Turn Up The Quiet
Diana Krall’s latest CD finds her returning to what she does best: singing and playing swing standards. There are no
attempts as in her last few projects to play stride piano of the 1920s, eccentric “modernizations” of vintage songs, or
searches for nonexistent treasures in current pop tunes. With Russell Malone, Marc Ribot or Anthony Wilson on
guitar, Christian McBride or John Clayton on bass, drummer Jeff Hamilton, and four songs with a string orchestra
arranged by Alan Broadbent, Ms. Krall is heard in comfortable settings with old friends.
This is very much an easy-listening set perfect for romantic backgrounds. Most of the tunes (such as “L-O-V-E,” ”I’m
Confessin’’ and “Moonglow”) are taken at relaxed slow-to-medium tempos. Other highlights include “Like Someone In
Love,” “Blue Skies,” the lightly swinging “No Moon At All” and a delightful rendition of “I’ll See You In My Dreams.”
Krall is in good voice, her concise solos fit the songs well (all but two of the performances clock in between 3:16-4:39),
and there are fine spots for the guitarists and violinist Stuart Duncan.
While there is not much chance-taking heard on Turn Up The Quiet (and no song with that title is included), Diana
Krall fans will easily enjoy this likable effort, available from www.universalmusic.com.
The Dave Pell Octet
Plays Irving Berlin, Rodgers & Hart and Burke & Van Heusen
The recent passing of Dave Pell (1925-2017) at the age of 92 nearly closes the door on the West Coast Cool Jazz
movement of the 1950s with Jack Sheldon and Bill Holman being among the last survivors. Pell, who played with Les
Brown’s orchestra during 1947-55, was a cool-toned tenor inspired and influenced by Lester Young. In 1953 he began
leading the Dave Pell Octet, one of the finest cool jazz combos of the 1950s. Their series of recordings during that
decade still sound fresh and lively today. While Pell would have success in later years as a studio musician, a record
producer, and the leader of both Prez Conference (a band that played Lester Young solos) and a later octet, it is for his
1950s albums that he will always be best remembered.
Producer Jordi Pujol of Fresh Sound was a good friend of Pell’s and, after hearing of his passing, he compiled a two-CD
set that has all of the music from the first three albums by the Dave Pell Octet. The 40 performances, which
generally clock in around three minutes apiece, contain a great deal of music in a brief period of time. The octet on
these recordings consists of Pell, trumpeter Don Fagerquist, trombonist Ray Sims, Ronnie Lang on baritone, flute and
alto, one of three pianists (Jeff Clarkson, Donn Trenner or Claude Williamson), guitarist Tony Rizzi, bassist Rolly
Bundock, and Jack Sperling or Bill Richmond on drums. Lucy Ann Polk, whose warm but quiet voice was perfect for
the group, takes eight vocals. The Octet performs arrangements from many notable writers including Shorty Rogers,
Wes Hensel, Marty Paich, and one apiece by Jerry Fielding, Johnny Mandel, Bill Holman, Bob Enevoldsen, Jack
Montrose, Med Flory, Jim Emerson and Buddy Bregman. The voicings are tight, the solos are brief but colorful, and
the sound of the octet is distinctive.
While there would be other recordings by the Dave Pell Octet in the 1950s, this two-fer is the perfect place to start in
discovering the music of this definitive cool jazz combo. It is available from www.freshsoundrecords.com.
Wynton Kelly Trio and Wes Montgomery
Smokin’ In Seattle
Zev Feldman and George Klabin have done it again. Previously they had discovered and released on the Resonance
label quite a few valuable and previously unknown sessions by such artists as Bill Evans, Jaco Pastorius, The Three
Sounds, Sarah Vaughan, Larry Young, Stan Getz, Charles Lloyd, Freddie Hubbard and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis
Orchestra. In addition, due to arrangements with his estate, two historic and very musical Wes Montgomery sets
have been issued. Echoes Of Indiana Avenue and In The Beginning
While those Wes packages focused on his early period, Smokin’ In Seattle was recorded in 1966, two years before the
great guitarist’s death. His June 24, 1965 live recording, Smokin’ At The Half Note, which teamed him with pianist
Wynton Kelly, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Jimmy Cobb, is justly acclaimed as one of his finest outings.
Montgomery also teamed up with the group (with Ron McClure on bass) for the Sept. 1966 studio album Full House.
Smokin’ In Seattle, which has the same quartet (with McClure), consists of a pair of half-hour radio broadcasts from
Apr. 14 and 21, 1966. None of the music has been available before.
A particular treat is that each of the five-song broadcasts starts with two guitarless numbers that put the focus on the
wonderful Wynton Kelly. He swings particularly hard on “There Is No Greater Love” and his medium-tempo blues
“Sir John,” playing chorus after chorus of very inventive and boppish ideas. The music is quite irresistible.
Wes Montgomery is also in top form on his six numbers (two of which fade out when the broadcast ends), playing
some especially imaginative chordal solos which stretch far beyond his trademark octaves. These versions of
“Jingles” and “West Coast Blues” are particularly memorable.
A special bonus is the 40-page booklet which is filled with information, notes by Pat Metheny, and interviews of
Kenny Barron, Ron McClure and Jimmy Cobb. All Wes Montgomery and Wynton Kelly fans will want this highly
recommended set, available from www.resonancerecords.org.
Richie Beirach & Gregor Huebner
Live At Birdland New York
Pianist Richie Beirach and violinist Gregor Huebner have played together on a regular basis since 1996. Both are
superior jazz artists who have a strong interest in classical music. Long ago they created a way to improvise on
classical pieces while paying respect to the melodies and moods of the original music.
To celebrate Beirach’s 70th birthday and Huebner’s 50th (they were both born on May 23), and as part of the
celebration of the ACT label’s 25th anniversary, they performed and recorded a live set at Birdland. Joined by bassist
George Mraz, 76-year old drummer Billy Hart (with whom Beirach has played for more than 40 years) and, on some
selections, trumpeter Randy Brecker, Beirach and Huebner perform a wide-ranging set of material. Their repertoire
includes a modernized but swinging version of “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” intriguing explorations of “Around
Bartok Bagatelle #4” and Bach’s “Siciliana,” an original apiece by the co-leaders (Huebner’s “African Heartbeat” and
Beirach’s “Elm”), and John Coltrane’s “Transition.”
Brecker contributes a few blazing trumpet solos and the Mraz-Hart rhythm team is unbeatable, but the main focus is
on the co-leaders. Both prove to be very much in their creative prime, creating music that rewards repeated
Live At Birdland New York is easily recommended and available from www.actmusic.com.
Art Pepper & Warne Marsh
Unreleased Art: Volume 9
Laurie Pepper, Art Pepper’s widow, has worked hard to keep the legacy of the great altoist not only alive but thriving.
In addition to her work in overseeing the reissue of some of his recordings for other record companies, on her Widow’s
Taste label she has now released nine previously unknown and consistently brilliant programs of music.
Unreleased Art: Volume 9 is one of the most ambitious, a three-CD set recorded at Donte’s on the night of Apr. 26,
1974. At the time, Pepper and tenor-saxophonist Warne Marsh had not worked together in 18 years nor seen each
other in almost as long a period. No matter, in this jam session setting they were clearly mutually inspired. Pepper
was in the early stages of his very successful comeback. While he normally played a lot of originals with his own
group, on these 13 jazz standards he was clearly having a great time, playing with fire and explosive emotions. He
pushes Marsh, who normally was heard playing quiet improvisations with a cool tone but here is as heated as the
altoist. Pianist Mark Levine (Bill Mays takes his place on the closing “Cherokee”), bassist John Heard and drummer
Lew Malin keep up with the two saxophonists.
Many of the songs are taken uptempo including “All the Things You Are,” “Donna Lee,” “Lover Come Back To Me,”
“Rhythm-A-Ning,” “Yardbird Suite” and “Cherokee “ The solos, tradeoffs, and joyous ensembles are hot, competitive
and full of spirit. The recording quality of these private tapes is decent if not up to the level of a studio recording, but
the playing more than compensates.
This is one to get and treasure. More information is available from www.straightlife.info/widowstaste.html.
Swingin’ In Space
Tyler Pedersen is a veteran bassist whose powerful playing has been an integral part of a variety of Retro Swing and
blues groups including those led by Johnny Dyer, William Clarke, Kid Ramos and San Pedro Slim. Swingin’ In Space
is his debut recording as a leader.
On his 11 originals, Pedersen seeks to not only invigorate jump blues but to move it into the 21st century, away from
nostalgia, recreations and predictability. In addition to his bass playing, he is heard soloing on the four-string guitar
while joined by rhythm guitarist Nathan James and drummer Craig Christensen. The music includes several blues
at different tempos and a variety of new jump tunes. While the music is an outgrowth of late 1940s/50s jump music,
Pedersen’s adventurous guitar playing also includes aspects of 1960s/’70s rock and modern jazz along with his own
open-minded musical personality.
The danceable music swings throughout while sounding fresh and infectious. This enjoyable outing is available from
Katie Thiroux is an excellent Los Angeles-based bassist and a personable singer whose phrasing sometimes recalls
Diana Krall. Her second CD as a leader has many bright moments.
Ms. Thiroux is joined by pianist Justin Kauflin, drummer Matt Witek, and Ken Peplowski (during five of the ten
songs) on clarinet and tenor. Two of Peplowski’s numbers also add Roger Neumann on soprano and tenor.
While the musicianship is top-notch throughout with Peplowski sounding consistently brilliant, the main strength to
this CD is the treatment of the material. The program begins with the obscure and witty “Off Beat” which was
recorded decades ago by June Christy. Other highlights include the warm vocal on “When Lights Are Low,” the
joyous “Brotherhood Of Man” (an early 1960s show tune that has the same chord changes as “The Saints”), the bop
classic “Ray’s Idea,” a sly “Some Cats Know,” and a warm two-tenor rendition of “”Happy Reunion.” The funky closer,
“Willow Weep For Me,” features Katie Thiroux as an unaccompanied singer-bassist.
All ten performances are well worth hearing on this delightful outing which is available from www.caprirecords.com.
Scottsdale Desert Nights
Not too long ago at a used record store, I ran across Danny Long’s Jazz Furlough. The excellent trio album from the
early 1960s was a bit of a revelation, featuring a pianist who I had never heard of sounding in excellent and swinging
form. The liner notes say that one of his main boosters was Bobby Darin and that Long clearly had a great future and
would soon be going on tour. A search of discographies revealed that he had recorded a little bit in the 1970s on
electric piano but otherwise seemed to be lost to history.
However a bit of detective work and help from pianist-singer Judy Roberts revealed that Long was not only alive and
well but had worked regularly in Phoenix since 1980, not only in night clubs but as an educator and on commercials.
Fortunately he also recorded a series of privately issued CDs that are available locally and feature him not just as a
jazz pianist but as a fine singer too.
Scottsdale Desert Nights is a perfect place to start in discovering Danny Long’s musical talents. With fine backing by
bassist John H. Daley (who also takes some short solos), Long plays and sings 15 of his favorite standards plus three
originals (two instrumentals and his touching ballad “Here’s The Day”).On such numbers as “I’m Old Fashioned,”
“Stella By Starlight,” “You Must Believe In Spring,” and “I Concentrate On You,” Long shows that he has not a thing
through the years. His piano playing is inventive straight ahead jazz, his vocals do justice to the lyrics, and he
always displays a solid sense of swing, In addition, Danny Long always puts on a good show, uplifting each song he
Scottsdale Desert Nights is one of a dozen or so Danny Long CDs that are available from the pianist at
The Late Trane
1965 was the year that much of John Coltrane’s music became atonal, Pharoah Sanders made his group a quintet,
and intense sound explorations began to dominate his music. Many of Coltrane’s fans became bewildered at his music
during this final period although he picked up other listeners who were amazed by his ecstatic flights.
The Late Trane has the British saxophonist Denya Baptiste (mostly on tenor) exploring seven Coltrane pieces from the
1965-67 era plus the slightly earlier “After The Rain” and two of his own complementary originals. Although he uses
a similar instrumentation as Coltrane (with pianist-keyboardist Nikki Yeoh, Gary Crosby and/or Neil Charles on
bass, drummer Rod Youngs and, on three of the performances, tenor-saxophonist Steve Williamson), he does not copy
Coltrane’s approach or frameworks. Baptiste has a mellower tone and a quieter style. He wisely does not seek to equal
or top Coltrane’s intensity. In addition, the rhythm section does not attempt to play as if it is 1966.
Most of the songs have been rarely performed or recorded since the 1960s, so this CD is full of “new” material. “Dusk
Dawn” is given a Mid-Eastern atmosphere and, near its conclusion, it adopts a reggae groove. Yeoh’s piano is
outstanding on this number. “Living Space” is played melodically with the focus on Baptiste’s attractive tone
“Ascent” begins with the same bass riff originally played by Jimmy Garrison and the performance has its explorative
sections. However it is also a bit danceable due to the bassline and, with Yeoh on electric keyboard, it sounds a bit like
it is from the Bitches Brew era that Coltrane did not live to see.
“Peace On Earth,” a tenor-piano duet, is quietly emotional, out-of-tempo and spiritual. “Transition” stays relatively
mellow while “Neptune” gets into a funky groove. “Vigil” has the two tenors playing around each other while
drummer Rod Youngs states complex rhythms. The somber “Astral Trane” (which has a long, slow and stretched-out
melody statement), “After The Rain,” and a brief tenor-bass duet on “Dear Lord” end this surprisingly thoughtful CD
Denya Baptiste is to be credited for being himself while exploring late John Coltrane. The Late Trane is available from
From The Deep
Erica Papillion-Posey is a rarity, a talented opera singer who has decided to switch her career towards jazz. Her debut
jazz recording, The Standard Reimagined, featured her in excellent form mostly singing ballads and standards. From
The Deep is another step forward.
A powerful singer who cuts loose whenever inspiration strikes, Ms. Papillion-Posey has her own sound. Her style is
very expressive (she really tears into “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise”) yet also shows subtlety on some of the other
numbers, most notably her “Chemistry.” She does not leave her opera training behind but instead adapts it to
perform straight ahead jazz. Joined by pianist Tenia Nelson, bassist Eric Wheeler (who is prominent on “Estate”),
drummer Alex Tripp, and occasionally Eric Jordan on tenor and clarinet, the singer performs five originals, Bizet’s
famous “Habanera” and three familiar standards. She even successfully tackles a blues on “JuJu” which has a nice
spot for Al Chesis on harmonica.
The mostly high-powered music makes for a rousing listening experience. It is available from www.epapillionposey.
Sit Back Relax & Unwind
The J.M.I. label (www.jmirecordings.com) recently was born, specializing in releasing high-quality Lps by jazz
artists. Their first Lp features Steve Wilson on alto and soprano performing in a quartet with pianist-keyboardist Ray
Angry, bassist Ben Williams and drummer Willie Jones.
The six selections consist of five songs drawn from other genres beyond jazz (including David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”)
plus a Wilson original. Although this is an instrumental set, the liner notes primarily consist of the lyrics to four of
the tunes. The music overall is relaxed, grooves and flows as much as it swings, and has solos from Wilson that are
melodic and occasionally heated. “Sit Back, Relax & Unwind” is a spiritual-sounding medium-tempo piece, “6/74”
has a passionate alto solo and a good spot for Angry’s electric piano over a funky rhythm, and the post bop piece
“Songly Speaking” is an excellent showcase for Wilson’s soprano. Side Two has Wilson’s blues-based “Jake’s Place,”
“Rest Of Our Times” (a soprano feature that starts out as a ballad before picking up steam), and a soprano-piano duet
on “Space Oddity.”
The music is pleasing and accessible but also has plenty of subtle creativity. Steve Wilson sessions are always worth
acquiring and this one is no exception.
Mamiko Watanabe Trio
Flying Without Wings
An excellent modern jazz pianist whose playing builds on the innovations of Bill Evans and early Herbie Hancock,
Mamiko Watanabe has developed her own voice as a performer and a songwriter. On Flying Without Wings, she
performs seven originals plus fresh renditions of “Like Someone In Love” and “Caravan” in a trio with bassist Santi
Debriano and drummer Francisco Mela.
While Ms. Watanabe can play powerfully as she shows on “Different Angles” (which has some masterful bass playing
by Debriano) and “It Will Be,” she is especially winning on the more subtle and laidback performances such as the
thoughtful “Letter” and the emotional “Caipirinha.” Other highlights include the Monkish “Palette” which has a
witty melody, and an inventive “Caravan.” The pianist is particularly skilled at drawing out and embracing
melodies. She often builds her improvisations not only from the chord structure but from the mood of the themes.
Debriano and Mela are major assets throughout the set, playing with subtlety and following the pianist’s ideas very
This is first-class trio playing from a pianist who deserves to be much better known. Flying Without Wings, Mamiko
Watanabe’s latest recording, is available from www.mamikowatanabe.com.
Nonet/Big Band/Sextet 1955-1958
One of the greatest jazz bassists of all time, jazz’s second cellist (after Harry Babasin) and a fine songwriter, Oscar
Pettiford was possibly the first bassist to lead his own big band.
This historic two-CD set from the Uptown label (www.uptownrecords.net) is comprised of previously unreleased
material taken from radio broadcasts. The recording quality, while not state-of-the-art, is quite listenable. The first
five songs have Pettiford leading an all-star nonet in 1955 with such soloists as trumpeter Art Farmer, altoist Gigi
Gryce, and Jerome Richardson on tenor. Most of the rest of this twofer is from 1957 and features Pettiford’s big band,
an ensemble comprised of two trumpets, one trombone, two French horns, four saxophonists, piano, harpist Betty
Glamann (who often has a prominent role), bass, drums, and Pettiford on cello and lead bass. With Lucky Thompson
and Gigi Gryce contributing most of the arrangements, Pettiford and Gryce bringing in many originals, and such
soloists as altoist Gryce, trumpeters Donald Byrd and Ray Copeland, tenor-saxophonist J.R. Monterose, trombonist
Jimmy Cleveland, and pianist Dick Katz, there are many great moments hear from this largely forgotten orchestra.
The last ten selections on the second disc feature Pettiford in 1958 leading a sextet that includes trumpeter Johnny
Coles, Sahib Shihab on reeds, pianist Hod O’Brien and Betty Glamann.
The generous set (which has over 158 minutes of music) also includes a very informative 40-page booklet. Lovers of
1950s bebop, big bands, and Oscar Pettiford will certainly want to get this valuable package.