by: Hobart Taylor
Hutchinson Andrew Trio (Featuring the Lily String Quartet) - Hollow Trees - (Chronograph Records)
Regular review readers here may notice I feature a lot of of Canadian releases. Most of them come from Toronto's burgeoning scene, (Ron Davis, Turboprop, Rich Brown,Pram Trio, Allison Au), but the prairie is rich in innovative and accomplished artists as well. Alberta based pianist/composer Chris Andrew is a part of the swelling tide of melodists who tap into the spacious sounds based on North American folk musics and their Anglo-Celtic forbears and expand them. Gentle syncopation and enigmatically elliptical composition propel this music into the commonly perceived realm of jazz. But the work is also neo-classical and formal.
Centered around the jazz trio format, Andrew with bassist Kodi Hutcinson and drummer Karl Schwonik amplify this amalgam by using the accomplished Lily String Quartet. Like say Leonard Bernstein in West Side Story, this marriage of traditions enhances the tunes and allows space for something new to emerge.
Al Muirhead - Oop! - (Chronograph Records)
Also from Alberta, Calgary trumpeter Muirhead made his first record last year at 79. Fifty years on the Calgary club scene have refined his awesome chops. This sophomore effort features tastefully selected timeless gems and was done at 80. It has the charm of a Roy Eldridge side, very relaxed and precise with sublime tone, voice, and experience, all in airy arrangements featuring piano, alto and percussion (on only one track) and no bass! Like a jam session in heaven.
Paul Green and Two Worlds - Music Coming Together - (Centaur)
There have been periodic waves of Klezmer revival as if each new generation discovers the energy and improvisational fervor that makes it one of the world's most enduring popular musics. What makes clarinetist Green's work different is that while respecting the tradition, he's not afraid to take a breath and let the blues in, "Tarras Doina and Blues", or to play sweetly and classically with traces of the lyricism of say Darius Milhaud. He takes Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" to a magic understated place where he brings that special traditionally Jewish timbre to the piece while gently swinging in the breeze like a leaf about to take flight in the New England wind. Check out "Utt Da Zay" for the perfect Blues/Klezmer wedding.
Michael Dease - Father Figure - (Positone records)
Straight ahead blues based swinging jazz from this very much in demand New York trombonist. This is very easy on the ears and nicely accented by Behn Gillece on vibes.
Louis Heriveaux - Triadic Episode - (Hot Shoe Records)
What can I say? I dig the way this guy plays. His style is off the cuff, like he's just chatting without guile or agenda. Atlanta based pianist Heriveaux swings, sure, but that's not the point. Like (sorry for the cliche comparison) Monk, he goes where he wants on a seeming whim. Off course I'm probably all wrong. Every note could be written, every vamp standardized. I sure as sh@# can't tell. Five stars.
Tony Lustig Quintet - Taking flight - (Bimperl)
Bari sax and bass clarinet. Like Joe Williams singing the blues in a low register rumbles the soul this release reassures and excites simultaneously. It's a party record full of honks and shouts and sputtering vibrato. Michael Dease on trombone (sometimes real old school with a mute) emphasizes the Kansas City soul of the project. Check out "Change is Comin'", "Prometheus", and "Burning Grease". Fun fun fun.