Monday, April 30, 2012

Kuhn/Swallow/Baron Together Again; New Stallings CD - Bob Stewart

The wise and wistful title track of pianist Steve Kuhn's new CD -- "Wisteria" -- written by Art Farmer, takes us back to the early '60s, when both Kuhn and bassist Steve Swallow sang softly of the blues in the trumpeter's band. Swallow was also a member of the trio Kuhn formed shortly thereafter. They've shared a lot of history since then, performing on each others' discs. The resourceful Joey Baron, one of jazz's finest drummers, is also thoroughly at home in Kuhn's oeuvre, having worked with the pianist in diverse settings for more than 20 years. It's surprising, then, that the new CD marks the first occasion that Kuhn, Swallow and Baron have ever played together as a trio.

Recorded fresh from a series of performances at New York's prestigious venue Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Mary Stallings' latest CD -- "Don't Look Back" -- places her firmly in the pantheon of great female jazz singers. So respected is her art and musicianship, Mary was chosen to be the first jazz performer to ever appear at the venerable and heretofore classical-only National Theatre in Prague...a singular honor, to be sure, and the latest in a recent series of awards and distinctions that she has been gathering. Mary was the honoree at the 2011 SF Jazz Gala groundbreaking ceremony, performed at the Tanglewood Festival in Massachusetts as well as countless jazz clubs and rooms on both coasts. The new disc finds her together with her musical director and pianist, Eric Reed, lending her voice to a dozen selections showing she is no longer jazz's best-kept secret.

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