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Sonny Stitt is in excellent form on this Roulette CD. Recorded live at a Boston club, Stitt uses a local rhythm section (pianist Dean Earl, bassist Bernie Griggs and drummer Marquis Foster) as he jams on a variety of standards. Stitt mostly switches between alto and tenor, but on "Tri-Horn Blues" he takes solos not only on both of those saxes, but also on his rarely heard baritone. Overall, this CD gives one a good all-around sampling of early Sonny Stitt.
In the waning days of the 1993 tour, and the soon after disbanding of his finest — and longest standing — band, this single concert of the seven nights played at Santa Cruz. This double CD documents with a finality just what the quartet had achieved in its eight years together. Braxton had realized within this group of musicians a goal he had previously thought unattainable: the ability to interchange any composition from any of his periods with any other — and within each other — in a small group setting. And given the far-reaching musical tenets each of these "sets of compositions" notated by tracks are, that is no mean feat. The first set takes the now legendary "159" and adds to it the rhythm section improvisation from "30," and the piano saxophone duet from "108a."
This is the second of two CDs featuring the unusual trio of altoist John Zorn, trombonist George Lewis, and guitarist Bill Frisell. Recorded live in concert, the group interprets fresh renditions of hard bop oriented pieces by Sonny Clark, Hank Mobley, Big John Patton, Kenny Dorham, and Freddie Redd, in addition to one selection from Misha Mengelberg. The music swings in its own fashion and, although it tugs at the boundaries of the bop tradition, it mostly stays within its borders. Bill Frisell, operating as the entire rhythm section, is a wonder as usual. Recommended, as is the first volume News for Lulu.
The Jeff Lorber Fusion's 1970s grooves were hip enough for Nelly to sample them on his 2003 "Pimp Juice" remix. On Lorber's latest CD, the Philly-born keyboardist delivers some of his trademark funk, albeit with musical twists, and a slew of guests from saxophonists Kirk Whalum and Tom Scott, guitarist Russell Malone, and trumpeter Chris Botti to the horns from Blood, Sweat & Tears. His smooth-jazz fans will dig Lorber's lovely rendition of Bill Wither's "Grandma's Hands," graced with Eric Benet's impassioned vocal, and "The Other Side of the Heart," the quiet storm duet with Benet and Holly Cole. But, like a few of his contemporaries, Lorber unplugs and takes to the acoustic ivories on the orchestral, Aaron Copeland-esque overture "Anthem for a New America." He increases his swing cred on the Gil Evans-ghosted "Surreptitious" and "BC Bop" and proves that some smooth stars still have a little hard bop left in them.