Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Jane Ira Bloom, Sixteen Sunsets

It's a jazz cliche to say that the hardest thing for a soloist to do is to play a ballad. There is some truth to it however. You are left with yourself and the song, your artistry and the need to devise a way through it that does justice to both.

Jane Ira Bloom is not the first of course to put together an entire album of such things. John Coltrane comes to mind with an especially sublime offering. Yet here we are these many years later and most certainly the last word has not been said, the last note has not been played in this realm.

So we have Jane Ira Bloom's Sixteen Sunsets (Outline 141). Jane comes to the forefront on her soprano, accompanied by an excellent set of musicians in Dominic Fallacaro (piano), Cameron Brown (bass) and Matt Wilson (drums). They do what they should and do it well. The set is a mix of standards and originals, all in a balladic mode.

Jane Ira Bloom comes through beautifully here. She is and has been an artist of a huge stature, an original, a master of the soprano and the sounds she wishes to make with it. She is the sort of player that should be easy to identify in a blindfold test, because she is a school of one.

Throughout her by now long career she has consistently moved forward as an artist. Today she appears before us fully bloomed. Listen to "I Love You Porgy" and what she does with it.

This is straightforward artistry. It neither sounds modern nor does it sound trad. It is in the ballad tradition of course, yes. But beyond that it is Jane Ira Bloom speaking to us honestly, directly, with little to intervene except the recording and production process.

It is masterful Bloom we have here. A triumph. It will appeal to those who know as well as those who do not know her, jazz, or whatever else confirmed adepts take for granted. But it pleases us too, because it is very well done indeed. Don't neglect this one.

1 comment:

  1. In a related thread I can remember when I bought Coltrane's Prestige album that was dubbed "Standards". Hard to imagine now but that seemed like a novel idea around 1971. Standards were what you used a fake book to play when you did your warm up set at weddings, something for the old folks. That changed drastically in the '80s. That there was so much in the way of revisiting standards with the rise of neo-trad is not in itself a bad thing, but then revisiting a standard should be about having something to say improvisation-wise. Not everybody has been equally successful in that way. Jane Ira Bloom certainly is on this album, to say the least.