CD reviews 29-09-08

Curios: Closer (Impure)

****

Pianist and composer Tom Cawley, bassist Sam Burgess and drummer Joshua Blackmore begin delicately with a tune and mood that suggests a formally simple and exquisitely charged dance – a sarabande for two, perhaps, played out in a vast empty room. It doesn’t exactly match the title – Little Sharks & Baby Dolphins, but, hey, the interpretation is in the ear of the listener.

It’s followed by The Tiling Song, which has a drum motif in it that sounds more like the chipping away of tiles.

So nothing is as it seems, but it’s all quite compelling and fresh. This is a jazz piano trio with clear rock and classical influences, but which makes those musical influences fully coherent and creates the complete package in the process. Listen to the title track and feel yourself leaning into the speakers – well worth getting Closer.

Vassilis Tsabropoulos: Melos (ECM)

***

The Greek pianist has German cellist Anja Lechner with him once again, and again explores the music of G I Gurdjieff as well as his own writing. Delicate and evocative music with a strong folk music feel.

Gurdjieff’s Tibetan Dance is a particular beauty, with the most subtle of percussion from U T Gandhi and a strong melody line worked first by Lechner and then Tsabropoulos. The pianist’s own pieces are little more oblique but just as attractive.

Don’t come to this band for swing, but for a meditative and easily accessible beauty they certainly deliver.

Various: Sambistas  (Sambistas)

****

Thanks heavens for the Buena Vista Social Club. Translate the concept to another country and a whole bunch of long-forgotten pensioners get a new career.

To be fair, the veteran Brazilian singers who are spotlighted on Sambistas have probably not been struggling in obscurity – Jair Rodrigues has made 44 albums before this one, and Elza Soares has been awarded more recognition since being rediscovered in the 1980s. Brought together with younger Brazilian singers like Luciana Mello and Seu Jorge, and 40 of the country’s finest samba musicians, they all make a delightful summery sound to take us through the darkening days of autumn.

Brecker Brothers: Return Of The… (Verve)

***

Hugh Masekela: Home Is Where the Music Is (Verve)

***

Two welcome reissues in the new Originals imprint from Universal.

Return of… marked the early ‘90s revival of Michael and Randy’s fusion band, with added studio whiz. Some of it sounds a little dated, and Randy will insist on singing, but there is some good old funky power to pieces like Big Idea.

Masekela’s is from 1978 and masterminded by South African producer and arranger Caiphus Semenya. The Afro-American band has Dudu Pukwana fiery on alto, and Larry Willis crunchy on piano. Eddie Gomez is not the obvious choice as bassist, but works OK with drummer Makhaya Ntshoko.

Probably one for the dedicated follower of South African jazz, but fun nevertheless.



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