Friday, April 3, 2015

Jazz Potpouri: Art Pepper, Julie Lyon Quintet, Michael Snow and Thollem McDonas, Roger Davidson and Pablo Aslan, The Miami Jazz Project, The Louis Romanos Quartet

This article was first published at Blogcritics

Omnivore Recordings continued its monthly Art Pepper reissues with the March release of Volume Two of the sax great’s Neon Art. The three tracks on the re-mastered CD were recorded in Japan in November of 1981. Pepper fronts a quartet featuring pianist George Cables, bassist David Williams and drummer Carl Burnett playing an 18-minute version of “Mambo Koyama,” a Pepper original composition, a soulful take on “Over the Rainbow,” and a bop romp through “Allen’s Alley.”

Volume Three, due for early April release, contains three more tracks recorded in Japan by the same ensemble. It includes two Pepper originals, “Make a List (Make a Wish)” and “Arthur’s Blues,” and “Everything Happens to Me.”

Vocalist Julie Lyon debuted her Julie Lyon Quintet with the January release of Julie, a swinging ten tune collection culled mostly from the standard repertoire, songs like “Love for Sale,” “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “All or Nothing at All,” and “Comes Love.” Tom Cabrer is on drums and Bobby Brennan on double-bass. Trumpeter and alto clarinetist Matt Lavelle and guitarist Jack DeSalvo complete the ensemble.

Two Piano Concert at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, released last October by Edgetone Records, is a live recording of a January 31, 2014 concert by pianists Michael Snow and Thollem McDonas in conjunction with MichaelSnow: Photo-Centric, a retrospective of the pianist’s photography. 
The concert, labeled Chamber/Improvisation by Edgetone, consisted of three freely improvised pieces titled simply “Part 1,” Part 2,” and “Part 3.” It is the kind of avant garde material that will appeal to a more adventurous audience.

A more accessible duo recording spotlighting Roger Davidson on piano and Pablo Aslan on Bass is their February release, Live at Caffe Vivaldi, Volume I. In 2012, Davidson’s Soundbrush Records inaugurated a Wednesday night series at the Greenwich Village Caffe Vivaldi as a safe place for their recording artists to work on new material and develop new ideas. A year later they started recording the performances. Here, then are some of the results. The 11-track set includes eight Davidson original compositions supplemented by Irving Berlin’s classic “How Deep is the Ocean,” Stelvio Cipriani’s “Anonimo Veneziano,” and Angel Villoido’s “El Cholclo.”

Speaking of accessibility, The Miami Jazz Project’s self-titled album released last October, can, as the liner notes indicate, “be regarded as an extension of the tradition that Miles and other bands like Weather Report laid down.” The set includes both acoustic and electrical tracks with “stylistic elements rooted in mainstream jazz, blues, jazz rock and world music.”

The album’s ten tracks feature nine original compositions by Project members Dave Liebman (soprano and tenor sax), Arthur Baron (tenor and alto sax, flute) and Abel Pabon (keyboards) illustrating the groups varied influences from the exotic Middle Eastern flavors of “Lordy Lourdes” and “Jinnistan” to the short Tibetan chant of “Blessing Eternal” serving as an introduction to “Slow Dance on the Killing Ground.”

Take Me There, a November release from The Louis Romanos Quartet, sports a dozen tracks composed and arranged by drummer Romanos, ranging from the quirky infectious “Klezmer” to curl-up-by-the-fireside  ballads like “Second Song” and “Lovely.” Dan Sumner plays guitar, Neal Starkey, bass and Alex Noppe does sweet work on trumpet and flugelhorn.

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