Joshua Breakstone - 88

Joshua Breakstone: guitar; Lisle Atkinson: bass; Mike Richmond: cello; Andy Watson: drums.

Joshua Breakstone - 88

Bebop-based guitarist Joshua Breakstone, together with his Cello Quartet, releases 88 (the number of keys on a standard piano) on Capri Records, an album that pays tribute to the pianists of the world. This is a positive follow-up to “2nd Avenue” that came out a couple of years ago under the same label.
It’s curious how these dedicated musicians embrace pure bebop, in an era where we find a wide range of possibilities in terms of new sounds, fusion, and electronics.

The bop feast starts with Harold Mabern’s “The Chief”, which shows how fluent is the language of Mr. Breakstone within this particular style. Trading fours come up amidst well-defined melodic lines played in unison by guitar and cello. 
Sonny Clarke’s “News For Lulu” is respectably rendered by the use of a Latin pulse in its A section and a robust swing in the B.
“Black”, a Cedar Walton’s composition, is definitely one of the highlights of the record, displaying a fine guitar solo packed with inspired rhythmic motifs and evoking widely known melodies such as Gershwin's “Summertime”.

The melody of “Hocus-Pocus”, creation of the great trumpeter Lee Morgan, is suggested in the bandleader’s solo of his original composition, the convivial “Eighty-Eight”, which completely fits in the same bag of the remaining tunes, featuring consonant improvisations by Mike Richmond on cello, and Lisle Atkinson on bass.
A relentless Latin cadence is adopted in Barry Harris’ “Lolita”, contrasting with “Soul Eyes” by Mal Waldron and “If You Could See Me Now” by Todd Dameron, ballads softly propelled by Andy Watson’s fine brushwork.

Despite the clichéd patterns, there’s passion in the quartet’s interplay. I kind of enjoyed re-listening to some of these glorious tunes. They will certainly bring joyful moments to the bebop devotees.

Favorite Tracks:
02 – News For Lulu ► 03 – Black ► 05 – Eighty-Eight

Ken Peplowski - Enrapture

Ken Peplowski: clarinet, tenor Saxophone; Ehud Asherie: piano; Martin Wind: bass; Matt Wilson: drums.

Throughout the listening of “Enrapture”, Ken Peplowski demonstrates all his versatility and confidence both on clarinet and tenor saxophone. He opens with the Dixieland colors of “The Flaming Sword”, a Duke Ellington composition, and finishes with “Willow Tree”, a traditional blues composed by Fats Waller. Thus, as you can imagine there’s a lot of mainstream jazz here, with some nice surprises in the middle. 
Peplowski and his quartet stroll along sweet landscapes, showing a clear tendency to mellow tones with ballads directly connected to the movies such as “An Affair to Remember”; a love theme from Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”; “Cheer Up Charlie”, which was performed by Diana Sowie in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”; and “I’ll Follow My Secret Heart” composed by the eccentric Noel Coward for his musical “Conversation Piece” and played on sax with a tremulous vibrato. 
It also includes a little piece from Lennon and Yoko called “Oh My Love” and “When October Goes”, a composition started by Johnny Mercer and finished by Barry Manilow who popularized it in the mid-80's. However, it was with Herbie Nichols’ “Enrapture”, where Wilson and Asherie shine individually, and Peter Erskine’s “Twelve”, a great tune replete of calls and responses, that Peplowski and his peers captivated me more due to the more enticing and adventurous nature of these compositions.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – The Flaming Sword ► 06 – Enrapture ► 07 – Twelve