Wes Montgomery, Samuel Blaser Quartet, Wayne Horvitz, John Patitucci, Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet (ALBUM REVIEWS)

Take Five is a seasonal jazz column by Glide contributor Doug Collette, who will be taking snap-shot reviews of recent jazz albums…

Wes Montgomery/In the Beginning (Resonance):  ‘Early Recordings From 1949-1958,’ deserves the sumptuous packaging and meticulous annotation within the enclosed fifty-six page booklet because the musicianship transcends the sound quality (understandably so given it was recorded between five and six decades ago!?). Occasional vocals disrupt the flow of the tracks to some degree, not because they’re lacking, but because what surrounds them remains, after all these years, so original and so vibrant. Musical lessons abound throughout these two CD’s  and not just for fledgling (or even well-practiced) guitar players.

Samuel Blaser Quartet/Spring Rain (Whirlwind Recordings): Samuel Blaser has developed his very own voice on his chosen instrument, the trombone, so it makes perfect sense his style of writing proceeds directly from such an intuitive approach. In both realms of Spring Rain, he patently explores the nooks and crannies within the melodies and rhythms and does so with such delicacy, he moves his colleagues to do the same. The drama that ensues as they all interact generates a level of  suspense that is as tranquilizing as it is provocative.

Wayne Horvitz/Some Places Are Forever Afternoon (Songlines): Subtitled ’11 Places for Richard Hugo,’ this is a multimedia presentation of a sort, a glossy color booklet within the package featuring the poems that inspired the music accompanied by almost equally vivid photographs. The music stands on its own terms, as individual pieces and a collection, however, the material as carefully played as it is arranged. Still, not one iota of mechanical musicianship emanates from the septet so  listening to this album in its entirety is akin to an aural time elapsed experience.

John Patitucci Electric Guitar Quartet/Brooklyn (Three Faces Records): Drummer Brian Blade so often commands attention, it’s little surprise this record begins with a fluid roll into mesmerizing stringed instrument interplay. Leader/bassist Patitucci erects a firm foundation that nevertheless shifts sufficiently to inspire his comrades, including guitarists Adam Rogers and Steve Cardenas, while Blade displays his usual savvy in relegating himself to percussion punctuation that, not surprisingly,  heightens the effect of the interactions around him.

Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet/The 21st Century Trad Band (Basin Street Records): The soft glow that emanates from Marsala’ vibes deftly offsets the childlike merriment with which he plays, so that this music equally lifts and lulls. The topical spoken word interlude on track eight thus becomes somewhat disconcerting, but that cut does provide a effective point of demarcation for the sprint to the finish of the album, ultimately making for a listening experience worth working to grasp.

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