Tag Archives: End of a Love Affair

CD Recommendations: July 2011

Ben Webster & Johnny Hodges: The Complete 1960 Sextet Jazz Cellar Recordings (Solar Records) Released for the first time in its complete form, this is a historic encounter between two of the greatest exponents of the saxophone in jazz: tenor man Webster and altoist Hodges. It does not disappoint; in fact, it’s an absolute treasure, a must for fans of Hodges’s sinewy sound and/or Webster’s breathy tenor – and anyone who loves funky, blues-infused jazz. The dream team is swingingly accompanied by a quartet featuring Lou Levy (piano) and Herb Ellis (guitar), and this 17-track CD also includes five rare octet outings from 1961. Blues’ll Blow Your Fuse, Ifida and The Mooche-like I’d Be There (surely a tribute to their Ellingtonian background?) are among the many stand-outs.. Frankly, I’ve been playing this obsessively since before I even got my own copy (I had already worn out my dad’s) – and I’m hoping that that great tenor-alto duo of our time, Ken Peplowski and Alan Barnes, unearth some of these brilliant tunes for their next joint outing..

Carol Kidd & Nigel Clark: Tell Me Once Again (Linn Records)

Vested interest declaration time: I wrote the liner notes for this, the first duo CD by the peerless Scots vocalist Kidd and her wonderful guitarist Clark. Their duets have long been highlights of Kidd’s concerts, and this collection of 12 songs shows why. This is musical storytelling at its best, and a superb example of the scope within the duo format: along with several exquisite ballads, the songs range from R ‘n’ B – You Don’t Know Me – to a bossa nova version of Stevie Wonder’s Moon Blue. There’s a lovely arc to this highly personal album which culminates, fittingly, with The End of a Love Affair.

Cal Tjader-Stan Getz Sextet (OJC Remasters )

Stan Getz’s playing is like a cool summer breeze, and this lovely 1958 album is as fresh and lovely-sounding as his more famous, subsequent, bossa nova LPs. He and vibes player Tjader have a great rapport, and, accompanied by a quartet that includes pianist Vince Guaraldi, work their way through a delicious mix of standards and Tjader-penned tunes, with Guaraldi’s joyful Ginza Samba a rousing opener. A gem.

Scott Hamilton & Rossano Sportiello: Midnight at Nola’s Penthouse (Arbors Records)

In recent years, the American tenor sax great Scott Hamilton and the nimble-fingered Italian pianist Rossano Sportiello have increasingly sought out each other’s musical company, and their affinity is evident on all ten tracks included here. The phrase “less is more” could have been coined for this supremely tasteful double act: Sportiello’s delicate touch and Hamilton’s soulful, breathy sax were made for each other, and the choices of off-the-beaten-track tunes – among them such ballads as the beautifully spare Wonder Why, A Garden in the Rain and In the Middle of a Kiss – are spot-on.

Karen Sharp: Spirit (Trio Records) 
Baritone saxophonist Karen Sharp graduated from the Humphrey Lyttelton band and is now established as an in-demand solo star, who fits perfectly into mainstream and contemporary line-ups. This quartet CD, which features her Tokyo Trio colleague Nikki Iles on piano, veers more towards the contemporary and features mainly jazz compositions written by pianists as well as some familiar movie/musical numbers. A terrific introduction to Sharp’s authoritative, always-swinging baritone sax style.

Warren Vache, Alan Barnes and the Woodville All-Stars: The London Session (Woodville Records) Having written the liner notes, I’ve been living with this CD for months – and I’m still finding more things to love about it. Cornettist Vache and multi-instrumentalist Barnes may have worked together many times but this album is as exciting as they come: it features them getting their teeth into some imaginative arrangements in a septet setting. Their delight in each other’s company is evident throughout, and both are at the top of their game, notably when tearing up such storming numbers as Molasses.

Various: First Impulse – The Creed Taylor Collection 50th Anniversary (Verve) To mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic jazz label Impulse!, founded by producer Creed Taylor, an impressive, four-disc (but LP size) box set has been released comprising all six of the albums that Taylor himself produced – plus some previously unissued rehearsals by John Coltrane. It’s a great collection, with classic recordings from Ray Charles (Genius + Soul = Jazz), Gil Evans (Out of the Cool), Oliver Nelson (Blues and The Abstract Truth), Coltrane (Africa/Brass) and Kai Winding (The Great Kai and The Incredible Kai Winding Trombones).

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Glasgow Jazz Festival: Warren Vache & Brian Kellock

Blimey, that’s it. I can die happy. I’ve just enjoyed the most sublime seventy minutes of my recent life.. thanks to American cornettist Warren Vache’s duo gig at the Glasgow Jazz Festival with the Scots piano wizard Brian Kellock.

This pair haven’t played together as a duo in almost a decade, which could explain why sparks flew during the concert, notably on a fast My Shining Hour and an equally speedy End of a Love Affair; both numbers distinguished by Kellock’s incendiary playing – outlandish, inventive and flamboyant. It acted as a touchpaper for Vache’s solos which were nothing short of dazzling, particularly on an unaccompanied section of End of a Love Affair.

However, it was the ballads that will live on in the collective memory. I’ll Be Seeing You (possibly the first live version of it that I’ve ever heard) was lifted first by Kellock, with his delicate, gentle and achingly lovely solo which was the essence of minimalism, and by Vache’s similarly poignant solo, an improvement on the original melody.

On a playful Tea for Two, the pair were so utterly in synch in their thinking and so complementary in their playing that it was difficult to believe that they hadn’t been playing it together for years. Mind you, that applied to all the tunes they played – though they wouldn’t have sounded as fresh and thrilling if they had been tried and tested.

The highlight of the evening was a heart-meltingly gorgeous interpretation of Irving Berlin’s ballad What’ll I Do? I have to confess that it was my request – and it exceeded expectations. Vache dished up the most beguiling and tender solo, and Kellock, in a supporting role, gave it the perfect setting. It truly was a thing of rare beauty – I just wish someone had recorded it.

Monday, July 4 

Over the weekend,  I was asked for some of the titles of numbers that were played on Thursday so I’ve decided to start publishing a complete list of tunes played at each concert I go to.

* You and the Night and the Music

* What’ll I Do? (request)

* Tea for Two

* My Shining Hour

* I’ll Be Seeing You

* End of a Love Affair

* The More I See You

* Body and Soul

* Skylark (request)

* blues

* We’ll Be Together Again

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