Bob Brookmeyer has been so busy as a writer since the mid-'60s that his valve trombone playing has been somewhat underrecorded. This quartet set with pianist Alan Broadbent (who also plays a bit of synthesizer), bassist Eric Von Essen and drummer Michael Stephans) finds Brookmeyer in top form on four standards and a quartet of his originals (including "Later Blues," "Tootsie Samba" and "Who Could Care"). His valve trombone playing had grown and evolved through the years and, although he still had the cool tone, Brookmeyer's solos are often quite complex while not completely abandoning chordal improvisation. This Concord release is well worth picking up.
Jack McDuff and Joey DeFrancesco personify the Jazz Organ Renaissance that is sweeping the world in this incredible recording for Concord. Organists have paired up before in recording studios but never in such a historical effort. Unlike Jack and Joey’s last double organ session which was live, this recording offered more artistic control. Concord wisely permitted Jack to put together the charts and gave Joey the bass duties to lessen the load. This album was recorded in New York City, NY, on December 11 & 12, 1995.
Working a bright, innovative corner of Latin jazz and drawing on Jamaican, Afro-Cuban, Venezuelan, and Peruvian rhythms to create a hybrid mosaic (as the title suggests), the loose, rotating collective that is the Caribbean Jazz Project manages to be many things at once, including a dance band with a hard bop sensibility, and at times the ensemble comes close to being a new age chillout orchestra. Whatever label they wear, CJP have a bright, infectious sound, led by vibraphonist Dave Samuels' bubbling and watery tones and, on three tracks here, the amazing talking steel drums of Andy Narell. Violinist Christian Howes guests on Samuels' "Slow Dance," giving it a wonderfully eerie and wheezing feel.
It was only fitting that vibraphonist Cal Tjader launched the Concord Picante label with this release for Tjader did a great deal to popularize Latin-jazz. This was not his strongest effort (the solos of Tjader and flutist Roger Glenn are not all that substantial) but the drumming of Vince Lateano and the percussion of Poncho Sanchez keep the momentum flowing on these likable performances.
This CD reissue brings back one of the oldest recordings ever issued by the Concord label, a set that was already nine years old when it debuted. Drummer Shelly Manne heads a strong quintet comprised of trumpeter Conte Candoli, altoist Frank Strozier (who doubles on flute), pianist Mike Wofford and bassist Monty Budwig. Although the musicians are all associated with the West Coast hard bop tradition, there are plenty of moments during this stimulating set when they make it obvious that they had been listening with some interest to some of the avant-garde players, allowing the new innovations to open up their styles a bit. The fresh material (two standards and a pair of originals apiece by Strozier, Wofford and pianist Jimmy Rowles) inspire the soloists and the music is not at all predictable. Worth investigating.
At times, McDuff demonstrates how soul-jazz organ stars used to make albums back in their '60s heyday, playing then-current pop hits like "The Age of Aquarius" and the theme from Mission: Impossible (which, thanks to cinema, was a hit all over again in 1996 when this CD was made). We also hear McDuff trying out his vocal cords for the first time on Louis Jordan's "Saturday Night Fish Fry"; actually, he merely talks the lyrics over the rhythm section – and at 70, he's entitled to this charming lark.