Fab Four Musical Selections

ECM – The Fourth Decade – New Artist, New Music

Rarely do I come across a compilation that introduces me to so many new jazz artist.  I’ve had this promo disc for about 4 years and never really gave it a good listening to until the other night while having a listening session with a friend.  Needless to say, we were both taken aback by what we experienced. 

There are 13 cuts on this CD and starting with Wolfert Brederode Quartet’s – “Common Fields,” we were instantly drawn in.  The warmth of the piano playing delicately as if dancing on a pond kept my friend and I spellbound.  As the track began to build, it continued to paint landscapes of beautiful melodies.  Track 2 – Anat Fort – “Just Now”, continued that wonderful fluidity, which I’m sure, is no coincidence.

The entire feel of the compilation seamlessly traverses forward with tracks 3 and 4 by Jacob Young – “Time Rebel” and Tord Gustavsen Trio – “Still There”.  On track 5 – Susanne Abbuehl – “Don’t Set Sail”, is akin to the vocal styling of Sade.  Susanne is capable of taking on a journey and leaving you there…  Simplicity is the key with just vocals and piano.  It works for me. 

Excuse me for not mentioning the total musicality of all the players on the disc.  There is a broad range of styles which should be no surprise considering ECM’s reputation for introducing important new artist here in America and overseas.  Not to mention their multiple award winning sound quality ECM recordings consistently deliver.

I should also note that most of these tracks are piano driven with a minimalist feel, mostly quartets with musicians, who gel together perfectly.  You’ll find great solos by musicians playing various instruments such as saxophone, violin, cello, viola and even some guitar.

There are approximately 8 other tracks equally worthy of mention, however, I’m going to point you in the direction of Ebay or Amazon to purchase this gem for yourself if you’re fortunate to get your hands on one.  As a new breed audiophile, I know there’s something here for anyone who appreciates music that is well thought out from a technical standpoint, but also evokes emotional moments that’s just feels good and right!

Barbra Streisand – What Matters Most 

I’ve always felt that Barbra Streisand was a force of nature.  I fell in love with her from the very first time I heard her.  The shear depth and girth of her instrument coupled with her vocal ability and styling, makes her one of our all time national treasures.

I believe that her 33rd studio album, What Matters Most is a befitting compilation of everything Streisand has been for the last 50 years.  She blesses us with a slew of timeless selections with lyrics by the incomparable Alan and Marilyn Bergman.  Set to top-notch production and orchestrations that we’ve come to know and love from a Barbra Streisand recording.  She sounds so effortless doing such tunes as: “The Windmills Of Your Mind – Something New In My Life – Solitary Moon – So Many Stars” along with the title track, to name just a few.

There’s even a bonus disc which that covers her previously released recordings such as: “The Way We Were – Papa, Can You Hear Me? – The Island – How Do You Keep The Music Playing? – After The Rain” and the list goes on.  You get a sense that she’s simply singing what she loves to sing.  The bonus CD fits perfectly with the rest of her offerings.  Look… I don’t have to sell you on Barbra’s legendary chops as well as her impeccable taste for pulling together the right people in order to bring us such a wonderful CD.

What Matters Most is also a very well recorded session and what I would personally qualify as an audiophiles dream. Sonically-speaking, this remarkable recording will only leave you smiling.  Not much needs to be said about such an artist, however, I was moved to write just a few words out of love for Streisand.  She still manages to put goose bumps up the back of my arm along with wonderful shivers of delight.  You may get that feeling too…


Kenny Garrett – Seeds From The Underground 

How do I love Kenny Garrett, let me count the ways…  He is completely capable of conveying his thoughts and feelings into musical expression with a little help from his friends.  I like the fact the he’s an accomplished saxophonist with numerous awards and accolades and still is constantly pushing the creative envelop musically.  He never seems to be stuck into a flow and this has to be due to his extensive experience and the ability to know what you know, but still be teachable.  I’ve never met him, however, he strikes me as a humble man. 

On SEEDS FROM THE UNDERGROUND, Kenny has enlisted a crew of outstanding musicians; Benito Gonzalez  (piano), Nat Reeves (Bass), Ronald Bruner (drums), Rudy Bird (bata & percussion) and Nedelka Prescod (vocals).  Kenny is also credited with writing and arranging all ten songs on this CD.  He has taken this opportunity to explore blends of post bop and contemporary jazz but you can tell that Kenny has also given these musicians room to spread their musical loins.  You get that by the way they seem to be in perfect sync with one another.

Kenny drew inspiration from his high school band director, Bill Wiggins as well as Duke Ellington, Mercer Ellington as well as his on extensive repertoire and almost twenty studio albums.   Starting with track 1 “Boogety Boogety”, it’s a gem set in a deep bop style with Latin percussion, wonderfully matched by Kenny’s Sax as well as the seamless musical interplay going on with the other musicians.  Tracks 2 and 3 – carries on with that upbeat energy, having me tapping my feet and nodding my head back and forth.

By the time you get to Track 4 entitled “Haynes Here”, of course paying tribute to one of the legends, Roy Haynes, Kenny and the fellas, along with vocals by Nedelka, delve a little deeper into a more esoteric state, snatching you along with them for the ride.  Track 5 “Detroit”, is smooth, haunting and sexy, reminiscent of Donald Byrd’s “Christo Redentor.  Just beautifully done.  “Seeds of the Underground”, the title cut stands on it’s own, steeped in Kenny’s signature intoxicating percussion and lilting chord changes.

You’ll love “Ballad Jarrett”, as this is a pure delivery, true and warm to Mr. Keith Jarrett.  All in all, Kenny Garrett still manages to pay homage to those he loves and respects, while traversing through many genres as he continues maintain his own personal style and identity.  The players on this outing just do what they are there to do and that’s help to interpret these tunes and give us nothing short of an incredible CD.


Impressions of Curtis Mayfield / Jazz Soul Seven 

The music of Curtis Mayfield has been wonderfully set to a funky jazz style befitting his deep and rich history.   The musicians on this CD are; Ernie Watts (saxophone), Wallace Roney (trumpet), along with Russ Ferrante (piano), Terri Lyne Carrington (drums), Bob Hurst (bass), Phil Upchurch (guitar) and a special dedication to the late great Master Henry Gibson, who is on percussion, makes for a cookin’ rhythm section that’s unparalleled.

Even for a listener who may be unfamiliar with these timeless songs by Mr. Mayfield, could easily fall under the spell of the richness of his musical melodies as interpreted by these excellent musicians.  The solo work is nothing short of endearing as Ernie Watts get’s knee deep into his instrumental improvisation along with outstanding solos from Wallace Roney and Phil Upchurch.


There are 12 tracks on this CD, everything from “Fred Is Dead”, “It’s Alright”, “Move On Up”, “We’re A Winner”, “Superfly” to “Gypsy Woman and Amen”.  Brian Brinkerhoff has done his homework on the production of this CD.  Each musician really gets breathing room as this recording sounds extraordinarily organic and effortlessly pulled together.  This is one for the archives.  Don’t sleep on “Impressions of Curtis Mayfield”.


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