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SPARKS QUARTET Live At Vision Festival XXVI

Live album · 2023 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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Ever since the advent of affordable recording equipment that allowed almost anyone to put out songs or albums with ease, the world ha been saturated with mediocre and unimaginative free improvisations. Since you no longer have to be good enough to get on a label, it seems there are too many artists just turning on the recorder and winging it for a while with their favorite axxe and a few friends and then calling the resultant recording their latest opus. There is one particular artist in Portugal who puts out free improv albums on an almost weekly basis. Needless to say, most of those recordings don’t seem to differ much from one another.

There is no need to despair though because there are still some artists who can play creative and downright riveting free improvisations, and one of the very best is Sparks Quartet, as exemplified on their latest CD, “Live at the Vision Festival XXVI”. Sparks is made up of William Parker on bass and other instruments, Eri Yamamoto on piano, Chad Fowler on woodwinds and Steve Hirsh on drums. Parker is the big name here, a first call NYC bass player who has played with many of the best, including a long stint with Cecil Taylor. Eri has played in William’s bands many times, so there is already a strong communication between those two. When playing live, Parker is set up in the middle of the band like an anchor while Eri points her piano towards him as they often establish a framework for the improvs while Steve interjects from the side with his percussion and Chad floats on the top like a butterfly and stings like a bee.

The playing on ‘Live at the Vision Festival’ is top notch, rarely a dull moment as the band sets up patterns and grooves and then lets them fall apart and then possibly regroups them again, while avoiding the clichés that mar a lot of today’s free improvisers. Unfortunately though, the recording quality on here is not the best. It sounds like they used one or two room mics, or just got a feed from the PA board, but the sound is vague and boomy with lots of high ceiling large room reverb. All the same, the music is good enough to save the day, but if you want to hear them in better circumstances, check out their first album, that one sounds great. Also, if you get a chance to see Sparks Quartet live, go for it, they will not disappoint.


Album · 2023 · Third Stream
Cover art 3.86 | 2 ratings
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Matti P
Drifting is the second album by the Norwegian saxophonist and composer METTE HENRIETTE (b. 1990). While the eponymous debut (2016) contains pieces for both trio and larger combos, here all music is for tenor sax, piano and cello. This is my very first listening of the artist. According to the All Music Guide "Drifting is gentler, quieter, but no less challenging than its predecessor. Its compositions reside in the amorphous aural terrain between jazz, folk, and contemporary classical."

That description sounds accurate. This is ambient, lyrical, thoughtful, peaceful and elegently spatial music that breathes organically. The given low rating here actually feels a bit strange without a review to explain it. To me, the album sounds very beautiful. The saxophone is often played gently in a breathy manner, Johan Lindvall's piano weaves meditative patterns and Judith Hamann's cello adds the needed warmth to the sound that is easy to associate with a wintery landscape (such as the one in the cover). Some slight dissonance here and there makes sure it all doesn't get too sleepy.

The composer herself has said that "this album is in movement. It's on its way somewhere and has its own pace -- its creative agency is fundamentally different from what I've done previously". Mette's countryman Jan Garbarek at his most meditative might be a good reference, and the more ambientish side of producer Manfred Eicher's trusted ECM oeuvre in general. Some kindred spirit as a saxophonist can also be found in Linda Fredriksson from Finland.

KOFI FLEXXX Flowers In The Dark

Album · 2023 · Eclectic Fusion
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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Kofi Flexxx is not a person, it's a new project of British artist Shabaka Hutchings, renown by his previous successful bands, The Comet Is Coming, Shabaka & the Ancestors and Sons Of Kemet. Here on Flexxx... Shabaka acts as a producer, collecting a strong team of co-patriots, pianist Alexander Hawkins (of the Convergence Quartet and Decoy) and three young females - drummer Jas Kayser, bassist Daisy George, plus flutist Ross Harris (of today's on-the top jazz hip-hop band Speakers Corner Quartet). The line-up is supported by six guests - singers/rappers.

All of Shabaka's previous music was eclectic, but this new work goes even further, almost each song is stylistically different. Repetitive African rhythms and minimalist tunes flying over them are two things uniting the album's music (and providing that specific for all of Shabaka's usual sound aesthetics).

The opener, "Apothecary", has a dark, almost industrial atmosphere and contains Nuyorican rapper Billy Woods (in fact, this would fit perfectly on one of Woods own albums). Side B of the three-sided vinyl album contains very similar songs as well - another Nuyorican rapper, Elucid's dark psychedelic liquid "Show Me ". Londoner Confucius MC is presented on the title track - a bit lighter mix of Afrocentric rhythms and progressive hip-hop. The fourth album's composition with lyrics "By Now (Accused of Magic)" is already usual for Shabaka's collaborations with Trinidadian/Londoner poet and artist Anthony Joseph, some similar Caribbean-influenced collaborative songs can be found on both Hutchings and Joseph previous solo albums. "Aim", the album's longest composition, contains South African vocalist Siyabonga Mthembu (already known from his participation in another Shabaka project - Shabaka And The Ancestors).

The album's first instrumental piece - "It Was All a Dream" - is a bitter-sweet Caribbean percussive tune with plenty of piano and flute jazzy improves. B-side closer, lengthy, "Babylon Dun Topple", is a true free jazz composition, dissonant, with lots of all instruments improvising, framed with considerable African percussion.

C-side percussive opener, "Increase Awareness", sounds softer and brighter, with repetitive Indian ragas touch. Set's closer, "Fire", is a traditional spiritual jazz piece.

Shabaka Hutchings has issued a statement elaborating on his decision to stop playing saxophone from the end of this year. He's planning to concentrate on producing and other instruments. Kofi Flexxx is an obvious step from Shabaka's past towards his upcoming plans - a bit too eclectic and heterogeneous, but with some interesting ideas which possibly will be developed by him in a nearest future.


Album · 2023 · Blues
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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If you want to know what blues and RnB influenced rock bands like the Rolling Stones wished they sounded like, just check out Robert Finley’s “Black Bayou”. Robert is the real deal. Raised in rural North Louisiana, he spent much of his life working as a carpenter who sidelined as a blues man playing the small juke joints in the area. Encroaching blindness finally took away his carpentry job and so he had to turn to music solely. Although there is nothing good about being blind, it did push his music career forward and more opportunities have come his way as a performer. “Black Bayou” is his latest album and it was recorded in Nashville. The music is a mix of blues, RnB, rock and country, and he can really rock when he wants to. “What Goes Around” could be an ACDC song if the guitars were a little heavier and the vocals more annoying.

Robert decided to cut this album without rehearsal. Most of the recordings are first takes and it shows in the raw realness that permeates the entire album. Robert has a deep soulful voice that is a product of both the church and his love for whiskey. It does not get anymore blues than that. He is a consummate story teller and all of the stories on here are real and personal. He covers subjects that are important to him, women who have done him right, women who have done him wrong, his love for God and whiskey, his dislike for the ‘big city’ and his love for life in the swamps of Louisiana. On “Nobody Wants to be Lonely”, he talks about how he likes to visit the old folks home and get people to dance and have fun.

The most striking story he tells comes at the end of the album. “Alligator Bait” relates the time his grandfather took him alligator hunting and sent the young Robert ahead so an alligator might come at him giving ‘papa’ a chance to shoot the gator and bring home some supper. Robert was not happy with this cruel trick and apparently never forgave the old man for a near death experience. The occasional female backing vocals on some of the songs are provided by his children and grandchildren.

JON MENGES Spirit of 3, Spirit of 4

Album · 2023 · Post Bop
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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When exploring Jon Menges' latest jazz journey, "Spirit of 3, Spirit of 4," one can't help but feel they're leafing through a jazz aficionado's secret diary – a medley of reflections penned in smoky rooms where the trio is king and the quartet, queen. Menges plays the dual role of historian and futurist in this auditory exploration. Each of the twelve tracks whispers the lore of jazz's golden age while boldly professing a modern creed. The duality of three and four becomes more than mere numbers; they represent jazz's sacred geometry.

The trio pieces, stripped down, lay bare the bones of jazz—rhythm, and melody without the percussion's heartbeat. It's a high-wire act without a net, and Menges and his companions walk it with the ease of seasoned acrobats. The quartet numbers, on the other hand, are full-bodied libations, each instrument pouring into the next to create a cocktail of harmonious inebriation.

Before delving into the sinuous melodies and intricate rhythms that define "Spirit of 3, Spirit of 4," let's spotlight the whizzes behind the magic. Menges, the architect of this aural odyssey, leads with a trumpet's assertive whisper and a flugelhorn's mellifluous rumination. Pete McCann's guitar work is a display of six-string sorcery, while Evan Gregor on bass is the trio's anchor, bestowing each track with a deep, resonant foundation.

In the quartet configuration, Nathan Childers' saxophone is a cascade of woodwind wonder, providing a perfect foil to Menges' brass brilliance. Joe Fitzgerald, donning the bassist's hat in the quartet, and Robert Weiss on drums punctuates the quartet's offerings with rhythmic precision. Each artist, a master in their right, coalesces to form ensembles that breathe as one organism—the first six tracks as a trio's intimate gathering, the other half as a quartet's complex conversation.

Let's take "Anchor in the Path" – it's a labyrinthine dance between the trio of musicians, where Menges leads with a trumpet's clarion call. McCann's guitar solo is excellent, his ideas are fluid, and his vocabulary is based on the jazz tradition of bop and modern jazz. Gregor's bass is rich in its sound, and his support is rock solid for both McCann and Menges. Menges' solo is melodic, and he is a master at developing motivic ideas across the harmonic structures. One can envision the spirited discussions of a late-night jazz haunt, as notes replace words, and the conversation deepens with every solo.

In "Tree of Hope," we encounter jazz's sacred geometry manifest in auditory form—a symbiotic relationship between rhythm and melody that feels both ancient and innovative. Evan Gregor initiates the piece with double stops that serve as the roots from which this tree of melody grows. The folk-inspired thematic development traverses the spectrum of jazz's rhythmic landscape, with a form characterized by a medium straight-eight A section contrasted by a B section that swings. It's in this song that we feel the push and pull of temporal currents, as time signatures shift with the ease of a seasoned navigator changing course—here in ¾, now in 4/4—each beat and bar tracing invisible shapes in the listener's imagination.

McCann and Gregor are the musical geometers here, drawing lines and angles with their instruments to map out the tune's structural elegance. Menges, with his horn, plays over these shapes in a solo spiraling like golden ratios within the tune's architecture. His approach to motivic development is both mathematic and magical—calculating intervals and note choices with a geometer's precision, yet delivering them with the passion of a poet. This balance of technical skill and emotive power is what builds the energy of "Tree of Hope" into a living, breathing organism. The track embodies the sacred geometry of jazz—where the sum is indeed more significant than its parts, creating a tapestry of sound that is as viscerally satisfying as it is intellectually compelling.

"Coqui" is Menges and his quartet, taking us through an auditory landscape that is as enchanting as the song of its namesake. This track's foundation is a riff-based melody, relaxed yet precise, demonstrating the power of restraint and groove in jazz. The two-horn frontline, with Menges and Childers, presents this melody with style and rhythmic acumen.

Fitzgerald and Weiss lay down a swing that is anything but rushed. Their command of the minor blues changes is like watching a master painter move his brush with deliberate strokes—each one contributing to the greater whole without any need for haste. This rhythmic feel is the backdrop to creating the essential character in the narrative of "Coqui."

As Childers' tenor saxophone comes into the spotlight, his melodic solo speaks with the tenor's rich, warm tones, telling a story that requires no words—only feeling. When Menges joins, his trumpet's guide tones weave through the music, adding layers of complexity that feel as natural as leaves on a vine. His approach to his solo is distinctly personal; each note articulated with clarity, each glissando an echo of a coqui's own slide from note to note, each phrase delivered with a signature unmistakably Menges.

The mood remains consistently relaxed, a laid-back joy that swings without strain, swings without stress. Fitzgerald's bass solo continues this narrative, his melodic sensibilities speaking volumes in the spaces between notes, where the true essence of swing often resides.

In "Coqui," we're reminded that in the hands of jazz musicians of this caliber, there's no need for the frenetic or the overly complex to achieve emotional impact. Instead, there is a profound beauty in the swinging, relaxed cadence of a night well spent in the company of great music and musicians. It is a piece that takes time to get to the end, but enjoys every beat of the journey there.

Each composition, a polygon of sounds, mirrors a facet of jazz's vast panorama, with Menges as the architect employing the compass of his writing to draw arcs of improvisation and angles of melody. In "Spirit of 3, Spirit of 4," we are offered a space to revel in the elegance of jazz geometry, where every note and nuance forms part of an infinite pattern boundlessly expressive and meticulously ordered.

As the final notes of "Spirit of 3, Spirit of 4" resonate, the listener is left contemplating the sacred geometry that underpins this masterful jazz narrative. Jon Menges, with his adept ensemble, constructs a musical mosaic where the shapes and patterns of jazz's rich history are reimagined within contemporary lines and contours. The album, with its meticulous balance between trio and quartet, delineates a geometric progression—from the individual point of a solo note to the complex plane of harmonic interplay.

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JUHANI AALTONEN Juhani Aaltonen ja Sointi Jazz Orchestra : Saarnaaja

Album · 2019 · Progressive Big Band
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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Matti P
Saxophone & flute player Juhani "Junnu" Aaltonen (b. 1935) is a legendary figure in Finnish jazz. In the late 60's - early 70's he was an original member in Tasavallan Presidentti, Finland's biggest classic prog/jazz-rock act besides Wigwam. Being less of a composer than a sought-out session musician and beloved collaborator, in his long career including also a multitude of albums released under his own name, he has worked closely with composers such as Heikki Sarmanto, Edward Vesala, Henrik Otto Donner and Arild Andersen.

The composer of this particular album is a less known name to a listener, Rasmus Soini. The CD's liner notes tell about the birth of "Saarnaaja" (= The Preacher). In January 2014 Aaltonen visited the music college of Espoo to talk of his ideas and visions of music. Soini, working there as a teacher,was deeply impressed by Junnu's wise words, and a year later he started to compose a conceptual instrumental work for the Sointi Jazz Orchestra he had founded and for Junnu as the soloist.

Like several of Heikki Sarmanto's major works often featuring Aaltonen, this is an orchestral piece of pure Third Stream, ie. music between -- or representing both -- art music and jazz. The large orchestra consists of woodwind and brass, plus piano, double bass and drums. Junnu's role as a soloist on tenor sax and alto flute is naturally very central since he was the muse and inspiration of the whole project. The work is in five parts, some with a poetic title taken from Junnu's lecture, e.g. 'Turning weaknesses into strengths' (Pt. 2), 'I'm gliding above chords' (pt. 4) and 'Music like a prayer' (Pt. 5), freely translated by me.

The overture begins with dramatic low notes from the brass section, quieting down for Junnu's tenor solo and soon returning to do angular, fast-paced dialogue with the sax. The piano and rhythm section join for the last minutes of this very free jazz spirited movement that ends with a chaotic crescendo. Part 2 is a more accessible and melodic movement, balancing between the big orchestral sound and airier group-oriented moments with tenor sax as a soloist.

'Play like the surface of the pond remains unbroken' (Pt. 3) is a gentle movement focusing at first on flute and piano only, later with an increasing backing of brass and woodwinds. I personally would have preferred to keep the movement lighter and more chamber-like all the way.

Pt. 4 continues the wide dynamics of the alteration between solo spots and the brass-heavy sound of the orchestra. On the final movement Junnu plays both flute and tenor sax, and the music sometimes has a sermon-like atmosphere.

I am not a fan of brassy big band sound, so this album doesn't quite meet my taste, but taken more objectively it is a respectable, highly dynamic work filled with Junnu's sensitive playing and orchestral grandiosity.

TOSHINORI KONDO 近藤 等則 Kondo • IMA : Tokyo Rose

Album · 1990 · Eclectic Fusion
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Trumpeter Toshinori Kondo, who passed away just three years ago, was for few decades one of Japanese left-field experimental jazz/fusion key figure. Still being a student in Japan he played with avant-garde jazz master pianist Yosuke Yamashita. In 1978 Kondo moved to New York where played with John Zorn and Fred Frith among others. On return to Japan, Kondo founded his own band, Kondo IMA in 1984. Band's music combined funk-metal, avant-garde jazz, industrial grooves and DJ turntablism. Being Kondo's most commercially successful project ever, band has been disbanded when Kondo left Japan for Amsterdam, where he became a member of Peter Brötzmann's Die Like a Dog group, played with avant-garde jazz guitarist Derek Bailey among others.

"Tokyo Rose" is a IMA's seventh album. Being a collective of flexible line-up, IMA did here a long way from Bill Laswell-produced dub-influenced early music with back-up vocalists till aggressive industrial metal-funk with Kondo who switched to electric trumpet, two electric bassists and guest DJ and electric violinist among others.

Core band contains capable electric guitarist(originally the bassist of Japanese punk band from late 70s, Friction) Яeck, who plays excellent long bluesy solos over jumping repetitive hyperactive drummer's beat. Besides of playing trumpet, Kondo sings a lot (something between a rap and brutal Japanese avant-rock vocal (or Akira Sakata vocalize) tradition).

In general, album's music sounds as Japanese version of Red Hot Chilly Peppers and Ministry crossover, with partially removed heaviness and melodies, bigger accent on groove and lots of avant-garde jazz improvs and electric noises everywhere. Big surprise is being punk/industrial infected(two most monotonous and repetitive genres around), music itself is extremely variable, there are not a two same moments presented all album long. Experienced jazz drummer Hideo Yamaki(who played with John Zorn, Bill Laswell and Robert Palmer among others) is very much responsible for that.

Multilayered and very refreshing album, not for everyone taste though.

PAUL SIMON Still Crazy After All These Years

Album · 1975 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
Cover art 4.46 | 3 ratings
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Matti P
If anyone, PAUL SIMON is an artist who needs no introduction -- but surprisingly he has no reviews here yet! Billboard chart topper Still Crazy After All These Years was his third solo album after the extremely succesful Simon & Garfunkel partnership (the 1965 debut The Paul Simon Songbook is usually forgotten, partly because most of its songs later became known as S&G songs). Still Crazy also was his most succesful and critically acclaimed solo album until the milestone pop classic Graceland (1986); it won two Grammy Awards, Album Of The Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

My own relationship with Simon's solo output began with compilations rather than individual albums, so I'm not very good remembering the source albums for individual songs of the 70's, but looking at the track lists, this album is the real winner for me, too. It contains four US Top 40 hits, and apart from the rollicking and Gospel-flavoured 'Gone at Last' which I'm not so fond of, all of them would enter my own Best Of Paul Simon list. The title track about a haphazard meeting of an old lover is truly charming. Dreamily laid-back and yet very passionate, with a sophisticated arrangement featuring Michael Brecker's a brilliant saxophone solo.

The biggest hit (No. 1 in the US) was '50 Ways to Leave Your Lover' where the failed affair melancholy is cleverly contrasted with a catchy chorus of amusing rhymes ("Hop on the bus, Gus", "Drop off the key, Lee", etc.). And No. 9 hit 'My Little Town' was a nostalgic re-union of Simon & Garfunkel.

The rest of the album also has great songwriting. 'I Do It for Your Love' is a peaceful ballad in the vein of the title song, admittedly minor in comparison but too forgotten, for it has some really beautiful melodies in it. The hit-filled first side ends with another forgotten little gem, 'Night Game'. Even Toots Thielemans' harmonica solo is frail enough not to ruin the exceptional nocturnal delicacy.

I'm personally fond of the slow and moody 'Some Folks Lives Roll Easy' and its arrangement featuring romantic strings. 'Have a Good Time' was the album's only song I now had no clear memory of. Well, it is pretty mediocre and forgettable, and I'm not great friends with the sharp horns. 'You're Kind' is a small and ironic song about a brief affair, and my second least fave. The last song 'Silent Eyes' has Gospel-oriented passion almost comparable to 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'. Leon Pendarvis on piano is excellent, and so is Paul Simon himself on vocals backed by a Gospel choir. A bit cheesy perhaps, but beautiful.

This finely produced album is a definitive classic and a must in Paul Simon's impressive body of work, counting also Simon & Garfunkel.

TOSHIYUKI MIYAMA Orchestrane (New Herd Play John Coltrane)

Album · 1977 · Progressive Big Band
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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Japanese reeds player and band leader, Toshiyuki Miyama, started his musical career with his own band, Jive Ace, in 1950, playing American popular music, or more precisely - a Japanese adaptation of it. Soon the combo grew up to a big band named The New Herd, which became one of the most popular collectives playing Western music in Japan. Extremely prolific, the band played everything from popular soap opera tunes to TV-serial soundtrack covers, releasing ten or more albums every year. In late the 60s, Miyama farsightedly jumped to just-born and short-lived but very creative Japanese free-jazz movement (regularly collaborating with one of its leaders, pianist Masahiko Satoh), this is what brought The New Herd international fame. In the late 70s the big band tried to ensure a solid foundation underfoot playing everything from still popular jazz fusion, to jazz standards, r'n'b and pop hits again.

"Orchestrane", the Herd's album coming from the late 70s, is interesting since it is dedicated to John Coltrane's music. It contains just four songs, quite unusually including "A Love Supreme" among three Coltrane early classics - "Impressions", "Naima" and "Giant Steps". Even more - "A Love Supreme" takes all of side B on the original vinyl release.

Remixed in 2005, "Orchestrane"'s reissue has excellent sound precisely separating each instrument of a big orchestra with exceptional stereo separation in the best old school tradition. During the mid-70s The Herd... recorded a few albums for the Japanese audiophile label, Three Blind Mouse, they really knew what the great recorded sound means.

Unfortunately, the good news finishes here. It's even a bit strange, that after some years playing radical avant-garde jazz (partially with Masahiko Satoh), Miyama returns to extremely safe overly orchestrated sound. All the album's music recalls a lot the sound of many National Radio and TV orchestras from the 60s, where classically trained musicians started playing over orchestrated extremely static and bombastic versions of big band music. The Coltrane pieces sound very much as waltzes and marches from New Year's Wiener ball. Four-parts suite-like "A Love Supreme" (lasting over 20 minutes) under tons of overoptimistic brass lost all its spirituality, added sax soloing doesn't help much. The final part ("Psalm") combining sax solo alone with almost atonal orchestral wall of sound sounds odd.

Far not the worst Miyama's album, it can attract mostly Coltrane legacy collectors as well as fans of heavily orchestrated perfectly recorded progressive big band music.

SPYRO GYRA A Night Before Christmas

Album · 2008 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
Cover art 2.95 | 2 ratings
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Matti P
[Like the majority of my JMA reviews, this is the first review for the artist in question.] The American, Buffalo-based fusion band Spyro Gyra has released albums at steady pace since 1974. I have only listened to three of them before this Christmas album. I have never fully been caught by their melodic and funkish fusion, which is probably mostly because of too little listening. Their music is fairly easy on the ears. I am not a big fan of Christmas albums in general, but I haven't heard too many from the jazz genre. And this actually sounds pretty nice, maybe even nicer than the Spyro albums I'm faintly familiar with.

Spyro Gyra usually performs their own compositions written by e.g. saxophonist Jay Beckenstein, guitarist Julio Fernandez or pianist Tom Schuman, but on their sole Christmas album there's only one original amongst more or less well known standards, four of them traditionals. The German folk song 'O Tannenbaum' starts the 11-piece set. I like the rhythm pattern over which the saxophone plays the melody. The piano has more improvisatory role, and the middle has a very cool solo. Six minutes pass by smoothly.

The few vocal guest appearances increase the album's appeal. Christine Ebersole -- never heard -- guests on 'It Won't Feel Like Christmas', a nice little holiday love song by Beckenstein and Terry Cox. 'Winter Wonderland' plays safe as a familiar lighthearted Christmas tune, and without the vibes guesting, it would feel a bit dull.

I think 'Christmas Time Is Here' originates from "Peanuts" animated special; Spyro Gyra made a nice instrumental jazz version of it. Frank Loesser's standard 'Baby It's Cold Outside' is a groovy duet between the drummer Bonny B and Janis Siegel of Manhattan Transfer fame. The beautiful traditional tune 'Carol of the Bells' has never become much heard in my country Finland, and here it's delightfully combined with the lovely 'Greensleeves', so this is among my album highlights.

Spyro Gyra's easy-going sax-led version of 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' is not among my faves of this often covered song. 'The First Noel' belongs to those worn-out Christmas songs I really don't wish to hear repeatedly, but again the improvisatory moments do it good. 'Silent Night' is among my favourite Christmas songs, and I appreciate this arrangement doesn't entirely lose the sacred delicacy.

'This Christmas' from soul singer Donny Hathaway's pen wasn't familiar to me, so it comes as a nice "new tune" among standards. The album ends with Mel Tormé's well known 'The Christmas Song' in which Bonny B gives a personal vocal performance. All in all this album is well worth recommending if you're looking for jazzed-up Christmas music.

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