The listener is compelled by the first notes of this piano trio release to give it a thorough hearing.
At first, it's the velocity of leader-pianist Martin Bejerano that captures one's fancy but as the opener, "Blues Evolution," progresses, it is his technique and virtuosity that hold ears steadfast.
Bejerano doesn't do this all by himself. Bassist Edward Perez and drummer Ludwig Afonso each and together propel the group sound. Bejerano pays tribute to legendary pianists, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. He takes Monk's "Monk's Dream," and honors the legend by playing with just enough of his influence without trying to copy.
He handles "Bouncing with Bud" in the same manner. He is of equal strength on ballads. It's difficult to choose a favorite between "Lover Man" and "You Don't Know What Love Is." So, when it comes to my radio show, I'll play one of them early and the other later.
Bassist-composer Charles Mingus seemed to have written many of his compositions based on his life's situations at the time.
"Tijuana Moods" and its tunes sprang from a wild trip he and drummer Dannie Richmond made to the tough vice-ridden Mexican city as Mingus faced a troubling divorce. The album is complete with "Ysabel's Table Dance," "Tiajuana Gift Shop," all reflective of Mingus' recollection of his trip.
No prettier instrumental version of "Flamingo" exists and features trumpeter Clarence Shaw with mute. The harmonics Mingus uses throughout are gorgeous.
"ABOVE AND BEYOND"
The violin has had only a minor role in jazz through the years, but when one listens here to violinist Billy Bang and the full integration of his work with the ensemble, you have to question why.
Bang surrounded himself with his working band of tenor saxophonist Frank Lowe, pianist Andrew Bemkey, bassist Todd Nicholson and drummer Tatsuya Nakatani for a live performance in 2003 in Grand Rapids, Mich. and just recently released it.
The four tunes are rooted in the blues but ethnic diversity is also heard. On "Nothin' But Love" there is a melodic Asian component. "At Play in the Fields of the Lord" surprisingly is delivered with a Latin rhythm instead of the expected gospel groove. Bang is eloquent on this as he is on each of the four lengthy tracks.
His and Lowe's solo work gets superb support from pianist Bemkey and bassist Nicholson has a special seasoned resonant sound.
"ONE HOPEFUL DAY"
A lot of people are going to like this release by pianist Mark Soskin more than I and that's a good thing.
Aside from the title tune, "One Hopeful Day" and the opener, "On the Street Where You Live," I feel saxophonist Chris Potter was too dominant and on the second of only two real ballads, "Pensativa," his soprano saxophone seemed shrill, even harsh. Even Soskin's work on the ballad seemed rough edged
Potter did play with a pretty tone and sensitively on "One Hopeful Day" and swung superbly on "Step Lively" and "On the Street Where You Live."
Guitarist John Abercrombie guests on two cuts and is a pleasant addition. John Patitucci is the bassist and Bill Stewart is on drums.
Dick Bogle hosts a weekly radio show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays on KMHD 89.1 FM. He can be reached at email@example.com.