The transcontinental soul/blues duo of Pittsburgh's Billy Price and France's Fred Chapellier took their show on the road (in Europe) to support the release of the duo's Night Work debut. The results are contained on this CD/DVD package, a logical and energetic follow-up to the studio recording that reprises some – but not all – of those tunes, adds logical covers, and generally ratchets up the sparks, as live albums typically do. The 11-song audio CD runs about half the time of the far more extensive two-hour DVD, but both nail the vibe of shows that featured tough, resilient backing musicians augmented by two horn players.
I’m honored to discuss this CD. I found Fred Ho’s Monkey: Part One a glorious surprise, and this second section of his musical setting for the trickster tale is no disappointment. The ensemble’s personnel has few changes, notably Francis Wong as tenorist; but its spirit remains dramatic, flexible and visionary as Ho achieves tremendous range from trombone, three saxophones (including his own baritone), bass and drums, and several performers on Chinese traditional instruments.
Monkey is a two-part recording of baritone saxophonist Fred Ho's multimedia musical Journey Beyond the West, centered around the Chinese trickster figure of Monkey (à la Coyote in much native American lore) that combines Chinese folk music and instrumentation with jazz. Acts I and III (composed in 1990/1989, respectively) are featured here, with Acts II and IV (both written in 1994) on the companion Monkey, Pt. 2 disc.
Jazz cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm pays tribute on this Valentine to his predecessor, the composer/arranger Fred Katz. Just as Katz did with Chico Hamilton's bands of the 1950's, Lonberg-Holm proves the cello doesn't have to be the redheaded stepchild of the double bass. Katz, a classically trained cellist and student of Pablo Casals, plied his craft in settings from cool jazz to the outward reaches of Eric Dolphy and Ken Nordine's spoken-word jazz.
This is a great radio session recorded in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 14, 2000. GratHovOx embodies everything uninhibited free improv can deliver. The presence of two of the genre's most prestigious veterans certainly has something to do with it. Fred Van Hove performs most of the set on a Steinway D piano. He grabs his accordion for "Foreplay/Vorspiel." Tony Oxley produces an astounding number of different sounds from his acoustic drum kit, keeping the electronics very discreet. Between them stands reedman Frank Gratkowski, using mostly instruments from the clarinet family this time around – his raspy alto sax makes an appearance in the 20-minute "Trenches/Tranches."