Friday, June 28, 2013

Parque, The Earworm Versions

Parque, a Portu- guese new music avant improvi- sation group with six members, performed three pieces as part of Ricardo Jacinto's "Earworm Exhibition" at Culturgest/Lisbon. Parque: The Earworm Version (Shhpuma 003) is the recording of that performance. The group consists of Nuno Torres, alto saxophone, Ricardo Jacinto, cello and percussion, Nuno Morao, melodica and percussion, Joao Pinheiro, vibraphone and percussion, Dino Recio, percussion, and Andre Sier, electronics.

This is high abstraction music and each piece seems to have pre-planned compositional guideposts and what the liner notes call "instrumental devices concept," all by Jacinto. There is live interactive electronics software developed by Sier and utilized for the first two works. The third work brings in a "Pendular Speaker". The second, longish work includes a sci-fi narrative from "The Left Hand" by Hugo Brito.

That gives you the nuts and bolts of what is going on. The sound of the music is an evolution, an original contribution in the "tradition" of high outside, often electronically expanded modernist live music as MEV, AMM, Il Gruppo and the Spontaneous Music Ensemble pioneered it back in the early days of European improv. It is fascinating, full-fledged avant music of a very high order. If you know what all that means you will like this. If you have an adventurous spirit you will like this.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Eddie Daniels & Roger Kellaway, Duke at the Roadhouse, Live in Santa Fe

When things are clicking in jazz-improv- isation-land one always prays that "the tapes are rolling." That was most fortunately the case when Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway did a concert at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe. Duke at the Roadhouse (IPO 1024) captures it in fine fidelity. It's in a way a reminiscence of when clarinetist/tenor saxist Eddie Daniels was graced with the unforgettable opportunity to sit in with Duke Ellington at the piano in a small club when Eddie first made his mark in New York. But it's more than that. Sure it consists of Duke compositions, "Perdido" by Tizol and an Eddie original that gives the CD its title. While they pay the compositions the super respect they deserve, they are arranged in a modern way for Eddie plus Roger Kellaway with his inimitable way on piano and, most of the time, some terrific cello from James Holland.

Any Duke fanatic like me will remember the sides Duke recorded with Oscar Pettiford on cello (along with Strayhorn) so the cello is no afterthought.

What makes this disk a standout is the piquancy and freshness of the arrangements. But the inspired improvisations coming through that night, most especially Daniel's clarinet and Kellaway's piano, are also exactly to the point. They are marvelously energized. I don't think I've heard either quite so relaxed and lucid. Holland's cello adds very much and there are some rare moments for Eddie on tenor.

In the end this is one bang-up set. Duke, swing tradition and the "ever after" of these artists at a peak make for pure pleasure!! Do not miss it. If it sounds like you'd like it, I can't imagine you wouldn't.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chris Greco Quartet, Trane of Thought, 1994

Why does an album as good as Trane of Thought (GWS FourWinds 71959), recorded in 1994, take so long to come out? Whatever the reasons, they aren't about the musical quality. To the credit of composer-saxophonist Chris Greco, he's been very prolific, creating compositions that are getting attention, and like all of us he has to raise money to eat as priority no. 1. And in the end it doesn't matter, as long as the music is here now.

This is a grouping of eight Greco compositions plus Mal Waldron's classic "Soul Eyes," played by a together quartet of Greco on reeds, electric guitarist Brad Rabuchin, Dean Taba on acoustic bass, and Kendall Kay on drums and conga.

The music has a post-Trane torque (though Greco doesn't sound like Trane exactly, more himself) but with the changed texture that the substitution of guitar for piano can bring. Rabuchin comps nicely and can solo well too and Greco has a very creative solo approach. The rhythm section swings and burns with a quiet but busy fire. And the pieces have genuine substance.

I am sorry I missed this Greco conflagration back then, but very glad to catch up with them now. This is a real sleeper!

Monday, June 24, 2013

June Tabor, Iain Ballamy, Huw Warren, Quercus

The world of the ECM sound has never been an entire strang- er to folk music. Garbarek has done some things with Norwegian folk melodies and others too, for example, but it is not entirely typical for the label.

So when vocalist June Tabor, saxophonist Iain Bellamy and pianist Huw Warren begin their album Quercus (ECM B0018267-02) with an old Robert Burns lyric set to a traditional folk melody, and they do it with a folk purity yet an ECM ambiance, one's ears perk up. The rest of the album weaves in and out of old English folk worlds and tuneful ECM extensions, and then dips into a songbook standard and things contemporary-timeless. One feels transported.

June's voice is lovely in the way Sandy Dennis used to sing when she did the way-back songs; there's something tender and real there. And Ballamy's sax and Warren's piano ECM-ize it all with their own version of the lyrical sound. Warren sometimes sounds like he's playing a folk harp, yet he isn't. Other times he soars with articulated ECM soulful classicism. And otherwise he gives out with his own purity. The same applies to Ballamy's sax obligattos and solos. He does not sound like Jan Garbarek, which is I suppose a feat in itself once this sound opens to the air, but the tenor has its own post-Trane purity too.

This is marvelous music. It's so good it makes you wish you were not here, but back in some timeless folk past. And yet the music is both back there and right here. What could be better? Recommended.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Giovanni Guidi Trio, City of Broken Dreams

An artist may build, per- haps must build upon and over what has been before. With the present-day existence of musical terrain, like the surface of a long-used and therefore stratigraphically deep historical-archaeological site, what you see partially conceals and partially reveals its long-standing "thereness."

That's what I sense and feel listening to pianist Giovanni Guidi and his Trio on the new CD City of Broken Dreams (ECM B0018265-02). Guidi joins with Thomas Morgan (contrabass) and Joao Lobo (drums) for a highly interesting set of Giovanni originals.

And the archeological metaphor occurs to me because the trio in effect stands atop, absorbs and radiates the new layer of free-tonal spaciousness in piano trios/trio compositions that came before and/or exist alongside them, especially the Evans-Paul Bley-Jarrett-Kuhn-Melford-Crispell-Carla Bley-Annette Peacock grouping, to mention some of the principal players-composers that come to mind as part of this by-now tradition.

All that gives you some idea of what you hear on this fine disk, but not the originality of Guidi-and-company's contribution. It's there in the music, a logical outcrop of the approach and affinitive creativity the trio generates, and the musical thinking of Guidi the pianist-composer.

Suffice to say it's a beautiful record that shows us a major pianist talent in his first self-actualized recorded album. Terrific set!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Frank Wess, Magic 101

Could it really have been 55 years ago or so that I first heard Frank Wess (without knowing) on a Count Basie Roulette 78 rpm record I bought for nine cents at the Butler 5 & 10? I was four or five. It was my first jazz record. And it makes sense given all that, that he should be 91 years old this year! 91! He was only 36 then!

The good news is that both he and I are still alive. The Butler 5 & 10 is gone. Count Basie is gone. But Frank Wess is very much NOT gone and I have the pleasure to write about his new album, recorded several years ago when he was a sprightly 89. Aptly titled Magic 101 (IPO C1023), it is indeed magic. Frank joins with the still wonderful sounding Kenny Barron on piano in duet and quartet performances with Kenny Davis (bass) and Winard Harper (drums).

It's music that speaks directly to your soul. Standards, jazz classics and a Frank Wess penned "Pretty Lady" grace your ears for nearly an hour of the beautiful, classic art of improvisation.

Frank comes through with incredible presence. The sound is still there, in that uncanny combination of swing and bop tenorism that was always his. It's burnished and completely essentialist playing, with nothing extraneous, nothing extra, nothing unneeded. And there is total command--not a hint of faltering that you can get with players of venerable years.

This is mostly the art of the ballad. And Frank is the master. The master is alive and very much well, 55 years after my first encounter. Thank you Frank!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Jemeel Moondoc, Connie Crothers, Two

Two (Relative Pitch 1009) pits Jemeel Moon- doc's alto with Connie Crothers' piano, recorded live at Connie's Loft in 2011. Good free explorations are what you would expect, and that you surely get.

Jemeel's post-bop outness shows strong roots here, transformed, and Connie's rootedness comes through a little bit more than on some of her other recent collaborations. What is nice especially about that (and what in part distinguishes the set) is that neither are looking back. They are continuing their movement forward into new avant freedom. It's just that the past figures as reference point a little more from time to time than perhaps on some other recordings lately.

There's even a song . . . or two. Jemeel's "You Let Me Into Your Life," for one, with a harmonic-melodic base which they launch off of. Connie's "Deep Friendship" isn't as much taking on song form, but it has compositional guideposts that serve as the basis of a free salvo.

This is the first time the two have recorded together and that turns out to be an auspiciously good thing. Both bring their "A" game, not that I have heard either in a "B" mode. They do what two improvising masters do best when engaging in spontaneous two-voiced interplay: to respond to each other's uniqueness with the uniqueness that is their own and in the process create something not quite the same, intermelded twoness, as what they might have done by themselves or with any other possible twosome.

They have mutual brilliance and the shining that comes about is that much better in tandem, like the earth if it had two suns and it was a beautifully sunny day. Like that.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ernie Krivda, at the Tri-C Jazz Fest

Tenor master Ernie Krivda has carved a worthy niche for himself as a post-Rollins, post-Dexter bop traditionalist, an improviser of great invention, someone who chooses to continue to play in a classic older style of jazz, and to thrive musically in the process.

There have been quite a few albums. Here is a new one, Live at the Tri-C Jazz Fest (Cadence Jazz Records 1237). It's Ernie fielding a trio and and quartet at the Cleveland event, in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The music centers around jazz classics by Dexter, Monk, Trane, Rollins and Benny Golson. The bulk of the disk is taken up by the 2009 quartet date, with fired-up performances by Ernie with Claude Black (piano), Marion Hayden (acoustic bass), and Renell Gonsalves (drums). Four numbers give ample time for Mr. Krivda to work his magic. Though occasionally the tenor intonation gets slightly off, you get used to that because Ernie is wonderfully lucid here. Claude plays some full-fledged piano and the rhythm section churns, but it's all about Ernie in the end.

The earlier date gives us one selection, "I Remember Clifford." This time it's Ernie with a different group, a trio that includes Peter Dominguez on acoustic bass and Ron Godale on drums. It's definitive balladry. Dominguez sounds great arco in the beginning, just he and Ernie, then it goes to the full trio. Dominguez takes up the bow again for a nice solo. But if you don't know Mr. Krivda in action, listen to this track and you will get it!

There have been many young Turks who have come along and made Neo-Trad a factor in the Jazz Business. Truth is no one does it better than Ernie. It's in his bones to play like this. He works his vision of the mainstream with full conviction, authentic fire and the ease of a man who has been with it since the style was current, speaks it fluently as his "native tongue" and has the eloquence, fluidity and poise of a master.

This album brings that home to you full-force! Ernie is an institution of his own, Jazz at Ernie's Vital Center, so to speak. It's all on this CD.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Jeffrey Hayden Shurdut, Sound Journal, 2007

There is one thing you can depend on in life, at least. That is, you can depend on Jeffrey Hayden Shurdut to be out there in the trenches month after month, creating very good to excellent free jazz, free music, or whatever you might want to call it. He gets around, finds the best free musicians, can play cohesively and movingly on piano, reeds or guitar, is a real leader-organizer, finds playing situations and gets the music out.

He may be the Eddie Condon of the avant garde jazz scene in a way--a good player who brings others together and creates an environment for serious blowing.

You can hear it in the JaZt Tapes Artist's Promo CD-R release Sound Journal (JaZt Tapes 031). This one goes back a little to a live date in NYC, 2007. It's one free improvisation lasting 50 minutes, with Jeffrey on the piano, Blaise Siwula on saxes, Marc Edwards on drums, Daniel Carter on saxes, flute, clarinet and trumpet, Nick Gianni on contrabass and also tenor, flute and soprano, and Enrico Oliva on alto. The CD-R came out in 2011.

This one gives you a thick carpet of free maelstroming, Ascension-like multi-horn layers, all-over piano cascading, and Marc Edwards' muscular free-drumming style.

Some excellent blowing happening here. Everybody is keyed into one another, responds with the right thing for a collective mayhem that is exhilarating! If you like a good blow-out this one has it.

Find out more about this disk and how to get it at http://www.janstrom.se/6.-recordings/6.3.-jazt-tapes-6267605

Monday, June 10, 2013

Noah Preminger, Haymaker

Noah Preminger comes at us with his third release, Haymaker (Palmetto 2163) and with it he shows us some more of his modern roots. We have a quartet here: Preminger on tenor, Ben Monder on electric guitar, Matt Pavolka on acoustic bass, and Colin Stranahan on the drums. There are mostly originals, by Preminger and one by Monder in an advanced contemporary vein. They are very good.

As I listened over time to this one I was once again impressed with Preminger's poise and sureness. He plays! And it also hit me that this band, whether they intended it or not, at least on this disk show heavily the influence of and pay a kind of tribute to the Paul Motian trio with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell. There is a loosely swinging in-and-out quality here like that trio and the Preminger-Monder interactions show also a tonal-harmonic based spaciness of a sort that certainly the Motian trio carved out for themselves at times.

Well and so that isn't to say that these are carbon copies (a very dated metaphor alas), cc's of the original threesome. There is much very good music to hear and some strong original touches too. Preminger is extraordinarily lucid and has his own sense of what and when to play, though more and more I hear that Lovano-Bergonzi-Garzone zone in him, a Bostonian vibe if you will. He's young though and working his way to his very own rip of things. Monder is very good too and makes this group sound as it does in large measure. The rhythm team Pavolka and Stranahan have finesse and push to get this all moving.

You have to start somewhere with your music and at album three Noah has gotten off to an auspicious start. We will no doubt, most of us, be listening closely and eagerly to see where it all goes in the years to come. Meanwhile Haymaker gives us a very nice ride and bears close scrutiny well.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Open Graves, Somewhere Beyond or Behind, Jessie Olsen Bay, Paul Kikuchi

Where are we going? Can anyone tell you? I allude to an "old" song by Tony Williams Lifetime but it applies today as it did then. One answer is contained in the music of group-duo Open Graves. Perhaps that is not a name designed to charm average folks, but their music is far-from-average so there is complementarity there.

Open Graves is Jesse Olsen Bay and Paul Kikuchi. On their recent EP Somewhere Beyond or Behind (Prefecture 007), available in a limited edition of 150 CDs, they extend their uncanny exploration of aural ambiances. For this one Jesse mans various metal percussion and "broken and acoustic guitars." Paul gets on metal percussion as well, along with prepared piano and a drum set.

As with previous releases by the unit and by Paul with other configurations, this is some of the most aurally evocative music you can hear today. It's composed-improvised in ways that have an almost ritual unfolding. Imagine the music of Morton Feldman and some of Alvin Curran's installations and/or sound poems. A similar attention to space is operative, in its own way. So those two innovators come to mind as I listen to Open Graves music, especially this EP. Like with those artists there is a richly moody-cosmic sound world at hand, not dense or boisterous, but spaced in exotically inventive ways. Sound color is at a saturation point, wonderfully so...and originally so.

Get this one for starters. I think they are doing something fundamental, new and exciting.

By a more-or-less total coincidence I post on Paul Kikuchi's birthday, June 7th, so let's all wish him a happy one!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lucian Ban, Mat Maneri, Transylvanian Concert

According to my stats this is post 1002 in the Gapplegate Music Review series on this blog. Thanks for sticking with me, thanks for reading, and stay tuned for much more to come, I can only hope.

The future of music, what you will hear today, tomorrow, 20 years from now, we can no more be sure about than about anything else in the future. Some things we can know, like for example it is quite likely that the minuet will not make a major resurgence. But are we sure? Who would have thought that hi-fi bachelor pad music of late '50s-early '60s provenance would come again to our attention?

So when pianist Lucian Ban did with Alex Harding the Tuba Project a number of years ago (covered recently on these pages, see May 1, 2013 posting), I would not have expected with the kind of dynamic hard-blowing music of that album to hear him now with a very different approach. And I am sure it is because I have not gotten to know Maestro Ban's music intimately in the widest sense. For here he gets together with the wonderful violist Mat Maneri for a live recording of duets where very open improvisation meets new music structural elements and very different compositional templates.

Transylvanian Concert (ECM B0018433-02) puts Ban and Maneri in a zone quite fitting for a new ECM release. There are subtle, inspired, freely transpiring compositions by Ban and one by Maneri, a collaborative composition and a Maneri arrangement of the spiritual "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen."

It gives you that lovely deep Maneri viola sound. Nobody sounds like him that I know of--and it is not gushy, not vibrato-centered, just squarely direct in a beautiful way. Then of course they both get improvisations going that one must savor--they are exquisite, not like a cannister of caviar, but with the beautifully natural crystalline cubism of grains of sea salt. There is a robustness to the beauty, a reflectiveness, an honest forthright somber-penetrating feel to the music.

You hear the blues in its essence, you hear some of the ultra-chromatic bridges to a sophisticated harmo-melodic end of new music-free music and even folk strains. And whatever they do in this concert, it is on that rarified level of two masters in a highly inventive mood.

Both Ban and Maneri are in peak form. It serves as a beautiful introduction to the two artists, or a reaffirmation of why you found these player-composers interesting in the first place. If there is an ECM sound, as of course there has been for a long time, it doesn't stand still. This one is an example of how the music moves forward in good ways.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chris McNulty, The Song That Sings You Here

Singers. Jazz singers. So many out there right now. So many releases. And in the thick of it all it sometimes hits me that to be a really great "jazz singer" is perhaps one of the hardest feats of all. You have the spirits of the titans behind you, never gone because so much a part of the tradition. Billie, Sarah, Ella, Carmen, Betty. Tough acts to follow. Some make it different, try to break the mould and go the way they hear it. Others straddle the tradition and give us mainstream styling that nonetheless is original.

Chris McNulty is in the latter mode. And she is very good. The Song That Sings You Here (Challenge 73341) will give you a good listen. It's Chris and a jazz combo. There are some McNulty originals, good ones. There are some standards not typically done, "How are Things in Glocca Morra," "Jitterbug Waltz," the beautifully bittersweet, regretful "Last Night When We Were Young."

She has subtlety, a nice instrument, phrasing chops. The arrangements have a limber quality yet do not seem "thrown together" with any sort of haste. And there are solid soloists to step in for a little instrumentality between choruses. Mike Ledonne gives us a nifty arrangement of "On the Street Where You Live" and Chris gives us a very nice set of vocalizings overtop.

So here's a good one! It's not rehashed by-the-numbers stuff. It stands out.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Trumpet Master Ernie Hammes Talks About His Music and Coming New York Appearance

Trumpet virtuoso Ernie Hammes has been playing in a formidable variety of contexts for a number of years now. Classical trumpet music, lead trumpet in some heavy big bands like those of Maynard Ferguson and Carla Bley, Latin jazz and small jazz groups of all sorts. He'll be playing with his quartet on Friday, June 7th (10 PM) as part of the Rhythm in the Kitchen Music Festival in New York. His performance is sponsored by Ruby Flower Productions and le Ministere de la Culture Luxembourg. For more info go to http://rubyflowerproductions.prezly.com/ernie-hammes-the-seventh-annual-rhythm-in-the-kitchen-music-festival-2013- and http://nyc.jazznearyou.com/event_detail.php?id=498233#.Uavl2oHaecK

I talked with Ernie recently about his music and the upcoming appearance. He had much to say:

Grego: What brought you to the trumpet?

Ernie: I started playing the trumpet at the age of eight in a local music school. Back then, in the late '70s, one could see the trumpet constantly on TV shows and so I guess I fell in love with that instrument.

Grego: Was there an experience when you were young that made you decide on music for a life-career?

Ernie: Actually, not really. During my studies which included trumpet lessons, solf├Ęge, harmony, ear-training, transposition and chamber music, I kind of got deeper into the music and that lead me to audition for the chair of principal trumpet back in 1987 with the Luxembourg Army Concert Band, a position that I am still holding today. The spot actually opened right after I completed my classical trumpet studies in Luxembourg and in France, so I just took my chance. And that allowed me to continue my studies in Europe as well as in the U.S., while already playing in the orchestra, and to do my own projects and bands.

Grego: Please give us a brief look at the leadership style of Maynard Ferguson. Did you find yourself applying any of that with your own bands? What else do you bring to the table yourself?

Ernie: I will always keep in mind how the great Maynard Ferguson treated his musicians and people in general. He was such a nice and gentle bandleader, a human being of the kind you rarely meet! He featured me all the time when I played in his band, along with some of the other guys too of course, but especially as a trumpet player in Maynard's band, I thought this was quite amazing. He even told me to bring my own CD's to his merch table. So, there I was, selling Maynard's as well as my CD's after our concerts! I was leading a number of projects with a couple of "big" names, together with the Luxembourg Jazz Orchestra which I was now conducting as well as playing lead. And I think if you come up with a concept in your head, about the whole project you're doing, if you let your fellow musicians know what you have in mind, it is easy to work together and get along well. It's a matter of give and take, always. Of course after a while, especially working with my regular bands, you don't have to say much. It comes naturally.

Grego: You have had some incredibly rich and diverse experiences in music--playing baroque trumpet, as lead trumpet in a big band, as an improviser in a smaller, more open context. When you play these days, compared to where you started, what can you tell us about developing as a player, what led to growth? And what situations do you feel most contributed to your playing as it is now?

Ernie: After all these years of playing so many different styles, you adapt faster and faster to what ever comes up. When I was young, I played too loud, always tried to hit high notes, even if not at all necessary, in one word not effective at all--for anybody, not for me and not for the ones I played for! That has changed drastically today!

Grego: How has the Luxembourg Army experience shaped your music and who you are musically?

Ernie: I must say that playing in the Army Band helped me a lot to be the musician I am today! If you constantly have to read new music, transposing in some cases, playing all these different styles, from baroque, classical, jazz, funk, etc., you gain a lot of experience and you become able to adapt pretty fast to almost every situation, different conductors, soloists, composers, etc...

Grego: You’ve worked with younger and up-and-coming players over the years. Have they changed at all in what they come to you with in terms of knowledge and feel for the music?

Ernie: I can only tell you about the situation here in Europe or Luxembourg. When I started, there was no school for jazz around, or very few at least. That has changed completely now. They are all over the place and most of them offer exchange programs with the U.S. or elsewhere, which I think is a great opportunity! So in that matter, yes, the students I work with are much better, more experienced already than 20 years ago.

Grego: You've studied with Claudio Roditi, Lew Soloff and classical players, too. What has each given you as a musical creator, as a player?? Do you recommend that young people get exposed to jazz and classical equally these days? How has that shaped the way you approach music?

Ernie: I was choosing Lew when I went to Manhattan School of Music because I knew that he was one of these trumpet players that could do it all, playing lead, solos, orchestral etc. So we talked a lot about everything important about the trumpet, phrasing, improvising, etc. He took me to his gigs and I was even subbing for him after a while when he could not do the gig. But the guy who brought me to really work on my jazz chops, and, of course Latin music, was Claudio Roditi. That was years before I met Lew. I just called him up during one of my numerous weekends as a tourist in NY and he agreed promptly and that was the beginning of a friendship that still lasts until today. Claudio and myself played on many projects together, concerts, clinics, he joined me for my latest recording Sanfrancha, and he asked me to sub with the "Dizzy Gillespie Allstars" for Roy Hargrove. I highly recommend young players to do both classical and jazz studies. Why? First, I always was able to help myself through "trumpet" problems (embouchure, technique, fingering...) due to my classical education! Then, as I mentioned before, you are able to play more, it never gets boring, you are able to choose the job offers, etc. A big influence on me in that matter is Wynton Marsalis, who I think is one of the best examples! Back in my studies, it was not yet accepted that you play jazz as a classical student, but luckily times have changed!!

Grego: You are coming to New York soon for the Rhythm in the Kitchen Music Festival (June 5-8) with a quartet. Talk a little about the band and what you'll be doing.

Ernie: These are musicians I've worked with a lot over the past years, especially with my (French) piano player Pierre-Alain Goualch. I've worked with him for the last 20+ years and one could say that we really are a team, playing- and composition-wise. With Paul Wiltgen (Luxembourg) it is a little different. I first met him when I was leading a big band in a conservatory in Luxembourg when he was still very young, but then, not long after we met, he went straight to NY to finish his studies. So it took a while before we played together again. For our concert at the festival we will perform mostly originals by myself and Pierre-Alain as well as some arrangements of standard tunes.

Grego: Has it become any harder playing improvised and serious music for a living than it was, say, 20 years ago? Or was it always a challenge from a business/living standpoint? How has the European situation been compared to what it's like in the United States??

Ernie: First of all I must say that I could not survive playing only jazz or light music. I am happy that I still can play classical jobs and especially that I have the chair in the orchestra, otherwise it would be tough. So far, I am not obliged to teach, (although I do some teaching,) or to play a show seven nights a week, which could be fun but just is not my thing. I have the privilege to choose the gigs I want to play! I really cannot see a big difference from playing in the U.S or in Europe. It's always a struggle with money. It also depends on the name you have...or don't. But for the rest there are great venues, festivals and crowds in the U.S as well as here in Europe.

Grego: Any recordings/projects in the works right now?

Ernie: There is no new recording planned right now...I had to break up with my former label, so right now I'm looking for a new label/agent/manager that will support me, hopefully better than the previous one!?

Grego: Thanks and we look forward to hearing you soon here in New York!

Ernie: My pleasure!

Keith Jarrett, Somewhere

Can it be possible that the Keith Jarrett Trio is becoming the most long-lived jazz group of all? They have been Jarrett-Peacock-DeJohnette for more than thirty years now. They are passing the MJQ or at least equaling them for longevity. It didn't seem like it was going to be that way when they made that first record of standards so long ago. But here we are and their new release Somewhere (ECM 2200) is with us. It's the three holding forth live at KKL Luzern Concert Hall in 2009, and they are in great form. Seemingly gone are the days when Keith's illness was a energy-technical-inspirational-limiting factor.

It's all back and it's still evolving. They do standards, of course. And they do them with the maximum flexibility they are known for and excel at (preposition endings nonwithstanding). There is the reappearance of the avant in Keith's playing, especially in the "Deep Space" unaccompanied prelude that begins the set, there is the mad bebop forays with brilliant lines cascading from Keith's fingers and imagination, there are the excellently subtle Peacock bass solos and ensemble work, and Mr. DeJohnette does wonders as he has for so long.

There's a two-chord vamp that extends "Somewhere" into the territory of the trio in their open mode. And there are simply beautiful re-harmonizations and re-expressions of some wonderful songs. All moving toward regions beyond, re-energized. So the travel continues.

This one is quite lovely--one of the best in recent years. Not that they've gone away at any point, but surely they are back with us in full force. Recommended!