Thursday 25 May 2017

CD strikes rather more notes of melancholy than mirth

JAZZ

GRAINNE FARREN

Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo Songs of Mirth and Melancholy (Marsalis Music)

Branford Marsalis (soprano and tenor sax) is the eldest of the four famous New Orleans brothers, and one of the finest living soprano sax players. Joey Calderazzo (piano) has played with Michael Brecker and Dave Holland as well as being a regular member of various Marsalis groups.

However, they have made more exciting CDs than this one. It has a lot of charm, but the 'melancholy' is more in evidence than the 'mirth'.

Only three numbers -- One Way, Endymion and Bri's Dance -- show any signs of cheerfulness. The other six are taken at a very slow pace, and the omission of bass and drums is not a good idea on the whole.

Tigran Hamasyan

Tigran -- a Fable (Verve)

I am not sure why Verve is promoting this young pianist's album as jazz. Undoubtedly Hamasyan is a superb soloist -- but all of these short pieces are in the classical tradition.

They are tuneful and flowing, but they don't swing. There is some jazz influence in Tigran's choice of chords, but apart from that it is hard to see why he won the Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition in 2006. Classifications apart, his playing has a joyful luminosity that will appeal to listeners of all tastes. The only familiar number is Someday My Prince Will Come; most of the others are his own works, some based on folk songs from his native Armenia.

Francesco Turrisi Fotografia (Diatribe)

This versatile Italian pianist, based in Ireland, can sometimes be heard playing Irish, Italian, Arabic or Turkish folk music on accordion.

Joined here by Claus Kaarsgaard on bass and Joao Lobo on drums, they play a series of short improvisations based on a baroque bass line called Ciaccona, as well as some of his own compositions, one by Jobim and some traditional Italian tunes.

The effect is of baroque music with slight jazz overtones. Beautiful -- but not for the out-and-out jazz fan.

Sunday Independent

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