Tag Archives: Aaron Weinstein
Billie Holiday: The Complete Masters 1933-1959 (Universal)
As somebody who already owns everything by her favourite singer – but scattered across box sets, single CDs and LPs – I am thrilled with this exquisitely presented limited edition collection of all the master takes from her vast and varied career. It’s a shame not to have some of the best alternative takes, but great to not have two versions of the same tune back to back. And to be able to hear her go from radiant, ebullient, teens-to-twentysomething Billie on her joyful 1930s small group recordings, right through to her worn-out, but utterly compelling and sumptuous final (with strings) album, is a privilege and a treat.
British saxophonist Derek Nash’s first CD with his regular trio is a fresh, funky and engaging affair which features an imaginative selection of tunes, most of them originals by Nash himself but also such stand-outs as the Ennio Morricone’s unjustly neglected Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso and a Gerry Mulligan-inspired take on Jerome Kern’s All The Things You Are. Nash is a lovely, melodic player who has a terrific rapport with his trio, particularly with the ever-elegant pianist David Newton.
Ruby Braff: Three Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz)
Wow. This is one of the best of these Avid two-CD sets that I’ve heard. The great trumpeter Ruby Braff was in his early thirties when these four late-1950s LPs were recorded – and his playing is sensational, as is the company he keeps (Roy Eldridge, Bud Freeman, Freddie Green, Hank Jones – on vibes! – etc). In fact, it’s difficult to get past the first album, Hi-Fi Salute to Bunny, which finds him alongside the legendary clarinettist Pee Wee Russell and is an absolute gem, featuring a string of unforgettable, downright sexy takes on such evergreens as I’m Coming Virginia.
Bucky Pizzarelli: Challis in Wonderland (Arbors Records)
The octogenarian US guitarist Pizzarelli is still playing as superbly as ever. On this new CD, he pays homage to both the legendary Bix Beiderbecke and Bill Challis, the arranger who ensured that Beiderbecke’s masterful piano compositions were transcribed and saved for posterity. All four of those feature here (played on guitar, of course), alongside some other Bixian numbers and tunes of his era – plus Pizzarelli’s own title composition. He’s joined by his son and fellow guitarist John, and a string quartet featuring the violin whiz Aaron Weinstein. Delightful stuff.
While some solo guitar players seem to sap the life out of their material by picking it apart, stretching it out and extemporising ad infinitum, Glasgow-based guitar star Clark brings colour, energy and lyricism to whatever he plays – as effectively as if a whole band was performing. On the 16 eclectic tracks included on this, his first, solo album, his classy taste and love of (and respect for) a beautiful melody shine through – among the highlights are numbers by Jerome Kern, Carlos Santana, Antonio Carlos Jobim and a trio of original tunes.
The Ella Fitzgerald set in this superb new series of limited edition box sets may not – as the Billie Holiday one did – cover her entire career, but it takes in some of her finest work, notably this reviewer’s favourite Fitzgerald recordings, the duos with elegant pianist Ellis Larkins in 1950 (her first Gershwin songbook) and 1954. The 14 discs span the dynamic singer’s output from her coquettish debut with Chick Webb through to the 1950s when she exuded a downright regal quality on her ballads.
Charlie Parker: The Complete Masters 1941-1954 (Universal)
As with the other box sets in this limited edition series, this 11-disc collection is a must-have for anyone interested in the subject; this time, the legendary bebop pioneer and alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. It traces his evolution – and that of bop – from his Kansas City beginnings in the mid-1940s with Jay McShann’s blues ‘n’ boogie-style band through to his sporadic final recordings before his untimely 1954 death (aged 35). Highlights include his electrifying encounters with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk and his masterful strings albums.
The legendary New Orleans-born clarinettist and soprano saxophonist is the subject of the fourth and final of the superb new limited edition box sets from Universal. This collection isn’t comprehensive – the recordings he made after settling in France in June 1950 aren’t included (so Midnight in Paris fans won’t find Si Tu Vois Ma Mere) – but it is an impressive 14-disc set nevertheless and spans his career from 1923 (though he first recorded in 1921) to 1950, by which time he was being feted by the younger generation.
Carol Sloane: We’ll Meet Again (Arbors Records ARCD 19400)
Dearest Duke, Carol Sloane’s last CD on Arbors, was a glorious affair which showcased her breathy, lyrical voice with just piano and Ken Peplowski on clarinet or tenor sax. Peplowski is reunited with Sloane on this collection of love songs and once more his playing is a dream, whether he’s accompanying or soloing. Veteran guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli and bassist Steve LaSpina add their stylish playing to the mix, while an uncredited Aaron Weinstein (violin) guest-stars on a few tracks. One of the best CDs of the year so far…
Stan Getz All-Star Groups: Three Classic Albums Plus (Avid Jazz AMSC997)
It’s difficult to get beyond the first disc in this double CD: it’s so sensational. Stan Getz’s 1957 encounter with the Oscar Peterson Trio is one of the must-have jazz albums and features tour-de-force performances all round. Getz blows I Want to Be Happy into smithereens, aided and abetted by the driving piano of Peterson, while the ballads are nothing short of sublime; Getz’s tenor at its most tender and beguiling. The other classic albums included are the 1955 Hamp and Getz (with vibes legend Lionel Hampton) and Jazz Giants, a superb all-star LP also from 1957.
Duo albums are a rare treat – especially when they’re as beautifully executed as this one, which was recorded in 1975. Pianist-composer Dave Brubeck and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond had the idea for the album when they played some duets together on a jazz cruise that year, and after listening to the results which had been recorded by the BBC (one of those original tracks is included here), they resolved to make an LP on dry land. Showcased in this setting, Desmond’s melancholy alto has an ethereal quality, while Brubeck’s piano is suitably haunting.
John Bunch: Do Not Disturb (Arbors Records ARCD 19403)
The much-loved American jazz pianist John Bunch died in March at the age of 88. This wonderful trio album (with guitarist Frank Vignola and bassist John Webber) is his final CD. Recorded late last year, it gives little evidence of Bunch’s frailness as he swings energetically and as gracefully as ever through a typically diverse selection of numbers ranging from bop tunes to lesser-played Duke Ellington. Stand-outs include the Duke’s title tune, Sonny Rollins’ Doxy and Dave Brubeck’s In Your Own Sweet Way.