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Los Angeles Jazz Scene - CD Reviews
                 November 2017
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Richie Cole
Latin Lover
(Richie Cole Presents)
      
Ever since he settled in Pittsburgh a couple of years ago, altoist Richie Cole has enjoyed a renaissance. He works
regularly around town, goes on tours, and records prolifically. His latest recording, Latin Lover, is a delight and
features him at the peak of his powers.
      
The music of Latin Lover is not so much Latin jazz (there are no added percussionists) as a combination of Latin
themes turned into swinging bop and some unlikely material given a Brazilian twist. Cole is joined by guitarist Eric
Susoeff, pianist and keyboardist Kevin Moore, bassist Mark Perna (who has produced many of the altoist’s recent
recordings) and drummer Vince Taglieri. The repertoire is typically wide-ranging for Cole, whose concept of “Alto
Madness” has always been that practically any song can be turned into swinging jazz.
      
Among the many highlights are a Latinized version of “ If I Only Had A Brain,”  an exuberant  “Celito Linda,”
Debussy’s “Claire De Lune”  transformed into “ L’ Eclipse de Lune,” “Serenata”  (which the altoist caresses before
swinging), and even Neil Sedaka’s “ Laughter I The Rain.” While it is not clear what “Harlem Nocturne” and a hard-
swinging “Almost Like Being In Love” are doing on this set, one certainly does not mind their inclusion. Cole also
contributed four originals including “Girl From Carnegie” which is a thinly disguised “Girl From Ipanema” given a
different and appealing melody.
      
Richie Cole’s beautiful tone, fertile imagination and wit are very much in evidence throughout this very enjoyable
set. Latin Lover (available from www.markpernamusic.com) is highly recommended.
                                                   

Benny Green
Happiness!
(Sunnyside)
      
One of the finest jazz pianists of the past 30 years, Benny Green has yet to make an unworthy record. In recent times,
Green has been exploring worthy obscurities from the hard bop era.
On Happiness, the pianist (along with bassist David Wong and drummer Rodney Green) performs a song apiece by
Horace Silver (“The St. Vitus Dance”), Freddie Hubbard, Thad Jones, Duke Pearson, and Wes Montgomery plus two
by Cedar Walton and Green’s own “Pittsburgh Brethren.” None of the songs are well known but all sound fresh and
lively.

Throughout this swinging disc, Benny Green sounds very much like a Blue Note pianist circa 1960-65 without being
a pale imitation of anyone. As usual, he shows that he can play octaves as fast and creatively as anyone; that skill is
displayed on “Twisted Blues.” Among the other highlights are the uptempo “The St. Vitus Dance,”  the tightness of
the trio on “ Down Under,” several excellent bass solos, and Green’s “ Pittsburgh Brethren” which easily fits into the
music of the era.
      
Happiness consolidates Benny Green’s position as one of the giants of today’s hard bop scene. This live set is available
from www.sunnysiderecords.com.
                                                      

Kelly Green
Life Rearranged
(Self-Released)
      
It is difficult to believe that Life Rearranged is Kelly Green’s recording debut (not counting an album of originals that
she recorded while in high school). Her piano playing is sophisticated and modern while also being connected to the
tradition. Her vocals (heard on half of the numbers) are subtle, quietly expressive and full of insight. Ms. Green
contributed six of the dozen selections to Life Rearranged while choosing the six standards carefully, only performing
lyrics that are meaningful to her. And she contributed all of the arrangements for groups ranging from a sextet to
her solo version of the title piece.
      
There are many highpoints to this impressive set.  “Never Will I Marry” and “I Should Care” are given fresh vocals as
Kelly Green really digs into the words. “If You Thought To Ask Me” is a moody instrumental that is well worth being
adopted by others. Tenor-saxophonist Jovan Alexandre and trumpeter Josh Evans both blow up a storm during the
lengthy and episodic “Culture Shock” (altoist Mike Troy is excellent too) while bassist Christian McBride and
vibraphonist Steve Nelson make welcome contributions to a few selections.
      
But the main star is Kelly Green, whose wistful ballad singing on “Simple Feelings” and “If I’m Lucky” show a
maturity that one would not expect from a performer near the beginning of her career. Life Rearranged is highly
recommended and available rom www.kellygreenpiano.com.
                                                

Eric Hofbauer Quintet
Reminiscing In Tempo – Prehistoric Jazz, Vol. 4
(Creative Nation Music)
      
Duke Ellington recorded the four-part 12-minute “Reminiscing In Tempo” with his orchestra in 1935 in memory of
his recently deceased mother. It has a haunting and memorable theme and, quite unusual for the period, no
improvisation other than some piano interludes. It received mixed reviews at the time but clearly meant a great deal
to the composer.
      
80 years later, guitarist-arranger-composer Eric Hofbauer recorded this EP which consists solely of his 24 ½ minute
version of “Reminiscing In Tempo.” Hofbauer’s quintet consists of trumpeter Jerry Sabatini, Todd Brunel on clarinet
and bass clarinet, cellist Junko Fujiwara, drummer Curt Newton and the leader’s guitar. The new version is opened
up quite a bit with the inclusion of solos and (near its conclusion) group improvising but it also retains the essence of
the original.
      
Hofbauer’s arrangement always keeps the melody close by and the musicians, particularly trumpeter Sabatini, play
very much in the style of the period. The results are fascinating and well worth several listens, holding its own with
the original recording.
      
Reminiscing In Tempo is available from www.erichofbauer.com.
                                                    

Neil Maxa
Voila
(Self-released)
    
During the past couple of decades, trombonist Neil Maxa has been active on the Las Vegas music scene, playing
behind many top acts and in show bands. However, like the late Carl Fontana (who also worked steadily in Las
Vegas), Maxa is a fluent and boppish trombone soloist who deserves to be heard.
      
On his recent EP, Maxa is joined by pianist Dave Loeb, bassist Steve Flora and drummer Bob Chmel for five songs
totaling 25 minutes. The music is a delight and will remind some of Frank Rosolino’s playing in the 1950s and ‘60s.
Maxa has an extroverted style and obviously knows straight ahead jazz very well.
      
The set is comprised of Rosolino’s “Blue Daniel” (usually a waltz, it is swung here in 4/4), a faster-than-usual version
of “Emily,” the Rosolino medium-tempo blues “Free For All,” Blue Mitchell’s “Fungii Mama” and Hank Mobley’s “This
I Dig Of You.” Throughout this spirited program, which includes a few fine Loeb piano solos, the focus is mostly on the
trombonist who is in consistently joyous form.
      
This is fun and swinging music that is well worth discovering. Voila is available from www.neilmaxa.com.
                                                 

Sabine
Destiny
(Self-Released)
      
Originally a classical pianist, Sabine switched to jazz early in her career and has since become a regular fixture in
Southern California jazz clubs. While she has worked with such notables as Clayton Cameron, Scotty Barnhart,
Chuck Manning and Barbara Morrison among others, she is most frequently heard at the head of her own trios.
      
Destiny features Sabine leading a group also including bassist Tony Dumas and drummer Jon Stuart. They perform
seven of her originals plus Chick Corea’s “Humpty Dumpty” and “’Round Midnight.” Throughout the program,
Sabine displays her own voice within the modern mainstream of jazz. Her chord voicings are original (as can be
heard on the dark “God’s Rest”), she creates some modern bebop (“Chase The Dream”), and always swings. The
opener, an uptempo version of the rarely-performed “Humpty Dumpty,” sets a high bar for the set. Sabine explores a
variety of moods and tempos, her sidemen provide stimulating accompaniment and colorful solos, and the music is
full of subtle surprises. Sabine switches to electric piano for the last three songs including the catchy blues “Little
Fact” and a swinging “’Round Midnight.” The packaging of the CD could be a bit better (the songs should be listed on
the inner sleeve rather than just on the CD, and the last two songs are in reverse order) but the music is consistently
excellent.
      
Destiny is a fine place to start discovering Sabine and her music. It is available from www.sabinepiano.com.
                                                

Lauren Kinhan
A Sleepin’ Bee
(Dotted i)
      
A member of the New York Voices since 1992, Lauren Kinhan has also had a viable solo career that has included
touring and recording with Ornette Coleman, teaming up with Janis Siegel and Laurel Masse in JaLaLa, and
recording her own string of albums.

As a child, Kinhan loved the classic Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley recording. A Sleepin’ Bee features her
performing the six vocal numbers from that famous project plus four other songs that Wilson waxed during 1960-64.
Lauren Kinhan does not attempt to sound like Wilson. Her powerful voice is more extroverted and she regularly
stretches herself both in her scatting and sonically. Joined by pianist Andy Ezrin, bassist Matt Penman, drummer
Jared Schonig and, on a few numbers, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, Kinhan brings her own jazz knowledge, soul and
passion to these songs. To name a few highlights, on George Shearing’s obscure “Let’s Live Again,” she makes the
difficult interval jumps and wide range seem effortless.  “A Sleeping Bee” finds her swinging with the excellent
rhythm section while “How Glad I Am” sounds like vintage r&b with a touch of country.  Her wild flight borders on
the avant-garde on “Never Will I Marry.” “Save Your Love For Me” is taken slow and is filled with soulful yearning.
While it is probably time to retire “Guess Who I Saw Today,” it is a joy to have Nat Adderley’s “The Old Country”
getting a revival. “Happy Time” is one of several numbers uplifted by the playing of Ingrid Jensen and the rhythm
section (with pianist Ezrin getting many short solos) is a major asset throughout.
      
Sleepin’ Bee, which is full of colorful moments and adventurous singing, is highly recommended and available from
www.laurenkinhan.com.
                                                   

Teri Roiger
Ghost Of Yesterday
(Dot Time)
      
Teri Roiger, who had previously recorded a tribute album to Abbey Lincoln (Dear Abbey), pays homage to Lady Day
on Ghost Of Yesterday. It is a fitting project since Ms. Roiger was originally inspired to pursue jazz after hearing some
of Billie Holiday’s recordings.
      
On Ghost Of Yesterday, while she occasionally hints at Holiday’s sound (most notably on “Lady Sings The Blues”),
Teri Roiger does not imitate her and instead sings in her own voice. Ten songs associated with Holiday are performed
along with the Gil Scott Heron blues “Lady Day and John Coltrane” and “Lady Day;” the latter has Roiger’s lyrics and
is getting its recording debut.
      
Teri Roiger and her trio (pianist Wayne Hawkins, bassist John Menegon and drummer Steve Williams) are joined by
several guests on this set including trombonist Roswell Rudd (who fits perfectly on “Fine And Mellow”), tenor-
saxophonist Jay Collins (sounding a bit like Ben Webster on “It’s Easy To Remember”), and trumpeter Rebecca Coupe
Franks. The treatments of the swing standards often differ from Holiday’s recordings. “What A Little Moonlight Can
Do” (which includes some fine scatting) is taken slightly slower than usual, “You Don’t Know What Love Is” has a
very atmospheric arrangement, “These Foolish Things” is transformed into a jazz waltz, and two songs (“Fine And
Mellow” and “Ghost Of A Chance”) feature vocalese sung to Lester Young’s solos. Most unusual is that Roiger sings
vocalese set to an Ella Fitzgerald scat vocal on “Them There Eyes,” one of the most exciting performances of the set.
      
Everything works well on Ghost Of Yesterday, a CD that will be enjoyed by fans of both Billie Holiday and Teri Roiger.
It is available from www.dottimerecords.com.
                                                    

The Street Of Dreams Trio
Celebrating Larry Young
(Cojazz)
      
Larry Young (1940-78) was the first major organist to emerge after the rise of Jimmy Smith in the mid-1950s who
developed his own voice apart from Smith. Young, as with most organists of his generation, started out under Smith’s
influence but moved his instrument a decade ahead, being inspired by John Coltrane more than Charlie Parker, and
developing an inventive style that perfectly fit the music of the 1960s and ‘70s.
      
The Street Of Dreams Trio, which is comprised of organist Jon Eshelman, vibraphonist Dick Sisto and its leader
drummer Lee McKinney, gets its name from Young’s 1964 album which featured the organist, vibraphonist Bobby
Hutcherson, guitarist Grant Green and drummer Elvin Jones. The group performs five Larry Young compositions,
Woody Shaw’s “The Moontrane,” two originals by McKinney and “Street Of Dreams.”
      
The music on Celebrating Larry Young parallels the first half of Young’s career, ranging from a straight ahead blues
“Luncy Tune” and a boppish “Street Of Dreams” to more modal pieces. Sisto sounds a bit like Bobby Hutcherson and,
for a change of pace, effectively switches to African talking drums on McKinney’s “Blue Nile.” Organist Eshelman has
some aspects of both Young and Jimmy Smith in his style without sounding like a duplicate of either while McKinney
keeps the momentum flowing in his supportive drumming and occasional solos.
      
Celebrating Larry Young will make for a fun listen for anyone interested in jazz organ groups. It is available from
www.cojazz.com.
                                                    

Various Artists
Innerpeace
(We Want Sounds)
      
When the recordings on this CD, drawn from the Mainstream catalog of 1971-73, was originally released, it was
largely overlooked. The music, produced by Bob Shad, was too funky for straight ahead and hard bop jazz fans, not as
advanced as fusion or the avant-garde, and not quite commercial enough for bigger sales. The records, which soon
went out-of-print, were largely forgotten even though DJs starting in the late 1970s utilized samples of some of the
selections for use as dance music.
      
More than four decades later, the music sounds better now than the first time around. While the rhythms tend to be
funky, they are not overly predictable and usually are accompanying passionate solos. The 11 selections on
Innerpeace (which is available from www.wewantsounds.com) cover a variety of moods and include many heated
solos and ensembles. Featured along the way taking solos are such notables as tenor-saxophonists Harold Land,
Hadley Caliman and Frank Foster (who leads a large ensemble), trumpeters Sal Marquez (taking one of the best solos
of his career on the relatively straight ahead “Libra’s Longing”) and Oscar Brashear, the Wes Montgomery-inspired
guitarist Roland Prince, altoist Chris Woods, Kenny Barron and Albert Dailey (both on electric pianos) and bassist
Stanley Clarke.
      
Innerpeace is an excellent sampling of the music recorded by Bob Shad in the early 1970s and makes it clear that a re-
evaluation of these records is overdue. It is available from www.wewantsounds.com.
                                                    

Kenny Wright Experience
Jazz Expression
(Self-released)

In his career, bassist Kenny Wright has worked with the Supremes, Bobby Humphrey, Oscar Brown Jr. and others in
the r&b and contemporary jazz fields. A versatile bassist with an attractive sound and a fluent style, he leads the jazz-
oriented Kenny Wright Experience and has organized several albums of his own since 1993 of which Jazz Expression
is his seventh.
      
While Jazz Expression features several overlapping groups of musicians, it has a strong unity and flows easily from
one selection to another. Wright, who wrote all of the songs other than the two standards, takes concise solos on many
of the performances but does not dominate the music. He gives his talented sidemen plenty of opportunities to shine
while he provides stimulating and inspiring accompaniment.
      
The program begins with the thoughtful “Through The Mist” which evolves from a somber melody to a passionate
jazz waltz with fine solos from guitarist David Cosby and Charles Etzel on electric piano. This version of “All The
Things You Are” is most notable for Jacob Yoffee’s soprano playing. The energetic “Five Or Six” has sections in 5/4
and 6/4 time (thus its title) and excellent solos from Yoffee on soprano and pianist Elliot Levine.
      
“Satisfy My Love” is an attractive groove piece that has Kelly Shepherd on soprano floating over the funky vamp. A
change of pace, “Motion Is the Only Constant” finds Wright playing all of the instruments (bass, guitar and drum
programming) and creating a bluesy background while also providing narration that discusses the importance of
motion to life. “The Line Up” begins a bit funky before becoming a straight ahead minor-toned blues. Soprano-
saxophonist Kelly Shepherd and Etzel on electric piano make strong statements but Wendell Shepherd’s colorful and
inventive trumpet solo takes honors.
      
The catchy theme of “Angela” along with Hasaan Sabree’s passionate soprano playing make this original one of the
highpoints of the CD. Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance” has particularly inventive solos from altoist Yoffee and
Wright, both of whom really dig into the song. ‘Lula,” an excellent ballad performance by a trio with pianist Etzel,
drummer Eric Kennedy and Wright, adds variety and another strong melody to the program. “Krystal” has an
appealing groove and colorful statements from guitarist Cosby and Steve Carrington on tenor. The relatively straight
ahead “Blue Tuesday” has Yoffee showing that he is also quite skilled on tenor. “Oakk Studio Jam” is a spontaneous
cooking blues in which Wright swings hard in a trio with electric pianist Paul Onheiser and drummer Steve
Onheiser. The program concludes with the leader’s “The Waterbearer Revisited,” a driving piece that features the
unusual use of George Spika on celeste, a rockish guitar solo by David Cosby and some fine keyboard work from
Camarra Kambron.
      
Jazz Expression (which is available from www.kennywrightexperience.com) holds one’s interest throughout, giving
listeners a strong sampling of the music of Kenny Wright.
                                                     

Robyn Spangler
Something Cool - The Billy Barnes Sessions
(Other Productions)
      
Billy Barnes (1927-2012) was a songwriter best known for “Something Cool”  and “Too Long At The Fair” but he
wrote quite a bit more in his lengthy career. He wrote songs for television variety shows, Broadway shows, club acts,
theatrical revues and practically every major performer of the 1950s and ‘60s who appeared on television.
      
Actress and singer Robyn Spangler proves to be the perfect person to interpret a full set of Billy Barnes’ music. She has
a very attractive voice, can express a wide range of emotions, and brings the right amount of drama and swing to
these songs. She is joined by pianist Todd Schroeder, bassist Tim Christensen, drummer Chris Jago, and (on three
songs) Robert Kyle on tenor and flute.
      
In addition to the two hits, the highlights include “Talkin’ To Myself Again,”  “Does Anybody Here Love Me” and “Just
Up Ahead” which are among the songs that other vocalists should be exploring when they want fresh material. The
singer’s liner notes are an added plus, telling the story behind the tunes and lyrics.
      
Robyn Spangler does Billy Barnes’ songs justice throughout this inspired set. Something Cool is available from www.
robynspangler.com.