Holiday Gift Guide : Calendar’s little helpers offer suggestions in pop, jazz, holiday, family and classical music, plus videos, computer games and books. (Good news: They’re easy to wrap.) : JAZZ! : Oldies, Goodies and Newies Too
No complaints and no regrets about 1995’s jazz albums. Marvelous reissue collections popped out all over the place, with dozens of new releases from players of every age, style and era. Here’s an overview of some of the more interesting CDs:
* * * DAVE BRUBECK, “Young Lions & Old Tigers,” Telarc. A group of duet performances based upon attractive compositions that Brubeck dedicated to such all-star associates as Joshua Redman, Christian McBride and Joe Lovano.
* * * JAMES CARTER, “Jurassic Classics,” DIW/Columbia. A raging firestorm of improvisation, exploding in all directions, from a 25-year-old saxophonist with the potential to become one of the influential players of the decade.
* * * * JOHN COLTRANE, “The Heavyweight Champion: The Complete Atlantic Recordings of John Coltrane,” Rhino. Call this a necessity for anyone’s jazz collection--seven CDs covering the saxophone giant’s total output during one of his most transforming creative periods.
* * * * MILES DAVIS, “The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel, 1965,” Columbia/Legacy. An eight-CD box revealing seven consecutive sets by the Davis band--pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter and drummer Tony Williams--that energized the turbulent currents of jazz in the ‘60s.
* * * * DUKE ELLINGTON, “The Complete Capitol Recordings of Duke Ellington,” Mosaic. The two years Ellington spent at Capitol, 1953-55, are not generally recognized as high points, but this five-CD collection includes exceptional big-band ensemble work as well as 12 debonair tracks by an Ellington trio.
* * * KENNY GARRETT, JOSHUA REDMAN, WALLACE RONEY, LARRY GOLDINGS and others, “Warner Jams, Vol. 1,” Warner Bros. The number of loose, open jam sessions featuring major artists has dramatically diminished recently, making the stellar gathering of saxophonists Redman and Garrett, trumpeter Roney and keyboardist Goldings especially welcome.
* * * JIM HALL, “Dialogues,” Telarc. The ever-adventurous guitarist is completely at ease in settings ranging from funk and fusion with guitarists Mike Stern and Bill Frizell to straight-ahead blowing with trumpeter Tom Harrell and saxophonist Joe Lovano and a couple of mood pieces with accordionist Gil Goldstein.
* * * GRAHAM HAYNES, “The Griot’s Footsteps,” Antilles. Relatively unknown cornetist Haynes, the son of drummer Roy Haynes, makes a musically captivating cross-pollination of jazz with African, Arabic and Indian sources.
* * * 1/2 JOE HENDERSON, “Double Rainbow: The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim,” Verve. A splendid encounter between the tenor saxophonist’s melodic soloing and Jobim’s tuneful songbook. The combination often transcends the Stan Getz bossa nova recordings of the early ‘60s.
* * * * KEITH JARRETT, “Live at the Blue Note,” ECM Records. It doesn’t get much better than this six-CD box documenting the pianist’s three nights at New York City’s Blue Note with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette. A rare and wonderful opportunity to hear world-class musicians at their peak.
* * * 1/2 CHRISTIAN McBRIDE, “Gettin’ to It,” Verve Records. A superb debut, in which the amazingly mature 23-year-old bassist offers up impressive composing skills, strong rhythm section work and eloquent soloing.
* * * * THE MODERN JAZZ QUARTET, “Dedicated to Connie,” Atlantic Records. A previously unreleased two-CD set, recorded in concert in Slovenia in mid-1960, that brilliantly captures the MJQ at one of its performance peaks.
* * * 1/2 CHARLIE MARIANO, “Adagio,” Lipstick. The European-based alto saxophonist is one of the most passionate artists in jazz--his soaring lyricism bountifully apparent in improvisational readings of works by Chopin, Delibes and Albinoni.
* * * T.S. MONK, “The Charm,” Blue Note. The solid six-piece band of drummer Monk (Thelonious’ son) is a group that excites as much with its collective groove as it does with its first-rate individual blowing.
* * * 1/2 MICHEL PETRUCCIANI and EDDY LOUISS, “Conference de presse,” Dreyfuss Jazz. The diminutive Petrucciani’s acoustic piano and Louiss’ Hammond organ combine to produce an exhilarating anthology of joyous, hard-swinging, foot-tapping Gallic jazz.
* * * JOSHUA REDMAN, “Spirit of the Moment: Live at the Village Vanguard,” Warner Bros. The praised young tenor saxophonist still leans heavily toward give-'em-what-they-want rather than show-them-what-I-can-do. But this club outing suggests that he may be beginning to discover the values of brevity and precision.
* * * 1/2 JACKY TERRASSON, “Jacky Terrasson,” Blue Note. Performing classic songs on a first album is courageous, but new star pianist Terrasson knows exactly what he’s doing, recasting a program of familiar standards into personalized expressions of his own.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (f a ir), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).