By Mike Zwerin
PARIS, 15 DECEMBER 2005 —The following recommendations from around the
planet have been chosen on the basis of quality alone;
style has nothing to do with anything. As Duke Ellington famously said,
"there are only two kinds of music, good and bad."
Robert Magris Europlane: Check-In (Soul
Magris is a pianist who lives in Trieste, where this was
recorded for an Italian record company. It features a front line of Tony
Lakatos and Michael Erian, who are Hungarian and Austrian respectively, on
hard-driving tenor saxophones. This is more evidence that, although it was
once strictly American, jazz has become a universal language.
Me'Shell NdegeOcello: Dance of the Infidel
Bass-guitarist, arranger and singer, Me'Shell has been
influenced in more or less equal parts by Steve Coleman and Prince. She
has been a star since she signed with Madonna's Maverick label in the
1990s. The multitalented Meshell works solo much of the time. Making this
album, she was happy to be part of a band - which included Wallace Roney,
Kenny Garrett, Matthew Garrison, Jack De Johnette, Don Byron and Mino
Cinelu - for a change. They all move gracefully between jazz and rock,
soft and loud, freedom and structure, and the music of Northern and
Dexter Gordon: Mosaic Select (Mosaic Records/3
It is always a treat to hear a franchise tenor saxophonist at the top
of his game with a rhythm section worthy of him. Here he is with George
Cables, Rufus Reid and Eddie Gladden live at the Keystone club in San
Francisco in 1978 and 1979. Long-Tall Dexter was a big man with a big
sound who staked out his territory with great individuality, beauty, joy
and authority. The Mosaic label continues to keep such essential stuff in
their catalogue, though depending on where you live, you may have to go
online to find it: www.mosaicrecords.com.
Le Sacre du Tympan: Le Retour!" (Label Blue)
The name of
this French band is a pun on Le Sacré du printemps, Igor
Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. Each track is another
percussive sound sketch - from Stravinsky's dissonance to Ellington's
consonance, with touches of salsa, bebop, Weather Report, a Balkan brass
band and kitschy James Bond and spaghetti-western soundtrack knockoffs.
The leader, Fred Pallem, calls it "Popp music."
Mike Zwerin's new book, The Parisian
Jazz Chronicles : An Improvisational Memoir, has just been published
by Yale University Press.