Cary Kilner's Picks: Volume 15
This week I am sending you a variety of links because I just can’t help myself. I have found so many good things for the weeks ahead I need to get these out to you now. Enjoy good jazz! - Cary
Jimmy Greene – Overreaction and So in Love
I don’t know this artist, but this group represents the best in contemporary modern jazz. I find this sound not dissimilar to that of the Yellowjackets (Weeks 9 & 14). They never seem to settle into a groove until deep into the tune, when we hear an interesting contrast to the previous intricate interplay done on one root note. I love the piano player, especially when the bass player begins walking around 4:00 and the key center shifts from static to dynamic. The guitar player is also quite interesting. My YouTube segued into the standard tune, So in Love, and I found their interpretation so unusual that I must include it.
David Hazeltine - For Cedar
David is another of my favorite pianists for his bright clear keyboard style. This traditional-style medium-swing tune is a tribute to one of his and my favorite players, Cedar Walton. It provides an apt contrast to the previous more modern style of jazz. It’s also an interesting ensemble of diverse players. I particularly like Steve Nelson on vibes as well as Eric Alexander on tenor.
Chester Thompson – A Remark You Made
Weather Report - A Remark You Made
I had known of Chester as a funk drummer. But when I just read more about him, I found out he played with Frank Zappa and then with Weather Report along with Jaco’s first album with them, Black Market. So much for his bona fides -- This is one of Jaco Pastorius’ most poignant compositions, played very nicely by this trio. We needed a lovely ballad to balance out all the swinging stuff I’ve been sending out to you. Note the acoustic bass player bowing the melody that Jaco plays on his own performance found below. That link I have added is the stunning Weather Report version for comparison. Note how Jaco uses his bass as an integral part of the ensemble and not just for support within the rhythm section. This reminds me of how Scott LaFaro with Bill Evans, and later Miroslav Vitous with Chick Corea, changed the role of acoustic bass from that of a time-keeper in the rhythm sections to a co-equal “speaking” part of the ensemble
Jaco Big Band – Three Views of a Secret
Word of Mouth - Three Views of a Secret
Weather Report - Three Views of a Secret
This is another of Jaco’s remarkable tunes, first widely heard when he joined Weather Report. Here we have three versions because I could not decide which one better showed it off. The first cut is with Jaco and his Word of Mouth Big Band. Although he has a stellar assortment of players, the sound quality is not that good. And not listed, I believe the beautiful harmonic playing has to be Toots Thielemans. The next version is from an assembly of tracks from previous recordings, and is of much better sound quality, with a soprano sax in place of Toots. Finally for comparison, and because I can’t get enough of this tune, I have added the original Weather Report version from when Jaco replaced Alphonso Johnson, who had replaced the original bassist, Miroslav Vitous, in the band. Legend has it that Jaco strolled up to Wayne Shorter, who didn’t know him, and announced that he was the “world’s greatest bass player.” And little did Wayne know until he heard him.
Claire Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band – San Francisco PM
Claire is a remarkable musician and worthy of further investigation. He’s a great player, composer and arranger. If you like Latin percussion you will love this cut.
Roger Kellaway - Someday My Prince Will Come
This is one of my favorite pianists from years ago, playing another favorite session standard. Stephan Harris is very interesting on vibes. Note how he begins his solo with only bass and Russell Malone’s sweet guitar backing. In the middle of it, Roger slides in and Russell drops out in order to finish accompanying vibes, until Roger begins his own tasty piano solo with just bass and an occasional subdued background contribution from the other two. After a while Russell begins his own solo with Roger behind him. Then Roger shortly sneaks out and turns his accompaniment over to vibes. Finally the bass solos with only Roger behind him. You don’t even miss that there is no drummer in this group, given this interesting variety and medley of instrumental changes. If you have not heard them, check out Roger’s two cello quartet albums; they are superb.
Eddie Daniels – Heartsong
Clarinet is a very hard instrument to master, but it’s a requisite to learning all the saxophones. Unless played well it tends to sound kind of cheesy. Thus, there are only a handful of masters, and most of them are famous older artists or those who have passed on. Eddie represents a new approach to the instrument with his prodigious talent. We first heard him on the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band back in Week 6 where he was improvising against a swinging background. Here we find him playing more in a smooth-jazz context. But the arrangement is beautiful and his playing and “licorice-stick” sound are exquisite.
Arturo Sandoval – Up Jumped Spring
This is a lovely 6/8 tune by Freddie Hubbard, and a favorite of many jazz performers. It shows off Arturo’s beautiful sound without a lot of his usual pyrotechnics. Very relaxed, it allows the melody to emerge clearly with some sparkling playing by everyone.