Cary Kilner's Picks: Volume 17
Cary live w. Greg Hopkins – Indian Summer
Joe Hunt’s wife had a Mass Arts Grant and this was one of her concerts that we played in Belmont at a church (you’ll notice a slight echo from natural reverberation). We also had Ron McWhorter on bass. I fell in love with this tune when Greg suggested it in rehearsal. We played it in that nice medium swinging tempo I like so much, and Greg really sounds sweet here. Note how I drop out when he begins his solo to give him lots of space and allow the tune to gradually increase in energy. Hear the subtle rhythmic interplay between the drums and me behind Greg – one of the reasons I love Joe’s playing. I begin my solo using the last line that Greg played in his solo – a classic jazz call-and-response. See how Joe uses brushes behind me at first, and then moves to sticks to increase the intensity. Of course all of this is spontaneous because of the unplanned nature of jazz. When we rehearsed we only decided upon tempo and key, and a brief suggestion for the mechanics we would follow such as introduction, order of solos, playing fours with the drums, and ending, although it’s not clear what we decided. It sounds like Greg wanted to stop abruptly, but I turned it into a short repetitive vamp to which they immediately caught on as happened on Friendship from Week 1. As you will hear, there are several lessons in this performance, showing the beauty of jazz with its planned yet unplanned nature –
Mike Stern and Jeff Lorber – Big Town and Nu Sum
Here’s a little more fusion for you from Mike Stern with his unique guitar sound, and Jeff Lorber, a great fusion jazz keyboardist. It’s another example of what happens when you put good jazz players together in a fusion/smooth-jazz context. Note the blend of synthesizer vibes in unison with guitar on the melody that makes for an interesting sound. I’ve included both selections because I cannot discern a favorite. I found both a little bit repetitive, but I wanted you to hear this particular group sound, especially of Mike who you may have heard in a later Miles Davis band. He has a unique guitar sound made by running it through a phaser, a technique that I used periodically on my Fender Rhodes when I was playing professionally.
Steps Ahead – Pools
Here is another jazz/fusion group with Mike Stern and Steve Smith on drums. I believe Mike Mannieri on vibes is the father of the group, which has gone through several personnel changes. This present group is a hell of a group with Bill Evans (sic) on sax, who later worked in one of Miles’ last bands. You can see why Miles chose him from his beautiful solo. And the bass player has some repute of which I was not aware. He is astounding and worthy of further investigation. He has a beautiful sound like Jaco and a prodigious technique! Note the plucking sound he gets that really propels the group, and the tune has a really nice groove. Steve and Mike are relatively restrained. These guys are all monsters and are usually playing loud and at a high intensity with in-your-face pyrotechnics. Note I played briefly with Mike Stern in a jam session and with Steve as a temporary replacement for Bob Kaufman in the Diane Ellis group (she was featured in Week 14) back in my performing days in Boston in the 70s.
Wallace Roney – You Taught My Heart to Sing
This is a gorgeous treatment of a standard tune. Again, you can hear Wallace sounding a lot like Miles but definitely having his own voice. This cut is from the previous album last week. I looked it up to identify the tenor player, Ben Solomon, who sounds so much like Wayne Shorter. I don’t know either of the two great pianists.
Chuck Loeb –Lockdown & Appreciation
The rhythmic approach to this song is known as a shuffle, a classic groove rooted in early blues. When you listen to the two tunes here, as well as Unspoken from Week 7, you will be reminded of the sound of Joyce Cooling whom we heard in Weeks 9 and 10. The pianist is another popular smooth-jazz player, Brian Culbertson. Unspoken had Jeff Lorber on piano whom we just heard with Mike Stern, so you will have heard this pianist in two different ensembles. When a great player like Chuck chooses these keyboardists as sidemen on his albums, you know they have to be good. Appreciation is another tasty and mellow piece from this album.
Charlie Haden – Transparence
I must end this week with a beautiful performance featuring Joe Lovano and Gonzalo Rubalcaba and some nice string accompaniment (synthesized?). There is also a beautiful duo album of Charlie’s with Brad Mehldau you can find that you will enjoy.