Some of Grant Green's hottest moments as a jazz-funk bandleader came on his live records of the era, which were filled with extended, smoking grooves and gritty ensemble interplay. Live at the Lighthouse makes a fine companion piece to the excellent Alive!, though there are some subtle differences which give the album its own distinct flavor. For starters, the average track length is even greater, with four of the six jams clocking in at over 12 minutes. That makes it easy to get lost in the grooves as the musicians ride and work them over.
Stardust is another satisfying record from Ron Carter, this one in part a tribute to the late Oscar Pettiford. Leading a quintet with Benny Golson on tenor, Joe Locke on vibes, Sir Roland Hanna on piano, and Lenny White on drums, Carter picks three choice tunes by Pettiford – the swing-to-tango "Tamalpais," the minor-key bop classic "Bohemia After Dark," and the masterfully simple "Blues in the Closet."
Mose Allison, who was a musical institution long before 1987, had not run out of creative juices after 30 years of major league performances. This set finds him introducing such ironically truthful songs as "Ever Since The World Ended," "Top Forty," "I Looked In The Mirror" and "What's Your Movie." The many guest artists (including altoist Arthur Blythe, tenor-saxophonist Bennie Wallace, Bob Malach on both alto and tenor and guitarist Kenny Burrell) are unnecessary frivolities but Allison's trio (with bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Tom Whaley) is tight and ably backs the unique singer-pianist.
Although the title of this CD makes it sound as if tenor-saxophonist Joe Lovano was performing veteran jazz classics on this date, all but one of the ten songs played by his quintet are actually Lovano originals. With strong assistance provided by guitarist John Abercrombie, pianist Ken Werner, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Bill Stewart, Lovano often sounds like a mixture of Dewey Redman and early John Coltrane on his enjoyable set. His music has enough variety to hold one's interest, Abercrombie is in particularly strong form and Lovano is consistently creative during the modern mainstream music.
Andrew Hill has been, in the gentlest of cases, an idiosyncratic player, composer, and bandleader. But often, reviews of his work have been quite strident and refer to him as an iconoclast. That's okay; some critics thought of Monk and Herbie Nichols that way, too. Time Lines has Hill back – for the third time in his long career – with Blue Note, the label that gave birth to his enduring classics like Black Fire and Judgment!. But Hill is still every bit the creative and technically gifted musician he was back in the day; perhaps more so. His band features seasoned veteran Charles Tolliver on trumpet, saxophonist Greg Tardy (who also triples on clarinet and bass clarinet, and beautifully, to say the least), and a rhythm section composed of bassist John Herbert and drummer Eric McPherson.
Yeah, All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller is a tribute to the great stride pianist, but in Jason Moran's hands, it's not what one would expect. This album isn't full of stride piano, but it is full of Fats Waller's larger persona as a performer. Waller mixed jokes and comic routines, and did whatever he could to connect with his audience in his act, and if his piano playing was the hinge, it sat on a door that opened straight to the dancefloor. This album had its beginnings when Moran was commissioned by the N.Y.C. performing arts venue Harlem Stage Gatehouse to create a tribute to Waller as part of its Harlem Jazz Shrines series.
In Memoriam. Horace Parlan RIP. We’ve lost another great jazzman. Horace Parlan died on Thursday evening peacefully in his sleep in Denmark where he lived since 1973. By adding guitarist Grant Green and tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin to his standard rhythm section of bassist George Tucker and drummer Al Harewood, pianist Horace Parlan opens up his sound and brings it closer to soul-jazz on Up and Down. Green's clean, graceful style meshes well with Parlan's relaxed technique, while Ervin's robust tone and virile attack provides a good contrast to the laid-back groove the rhythm section lays down.
This is a recommended set of stimulating post-bop jazz. Andrew Hill's highly distinctive piano playing and unusual compositions hint at the past while following their own rules. The feeling of polyrhythms is present in several of Hill's seven compositions on this CD. The tightness of the bass-drum team (Lonnie Plaxico and Cecil Brooks) is quite impressive, as is the blend of Robin Eubanks' warm trombone and Greg Osby's alto.
The third of three volumes chronicling Pepper's complete Aladdin recordings, Blue Note's Art of Pepper, Vol. 3 finds the West Coast alto saxophonist in top form over the course of 12 stunning cuts. Recorded in 1957, the set takes in both Pepper originals ("Holiday Flight," "Surf Ride") and choice standards ("Long Ago and Faraway," "Without a Song"). There's also a fine cover of the rare Bud Powell cut "Webb City." Topped off with excellent work by pianist Carl Perkins, bassist Ben Tucker, and drummer Chuck Flores, this collection is a must-have for all Pepper fans.