Jazz CD Reviews – May

Trajectoire

lol.JPGVoice and lyrics – Ingrid James; Piano and
music – Alexis Tcholakian; Bass – Simon Teboul;
Drums – Thierry Tardieu and Todd Harrison;
Tenor Sax – Simon Spang-Hanssen; Flute –
Mariane Bitran; Flugel – Miroslav Bukovsky;
Guitar – Guillaume Muschalle.

Newmarket Music NEW 3346.2

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Trajectoire is a collaboration between the French pianist composer Alexis Tcholakian and the Queensland based vocalist Ingrid James. Their paths crossed in France when she was performing in a Paris jazz club and he approached her to write lyrics to some of his melodies as part of a vocal project with other singers in France. After completion of several songs together it felt right for them to do an album and in June 2014 Trajectoire was recorded in Paris. Consisting mostly of their original compositions (the one exception being a comely version of the Jimmy Rowles standard The Peacocks with lyrics by Norma Winstone) this vocally outstanding album is now available through Newmarket Music in Australia. Throughout the recording Tcholakian’s pianoforte is flawless on every track. His world-class trio accompanies him dexterously on every move, slipping and gliding through the various stories of love, disillusion, hope and hip jazz life like a Maserati manoeuvring the climbs and gradients of a curving mountainous path. There are highs and lows at every turn and Ms James is always in command vocally at the wheel of this transcendently impressive outing with her flawless technique and gilded timbre. Adding to this are some magical improvisational moments from the wind section especially Simon Spang- Hanssen’s tenor on several tracks and Mariane Bitran’s flute on the title track. Miroslav Bukovsky’s sympathetic flugelhorn on Night Reflection mourns wistfully on a soulful ode to the brevity of life. May their paths continue to cross in many harmonious musical journeys in the future.

– Barry O’Sullivan


 

boby.JPGSomething Personal

Houston Person

HighNote HCD7282

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The ever dependable Houston Person, like so many of the great balladeers before him from Lester Young to Ben Webster and Stan Getz, learns the lyrics of the melodies he plays. The reason is simple – they give a song its meaning, providing the springboard for melodic improvisations. One recalls the surprise of an audience when Webster stopped in the middle of a chorus before explaining he had forgotten the lyrics of the ballad he was playing. Houston, who has always shown his respect for the melody, gives the impression that he could be singing the lyrics as his soulful, expressive tenor saxophone caresses some of the interesting songs he continues to find from The Great American Songbook. This 2015 session follows in the same vein as his previous release The Melody Lingers On (2014): a musical cocktail of warm ballads, bossa-inflected standards and a few swingers. Again he is in familiar company: vibraphonist Steve Nelson, who is now a major solo voice on these sessions, and a top flight rhythm section led by pianist John di Martino with bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Lewis Nash. Guitarist James Chirillo appears on four tracks. Only di Martino did not appear on the previous album. The songs rang from the mid-tempo The Way We Were to the bossa nova styled Change Partners and finally the long version of I Remember Clifford, the best track, on which Drummond takes a fine solo. And to think it was all recorded in one day! I can’t wait for the tenor’s next disc.

– Kevin Jones


 

fjord.JPGFjord

Briana Cowlishaw – voice and composition
Gavin Ahern – piano and composition

Independently released

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A project born out of the picturesque hills of Norway, Fjord recorded by Briana Cowlishaw and Gavin Ahearn comes together and creates a mesmerising performance. Stripped back to piano and voice on the majority of tracks, the album presents a collection of their own compositions and a number of refreshing arrangements of their most loved jazz standards. Both artists trail in and out of improvisation and structure, exhibiting an instinctive empathy for each other’s musical inclinations. Drawing inspiration from Joni Mitchell and Esperanza Spaulding along the way, Cowlishaw delivers an excellent vocal interpretation of her original composition Vertigo and of Gavin Ahearn’s I Said. Hugh Stuckey on guitar paints a silver lining on the former and Gary Hoffman’s haunting flugelhorn is gold dust on the latter. Their interpretations of the six well-known standards are extremely successful on the whole with exceptions That Old Feeling and Estate missing the mark at an earnest attempt of originality. It’s been a busy few years for the singer and pianist on the international scene with numerous club and festival performances in Australia, Europe and New Zealand with highlights including the Hemnes Jazz Festival in Norway. Maybe it’s the years they have played together or maybe it’s a mutual understanding on what they most appreciate about making music; either way the performance on this recording speaks for itself.

– Barry O’Sullivan

These reviews appeared in the May edition of Fine Music Magazine – you can subscribe to our monthly magazine and have it posted to your home or business or click the link here to read online.

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