Posts Tagged ‘ Jazz ’

Bruce Forman Trio – The Book of Forman

A little bit of standards and a lot of fresh material. That’s the composition of the Bruce Forman Trio’s The Book of Forman (Formanism Volume II) (B4Man Music, 2015).

The musicians are guitarist Forman, bassist Alan Frank and drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith.

The set begins with “Hate Mail (Letters of Love),” a delightful piece. Forman effortlessly moves from single string to chords and back as he guides us through this journey that’s part romance, part bitterness. Frank and Smith are locked in a groove throughout. The finale is setup by a guitar-bass duet, while Smith softens his strokes, working in some cymbal rolls for a change of pace. Smith’s rim shots and deft work on the high-hat are highlights.

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John Fedchock New York Big Band – Like It Is

The Big Apple, as it’s called, New York City is ripe for post-swing, large jazz ensembles. The John Fedchock New York Big Band captures that element with Like It Is (MAMA Records, 2015).

Composer, arranger and trombonist Fedchock leads the ensemble. The other musicians are Mark Vinci, alto saxophone and flute; Charles Pillow, alto and soprano saxophones; Rich Perry and Walt Weiskopf, tenor saxophones; Gary Smulyan and Scott Robinson, baritone sax; Tony Kadleck, Craig Johnson, Scott Wendholt, John Bailey and Barry Ries, trumpets and flugelhorns; Keith O’Quinn and Clark Gayton, trombones; George Flynn, bass trombone; Allen Farnham, piano; Dick Sarpola, bass; Dave Ratajczak, drums; and Bobby Sanabria, percussion on selected tracks. The baritone sax duties are split with Smulyan on six tracks, and Robinson the other four. Ries is the only trumpet/flugelhorn player to appear on all tracks. The others mix and match, ensuring there are three on each song.

A drum ad-lib opens the bright, bouncy “You and the Night and the Music.” The horns are like a miniature orchestra, with the different groups joining for melody of overlapping phrases. After the main theme, Fedchock stretches out, followed by Vinci and Perry. Beneath it all, the rhythm section remains firmly engaged, with Ratajczak standing out a bit.

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Johannes Wallmann – The Town Musicians

It doesn’t get much better than this. A mid-size ensemble and excellent composition, courtesy of pianist Johannes Wallmann and The Town Musicians (2015).

Accompanying Wallman are his decade-long trio partners, Sean Conly, bass; and Jeff Hirshfield, drums. Trumpeter Russ Johnson and guitarist Gilad Hekselman also contribute. And tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens sits in on a couple of tracks.

Some songs score points just for titles alone. “Water Music (for People Without Aquariums)” opens the set. Stephens joins Johnson and Wallmann for the blended melody. It’s an ambient, laid-back piece. It’s perfect for gazing upon a lake or river, or watching the aquatic life in case you do have an aquarium. After the opening sequence, Stephens takes the tenor on a leisurely tour, at times going through some rapid-fire rolls. Then it’s Wallmann’s turn. The listener’s imagination is on split-screen view, with one eyeing boaters and swimmers, while the other monitors fish. It’s a beautifully written and performed selection.

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Mitchel Forman Trio – Puzzle

Structure meets improvisation as the Mitchel Forman Trio presents Puzzle (BFM Jazz, 2015).

Forman plays piano, organ, melodica and synth. With him are bassist Kevin Axt and drummer Steve Hass.

“Passing Smile,” one of six Forman originals in the set, is a delightful, upbeat song. Forman layers the melodica with the piano, basically performing a solo/duet during several passages. It’s particularly interesting during a call and response sequence with Hass. After that, the melodica becomes the lead instrument with piano joining bass and drums underneath.

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Nick Finzer – The Chase

The trombone is a vital part of any big band or orchestra. And often with smaller ensembles, it is an excellent background or solo instrument. However, in recent decades, it has faded as a lead instrument. Nick Finzer aims to change that culture with The Chase (Origin Records, 2015).

With Finzer are Lucas Pino, saxophone; Alex Wintz, guitar; Glenn Zaleski, piano; Dave Baron, bass; and Jimmy MacBride, drums.

“Life Happens” is a moderate, sunny piece. Trombone and sax harmonize for the lead, delivering a warm, celebratory melody. Then, each takes a turn in the spotlight, followed by the guitar, while the other players remain engaged. Then a brief interlude with only piano, bass and drums sets up a return to the main theme. Through it all, MacBride has a little fun, doing far more than simply maintaining the beat.
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Baltazanis – End of Seas

Jazz may be an American adventure, but its appeal is worldwide. Musicians of many nationalities have adopted this art form. From Greece, we have Costas Baltazanis. His group, Baltazanis, presents all-original material with End of Seas (2015).

The group consists of Baltazanis, guitar; Dan Brantigan, trumpet; Isamu McGregor, keyboards and piano; Panagiotis Andreou, bass; and Engin Gunaydin, drums. Guest musicians are Alex Foster, saxophone; Rich Stein, percussion; Camila Meza, voice and guitar; Justin Tyson, drums; and Brice Wassy, percussion.

The music might best be described as ambient with an abstract twist. On “The Other Day,” Baltazanis plays in a Matheny-like style. The song is tranquil, right up to the moment Brantigan gets engaged. The trumpet adds a brief flare of intensity before the mood reverts to its softer side.

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Davide Tammaro – Ghosts

Think back to some of the CTI Records releases of the 1960s and ’70s, and you’ll get an idea of Davide Tammaro’s Ghosts (2015).

Tammaro plays electric guitar. His band consists of Panagiotis Andreou, bass and vocals; Alex Han, alto sax; Pasquale Strizzi, Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes and piano; Jake Sherman, Hammond B3 organ; and Andrew Atkinson, drums.

“Jungle” opens the set. It’s an upbeat piece. Tammaro plays like a 1970s rock star bent on improvising. Electric sound effects give it a space fiction feel. The other players are solid, but it’s the leader who shines here. Atkinson does step out a little during the closing sequence.

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