Strange as it seems, the main criticism about this CD and about Kenny Burrell's playing during the past couple decades is that he is often overly tasteful. On this set (which has six unaccompanied guitar solos, four duets with bassist Ray Drummond, and three trio numbers with Drummond and drummer Yoron Israel), Burrell is so loving of the melodies that he adds very little of himself other than his beautiful tone. Although the tunes are superior, none of these versions are definitive and the mellow results rarely rise above the level of background music.
Journeyman jazz trumpeter Wayne Bergeron delivers a lush and fiery big-band performance on his 2007 album Plays Well with Others. Featuring Bergeron's own big band, the album also includes a guest appearance by iconic high-note trumpeter Maynard Ferguson. Much of the music here is crisply urbane, swinging mainstream jazz in the "little big band" tradition and should appeal to fans of acutely orchestrated ensemble jazz.Bergeron's high-note trumpet work is astonishing.
The 1987 edition of the Brubeck Quartet featured pianist Brubeck, his son Chris on electric bass and bass trombone, clarinetist Bill Smith and drummer Randy Jones. In addition to remakes of "Blue Rondo à la Turk," "Strange Meadowlark" and "Swing Bells," the leader contributed six new originals including "I See, Satie" and a tribute to Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz called "Dizzy's Dream." Bill Smith, who uses electronics with taste on his clarinet during a few songs, has long been a major asset to the later Brubeck Quartets. This is one of their better Concord CDs.
Beside Marty Paich, none of Mel Tormé's collaborators exerted such a large influence on the singer's career as George Shearing, the pianist whose understated, expressive accompaniment contributed to Tormé's resurgence during the early '80s. Their six excellent albums together – two of which, An Evening With… and Top Drawer, earned Grammy awards – proved that classic vocal music had outlasted the long night that was the '70s, and emerged to become a timeless American genre. The pair's work for Concord was usually recorded live in a trio or quartet setting; leaving much space for Shearing solos, Tormé occasionally reprised his big standards ("A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," "Lullaby of Birdland," "The Folks Who Live on the Hill"), but often searched for more obscure material he could make his own, and often succeeded. Tormé and Shearing were restless innovators, taking on a full album of World War II standards, medleys devoted to songs about New York and by Duke Ellington, and a stunningly broad range of material: "Oleo," "Lili Marlene," "How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen?," and "Dat Dere."
At age eighty, tenor saxophonist, composer and band leader Benny Golson is still going strong, and although he experienced a few lean years, is very much a force on the modern mainstream jazz scene in the years of the 2000s. He has revived the spirit of his original Jazztet, co-founded with the late trumpeter Art Farmer, on several occasions since the ensemble was originally founded in 1959. This edition features a strong front line of Golson, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, and trombonist Steve Davis, players from different generations who completely understand the hard and post-bop language. The rhythm section is even more delicious, with pianist Mike LeDonne, peerless bassist Buster Williams, and younger drummer Carl Allen working together in the best sense of that ideal.