Monday, October 24, 2016

CD Review: Carol Bach-Y-Rita, "Minha Casa"

Just finished listening to a new CD from Vocalist, Composer and Arranger Carol Bach-Y-Rita and wanted to share my experience with you.  Carol Bach-Y-Rita has put together a great blend of Brazilian, Bebop and Jazz on her new CD that is perfect for her singing personality.  Carol gives her listeners an immediate sense of movement that lifts and re-imagines standards, original songs and Brazilian rhythms that fill the CD.  Carol is a Jazz singer that is at home with swinging tunes or ballads.

Her unusual name is an interesting story.  Her father's family came from Catalonia where children are given two names, their father's patronymic and their mother's maiden name, (i.e. Bach and Rita.)  Carol is fluent in five languages, including English, Spanish, French, Italian and Brazilian Portuguese and uses her languages to project her varied singing skills.

The songs Carol selected for this CD are a wonderful mix of old and new that are given new rhythms that make them delightful.  This is a beautiful CD and Carol Bach-Y-Rita is a terrific Jazz singer who performs at the highest level with ease!

The musicians Carol asked to join her on this CD are each outstanding in their own right. The always great Larry Koonse on Guitar, Bill Cantos on Piano, John Leftwich on Bass, Mike Shapiro on Drums and Percussion and Dudu Fuentes on Percussion.

1. "Morning Coffee"
2. "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To"
3. "A Night In Tunisia"
4. "T'iS Autumn"
6. "Nature Boy"
7. "Trust"
8. "Pra Quem Quiser Me Visitar"
9. "Gardening With No Pants"
10. "Love Look Away"
11. "While My Lady Sleeps"

I have selected two YouTube videos that I think highlight Carol's marvelous singing talents.  The first is a Bill Cantos composition, "Morning Coffee" that has great melody and lyrics.  The second is a ballad that I just loved, Carol singing a Larry Koonse arrangement of the standard "Tis Autumn".  This CD was published on September 23, 2016 and is available on Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby.  

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Trombonist Carl Fontana Plays "Emily"

I spend a lot of time listening to new musical talents and enjoy finding new players and sounds but on the other hand,  it is such a pleasure to take a break and look back at some of the spectacular musicians and their contributions to American Jazz book.  The first real band that I played in included a Trombone player and I was always fascinated this instrument but being young and inexperienced, I never thought that this instrument could do much when it comes to Jazz.  Fast forward to today and I now have lots of Jazz Trombone players I love.

A couple of weeks ago I was checking out some Jazz videos on "YouTube" and I noticed that someone had posted a video of Carl Fontana playing one of my all-time favorite evergreens, Emily".  I had no knowledge of who Carl Fontana was and never heard him play.  So I played the video and I was absolutely floored by the tone and dexterity of Fontana's playing.  In fact, I was listening to this track last week and had to check back to see the video again because I just could not believe how smooth and quick Fontana's execution of notes was and thought he might have been playing a Flugelhorn not a Slide Trombone.  I did a little research and found out that Fontana is famous for his "Double Tonguing" a technique he developed for playing super quick passages with perfect execution.

You will be knockout by Fontana's lush tones and his wonderful interpretation of the standard, "Emily".  Have you ever heard notes on a slide Trombone played so fast and so lush?  This video was recorded in 1971 at the Gibson Jazz Party at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Co.  I believe Ross Tompkins in on Piano.

Monday, October 3, 2016

CD Review: Scott Reeves Jazz Orchestra, "Portraits and Places"

Scott Reeves is a Trombonist, Alto Flugelhornist, Composer and Educator. He has performed and recordered with some of the best Jazz Big Bands playing today like the Dave Liebman Big BandBill Mobley's Smoke Big Band, The Oliver Lake Big Band and the Chico O'Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra.  In addition to all his fine performing, Scott is Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at the City College of New York.  He was also on the faculty of the Juilliard School.  His textbooks on Jazz improvisation, "Creative Jazz Improvisation" and "Creative Beginnings" are widely used in leading colleges' Jazz curriculum.  Scott put his own 16-piece Jazz orchestra together in 2008 and this CD, "Portraits and Places" is the band's 2016 debut CD.  The album features seven Reeves' original tunes plus some other terrific Scott Reeves' arrangements, including the one I have attached of Jobim's "Aguas De Marco", "Waters of March". 

The seven original songs Scott Reeves has composed are beautifully written and brilliantly arranged.  They are as close to perfect that any composer could produce. Arranging music for a big band is a feat that few musicians can ever master, but Scott's arrangements are complex but clean and flow with relaxed ease.  It's clear to me that Scott gets his composing inspiration from his massive musical experience and years of study of musical composition of both Jazz and Classical music. Many years of musical education is one aspect underlying his talent but taking ones musical knowledge and turning out beautiful, complex music and big band arrangement puts Scott in a class of his own.  I chose to attach Scott's arrangement of Jobim's "Aguas De Marco" to highlight his ability to take a known classic evergreen and give it a new appearance and feel.  The work and effort that was required to compose and arrange the 3 movements of "L & T Suite" had to be massive.  According to Scott, "Woven in the fabric of the composition are thematic quotes from Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring", Igor Stravinsky's "Petrushka", Leonard Bernstein's "Age of Anxiety", and Bela Bartok's "The Miraculous Mandarin". If Stan Kenton was still alive and still recording, he would surely want to use Scott Reeves' arrangements.  On the lighter side,  Scott's "The Soulful Mr Williams" is dedicated to the memory of the great pianist James Williams.  Beautifully written, this arrangement was originally done for the Bill Mobley Big Band during Scott's tenure at the New York City Jazz club, Smoke.         

The members in Reeves band are all outstanding, accomplished musicians.  Only a musical pro would be able to execute these precise and carefully written arrangements. So there you have it, great players, great songs, great arrangements, the perfect formula for a great big band CD.

Scott Reeves: Conductor, Composer, Arranger, Alto Flugelhorn
Seneca Black: Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Nathan Eklund: Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Bill Mobley: Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Andy Gravish: Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Steve Wilson: Alto, Soprano Sax, Flute
Rob Middleton: Tenor Sax, Clarinet
Tim Armacost: Tenor Sax, Clarinet
Jay Brandford: Baritone Sax, Bass Clarinet (1,4)
Terry Goss: Baritone Sax, Bass Clarinet (2,3,5-8)
Tim Sessions: Trombone
Matt McDonald: Trombone
Max Seigel: Bass Trombone
Jim Ridl: Piano
Todd Coolman: Bass
Andy Watson: Drums
Sara Serpa: Voice (3.4)
Emi Miyuajima Nobe, Yuzuki Nobe: Japanese dialogue (3)

1. "The Soulful Mr. Williams"
2. "3'n 2"
3. "Osaka June"
4. "Aguas de Marco"
5. "L & T"
       a. Movement 1: "Who Wants to Dance"
       b. Movement 2: "A Trombonist's Tale"
       c. Movement 3: "Hip Kitty"
8. "Last Call"

I have attached a beautiful cut from the CD that was posted on YouTube.  I know you will enjoy the Scott Reeves Jazz Orchestra playing Jobim's "Aquas De Marco".

CD Review: John Vanore, "Primary Colors"

Trumpeter, Composer, Producer, Educator and Bandleader John Vanore has just released a long-forgotten studio recording of a duet he reco...