TAMI Show @ KPCC's Off Ramp
Monday, October 27, 2014
Morgan Rewind: A Tribute to Lee Morgan, Vol 2
Cut down at the age of 33, hard-bop trumpeter Lee Morgan made a sizable impact as a leader and Jazz Messenger, leaving a body of work that was artistically engaging and commercially viable.
Nonetheless, aside from a few big hits, Morgan's compositions have not entered into the standard language like many of his contemporaries' did. Italian pianist Roberto Magris is doing his part with his second volume of Morgan tunes but considering this album's length, the two-disc set could've just as easily been released separately as Vol. 2 and Vol. 3.
While 2010's Vol. 1 feature Tootie Heath on drums, Magris' follow-up septet does not feature any marquee names. Throughout the set, Magris sets a swinging tone, dispensing a strong left hand and confident lines. Trumpeter Hermon Mehari has the biggest shoes to fill and he does so admirably. He summons blistering chops for a hard-swinging performance that anchors the set. Dense tunes like "Zambia" from Morgan's Delightfulee are pushed by the twin rhythmic team of drummer Brian Steever and percussionist Pablo Sanhueza. While the original recording of "Gary's Notebook" from The Sidewinder revels in frenetic energy, Magris' rendition is a little too busy with his piano and Peter Schlamb's vibraphone rolling together but the tune rights itself with fine solo spots.
Magris even has the hubris to sneak in a few of his originals. Thankfully, they fit the Morgan mold with "A Summer's Kiss" reaching for a "Ceora"-like bossa vibe. This is a fun set of hard-driving swing that upholds the spirit of its honoree, shining a light on the trumpeter's lesser-known compositions.
Roberto Magris @ DownBeat
A night at keyboardist-producer-beatmaker Mark de Clive-Lowe's "church" is a sermon through the history of popular music. He's as comfortable playing in a straightahead trio as he is remixing a bank of heavy beats. There are psychedelic dreamscapes like "The Processional," given wings by Low LEaf's harp and the blistering trumpet work of Josiel Perez Hernandez, while an impassioned guest spot from de Clive-Lowe's wife, Nia Andrews, on "Now Or Never" adds an r&b swagger. "Sketch For Miguel" explores shag carpet soul behind violist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson's meaty bow, while the lone cover, Dollar Brand's "Imam," highlights the funky cymbals of Nate Smith. There is a bottomless undercurrent of groove on this recording but it isn't for purists of any genre. Sounds bend and fade, sharp horns blend with electronic fuzz and de Clive-Lowe keeps one hand on the keyboard and one on the knobs. One of his most impressive skills is his ability to do all of this live in small, dark rooms around the world. He doesn't take advantage of studio trickery but unfortunately that isn't apparent in this recording because the result has a professional polish.
Mark de Clive-Lowe @ DownBeat