Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CDs of Note

Hal Weary, A Rendezvous with Déjà Vu (Musichal Entertainment)
There’s more than a little influence of Horace Silver on this hard-bop project. This is a good thing, as rarely can you gone with the funky sort of swing that graced the best of Silver’s projects. All right, all of his projects. Weary, a New York-based pianist, has strong support from trumpeter Kenyatta Beasley, saxophonist Stantawn Kendrick, bassist Gregory Williams and drummer Jerome Jennings. All of the playing is stellar. My favorites: “Hangin’ with Horace” and “Outback Blues.” The one non-original is Weary’s Garnerish take on “Tenderly,” which he plays solo for the first half before the full quintet joins in. Weary slips back into solo mode for the coda of this great arrangement.

Mike Longo, Sting Like A Bee (Consolidated Artists Productions)
Pianist Mike Longo has never really grabbed the attention enjoyed by many other first-tied pianists, but he certainly belongs among the elite. Sting Like a Bee is a natural follow to his 2007 CD Float Like a Butterfly. On this one, Longo uses the swinging jazz trio format, with bassist Bob Cranshaw and drummer Lewis Nash along for the ride, to pay tribute to some of his mentors.
Longo studied with Oscar Peterson in the early 1960s and worked extensively as pianist for trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie starting in 1966; the association spanning a quarter-century and including several years as the band’s musical director.

This CD is a wonderful showcase of Longo’s touch, sense of time and imagination. My clear favorite: the trio’s extended and interesting take on Cole Porter’s classic “Love for Sale.” It is filled with inventiveness and swings hard - for more than nine minutes. Three is much to savor, including a rather delicate take on Herbie Hancock’s “Tell Me a Bedtime Story.”

Marbin, Marbin (Marbin)
There’s nothing like consistency. The duo, the recording and the label all carry the same name. This is a collaboration by guitarist Dani Rabin and saxophonist Danny Markovitch, whose atmospheric sound often is reminiscent of the classic Paul Winter Consort. There is a bit more bite to the playing in spots, particularly on “Mei.” It’s quite an output, considering that except for one track with added vocals by Mat Davidson, this features just guitar and saxophone with some electronic enhancements. The strongest connections to mainstream jazz occur on “Abadaba” and “Rust.” Mainstream purists may not like it all, but this fits the grand scheme of jazz these days in a very pleasant way. No doubt, you’ll get a good chuckle from the cover art.

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