Saturday, March 26, 2011

HurdAudio Rotation: The Lucky Hum

Jenny Scheinman: Shalagaster. 2004. Tzadik: TZ 7709.
Jenny Scheinman: violin
Myra Melford: piano, harmonium
Russ Johnson: trumpet
Trevor Dunn: bass
Kenny Wollesen: drums

Aggressive, downtown musicianship applied to a hybrid of folk music and jazz. The result achieves that rare balance of simplicity and sophistication. This is what happens when the effusive, improvisatory energies of some of the best players goes toward a music that keeps a strong melodic focus. An exquisite record with more than a few jaw dropping Myra Melford solos. This is a great ensemble. Highly recommended.

Matana Roberts: Lines for Lacy: Ellington/Staryhorn for Solo Saxophone. 2007. Limited edition CD-R.

Matana Roberts: alto saxophone

With the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn as grounding melodic landscape, Matana Roberts swims from within this music with a fluid sense of improvisational purpose. The dedication of this live solo set to the soprano saxophone great Steve Lacy adds yet another vibrant dimension of passion to this performance. Matana Roberts sustains her unaccompanied presence by drawing upon a deep reservoir of personal love - a love devoid of any crass, commercial sense of the word - to play well within the living, breathing interior of this material. Acting as a flexing, connective tissue between a lineage of jazz that clearly includes this outstanding alto saxophonist.

Kenny Dorham: Trompeta Toccata. 1964 (2006 Rudy Van Gelder remaster). Blue Note Records: 0946-3-62635-2-6.

Kenny Dorham: trumpet
Joe Henderson: tenor saxophone
Tommy Flanagan: piano
Richard Davis: bass
Albert Heath: drums

Jazz has seen more than its fair share of artists deserving more enthusiastic recognition. And it's the divine craftsmen like Kenny Dorham that are especially under-celebrated. Dorham was one of the hard bop era's most consistently great arrangers and soloists with an introspective bent. Even the trumpet showcase title track "Trompeta Toccata" displays a thinking man's approach to showing off one's chops. That such an amazing record could spend so much time under the radar - I mean Joe Henderson was his sideman on this session for crying out loud - is difficult to ponder. But an all to familiar part of so many jazz careers. There is plenty of material here in this short set to fuel new ideas and directions for current jazz artists even a half century after it was recorded. In short, this is one of the classic Blue Notes deserving of many more ears.

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