"TONY PACINI LIVE AT JIMMY MAK'S"
Pianist Tony Pacini could. Perhaps Pacini should. But knowing him, my guess is Tony won't add a hip swagger to his walk upon the release of this — his finest work to date.
The nine tracks contained herein are swinging proof that even the best on the Portland scene can take their performance to a higher level. Pacini opens with the classic "Freddie Freeloader," which he plays emphatically backed by his regular rhythm section of bassist Ed Bennett and drummer Tim Rap, both of whom are fully integrated into the goings on. Their support is not unlike that which Ahmad Jamal gets from Jamey Cammack and Idris Muhammad.
Pacini pours his soul into the ballad "Maybe September." Rap uses his brushes with always just the right touch. There may be only a few ballads as beautiful as "A Child is Born" on which Pacini begins alone and is joined by Bennett and Rap for a treatment befitting that gorgeous ballad.
The album highlight is "Love for Sale," a rhythmic exercise for all concerned. But, it's Pacini's refined sense of swing that guides the tune to its fullest exploration of its possibilities.
There are two Pacini compositions included. "Beyond the Veil" is a moody but elegant selection. "First Light" speaks to a dawning of a new day or new beginning in a bright, uplifting way; a listener can feel encouraged while hearing it.
This recording is more than a showcasing of trio work at its best. It is, instead, an invitation to come hear them live. That opportunity will occur Saturday, Jan. 27 at Jimmy Mak's for Pacini's CD release party.
"STANDARDS AND MORE"
There are some nicely done tunes on this quartet release by pianist Rob Mullins.
Mullins' piano sometimes seems burdened by his playing too many notes but nevertheless, he certainly swings. "Moanin'" is a prime example of both. Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Roberts is a lusty player who blows hard. The rhythm section of bassist David Levray and drummer Evan Stone are solid, keep good time and bring forth their own interesting ideas.
"Angel Eyes," "Moanin,' " "Monk's Ghost" and "When I Fall In Love" are among my faves.
This is another example of the excellent and consistently fine work done by guitarist Dave Stryker, a player who should be at or near the top of everyone's list of favorites.
He uses his working band organist Jared Gold and drummer Tony Reedus on the nine tracks that could have included one more ballad. Burt Bachrach's "Close to You," which is beautifully rendered, will have to fill the bill.
"Our Miss Brooks" fits in ever so nicely in a bluesy groove complete with a shuffle beat. "I Wish You Love" is done in ¾ time but perhaps would have been more soulful had it been played more slowly. Gold is impressive with his efforts, staying the course set by preceding organ giants. This is a fine addition to any collection.
THE BRIAN LYNCH/ EDDIE PALMIERI PROJECT
Trumpeter Brian Lynch, known mostly for his straight ahead jazz work, is right at home with the Latin music of pianist Eddie Palmieri.
The two of them, plus a plethora of jazz and Latin stars including Phil Woods, Mario Rivera, Donald Harrison, Greg Tardy, Conrad Herwig, Lila Downs and more (there are 19 musicians used in various combinations), give us nine tracks of five-star Latin jazz..
Alto saxophonist Woods taps into his bebop roots for "Slippery," a nice fusion of bop and Latin. Vocalist Lila Downs is exquisite on the ballad "Que Seria La Vida."