Saturday, May 28, 2011


Recently, I Dig Jazz came across three jazz albums A Matter of Black and White Jaki Byard Live at the Keystone Korner Vol. 2, Twogether and Moment to Moment that have been on the market for a while. If you don’t already have the albums, they’re still available and worth adding to your jazz collection.

In March, High Note Records released A Matter of Black and White Jaki Byard Live at the Keystone Korner, Vol. 2. However, IDJ has to tip its hat to High Note for putting out a solo album by an incomparable jazz piano player. Byard became prominent working with Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, and Booker Ervin. On a good night, Byard could play the history of African-American music in a single solo. On A Matter of Black and White, Byard put his twist on standards that we all love. The album’s highlight was the Ellington and Strayhorn medley Byard closed the album with.

Pianist John Hicks and saxophonist Frank Morgan made Twogether,  a duet recorded live in 2005 at the Jazz Bakery not long before Hicks and Morgan died. As a bonus, the album's producers included Hicks playing three songs alone recorded a year after Twogether. Obviously Twogether was designed around Hicks' chops. It's unknown if Hicks and Morgan planned for Twogether to be their farewell album after Hall of Fame careers. With Twogether, fans experienced Hicks and Morgan raw and uncut, playing familiar ditties. The attention grabbers were Hicks’ take on Parisian Thoroughfare, Is That So and Passion Flower. Morgan penetrates the fiber of Night in Tunisia and ‘Round Midnight. Hicks and Morgan were a charming duo, and Twogehter was a fitting farewell.

Houston Person has the attributes you want from a tenor saxophone player. Person has soul. Person has a mellow tone that’s big and wide as a beach towel. Plus, Person “swing-ability” ranks up there with other great tenor sax players such as Dexter Gordon and Gene Ammons. All those attributes are apparent on the mellow and groovy Moment to Moment. For the album, Person called on  his longstanding band-mates piano player John DI Martino, bass player Ray Drummond, drummer Willie Jones III and guitar player Randy Johnson. Person added another sharpshooter to his band trumpeter Terrell Stafford. When Person searched for a trumpeter to give Moment to Moment edginess that some of his other albums lacked, Person couldn't have signed up a more well rounded trumpeter. Person and Stafford clicked immediately, trading measures on I Cover the Waterfront. Stafford's presence was vital throughout. Don’t Take Your Love Away from Me, Just the Way You Are and Love Won’t Let Me Wait are the songs you’ll keep replaying.

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