Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jazz Arts Trio - Tribute

Rightfully so, indeed, more tributes to Oscar Peterson continue to appear. The Jazz Arts Trio combines six tunes by this late piano legend, known for his trios, with reinterpretations of songs featuring other trios lead by famed pianists Erroll Garner, Bill Evans, Vince Guaraldi, Herbie Hancock and Horace Silver.
Tribute, recently released on JRI Recordings, is an attempt to re-create specific moments in jazz history.
Pianist Frederick Moyer, bassist Peter Tillotson and drummer Peter Fraenkel are three friends reuniting after 30 years. Since playing together in high school and going their own ways, they got back together in 2007 when Moyer was thinking about transcribing and learning the music of his favorite recordings.
After purchasing the Amazing Slow Downer, software that slows down music without changing the pitch, Moyer began to capture moments of improvised jazz expression and he is demonstrating the ability to explain the art to a classical music crowd.
Much like the way classical musicians interpret Beethoven or Bach, this truly special project takes the music of jazz legends and explains it to these incredibly capable performers, mainly schooled in the classical realm.
In liner notes by Scott Yanow, Fraenkel describes his chore of transcribing brush strokes, cymbal splashes and drum rolls. “Figuring out what those guys actually played and then performing it is sort of like breaking the genetic code,” says the drummer who spent hours listening to the likes of Louis Hayes, Bobby Durham and Grady Tate in preparation.
Vince Guaraldi’s tune “Freeway” throws a curve into the mellow, middle part of Tribute. With Peterson material taking up the first four and final two of the CD’s 11 tracks, the Guaraldi song is a fun, almost Monk-like surprise stuck in the centre. Unmistakably eye-opening on a record full of stars, it is shocking that his work is not more well-known. Before writing the music behind the Peanuts cartoon series, he spent time as an apprentice with Cal Tjader and Woody Herman. His first album, Modern Music from San Francisco, was recorded in 1955.
“Lonely Woman,” a Silver original is a chance to relax the toe-tapping and appreciate a remarkably basic selection. It serves as an impeccable intermission and a gentle jaunt before the tribute to Oscar carries on.
‘Blues Etude’ completes the project with the Jazz Arts Trio going for and executing a hard-bop vibe in a big way. It punctuates Peterson’s appeal and underscores a slick set.
Moyer plays with classical orchestras all over the world and he deserves credit for assembling this project with his extremely talented mates in order to preserve pieces of a jazz legacy. Moyer’s skill and forward thinking, along with his stunning band makes Tribute a relevant salute to Peterson and other piano greats.

Tim Turvey - Autodidactic

A dazzling jazz drummer first, for sure; Tim Turvey is also an upcoming multi-instrumentalist and composer with an aptitude for recording his work himself.
In a brief four-song debut EP, Autodidactic, the Brantford, Ontario native demonstrates sharp, thundering skills on his primary instruments as a percussionist. Piano, clarinet, bass and guitar work is all his doing, as well, and fans of jazz fusion will eat this up for a snack.
A particular style is not easily identifiable in the roughly 15-minute project.
Turvey may be mistaken for Cecil Taylor during the menacing keyboard attacks on the second track, “Improv For Thirteen.” Piano and clarinet hiccup, starting and stopping in a meandering march. Quiet and loud, strange, chunky beats erupt after nearly five minutes of the EP’s most daring moments.
“Strict Nine” is Turvey’s answer to “Take Five.” A swinging highlight of the CD, it is driven by the drone of the clarinet, leading into a bold bop chorus.
A smooth, drum-free number, “In Pulse” continues the instrumental theme through to the end track. It is a peaceful conclusion to a release full of creatively bent jazz, pumped full of life by a pilot of percussive pathways.
As well as an independent musician, Turvey is a member of Ragaffaire, a Hamilton-based group playing music of Northern India & Hindustani origins. He is also a member of the Indie Rock group, No Orchestra and the Free Improv group In Orbit Trio.
Other projects include partnerships with the Association of Improving Musicians Toronto, AIM Calgary & the Kitchener-Waterloo Improvisers Collective.

Heloisa Fernandes – Fruto

Even without the team of dynamic percussionists and fine string accompaniment, Fruto is a masterpiece of arrangement and composition.
Brazilian pianist Heloisa Fernandes can tickle both the hearts of those with a taste for a quieter, more elegant classical palette and those whose survival is based upon jazz in their blood.
Vocal beats in “Colheita” create an epic, fundamental sound featuring only piano and multiple musicians creating choral rhythms together.
Bottomless, dark violin tones change the character of Fruto during the fourth number. Assuming the entire record will be set in a cheerful scene becomes a fleeting thought. A string duo stabs away with sorrow before Fernandes re-enters and stylishly brings spirits back up again in “Crianca,” interestingly spiraling through nine minutes.
Pounding her way along the keys and through the record’s most apocalyptic track, “Trilhos Urbanos” is the only song not written by Fernandes. Caetano Veloso gets credit for this tune, one that lets loose and devastates the quite casual sound of the album.
Two drummers, a percussionist and a guest percussionist (Nana Vasconcelos) do get their rest time, allowing for Zeca Assumpcao (contrabass) to guide the pianist to another level – one of a jazz duo. After a challenging, genre-splitting ride, a 90 second finale called “Rita” is simple goodbye in conclusion.
Tracks eight through 14 move quickly along through entirely improvisational material and juxtaposed against a creatively crafted first half of the CD, they create an atmosphere needing to hear more.
A solo recording is in the air, one can hope. Alone, her arrangements stand-up strongly but with this group of musicians behind her the sound is determined and complete – making for magnificent Brazilian flavored modern music with jazz in it’s soul.