[JPL] The Best: The Deepest Jazz Grooves
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Sun Dec 26 19:00:16 EST 2004
The Best: The Deepest Jazz Grooves
December 26, 2004
By BEN RATLIFF
1. JOE LOVANO: 'I'M ALL FOR YOU' (Blue Note). On paper,
the quartet of Mr. Lovano on saxophone, Hank Jones on
piano, George Mraz on bass and Paul Motian on drums neatly
entwines the classicist and experimentalist streams in
postwar jazz. But I doubt they gave that a second's
thought. Here they play only ballads, knocking them out of
the park with a grace that seems effortless. The rhythm is
wickedly self-edited and deeply behind the beat; the
saxophone playing is billowing, smeared and full of Ben
Websteresque caresses; Mr. Jones's clarion bebop piano runs
through it all.
2. THE GREAT JAZZ TRIO: 'SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME'
(Eighty-Eights/Columbia). It's the last session Hank Jones
recorded with his brother Elvin, the incomparable
improvising drummer of modern music. (Elvin Jones died on
May 18.) The program is all standards, and the star is
Elvin, playing superbly, with the great depth of his sound
3. BRAD MEHLDAU TRIO: 'ANYTHING GOES' (Warner Brothers).
Mr. Mehldau works hard as a composer, but here his
decade-old trio plays only other people's music, and rather
brilliantly; it's the best of the band's studio recordings.
4. SOWETO KINCH: 'CONVERSATIONS WITH THE UNSEEN' (Dune). A
young English saxophonist and part-time rapper, Mr. Kinch
comes loaded with energy and ideas. His first album's
dominant style relates to the American hardcore-jazz
mainstream of Greg Osby and Branford Marsalis, but in his
mid-20's he really knows his Parker, Tristano and Coltrane,
as well as hip-hop and West Indian rhythm.
5. ERIC ALEXANDER: 'DEAD CENTER' (High Note). The tenor
saxophonist Eric Alexander plays with a broad, lovely,
careful sound; studying the music of the hard-bop era as a
rigorous, complex language, and staying within its
parameters, he has become an impressive craftsman.
6. FLY: 'FLY' (Savoy Jazz). This is the first album by a
cooperative band (Mark Turner, tenor saxophone; Larry
Grenadier, bass; Jeff Ballard, drums), which, in its own
boiled-down, open and gently melodic way, presents a fairly
radical revision of the basic jazz-trio idea.
7. GERI ALLEN TRIO: 'THE LIFE OF A SONG' (Telarc). This
feels like a return: it has been a long time since the
standard-bearing jazz pianist Ms. Allen made a
straightforward trio record as strong as this one, with
some rich writing and a first-rate band, including Dave
Holland on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums.
8. BEBO VALDÉS: 'BEBO DE CUBA' (BMG Spain). After last
year's "Lagrimas Negras," more from Mr. Valdés's burst of
late-life creativity: a stunning Latin jazz big-band
recorded with New York's A-list players.
9. WYNTON MARSALIS: 'THE MAGIC HOUR' (Blue Note). These
tunes are some of the simplest you'll hear a major jazz
musician put on record, but here Mr. Marsalis stresses the
interplay of his excellent new band, with the pianist Eric
Lewis making especially powerful disruptions, over the
10. CHARLES LLOYD/BILLY HIGGINS: 'WHICH WAY IS EAST' (ECM).
It's not without longueurs, but the two hours of
home-studio jam sessions between the jazz saxophonist
Charles Lloyd and the drummer Billy Higgins, recorded
shortly before the great Higgins's death, are explosions of
on-the-spot creativity: each musician also sings, plays
half a dozen other instruments and journeys into traditions
far outside jazz.
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