The Jazz Project

January 2019

464

Tous des oiseaux ••••
Eleni Karaindrou, piano
Savina Yannatou: voice

Vangelis Christopoulos: oboe; Yiannis Evangelatos: bassoon
AlexandroBotonis: violoncello
Dinos Hadjiiordanou: accordion 
Aris Dimitriadis: mandolin; Eleni Karaindrou: piano 
Sokratis Sinulos: Constantinople lyra, lute
Nikos Paraoulakis: ney; Stefanos Dorbarakis: canonaki
Giorgos Kontayannis: percussion, Cretan lyra 
String orchestra conducted by Argyro Seira
There is a real sense of dramatic narration about this performance, which is highly considered, thoroughly idiomatic, and bursting with contained subtlety and enchantment. This feeling of being so close to life, and yet so elusive and unfathomable, is breathtaking. These are haunting melodies embroidered with Eleni Karaindrou’s finest pianistic tracery, a marvel of scintillating pianistic prowess, imagination and finesse. Throughout the album the music attains the perfect blend of each performer’s caressing, fine-spun tone and long-breathed phrasing ­­– muscular and athletic where power and agility are called for, but ever alert to the lyricism which lies beneath the surface to shape the whole orchestral music with rapture and precision. Naturally, the spotlight falls unashamedly on the superbly resilient and brilliant soloist Savina Yannatou: everything beautifully in place, gentle, soothing, immaculate. The range of inventive interpretation that Ms. Yannatou weaves around each of her songs is given full scope to blossom and grow. With a kind of ecclesiastical sovereignity, intensified by the beauty of her voice, Ms. Yannatou reminds us of war on the powerful piece, “War,” the enigmatic but with more human warmth of love on “Encounter,” followed by “Lament,” “Confession,” and the visionary future of “Love Theme.”

Trio Tapestry ••••
Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone, tarogato, gongs
Marilyn Crispell: piano
Carmen Castaldi: drums, percussion
The music of Trio Tapestry demands a transcendental technique and a burning poetic commitment, a magical amalgam achieved with delicacy, drama and finesse by saxophonist Joe Lovano. But folks, let’s be honest. Joe Lovano is a great jazz artist, without a doubt. Elegantly sculptured and full of instrumental poignancy and insouciant contrapuntal virtuosity, these are thoughtful and strongly characterized performances which make much of the individuality of each work taken at rather steady tempos, with soft and sustained textures and gentle colours. Mr. Lovano plays each song with rare tenderness and aural translucency. Take a listening to “Seeds Of Change,” “Mystic,” and “Tarassa.”

Imaginary Friends ••••
Ralph Alessi, trumpet
Ravi Coltrane: tenor and sopranino saxophones
Andy Milne: piano
Drew Gress: double-bass
Mark Ferber: drums
This album from Ralph Alessi consolidates and confirms our sense of a unique vision and poetic passion for music. Here, simply and assuredly, is jazz, one of the most emotionally affecting musical creations. Dare to say, in some sense, jazz is the music of the gods? Presumably so, since jazz at the height of its auditory perfection is the full symphony of a portrait of nature. On trumpet Mr. Alessi is pure class, and along with Ravi Coltrane on saxophones the result is the magic of its creation, especially on the title track, “Imaginary Friends.” Both musicians play with clean, seemingly effortless articulation and intonation laced with full emotional restraints in the main themes, bring magical moments. The recording is in every way first-class, splendid presence and space, vivid in detail and truthful in perspective. Highlights include “Iram Issela,” “Oxide,” and “Pittance.”

Bob Baldwin presents Abbey Road and the Beatles •••
Bob Baldwin, piano, keyboard
“Bob Baldwin presents Abbey Road and the Beatles” is Bob Baldwin’s 25th album, and marks the pianist-keyboardist’s 30th anniversary as a recording artist. For this project, Mr. Baldwin explained that he wanted to interject his own reharmonized view of the Beatles music while keeping the original melodies pure. The musician, who plays piano, keyboards, bass, drums, melodica, and vocoder, plies his soothing tenor voice to the session. The first is a reading of John Lennon’s signature piece that Mr. Baldwin soulfully reinvents as “Imagine (Living As One)” and adds sweet soprano sax from Euge Groove. Other prominent soloists include vocalist CeCe Peniston on “(Don’t Wanna Be) The Fool on The Hill”; flutist Ragan Whiteside serenely illuminates “Michelle (My Girl)”; and noted jazz-R&B singer Lori Williams, who brings a nuanced grace and elegance to Paul & Linda McCartney’s “My Love.” Mr. Williams also charms on the Beatles salute that she wrote with Mr. Baldwin, “Abbey Road,” which the pair perform as a vocal duet. Songs like “Come Together (Can We All Just Get Along?),” “(Mellow) Yellow Submarine,” “And I Love Her,” “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby” swing and groove like never before, rebuilt from the ground up on the back of the artist’s meticulous jazz and urban arrangements. Anchoring the rhythm section are drummer Tony Lewis and bassist Dave Anderson, who craft deep pockets seasoned with a smattering of percussion from Café Da Silva.