Monday, March 19, 2012

Something Coming

Some new CDs out or due out about now ...
Marshall Gilkes Sound Stories (Alternate Side ASR 005)
An exceptionally attractive CD featuring trombonist Marshall Gilkes and tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin in a selection of the former’s compositions. Backed by pianist Adam Birnbaum, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, and drummer Eric Doob, the two horn players ably display their fluent talent on thoughtful ballads and hard swinging yet still lyrical pieces. Although resident in New York for more than a decade, Gilkes decided to move to Germany where he joined the WDR Big Band, an organization very well known to jazz record collectors around the world. Performing at venues around the world, and teaching at leading music institutions wherever he travels, Gilkes has built an excellent reputation and the music on Sound Stories confirms that the acclaim is entirely justified. Matching Gilkes is McCaslin, whose reputation is similarly international and equally justifiable. These are very fine musicians with a lot to say and the skill to say it with great flair.

Pete Zimmer Prime Of Life (Tippin’ TIP 1108)
This latest album from drummer Pete Zimmer vividly demonstrates why he is so highly regarded. His playing is light, subtle and always swinging and with Peter Bernstein, guitar, and Peter Slavov, bass, he builds a flowing, rhythmic undertow that takes their music along with enviable energy. The fourth member of this quartet is tenor saxophonist George Garzone whose wit and invention are apparent at every turn. The music here is all from the pens of Zimmer (six titles) and Garzone (three titles) and all are melodically attractive and spacious, allowing opportunities for solos, mainly from Garzone and Bernstein, that are fiery and inventive. Previous albums by Simmer include Common Man (Tippin' TIP 1101), Burnin' Live At The Jazz Standard (Tippin' TIP 1102), Judgment (Tippin' TIP 1103) and Chillin' Live @ Jazz Factory (Tippin' TIP 1104) and all are fine examples of contemporary jazz played by some of the best young jazzmen around today.

Michael Treni Big Band Boy’s Night Out (Bell Productions)
This sleek set by Michael Treni’s 16-piece big band is his fourth since returning to music after a long spell in the outside world. After studying trombone and music theory, Treni played with many leading musicians but after being pipped at the post by Curtis Fuller for a job with Art Blakey, he decided to turn his attention to composing and arranging in the commercial music field. This was in the late 1980s and this, together with innovative work in wireless technology is how he has since spent much of his time. Fortunately, Treni never lost his love for jazz and for the past decade he has been writing for and playing with a big band that he has filled with an interesting mix of seasoned veterans leavened with a few brightly shining newcomers. The music played here includes three Treni originals that sit comfortably alongside pieces by Leonard Bernstein, Something’s Coming, George Shearing, Lullaby Of Birdland and Billy Strayhorn, U.M.M.G.. There are also a couple of charts by Jerry Coker. Many good soloists can be heard, among them Jerry Bergonzi, Vincent Cutro, Frank Elmo, Charles Blenzig and, of course, Michael Treni. Good music, well played, and a treat for fans of contemporary big band music for whom, these days, there is never enough around.


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