Rant’n’Roll: Father-Son Duo, Forgotten Fare x 2, San Juan Folklore, Australian Blues, Brazilian Samba, A Brooklyn Pianist & A British Ball-Busting Mama

Rant’n’Roll: Father-Son Duo, Forgotten Fare x 2, San Juan Folklore, Australian Blues, Brazilian Samba, A Brooklyn Pianist & A British Ball-Busting Mama

—by , April 12, 2017

04-12 Rant - Rich Halley & Carson Halley (Photo courtesy of Rich Halley)

Not too many father-son duos out there but saxophonist Rich Halley and his drummer son Carson Halley are definitely to be listened to on The Wild (Pine Eagle Records). Their 10 improvisations could only be manifested by almost 20 years of recording, performing and traveling together. Take Rich’s tenor sax and wood flute combined with Carson’s drums, put them in a room, let them ramble. The result had no forethought, no charts, no lyrics, just this strong duo totally acclimated to what might erupt out of the other. And it works.

*

Denver tenor sax man Keith Oxman takes a different approach on East Of The Village (Capri Records) with only Hammond B-3 organist Jeff Jenkins and drummer Todd Reid. His bass-less trio tackles songs that fall far short of being called standards. He wants it that way. Marilyn Monroe whispered Julie Styne’s “Bye Bye Baby” in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The trio skips through it like kids playing hopscotch. Ditto for George Gershwin’s “(I’ve Got) Beginner’s Luck,” the least remembered song that Fred Astaire sang in his 1937 movie Shall We Dance. They even resurrect the obscure 1956 “Gentleman” Jim Reeves countrypolitan hit “Breeze (Blow My Baby Back To Me).” Other interpretations of long-ago and far-away fare that no one hardly touches these days include Leonard Bernstein’s 1949 “Lucky To Be Me” and Jimmy Van Heusen’s 1938 “Deep In A Dream.”

*

Blue Skylight (Capri Records) by The Mark Masters Ensemble takes 11 tunes from the songbooks of Charles Mingus [1922-1979] and Gerry Mulligan [1927-1996] featuring stalwarts from the bands of Monk, Mancini, Zappa and Miles, in other words real pro guys who’ve been there and done that. In fact, it was the alto sax of Gary Foster that movie-goers first heard when Tony Curtis pretended to blow in the 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot. “I prefer the more obscure music,” says Masters. Thus, you might not know opener “Monk Bunk and Vice Versa” or the tribute to Eric Dolphy “So Long Eric.” Masters arranges with Ellingtonian flair, using his palette of alto, tenor, baritone and soprano saxes, trumpet and trombone with a piano/bass/drums rhythm section.

*

Saxophonist/Composer Miguel Zenon, for his tenth CD as leader, has tributized his San Juan hometown. Tipico (Miel Music) has his longtime piano/bass/drums rhythm section helping him flesh out his originals of his life, ‘hood, friends and school, be it “Academia” (he’s a professor at the New England Conservatory), “Cantor” (written for a beloved collaborator), “Ciclo” (taken from an old Puerto Rican folk song) or “Sangre Di Me Sangre” (for his daughter). Zenon’s a truly inventive alto man. Pianist Luis Perdomo, growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, always gravitated to the more avant-garde pianists like Cecil Taylor. You can hear it in his playing. Henry Cole steps to the fore for “Las Ramas,” which Zenon describes as “very difficult…like an etude for the drums.” Bassist Hans Glawischnig’s spot comes on “Corteza” where he almost steals the show. These four mesh with syncretic preternatural aplomb.

*

Samba singer Chieko Honda uses musicians from Brazil, Japan, the U.S., Australia and Israel on her self-released, self-produced Aquarelle debut. She wrote nine of 12 and sings ‘em in Portuguese and English. Her breadth of knowledge for Brazil’s samba subgenres (despite growing up in Osaka, Japan) is staggering: she successfully integrates no less than 10 different and unique-unto-themselves geographical stylings including Choro, Bossa Nova, Maracatu and waltz. She uses her sublime instrumentation from some of New York City’s top guys on piano, seven- and four-stringed guitar, bass, drums, more drums, percussion, flute and sax.

*

The Infinite Distances that Brooklyn pianist/composer Noah Haidu reaches on his third CD (Cellar Live Records) comes from a conversation Haidu had with saxophonist Branford Marsalis who quoted the writer and philosopher Rainer Maria Rilke [1875-1926] who once said, “Among the closest people there remain infinite distances.” Marsalis was talking about his relationship with pianist Kenny Kirkland whom he knew for decades yet, upon his death, realized he didn’t really know him at all. Haidu took it to heart and the result is a six-part suite at the center of an 11-track gem of a CD. Backed by trumpet, flugelhorn, three saxophones (one of which is the irrepressible Jon Irabagon), bass and drums, the piano man rumbles and rambles throughout his 88 keys to achieve a stunning synthesize of post-bop, post-swing waltz-, balladry-, blues- and gospel-influenced jazz of the highest order (including a cover of Joe Henderson’s classic 1964 “Serenity”). It all adds up to a true keeper of an album that brings new flavors and discoveries with each repeated listen.

*

If it weren’t for ‘60s Brits like Brian Jones, John Mayall, Peter Green, Eric Clapton and Alvin Lee, it definitely would’ve taken my teenaged Jersey soul much longer to discover American blues. So here I sit at 66 hearing how the Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion takes that history and compartmentalizes it into a wham-bam thank-you-ma’am soul strut that has this ball-busting bad-ass bitch of a lead singer howling…yowling…growling into the dead of night so fine you just want to follow her around the world. This Is The Life I Choose (Proper Note) is self-explanatory. Amongst the rampaging blues-rock-soul originals written by her and her partner-in-musical-crime, guitarist Rob Koral, there’s way-cool covers of Cream’s 1967 “We’re Going Wrong” and even Anthony Newley’s 1964 “Feeling Good.”

*

Blues can come from anywhere and Australia’s Lazy Eye proves it. Essentially a Hammond B-3 organ trio with vocals (no bass needed), they rock the blues just like it’s done in the Deep South USA. All original, with Evan Whetter’s B-3, harp and vocals backed by guitar and drums, Pocket The Black (self-released) sounds like “Booker T sharing a scotch with BB King at the Crossroads after midnight,” according to the liner notes. I totally concur.

 


Site designed by Subjective Designs | Powered by WordPress | Content © 1969-2017 Arts Weekly, Inc. All Rights Reserved.