Narell, TISQ, Broom, Brecker and Camilo

Take Five, is the first in a regular Jazz column by Glide contributor Doug Collette, where he’ll take five recent releases and size them up.

Andy Narell /Tatoom (Heads Up Records): Steel pan master Andy Narell goes to great lengths to make each new recording different from its predecessors and this effort was recorded one instrument at a time, right down to the sax solos from David Sanchez and the guitar spotlights from Mike Stern. Given that process, it’s all the more remarkable that the music flows with such warmth: the steel drums interweave with percussion in such a way melody and rhythm are all but indistinguishable from each other. And, as smoothly tuneful as it is, this music will not allow itself to become merely background sounds.
Turtle Island String Quartet/A Love Supreme– The Legacy of John Coltrane (Telarc): As startling as this may seem in its conception, it’s no less dazzling in its execution. TISQ manage to preserve the spiritual and emotional heart of Coltrane’s material, whether self-composed like the title suite or music associated with him such as Monk’s “’Round Midnight.” No less miraculously, these four musicians/arrangers also nurture the awe-inspiring sense of freedom conjured up by the modern giant of saxophone, while still maintaining the intimacy and attention to detail inherent in their lineup.
Bobby Broom/Song and Dance (Origin): The erstwhile guitarist (for Sonny Rollins among many others) mixes original songs and covers of unusual sources—the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love,” Jimmy Webb/Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman”– in a way that features the strengths of the compositions as well as those of the trio. Uncluttered production emphasizes a clarity of sound that further highlights how it’s possible to take a straightforward approach to recording and playing and in so doing, freshens the basics of the jazz ethos. Consequently, the title of the CD retains a wry undercurrent of irony as these musicians are doing anything but just going through the motions.
Michael Brecker/Pilgrimage (HeadsUp): With no disrespect intended for the late Michael Brecker, the fact this CD represents his last work before his untimely death is its least notable aspect. For one thing look at the cast of contributors: Metheny, Hancock DeJohnette, Mehldau. Add to that the estimable roster and the reality that each man, engaging in brisk vigorous improvisations of their own, as well as light as feather transitions, plays as if the session were his own. Then absorb the reality that Brecker himself, as if knowing he faced his demise imminently, plays as if every solo he had played before led directly to the one in progress. This is a truly startling piece of work and a crowning achievement on its own terms a well as the adieu of a great musician.
Michel Camilo/Spirit of the Moment (Telarc): The simplicity of a jazz trio session is always refreshing no matter the instrumental alignment, but that’s especially true of Camilo’s latest because he is truly back in his element after the ill-conceived Rhapsody in Blue experiment. Piano/drums/bass seems to be nothing more or less than the Dominican’s niche for his playing flowers and his seemingly endless flow of inspiration carries over into the musicianship of his accompanists. DirectStreamDigital recordings such as this are always a great pleasure to hear on their own terms but in this particular case, the clarity and presence of the sound is a metaphor for the concept at work and the execution of it by Camilo and Co.

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