A solo programme of Taylor performing all his own music virtually guarantees something out of the ordinary. So it proves here. In a beautiful exposition of sweepingly romantic piano playing, he creates a series of moods, by turns sad, nostalgic, joyful, dancing and playful, which have a suggestive capacity as varied as their emotional climate, though his titles don't always give a clue; Wych Hazel is more like the memory of a past love, for example. He's also a great melodist; both In Cologne and the very different In February are stunningly beautiful examples of his ability to come up with charming themes and match them with equally beguiling solos. And three short, free pieces show, paradoxically, how disciplined and imaginative, in terms of line and harmony, he is in a context like this. Lovely
Pianist Eliane Elias follows her Latin Grammy win for 2017's magnificent Dance of Time with this set of tunes from the iconic musical Man of La Mancha. During the mid-'90s, Elias was approached by Mitch Leigh, the Tony-winning composer of her musical; he'd followed her career and greatly admired her work. Accompanied by Neil Warner, arranger for the original musical, he commissioned the pianist to rearrange songs from the show. Elias was given complete freedom to choose which songs she wished to record. She hired two rhythm sections: One featured drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Eddie Gomez; the other bassist Marc Johnson, drummer Satoshi Takeishi, and master percussionist Manolo Badrena (who plays with both groups). Elias and her sidemen recorded nine songs live in studio. Unfortunately, the completed album was shelved due to contractual issues and seemed doomed to obscurity. Leigh passed in 2014 and never saw its release. Concord rescued the album and added it to their catalog some 23 years after recording.
Hailing from a trio of Modern Jazz Quartet (MJQ) sessions, Django (1955) contains some of the earliest sides that Milt Jackson (vibraphone), John Lewis (piano), Percy Heath (bass) and Kenny Clarke (drums) recorded for Prestige Records. Initially, the combo was part of Dizzy Gillespie's influential backing band and after a change in drummers (to Connie Kay), they continued as one of the more sophisticated aggregates of the post-bop era. The album commences with Lewis' sublime and serene title track "Django," dedicated to the memory of guitarist extraordinaire Django Reinhardt. This musical paean aptly recaptures the essence of Reinhardt's enigmatic gypsy-like nature, especially evident within Jackson's leads, which emerge from the thoughtful opening dirge with a refined, warm tone throughout.
Having sponsored Ornette Coleman at the School of Jazz near Lennox, MA, pianist and composer John Lewis helped launch the controversial career of one of the last great innovators in jazz. Lewis' support of the ragtag Texas native was somewhat unique in jazz circles at the time and even surprising, especially considering the gulf between the classical jazz formality of his group the Modern Jazz Quartet and Coleman's radical notions of free improvisation. Nevertheless, Lewis not only saw in Coleman the first jazz genius since bebop's Parker, Gillespie, and Monk, but put pay to the praise with the MJQ's 1962 rendition of one of Coleman's most famous numbers, "Lonely Woman." (Along with Art Pepper's 1960 version of "Tears Inside," this was one of the earliest of Coleman covers done.)
For her entry into the increasingly popular Great American Songbook subgenre, Diane Schuur de-emphasizes the vocal histrionics that in the past have come close to spoiling some of her recordings and maintains a steady, clear, exuberant tone. Good move: one of Schuur's gifts is her multi-octave range, but she has often over-relied on it at the expense of whatever song she was singing. Here, she takes to the classic compositions of George and Ira Gershwin, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, and the like with a respectfulness and glee that allow her to frame and expose these culturally embedded lyrics and melodies without beating on them.
Percussionist Norman Hedman's medium-sized combo is well named; it plays an engaging blend of salsa, Latin jazz, bomba, samba, and just about any other warm-climate dance idiom you can think of. The flute occasionally has a hard time getting in tune with the brass but, other than that, the sound is lush, sweet, and gently, percolatingly funky – less a musical stew than a fruit salad. Hedman's influences include Cal Tjader and Armando Peraza, and while he also owes a clear debt to the big salsa bands, he deliberately avoids overwhelming the listener with too many layers of percussive polyrhythm.
In the hands of Richard Galliano, the mechanical intricacies of the accordion become agents of a compelling musical power, grace, and expression. A virtuoso of the instrument, Galliano exploits the complete orchestral potential of the keys, buttons, and air beneath his fingers. On Laurita, his musicianship is put in the service of utterly swinging jazz that is informed by the romantic and impressionistic influences of Galliano's French-Italian heritage. Call it the soundtrack for the boulevardier who likes to chase his espresso with a shot of bop. The core group on this 1995 session is Galliano, drummer Joey Baron, and bassist Palle Danielsson — a formidable trio in which Baron's muscular, musical touch and Danielsson's rich tone and technique have unfettered space to interact with Galliano's multiphonics.
The idea for reuniting this seminal '70s fusion group first came in 2015, when the lineup for a previously booked one-week engagement at New York's The Blue Note club unexpectedly fell through. Rather than cancel, Coryell suggested bringing most of the 11th House's original members back together—trumpeter Randy Brecker, drummer Alphonse Mouzon and bassist John Lee, who replaced founding bassist Danny Trifan for the group's second album, Level One (Arista, 1975)—along with, Coryell's son, guitarist Julian Coryell, replacing Mike Mandel due to the keyboardist's ill health.
On May 19, 1961, Miles Davis was showcased at a Carnegie Hall concert, performing with his quintet of the time (tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb) and, for the first time in public, the Gil Evans Orchestra. Although thought of by some later on as being in an off period since he was between innovations, Miles' trumpet chops were actually in prime form during 1961-63, as he shows throughout the date. All of the music on this 1998 two-CD set has been out before, either on the original LP of the same name or on the later album More Music From the Legendary Carnegie Hall Concert, but this is the first time that the two sets have been reproduced in their original order.