Monday, May 12, 2008

HurdAudio Rotation: Jazz Greatness

Martial Solal/Dave Douglas: Rue De Seine. 2006. Cam Cine TV Music: Cam 5013.

Martial Solal: piano
Dave Douglas: trumpet

Two players so thoroughly steeped in jazz tradition that they've carved their own names into it with original compositions that coexist well with the standards included in this set. As a long time Dave Douglas fan it's the interpretations of his material that holds particular interest to these ears. The solo piano take on Dave Douglas' "For Suzannah" is one of several jaw dropping moments on this disc. Beyond that solitary number this is a steady dialogue between two enormously gifted improvisers. One can almost hear what they don't play as the silent metronome clicks between these two players or the phrases stripped of extraneous notes and ornamentation. A few more versions of "Body and Soul" like this and we may eventually forget the association with that old Humphrey Bogart film (play it again, Martial).

Charlie Haden/Liberation Music Orchestra: Not In Our Name. 2005. Verve: B0004949-02.

Charlie Haden: bass
Carla Bley: piano, arrangements
Michael Rodriguez: trumpet
Seneca Black: trumpet
Curtis Fowlkes: trombone
Arnee Sharon Freeman: french horn
Joe Daley: tuba
Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone
Chris Cheek: tenor saxophone
Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone
Steve Cardenas: guitar
Matt Wilson: drums

Each Liberation Music Orchestra recording just gets better with every listening. The fine details of Carla Bley's incredible arranging instincts come into sharper focus each time I hear this music, leaving me all the more impressed. The transformation of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings orchestrated for an elite big band as the somber prayer ripples through the wind instruments. The ensemble arrangement of Bill Frisell's Throughout that retains the steady introspection of the original version. The reggae twist on the Metheny, Mays and Bowie's This Is Not America within the larger context of protest music. The anthem reclaimed for the America the Beautiful (Medly) all highlight the astonishing abilities of Carla Bley when her medium happens to be this collection of high caliber players under the direction of Charlie Haden. The moral indignation and longing for domestic and foreign policy with a humanitarian conscious that runs through the Liberation Music Orchestra's long standing "message" adds even more resonance to this listening experience.

Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil. 1964. Re-released in 1999. Blue Note Records: 7243 4 99001 2 7.

Wayne Shorter: tenor saxophone
Freddie Hubbard: trumpet
Herbie Hancock: piano
Ron Carter: bass
Elvin Jones: drums

The 1960s era Blue Note reputation was built on stellar recordings like this one. It leaves a haze hanging in the air like so many records from that period, only more so than usual with this particular session. The ears are pulled in so many different directions. Each player brings something that completes this sound and the gravity of Herbie Hancock's playing is hard to miss. Then there's that rhythm section of Ron Carter and Elvin Jones and the sound they put in underneath this playing. This is easily a definitive recording that belongs in any serious jazz collection. And in the end it's the Wayne Shorter compositions that really draw the ears in.

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