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Bebop Spoken There

Avishai Cohen (trumpet): "This is my main thing right now: Live in the here and now, take things one day at a time. I'm stopping everything I can, and stripping everything to the bone. I'm spending a lot of time listening to music, playing, going for walks, enjoying my kids." - (DownBeat June 2020).

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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

CD Review: John Di Martino - Passion Flower

John Di Martino (piano/arranger); Eric Alexander (tenor sax); Boris Kaslov (bass); Lewis Nash (drums) + Raul Midon (vocal, Lush Life).
(Review by Lance)

Compositions by Strayhorn, piano and arrangements by Di Martino, tenor by Alexander and top notch bass and drums - what could go wrong?

Nothing!

Fourteen superb compositions by Strayhorn. Compositions that, somehow or other, managed to keep Duke's name off the credit sheet. As a composer, Bill - as his mother called him - was surely Ellington's equal although the truth will probably never be known as to their overall relative input.

Still, that is one for the historians and the investigative journalists - they haven't yet come to a verdict on Shakespeare/Bacon so we may have to wait a bit longer. What is important here is the music we're hearing and it is well worth hearing. Alexander has long been my favourite American tenor player which means my favourite tenor player! He reincarnates Dexter, Wardell, Hank, Joe and so many more Bb reed players without losing his own individuality. Tone, phrasing, ideas - he has them in spades.

Leader Di Martino made a good choice - not least in sitting himself on the piano stool. His solos and arrangements totally capture the images Strayhorn created. Like Duke, the titles fit the tune. Daydream is just that, a languorous  statement of the theme followed by some agitated tenor sax that suggests the daydream may be moving towards stormy waters. However, Di Martino and Kazlov on bass restore tranquility before Alexander takes it out in a frenzied coda.

Possibly Strayhorn's best known piece, Lush Life, receives a smoky baritone vocal from Raul Midon that slots in easily alongside the various male singers that Ellington used over the years.

Away from the Ellington Orchestra, I don't think Sweet Pea's music has ever been better presented. From the swinging Johnny Come Lately to the exotic Lotus Blossom via U.M.MG (Upper Manhattan Medical Group) and other classic pieces this is the real deal.

Back in the day, I worked alongside Hughie Aitchison (father of Colin - our man in Hong Kong) who knew more about Ellington than Ellington himself and I would have loved to be able to go back in time, listen to the album and dissect it with him. I suspect he may have liked it - I certainly do.

Like a flower, it's a lovesome thing.
Lance


Johnny Come Lately; Lush Life; Rain Check; Star-Crossed Lovers; Isfahan; Chelsea Bridge; Daydream; Passion Flower; U.M.MG; Blood Count; Take the A Train; A Flower is a Lovesome Thing; Absinthe; Lotus Blossom.

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