Monday, January 9, 2012

Evans & Monk Tributes - Bob Stewart

The contributions of pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader Bill Evans to the language and appreciation of jazz continue to have profound influence on musicians. Pianist Chick Corea leads Evans Trio alumni Eddie Gomez and the late Paul Motian on "Further Explorations", a live set recorded at the Blue Note in New York in 2010. For bassist Gomez and drummer Motian, the connection to Evans was personal and emotionally deep, involving performing and recording with Evans during his most fertile and creative periods. Corea's connection is that of a student, adapting many of Evans' harmonic concepts and pianistic techniques and a mutual understanding of the piano trio as a singular jazz ensemble. Much of the performance features music written or associated with Evans, with each musician also contributing original material. Incidentally, 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of the release of Evans' original Explorations album.

Legendary trumpeter, educator, and NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Owens leads a stellar septet on his new disc "The Monk Project", a program of his own uniquely original arrangements of Thelonius Monk compositions. Owens, who has been heard on countless big band and small group recordings as a virtuoso sideman, has recorded only sporadically as a leader, making this date a special one. Longtime colleague and fellow NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron, well known for playing Monk's music with the group Sphere, heads the rhythm section. The all-star ensemble also features drummer extraordinaire Winard Harper, front-line members Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland and the amazing multi-instrumentalist Howard Johnson on tuba and baritone sax.

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