Oleg Kireyev & Keith Javors, “The Meeting” (CD review)

Oleg CD the Meeting

Oleg Kireyev & Keith Javors featuring Tom Harrell, Ben Williams, E.J. Strickland

“The Meeting” (Inarhyme Records)

Tenor saxophonist Oleg Kireyev and trumpeter/flugelhornist Tom Harrell make an inspired front line on this second collaboration between Russian-born Kireyev and Philadelphia-based pianist Keith Javors.

Kireyev’s opening “April,” with its playful, breezy head and back-and-forth between the band and drummer E.J. Strickland — Kireyev injects a passing nod to “St. Thomas” — and Javors’ blues-streaked, starting-stopping “Inwardly” are among the four bracing original tunes here.Javors’ subtly shifting title track thrives on a loping groove, while Kireyev’s hard-swinging “Fresh Blues” fulfills the promise of its title.

Those four are balanced with the soulful melancholy of bossa standard “Estate,” an initially pensive and rumbling “Caravan” spiked with wordless rhythmic vocals, a slinky, backbeat-injected “Body and Soul,” and two fairly redundant alternate takes.

The rhythm section — Strickland and bassist Ben Williams — digs in, handily driving this solid set of mainstream jazz, highlighted by Harrell’s gorgeous, conversational, always brilliant soloing, and that of the co-leaders.

 

Best Jazz of 2014: Tom Harrell, Chick Corea, Frank Kimbrough, Snarky Puppy & more

In 2014, Jazz meant a profusion of intriguing and sometimes provocative releases by veterans (Tom Harrell) and young stars (Ambrose Akinmusire) alike, the music as the nominal subject and/or driving force of the score in several films (“Whiplash,” “Low Down,” “Birdman”), and several unfunny satires of jazzers, followed by dust-ups in the jazz community (the Sonny Rollins “interview” in the The New Yorker, etc.).

Full-time institutions of jazz — namely Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, and SFJAZZ in San Francisco — continued to flourish, with many, varied events, as did several competitions (Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival Piano Competition), and a profusion of festivals in the United States and abroad, although some of the festivals continued to lean heavy in the pop/rock direction while de-emphasizing their middle name.

Jazz clubs in NYC are still going strong, and still at the heart of the jazz world, as I was reminded during visits to the venerable Village Vanguard (for Christian McBride’s Inside Straight quintet; see my review) and Birdland (for Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, with my friend and former bandmate Jonathan Powell on trumpet; see my review). There are dozens more great venues, of course, in NYC.

More great jazz was released than one person could hear, of course. Here are 10 stand-outs, in a list I was asked to contribute to JazzTimes, NPR Music, the Jazz Journalists Association. and elsewhere.

TOP 10

tom harrell trip

1. Tom Harrell, “Trip” (HighNote)

2. Chick Corea, “Trilogy” (Concord)

3. Frank Kimbrough, “Quartet” (Palmetto)

4. Snarky Puppy, “We Like It Here” (Ropeadope)

5. Henry Butler-Steven Bernstein and the Hot 9, “Viper’s Drag” (Impulse)

6. Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band, “Landmarks” (Blue Note)

7. Ambrose Akinmusire, “The Imagined Savior is Far Easier to Paint” (Blue Note)

8. Stanton Moore, “Conversations” (The Royal Potato Family)

9. Medeski Scofield Martin and Wood, “Juice” (Indirecto)

10. Keith Jarrett-Charlie Haden, “Last Dance” (ECM)

HISTORICAL/REISSUES

1. Charlie Haden and Jim Hall, “Charlie Haden-Jim Hall” (Impulse)

2. John Coltrane, “Offering: Live at Temple University” (Impulse)

3. Miles Davis, “Miles at the Fillmore — Miles Davis 1970: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 3” (Columbia/Legacy)

4. Jaco Pastorius, “Modern American Music … Period! The Criteria Sessions” (Omnivore)

5. Thelonious Monk, “Paris 1969” (Blue Note)

VOCAL

  • Tierney Sutton,  “Paris Sessions” (BFM Jazz)

DEBUT

  • Ben Flocks, “Battle Mountain” (West Cliff)

LATIN

  • Arturo O’Farrill, “The Offense of the Drum” (Motema)