Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Irrresistible, Boisterous Fun From the 3D Jazz Trio

The 3D Jazz Trio are a subset of the well-loved Diva Jazz Orchestra, arguably the world’s longest-running and most talented all-female large jazz ensemble. The trio’s debut album I Love to See You Smile is streaming at Bandcamp This is jazz as entertainment. All three musicians are colorful players and have an infectious good time with a mix of standards and originals, whether they’re throwing devious quotes and jokes both subtle and broad into the mix, or chewing the scenery. For people who might be looking for genteel, unobtrusive wine-hour jazz, this is definitely not it.

The title track echoes the style of another pioneering, underrated woman artist, Bertha Hope, with pianist Jackie Warren’s jaunty, joyous ragtime-inflected flourishes echoed by drummer Sherrie Maricle, bassist Amy Shook having similar fun toying with the melody when it comes to her punchy solo. Throughout the record, Maricle gets to cut loose a lot more than she does with the big band and indulges her inner Elvin Jones – and inner vaudeville star – more than you might expect, with irresistible results.

How do they tackle the ostensibly most-recorded song of alltime, Besame Mucho? Warren gives it a glistening, solo neoromantic intro, then the trio completely flip the script and take it bouncing to Bahia.

Shook carries the looming, deadpan melody line against Warren’s blend of gospel and ragtime in Moonglow, up to a series of jokes that are too good to give away.

The band reinvent Back at the Chicken Shack as a hard-swinging jump blues, Warren’s trills and upper-register stabs sending a shout back to Jimmy Smith. The trio’s broodingly Lynchian clave intro to Angel Eyes is a real shock to the system, then Warren slowly swings it into much sunnier, sagely blues-infused terrain.

Recado Bossa Nova has a persistent, darkly restless quality over a spring-loaded pulse, up to a a spare, incisive solo from Shook and an unexpectedly misterioso, surfy one from Maricle. They make increasingly un-sedate wee-hours saloon blues out of an old Irish ballad with When You and I Were Young, Maggie, and close the record with the racewalking swing of L.O.V.E. Never a dull moment with this crew.

July 8, 2021 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solo Songs Without Words From This Era’s Foremost Tenor Saxophonist

You know the archetype. He stands in silhouette, leaning on a wall sometime after midnight, left foot pressed against the bricks maybe. He’s playing sax, the spare, mournful phrases echoing into the darkness. That is not what JD Allen‘s new solo sax album Queen City – streaming at Spotify – sounds like.

It’s a collection of what he calls vignettes: personal portraits, a small handful of standards and tableaux obviously influenced by the lockdown, a time when this era’s preeminent tenor saxophonist found himself confronting serious existential questions. Most of these pieces have very steady rhythm: this is a great record to play along with. There are no overdubs or effects, other than some tasty natural reverb. For a recording made during arguably the worst time in history for musicians, it’s remarkably upbeat, although not without Allen’s signature gravitas.

There’s a little more mist, and once in awhile a bit of unexpected honk in his sound here, and none of the feral squall he will typically use to make a particularly intense point. He opens with a straightforwardly chugging, unembellished take of Three Little Words and follows the changes just as closely to end the record with a balmy but similarly steady, rather upbeat version of These Foolish Things.

The album has two other covers. Allen reinvents Just a Gigolo with a bit less lockstep precision and without a hint of buffoonery – although there are jokes if you listen closely. And Wildwood Flower – the last thing you’d expect from this guy – becomes a lovely, expansive ballad.

But as usual with Allen, it’s the originals that stand out the most. In a return to the jukebox jazz esthetic that he owned for the better part of two decades, most of these numbers are on the short side, sometimes close to the two-minute mark. The first is Maude, a coy, tiptoeing character study. The second, O.T.R. is a bright, tightly swinging number with some chromatics to raise the energy – it could have fit in on many of Allen’s albums since 2008 or so.

Retrograde – now THERE’s a theme from 2020, huh? – turns out to be a shuffling swing tune with plenty of edge and bite. What kind of dichotomy is there in Gem and Eye? It turns out to be a tasty pair of themes and variations. Seven tracks into the album, we finally get some of Allen’s spine-tingling extended technique: harmonics, duotones and echo phrases – with the tantalizingly brief. Mother.

The album’s title cut – a shout-out to Allen’s relatively recent digs in Cincinnati – is the most acerbically latin-tinged number here. He closes the record with a trio of portraits. There’s whimsicality but even more dead-serious purpose in Vernetta. Kristian with a K is a thoughtful. friendly guy who doesn’t waste words. And the ballad Nyla’s Sky is the big, balmy cloudbreak here: we may have been through hell in the last sixteen months, but everything’s going to be ok, Allen seems to say.

July 8, 2021 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment