NEW CDs SHOW THE DIVERSITY OF JAZZ

Elvis JonesConrad Herwig by Martin Cohen Dinah Washington once sang “bring me my daddy with that big long slidin’ thing.” She was talking, of course, about a trombone player. Conrad Herwig is just such a man. As the late Rock’n’Roll Hall Of Famer and self-proclaimed Queen Of The Blues explains, “I ask him how it was done. He said `I blow through here, then I work my fingers and my thumb! I slide it right up, then I slide it back and I get a lot of wind and then I slide it back again!”      Herwig blows it bigtime on the latest in his series entitled “The Latin Side Of.” This is the sixth such entry after “Latinizing” John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis (twice). The newest might be the best:  “The Latin Side Of Joe Henderson Featuring Joe Lovano” (Half Note). It’s a mighty mighty keeper as Joe blows big too in tribute to another Joe. Satisfying, eclectic, memorable, adventurous, soulful and totally kinetic, this thing moves and grooves and shakes like jello on a plate. The six tracks–over an hour with the shortest being 8:07–go from “Afro-Centric” to “Blue Bossa” with the best in-between. Add Ronnie Cuber on baritone sax, Alex Sipiagin on trumpet plus piano/bass/drums/percussion to round out this wild octet…and you’ve got action a’plenty! Born in Oklahoma and raised in Hawaii, Herwig honed his Latin chops playing in Eddie Palmieri’s band. I already can’t wait until the next one! G with Stephane GrappelliI had the supreme pleasure of meeting the legendary French violinist Stephane Grappelli [1908-1997] back in the day when I had hair (and lots of it). That’s why I became truly excited to receive “Violinspiration” (MPS) by him fronting The Diz Disley Trio. The album originally came out in 1975 and has now been lovingly re-released with beautiful cover art and informative liner notes. “The Gentleman Of Gypsy Swing” covers Ellington (“Solitude”), Django (“Hot Lips”), Hammerstein (“Lover Come Back To Me”) and 10 more including his own “Souvenir De Villingen.” It’s a light-hearted romp from the man who formed in 1934 one of the most pioneering jazz bands of all-time, the Quintette du Hot Club de France with the three-fingered Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt [1910-1953]. Every track swings. German label MPS will be bringing its operation to the States soon. Their catalog of some of the most pioneering jazz ever is tremendous. Washington DC guitarist Anthony Pirog has a habit of stretching the limits. His “Palo Alto Dream” Cuneiform Records debut, a mind-bending amalgam of jazz, ambient, avant-garde, classical and even dubstep (an electronica brand originating from 1990s British dancehalls), couldn’t be more impressive. As a composer, he tends to go way out on a limb. As a musician, he goes for the cerebellum. He’s mastered the art of loops to the point where one doesn’t know where the human ends and where the machines begin. And y’know what? It doesn’t matter. Anthony PirogWith Michael Formanek on bass and Ches Smith on drums, these 11 tracks swirl by in a kaleidoscopic haze of pleasurable mystery. Besides the obvious technical prowess exhibited by all three musicians, there’s a slow burn at work here too. With no rehearsals, even the trio itself didn’t know what to expect. Distortion plays a role…but only a small one. Used in discreet doses, it works its magic, as does the joy of syncopation. Freaky fun. One more from MPS:  “Remembrance” originally came out in 1978 and listening to it in 2014 is a reminder that the best jazz is timeless. Elvin Jones was the man on the drum stool for John Coltrane and here, as leader of The Elvin Jones Jazz Machine, with such stalwarts as tenor and soprano saxophonists Michael Stewart and Pat Labarbera plus guitarist Roland Prince and bassist Andy McCloud III, he heads this piano-less quintet on seven knock-out originals by the band. Carlos Santana once said that when he hears Elvin Jones, he hears the future. Well, the future is now and what I’m hearing is totally current, forward-thinking even for 2014.     Elvis Jones  

About Mike Greenblatt

A longtime music journalist, Mike Greenblatt is a contributing editor with Goldmine magazine.

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