The Caribbean Tinge

Thoughtful, passionate jazz musicians feel around a big world, and an old one as well

IAN HENDRICKSON-SMITH
Up in Smoke!
Sharp Nine

A mainstream sax date like they cut all the time in the late '50s: Start with a swinging "The Best Things in Life Are Free," slip in an old ballad, a discreet original, a little bebop, some blues. Nothing ambitious—just an echo of the days when Coleman Hawkins and Dexter Gordon walked the earth. A MINUS

MICHEL PORTAL/STEPHEN KENT/MINO CINELU
Burundi
PAO

Kent's didgeridoo provides the varying hums that place this record at the outer reaches of exotica. Cinelu's percussion and occasional yelp or bark drive it rhythmically. Portal's soprano sax is pitched high and eerie, while his bass clarinet is low and down-to-earth. The African nation that contributed the title accounts for nothing else, except perhaps a world big enough to inspire such otherworldly music. A MINUS

TED SIROTA'S REBEL SOULS
Breeding Resistance
Delmark

As with Mingus, there's more to Sirota's music than his titles. By all means read the booklet. Remember Fred Hampton? Ken Saro-Wiwa? How about Don Cherry? Still, when you get to the music it doesn't matter that the stately "For Martyrs" is programmatic while the lovely "Elegy" is personal. Oppression breeds resistance, but neither makes music. Thoughtful, passionate musicians do. A MINUS

THE VANDERMARK FIVE
Elements of Style . . . Exercises in Surprise
Atavistic

Most of Ken Vandermark's groups are forums where musicians get together and kick shit around, but his flagship group exists just for him. With Jeb Bishop on trombone and Dave Rempis adding a second saxophone—often the lead with Vandermark switching off to big or small clarinet—the Five have one of the most potent horn sections in jazz. Indeed, what's most striking here is how smoothly they play in unison, how smartly they play in contrast, and how sharply they stop and spin on a dime. Each of the first six pieces pursues a distinct idea, and the other—the 20:10 "Six of One"—marshals at least as many more. For once, the risks and daring of free jazz are arranged as precisely as in a crack big band. A


Dud of the Month

MICHAEL BRECKER/JOE LOVANO/DAVE LIEBMAN
Saxophone Summit: Gathering of Spirits
Telarc

These three eminent saxophonists should work and play well with others by now, but on this evidence need to repeat kindergarten. They state the heads simultaneously rather than together, then go off and trade lines from different books. They start out thinking blowing session, then lapse into their beloved ballad repertoires, and wind up playing free—in their case the aural equivalent of a food fight. The nadir comes when they switch off to play with their favorite old-world flutes. C PLUS


Additional Consumer News

Honorable Mention

FRED ANDERSON
Back at the Velvet Lounge
Delmark

On his home court, with a full band behind him, he feels comfortable enough to toss us a soft one.

JOE LOCKE & 4 WALLS OF FREEDOM
Dear Life
Sirocco

Replacing the late Bob Berg with the great Tommy Smith, the vibes master pauses, ponders, and carries on.

DAVE BURRELL FULL-BLOWN TRIO
Expansion
High Two

Avant-ragtime, skeletal Berlin, Andrew Cyrille marches on, William Parker delights on kora.

LAFAYETTE GILCHRIST
The Music According to Lafayette Gilchrist
Hyena/Shantytone

Go-go beats and funky bass—free your ass and the pianist will jump, jive, and wail.

HENRY KAISER & WADADA LEO SMITH
Yo Miles! Sky Garden
Cuneiform

More dividends from Miles's electric period, the change of trumpeters food for thought.

ARILD ANDERSEN
The Triangle
ECM

Smartly nuanced, delicately balanced trio with pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos, who got star billing last time.

KRIS DAVIS
Lifespan
Fresh Sound

Piano trio plus three horns do her bidding without clutter or show.

KEN VANDERMARK/ BRIAN DIBBLEE
Duets
Future Reference

A whole album of Vandermark bass clarinet, wrapped around the bassist's lovely melodies.

IGNASI TERRAZA TRIO
IT's Coming
TCB

Mainstream piano, the bass mixed up to make it a real trio, remarkable for its balance and warmth.

BILL BRUFORD'S EARTHWORKS
Random Acts of Happiness
Summerfold

Latin-tinged rhythms, lush piano, Tim Garland's bright sax—the good life.

HIROMI
Brain
Telarc

Eclectic postmodern piano trio, more or less, with a penchant for gadgets and kung fu.

ROY HAYNES
Fountain of Youth
Dreyfus

His secret is that he keeps his bands young, but they only want to play what Haynes played with Monk and Coltrane when they were young.


Duds

GEORGE BENSON
Irreplaceable
GRP

WAYNE ESCOFFERY
Intuition
Nagel Heyer

FOURPLAY
Journey
Bluebird

ANTONIO HART
All We Need
Downtown Sound/Chiaroscuro

KEITH ROWE/AXEL DÖRNER/FRANZ HAUTZINGER
A View From the Window
Erstwhile

SPYRO GYRA
The Deep End
Heads Up

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