Friday , March 1 2024
Here are quick takes on a mix of jazz albums you might have missed.

Jazz Potpourri: Art Pepper, Julie Lyon Quintet, Michael Snow and Thollem McDonas, and More

Omnivore Recordings continued its monthly Art Pepper reissues with the March release of Volume Two of the sax great’s Neon Art. The three tracks on the remastered CD were recorded in Japan in November of 1981. Pepper fronts a quartet featuring pianist George Cables, bassist David Williams, and drummer Carl Burnett playing an 18-minute version of “Mambo Koyama” (a Pepper original composition), a soulful take on “Over the Rainbow,” and a bop romp through “Allen’s Alley.”


Volume Three, due for early April release, contains three more tracks recorded in Japan by the same ensemble. It includes two Pepper originals, “Make a List (Make a Wish)” and “Arthur’s Blues,” and “Everything Happens to Me.” Julie Lyon debuted her Julie Lyon Quintet in late 2013 with Julie but Unseen Rain put it out again this past January. It is a swinging 10-tune collection culled mostly from the standard repertoire – songs like“Love for Sale,” “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “All or Nothing at All,” and “Comes Love.” Tom Cabrera (her husband) is on drums and Bobby Brennan on double bass. Trumpeter and alto clarinetist Matt Lavelle and guitarist Jack DeSalvo complete the ensemble.

Two Piano Concert at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, released last October by Edgetone Records, is a live recording of a January 31, 2014 concert by pianists Michael Snow and Thollem McDonas in conjunction with Michael Snow: Photo-Centric, a retrospective of the pianist’s photography. The concert, labeled Chamber/Improvisation by Edgetone, consisted of three freely improvised pieces titled simply “Part 1,” “Part 2,” and “Part 3.” It is the kind of avant-garde material that will appeal to a more adventurous audience.

two PianoA more accessible duo, Roger Davidson on piano and Pablo Aslan on bass, is spotlighted with their February release, Live at Caffe Vivaldi, Volume I. In 2012, Davidson’s Soundbrush Records inaugurated a Wednesday night series at the Greenwich Village Caffe Vivaldi as a safe place for their recording artists to work on new material and develop new ideas. A year later they started recording the performances. Here then, are some of the results. The 11-track set includes eight Davidson original compositions supplemented by Irving Berlin’s classic “How Deep Is Live-at-Caffe-Vivaldithe Ocean,” Stelvio Cipriani’s “Anonimo Veneziano,” and Angel Villoldo’s “El Choclo.”

Speaking of accessibility, The Miami Jazz Project’s self-titled album released last fall can, as the liner notes indicate, “be regarded as an extension of the tradition that Miles and other bands like Weather Report laid down.” The set includes both acoustic and electrical tracks with “stylistic elements rooted in mainstream jazz, blues, jazz rock and world music.”

The album’s 10 tracks feature nine original compositions by Project members Dave Liebman (soprano and tenor sax), Arthur Barron (tenor and alto sax, flute) and Abel Pabon (keyboards). They illustrate the group’s varied influences from the exotic Middle Eastern flavors of “Lordy Lourdes” and “Jinnistan” to the short Tibetan chant of “Blessing Eternal,” which serves as an introduction to “Slow Dance on the Killing Ground.”miamifinalcover

Take Me There, a November release from The Louis Romanos Quartet, sports a dozen tracks composed and arranged by drummer Romanos. The songs range from the quirky and infectious “Klesmer” to curl-up-by-the-fireside ballads like “Second Song” and “Lovely.” Dan Sumner plays guitar, Neal Starkey, bass, and Alex Noppe does sweet work on trumpet and flugelhorn.

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