Jazz CD Reviews – July

Capture.PNGEverything’s Beautiful
The Robert Glasper Experiment
Miles Davis & Robert Glasper
Columbia/Legacy
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Robert Glasper’s new album Everything’s Beautiful features imagined reinterpretations of songs by Miles Davis.The album dives into masters and outtakes from the Miles Davis’ Columbia Records era. Robert Glasper is joined by British soul singer/songwriter Laura Mvula, hip-hop producer Rashad Smith, Grammy-nominated Australian neosoul quartet Hiatus Kaiyote, jazz guitarist John Scofield and the legendary Stevie Wonder just being fabulous on harmonica on Right On Brotha; plus some other artists featuring riffs, new takes and samples of the ‘general badass’ Davis talking in the studio to his musicians. For some time now Robert Glasper has been channeling the inspired works of Miles Davis, most evident with his contribution to the forthcoming Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead. If you are a jazz snob and expect to hear classic Miles Davis trumpet on a stemless Harmon mute then this music is definitely not for you. They don’t make it like that anymore unfortunately; but luckily jazz is in evolution just as it was in those years with Davis from the mid ‘40s to the early ‘90s when he was in the thick of almost every important innovation and stylistic development of that period. Davis more often than not leads the way in those changes both with his own recordings and by choosing sidemen and collaborators who forged new directions. This recording is virtual proof that the evolution is still in progress today. I was enchanted by the standout tracks of Erykah Badu’s Maiysha (So Long) and the Australian ensemble Hiatus Kaiyote’s contribution on Little Church, and captivated by the vocals of Laura Mvula on Silence Is The Way and KING on Song for Selim. Just in these works alone Glasper has built something unique but still unquestionably Miles. The cover art was created by Francine Turk integrating elements of Miles Davis own artwork. Turk creates a visual that embraces the idea of Robert Glasper, taking fragments of Miles music and re-interpreting these fragments in a unique, modern and far from ‘silent way’.

– Barry O’Sullivan


Capture.PNGBallads
The Idea of North
ABC
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A new recording from critically acclaimed a cappella ensemble The Idea of North showcases the group at its very best, performing beautiful songs in cleverly constructed, new vocal arrangements. Using just the voices of the four members – soprano Sally Cameron, alto Naomi Crellin, tenor Nick Begbie and bass Andrew Piper – they sing songs from ABBA to Sting and the Bee Gees to Cold Chisel. They are joined by guest artists, the supremely talented jazz vocalist and composer Kristin Berardi, the arranger and tenor Ed Fairlie, the altoist Joy Hague and the Japanese vocal percussionist Kaichiro Kitamura. The origins of this album lie in a long-held concept of inviting audiences to live concerts whose content consists solely of lush, serene and gentle songs which encapsulates this ensemble’s numerous and highly successful Ballads by Candlelight series. The Idea of North has performed these concerts around Australia and internationally in beautiful acoustic spaces in capital cities and small towns. Highlights are many on this recording but standouts include Ode To Oli, My One and Only Love, Flame Trees and Too Much Heaven though each track is a gem in its own right. Faultless technique combines with luscious harmonies in an ensemble that sings with empathy and impeccable intonation making this a ‘must have’ for lovers of vocals with a modern twist.

– BOS


Strangely Beautiful
Tim Jones, tuba
Stephen Magnusson, guitars
Frank Di Sario, double bass
Niko Schauble, drums
Recording, mixing and mastering at Pug House Studios, Melbourne.
Independent release: http://tassietimstuba.bandcamp.com/album/strangely-beautiful
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When jazz began in New Orleans after WWI, the tuba supplied the rhythmic bottom. As the music spread to Chicago, New York and beyond, the tuba spread with it, but was soon replaced by the more precise double bass. The hard-to-control, but easy to parade with, tuba soon disappeared from jazz almost everywhere else but not in the music’s birthplace New Orleans where even today, having a tuba in the band remains standard operating procedure. Now on this recently released recording, Strangely Beautiful, from tuba playing Tasmanian Tim Jones, this charming instrument resurfaces together with traditionally associated jazz instruments of Steve Magnusson’s guitar, Frank Di Sario’s double bass and Niko Schauble’s drums infusing familiar tunes with a playful edge. The selected melodies style and arrangements are best described as comfort food jazz that won’t send chills up and down your spine but rather soothe and caress you gently all over with warmth. Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man, Pennies From Heaven and Someone To Watch Over Me are enjoyably pleasant and the haunting slide guitar of Magnusson on track including What Kind of Fool Am I gives an added dimension. At the heart of it all is Tim Jones’ superb tuba playing that makes this album a winner for lovers of relaxed, laid back jazz.

– BOS


These reviews appeared in the July 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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