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December 27, 2008

Dennis Slater Reviews 2008 Jazz Releases

Written by
cindy mcleod

CD reviews, jazz, Canada

Dear Readers;

Today writer Dennis Slater contributes four CD Reviews featuring music by some of the nation’s leaders in jazz.

Dennis Slater is a Calgary author, educator, and curator, known for his published works of fiction, nonfiction, and jazz writings. Dennis teaches at the University of Calgary and works as chief curator and archivist for the Calgary Health Region collections.

Gerry Hebert Quartet

Gerry Hebert Quartet Constructive Interference
Plunge Records (2008)

Three words come to mind: lush, layered, and driven. Add an inspired use of electronics to this second CD from saxman Gerry Hebert, and you’ve defined Plunge Records 2008 release of Constructive Interference. Hebert’s demonstrated a real change in direction with this layered and complex offering from the newly fashioned Gerry Hebert Quartet. Still holding to its subtitled “The Beatniq Sessions” this album is a marked departure from Hebert’s ground-breaking release of 2003. In this incarnation, the new quartet, features Simon Fisk’s hard-driving bass, Aaron Young’s insightful guitarwork, and Jon May’s solid drum lines in a truly collaborative experience. Together, they craft rich, textured treatments of familiars like Peter Gabriel’s “With this Love,” and Lennon and McCartney’s “Norwegian Wood” to forays into powerful originals from May, Young, Hebert, and Fisk. Throughout, Hebert is in solid control of the tenor and soprano saxes, driving, pushing, and unfolding new directions. It would be an understatement to describe Gerry as in full stride in this newest release. This is a full on portrait of the saxman’s rich creativity.

Aaron Young CD Works

Aaron Young Works
Chronograph Records (2008)

This is a solid first solo effort by a guitarist known to many for his work with Sillan and Young, Simon, Fisk, Gerry Hebert, and the Polyjesters. Going solo means you bring your full skill set to the table, and that’s exactly what Aaron Young’s done with Works released by Chronograph last month. This CD overwhelmingly demonstrates Young’s precision and proficiency with his instrument. It also shows Aaron in full command of select covers ranging from the CD’s “django-esqe”opening track “Sweet Georgia Brown” driven by its light energetic treatment, to the introspective handling of Lennon and McCartney’s “Yesterday.” Young also showcases four original tunes, which, particularly with the layered and complex “Dancing with Aurora borealis,” shows the guitarist’s ability to evoke colour and visuals in his playing. Close your eyes and you’ll have no trouble visualizing the Aurora Borealis.

Hutchison/Andrew Trio Music Box

Hutchison/Andrew Trio Music Box
Chronograph Records (2008)

It’s a pleasure and a rarity to find an album so strong and also so firmly grounded in original material. With the release of Hutchinson Andrew Trio’s (Kodi Hutchinson – bass; Chris Andrew – piano; Sandro Dominelli – drums) Music Box in 2008, the bar was raised a bit higher for all Alberta jazz musicians. All but two selectionson this CD were penned by Chris Andrew; one is a Cole Porter tune, and the other is a co-effort with Hutchinson and Andrew. All tracks though, have something in common: solid, deep ensemble playing from three musicians who clearly know and anticipate each other, and who create a seemingly effortless collaboration. The result: consistent, clean, crisp piano work, anchored by steady, innovative drum and bass. All in all, it’s a very energized and layered CD which, with the tracks featuring guest saxman Ralph Bowen, is reminiscent of the tight interplay you’d associate with McCoy Tyner’s work with John Coltrane. The album’s last track, “Frack” is a high energy, pounding example of the full range of this trio’s power. Kodi Hutchinson’s bass work is simply awesome.

Lina Allemano Four Gridjam

Lina Allemano Four Gridjam
Lumo Records (2008)

There’s a reason Toronto-based trumpeter Lina Allemano has caught the attention of Downbeat reviewers in recent years. Her work is some of the most challenging and textured soundscapes in North American jazz circles. With the October 2008 release of Allemano’s third CD, Gridjam, she again demonstrates how much can be achieved by the collaboration of musicians. There is a true synergy at work in this album, and, as listener, you feel just how clearly these musicians understand and create from each other. Allemano’s clear crisp horn work plays with dissonance, and spins off of inspired alto sax laid down by Brodie West. The drums and bass lace through all the tracks like a powerful undercurrent: Nick Fraser’s drum work is strong and punctuating; Andrew Downing’s bass anchors each creative direction. And that direction is obvious through tracks 1-7: a CD of quiet and consistent energy.

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