Friday, July 31, 2015

USA: Adair-Aliquo "Too Marvelous For Words" Coming In September

Adair Music Group

"Too Marvelous For Words"
Coming In September


Beegie Adair-piano
Don Aliquo-tenor saxophone

Roger Spencer-bass
Chris Brown-drums

(Adair Music Group)
Street Date: September 4, 2015

If anyone doubts the timelessness of classic jazz, one listen to saxophonist Don Aliquo and pianist Beegie Adair’s Too Marvelous for Words will convince them otherwise. “We were visualizing vintage, mid-Fifties, Be-Bop feel” states Beegie – and they fully captured it. Sometimes that intent can create a somewhat nostalgic feel, losing the immediacy that is at the core of all great jazz. In the hands of these two masters, quite the opposite occurred. The listener is instead transported into the mindset of that spectacular era, complete with all of the excitement, urgency, and joy of adventurous discovery that were its hallmarks.

A key reason for this is the remarkable empathy among all the musicians, creating the synergy that is so essential for jazz at its highest levels. The outstanding bass and drums tandem of Roger Spencer and Chris Brown respectively are the regular members of Beegie’s trio, contributing greatly to the sense of seamless cohesiveness and unity of purpose that fuels this entire album. While Don has performed often with the two of them over the years, he had performed far less frequently with Beegie before this date. But their profound connection is simply stunning, sounding as if they’ve been playing together regularly for years. Their interplay is so symbiotic that it often seems like they are dancing.

Playing mostly tenor, along with two pieces on alto, Don’s sound on both instruments is full-bodied and robust. His sensational phrasing is so articulate and emphatic that the stories he tells are vividly hewn, fascinating tales. His sound is steeped in the vernacular of the powerhouse saxophonists, but utterly singular and with a completely modern flair. Beegie, internationally loved and renowned, is a marvelous pianist, with an understated but dynamic style and a consummate sense of unfettered and always inventive swing, whether soloing or in ensemble support. Spencer’s deeply resonant sound and inspired playing gives the music a full, but always buoyant bottom. Combined with Brown’s sensitive, subtly vigorous but never overpowering sense of drive and swing, their impeccable time and taste locks every piece into a perfect groove.

The repertoire is sublime, combining wonderful items from the Great American Songbook with classic works from four of the jazz legacy’s greatest composers. That all but one of these compositions were originally written between 1937 and 1952 (the exception being Isfahan, one of the final Strayhorn/Ellington collaborations in 1966) is further testimony to the aforementioned timelessness of this music. Without losing sight of the era they were trying to capture, the exceptional arrangements make every piece modern, vital, refreshing, exhilarating and completely of the moment. The ten pieces include seven lively swingers, ranging from gentle to surging, and three lovely ballads.

There are three items from the unparalleled Billy Strayhorn – another collaboration with Duke; and his own Johnny Come Lately, which opens the album in a loping groove with a staggered approach that creates a somewhat Monk-ish feel. Isfahan is an almost-ballad in soft swing that grows bouncier as it moves along; and the exquisite Day Dream is built on Beegie’s lushly rich piano with Aliquo playing tenor, evoking the heart-wrenching beauty that Johnny Hodges always brought to this piece on alto.

Don brings his own passionate alto styling to Tadd Dameron’s beautiful If You Could See Me Now, an emotive and heartfelt rendition with a deep tinge of blue. Don also plays alto – with Beegie in a splendid Red Garland-ish swing mode – on the playful and joyously up-tempo This Can’t Be Love, one of two Rodgers & Hart songs included here. The other, a poignant and deeply moving version of It Never Entered My Mind showcases Don’s sumptuous tenor sax balladry.

Captivating rhythmic approaches are at play on the richly syncopated Fragos, Baker and Gasparre hit song I Hear a Rhapsody, and the Latin-flavored, ostinato driven All or Nothing at All (Arthur Altman) that features a tour-de-force tenor solo – powerfully visceral and daring, but never losing its rich lyricism. Beegie lays down a deeply grooved and funky bounce on Thelonious Monk’s Bye-Ya, and provides terrific interplay with Don’s fluid and punchy tenor work.

While Nashville is far more famous for another form of music, with jazz artists like these four on its scene, country music may have to move over a bit and make some room.

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Beegie Adair Itinerary

July 25 - Nashville Jazz Workshop (Nashville, TN) (Trio with Chester Thompson)
August 22 - Nashville Jazz Workshop (Nashville, TN) (Trio)
September 12- Steinway Galleries of Chicago - Hinsdale (Chicago, IL) (Solo)
September 13 - Steinway Galleries of Chicago - Northbrook (Chicago, IL) (Solo)
September 19 - Nashville Jazz Workshop (Nashville, TN) (Trio with Don Aliquo)
October 17- Nashville Jazz Workshop (Nashville, TN) (Trio with Chester Thompson)
October 18 - Schermerhorn Symphony Hall (Nashville, TN) (guest Trio with Nashville Symphony Orchestra)
October 24 - Jazzmania (Franklin, TN) (guest Trio with the Jeff Steinberg Orchestra)
November 21- Nashville Jazz Workshop: A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn (Nashville, TN) (Trio with Monica Ramey)
November 25 Saint Peter's Midday Jazz (New York, NY) (Duo with Monica Ramey)
December 5 - Steinway Piano Galleries of Miami (Miami, FL) (solo)
December 12 -  Nashville Jazz Workshop (Nashville, TN) (Trio with Chester Thompson) 
December 14 - SkyPac (Bowling Green, KY) (guest with Orchestra Kentucky)
January 29-  Western Kentucky University (Bowling Green, KY) (Trio with Mike Longo)
February 13 - Martin Methodist College (Pulaski, TN) (Trio)
March 10 - Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN) (Beegie Adair and Friends)

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