Live Jazz in Spotlight
This is the maiden voyage for a new All About Jazz column devoted to the recordings of live jazz music. It is the ostensible extension of the recently completed triptych, The Ten Best Live Rock Recordings , The Ten Best Live Jazz Recordings and Live Jazz - The Best of the Rest .
Primarily an improvisational art, jazz and its unique invention are best experienced in a performance setting. That notwithstanding, where jazz clubs or talent are scarce, live recordings provide an acceptable and often preferable alternative.
Each month this column will consider a number of live recordings. These releases will include new discs, re-releases, and older recordings demanding reconsideration. Most of the recordings considered will be jazz, but other genres will also be included. In any event, the music discussed will be as it is best heard Live.
Live at the Green Mill
Live at the Green Mill
Alltribe Records ATRO724
Live at the Green Mill(the Green Mill being the home base for such notable song stylists as Patricia Barber and Kurt Elling. Invading this hallowed ground like a hot Delta day are the B3 Bombers, who lay waste to everything in their path with high funk sanctification. Lead by drummer Clyde Stubblefield (of NPR's Whaddaya Know fame) grounds a crack septet of like-minded funkmiesters. If Stubblefield provides the beat, B3 specialist Dan Trudell provides the grease and guitarist Mike Standal the fire to heat it with. Add the holy trinity of alto and tenor sax and trombone and you have a heaping plate of soul food, steamy and fine. James Brown's "Make it Funky" has Stubblefield providing the godfather's vocal part in a fine manner. Stubblefield proves he can sing the blues on a corrosive "Sweet Sixteen," Standal's staggering guitar propelling the song to its zenith (check out trombonist Joel Adams's duet with Stubblefield and subsequent solointense). Dan Trudell's "Cumulus Day" is a tip to "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" sure to please, like the rest of this very fine recording. Visit the B3Bombers and Alltribe Records.
The Fred Hersch Trio
The Fred Hersch TrioLive at the Village Vanguard
Palmetto Records PM 2088
Cincinnati Ohio-native Fred Hersch is perhaps the finest piano balladeer performing today. On his Palmetto Records debut, recorded live at the famed Village Vanguard, Hersch stays close to home with the majority of the tunes being his own sensitive and expressive compositions. Joined by Drew Gress on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums Hersch displays his more than considerable talents as bandleader. This is Hersch's first live recording since his excellent 1998 faculty recital at the New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall. Characteristic of most of the pianist's shows, Hersche begins with Monk. Here, "Bemsha Swing" is given the royal treatment with a lengthy Hersch introduction that segues perfectly into the total rhythm package that propels Monk through the trio's tasteful vision. Hersch's own "Phantom of the Bopera" betrays his bop chops and allows Waits to show off with an excellent drum solo. The remaining standards, "Some Other Time" and "I'll Be Seeing You" are Hersch's ballad vehicles. This is what he does best. Add to that his propensity for covering more modern jazz, that propensity is illuminated with the "Miyako/Black Nile" Wayne Shorter medley, a piece that supports another fine solo from Waits. This is superb jazz performed in the best venue possible.
XXLLive at the Left Bank
This is a companion disc to the previously released LTD Live At the West Bank (Prestige PRCD 11018-2, 2001). The music on both discs was recorded on a May afternoon in 1969 at Baltimore's Left Bank Society. On XXL, only three pieces appear, betraying the title, explained on the back of the disc; "XXL: three extra-long tracks, by Long Tall Dexter." They are lengthy, the longest (Monk's "Rhythm-a-ning" clocking in at 23-plus minutes). Long a staple of Gordon's band book, the tenorist and his able band give the jazz standard a major workout with all parties taking advantage of ample solo space. Gordon takes two other very familiar tunes for a spin in "Misty" and a rollicking "Love for Sale." Like LTD, XXL 's sonics leave a bit to be desired. But, no matter, the performances are fresh, urgent, and well explored.
Benny Green and Russell Malone
Live at the Bistro
Telarc Jazz 83560
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