and on three tracks by percussionist Rogério Boccato. All of the music conjures up breathtaking images of the sweeping open country that the trio calls home. Kudos to the edgy and versatile McCaslin for settling right in to sound like an integral part of the modern, adventurous band. Favorite tracks: the opening ballad “Mountain Rose,” “Wilds,” “Ponderado,” “Mintaka” and “Prairie Wind.” Chris Andrew, who wrote all 13 tracks, (two in collaboration with Hutchinson), is a powerhouse composer inspired by his surroundings, be they friends or majestic settings. Wow.

Mike Longo Trio, Celebrates Oscar Peterson Live (CAP)

Pianist Mike Longo, featured in his longstanding trio with bassist Paul West and drummer Ray Mosca, has another gem here. Longo spent an intense six months studying with pianist Oscar Peterson back in 1961, and this is his homage to the master. There is no outright duplication, for that’s the last thing OP would have wanted. Instead, Longo celebrates Peterson through the traits he absorbed – unbridled swing and chordal/melodic invention, thundering or delicate as needed – as the band explored standard jazz and popular standards that were part of Peterson’s repertoire. Favorites: their takes on Duke Ellington’s “Love You Madly,” “Always,” an adventurous tease through “Love For Sale,” “Tenderly” and a most appropriate “I Remember You.” 

Marianne Solivan, Spark (Hipnotic)

Singer-composer-educator Marianne Solivan has absorbed mightily from listening to jazz greats over the years, and her absorption from singers and instrumentalists has turned her into a charming and gifted talent. You’ll immediately dig her sense of time, her phrasing, and her ability to make a song all her own. She avoids overly familiar material, focusing instead on originals and material deserving to make its way to fresh ears. On this, her second CD, Solivan is backed by a superb trio, featuring Xavier Davis on piano, Matthew Parrish on bass and Greg Hutchinson on drums. Clear favorites: her original “Spark,” which opens the CD, and her take on Francesca Blumenthal’s “The Lies of Handsome Men.”

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