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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Resident Be-Bop Alien: Roberto Magris' latest

There's a whole lot to be said for consistency. Over the course of the last two decades (at least), piano man Roberto Magris has - across vastly changing line-ups, formats and styles - has presented a unified body of work that briliantly showcases the very vital links between conventional bebop and contemporary inventions. In other words, he's kept going forward, even when he reaches back.

this latest double-disc is no exception - brimming with a sense of adventure and delivered with uniform skill and passion amongst all the players.

Sam Reed
Kendall Moore
Dominique Sanders
Steve Lambert
Brian Steever
Pablo Sanhueza

Through his jovial andassertive yet inclusive leadership, the crew plays with clear relish in their jaunt across this supposedly "alien" landscape, gathering in the process a rich trove of bebop era classics.

As an ardent student of the idiom, Magris manages to not only inject new life into the established material, but even further he manages to make the genre itself breathe anew, as if drawing it out of some time capsule after generations of being lost to the listening public. 

Of course, Magris is never content to merely retread or rehash the works of other, so in addition to the Fats Navarro gem "Nostalgia" and John Coltrane's "Giant Steps"
there are whimsically titled Magris originals like "Blues Clues on The Lunar Sand" and "Cosmic Storyville"

Magris' pianism is no matter of whimsy however. As much as his playing hits new heights, he appropriately plumbs new depths, crossing bewtween lighter and darker motifs with signature dexterity. His take on "Giant Steps" is especially signal here - all that one can say is that you will be pleasantly surprised.

And that level of reward is typical for this entire double-disc - another home run for the Magris-Collins JMood camp. The audio notebook closing this disc promises more explorations and we can  hardly wait., .
Ready for Reed

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Chairman's Choice: Piano Greats revisited, the Mu'tet and the latest "Grand Slam"

Roberto Magris - One Night In With Hope and More (JMood Records)
Relentless painistic explorer Roberto Magris has been putting out records at a pretty brisk clip - this disc follows his "Morgan Rewind Vol 1" tribute project (for which Vol. 2 has already been completed), and he has other projects either ready to hit or in advanced work.
In the interim, he's turned to the varied works of bop-Era pianists-composers and, as with all his projects, this record deftly combines a burnished technique with the trademark joie de vivre and seeming abandon that Italian-born Magris injects into all his playing.
Things start off in suitably joyous fashion with Elmo Hope's "Happy Hour" and the programme also takes in Tadd Dameron's gorgeous "If You Could See Me Now" and -expectedly, one supposes - Ellington's "I Didn't Know About You".
But its on Andrew Hill's " agile an angular "East 9th Street" that the group (bassist Elisha Pruett and Tootie Heath, returning form the Morgan project, join Magris)  burns brightest, though Mal Waldron's "Fire Waltz" is also beautifully rendered.
The album again smartly includes an audio notebook featuring JMood's Paul Collins expounding on the selections and the rationale. But even without this is an altogether delightful project, a timely reminder of why jazz is such good-time music.
Project Grand Slam - Spring Dance (Cakewalk Records)
The fellows who make up project Grand Slam are each veterans of the live and recorded music scene, and the band took a further boost when five tracks from their previous disc, "Play" were featured on the NBC series "Lipstick Jungle".
The title track leads off this record and proves an engaging intro to those, like this writer, who are new to the group. They really get cookin' on the next track, "Joe Z" a tribute to late weather Report keyboard whiz Joe Zawinul
New Zealand vocalist Joye Hennessy handily breaks up the testosterone, putting in a sterling performance on "Remember" but especially on the Hollies' 70s classic "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother". Like that title, this group ain't heavy, in the nicest of ways. This is smooth jazz-pop that will enrapture the smooth fan without enraging the purist.

Jeff Coffin Mu'tet Live!

have developed a truly distinctive sound, whether with Bela Fleck or as a leader with his Mu'tet, as this compilation demonstrates. Funky and worldly and unrestrained, but at the same time imbued with a certain elegance, that certain seeking nature.

The group is set to release another studio album, Into The Air, but this 2-disc compilation, offered via Coffin's website ( should fill in quite nicely till that one hits.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Move Your Body Like A ---

Tragically shot by his live-in partner (though he frequently stepped out on her) either on the band stand or during a break between sets at NYC club Slugs, Lee Morgan had that combo of speed, rhythmic and melodic sensibilities  that balanced his music in a way that few of his peers really could.

My Jazz Passion - summarized

Was feeling down last couple of days so reached for an old standby, the late, great Clifford Brown and max Roach.

if you're passionate about jazz as I am or if you evn know nothing about it, but something in this song jus moves you, then drop me a line at