sábado, 25 de octubre de 2014

Vic Juris - Walking On Water (2014)

Massively prolific for the self-effacing Danish label, Vic Juris’ own tune ‘Mama Luke’ and a fiendishly involved take on Jerome Kern’s ‘All the Things You Are’ bookend the New Jersey-born guitarist’s latest, Juris known for his work with Richie Cole firstly in the 1970s and Larry Coryell in the 80s on this latest studio set of 10 tunes, this one recorded in January 2013. Trumpeter Tim Hagans, bassist Jay Anderson, and drummer Anthony Pinciotti join the guitarist. Elegantly delivered with an edge to it on Ornette’s ‘Law Years’ and Sam Rivers’ ‘Cyclic Episode’ these and Juris' own tunes are sliced through with consummate ease. He may not have a gimmick but why Juris isn’t much better known someone say.

Vic Juris, guitar
Tim Hagans, trumpet
Jay Anderson, bass
Anthony Pinciotti, drums

01. Mama Luke (Vic Juris)
02. Law Years (Ornette Coleman)
03. Walking On Water (Vic Juris)
04. Have I Told You Lately (Vic Juris)
05. Newtown (Vic Juris)
06. Funny Bone (Vic Juris)
07. Nostalgia (Fats Navarro)
08. After The Storm (Vic Juris)
09. Cyclic Episode (Sam Rivers)
10. All The Things You Are (Jerome Kern)

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Chico Freeman And The Fritz Pauer Trio – The Essence Of Silence (2010)



Disc 01:

1. Enchance 7:40
2. Helen’s Song 5:39
3. The Trespasser 9:10 EUR 0,84
4. Essence of Silence 5:25
5. Shen Shun Song 7:07
6. Will I See You In the Morning 5:24
7. Minor Relations 5:39

Disc 02:

1. Salsa Con Punta 6:40
2. Epikur Intro 1:24
3. Epikur Main 5:38
4. To Hear a Teardrop In the Rain 5:43
5. Dark Blue 6:59
6. Drum Chant 8:20
7. Angel Eyes 11:30

Time 92.02

Chico Freeman Tenor and Soprano Saxes
Fritz Pauer - Piano
Johannes Strasser - Bass
Joris Dudli - Drums =

I was asked to play at the Vienna Jazz Festival as a special guest
with whom I was told were some of the best musicians that Austria
has produced. It was the Fritz Pauer Trio. I did not know Fritz
Pauer or his trio at that time so I asked my agent Ilse Weinmann,
who had arranged the engagement, who exactly Fritz Pauer was.
She told me he was one of the best pianist/musicians she knew and
she knew him from his work with the great saxophonist Johnny
Griffin (a Chicago native just like me), who was also a client
of hers. Needless to say I was pleased and excited to meet Fritz
but not as much as when it actually happened on the first day of
rehearsal at Jazzland Jazz Club in Vienna. Not only was Fritz an
incredible musician, he was also one of the nicest and warmest
people I’ve ever had the opportunity to meet. We became instant
friends. In addition his trio, which consisted of Johannes (Hans)
Strasser (bass) and Joris Dudli (drums), were also incredibly talented
musicians and wonderful human beings as well. We bonded
instantly and thus began our journey to the recording of this CD.
The chemistry was instantaneous and undeniable. We recorded
for the radio the first night and I knew I wanted to work more with
these guys and to document our future journeys together. This is the
first of what I hope will be many more of those documentations.
Chico Freeman (saxophone)

A sound not born yet. The imagination of sound can be expressed
in the right place, at the right time. The gods are asking to let it be
heard from your own imagination mixed with sounds for you and
your brothers and sisters. Our ancestors thankfully remembered, with
each note played on celestial instruments.
That music which we call jazz should be named this way because it
comes from deep within the heart of different nations. The spirits
wanted it like this: The essence of silence.
Sometime ago our trio the Fritz Pauer Trio and our guest for the
Vienna Jazz Festival, Chico Freeman, met at Jazzland in Vienna. Axel
Melhardt, the club owner, invited us to play for one week. After successful
performances, we were invited back the following season, and
successive seasons thereafter. During that time Austrian radio ORF
came to the club and recorded a whole night’s performance.
Our chemistry was just right. We would go through our repertoire,
rehearse and create exciting, fresh and new music every night. We
were very fortunate to be able to play with Chico, who brought along
all his experience of rhythm, blues and free jazz, along with some of
the greatest composers and piano players of today:
McCoy Tyner, George Cables, Don Pullen and many others.
It just so happened that we also got to play and record original
compositions written by George Cables himself, as well as those by
Chico. We didn’t just play the music; we dug deep inside the soul of

the music for which Chico brought the original lead sheets.
After listening to the radio recordings, we decided to go
on tour with a partly new repertoire and added another
week of recording at a studio in Vienna. Being on the
road together added another element to the band:
comradeship. Many thanks to our drummer,
Joris Dudli, who contributed immensely by
being such an excellent percussionist/
drummer and driving the band with
great energy and sensitivity.
Knowing of the upcoming project,
I concentrated on the band’s tunes
with a brand new Fazioli grand
piano in my new music room:
the first floor of our new
Fritz Pauer (piano)

Having had the privilege of playing
bass with the Fritz Pauer Trio and
performing their music over a long
period of time has offered me very
exciting and inspiring experiences.
Among these is having had the opportunity
of accompanying some
of the most creative and renowned
jazz artists worldwide with the Trio,
during their guest performances in
Before we got together at Jazzland,
I knew Chico and his music from
the recording Spirit Sensitive,
dating back to the 70s. I used to listen to it
a lot back then because
I wanted to check out bass player Cecil McBee too, who was
also on the record.
When we performed with Chico for the first time at Jazzland,
I was immediately fascinated by his highly energetic and
expressive harmony. It felt really unique and personal to me
and a lot stronger than what I thought I knew from his recordings.
The music we played sounded very inventive, fresh
and, at the same time, non clich? - it seemed to be flowing
very naturally. Right away, the trio with guest soloist turned
into a real quartet.
Now, some years later, I can say that playing bass with this
powerful and musically adventurous group of dedicated jazz
improvisers and dealing with the colourful variety of musical
textures, is just absolutely inspiring and thrilling. I’m very
glad and I feel privileged again to have recorded all those
unique tunes of Chico, Fritz and George Cables.
Johannes Strasser (bass)

A word about the compositions
Enchance (7:41)– The song is in 8/8 with the approach of a 6/8
feel. It begins with an intro of piano followed by piano, sax and
bass, then a bass vamp interlude; sax enters on the main theme.
The song goes through some time changes and interesting harmonic
variations. The solos are on two different formats. The sax solos
on the form of the melody “A B (bridge) A”, the piano solos on a
different form with a different harmonic structure but returns to the
A section signaling the end of the piano solo; the sax enters at the
bridge and plays the melody thru to the last A section, repeating the
theme of the intro at the end with full rhythm section.
– Chico Freeman
Helen’s Song (5:50) – Helen’s Song is one of my favorite George
Cables compositions, this added to the fact that I am privileged to
call Helen herself a friend of mine, makes the opportunity to record
it even more special. I’ve played it with George on many occasions
as well as in many of my own projects. This version finds Fritz
playing it with great sensitivity, passion and beauty. This is one of
my favorite renditions of what I believe is a classic, just like it’s
namesake.– Chico Freeman
The Trespasser (9:10) – we see many in our lives, some are
welcome, and some are not. You decide. – Chico Freeman
The Essence of Silence (5:38)– I believe that when we are alone
and in complete silence is when music makes its most direct and
purest journey to our being. In silence we hear music, hence, the
essence of silence.– Chico Freeman.
Shen Shun Song (7:08) – a song with the title borrowed from the
Chinese martial art tai chi chuan. Shen meaning spirit and mental
liveliness; Shun meaning to go along with, to follow and free-flowing
and relaxed a song with three main attributes for a successful
performance. With this tune I would like to honour McCoy Tyner
and the pioneers of Modal Jazz – Fritz Pauer
Will I See You in the Morning? (5:24) – This question has been
asked in so many different ways but it still remains the same
in the sentiment:
Will I see you in the morning?
I might leave without much warning
Try and understand the reason if I go
I know you believe
what you want me to know
You can’t stand to see me crying
just because i know you’re lying
when you tell me everything will be OK
How come I can see
with my eyes closed tight
that we are over?
Don’t say a word
unless you mean
everything you say
What do u think I’m gonna do?
are you afraid that I’ll see through
everything I meant to you?
So if I don’t see you in the morning
and I leave without much warning
you will understand the reason
and you’ll know
. . . but you must believe
that I did not want to go.
chico freeman/jan pulsford feb 2007

Minor Relations (5:39) – a tune simply consisting of different
colours (chords) around the tonal centre of c-minor. The piano intro
represents my admiration for traditional jazz piano styles, mainly
the stride piano of James Pete Johnson. – Fritz Pauer

Salsa con Punta (06:40) – written in two parts; the first part with a
Latin flavour, the second part goes into a straight 4/4 groove (Chico
added a cowbell for the overdub.) – Fritz Pauer

Epikur Intro (1:25) & Main (05:38)– compositional contribution
Epikur, named after the ancient Greek philosopher (Epicurus in
English) with its Phrygian mode, consists of two parts:
In part one I introduce the main theme con arco quasi rubato with
some collective sound fields beneath; in part two the full tune in a
medium up-tempo with solos by Chico, Fritz and myself is heard.
The chord changes run by fairly quickly and that’s why the tune, with
it’s inherent restlessness, was originally called Busy Morning. One
day I woke up with the melody in my head and had to write it down
immediately. – Johannes Strasser

To Hear a Teardrop in the Rain (5:43) – this song was written for
a very special person who left us some time ago. She will
always be remembered. – Chico Freeman

Dark Blue (6:59)– a blues, first heard on my
cd Tales of Ellington, it was written in honor
of Duke Ellington. – Chico Freeman
Drum Chant (8:20) – another modal tune
especially written for the artistry of our outstanding
percussionist, Joris Dudli.
– Fritz Pauer

Angel Eyes (11:30) – this arrangement involves
an ostinato bass line while the original
changes and melody are played over this line.
This opens up two worlds at the same time, a kind
of ballad and groove in simultaneous motion.


Louis Smith Quartet - I Waited for You (1996)


Louis Smith: Trumpet
Vincent Herring: Alto and Tenor Sax
Richard Wyands: Piano
Dennis Irwin: Bass
Kenny Washington: Drums

1. Dig
2. Solar
3. I Waited For You
4. Walkin'
5. Half Nelson
6. Vierd Blues
7. Milestones
8. Bye Bye Blackbird

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


viernes, 24 de octubre de 2014

Louis Smith & Jodie Christian - The Very Thought of You (1995)

During the “Silvering” session, trumpeter Louis Smith cut one track just with pianist Jodie Christian playing a quiet ballad. This track was not included in the release but the idea of making a duo album stayed with him. Thus, this reflective and melodious recording materialized.

“ This is music to refresh the mind, body and spirit at the close of a fraught day. It’s pure ear balm, in fact. Beautiful jazz, too, of course .” (Mark Gardner)

Louis Smith, trumpet
Jodie Christian, piano

1. My ideal (Whiting/Chase)
2. Don't take your love away from me (Nemo)
3. Mihoko's tune (Louis Smith)
4. I will wait for you (Michel Legrand)
5. But not for me (George Gershwin)
6. A cottage for sale (Robbins/Conley)
7. The very thought of you (Ray Noble)
8. A child is born (Thad Jones)
9. I should care (Jimmy Van Heusen)

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Mack Avenue Superband - Live! From The Detroit Jazz Festival - 2013 (2014)

Source & Label: Mack Avenue

Mack Avenue SuperBand’s Live From The Detroit Jazz Festival – 2013 documents a concert at the Motor City’s capacious Hart Plaza by an ensemble of leaders culled from Mack Avenue Records’ extraordinary artist roster. It’s the second configuration of the group, which debuted at the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival, mixing veteran stars with mid-career leaders and up-and-comers. The resulting album, Live From The Detroit Jazz Festival – 2012, received critical kudos for the fiery chemistry and soloistic derring-do contained therein.
For the follow-up, Al Pryor, Mack Avenue’s Executive Vice President for A&R, assembled a slightly pared-down unit. Back for round two are vibraphonist Gary Burton, trumpeter Sean Jones, guitarist Evan Perri, and the rhythm section of pianist Aaron Diehl, bassist (and music director) Rodney Whitaker and drummer Carl Allen. Joining the mix are veteran soul/jazz saxophone giant Kirk Whalum and the sensational vibraphonist-marimbist, Warren Wolf. The results are no less scintillating—a program as cohesive and precise as a studio recording, but infused with energetic vibrations emanating from the several thousand hip, enthusiastic fans who attended the free concert.
Whitaker attributes the bandstand discipline and simpatico in part to his determination to follow collective, inclusive principles in organizing the program. “I solicited everyone’s input,” he says. “With artists at this level, you don’t need to dictate every moment. Sometimes it’s more important to listen and facilitate, and not always try to be the boss. When you have a conversation with everyone about what music we’re playing and the direction we want to go, everybody buys in, and they make it sound like a band. We put together a set list two months before the concert took place.”
Whitaker discerns several common denominators that promoted camaraderie. One is the role of gospel music in the musical development of Whalum, Jones, Wolf, Diehl, Allen and himself during formative years. “Everyone—not just those who grew up in church—tries to tell a story in the way they play, in the way they try to touch an audience and say something to them,” he says. “They put together their solos to get across a message that music is not just about notes, but has some greater meaning, whatever you may translate that to mean.”  Read more...

1  Soul Sister     Mack 9:12
2  Of Mars and Venus 6:39
3  Speak to My Heart 8:52
4  Blue Nude 9:02    
5  Chick's Tune 6:49
6  Señor Mouse 7:34    
7  Relativity 9:37    
8  Troublant Bolero 6:12
9  I Want Jesus to Walk with Me 6:46
10 Two Bass Hit 5:09    
11 Band Introductions 0:29     

Rodney Whitaker, bass & direction
Kirk Whalum, saxophone
Warren Wolf, vibraphone/marimba
Sean Jones, trumpet
Evan Perri, guitar
Aaron Diehl, piano
Carl Evans, drums
Gary Burton, vibraphone

"The most important thing I look for in a musician,
 is whether he knows how to listen."
  - Duke Ellington - 


Michael Eaton - Individuation (2014)

Source: Cdbaby

Saxophonist and composer Michael Eaton launches his debut album as a leader, Individuation (Destiny Records), in the company of his hero and mentor Dave Liebman. Joined by his working rhythm section, the Missouri native and Brooklyn resident delivers a set exhibiting his artistic and personal development, bridging the worlds of lyrical themes, intricately rhythmic minimalistic vamps, bracing freebop, Cageian prepared piano, and multi-layered open terrains.

The title refers to a core tenet of Jungian psychology, whereby the unconscious elements of the individual are brought into conscious life. “Individuation refers not only to my growth as a person,” remarks Eaton, “but also what it means to be an artist.” Jazz musicians are endeavored to immerse themselves in the tradition of their craft while still developing their own unique voice—a duality Eaton addresses throughout the album.

Growing up in the rich heritage of Kansas City jazz followed by a formative period in the fertile jazz and creative music scenes in Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana, Eaton moved New York in 2008 to begin his next phase as an artist. After working with Liebman in a 2012 summer workshop, Eaton knew that recording with the master musician was a logical next step. "This recording was about the opportunity to record with a model of mine and to experience something like the apprenticeship system, which our generation isn't able to live."

“I first heard Dave Liebman when I was 16," Eaton recounts, "playing on a blues track. I was blown away. It opened my mind to possibilities I wasn’t aware existed before, particularly rhythmically. I consider him one of the most advanced conceptualists in jazz, with one foot in the traditional harmonic world and one foot in the avant-garde.” Fast-forward to the present, and their encounter is a bit like trial by fire in the crucible of heated post-Coltrane catharsis. On "Alter Ego," "Prickly," and "Lifecycle," Eaton responds to the language of a master with his own story, forging a more personal artistry in the process. In “Alter Ego,” as Liebman’s tenor saxophone makes its entrance, Eaton is momentarily face to face with his 16 year old self where his aspirations become a reality and the sound of the two saxophones briefly intertwine before Liebman takes the lead. The interplay is quickly renewed and expanded on “Prickly,” where Eaton’s tenor and Liebman’s soprano freely exchange ideas over a swing tempo with no harmonic constraints.  Read more...

1. Interior Designs 05:42
2. Guru 07:23
3. Me, But Not Myself 10:26
4. Alter Ego 07:26
5. Prickly 04:31
6. Centrifuge 04:54
7. You're My Mystery 03:28
8. Individuation: Part 1 03:22
9. Individuation: Part 2 03:04
10.Individuation: Part 3 04:51
11.Individuation: Part 4 04:38
12.Individuation: Part 5 08:48
13.Lifecycle 06:20

Michael Eaton, tenor and soprano saxophones
Jon Crowley, trumpet (1, 3, 6)
David Liebman, tenor and soprano saxophones (4, 5, 13)
Brad Whiteley, piano and prepared piano (1-4, 7-13)
Daniel Ori, bass (3, 4, 6, 8-12)
Scott Colberg, bass (1, 2, 5, 13)
Shareef Taher, drums (1-6, 8-13)

"The most important thing I look for in a musician,
 is whether he knows how to listen."
  - Duke Ellington - 


Louis Smith Quintet - Silvering (1994)

Even after the re-entry to the recording scene with his first SteepleChase recording SCCD 31096 “Just Friends” in 1978 ending his two decades’ silence since his Blue Note recording days, trumpeter Louis Smith has been hard to catch on the band stand. He chose to leave Horace Silver’s group in 1958 in favour of full time teaching job.

However, this situation is now changed for good. Louis retiring from his job as a music teacher, resumed his career as musician with this new recording which took place in Chicago October 1993. With the Windy City’s legendary tenorman Von Freeman in the backing group, Louis the hard bopper tells his story in his warm, beautiful tone with unflagging intensity and impeccable technique.

1. I'll Remember April (DePaul/Raye)
2. Au Privave (Charlie Parker)
3. Roadies (Louis Smith)
4. What Is This Thing Called Love? (DePaul/Raye)
5. Body and Soul (Johnny Green)
6. Silvering (Louis Smith)
7. Stella by Starlight (Victor Young)
8. Blues for Alice (Charlie Parker)

Louis Smith, trumpet & flugelhorn
Von Freeman, tenor sax
Jodie Christian, piano
Eddie de Haas, bass
Wilbur Campbell, drums

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Louis Smith Quintet - Just Friends (1991)

Louis Smith’s first session in 18 years turned out to be a “ rewarding hard-bop outing of outstanding freshness ” ( Melody Maker )

Louis Smith, trumpet & flugelhorn
George Coleman, tenor sax
Harold Mabern, piano
Jamil Nasser, bass
Ray Mosca, drums

01. Blues for Jimmy
02. Lulu
03. Vaughn's Bounce
04. Quiet Nights
05. I Remember Clifford
06. Oleo
07. Minor Bit

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Louis Smith Sextet - Strike Up The Band (1991)

Here's a wonderful, straight-ahead hard bop date from the early 90s, featuring the solid front line of trumpeter Louis Smith, tenor man Junior Cook, and alto saxist Vincent Herring. Smith is excellent on his solos during up-tempo outings (STRIKE UP THE BAND, IT'S ALL RIGHT), his tight, somewhat confined tone shooting out dizzying runs. Junior Cook is in excellent form as well, his approach reminiscent of his earlier days as an upstart hard bop master player. Vincent Herring also shows he can play in the classic bop tradition. The rhythm section is very solid. Modern jazz fans, especially of the hard bop school, will find much to admire in this CD.

Louis Smith: trumpet
Vincent Herring: alto sax
Junior Cook: tenor sax
Kevin Hays: piano
Steve LaSpina: bass
Leroy Williams: drums

1. I Hear a Rhapsody
2. It's All Right
3. Don't Misunderstand
4. Edwaa
5. Stablemates
6. Lover
7. Night and Day
8. Strike Up the Band

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Thomas Hass - Trio's & Beyond Lotus Energy (2014)

The packaging starts you thinking. There's a painting showing what looks like ectoplasm, or perhaps a space alien, playing two musical instruments at the same time, like Roland Kirk used to do. Then the cunning addition of an apostrophe in the Trios of the title, to render it meaningless, or perhaps abstract. 

Inside there's a selfie shot from low down of a bearded Thomas Hass looking God-like and grim, alongside text explaining his music: "Trio's & Beyond is a musical concept where I can experience the 'spontaneous combustion' in various musical settings and explore the trio format in various forms." 

It gets worse. "On this album I have tried letting a special mood that always has lived inside me unfold through nine different compositions. You could call it ballads or melancholic but I see it more like an inner canvas behind the different musical paintings."

Lotus Energy may give the game away. The lotus has great religious significance in the Orient. So, is Hass a Zen Buddhist trying to propel the listener into a new state of awareness, perhaps even satori itself? 

It's more than possible. Though the actual music is really quite accessible; no problem at all for anyone with prior experience of John Coltrane, the Dane's principal influence. Like Coltrane, he plays both tenor and soprano sax. 

He also credits himself, along with Coltrane and Wayne Shorter, as having composed "Gimbo." Other numbers include "Bibo No Aozora, The Beauty Of A Blue Sky," by Japanese composer and acid house pioneer Ryuichi Sakamoto. 

All the rest are meandering originals, except for the closer. This is—believe it or not—Harold Arlen's "Come Rain Or Come Shine." It comes as quite a shock to hear a recognizable tune. But that's obviously part of guru Hass's fiendish plan. 

Pretentious, moi? 

Or to put it another way, "He's from Copenhagen."

Thomas Hass: tenor and soprano saxophones
Nikolaj Hess: piano
Lennart Ginman: bass
Frands Rifbjerg: drums

1. Angel Park
2. Gimbo
3. Short Free
4. Anti - Freeze
5. Lotus Energy
6. Bibo No Aozora
7. False Waltz
8. Clark's Heavenly Blues
9. Come Rain or Come Shine

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Michael Cochrane - Discovery (2014)

After a 7-year hiatus from the recording scene pianist Michael Cochrane has come back strong with his trio consisting of two Johns: Steve Johns, who's been Cochrane's colleague in the Sonny Fortune band, on drums and his prodigious 17-year-old son Daryl on bass.

"His music has sincerity and polish...Its execution within an honoured tradition is so error-free that piano-trio addicts (and there are many out there) can simply trust it and relax. We can rely on it at any time of the day or night for sustenance and consolation. Not junk food. Comfort food." - Thomas Conrad, JazzTimes


01. Yesterdays
02. Visitation
03. How Deep Is The Ocean
04. Quiet Now
05. Discovery
06. M. C.'s Bossa
07. Oblivion
08. Fantasy
09. Erie Blues

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


jueves, 23 de octubre de 2014

Ryan Pate - Human / Alien (2013)

Source: Ryan Pate

Guitarist-composer Ryan Pate has crafted a beguiling debut with Human/Alien (BFG Records), an album of forward-minded jazz where the earthy and otherworldly mingle and meld. To bring his music alive, Pate convened a band of kindred-spirit players whom he got to know on the Brooklyn session scene: pianist Dov Manski, bassist Noah Garabedian and drummer Devin Gray. The quartet recorded at Tedesco Studios in New Jersey, with mixing then done in Brooklyn by rising-star guitarist Ryan Ferreira. With Human/Alien, Pate aimed to create “a world in sound – music that’s cinematic, which is something a lot of my favorite records share,” he says. “The title, Human/Alien, reflects a duality I’ve always been drawn to, things that are both human and strange – the earthy, human essence being an emphasis on melody, and the alien being an ethereal, atmospheric quality.”
Born in New York, raised in South Florida and now based in San Francisco after a stint in Brooklyn, the 33-year-old Pate is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, where he learned from such masters as Dave Liebman and where he met drummer Devin Gray. Pate and Gray hooked up with pianist Dov Manski and bassist Noah Garabedian, and the quartet felt like a band that had been together for years. “What I love about these guys as players is that they always sound like themselves – they’re never ones to play clichés – and yet they always have your back creatively,” Pate says. “Some of my favorite moments on the record are Dov’s piano solos, like the incredible ones he plays in ‘For E.S.’ and ‘Pen & Sword.’ He has such a sense of melodic flow and adventure in his improvising. Devin is a really sensitive player, attuned to timbre and how to color a song with the drums. And Noah has a great sound and sense of time, and he’s never afraid to add his ideas into the conversation. Most important, they’re all comfortable going into the unknown.”

Pate’s guitar sound is warm, liquid, enveloping. “True melody” is the goal in his improvisations, avoiding patterns. “I’ve always been influenced by pure melodic improvisers, like Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz, Keith Jarrett – who have an edge to what they do while still being incredibly tuneful,” he says. “Even pieces that are harmonically complex can still have a singable melody.” Human/Alien launches with “Simple Song #3,” a piece with the sonic dramaturgy of a rock song, though laced with a jazzy bridge. It’s from a series of pieces that Pate wrote “after my years at the Manhattan School of Music and being burned out on this harmonically dense, tricky, virtuoso way of thinking,” he explains. “So I wanted to create some simple, tuneful things, and #3 turned out as my favorite.”

There’s an overt rock reference with “For E.S.,” an homage to the late singer-songwriter Elliott Smith. “I was listening a lot to his records and thinking about what a tragic figure he was,” Pate says. “The beauty of his music is that it’s honest to the point of vulnerability – and he channeled that through these pure, heartbreaking melodies.” Other highlights among the eight spacious tracks of Human/Alien include “Growth Cycles,” with its haunting solo piano intro and Pate’s silvery guitar song eventually floating on top. Then there are the intricate grooves, off-kilter atmospherics and tunefully ruminative byways of the 12-minute long “To See One Through,” like Aja-era Steely Dan gone through a psychedelic looking glass.

Pate has premiered original compositions for septet at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Jazz à Vienne and Umbria Jazz, along with composing and arranging for jazz big band, chamber groups, theatrical companies and film/television. The range of sound on Human/Alien reflects Pate’s love of a wide world of music, from the orchestral soundscapes of Messiaen and blend of the sophisticated and primal in Bartók to the post-Sgt. Pepper’s Beatles and on to Radiohead and Björk. His jazz-guitar loves began with Pat Metheny’s trio debut, Bright Size Life, and he worked back to Grant Green, Wes Montgomery and Charlie Christian. “Later, I really got into John Scofield and Kurt Rosenwinkel,” he says, “although it was their compositional sense as much as their guitar playing that drew me.”

Another highlight on Human/Alien is “Circulation Adjustment Machine,” which fully encapsulates Pate’s conceptual duality of melody and atmosphere. This track features “free improvisation overdubbed on top of the tune – like another world of color and texture that has an evolving relationship with the composition itself,” Pate explains. “The melody emerges from these ethereal textures, which float in and out through the rest of the piece. Again, melody has always been the thing that sticks with me as a listener, and that is ultimately my goal to deliver as a composer and an improviser – the sort of musical experience that stays with you.”

"The most important thing I look for in a musician,
 is whether he knows how to listen."
  - Duke Ellington - 


Stanley Cowell - Are You Real? (2014)

An excellent modern, mainstream pianist who is adaptable to many acoustic jazz settings, Stanley Cowell has long been underrated except among knowing musicians. He studied the piano from the time he was four, and Art Tatum made an early impact. After attending Oberlin College Conservatory and the University of Michigan, Cowell (who had played with Rahsaan Roland Kirk while at Oberlin) moved to New York in 1966. He played regularly with Marion Brown (1966-1967), Max Roach (1967-1970), and the Bobby Hutcherson-Harold Land quintet (1968-1971). In the early '70s, Cowell worked in Music Inc. with Charles Tolliver, and they co-founded the label Strata East. He played regularly with the Heath Brothers during 1974-1983, and since 1981 has been a busy jazz educator. Cowell has recorded as a leader for Arista-Freedom (1969), ECM (1972), Strata East, Galaxy, Unisson, DIW, Concord, and SteepleChase.

Stanley Cowell (p)
Jay Anderson (b)
Billy Drummond (ds)
Anthony Pinciotti (ds)

1. Photon In A Paper World (Stanley Cowell)
2. You Taught My Heart To Sing (McCoy Tyner)
3. Mrs. Parker Of KC (Jaki Byard)
4. I Remember Diz (Paquito D’Rivera)
5. Hot House (Tadd Dameron)
6. Are You Real? (Benny Golson)
7. The Wedding Recessional (Stanley Cowell)
8. Off Minor (Thelonious Monk)

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Louis Smith Quartet - Ballads for Lulu (1990)

“ Trumpeter Louis Smith recorded for Blue Note in the 50s, joined the Horace Silver Quintet – then gave it all up for a career in teaching. Twenty years later he reappeared on SteepleChase and Ballads For Lulu may be his finest set since the comeback….Lovely, laid-back, late-night blowing …” (WIRE)

Louis Smith (tp)
Jim McNeely (p)
Bob Cranshaw (b)
Keith Copeland (dr)

1. Portrait of Jennie (Robinson)
2. Lulu (Louis Smith)
3. Time After Time (Jules/Cahn Styne)
4. Polkadots and Moonbeams (Jimmy Van Heusen)
5. Old Folks (Dedate Hill)
6. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (Jerome Kern)
7. Laura (Johnny Mercer)
8. Cry Me a River (Hamilton)
9. Don't Blame Me (Jimmy McHugh)

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


Nir Naaman - Independence (2014)

Source: Criticalijazz

 If jazz is dead than Nir Naaman never got the memo and good thing! Debut releases are stereotypically phoned in, contain the expected number of standards and serve as sort of a lyrical business card for an aspiring artist. Nir Naaman contributes seven forward thinking originals embracing his own cultural heritage while keeping one foot in the somewhat more traditional western improvisational setting. A household name? No, Naaman is a new shooter on the scene but with a band that features pianist George Cables ( also serving as producer) along with drummer Gregory Hutchinson, bassist Dezron Douglas and ace trumpet player Marcus Printup then this all star collective should put to rest any potential issues of "credibility."

Nir Naaman is an instrumental triple threat, equally skilled on alto, soprano as well as tenor saxophone. The original compositions are dynamic and the subtle hybrid of his Middle Eastern background as well as a resume that includes working with artists such as Terri Lynne Carrington and Dave Samuels mix incredibly well. Meters are mixed, dynamics shifted while a firm and full tone are an emotive voice that works each composition to a new melodic place. Naaman is a lyrical ninja. This is a collective by definition as each original is allowing all participants to chart their own harmonic path of least resistance. The tenor skills of Naaman are simply outrageous on "Ohali Blues" while the more introspective riff on "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" is a dream duet featuring pianist and producer George Cables. Additional contributions from Roy Assad and Ulysses Owens Jr. are also noteworthy!

Variety, texture and a subtle groove of what is ahead for modern jazz would seem to be the calling card for Independence. The lyrical soprano work and emotive intensity of "Winter Sun" speaks well for the future of Nir Naaman. One of the best debuts for 2014!


"The most important thing I look for in a musician,
 is whether he knows how to listen."
  - Duke Ellington - 


Louis Smith Quintet - Prancin' (1979)

“.. . Prancin’ confirms what some listeners have known for many years – that Louis Smith is among the most engaging trumpet soloists in jazz. Thankfully, the opportunity to savour his mature, well rounded style is no longer being denied to us. An album to buy without the slightest hesitation .” (Jazz Journal)

1. One for Nils (Louis Smith)
2. Chanson de Louise (Louis Smith)
3. Ryan's Groove (Louis Smith)
4. Prancin' (Louis Smith)
5. I Can't Get Started (Vernon Duke)
6. Fats (Louis Smith)
7. Chanson de Louise (Louis Smith)

Bass – Sam Jones
Composed By – E.L. Smith
Design [Cover] – Per Grunnet
Drums – Billy Hart
Engineer – Elvin Campbell
Mixed By – Freddy Hansson
Piano – Roland Hanna
Producer, Photography By – Nils Winther
Saxophone – Junior Cook
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Louis Smith (2)

Recorded April 13, 1979

"Hearing is Everything"