No Training Wheels Necessary

Ferocious homage mingles with daring fusion, looking both back and beyond

Diana Krall
From This Moment On

The Clayton–Hamilton Jazz Orchestra doesn't split the difference between Billy May and Nelson Riddle so much as aggregate the virtues of each, but they're no more useful than May and Riddle without a commanding singer. And Krall, who's always been able to put over a song, exerts the necessary authority. And if songs like "Come Dance With Me" and "It Could Happen to You" invite Sinatra comparisons, she's up for that too. A MINUS

Bucky Pizzarelli
5 for Freddie: Bucky's Tribute to Freddie Green

The rhythm section tracks Basie's legends well enough—Mickey Roker for Jo Jones, Jay Leonhart for Walter Page, John Bunch for the Count—and Pizzarelli can certainly keep the engine humming. But Green was famous for never taking a solo, which leaves the guitarist in need of someone else for the spotlight. Enter Warren Vaché as Sweets Edison, even lighter on cornet, just enough voice to focus these old swing warhorses, and totally at home. A MINUS


Warren Vaché and the Scottish Ensemble
Don't Look Back

Fronting a phalanx of strings has been a stock dream of virtuosos since before Charlie Parker and Coleman Hawkins, but few have made anything interesting out of the opportunity—two exceptions are Stan Getz's Focus, because of the futurist strings, and Art Pepper's Winter Moon, in spite of them. Vaché might have fared relatively well here—as he has in such intimate settings as his Bill Charlap duet 2Gether—but the 12-strong, baroque-rooted Scottish Ensemble is dead weight. B MINUS

Additional Consumer News


Maurice El Médioni Meets Roberto Rodriguez
Descarga Oriental: The New York Sessions (Piranha)
An Algerian-Sephardic twist on Rodriguez's Cuban-Ashkenazi synthesis.

Billy Stein Trio
Hybrids (Barking Hoop)
After decades of quiet refinement, subtle shadings of guitar, bass, and drums.

Sergi Sirvent & Xavi Maureta
Lines Over Rhythm (Fresh Sound New Talent)
They start with six from Bird, then lose the training wheels.

Ellery Eskelin
Quiet Music (Prime Source)
The avant-saxophonist's title isn't irony, but his sprawling trio-plus-voice doesn't make quiet any easier.

Regina Carter
I'll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey (Verve)
One last swing through the '40s, in remembrance of Mom.

Tomasz Stanko Quartet
Lontano (ECM)
Slow, bleak, haunting, and so subtly understated you'd think inscrutability was the point.

Von Freeman
Good Forever (Premonition)
At 84 he finally learns to relax and stretch out on a ballad.

Mark Helias's Open Loose
Atomic Clock (Radio Legs Music)
Bassist-led sax-drums trio, with Tony Malaby and Tom Rainey on the rough edges.

Samo Salamon Quartet
Two Hours (Fresh Sound New Talent)
Slovenian guitarist hires Mark Helias's Open Loose trio for backup —a gutsy move.

Sathima Bea Benjamin
Song Spirit [1963–2002] (Ekapa)
A jazz singer 40 years out of Africa— the roots thin out, but the pianists keep coming.

Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet
Way Out East (Songlines)
Where wild but princely bassoon and cello roam.

Frank Morgan
Reflections (High Note)
Sooner or later, some of Bird's children grow up.

Dennis González Boston Project
No Photograph Available (Clean Feed)
Working the kinks out on the road to NY Midnight Suite.

John Hicks
Sweet Love of Mine (High Note)
Cut a month before his death: poignant solo piano, plus further proof of how he lifted everyone around him, even Elise Wood's flutes and Javon Jackson's sax.

Sonny Simmons
I'll See You When You Get There (Jazzaway)
Minimal Sonny, his alto sax or English horn solos barely clad in admiring bass, piano, or drums.

Kali Z. Fasteau/Kidd Jordan
People of the Ninth: New Orleans and the Hurricane 2005 (Flying Note)
She fetes the hero of New Orleans, and he centers her eclecticism.


Cheryl Bentyne
The Book of Love

David "Fathead" Newman
(High Note)

Charles Tolliver Big Band
With Love
(Blue Note/Mosaic)

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