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By Mel Minter
David Binney and Edward Simon Océanos (Criss Cross Jazz)
The musical approaches of pianist Edward Simon and altoist David Binney seem, on the surface, fairly disparate. Binney favors fire, speed and dynamism. Simon tends toward water, patience and understatement. Different paths, but the two longtime associates both find their ways to beautiful music, here with bassist Scott Colley, drummer Brian Blade and a host of guests (notably vocalist Luciana Souza and guitarist Adam Rogers). From the uncomplicated profundity of Simon’s “Govinda” to Colley’s intense but delicate “Amnesia” to Binney’s dreamy “We Dream Oceans,” Océanos offers a deeply musical and satisfying passage over the open water of original jazz.
Morrie Louden Time Piece (MoSound)
There’s something for nearly everyone on Time Piece, bassist Morrie Louden’s collection of 10 originals—including a lush nonet romance (“Gypsy’s Journey”), a modern quintet burner (“624 Main St.”—the CD’s high point), a sensuous septet bossa (“A Rosa”), and an 11-piece faux movie soundtrack (“Majique”). The title track offers a petite, almost programmatic chamber jazz suite. The diversity of styles doesn’t jangle, though, because it’s all grounded in Louden’s sophisticated (if sometimes soft) compositional style. Standout contributions come from Louden on bass, vocalist Gretchen Parlato, saxophonists Bob Sheppard and Seamus Blake, pianist Edward Simon, and arranger Gil Goldstein.
Wayne Escoffery Veneration (Savant Records)
On Veneration, his third excursion as a leader, tenorist Wayne Escoffery leads a tight quartet—with Joe Locke (vibes), Hans Glawishnig (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums)—live at the NYC club Smoke. Escoffery unwinds one long-spiraling, breathless solo after another, each building from firm foundations into ever-rarer realms. The quartet navigates one original and seven compositions from Ellington/Strayhorn, Dizzy Gillespie, Booker Little, Jackie McLean and others. The best moments come on McLean’s “Melody for Melonae,” a searching incantation; Little’s “Bee Vamp,” a smoking performance anchored by the rock-solid Nash; and Ellington/Strayhorn’s romantic “Isfahan,” featuring a swinging tenor/bass duet.
Jeremy Barnes & Thollem McDonas • electric duo • Heather Trost at Spirit Abuse
Power Drive Band • country at Caravan East
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