Jeremy Pelt x 2: “Noir en Rouge” & (with Jim Snidero) “Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley”

Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt shines on two recently released albums:

“Noir en Rouge: Live in Paris” (High Note Records) documents his two-night stand last fall in the City of Lights, where he led a quintet with pianist Victor Gould, bassist Vicente Archer, drummer Jonathan Barber, and percussionist Jacquelene Acevedo at the intimate Sunset/Sunside club. Their set was drawn in part from the group’s 2017 “Make Noise!” album.

The clip, above, features the same group, playing last year’s Montreal Jazz Festival.

“Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley” (Savant Records) has Pelt connecting with alto saxophonist Jim Snidero for a disc celebrating the repertoire and legacy of the soul-jazz legend, who would have turned 90 this year. They’re joined by pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Billy Drummond.

Check out my full review of the albums, published in JazzTimes magazine.

 

 

Montreal Jazz Fest — Wishing I was there

I’ve had some incredible experiences hearing great performances and soaking up the other jazz happenings at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Not to mention getting a chance to enjoy the cosmopolitan culture of one of North America’s most beautiful and most historic cities.

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Last summer’s festival was again jam-packed with great music, some of which I wrote about for JazzTimes, and in several posts on this blog.

Sadly, I can’t make it for the 38th edition of the fest, which runs June 28-July 8.

But if I WERE headed to Montreal at the end of this month, I’d do my best to catch the following jazz, blues and pop/rock artists (some of whom are playing in bands with others on the list):

Ambrose Akinmusire, Arturo Sandoval, The Bad Plus, Ben Street, Bill Frisell, Brian Blade, Buddy Guy, Carla Bley, Charles Bradley, Charles Lloyd, Charlie Musselwhite, Curtis Lundy, Danilo Perez, Dave Douglas, Diana Krall, Donny McCaslin, E.J. Strickland, Eric Harland, Essiet Essiet, George Cables, Gerald Clayton, Ingrid Jensen, Jack DeJohnette, Jacob Collier, Jane Bunnett, Jeremy Pelt, Jesse Cook, John Hollenbeck, John Medeski, John Pizzarelli, John Scofield, Joshua Redman, Joss Stone, King Crimson, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Larry Grenadier, Michael Blake, Nicholas Payton, Reuben Rogers, Robert Glasper, Robin Eubanks, Scott Colley, Stanley Clarke, UZEB, and Wallace Roney.

Headed to Montreal? Let me know your thoughts on what you hear.

As for me — better luck next year.

 

 

Tampa Jazz Notes: Child of the Sun Jazz Festival Returns; Don Capone Tribute; Jazz Cellar Underground Orchestra to Play

The Child of the Sun Jazz Festival, a first-class Lakeland event begun in 1988 with major input from late great cornetist Nat Adderley but shuttered after a great 20-year run, will be revived next spring.

That’s the word from Larry Burke, longtime music professor at Florida Southern College, original home to the event. The revived fest, to be sponsored by the Lakeland Rotary Club, will be held April 15-16 downtown at Lake Mirror. An affiliated triathlon is slated for that weekend, too.

Over the years, the fest, directed by Burke and usually held outdoors on campus and at Branscomb Auditorium (and sometimes in Munn Park) featured impressive lineups headlined by major jazzers. A partial list: Adderley, pianists Larry Willis and Rob Bargad, bassist Walter Booker, drummer Jimmy Cobb, saxophonists Antonio Hart and Vincent Herring, and percussionist Gumbi Ortiz (all of whom variously played or guested with Nat), guitarists Barney Kessel and Roni Ben-Hur, saxophonists Junior Cook and Ernie Watts, trumpeters Lew Soloff and Jeremy Pelt, and pianists Manfredo Fest and Kenny Drew, Jr. The fest, which took its name from the architectural theme of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed campus, also provided a showcase for many Tampa Bay area jazz musicians.

The lineup for the 2011 fest is TBA — check back here for updates.

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Several bands and musicians who worked with late drummer Don Capone, including Denise Moore and Then Some, and Trio Vibe (my group) are gathering to play a concert/jam in honor of Don, who passed away Feb. 12. We’re getting together Wednesday, May 12 at Lenny’s Latin Cafe in Temple Terrace, where Don played host to a jam session.

Trumpeter Dwayne White will be master of ceremonies for the evening. Music begins at 7 p.m. Admission is free, but donations will go to the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association’s scholarship fund. More details are TBA.

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The Jazz Cellar Underground Orchestra, who ruled the roost at Dick Rumore‘s old Jazz Cellar at Ybor Square, are reuniting to play a May 16 concert benefiting the jazz program at Blake High School in Tampa. I’ll post more info soon.

Jazz Bassists on Parade: David Finck, Ben Wolfe, Anne Mette Iversen, Bill Moring

Jazz sessions led by bassists long ago stopped being the exception to the rule.

Notable bass-playing sidemen — from Ron Carter and Dave Holland (Miles Davis) to Charlie Haden (Ornette Coleman), from Christian McBride to practically every four-string anchor who’s backed Chick Corea, including Stanley Clarke, John Patitucci and Avishai Cohen — successfully graduated from character actor to lead roles, applying distinctive, readily recognized tonal conceptions and compositional approaches to their own projects and tours.

Last year was no exception, with a flood of fine bass-led CDs, including the eclectic Esperanza (Heads Up), a mix of jazz, Latin, Brazilian, pop and funk from rising star Esperanza Spalding, also an affecting singer; Richard Bona‘s rambunctious, live Bona Makes You Sweat (Decca); Charlie Haden‘s Americana-rooted  Rambling Boy (Decca); and  Todd Coolman‘s Perfect Strangers (ArtistShare), an unusual project incorporating tunes penned by little-known composers (see my earlier post).

Also notable were a pair of ambitious sets of compositions and arrangements — Windy City musician Larry Gray’s 1,2,3 (Chicago Sessions), a trio recording with guitarist John Moulder and drummer Charles Heath, and Roberto Occhipinti‘s jazz/Latin/Brazilian/classical project Yemaya (ALMA).

I reviewed several of the above for major music publications.

Herewith, a quartet of other bass-led CDs deserving of greater attention:

david-finck1The David Finck Quartet, Future Day (Soundbrush) — Finck, a reliably supportive presence on sessions by Latin and Brazilian jazz artists, offers a singing tone and typically sturdy rhythm work on this top-shelf collaboration with vibraphonist Joe Locke, pianist Tom Ranier and drummer Joe La Barbera.

The swing, on tunes like “Four Flags,” with aggressive solo turns by guests Jeremy Pelt, on trumpet, and Bob Sheppard, on tenor sax, is clean and hard driving. Locke, throughout, is a wonder – casually virtuosic and, on the gorgeous “For All We Know” and elsewhere, he turns in improvisations marked by clever twists and unexpected phrasings.

The arrangements, too, offer pleasant surprises, including a 5/4 version of “Nature Boy” (a redesign suggested by La Barbera);  a haunting take on Wayne Shorter’s “Black Eyes”; and the closing “Firm Roots,” by Cedar Walton, with more bracing improvisations  by Finck and La Barbera.

(Finck’s next appearances: April 25, San Raphael , California with the Manhattan Transfer; April 26, Denver, with the Manhattan Transfer; May 16, Washington DC with Sheila Jordan; May 22, Cambridge, Mass with Steve Kuhn Trio; May 29-June 1, Blue Note New York with John Faddis)

ben-wolfeBen Wolfe, No Strangers Here (MaxJazz) — Wolfe, best known as an eminently reliable, steady-beat wood chopper for the likes of Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall and Wynton Marsalis, mixes and matches his quartet (tenor and saxophonist Marcus Strickland, pianist Luis Perdomo, drummer Greg Hutchinson) with a string quartet and several guests on a set of dynamic originals.

The strings blend gorgeously with the band on the vintage-sounding, slow-swimming title track (and elsewhere), and Branford Marsalis raises the artistry of the proceedings even higher, playing soprano on the strolling “Milo” and tenor on “The Filth,” a dirty, twisting blues. Trumpeter Terrell Stafford also makes impressive guest shots, on the start-stop contours of opener “The Minnick Rule” and the aptly titled closer “Groovy Medium.”

anne-metteAnne Mette Iversen: AMI Quartet with 4Corners, Best of the West/AMI Quartet, Many Places (BJU Records) — Band meets string quartet, too, on Best of the West, a heady jazz-meets-classical outing led by Danish-born NYC bassist Anne Mette Iversen. New York/New Orleans tenor saxophonist John Ellis turns in a wonderfully buoyant conversation with the rhythm section and strings on the opening “North” and the searching “North West”; and Iversen’s sensitive work as an improviser is showcased on “North East.”Synchronicity is the byword for this set of intense, often intensely beautiful music.

Also included in this two-disc release is Many Places, which has the same quartet, absent of the strings, sounding considerably more loose and relaxed, and turning even more creative. The bright, swinging “Out the Atlantic” and the delicate “The Square in Ravello” are just two of many gems composed by the leader.

billmoringBill Moring & Way Out East, Spaces in Time (Owl) — The two-horn line of trumpeter Jack Walrath and saxophonist Tim Armacost frontloads Moring’s second CD with plenty of grit and heft, starting with funky opener “Sweat,” penned by Walrath.

Moring shows off his talents as a composer on the ballad-to-Latin piece, “Mary Lynn,” which opens with bowed bass and has Walrath turning in a muted solo; the pensive ballad “A Space in Time,” glued together, like other tunes, by Steve Allee’s electric keys work; and the chunky “iHop,” cued open with a grinding bass line and drummer Steve Johns’ chunky backbeat. The quintet drives furiously on Ornette Coleman’s “The Disguise.”

Gene Bertoncini & Roni Ben-Hur: Good Music, Great Cause

“Jazz Therapy” is the name given to a new series of recordings by major artists who are donating their talent and time to a great cause: All the proceeds from sales of the CDs go to support the Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund of the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey.

The fund is affiliated with the Jazz Foundation of America, an organization on the front lines of providing help to needy jazz and blues musicians. The foundation enables free medical care, prevents homelessness and eviction by paying rents and mortgages, and organizes gigs to help musicians earn money from their art; since Hurricane Katrina, the foundation reportedly has helped more than 4,000 musicians and created gigs for another 1,000.

So, it’s a great cause.

And if Smile, the just-released first volume in the series,  is any indication , the music is offering its own brand of healing.

The project, a collaboration between veteran guitarist Gene Bertoncini and younger established six-stringer Roni Ben-Hur, is a joyful outing, with the two turning in imaginative renditions of a half-dozen standards and pop tunes, plus two originals by each musician.

Bertoncini, on nylon-string acoustic, and Ben-Hur, on electric, trade melodies, counterlines, comping, and solos, turning in sublime acoustic-electric textures, sans rhythm section. It comes off as a mutual-admiration society that sounds like … more is in order.

“Smile,” written by Charlie Chaplin (and recorded by Nat Cole), has always struck me as a gorgeous song that ought to be included in the repertoire of more jazz artists. Here it’s rendered beautifully, with the two variously bringing out the poignancy of the melody and trading solos.

The two achieve a similarly sense of melancholy on a creative redesign of Roberta Flack hit “Killing Me Softly,” which opens with a tricky prelude — all tightly clustered chords, major/minor tonalities, and long descending lines –before getting into the song proper.

“Besame Mucho” is done in a slow, languid, tropical-sunset  style, replete with bossa nova rhythms, while the Gershwins’ “I Concentrate on You” is similarly gorgeous.

The originals are impressive, too. Bertoncini’s “You Are a Story” is a quite pretty ballad, while his “Set Blue” is a take-off on jazz familiarity “Bluesette,” albeit built on alternate blues changes and capped with a counterpoint section and extended vamping. Ben-Hur contributes the charming tristeza “Anna’s Dance” (title track from his 2001 album) and bluesy bop piece “Sofia’s Butterfly.”

Smile, as promised, makes for great therapy; here’s to new sessions with the same musical physicians.

Side note: I had the opportunity to hear Ben-Hur when our paths crossed in 2007 during the 20th and final edition (what a shame) of the Child of the Sun Jazz Festival at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fla. – yes, my hometown. He led a  group that also included trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and bassist Santi Debriano. Debriano, a great New York player best known for his work on Latin jazz projects, wound up using my upright bass – a century-old Edmund Paulus, from Austria, I think – on the gig.