They are constantly circling hundreds of miles above our heads, driving our daily lives - yet we barely give satellites a second thought.
Bop wasn't supposed to be as accessible as the popular big-band jazz that preceded it, but it's albums like this that give the lie to such generalizations. Serenade to Laura contains some of the most inventive and yet beguiling jazz piano ever recorded, and has been seducing listeners for 60 years and counting. Erroll Garner cut the original 14 sides on this LP across almost four years, in trio sessions on both coasts, backed initially by John Levy on bass and George DeHart on drums; and later by John Simmons on bass and Alvin Stoller on drums.
No, Anne Pacéo is not a "jazz drummer" like the others. Nothing surprising then that her fourth album is also … different? With Circles, stylistic borders fade, received ideas crumble and creativity turbines at full throttle! Between songs and instrumental thrusts, telluric rhythms and libertarian breaths, these Circles unfold an organic groove, poetic and inspired. Solidly anchored in the current jazz scene but always eager for "other" collaborations, as was the case with Jeanne Added, Mélissa Laveaux and China Mose, Anne Paceo surrounded herself here with singer Leila Martial, saxophonist Emile Parisien and Tony Paeleman for keyboards. The drummer says it herself, this opus was designed differently. "Circles is the culmination of a long-term success over the last four years..
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.
R.I.P. Arthur. In Memoriam. Given the urban title of alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe's debut Columbia album, it's quite a shock when he and his red-hot band of collaborators that include James Blood Ulmer on guitar, Bob Stewart on tuba, flutist James Newton, bassist Cecil McBee, and Jack DeJohnette open with the decidedly funky Latin breaks on "Down San Diego Way." It's not a vamp and it's not a misleading intro, the first of four tracks showcases not only the deep versatility of the rhythm section, but Blythe's own gift as both a composer and as a soloist. He states the melody, handing off the harmonics to Ulmer and Newton and then flies high into the face of its chosen changes, allowing the beat to change under him several times before bringing back a theme and letting Ulmer solo.
Sonny Stitt goes Latin – and the results are tremendous! The set's still got all the soulful feel of the best Stitt sessions for Roost, but it brings in some nice Latin rhythms too – inflecting things with that blend of soul jazz and congas you might find over at Prestige or Blue Note, yet also taking things further, too – given the Roost/Roulette connection to the New York Latin scene! Sonny plays both alto and tenor, and gets jazzy accompaniment from Thad Jones on trumpet – but the rhythm section is the real charmer here – and features a young Chick Corea on piano, Larry Gales on bass, and the trio of Willie Bobo, Patato Valdes, and Chihuaua Martinez on percussion! Most tunes are originals – a great change from the usual Latinized standards you might find on a set like this – and Stitt's got this nicely exotic tone in his reeds which is a further highlight of the record – almost a Yusef Lateef inflection at points.