CD Reviews: Jazz CDs

Article excerpt

Byline: Reviewed by Peter Bacon

Jazz CD of the week Louis Sclavis -Napoli's Walls (ECM 038 504-2)

There's a French painter called Ernest Pignon-Ernest who has gone around Naples attaching charcoal drawings or screenprints reflecting the town's past to the walls of old buildings. So one can turn a corner and see a life-size anguished figure appearing to disappear down a grating in the pavement beneath an ancient gnarled stone wall, for example.

French clarinettist and composer Louis Sclavis has taken as his inspiration the work of Pignon-Ernest, and this long and interesting disc is the result.

It opens with musing cello from Vincent Courtois, and all feels a bit abstract and coolly intellectual. But stick with it, because once Hasse Poulsen's guitar enters, and a distinctly punchy drumbeat enters along with spooky, almost subliminal electronics, and Sclavis himself gets going, the scope of the music becomes clear.

This is just as much about the interaction, both sympathetically and as a clash, between the ancient and the modern as the art of Naples's walls is. Mederic Collignon is the fourth member of the band, on pocket trumpet and electronics.

This is at once a thoroughly composed soundtrack to a town and a lively improvised game of tag between four exceptionally creative musicians who are equally familiar with the Renaissance music as they are with bebop or drum 'n' bass.

Just try the jabbering overdubbed vocals and over-excited cello scrapings on the title track, and the way they give way to the gentle beauty of harmonious trumpet, clarinet and cello on Merce for a representative sample of the range of this music.

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To buy this CD for pounds 14.99, including post and packing, call our Music Line on 01634 832

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Harry Connick Jr -Other Hours (Marsalis Music/Rounder 116 613 304-2)

What does a man do in between the Jamie Cullum first flush of stardom and that great cabaret in the sky alongside Frank and the boys?

Well, if you're Harry Connick you do a bit of screen acting, write a Broadway show, patent some new computer technology to assist in musical orchestrations and take a role in Will And Grace. And you play the piano, of course. This is a straight-ahead, no-nonsense, I am a serious jazz player kind of an album, but it's a lot more fun that it might have been. For one thing, Connick shares the limelight with a strong band, especially drummer Arthur Latin and saxophonist Charles Goold. For another he really does have an exceptionally versatile piano style.

One moment he's in Ahmad Jamal territory, all spiky chord voicing, the next he's swinging warmly like Teddy Wilson. The man knows his jazz piano history.

The tunes too, all his own, are melodic but never cheesy.

Full of a cool timelessness that in a blindfold test would make it difficult to place -1960s Blue Note or 21st century revision, it doesn't really matter. Tasty.

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To buy this CD for pounds 14.99, including post andpacking, call our Music Line on 01634 832

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Zim Ngqawana -Vadzimu (Sheer Sound SSCD 096) Zim Ngqawana -Zimphonic Suites (Sheer Sound SSCD 072) McCoy Mrubata -Face The Music (Sheer Sound SSCD 090, all distrib New Note)

Township jazz has had some strong saxophonists throughout its history: Kippie Moeketsi, Dudu Pukwana and Robbie Jansen on alto; Basil Coetzee, Duke Makasi and Winston Mankunku on tenor. …