The talented and prolific pianist Hiromi is back with Place to Be. It seems that with each release, Ms. Uehara only gets better and stuns the listener with her trademark virtuosity of fingers soaring all over the piano keys. Hiromi composed ten of the twelve tracks, and in her liner notes, she explains her thinking behind the unique song titles.
Place to Be, Hiromi’s sixth album, is full of power and passion, and stirs the emotions of the listener. Trying to aptly describe her music and its effects with mere words is quite difficult. This listener will make a humble attempt at signaling out some of the stellar compositions on Place to Be.
Hiromi kicks things off with “BQE.” Named after NYC’s Brooklyn-Queens Expressway-it’s fast-paced and jammed packed with movement. It’s clear what she was going for with this tune. “Choux a la creme,” the second track, really showcases Hiromi’s deftness on the keys. Midway, there’s a playful duel between the keys and the bass. It’s simply fabulous! “Bern, Baby, Bern” is the shortest track on the album. It’s so fast-paced and dizzying (in a good way), that three minutes is all that’s needed.
“Somewhere” slows things down a little. With a lightness of touch, she creates a plaintive melody-a welcomed deviation from her usual. The eight track is a marvelous interpretation of “Pachelbel’s Canon.” Her improvisation of this classic seems so effortless, that it’s easy to forget it wasn’t originally composed this way.
Hiromi’s music is usually classified as jazz; however, it’s so much more than that. The passion and authority in her playing goes beyond genre as it transports the listener to another place. Hiromi and Place To Be are simply magnificent!
Take a look and a listen at Hiromi in action!
I’ve Got Rhythm
The Tom and Jerry Show
Miles Davis’ masterpieces was released on August 17, 1959. It was recorded in only two days earlier that year. The sessions featured Davis’s sextet, which consisted of Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly on piano, Jimmy Cobb on drums, Paul Chambers on bass, and John Coltrane and Julian Adderley on sax.
Here’s Davis performing “So What,” the first track on the album:
Listen to what musicians have to say about this classic album.
Recently, I put out the question “Which instrument the sax or the trumpet is more important to jazz?” Take a look at the following videos, and then cast your vote. Please send me your comments and suggestions on other great jazz performances and artists.
On the sax, Paul Desmond with Dave Brubeck on the piano – “Take Five”
Miles Davis on trumpet – “Tutu”
Or is a combo better?
Miles Davis on trumpet, John Coltrane on the sax – “So What”
Cast your vote!
The legends Chick Corea and John McLaughlin have reunited! Forty years after their sessions with Miles Davis, they’ve assembled a stellar jazz quintet. Corea and McLaughlin met in 1969 and the first song they played together was Davis’ “In A Silent Way.” They also appeared together on the Davis’ groundbreaking jazz/funk album Bitches Brew.
Corea and McLaughlin are virtuosos on the piano/keyboards and the guitar respectively, and have led successful and prolific solo careers that helped shape jazz. Their double-album Five Peace Band Live captures their new quintet on the first leg of its European tour. Joining Corea and McLaughlin are Christian McBride on bass, Kenny Garrett on alto sax, and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums.
The album contains complex acoustic jazz, burning jazzy funk, some Corea and McLaughlin solo career classics, and a nice tribute to Miles Davis, who brought Corea and McLaughlin together in the first place. The set begins with McLaughlin’s fiery “Raju,” with Garrett’s sax blowing the tune to new heights and Corea giving it some additional harmony. Corea’s “Hymn to Andromeda” runs almost 28 minutes and begins with him on the piano. McBride delivers a moving bass solo as then the rest of the group joins in, with Garrett delivering another set highlight. “New Bruise, Old Blues,” another McLaughlin original, is the funkiest tune on this album; Corea adds his most instinctive moves on the synthesizer. “Senor C.S.” has been reworked as a high-speed samba that begins with a Corea/McLaughlin duet that demonstrates the friendly bond that makes this pairing so special. Again, Garrett and his horn steal some moments from the duo.
Five Peace Band Live closes with a tribute to Miles Davis, reworking “In a Silent Way/It’s About That Time,” with Herbie Hancock accompanying them on the piano. Corea and McLaughlin close the show with “Someday My Prince Will Come, which Miles made famous.”
Five Peace Band Live is an exceptional opportunity to hear two masters create something which points to their individual accomplishments as well as creating something with a new personality. This musical pairing is a very important collaboration for today’s jazz world.
Grammy-award winning veteran pianist Chick Corea teams up with the up-and-coming Japanese composer and pianist Hiromi Uehera on the two-disc Duet. With three generations between them, Corea and Uehera may seem like an odd pairing, but they play off each other like two friends who learned their instrument from the same teacher at the same time. They are totally in sync with each other. Corea seems as youthful and energetic as the 30-year-old Hiromi, while she performs with talent beyond her years
Duet documents the two pianists’ three nights of live duet performances at the Blue Note Tokyo. The selections chosen for this set are varied; covers of Bill Evans, George Gershwin, Thelonious Monk, Lennon- McCartney, and Antonio Carlos Jobim compositions to original compositions from the two pianists.
The first CD includes an original by each pianist as well as four covers. Monk’s “Bolivar Blues” and Lennon-McCartney’s “Fool On The Hill” attract attention on Disc One. The second disc contains four originals, two a piece. Gershwin’s “Summertime” is included on this disc, and the closer is a lovely melding of Joaquin Vidre Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez” with Corea’s “Spain.”
Duet is masterful. It’s a great combination of two extraordinary pianists from different generations and cultures who, with the ivories, communicate with each other passionately and quite effectively.
Here they are performing “Summertime”
On April 7, 1915, Billie Holiday was born under the name of Eleanor Gough.
She started out singing in Harlem, in small clubs, such as The Hot Cha Cha Club and the Shim Sham Club. She was discovered by jazz promoter John Hammond, who arranged for her to record with Benny Goodman.
She was posthumously given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987 and three of her recordings received Grammy Hall of Fame Awards: Strange Fruit (1939), God Bless the Child (1941) and Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)” (1945).
She wrote an autobiography, titled Lady Sings the Blues (1956), which was later made into a movie in 1972, starring Diana Ross. Billie died in New York City on July 17, 1959, at the age of 44.
Here’s a clip from her film New Orleans: The Blues Are Brewin’
She got the nickname of Lady Day from the sax player Lester Young. Here’s a clip of them performing: Fine and Mellow
Roots Propaganda, the newest album by the Paul Carlon Octet, is strong and smooth from beginning to end. Carlon – a saxophonist, bandleader, and composer – has assembled a powerful group of multi-cultural musicians, and created a dynamic jazz set, with elements of Brazilian and Afro-Cuban rhythms. The trombones, saxophones, percussion, tribal chants, flutes, and the vocal talents of Christine Durandy all contribute to the wonderful sound and spirit of Roots Propaganda.
“Backstory” is full of Latin rhythm and flavor. The horns, percussion, and boom-boom beat, along with Ms. Durandy’s words and humming vocals, make this a strong opener. “Ochun,” with its joyous saxophone, tribal chant, and flute, is Afro-Latin music at its best. The next song, “Moro Omin Ma” has a similar feel to it, with a dash of Brazil. Here, Durandy is doing the chanting. “Nobody Knows When You’re Down and Out” and the title track are swinging and the most upbeat songs on the album; the former, with its toe tapping rhythm, and the later, with the horns battling each other.
Roots Propaganda goes back to the roots of classic American jazz and Afro-Latin music, along with some swing and funk. Roots Propaganda is a great collection that will please the jazz aficionado as well as the fans of Latin rhythms.
Carol Duboc’s new release Songs For Lovers is just what it promises – a smooth collection of romantic tunes for couples. Ms. Duboc, while not a household name, has been around for a long time and has written songs for others musicians, including R&B artists Patti LaBelle, Stephanie Mills and Chanté Moore. On Songs For Lovers, her third album, Duboc wrote all the new material, and produced the album with her musical arranger Tom Carmon.
Ms. Duboc’s style is a mix of jazz and R&B, and her lyrics and songs are uplifting. The album is perfect mood music for a romantic evening, or just for relaxation. My Valentine, the first single is a nice opener. Other songs that standout on Songs For Lovers are Brownies and Wine, Around You, and Night Moods. The latter is my favorite song from this album, reminding me of Sade’s Smooth Operator days.
Two highlights on this album are instrumentals, with Duboc on the piano. Passion and A Longing are the shortest songs on the album, and serve almost as interludes to the other more upbeat songs.
Duboc does a great job covering two R&B classics, Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing and Roberta Flack’s Feel Like Making Love. She adds her special touch to these songs. Sexual Healing is a bit slower than Marvin’s and sung in a way that it could initially pass for another song. Duboc takes the sexy lyrics slowly, giving them the chance to be savored. Duboc’s version of Feel Like Making Love is more upbeat than the original, with a tinge of funk. While a fan of the original, this listener favors Duboc’s version a little more.
Songs For Lovers is a great collection for easy listening and for when you’ve got romance on your mind and want to set the perfect mood.
Carol is singing “Sunny” on the jukebox to the right.
Watch an interview with Duboc on Smooth Jazz TV here.
Visit her MySpace page and listen to songs from the new album and some of her previous work: http://www.myspace.com/carolduboc
Chris Botti’s 2002 holiday set, December, is comforting; a much needed and welcomed feeling during this last month, and often the most stressful time, of the year. It’s clear the holidays aren’t always the most joyful time for all, so comfort and joy are the gifts Botti offers with this collection. Yes, there’s a feeling of melancholy at times, but that’s fine, because that’s what true jazz does sometimes.
Botti’s trumpet always sets an intimate and soothing ambiance, and that is exactly what we get here. Most of the songs are instrumental, and not drenched with jingly bells. Botti takes on vocal duties on two songs: Perfect Day and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Winter Wonderland gets a swinging rendition and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town gets a Brazilian beat. O Little Town of Bethlehem has romantic piano accompaniment. And it’s quite a surprise to hear a Leonard Cohen tune on a Christmas album, but Hallelujah appears here. I’ll Be Home For Christmas closes December, and it’s smooth, uplifting, and a perfect ending to a great CD.
This lovely collection will appeal to fans of jazz, easy-listening and fusion. Chris Botti delivers comfort and joy with ease and style.
I will be seeing Chris Botti perform at the legendary Blue Note in New York City tomorrow evening and I can hardly contain my excitement.
For more on Chris Botti, mainly his latest release, Italia, see my October 28th post: Viva Italia!* This CD was reissued in 2006 with Ave Maria replacing Perfect Day.
Check out these live performances:
Lover Man with Gladys Knight
A Song For You with Michael Bublé
The Look of Love with Paula Cole and Burt Bacharach
My first exposure to trumpeter Chris Botti was in 1999 from the front row at Sting’s Brand New Day concert in Miami. As I am good with names, I recognized it when I saw some of his CD’s at the record store a couple years later. After debating over which album to buy, I settled on his The Very Best Of collection. It was just a taste though, and I craved more of his smoothness and his interesting interpretations of standards.
I am a big fan of his Christmas album, December, mostly because it’s not the same old holiday fare. His masterpiece though is 2004’s When I Fall In Love. It’s my favorite of his albums, and the album that made critics realize that Botti was worth their attention and recognition. The follow up, To Love Again, is a great set as well. It’s all duets with Botti and his favorite singers, including Sting, Paula Cole, Gladys Knight, Steven Tyler, and Michael Bublé.
His interpretations are thoughtful and his original compositions are impressive. He’s smooth without actually being in that Smooth Jazz category. He improvises, and has a touch of Miles, but doesn’t go on for twelve minutes. He’s in a genre of his own, and that’s what makes him so remarkable.
His current release, Italia, is a formidable set of compositions ranging from film music to classical opera, along with the newly composed title track. It captures the romance and sweeping atmosphere of Italy, and shows Botti’s strength as a composer and interpreter.
The opener, Deborah’s Theme (from Once Upon A Time In America) and Gabriel’s Oboe (from The Mission) are works of the accomplished Italian composer. While Morricone’s original Deborah’s Theme is entirely classical with a full orchestra, Botti interprets it with very little accompaniment, letting his trumpet shine on this shorter version. The title track, Italia, is a duet with one of Italy’s greatest tenors, Andrea Bocelli. Bocelli’s passion for music and his homeland bring this song to a higher level. Having the Tuscany-born Bocelli here is a wonderful addition to Botti’s tribute to Italy. Paula Cole, a frequent collaborator of Botti’s, offers her sensual vocals to a new rendition of Ray Noble’s The Very Thought Of You. Botti’s trumpet adds a touch of magic to the 1957 vocal recording of I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face by Dean Martin. Had Dino been alive to hear this, he would’ve been as pleased as Botti must be. Puccini’s Nessun Dorma from the opera Turandot gets a stunning interpretation. Ave Maria is done so beautifully here; there’s a choir to create the religious and breathtaking characteristics of Schubert’s masterpiece.
Italia will transport you to the lushness and romance of Italy with the very first note. Botti brings new life to old standards and adds something extra to already perfect compositions. His work only continues to improve with each new release. Italia is masterful and quite beautiful, and evidence that Botti is the premier trumpeter of his time.
Go to the Blogroll on the right to view some of Botti’s live performances.
Free bonus track downloads/CDs at: Chris Botti