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  Наименование CD :
   Jazz Poet



Год издания : 1989

Компания звукозаписи : Timeless, (ru)

Музыкальный стиль : Bop, Mainstream Jazz

Время звучания : 55:37

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CD, стоящие на полке рядом : Jazz (Piano - Bop)      

By the time of this recording, pianist Tommy Flanagan had been performing for decades - mostly as a sideman - for a who's who of jazz: players such as Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, and Sonny Rollins, to name a few. His perfect, yet unassuming style made him the pianist of choice for dozens of musicians. While he has recorded as a leader from time to time, this album may be the best representation of his work available. He performs a set of great tunes ("Caravan," "Willow Weep for Me," "St. Louis Blues," "Lament," and others) in a topflight trio, with George Mraz on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. Flanagan is at the peak of his powers. Never flashy, never showy, this is just outstanding music performed by a true master who is one of the great bop pianists of the 20th century.

- Steven Loewy (All Music Guide)

======

Tommy Flanagan is indeed a jazz poet-a title bestowed upon him by Whitney Balliett, himself a poet and thus not likely to use the term loosely. A poet, of course, is a kind of magician, and what Flanagan can do with a piano is akin to magic. From this most intractable of instruments, which some players try to beat into submission, he draws the most astonishing and irresistibly luminous array of colors and textures, seemingly able to transform everything his fertile mind imagines into tangible musical reality.

And what his imagination conjures up is sheer musical poetry, sounds and thoughts that, insofar as they can be translated into words, require such superlatives as pure and sublime. But let the reader of such words not fall into the trap of equating poetic sensibility with the ethereal and the introspective. Tommy Flanagan is no shrinking violet of the piano. There is strength and sinew in his music, as well as gentleness and grace. His touch, a marvel in and of itself, can coax from a piano the most amazing dynamic range, with a clarity that matches the lucidity of his ideas. And hand in hand with this tonal wizardry goes a rhythmic sensibility of the highest order. No matter how lyrical, Flanagan's playing always reminds us that the piano is a percussive instrument, and Flanagan has absorbed the rhythmic discoveries of the greatest hornmen in jazz, perhaps most notably those of Charlie Parker. He makes the piano sing, and he also makes it swing. While he is never obvious, he commands a full range of emotions, from tenderness to exultation. Like the poets of old, he can exhort as well as beguile. His is a presence to conjure with.

For far too many years, Flanagan, the most modest of men, was inclined to hide his light under the bushel of the demanding but unsung role of accompanist. Musicians and cognoscenti knew how much he had to offer, and never took his brilliance for granted, as even a partial listing of notables who made use of his gifts to enhance their records will show: Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thad Jones, Dexter Gordon, Milt Jackson, and on and on. But far too rarely did he let the public at large in on what he could do on his own, especially during two long stints with Ella Fitzgerald, first from 1962 to 1965, and then, as accompanist and musical director, from 1968 to 1978.

Toward the end of that long decade, those of us who were longing for Tommy to make records of his own finally got some succor. In 1975, the master made three albums in trio settings-fifteen years (!) after the last such morsel, and that only the second one since 1957. A couple of others followed before he sprung himself loose from Ella, and since then, there's been at least a handful of discs (four of them Grammy nominations) in what is the most fitting format for the Flanagan magic.

All of them are marvels, but I think this new one is special, for a number of reasons. For one, Flanagan, like all truly great artists, keeps getting better, perfecting his skills. For another, this is by a working trio-bassist George Mraz, Tommy's first choice in that role, has been with him, on and off but mostly on, since their first encounter more than 15 years ago. Mraz is astonishing. He has perfect time, and an ear to match that perfection. Add to that a command of his instrument that enables him to execute instantly and flawlessly whatever comes into his mind, and you have the perfect partner for a pianist of Flanagan's harmonic and rhythmic subtlety and imagination. At times, it seems as if telepathy is involved, for Mraz does much more than merely providing a walking bass line; at times, he meshes with Tommy's right-hand inventions as if the two minds were one. In Kenny Washington, the trio has acquired that rarity, a drummer who really listens and plays for the cause, and whose ego doesn't demand a solo on every number. He swings, too.

The program presented here differs from most of Tommy's other trio albums, both in the number and variety of selections. We get the full spectrum of Flanagan's range, though any one album can of course only hint at the true breadth and scope of his amazing repertoire-he could play for a month without repeating a piece, and he knows everything he plays, including the lyrics, if any. And Rudy Van Gelder, that prince of jazz engineers, has captured the multiple hues of Tommy's sound. Clearly, he too is a member of the Flanagan fan club.

Some of the pieces have appeared before in the extensive Flanagan discography, but either long ago or in different contexts. Others are new; all are fresh.

Raincheck, from the pen of Billy Strayhorn, one of Tommy's very favorite composers ("I find myself listening more to Ellington and Strayhorn music than anything else," he said) is a Flanagan first, though he did a Strayhorn album while still with Ella. Written forthe Ellington orchestra, it retains its full flavor in Tommy's translation to the keyboard. His attack is so crisp you can almost feel the raindrops fall, and at this demandingly fast tempo one marvels at the precision of his articulation-no blur of notes here,-each stands out. Mraz is up to this speed in his solo, which maintains the flowing conception. After the bass spot. Tommy sets up the exchanges with Washington in Ellingtonicn fashion. The reprise of the theme is beautifully voiced.

Lament is one of JJ. Johnson's most attractive compositions. (Tommy was a member of the trombonist's 1957-58 group, with which he visited Europe forthe first time.) This very personal interpretation features Tommy all the way. His ad lib exposition of the moving theme is lovely; he moves into a gentle rhythm for the lyrical variations in a shimmering rainbow of textures, returning to rubato for the reflective ending.

More than 30 years have passed since Flanagan's first trio recording of Willow Weep For Me. This Ann Ronnel classic has long been a favorite with jazz musicians, and Tommy treats it with the respect he brings to all good tunes. The tempo is utterly relaxed but unfailingly swinging. There's a hint of Tatum in the exposition (less ornate, to be sure), and as he moves into improvisation, there's a fine mix of octave and single-note line touches, all colored by hints of the blues. Mraz's solo has something to say (some bassists just play notes) and sustains the groove. Tommy returns, devising a perfect ending-love those last chords!

Caravan is such a warhorse that one must marvel at Flanagan & Co.'s ability to turn it into something quite unhackneyed. The pianist uses appropriately Latin octave voicings to present the theme, over lively work by the rhythm team, and makes them sound tasty, not trite. Kennis fine here as the trio shifts into vigorous 4/4, and Tommy's ideas keep coming-dig his second bridge, and how he clinches it with the last eight of the chorus. Mraz displays his amazing articulation and flawless intonation in a flying-fingers solo, with some slower spots for contrast. Tommy returns with an incisive treble figure and does some educated bopping before returning to the theme, again voiced in octaves, but with a different flavor than in the opening. It ain't what you do but the way that you do it!

Matt Dennis's That Tired Routine Called Love, a fine but little-known tune, was recorded by Tommy with JJ. Johnson way back when. It has nice long lines that lend themselves well to the pianist's flowing, continuous conception. Tasteful brush-work by Washington underpins this liltingly swinging performance, and Tommy displays an astonishing variety of colors. He skips and dances through an amazing third chorus, each note perfectly placed in the rhythmic stream. Mraz takes a very melodic full chorus, and then Tommy returns with still more ideas. The recapitulation of the melody is the epitome of elegance.

Glad To Be Unhappy, was previously recorded by Tommy as part of a Billie Holiday medley, but it is fully developed here, in tribute to Lady Day, and also in memory of a friend, Bradley Cunningham (the owner of Bradley in Greenwich Village and a true lover of fine piano jazz). "Bradley requested this when I was at the Village Vanguard," Tommy recalled. "Usually, I hate requests, but that one came at just the right moment, and it got a wonderful reception. "Small wonder, if it came off anything like here. He opens solo, with the verse and first chorus ad lib, and you can hear the lyrics, so songful (and soulful) is the playing. Almost subliminally, the rhythm section joins in, and a serene, stately tempo is established. Tommy coaxing bell-like, shimmering sonorities from the treble. He stays close to the melody, enhancing it with subtle harmonic touches. The rubato (eel returns for the ending, and a crystaline cadenza concludes a masterpiece.

The venerable St. Louis Blues, is another much-traveled musical road newly illuminated by the special Flanagan perspective. He opens alone, with an out-of-tempo paraphrase of the first strain, weaving in an echo of "Porker's Mood", then moving into tempo with an octave touch. The tango strain swings gently, with funk underneath, and then we're treated to blues improvisation of the first order-blues that sing and swing, blues that show how deeply the pianist has absorbed and transmuted the special blues language of Charlie Parker, that synthesis of the basic and the abstract into a blues epiphany. Mraz uses walking patterns in his solo, spiced with double stops, and duets with Tommy on the return of the tango strain. Kenny's in there, too, as some educated rifting ensues,- the fine ending just grows naturally from this spontaneous unity.

Mean Streets, a Flanagan original named for Kenny Washington (it was Philly Joe Jones's nickname for the young drummer, who fittingly took over the drum chair with Damerorna after his mentor's death) threatens to break all speed limits. Kenny's brushes fly under Tommy's lightning figure-eights-a tempo like this is hard enough to hold, Jet alone make music at, but these three manage. Riffs lead to a short bass flash, and then the drums take it for a long but meaningful outing that builds to a fine climax, with tap dance patterns on the snare and soundstreams on the cymbals. Tommy returns, and the tempo's where it was before-quite a feat.

I'm Old Fashioned, is treated to a warm, happy ride. Felicitous touches abound, and again one marvels at the multiplicity of colors Flanagan can elicit from the piano as he dresses up this fine old tune in sparklingiy fresh harmonies and textures. With Flanagan, technique is never employed for display, always at the service of the musical content. Not only does he never strike a wrong note-he seems incapable of even thinking a tasteless one. This is a luminous performance; it elevates the listener.

Voce Abuso, by singer-composer Ivan Lins, is a lovely Brasilian song Tommy brought home from Rio in the early 70's. Once again, the pianist shows his mastery at delineating a melody, and then he improvises at his most romantic, but with that special purity-you never hear a clicheed phrase or sentimental notion in his music. He returns to the melody with a full, resonant touch, adds a gentle, humorous ending, and lets that last note ring.

There are few greater pleasures in life than spending time in the company of Tommy Flanagan. Long a master of his demanding art and craft, he has reached a level that only a chosen few can attain. The beautiful stories this poet of jazz has told us here should be cherished, but they are just a prelude to whats in store when hearing him in the flesh.

-Dan Morgenstern

========= from the cover ==========

Tommy Flanagan is indeed a jazz poet-a title bestowed upon him by Whitney Balliett, himself a poet and thus not likely to use the term loosely. A poet, of course, is a kind of magician, and what Flanagan can do with a piano is akin to magic. From this most intractable of instruments, which some players try to beat into submission, he draws the most astonishing and irresistibly luminous array of colors and textures, seemingly able to transform everything his fertile mind imagines into tangible musical reality.

And what his imagination conjures up is sheer musical poetry, sounds and thoughts that, insofar as they can be translated into words, require such superlatives as pure and sublime. But let the reader of such words not fall into the trap of equating poetic sensibility with the ethereal and the introspective. Tommy Flanagan is no shrinking violet of the piano. There is strength and sinew in his music, as well as gentleness and grace. His touch, a marvel in and of itself, can coax from a piano the most amazing dynamic range, with a clarity that matches the lucidity of his ideas. And hand in hand with this tonal wizardry goes a rhythmic sensibility of the highest order. No matter how lyrical, Flanagan's playing always reminds us that the piano is a percussive instrument, and Flanagan has absorbed the rhythmic discoveries of the greatest hornmen in jazz, perhaps most notably those of Charlie Parker. He makes the piano sing, and he also makes it swing. While he is never obvious, he commands a full range of emotions, from tenderness to exultation. Like the poets of old, he can exhort as well as beguile. His is a presence to conjure with.

For far too many years, Flanagan, the most modest of men, was inclined to hide his light under the bushel of the demanding but unsung role of accompanist. Musicians and cognoscenti knew how much he had to offer, and never took his brilliance for granted, as even a partial listing of notables who made use of his gifts to enhance their records will show: Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thad Jones, Dexter Gordon, Milt Jackson, and on and on. But far too rarely did he let the public at large in on what he could do on his own, especially during two long stints with Ella Fitzgerald, first from 1962 to 1965, and then, as accompanist and musical director, from 1968 to 1978.

Toward the end of that long decade, those of us who were longing for Tommy to make records of his own finally got some succor. In 1975, the master made three albums in trio settings-fifteen years (!) after the last such morsel, and that only the second one since 1957. A couple of others followed before he sprung himself loose from Ella, and since then, there's been at least a handful of discs (four of them Grammy nominations) in what is the most fitting format for the Flanagan magic.

All of them are marvels, but I think this new one is special, for a number of reasons. For one, Flanagan, like all truly great artists, keeps getting better, perfecting his skills. For another, this is by a working trio-bassist George Mraz, Tommy's first choice in that role, has been with him, on and off but mostly on, since their first encounter more than 15 years ago. Mraz is astonishing. He has perfect time, and an ear to match that perfection. Add to that a command of his instrument that enables him to execute instantly and flawlessly whatever comes into his mind, and you have the perfect partner for a pianist of Flanagan's harmonic and rhythmic subtlety and imagination. At times, it seems as if telepathy is involved, for Mraz does much more than merely providing a walking bass line; at times, he meshes with Tommy's right-hand inventions as if the two minds were one. In Kenny Washington, the trio has acquired that rarity, a drummer who really listens and plays for the cause, and whose ego doesn't demand a solo on every number. He swings, too.

The program presented here differs from most of Tommy's other trio albums, both in the number and variety of selections. We get the full spectrum of Flanagan's range, though any one album can of course only hint at the true breadth and scope of his amazing repertoire-he could play for a month without repeating a piece, and he knows everything he plays, including the lyrics, if any. And Rudy Van Gelder, that prince of jazz engineers, has captured the multiple hues of Tommy's sound. Clearly, he too is a member of the Flanagan fan club.

Some of the pieces have appeared before in the extensive Flanagan discography, but either long ago or in different contexts. Others are hew; all are fresh.

Raincheck, from the pen of Billy Strayhorn, one of Tommy's very favorite composers ("I find myself listening more to Ellington and Strayhorn music than anything else," he said) is a Flanagan first, though he did a Strayhorn album while still with Ella. Written for the Ellington orchestra, it retains its full flavor in Tommy's translation to the keyboard. His attack is so crisp you can almost feel the raindrops fall, and at this demandingly fast tempo one marvels at the precision of his articulation-no blur of notes here; each stands out. Mraz is up to this speed in his solo, which maintains the flowing conception. After the bass spot. Tommy sets up the exchanges with Washington in Ellingtonicn fashion. The reprise of the theme is beautifully voiced.

Lament is one of J.J.Johnson's most attractive compositions. (Tommy was a member of the trombonist's 1957-58 group, with which he visited Europe for the first time.) This very personal interpretation features Tommy all the way. His ad lib exposition of the moving theme is lovely, he moves into a gentle rhythm for the lyrical variations in a shimmering rainbow of textures, returning to rubato for the reflective ending.

More than 30 years have passed since Flanagan's first trio recording of Willow Weep For Me. This Ann Ronnel classic has long been a favorite with jazz musicians, and Tommy treats it with the respect he brings to all good tunes. The tempo is utterly relaxed but unfailingly swinging. There's a hint of Tatum in the exposition (less ornate, to be sure), and as he moves into improvisation, there's a fine mix of octave and single-note line touches, all colored by hints of the blues. Mraz's solo has something to say (some bassists just play notes) and sustains the groove. Tommy returns, devising a perfect ending-love those last chords!

Caravan is such a warhorse that one must marvel at Flanagan & Co.'s ability to turn it into something quite unhackneyed. The pianist uses appropriately Latin octave voicings to present the theme, over lively work by the rhythm team, and makes them sound tasty, not trite. Kenn's fine here as the trio shifts into vigorous 4/4, and Tommy's ideas keep coming-dig his second bridge, and how he clinches it with the last eight of the chorus. Mraz displays his amazing articulation and flawless intonation in a flying-fingers solo, with some slower spots for contrast. Tommy returns with an incisive treble figure and does some educated bopping before returning to the theme, again voiced in octaves, but with a different flavor than in the opening. It ain't what you do but the way that you do it!

Matt Dennis's That Tired Routine Called Love, a fine but little-known tune, was recorded by Tommy with JJ. Johnson way back when. It has nice long lines that lend themselves well to the pianist's flowing, continuous conception. Tasteful brush-work by Washington underpins this liltingly swinging performance, and Tommy displays an astonishing variety of colors. He skips and dances through an amazing third chorus, each note perfectly placed in the rhythmic stream. Mraz takes a very melodic full chorus, and then Tommy returns with still more ideas. The recapitulation of the melody is the epitome of elegance.

Glad To Be Unhappy, was previously recorded by Tommy as part of a Billie Holiday medley, but it is fully developed here, in tribute to Lady Day, and also in memory of a friend, Bradley Cunningham (the owner of Bradley in Greenwich Village and a true lover of fine piano jazz). "Bradley requested this when I was at the Village Vanguard," Tommy recalled, "Usually, I hate requests, but that one came at just the right moment, and it got a wonderful reception. "Small wonder, if it came off anything like here. He opens solo, with the verse and first chorus ad lib, and you can hear the lyrics, so songful (and soulful) is the playing. Almost subliminally, the rhythm section joins in, and a serene, stately tempo is established. Tommy coaxing bell-like, shimmering sonorities from the treble. He stays close to the melody, enhancing it with subtle harmonic touches. The rubato (eel returns for the ending, and a crystaline cadenza concludes a masterpiece.

The venerable St. Louis Blues, is another much-traveled musical road newly illuminated by the special Flanagan perspective. He opens alone, with an out-of-tempo paraphrase of the first strain, weaving in an echo of "Porker's Mood", then moving into tempo with an octave touch. The tango strain swings gently, with funk underneath, and then we're treated to blues improvisation of the first order-blues that sing and swing, blues that show how deeply the pianist has absorbed and transmuted the special blues language of Charlie Parker, that synthesis of the basic and the abstract into a blues epiphany. Mraz uses walking patterns in his solo, spiced with double stops, and duets with Tommy on the return of the tango strain. Kenny's in there, too, as some educated rifting ensues; the fine ending just grows naturally from this spontaneous unity.

Mean Streets, a Flanagan original named for Kenny Washington (it was Philly Joe Jones's nickname for the young drummer, who fittingly took over the drum chair with Dameronia after his mentor's death) threatens to break all speed limits. Kenny's brushes fly under Tommy's lightning figure-eights-a tempo like this is hard enough to hold, let alone make musk at, but these three manage. Riffs lead to a short bass flash, and then the drums take it for a long but meaningful outing that builds to a fine climax, with tap dance patterns on the snare and soundstreams on the cymbals. Tommy returns, and the tempo's where it was before-quite a feat.

I'm Old Fashioned, is treated to a warm, happy ride. Felicitous touches abound, and again one marvels at the multiplicity of colors Flanagan can elicit from the piano as he dresses up this fine old tune in sparklingly fresh harmonies and textures. With Flanagan, technique is never employed for display, always at the service of the musical content. Not only does he never strike a wrong note-he seems incapable of even thinking a tasteless one. This is a luminous performance; it elevates the listener.

Voce Abuso, by singer-composer Ivan Lins, is a lovely Brasilian song Tommy brought home from Rio in the early 70's. Once again, the pianist shows his mastery at delineating a melody, and then he improvises at his most romantic, but with that special purity-you never hear a clicheed phrase or sentimental notion in his music. He returns to the melody with a full, resonant touch, adds a gentle, humorous ending, and lets that last note ring.

There are few greater pleasures in life than spending time in the company of Tommy Flanagan. Long a master of his demanding art and craft, he has reached a level that only a chosen few can attain. The beautiful stories this poet of jazz has told us here should be cherished, butthey are just a prelude to whafs in store when hearing him in the flesh.

- Dan Morgenstern


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   1 Raincheck         0:05:00 Flanagan, Tommy Trio
   2 Lament     T       0:05:10 Johnson / Johnson
   3 Willow Weep For Me     T       0:06:05 Flanagan, Tommy Trio
   4 Caravan     T       0:06:24 -"-
   5 That Tired Routine Called Love         0:06:50 -"-
   6 Glad To Be Unhappy     T       0:04:48 -"-
   7 St. Louis Blues     T       0:06:36 -"-
   8 Mean Streets         0:04:13 -"-
   9 I'm Old Fashioned     T       0:05:44 -"-
   10 Voce Abuse         0:04:48 -"-

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