BILLY STRAYHORN – LIVE!!!
An overlooked gem from the Duke Ellington catalog – an unusual live session led by his longtime arranger Billy Strayhorn – with a vibe that's right up there with all the hippest of Duke's own albums from the time! The set's presented in true Roulette Records fashion – without much in the way of notes, or listings of the players – although from the sound of the set, we're guessing that bill had most of Duke's sidemen on hand, as he did on his album for Verve with Johnny Hodges from the same time – and as on that set, there's plenty of room for solo passages here, especially on some of the more extended tracks. The recording quality is great – maybe a bit more of an edge than some of Ellington's Columbia dates – and titles include "All Of Me", "Mr Gentle & Mr Cool", "Jeep's Blues", "Sophisticated Lady", and "Passion Flower". (SHM-CD pressing!) ~ Dusty Groove
STEVE FIDYK – ALLIED FORCES
Drummer Steve Fidyk's the leader here, and his talents really give the album a sharp sort of crackle – but we especially love the record's interplay between the mighty Hammond talents of Brian Charette, the tenor of Doug Webb, and alto of Joseph Henson! The trio come together without any bassist at the bottom – just Charette's work on the organ to groove things up – but they also get some great help from guitarist Shawn Purcell, who laces things together nicely over Fidyk's crackling drums – leaving the two horns and keys to create these magical criss-crossing lines of sound! Titles include the Fidyk originals "Gaffe", "Good Turns", "Food Court Drifter", "Portrait Of Tamela", "High Five", and "One For TJ" – plus a sweet take on the Beach Boys' "In My Room". ~ Dusty Groove
FLORIAN WEBER / DONNY MCCASLIN / DAN WEISS – CRISS CROSS: EXPLORING THE MUSIC OF MONK & BILL EVANS
A record that's way more than you'd guess from the Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans references in the title – as pianist Florian Weber plays both acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, often overdubbed at the same time for a really wonderful sound! Some of the music is maybe a bit like some of Evans' most creative electric piano work of the early 70s – but there's also a very personal, unique vibe to the whole set – partly due to Weber's handling of the keys, and the tremendous tenor work of Donny McCaslin, who really gets to step out in the trio setting – driven onward by the drums of Dan Weiss! At times, the match of piano and tenor has the angular qualities of Monk with Charlie Rouse – but to say that would also really under-describe the special energy going on between Florian and Donny here. Titles include "Judas", "Ruby My Dear", "TTTT", "Since We Met", "Spring Is Here", "Evidence", and "Four In One". ~ Dusty Groove