Monday, August 24, 2009

MY FAVORITE ALBUM


Normally, I wait until the end of the year to reveal my favorite jazz recording. We have less than four month left in this year, and I am confident this album will be number one on my list. I know three months earlier I announced drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts' album would be my favorite for ‘09.After I experienced “The Monterey Quartet: Live a the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival, I had a change of heart, and Watts’ excellent album got bumped to number two, which is still pretty good given the album was released earlier this year, and I have listened two a ton of recordings
since.

“The Monterey Quartet: Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival could have been a disaster. Most all-star collaborations are, but bassist Dave Holland, saxophonist Chris Potter, drummer Eric Harland, and pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba sounded as if they have been performing as a quartet for decades. They clicked on every level imaginable

I wondered if they had a pre-performance pep talk. There was no designated leader on this live session. Each musician contributed equally, and shared the same amount of soloing space. Any of the nine compositions could have been the crowd favorite. Mine was the Rubalcaba original “50”.
His solo was also my favorite, and I believe I set some official record for the number time I replayed the track. He embedded each chord he played into my conscious, and I found myself humming the song's melody at the oddest moment, once during my nightly meditation, and the following day at work during an important staff meeting.

This year saxophonist Chris Potter grabbed my attention, and I currently rank him as one of my favorite players. He possess the ability to sooth the musicians around him. Eric Harland carries himself like a world class accompanist concerned only with making his band-mates look good, which was Harland's biggest contribution. He swings at a medium volume, and you will never catch him grandstanding.

Dave Holland was the most experienced member of the quartet. However, he never once exerted his influence or attempted to baby his band-mates. He made sure they remained on track throughout, and he gave them the necessary support when needed.

One of the things that made “The Monterey Quartet: Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival such a good live album was the band was able to avoid the many pitfalls of an all-star session, treating the date like a free-for-all jam session. Henceforth,this album should serve as a template of how an all-star session such be.
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