With the installation of The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing at the Metropolitan, visitors can experience the broad range and diversity of art and artifacts from the peoples of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. This rich panopoly — masks, sculptures, ritual objects, and other works, often fashioned as symbols of power and spiritual force—is awesome…
This fourth volume in Pearl's series Keyboard Wizards of the Gershwin Era includes 26 tracks of piano-roll recordings by Zez Confrey, a gifted pianist with nimble fingers and a light touch. Barring the four versions of "Kitten on the Keys," the selections here – "Coaxin' the Piano," "Poor Buttermilk," "You Tell 'Em Ivories," "Mississippi Shivers," and "Charleston Chuckles" – will be unfamiliar to most. It's an enjoyable collection nevertheless, and a fascinating document from nearly a century ago.
An integral member of the nonpareil Muddy Waters band of the 1950s and '60s, pianist Otis Spann took his sweet time in launching a full-fledged solo career. But his own discography is a satisfying one nonetheless, offering ample proof as to why so many aficionados considered him then and now Chicago's leading post-war blues pianist.
John Cocuzzi is a versatile, talented multi-instrumentalist jazz musician who, with his quintet, stretches out for an entertaining 60 minutes-plus of solid, straight ahead jazz on this very good album. A Washington, D.C. native, Cocuzzi gained an appreciation of jazz at an early age listening to his record collection and to his father, who was a percussionist with the U.S. Marine Band. Initially studying piano and then drums after hearing Lionel Hampton, vibes were added to his arsenal of instruments. Swingin' and Burnin' revisits the small group swing of the '30s and '40s popularized by Benny Goodman, Hampton, Artie Shaw, and others. Cocuzzi adds his own flavor along with some artful arrangements to such warhorses from the past as "Slipped Disc," "Benny's Bugle," and "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You." On the latter, Cocuzzi shows off his vocal skills along with a boogie woogie piano. "Broadway" epitomizes the adroit swinging of the quintet, with each member of the group getting a chance to show their wares during the seven minutes they devote to this Teddy McRae/Bill Bird melody.