Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Four good choices and a sackbut joke, too

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There's been a rush of new, good CDs to review. Here are four you might want to consider:

-- Anat Cohen, Claroscuro (Anzic Records)

Multi-reedist Anat Cohen showcases her versatility as an instrumentalist and in her choice of musical styles on her sixth album as a leader.

The Israeli-born, New York-based Cohen combines buoyant dances and dark ballads; thus the title, which describes the play of light and shade in art.

Cohen -- playing clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor and soprano saxophones -- swings on an Artie Shaw tune, Nightmare, and transports La Vie En Rose from Paris to New Orleans with the help of trombonist and vocalist Wycliffe Gordon.

She and her working band of pianist Jason Lindner, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Daniel Freedman are also joined by clarinet great Paquito D'Rivera and percussionist Gilmar Gomes.

And The World Weeps, a Dr. Lonnie Smith blues, is a tour de force with saxophonist Cohen and trombonist Gordon getting down and dirty, with a Middle Eastern tinge.

Another great Cohen recording.

-- Fred Hersch Trio, Alive at the Vanguard (Palmetto Records)

New York Pianist Fred Hersch has a certain affinity for the Village Vanguard jazz club, where he performs often and has recorded trio and solo CDs.

Either one of the two discs in this set -- recorded with bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson -- would make another great trio recording by the supple pianist. Instead, you get a twofer.

Hersch composed seven of the 15 tracks, and on Opener, written for McPherson, he delicately draws a beautiful melody while Hébert and McPherson burn behind him. The pianist also gives a nod to jazz legends such as Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman and Paul Motian.

Alive is a brilliant trio recording by a terrific group.

-- Brandi Disterheft, Gratitude (Justin Time)

New York bassist and Canadian expat Brandi Disterheft fronts an A-list band on this, her third album.

Disterheft, who composed six of the 10 tunes here, has a warm tone, great command of her instrument, and she can swing easily alongside bandmates Renee Rosnes (piano), Gregory Hutchinson (drums), Sean Jones (trumpet), Vincent Herring (alto saxophone) and Anne Drummond (flutes).

The bassist shines on her composition Portrait of Duke, remaining a front-line presence throughout great solos by Jones and Hutchinson as well as soloing herself.

She plays Gershwin's The Man I Love unaccompanied and she and Hutchinson perform a duo version of Compared to What, the soul-jazz number that Les McCann and Eddie Harris turned into a hit on the 1969 album Swiss Movement -- it's a treat.

-- Joe Fiedler's Big Sackbut (Yellow Sound Label)

For those few of you who may not be familiar with the sackbut, it is the earliest form of the trombone. Despite the title, no sackbuts were used in the production of this recording -- instead there are three trombones played by Joe Fiedler, Ryan Keberle and Josh Roseman and a rhythm section of Marcus Rojas on tuba.

The Crab, one of seven Fiedler compositions on the 10-tune CD, is the kind of punchy piece you'd expect from a brass quartet; Don Pullen, a tribute to the late pianist, is a delightful soulful number with Keberle getting the solo spotlight. Fiedler's soloing on #11 is wonderfully melodic, evocative.

Rojas steps up front with an introduction to Ging Gong in long, low tones and a lovely melodic solo about midway.

This quartet is worth a listen, even if you're not familiar with brass ensembles. And Fiedler has a little fun with the sackbut name in the album title and on the track Does This Make My Sackbut Look Big? C'mon, who doesn't like sackbut jokes?

-- -- --

Don't forget The Bad Plus performs Thursday, Oct. 4, at West End Cultural Centre as part of Jazz Winnipeg's fall/winter concert season. The progressive jazz trio, which last was here in 2009, performs at 8 p.m.; tickets $25 advance/$30 door.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 24, 2012 D3

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