CD Reviews - February 2008
by George Fendel

A Jones For Bones Tones, Conrad Herwig, trombone.
The title of this CD is a clever turn around on the familiar “Tones For Joan’s Bones,” and also a signal (if you think about it) that trombonist Conrad Herwig herein embarks on a salute to trombonists who have influenced his musical pallet. Among the best known of them are Frank Rosolino, Slide Hampton, J. J. Johnson and Curtis Fuller. The album consists entirely of Herwig’s original tributes and the quintet features a second trombonist in Steve Davis. As he has done on past albums, Herwig once again scores here with a fresh thematic approach. Bone players, don’t overlook this one!
Criss Cross, 2007, 59:44. 

Future Day, The David Finck Quartet, David Finck, bass.
You’ve seen David Finck’s name all over the place in supporting roles, so finally it’s time for him to put out a CD under his own name. And how about Joe Locke, vibes; Tom Ranier, piano; and Joe LaBarbera, drums as colleagues? Toss in scintillating guest appearances from Jeremy Pelt, trumpet, and Bob Sheppard, tenor sax, and you have something that sounds intriguing from the get-go, right?  The album acts primarily as a showcase for the compositions of players on the date, but standards “Nature Boy,” “For All We Know” and “Firm Roots” all create a nice balance. Superb writing and musicianship abounds here!
Sound Brush Records, 2007, 55:35. 

Jazz, Baby, Doug Beavers Rovira Jazz Orchestra.
Here is your opportunity to bring up baby on some legit jazz with a swingin’ band and vocals by Matt Catingub and Linda Harmon. I have two grandkids in Philly and one on the way in L.A., and you may be sure that they’ll love receive copies of this delicious disc. Included are swinging versions of kiddy tunes like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Hush Little Baby,” “The Ants Go Marching In” and “You Are My Sunshine,” among others. If there’s a toddler in your family, check into this one. It starts ‘em out in a swinging musical environment.
Origin, 2007, 32:23. 

This Time Around, Sandy Kastel, vocals.
This CD is quite a production, with a Nashville area big band, and a bevy of strings on some numbers. Kastel is well suited as a big band singer, in fact I’d say she’s more that than a jazz singer per se. A few of the arrangements are a bit ‘poppy’ for me, and songs like “Danke Schoen” and “Strangers In The Night” don’t represent the upper echelon of song writing.
Silk And Satin Records, 2007, 64:13. 

Air, Frank Kimbrough, piano.
Frank Kimbrough may be looked upon by some as an avant gardist, but I simply hear a very creative player who reveres the sound and understands the importance of every single note. There’s a near poignancy and sadness to some of his originals, and pick up on some Monk in addition to Kimbrough’s own expressive creations. Not for grandpa Leo, but worth hearing.
Palmetto, 2007, 47:15. 

What’s Going On?  Tom Dempsey, guitar and Tim Ferguson, bass.
This striking duo has been playing in and around New York City for some twenty years, and one can certainly recognize the result in both ease of performance and some deep musicianship. Primo selections include Billy Strayhorn’s “Isfahan,” Charlie Haden’s rarely heard ballad, “First Song” and some attractive arco bass playing on Mal Waldron’s classic, “Soul Eyes.”
City Tone Records, 2007, 64:11.

Comet Ride, Willie Williams, tenor and soprano saxes.
Having worked with everybody from Art Blakey to the Mingus Dynasty, Willie Williams brings an impressive resume to what I find to be a very cerebral, but not too melodic CD. His trio (with bass and drums only) misses the balance of a piano. Williams possesses an historical tonal approach, but I just didn’t find his original music to be exactly riveting.
Miles High Productions, 2007, 76:30.

Cheesecake, Bob Leto, drums.
Drummer Bob Leto gets the byline here, but itís guitarist Tim Siciliano who creates all the excitement on an album of jazz and bop originals like Seven Steps To Heaven, Infant Eyes, Inner Urge and the title tune, Cheesecake. This is a tightly knit trio, skillfully interpreting some pretty challenging material. This is just how a jazz guitar trio should sound. Recommended!
Consolidated Artist Production, 2007, 50:44.

 Float Like A Butterfly, Mike Longo, piano.
I seem to recall Mike Longo from the ‘70s or ‘80s as an early fusion guy, so how surprised was I when this straight ahead trio CD appeared?  Longo and pals play it for real -- meaning real nice bop piano on “Dancing In The Dark,” “Witch Hunt,” “Tenderly,” “It Could Happen To You,” “Laura,” “Evidence and even the old warhorse, “Girl Of My Dreams.” I like it, I like it!
Consolidated Artist Productions (CAP), 2007, 58:56.

 Oceano, Shannon Bryant, vocals.
I can’t categorize Ms. Bryant other than to say she’s not a jazz singer. Her album of all original compositions may hold some interest to the pop or New Age listeners. The use of synthesizer does nothing to enhance her music; and enunciation, a common problem in the pop world, is something she needs to address.
Bela Estrela Music, 2007, 42:13.

Live At Cafe Metropol, Kim Richmond Ensemble.
Over a period of years, you may have spotted the name Kim Richmond in the personnel of many a big band. Now the alto maven presents a sextet that plays with gusto on “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” “Invitation,” “Never Let Me Go,” “The Peacocks” and a few cheeky originals. Richmond can be mellow one moment, strident the next. But his players will hold your attention.
Origin, 2007, 61:39.

Copyright 2007, Jazz Society of Oregon