By Barry Bassis
Pianist Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton first played together at a jazz festival in Germany in 1972, when they joined for a spur of the moment encore. They jelled so well that they made a recording a couple of months later. Over the last 40 years, they have made eight recordings. Their latest CD, “Hot House” (on Concord Jazz) is being released on September 4th and the two are on tour together. The new recording is made up mostly of songs by composers they admire from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. “Can’t We Just Be Friends” is notable for some stride piano, performed by Corea as a tribute to Art Tatum, who recorded the tune. There is a moody version of Lennon and McCartney’s “Eleanor Rigby.” The title track is a bebop classic by Tadd Dameron and “Light Blue” is a rarely performed Thelonious Monk tune with a second chorus of melody by Corea. “My Ship” is a lovely Kurt Weill song, popularized as a jazz piece by Miles Davis and Gil Evans. There are also two pieces by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Brazil’s greatest songwriter. This album should be a contender for next year’s Grammy Awards. On August 26th, Chick Corea and Gary Burton will perform together at Tanglewood Festival in Lenox, Massachusetts.
August is the month of the Mostly Mozart Festival and the lineup is most promising, starting with a concert featuring the excellent American bel canto tenor Lawrence Brownlee. Other notable artists will be Lisa Batiashvili, Garrick Ohlsson, Joshua Bell, the Ebène and Emerson Quartets, Rudolf Buchbinder, and Stephen Hough. The Festival will present “Dido and Aeneas” performed by the Mark Morris Dance Group and “The Murder of Crows,” the U.S. premiere of a sound installation by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller that will play at the Park Avenue Armory. At various concerts, the Mostly Mozart Orchestra will be conducted by Louis Langrée as well as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Susanna Mälkki, and Osmo Vänskä, among others. Go to mostlymozart.org for the complete schedule.
The Cornelia Street Cafe has just celebrated 35 years in business and it continues to provide a host of cultural activities. August begins with the three night "Irabagon Fest" - featuring saxophonist Jon Irabagon: on Thursday, August 2 at 8:30 p.m., with the Jon Irabagon trio with Irabagon on alto sax; Mark Helias, bass; and Barry Altschul, drums; on Friday, August 3 at 9:00 p.m. with the Barry Altschul Group with Jon Irabagon on tenor sax; Jake Saslow, tenor sax; Joe Fonda, bass; and Barry Altschul, drums; Saturday, August 4 at 9:00 p.m., Jon Irabagon Jazz Quartet with the leader on tenor sax; Russ Lossing, piano; Yashui Nakamura, bass; EJ Strickland, drums. Similarly, guitarist Mary Halvorson will perform on consecutive nights with two different trios: her own on August 10 and with Thumbscrew on August 11.
When you find musicians of the stature of bassist Ron Carter and pianist Kenny Barron backing up a young artist, you know the musician must be something special. This is the case with Erena Terakubo, a fiery alto sax player, whose new CD is titled, “New York Attitude.” The self-assured 20-year old was born in Sapporo, Japan and began studying saxophone at the age of nine. Since 2009, she has been attending Berklee College of Music on a scholarship. This is her second album but the first to be distributed in this country. The CD opens with the high energy title track, penned by Barron. It also features the drummer Lee Pearson. Trumpeter Dominick Farinacci nicely complements Terakubo on three tracks. The album includes a spirited version of “Invitation” and a funky “This Here.” Terakubo performs a fresh rendition of “Body and Soul” that begins with a duet with Carter and then Barron and Pearson join to bring the album to a satisfying close.
Columbia/Legacy commemorated Janis Joplin’s birthday with an expanded two-disc version of “The Pearl Sessions.” “Pearl” was her biggest hit album, but sadly she died on October 4, 1970, three months before its release. This was the only recording she made with the Full Tilt Boogie Band, the best of her back-up bands. Among the highlights are her classic rendition of Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobbie McGee” and her improvised a cappella and very funny “Mercedes Benz” (a take-off on the blues in which she asks God to give her a sports car). Also on the album are her intense versions of “Cry Baby” and the soul tune “Get It While You Can.” The second CD is made up of song demos and alternate takes—they show that she was not simply a singer but was instructing the band about what kind of sound or tempos she wanted. Joplin also had a potty mouth and a raunchy sense of humor. What fans will most want to hear is that even in rehearsal, she held back nothing. “Pearl” still stands as the best album by one of the greatest, albeit inconsistent, singers of rock music.