CD Review: ‘Solo at the Sacramento Jazz Festivals,’ Dick Hyman


Dick Hyman: Solo at the Sacramento Jazz Festivals


Arbors Records/ ARCD 19451

The back-story about the production of this CD is as fascinating as the music. Most people reading this, I hope, will recognize the name of Dick Hyman. He’s now still playing as has recently celebrated his 90th birthday. We’re wishing him good health, continued dexterity and many more years.

Dick is a longtime friend of movie actor and amateur clarinetist Woody Allen and has played background music in most of Woody Allen movies. Hyman has numerous CDs available in circulation and is a favorite still at jazz festivals and parties. He’s equally at home with any style of piano—classical, stride, honky-tonk or lyrical.

The Sacramento Dixieland Jubilee Festival, now re-dubbed Sacramento Music Festival, used to have an event called Pianorama. Every pianist who played the festival was invited to do a 20-minute set. The liner notes, written by Hyman himself, give details of his performances. Turns out that a friend and recording enthusiast Siegfried H. Mohr would record Hyman’s performance on his portable Sony Walkman. Liner notes describe each tune. The image of reverse side of liner notes give names of the 16 tunes here so will not be further enumerated.

Thanks, Dick, the late Siegfried H. Mohr and Rachel Domber of Arbors Records for this delightful gift of music!

This CD soon will be available in the Jazz Pensacola’s Jazz Room at the downtown library.

CD Review: ‘Wood and Strings,’ John Stein, Dave Zinno

Wood and Strings

John Stein, acoustic guitar

Dave Zinno, acoustic bass

Whaling City Sound

This is a tasteful, talented duo recording by guitarist John Stein and bassist Dave Zinno. Both are accomplished, multi-recorded musicians. And both were educated at Boston’s Berklee School of Music and have each played in varying groups.

This recording was the result of a month’s duo engagement in a restaurant in New Bedford, Mass. There is an equal mix of jazz standards and tasteful originals for more than an hour of contemplative listening. The performers think and play in beautiful harmony. I’d recommend this for contemplative listening or late-night relaxation. There are no dissonant harmonies or horse-race cadences.

Some jazz standards with which most will be familiar are: I Remember You, Out of Nowhere, Estate’, But Beautiful, Till There Was You, and When Lights Are Low.

I’m glad these two got together and that Neal Weiss, owner of Whaling City Sound, urged them to record.

More info at:

CD Review: ‘Terry Gibbs, 92 Years Young’

Terry Gibbs, 92 Years Young, Jammin’ at the Gibbs House

Whaling City Sound

What fun! Imagine a four-day leisurely jam session with great musicians and no repeat takes!

Senior vibraphonist Terry Gibbs had “retired” some months previously. Neal Weiss, owner of Whaling City Sound, wanted to persuade Terry to make another recording. Gibbs, on the other hand, was not enthusiastic about going back into the studio. So, the compromise was to record in Gibbs’ living room over a four-day period. This would give plenty of time to relax when the group needed.

Performers include Gerry Gibbs, Terry’s son, on drums, John Campbell on acoustic piano, and Mike Gurrola on acoustic bass. Gerry Gibbs also functioned as recording technician and producer. Liner notes indicate that there were no double-takes and no overdubs. There was plenty of time to discuss tunes, record, relax and eat or swim. Liner notes and photos show that Terry Gibbs’ living room is not that large, so musicians all can communicate and perform in close proximity.

There’s more than an hour’s music here with familiar tunes such as Back Home in Indiana, Yesterdays, What’s New?, Take the “A” Train, and All The Things You Are.

Having heard Terry Gibbs intermittently over a 30-year period, his style and performance, to me, are unchanged from previously. I’m glad Terry was persuaded to record, as the saying goes, “…one mo’ time!”

CD Review: ‘BACHanalia,’ Bill Cunliffe

Bill Cunliffe
Metre Records

Bill Cunliffe is a prolific pianist, composer, and conductor. I am already among the converted, so was excited to see/hear Cunliffe’s newest effort. On most of the numbers, he’s taken a classical theme, some from the Bach family with some Prokiofiev and a Cunliffe original thrown in.

These are big band compositions and Cunliffe himself plays piano. It took three years to complete this CD with big band performances, some before live audiences and two separate studio sessions 2013, 2015 and 2016. Of special note is (wordless) vocalizing by Denise Donatelli which sounds so much like another instrument that the casual listener might overlook it. It’s recorded on Cunliffe’s own label, Metre Records.

This should have broad appeal to those who like big band or classical music. I list the compositions for those who might be interested. Over one hour of great music!

Sleepers Awake, J. S. Bach, arr. Cunliffe
Afluencia, Bill Cunliffe
Piano Concerto #3, 1 st movement, Sergei Prokofiev, arr. Cunliffe
Solfeggietto, C. P. E. Bach, arr. Cunliffe
Blame It On My Youth, Oscar Levant and Edward Heyman, arr. Cunliffe
Goldberg Contraption, J. S. Bach, arr. Cunliffe
The Three-Cornered Hat, Manuel de Falla, arr. Cunliffe
I’ve Got You Under My Skin, Cole Porter, arr. Cunliffe

This CD will soon be available for check-out at the Jazz Room at the downtown West Florida Public Library, Pensacola.

CD Review: ‘Dear Blossom,’ Nicki Parrott

A Tribute to Blossom Dearie
Nicki Parrott, vocals and string bass
Arbors Records, ARCD 19453

This Arbors CD is vocalist/string bassist Nicki Parrott’s interpretation of songs associated with late vocalist/pianist Blossom Dearie. It’s interesting to compare and contrast these two talented vocalist-instrumentalists. They both have unique, clear vocal delivery and subtle tones.

Both the late Ms. Dearie and Ms. Parrott have lots of YouTube presentations that are easily searchable. So, one can easily find and compare.

For those not familiar with Nicki’s musical history, here’s a brief summary. She is native Australian who came to the U.S. and studied bass with Rufus Reid. Vocalization came later when she was regularly featured for about a decade with Les Paul’s Monday night sessions. Paul was intrigued with her vocalizing and encouraged her.

Nicki is supported here by pianist Chris Grasso, vibraphonist Chuck Redd and drummer Lenny Robinson. Guesting on some numbers are clarinetist/tenor saxophonist Engelbert Wrobel, percussionist Vince Cherico, and cornetist Warren Vache’.

Selections, all associated with Ms. Dearie, vary from sentimental to hip, e.g. I Wish You Love and It Might As Well be Spring for the former and Peel Me a Grape and I’m Hip for the latter.

Pensacola fans will remember fondly Ms. Parrott’s appearance at Pensacola JazzFest several years ago.

Thanks to Rachel Domber of Arbors Records for continuing to supply us with high quality jazz recordings.

CD Review: ‘Windmills,’ Monika Ryan

Monika Ryan, Vocalist
This CD is a product by busy and talented vocalist Monika Ryan. She chose the songs as a tribute to the talented songwriters Alan and Marilyn Bergman. She is accompanied by Aretha Franklin keyboardist Nick Rolfe; David O’Rourke, guitar; Rene Hart, bass; Alvester Garnett, drums. There are also incidental performances by Brad Goode, trumpet; Clark Gayton, trombone; and Keith Loftis, soprano and tenor saxophone.

A confession: This writer was previously unaware of Ms. Ryan and her talent. She’s a busy vocalist whose work has taken her throughout the US and Europe. She’s recorded multiple CDs. See her website for details. Also, although familiar with the songs, this writer wasn’t aware of the prolific career as songwriters of the husband/wife combo of Alan and Marilyn Bergman.

A sampling of songs on this album include: Windmills of Your Mind, Cinnamon and Clove, What Are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life, and A Love Like Ours.

Recommended for your listening pleasure. For a sampling of Ms. Ryan’s work, a quick internet search will be most satisfying.