Cary Kilner's Picks: Volume 31
Note: MC Choice on Comcast (channels 545 & 544) continues to crank out wonderful new stuff from 2020 and now 2021 that I wish to bring to you. However, I shall also provide links to old favorites as well as examples of significant movements in classic, bebop, West Coast, modern, smooth jazz and fusion.
Larry Carlton – Mulberry Street & Lazy Susan
Here is some early Carlton that displays his technical ability and creative ability. He has been a prolific LA studio musician for many years, having developed the ability to blend with the energy and concept of other musicians’ recordings as a sideman while always maintaining a subsidiary role. Following this is some new Carlton (Footprints – 2020) I just found providing you his tasteful side. You might want to check out more from this album as I have not yet done. As I have noted previously, he replaced Chuck Loeb in Fourplay (Weeks 7, 12 & 17), a smooth-jazz band in which he plays much more economically like this second tune.
Joyce Cooling – Jelly on My Jacket
Given this early excursion into smooth-jazz I just had to give you another Joyce cut (Weeks 9 & 10) since she has such a sweet precise sound and the arrangements are particularly well-done. This has a simple song form, two eight-bar constant chord segments that differ by ½ step, then a couple more modulations upward at the end during the piano solo.
Bill Evans – My Foolish Heart
Onto some classic jazz, this is some absolutely beautiful music from his well-known early Waltz for Debbie trio in this famous live recording. He treats the piano with such love and respect. And the side men hold the fort fabulously, with bassist Scott LaFaro setting the stage for a whole new role of bass-playing in the piano trio. Be sure to read the extensive informative discussion of this album in the “Comments” section.
George Benson BB – Basie’s Bag
This is a gift for Benson fans, showing how he easily and tastefully fulfills the role of guitar in a big band without getting in the way of the arrangement or of other players. He plays in his inimitable happy style. Note the electric bass player providing more “punch” than an acoustic bass player could do in this loud and busy context.
U-Nam – Street Life (to 5:30), Breezing M.A (to 9:12) & Keep the Faith (to 13:48, where Slow Down begins)
I have always loved this smooth-jazz guitarist since I first heard him. Like Joyce Cooling he has a bright, playful sound and great precision in his lines. He also shows a prodigious technique and sound like George Benson. Note his playing of octaves, a technique Wes Montgomery began and t hat George continued. Again, check out the snappy role of the bassist in this exquisitely made recording. I could not find Street Life separately on YouTube; it segues directly into Breezin’ M. — there is no real break in between. If you listen closely you will hear the key change between tunes. It descends ½ step and with the same groove and tempo so you can hardly tell when the transition occurs. Street Life is an infectious tune, originally a hit by the renamed Crusaders when they ventured into smooth jazz after a long successful career as The Jazz Crusaders. Breezin’ M.A has some outstanding technical playing in his solo. But my favorite is the third tune, Keep the Faith. I love the tag; he plays the hell out it! You might enjoy other tunes from this recording, although I have not checked them all out
Will Donato – You Got This
Keeping to more smooth jazz for a minute, I like this sax player very much. But what I really want you to hear is the dramatic electric bass playing! He simply puts down and nails the damn groove! I’ve played this over several times just to listen to and feel the pulse of this puppy! PLAY IT LOUD to really appreciate it and dig his super-precise articulation. I typically do not like tunes with simple chordal motion like this but the groove just overwhelms and keeps you listening. Thus I don’t find it monotonous at all.
John Fedchock Sextet – Manaus
Damn! So sweet — the tune — the groove — the arrangement — the rhythm section! The trumpet player is super sweet! He reminds of a cross between Claudio Roditi and Chet Baker. A bubbly buoyant neo-bebop sound. Nice pianist. Nice ensemble behind him. Nice bass solo, Classic modern jazz.
Wes Montgomery & Dave Brubeck Quartets – Gone With the Wind
This is one of the classic standard tunes often called up during impromptu jam-sessions since it is expected to be known without needing a lead sheet to read. It has an engaging melody and interesting chord changes. Here it becomes a tour de force for Wes to show his many technical innovations, such as playing octave lines with his thumb and strumming chords. This inspired me to provide what may have been its entrance into the jazz scene when Brubeck used it for the title of one of his early albums. It demonstrates Desmond’s classic alto-sax sound that a vintage New Yorker article aptly described as the sound of a “dry martini.” Brubeck uses a few of his famous techniques, playing counterpoint during improvisation, using block chords, and playing 3 against 4 at a couple of places. This is where three bars of 4/4 (= 12 beats) played by the rhythm section are simultaneously played as 4 bars of ¾ (= 12 beats) by Dave. Then towards the end of Desmond’s solo he and Dave play in call-and-response. As an interesting aside, Diane Ellis with my trio (Weeks 14 & 25) played a Holiday Inn in White River Junction back in the 70s. It turned out that Joe Morello (drummer) had a girl-friend there and he came to the club often, sitting in with us several times during our engagement.
Eric Reed – Bebophobia
Getting back to new musics, I just heard this marvelous performance. Using no drummer creates all of this refreshing open space. It features great tenor-sax player, that nice medium tempo swinging groove, and an unusual set of alterations of the standard ABAC 32-bar song-form. Note how the sax continues to play and gently fades out as the piano solo begins, then comes back in later to “trade eights” (8-bar sequences). Then one chorus later they transition to “trading fours.” All of these little devices serve to continue to energize classic bebop.
Freddie Fox – Too Tuff
I want to finish my recurring theme of smooth-jazz with this tasty guitarist. Check out the groove; remember that’s what it’s all about. Play this loud!