Sunday, July 14, 2013

Kikoski, Carpenter, Novak & Sheppard - From the Hip (BMF Jazz, 2013)

This is a fine mainstream jazz album by a collective group consisting of David Kikoski on piano, Bob Sheppard on tenor saxophone, Dave Carpenter on bass and Gary Novak on drums. They focus on jazz and songbook standards and play them very well. "Star Eyes" opens the album with a medium up swinger that cooks nicely. The band has a nice time on the Cedar Walton tune "Bolivia" as they sway gently and takes solos. "How Deep is the Ocean" is opened by a well paced medium piano solo. The remainder of the band builds in gracefully. There is a bright piano trio interlude before Sheppard’s sax returns. "My One and Only Love" is another ballad featuring luscious saxophone tone with tender piano and drums. The well played standard “Autumn Leaves” is one of the highlights of the recording, with an uptempo saxophone trio improvising into the melody, followed by a fast and melodic piano, bass and drums interlude. Carpenter is highlighted with a sharp and strong bass solo accompanied by piano encouragement. There is also space for some nice drum action before coming back to the familiar melody. Chick Corea’s “Tones for Joan’s Bones” features light toned sax and a springy piano trio. They develop confident swirling classy stuff that is complex but attainable. John Coltrane’s “Mr. P.C.” begins with Kikoski’s bass notes of the piano building into a melodic themed solo. His piano sets the melody which is then joined by Sheppard's saxophone which takes off with a restrained and thoughtful solo. Fast piano trio improv moves into strong drum solo thrashing joyfully before the band comes together to string out the melody and closes a wonderful performance. The musicians on this album alternate between swinging uptempo and patient ballads of accessible mainstream jazz. This live LP was clearly deeply appreciated by the audience as it will be by any mainstream jazz fan. From The Hip -

Send comments to Tim.