Sunday, October 17, 2010

CDs of Note - Short Takes…

Luciano Troja, At Home With Zindars (self-produced)
This labor of love spotlights the composer, good friend and perhaps musical twin of Bill Evans. It is long overdue, because the late Earl Zindars had far more impact on Evans than he has generally been credited with. Their relationship dated to their Army days in the early1950s. Italian pianist Luciano Troja corrects that oversight with his lavishly produced solo piano CD of 15 Zindars jazz compositions (he was a classical composer and educator as well), plus Troja’s own tribute called “Earl and Bill.” There’s also an enlightening 40-page booklet. Evans recorded seven Zindars tunes in his repertoire, most notably “How My Heart Sings,” and played those and a few others in his live performances for nearly a quarter-century.

All of the tracks on this session will carry a lot of interest for even the casual Evans listener because of the harmonic and rhythmic cross-pollination between these two good friends. Interestingly, Zindars’ “Four Times ‘Round” - written in 1985, five years after Evans’s death - has a decided Evans feel to it. Troja’s “Earl and Bill” is a loving meditation celebrating the impact that both men had on the pianist after he first heard Evans and later came to appreciate the Zindars connection. Some of these tunes might have swung a bit more with a rhythm section, but all things considered, that’s a minor quibble. At Home With Zindars is a CD to savor for many reasons.

Kurt Rosenwinkel and OJM, Our Secret World (Word of Mouth)
This wonderful addition to the big-band canon pairs guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel with Portugal’s Orquestra Jazz de Matsinhos. Rosenwinkel is one of mainstream jazz’s more adventurous, edgy explorers on his chosen instrument. On this session, the Philly native revisits seven of his compositions with arrangements by OJM’s Carlos Azevedo and Pedro Guedes, as well as saxophonist Ohad Talmor. What a lush and interesting carpet they provide for Rosenwinkel’s new ride. Favorites: the title track, “Zhivago,” the Metheny-esque “Dream of the Old” and the multi-faceted “Path of the Heart.” This is gorgeous.

Reggie Pittman-Loren Daniels Quartet, Point A to Point A (self-produced)
What a swinging, tight and vibrant band, rooted deeply in the bop tradition. Trumpeter Reggie Pittman and pianist Loren Daniels have teamed up with bassist Bill Moring and drummer Tim Horner for this session. It features original material plus a funky rearrangement of Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology,” which itself was a bebop variation on “How High the Moon.”
My favorites (difficult choices given the strength of all the material) are the title track and “Prose and Consequence.” Both were written by Daniels. Pittman’s Woody Shaw tribute, “Shaw is Woody,” is also a sprightly and swinging dandy.

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