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6/16/18 Dori Rubbicco Reviewed by Jazz Quad

Vocal jazz does not appear so often in the Whaling City Sound catalogs, but if Neil Weiss publishes such an album, then it surely is worth it. And the album Stage Door Live! We’re presenting is in general a special case. Singer Dori Rubicco is one of the Directors of the Zeiterion Center for the Performing Arts in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and Dartmouth, where the headquarters of Whaling City Sound is located, is part of Greater New Bedford. Dori sings accompanied by John Harrison Ill’s Quintet. This pianist is also from New Bedford, and Neil Weiss in liner notes calls him one of New Bedford’s national treasures. Moreover, it was his name that stood on the cover of one of the first albums released by Weiss’s label. And finally, it was at Zeiterion that the concert recording comprising Stage Door Live! was made May 2017. As they say, all the stars came together.

But even without astrology, this is a very worthy project. Dori Rubicco is an experienced vocalist. She came from New England, since childhood she has been involved with music and jazz in particular, being the youngest of five sisters who also sought to make their way in various kinds of art. Dori has been acquainted with John Harrison III for a very long time, since the end of the 1970s, so that their professional contacts have a long history. However, at the beginning of her career, Dori went to California, and sang in Los Angeles. Later, she traveled a lot around the country and performed as a vocalist with the Miami Jazz Ensemble, the Gerald Wiggins Trio, and the Blues Train Band. Her return to her childhood haunts marked the resumption of her collaboration with John Harrison III as well.

Stage Door Live! is the fifth album in the discography of the singer and the second for Whaling City Sound. It is curious that the quintet that accompanied her at the concert in Zeiterion was put together by Harrison III specially for this event. Some of the musicians, for example, bassist William Mayely and drummer Yaron Israel, had never even played together before. Despite this, the quintet sounds very harmonious, as you can see from the starting composition of the album Roman Sun, written by John and the only purely instrumental piece, where saxophone, piano, percussion, guitar and again the saxophone put out a very decent level of sound. But with the next song and right up to the end of the album the voice of the instruments is led by Dori Rubicco. She starts with Imagine. To me, who grew up on the original version by John Lennon, it was unusual to hear the jazz arrangement, but, I must admit, it was done with great quality and with respect to the original. But in the collection of songs presented by Dori, I still prefer the charming bossa-nova Jobim Two Kites, beautifully performed by Dory in the classical jazz style of Throw It Away by Abby Lincoln and her pulsating scat in Twisted from the trio of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. With special interest I listened to Rubicco’s only original composition, Right Here Waiting – and was not disappointed. To my taste, this is one of the best numbers in the program. And its heterogeneity, as can be seen even from this small enumeration, evidences the universality of the singer’s talent. The spectators who gathered that evening in Zeiterion were clearly not disappointed.

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4.13 & 4.25 LEWIS PORTER-PHIL SCARFF GROUP | Celebrating Release of CD “Three Minutes to Four”

4.13 8p Celebrating Release of CD at Outpost, 186½ Hampshire St. (entrance on side alley), Inman Sq., Cambridge, MA –Donation $10
4.25 2:30p Celebrating Release of CD at John Cotton Dana Library, Rutgers University185 University Ave., Newark, NJ –Free admission

Music has taken saxophonist and composer Phil Scarff and pianist Lewis Porter to many places. They have performed and recorded around the world, as have their colleagues bassist John Funkhouser and drummer Bertram Lehmann. They’ve created music that takes listeners to exciting destinations. Their CD Three Minutes to Four is contemporary, East-meets-West jazz, where Indian raga merges with Western classical, where Ghanaian traditional fuses with improvisational, and where organic meets studied. Three Minutes to Four is where stunning performance creates pure jazz excitement.

The four musicians here have all been to the crossroads of world music and jazz, which is why this project really sings. Scarff regularly tours India and performs Indian classical concerts at major venues there. Porter, a prolific author and Ph.D., developed the only master’s program in Jazz History and has performed across the US and Europe with names like Liebman, Lovano, Bartz, and Ribot. Both Funkhouser and Lehmann are Berklee profs with a dizzying array of worldwide playing. Three Minutes to Four is at once deeply felt and eminently accessible, a glorious celebration of musical multiculturalism filtered through a prism of real jazz.

The critics are raving about Three Minutes to Four. Here’s what they have to say:
“Work at the highest level… With a soul.” – Jazz Quad
“Conceptually imaginative, impeccably performed.” – Downbeat
“Loaded with the smoking side of the east meets west… Real pros kicking it out.” – Midwest Record
“Absolutely beautiful.” – KCSB, Santa Barbara, CA

The Porter-Scarff Group features Lewis Porter, piano; Phil Scarff, tenor, soprano, and sopranino saxophones; John Funkhouser, string bass; and Bertram Lehmann, drums.

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Fred Farell/WCS

“Listening to Farell is like stepping back in Time, to mid-20th Century America, when Jazz and Romance were popular. His Sounscapes are like Odes to Love…Farell’s “Distant Song” provides enough soothing sounds for listeners to ponder the Human condition…He is joined by Dave Liebman on soprano & tenor Saxophones, and by Richie Beirach on acoustic Piano.” 
          “I give Fred, and his fellow master (musicians) an energy quotient rating of 4.99 for this CD.…One of the strongest Jazz Vocal performances I’ve listened to              yet in 2018.”
“…FARELL is the real deal in terms of Sincerity, his voice speaks authority as does the tender Truth expressed in his Lyrics…and musical arrangements…A performance that regularly stops you…in your tracks…”
“The mood of the Program is dark blue, solemn, and well matched to Fred’s Baritone, and the accompanying Instrumentation…with Farell writing all the Lyrics.”

“Fred Farell’s new CD is rewarding on several levels…”

“Fred Farell’s new CD is rewarding on several levels. His lyrics for the songs of Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach show that the instrumental pieces are surprisingly singable, adding to the jazz vocal repertoire. His singing is warm, quietly expressive, and really gets into the messages of the songs. And the playing of Liebman and Beirach is as creative as ever. Their fans will find much to enjoy on this rewarding set.”

Scott Yanow, Jazz journalist/Historian and Author of “The Jazz Singers”

Vocalist Fred Farell’s latest project Distant Song captures the music of Liebman and Beirach beautifully. Farell didn’t merely copy Liebman’s and Beirach’s compositions, he added sublime lyrics and a magically ethereal vocal style.

Devon Wendell, L.A. Jazz Scene

 

FRED FARELL began singing professionally during his military service in the USA, and Europe in 1967. His musical training includes: jazz vocal improvisation with pianist-composer and educator Richard Beirach; Private voice studies with Cynthia Hoffman, Richard Dorr, and Larry Chelsi; and music courses taken at The City College of New York; at which time he enrolled in Jazz studies taught by Jazz songstress and educator Sheila Jordan. His first appearances as a solo artist and group leader in New York, were at Loft galleries, and Jazz clubs during the 1970’s and early 1980’s; including return engagements at Sweet Basil, and Greene Street; during which time he was
an artist-member of Cobi Narita’s Universal Jazz Coalition. As a featured soloist, as well as an ensemble singer, Mr. Farell has performed at Avery Fisher Hall, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Kitchen, WBAI Radio, The Museum of Modern Art, and Symphony Space, with such jazz masters and artists as the late saxophonist Dexter Gordon; Pianists: Barry Harris, the late Albert Dailey, and Kenny Barron; Bassists: the late Herman Wright, Rufus Reid and Ratso Harris; Female Vocal Artist-educator Jay Clayton (The Voice Group); and Natural Sound Composer-pianist Kirk Nurock. In the creative expression of Jazz used to present the Gospel message, the singer has been a featured soloist with the Don Hanson Ensemble, led by the saxophonist-composer; has appeared on the Queens Public Cable TV Network; and is currently co-leader of the Gospel Jazz group “JazzLite”. In this group setting, Mr. Farell ministers with his gospel lyrics for original compositions, and Jazz standards, and features Pianists Jeff Kruh, and Joel Weiskopf in varying instrumental formats, depending upon the venues entered.

Richard Beirach, Dave Liebman, Frederick Farell, Red Rock Recording Studios, June 11, 2015. David W. Coulter Photography

Image from HighResAudio.

 

 

7/10: Jazz Quad Reviews John Stein and Dave Zinno’s “Wood and Strings”

For many years I’ve been listening to American guitarist John Stein (all his CDs go to Whaling City Sound and invariably get into our “CD-Reviews”) and he never ceases to amaze with every new work. This time it’s a duet album, where John’s bass player Dave Cinneau became a partner.

The story of this project was told in liner notes to the album by Stein himself (besides his notes, there is also a great text from John Thomas, not the first time commenting on the work of Stein). In 2016, Stein signed a contract for a month’s performances at one of the restaurants in New Bedford, Massachusetts (in this city the Whaling City Sound label is based). An old friend of John, the chief of the label named Neil Weis, recommended him as a partner to Dave Cinneau. All the “merged” so successfully, the musicians so approached each other that the idea was born to record a joint album. Some of it was recorded live, in the same restaurant, in the morning, before its official opening, and then, in a couple of weeks, the musicians moved to Stein’s home studio, where they finished the work with the help of the classy sound engineer Antonio Oliart Ros. So the album Wood and Strings was born.

“Wood and strings” – that’s what John and Dave called him, meaning his instruments, guitar and double bass. I would call it “Strings and Fingers” rather: it was the touch of the sensitive, all understanding and all able fingers of the musicians that created the magic miracle of wonderful music. The album contained 14 songs: Stein’s plays, standards and one song for Song for Now. The album can be savored as a delicious dish, if this “kitchen”, that is, mainstream jazz, you like. Stein has long and fairly been considered one of the elite guitarists of this trend. In the person of Zinno, he found a worthy partner. Up and at ‘Em, Switch-a-roo (Stein’s plays), Beatrice from Sam Rivers – above all praise. Of course, there was a place in the program and Brazilian jazz, to which Stein has very warm feelings: Modinha from de Moraes and Jobim album just decorated. Seventy minutes of clever, subtle, inventive music is Wood and Strings, at your service!

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