BLOGARRHEA: Delicious 2015 Leftovers and the Best of Last Year That Slipped By
I swear my grandmother's leftovers tasted even better the second day. Likewise in music, there's going to be great CDs overlooked in the plethora of sound ending up in my doorway. It's a wonderful problem to have and every year there's stuff I miss so every year I get to digest some delicious left-overs. 2015 was no exception and there are some wonderful overlooked CDs I'm revisiting in order to share the best music with you that originally slipped by.
The Charm (Parade Light Records) of John Ellis & Double-Wide is self-evident on their third CD. This September release by the rampaging sax/clarinet man and his New Orleans/New York City crew (featuring Jason Marsalis, drums; Alan Ferber, trombone; Gary Versace, organ/accordion/piano and Matt Perrine, sousaphone) is a rollicking kick starting off with a tip of the hat to "Booker," James Booker that is [1939-1983], the man who Dr. John once called, "the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced." Tracks like "International Tuba Day," "Snake Handler" and "Barbed Wire Britches" continue on in funky fashion until silence just makes you want to play the whole thing over again.
David Gans has been interpreting the music of his favorite band for years and is now looked upon as the foremost Grateful Dead interpreter. On It's A Hand-Me-Down (Perfectible Recordings), the singer/songwriter/guitarist covers 13 American beauties for a working man's Dead fix in a solo electric context complete with tape loops, electronica, echo, reverb and layer upon layer of his guitar runs which are looped with the chord changes so he can solo atop it all. "Brokedown Palace," "Ship Of Fools," "New Speedway Boogie," "Deal," "Terrapin Station," especially, sound just fine in their new environment.
Dr. Clare Fischer is most indubitably Out of the Blue (Clavo Records). His style on grand piano and digital keyboards walk a fine line between the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt ("Nuages"), the populist melodicism of Henry Mancini ("Two For The Road"), the Brazilian samba of Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Amor Em Paz"), the Ellingtonia of Johnny Hodges ("Squatty Roo"), his originals and even some Disney ("When You Wish Upon a Star/Someday My Prince Will Come"). These fourteen sublime tracks have been unearthed for the first time since he died in 2012 at 83 from a heart attack. His son, Brent Fischer, produced, arranged, plays bass and percussion. Two vocalists and two drummers complete this mellifluous package of solo, duo, trio and quartet settings.
Pianist and composer Aaron Diehl's 2012 Mack Avenue Records debut, The Bespoke Man's Narrative, was one of the best jazz records of that year. The follow-up, Space, Time, Continuum, should have been on my Top 10 from last year. Hey, better late than sorry. Reed-wise, his octet features living legends Benny Golson on tenor and Joe Temperley on baritone (both still spry at 85). Add drums, bass, trumpet and another sax and you've got plenty of room to move. "Kat's Dance" is a piano/sax duet waltz. "Flux Capacitor" is faster. "Broadway Boogie Woogie" is fastest. Swing's the thing for "Uranus." "Santa Maria" was commissioned by the Columbus Foundation in celebration of that Ohio town's bicentennial. It's stately, classy and you might even find yourself humming its melody (not easy in jazz tunes).
I guess I was watching too much baseball last May when ECM slipped the Giovanni Guidi Trio's This Is The Day right past me. Guidi's the 30-year old pianist from Enrico Rava's band who broke out solo on 2012's City Of Broken Dreams. This is the perfect post-Bill Evans classic trio format: American bassist Thomas Morgan, Portuguese drummer Joao Lobo and Italy's own Guidi whose soothing pianistics on "Game of Silence" in no way prepares you for the disjointed mysteries of "Cobweb" or the dissonance of "The Debate." Still, they're not here to upset your mind. Nat King Cole's "Quizas Quizas Quizas" is unerringly gorgeous as is Mildred Bailey's "I'm Through With Love." In fact, I dare say, This Is The Day by the Giovanni Guidi Trio is make-out music of the highest order.