Cary Kilner's Picks: Volume 28
Joey DeFrancesco – Monk's Dream
Dig Joey’s left-hand bass! Perfect time and note placement. Dig his little "cadenza" at the end. This is the killer medium-tempo swing to which I oft refer in my column. Note Monk's use of the whole-tone scale in this composition.
Now here is Monk playing the original.
If you have not done so, you should visit Monk's quartet albums with Charlie Rouse who is a marvelous foil for Monk. Note when Monk drops out and Charlie plays with just bass and drums — great stuff — a truly classic album.
Chad LB Trio – Blue Monk
Where the hec did this guy come from? It‘s another tour-de-force from a remarkable young tenor player along with his excellent two sidemen. I gave you his playing with the big-band in Week 6 and another of this “power-trio” in Week 23. Imagine them schlepping the drums and bass and recording equipment out to this great venue overlooking San Francisco Bay. I assume that this is where they are, since he teaches there.
Dan Costa – Compelling
A wonderful duet with intense interaction! I don't know these artists at all...
John Coltrane - Central Park West
Probably my favorite Coltrane tune, it showcases the beauty and expressiveness of his soprano saxophone. It’s not as well known as Giant Steps and the ballad for his first wife, Naima. It is great ear-training to transcribe and contains the chordal movements of Giant Steps. Everyone knows that tune for its interesting changes, but it is tough to get around at the very fast tempo Trane uses on his original recording. McCoy plays beautifully, not pounding as he often did later, with Elvin Jones on drums and when Trane was into his passionate wailing spiritual thing.
Miles Davis – Boplicity
This is the classic Gil Evans nonet that became the harbinger of “cool jazz” in the 1950s. Note that our friend, Greg Hopkins at Berklee, has assembled a group that occasionally performs these classic compositions around New England.
Ferenc Nemeth & Attila Laszlo – Sounds of My Heart
I already gave you this link in my last column, but I want you to know more about them. This is a killer discovery. Beautiful guitar playing and acoustic piano (Russell Ferrante) and electric bass Jimmy (Haslip). These two artists form the nucleus of the Yellowjackets, a jazz-fusion band I played for you in Week 9. We must have some more of them; they are an outstanding but lesser-known band going back to the 1980s.
Roy Hargrove – Strasbourg St. Denis
Here’s a beautiful quintet live so you can watch them. Of particular note is the pianist muting the strings on the grand piano with his left hand as he plays a single-note solo in his right. The tune consists of the same 8-bar chord progression (16 bars if you count it double-time) played repetitively with no bridge. What keeps it from becoming overly boring or distracting is the way the players dole out their individual and collective energy and the engaging harmonic turn-around. The performance periodically gets a bit wild, so you may want to listen to it in chunks.
Redman Mehldau Christian Blade – Right Back Round Again
Another astounding live performance where you can see the musicians perform. I particularly like watching Brad, who looks like a little kid here but, oh what pianistic mastery! You will note that Christian McBride and Brian Blade have become the “Ron Carter & Tony Williams” of this jazz era, IMHO.
Joe Henderson with Ron Carter – Isfahan
Let’s close this week with the calming maturity of these two great artists in an exemplary duet. They demonstrate how good modern jazz can be without being loud and raucous. You will also hear why Ron represents the complete mastery of the acoustic bass as the example of a firm foundation for this fine music.
Patrick Williams – A Healthy Dose of Basie
And let’s also include this truly outstanding quiet and beautiful example of what we have learned from the historic Basie band. They have everything correct, from the space, the economical piano, the firm bass bottom and the guitar giving depth to the rhythm section.
Roger Kellaway - Someday My Prince Will Come
Here is one of my favorite pianists in a drummer-less quartet. Not having a drummer is often a refreshing change, providing balance and clarity among players. Also be sure to check out the two exquisite Roger Kellaway Cello Quartet albums on A & M Records.
Now check out Miles Davis on that standard tune with Wynton Kelly playing in his usual ebullient style on piano, followed by some great John Coltrane. This is an unreleased version I have never heard before.
I actually prefer the following released version:
Seven Steps to Heaven - Victor Feldman
To complete this week’s jazz exploration, here is Victor Feldman on
Seven Steps to Heaven in an alternative take I just found, to contrast with the original version from the Miles’ album,
And here is that same tune played by Dave Kikoski on an out-of-tune piano, but in a live visual setting. Note I have been meaning to bring this excellent modern pianist to you.