Saturday, June 27, 2009

First Take: Satoko Fujii/Myra Melford, Under The Water

Libra 202-024

Satoko Fujii, piano
Myra Melford, piano

I've been a longtime fan of both Ms. Fujii and Ms. Melford's work, but I had a moment's hesitation before I ordered this CD. Could they mesh their approaches and create something special? Would this be a case of "two great tastes that taste great together"? (My apologies to Reese's, and whoever's reading this.) I needn't have worried; to say Under The Water exceeded my expectations is putting it mildly.

Recorded live at Maybeck Studio in Berkeley, CA by the redoubtable Myles Boisen, the program consists of three duets and one solo performance from each artist. The solos are tremendous; you would expect that. It's the duets that just knocked me out. There's no meandering going on here, no sense of each feeling the other out. Fujii and Melford have a single-mindedness and sense of direction that's astonishing. At times it sounds like one very, very good pianist is playing and it's hard to separate the contributions. 

As soon as the CD finished, I couldn't wait to hear it again. One of the very best I've heard this year.

06/27/09 What I'm Listening To

Anthony Braxton, The Montreux/Berlin Concerts

Bud Powell, The Complete Blue Note and Roost Recordings

Satoko Fujii/Myra Melford, Under The Water

Paul Motion and the Electric Bebop Band, s/t

The Modern Jazz Society Presents a Concert of Contemporary Music

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Curious Case of Steve Kuhn

ECM Records has announced that they will be releasing a new recording from Steve Kuhn with Joe Lovano on 7/07/09 called Mostly Coltrane. I'm somewhat looking forward to hearing this, but Mr. Kuhn has been a frustrating figure to me for many years.

In the 70's, he released Trance, a wonderful album from a time when, as a friend once stated, "Every album ECM released was a classic." It was a unique fusion of jazz and classical music, with a dash of Kuhn's wry sense of humor. If memory serves, he went on to record a couple of more albums for ECM and then his output seemed to drop off.

I saw him with a trio at the Village Vanguard in New York in the mid-eighties and he put me to sleep. Every once in a while I've come across a CD of his, but they seemed to be standards-based, which struck me as curious because I liked his original compositions so much. I have his ECM CD Remembering Tomorrow, which again seemed a little lifeless to me, but I'm glad he's back with a new one on the label that's released his best work.

If anyone has opinions on the ECM albums he released in the late-seventies, Motility and Non-Fiction, please post a comment.

6/13/09 What I'm Listening To

Weather Report, Black Market

Satoko Fujii, Summer Suite

Clifford Jordan and John Gilmore, Blowin' in from Chicago

Wednesday Week, What We Had (N.C. indie rock from the '80s)

Tough Guys in Dub (dub reggae from the '80s)