Greg Abate (saxes, flute); Kenny Barron (piano); Dezron Douglas (bass); Johnathan Blake (drums).
I think it was during the journey from Llandudno to Manchester Airport on the day after Greg’s appearance at the North Wales Jazz Festival that that he mentioned that he was thinking of recording an album featuring the tunes of Kenny Barron. I thought that sounded a pretty cool idea. When he said that he also wanted to record it at the famous Rudy Van Gelder studios in New Jersey using Kenny’s trio I thought that was one ambitious project, but when Greg decides to do something it usually gets done.
So in due course, after many setbacks due to lockdown and many days spent arranging the fourteen songs so that the end result was of a suitably high standard, the double CD was released and made a big impact on the US jazz radio charts.
I first heard Kenny Barron on Jimmy Owens’ Atlantic LP You Had Better Listen. He wrote two tunes on this fine album Gichi and Carolina John. Later I heard Barron live when he was part of the Freddie Hubbard/Joe Henderson Quintet at the Antibes Jazz Festival in the south of France. The only other time I saw him live was on a jazz cruise when his band Sphere played to a ship full of jazz fans to great acclaim. Of course he also spent time backing the late tenor icon Stan Getz and he plays frequently around New York at venues such as Smalls and Mezzrow’s.
I decided to play the second CD first as it contained Voyage which I would say is the most played of his many tunes. Greg featured a sax section on the theme by use of overdubs and he has done a great job of scoring the horns. There is another tune on side two that has a very catchy melody and that is Magic Dance. Also I like what Greg does with Innocence and here we have all the horns apart from the flute scored to good effect. This is certainly a departure from Greg’s previous releases but is has lots of energetic solos that are a hallmark of his work. This is music that you have to listen to many times and after repeated plays you will realise that Greg Abate has produced a true modern jazz masterpiece.
2021 O’S PLACE REVIEWS FOR: Whaling City Sound
Just Passing Thru
O’s Notes: Saxophonist, composer and producer Miles Donahue presents a fine contemporary jazz
set with Just Passing Through. Bassist Joe Santerre gets in the mix on “Living Room Blues”
before Donahue soothes us on song “Killing Me Softly”, the lone cover. Guest Mike Stern (g)
adds fusion elements to “7-9-65” and the funky “Railroaded”. We also enjoyed the cool vibe of
“Donny’s Groove” and “A Man of Few Words”.
O’s Notes: Cool Water is a good title for this mix of mostly original, modern jazz. Murphy does a
great job throughout the set providing support and tickling the ivory while leading the band. He
mixes in a taste of contemporary jazz on “My Life” featuring vocals from percussionist Kaïssa
Doumbe Moulongo and Ku-umba Frank Lacy. Lacy appears later singing and playing trombone
on “Coolin’ Me Out”. We loved the dynamics and the bass solo from Eric Wheeler on “Free Fur
Nina” and then with the bow on “Body and Soul”. We liked the spirit of the groove shining on
“Cuttin’ Trane’s Corners” where drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts comes alive as well!
O’s Notes: Reed master Greg Abate celebrates the music of the legendary pianist Kenny
Barron with Kenny Barron on piano, Dezron Douglas (b) and Johnathan Blake (d). This songbook
is 14 of Kenny’s best compositions over two discs. There’s a jovial groove that swings on “Cooks
Bay” with Greg varying the mood shifting from sax to flute. There is sweet sax harmony on
“Innocence”, passion on “Rain” and a hard swing on “Voyage”, just a few of the highlights.
O’s Notes: Guitarist and composer Jim Robitaille leads the way in this soft-fusion session with
bassist Bill Miele and Chris Poudrier on drums. The music is all original except for three covers
notably the cool, mellow version of Lennon/McCartney’s “Here, There and Everywhere”. They
serve up a taste of Latin on “When We Passed” and Miele adds a fine solo on “Chance Meeting”
to wrap up the set.
Only Love Will Stay
O’s Notes: Serbian guitarist Rale Micic leads most melodies with a relaxing groove that feels just
right. Jared Gold complements him on the B3 with drumming duties split between Johnathan
Blake and Geoff Clapp. The pandemic forced Micic to slow down, reflect, and try new things, as
illustrated on Only Love Will Stay. Highlights are “How Deep Is The Ocean”, “Riverdale”, “Lipe
Cvatu” and “Better Days Ahead”.
O’s Notes: Guitarist John Stein reflects on the dark light cast on the arts over the past two years
with a set that invites hope. Serendipity opens with a blues feeling on “Alfie’s Theme”, then a
dash of calypso “On Green Dolphin Street” before bouncing around through the rest of the
session. While Stein dominates on guitar, bassist Ed Lucie anchors the trio and drummer Mike
Connors trades riffs with him on “Labor Of Love”. It’s a cool recording arising from the wrath of
A Song of Hope
O’s Notes: Tenor saxophonist Eric Wyatt leads the charge with an excellent band that sizzles and
pops throughout the session. We enjoyed their cover of “Fragile” featuring vocalist Samara Joy,
the funky “Fur Live”, “Contemplation” and Watts’ rousing drum solo on “Of Things To Come
Rtk”, a duet with Wyatt. We also enjoyed “One For Hakim” featuring the entire band, a strong
showing for trumpeter Theo Croker, Wyatt and the fierce rhythm section: Donald Vega (p), Eric
Wheeler (b) and Jeff Watts (d).
Dave Zinno Unisphere
O’s Notes: Bassist Dave Zinno is back with Unisphere, his band that includes Mike Tucker (t-sax),
Eric Benny Bloom (t), Leo Genovese (keyboards), Tim Ray (p), Rafael Barata (d, perc) and
special guest Rafael Rocha (tb). Zinno immediately asserts himself on the opening title track with
a rousing intro. They play vigorous Modern Jazz blending Brazilian and American jazz that
leaves us feeling energized. After slowing down briefly on “Beatriz” they return to the feverish
pace. You can feel Zinno’s presence throughout the session but Tucker and Bloom also make hay
on “Melancholy Daydream” and on the mysterious “Nile” making Fetish a balanced effort.
Songs From My Father
O’s Notes: The pandemic put drummer/composer Gerry Gibbs 9th album on hold but a series of
discussions and fate led to him making Songs From My Father, an album dedicated to his father,
vibraphonist/composer Terry Gibbs. There are four distinct Thrasher Dream Trios: with 1. the late
Chick Corea (p) and Ron Carter (b), 2. Kenny Barron (p) and Buster Williams (b), 3. Patrice
Rushen (p) and Larry Goldings (B3), and 4. Geoff Keezer (p) and Christian McBride (b). Gerry
plays drums and percussion on all 19 tracks (2 discs). There’s an upbeat contemporary Latin vibe
on “Townhouse 3”, heavy swing on “Bopstacle Course” and “4 A.M.” They take a breath on
“Lonely Dreams”, a ballad before ending disc 1 with “Hey Chick” featuring vibraphonist Terry
Gibbs. Disc 2 ends with “Tango for Terry” composed by Chick for the elder Gibbs. This was
Corea’s last recording, adding to the allure of this historic recording.
Jay N. Miller
“MAGIC DANCE: THE MUSIC OF KENNY BARRON” by GREG ABATE (Whaling City Sound) Fall River native Abate and his quartet produce a superb two-CD set of music from NYC pianist Barron, who plays in the quartet with his pal Abate. Barron is one of the most unheralded giants in modern jazz, with the gift of suffusing everything he plays with a warm melodicism, no matter how edgy or complex it might be. Saxophonist Abate is another master of melody, so this is a labor of love that works tremendously well. From the delightfully playful ballad “Cook’s Bay” to the Charlie Parker intensity of “Lemuria,” to the breezy romp of “Voyage,” this is a work that will entice music fans to explore more of Abate and Barron’s work, and both are at the top of their game on this record.
Music Scene:R.I. jazz great Greg Abate takes on the music of Kenny Barron
“SONGS FROM MY FATHER” by GERRY GIBBS & THRASHER DREAM TRIOS (Whaling City Sound) His vast musical talent aside, New York City drummer Gerry Gibbs is a genius at conceptualizing jazz projects. This double-CD features 18 songs written by his dad, big band vibes player Terry Gibbs, now in his mid-90s. But Gerry Gibbs took his Thrasher Dream Trio idea to a new level, recruiting four separate groups to deliver this music. Produced during the pandemic, Gerry got around the problem of getting all these people together by packing up his car and a small trailer and driving to wherever they were – a wrinkle that convinces you he’s right when he says his wife, Kyeshie, is the unsung hero of the project. But the trios are jaw-droppingly excellent; with the late Chick Corea and bassist Ron Carter forming one; Kenny Barron and Buster Williams a second; Geoff Keezer and Christian McBride another; and one unique trio consisting of Patrice Rushen on piano and Larry Goldings on B3 organ. The four trios split the tunes evenly, so that just as you marvel at the heady Corea/Carter treatment of “Bopstacle Course,” you can then revel in the Keezer/McBride take on “Nutty Notes.” The Barron/Williams trio shines on “Kick Those Feet,” and that funky Rushen/Goldings trio does “Hippie Twist” with flair. There is one extra song, not penned by the senior Gibbs, and that is “Tango for Terry,” a tribute to the older Gibbs by Corea, and the Chelsea native’s playing on this album is his last recorded performance.
“YOU ARE THERE” by SHAWNN MONTEIRO (Whaling City Sound) Vocalist Monteiro has retired from teaching at the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School in Hartford and has also taught at Providence College and Rhode Island College. Half of these 12 tracks feature her usual pianist Mike Renzi, while the other half feature Kenny Barron with a core quartet and horns added to about half the tracks. Monteiro has chosen an eclectic collection of covers. The swinging “Let’s Eat Home” takes on a definite pandemic-inspired comic tone while her confident command of “Autumn Leaves” benefits from the way Barron embellishes the melody. “The Shadow of Your Smile” gets a vivid updating and Neil Sedaka’s “Alone At Last” swings with a gentle samba feel. Monteiro’s tone is remarkable throughout, with a smoky sensuality that makes each song feel intimate.