Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Various Artists - Music For Jazz Dancers - 2010 - Freestyle Records

Freestyle Records hit us with a SUPERB set of Jazz dancers that have electrified the UK Jazz dance scene, embracing tracks from the past 4 decades. I have rattled on and on for a long time about how Jazz - proper Jazz, that is - is flourishing like never before here in the UK and in Europe especially, and fans of THAT brilliant, exciting Nu-Jazz sound are simply going to find themselves in heaven with this compilation. I have, to my shame, been ignorant of ALL the tracks and artists on this set and I bow graciously to Adrian Gibson for correcting this most heinous of musical crimes! I find myself exhilarated, excited and emboldened by sets like this - well, music like this more's the point. It's passionate, romantic, powerful, lively, exuberant, often chaotic and above all else FREE. It's this freedom, the simplicity of expression (as Billy Cobham would have it) that grabs me and boy do these songs capture, in a nutshell, what real and true Jazz is all about.

I have always been a fan of the super-talented Dianne Reeves and her 1995 collaboration with Peter Herbolzheimer and his Rhythm Combination and Brass is totally off the hook! Charlie Parker made this Ray Noble song famous, but this wonderful Lady takes it and makes it HERS. Oh, this is a song I cannot stop playing it. OK, I may own this song 15 years too late but such is a timeless still sounds great today. As, I can assure you, do the aforementioned versions. France's Mario Canonage delivers a serious MONSTER. Full of Afro-Cuban piano and pulsating Latin rhythm and percussion, "Kon DJab DJigidi" is as good as anything you would hear from the likes of the Jazz Messengers or Poncho Sanchez! A treasured addition for many will be "Alevacolariea" by Argentinian pianist Fernando Gelbard. This 1974 sizzler was as rare as rocking horse excreta and thanks to Freestyle is now available on a gloriously crackle-free CD!

I assume you are aware of the recent cover of Fred Johnson's "A Child Runs Free" by Mario Biondi and the High Five Quintet and I have to say that I prefer that version over this one by Japanese artist Primo Kim. Musically this is superb, though. It's the vocal that I find weaker and drowned by the instruments. Marcos Ariel's 1981 effort, "Samba Torto", is totally heart-racing stuff. Not only do we have the hypnotic Rio carnival feel but some haunting brass and sweet sax to boot. This is simply brilliant. Fans of big band will lap up "Youbetchalife" by the UK's very own Peter Cater Big Band. I can almost see the Nicholas Brothers tapping and jumping away to this and rightly so, to. Smooth Jazz anyone? No takers? Hmm? Odd that. Me neither! "Free Hands" is Afro-Cuban heaven and would not be out of place in late 1950s Havana. This, though, was recorded in 2005! Need I go on? The set flows on with finesse, class and style. It is an essential release in every sense. Pop it into your CD player, flick on your iPod or whatever - and just enjoy. Available May 31st.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

Pre-order on Amazon