Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Maestro of Cool Lee Konitz with Mark Turner, Ethan Iverson, Ben Street and Albert “Tootie” Heath at The Iridium

Sunday December 19, 2009 1st Set
On the pre-holiday Sunday before Christmas, I made my way down to experience the economical and unadorned artistry of alto legend Lee Konitz in a rare club appearance at The Iridium Jazz Club in New York City. The iconic Mr. Konitz was tantalizingly paired with the tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, a player known for his fine tone and judicious use of notes. This meeting elicited images of the famous sessions that at one time brought together Konitz with tenorist and fellow Lennie Tristano alumni Warne Marsh decades earlier. Mr. Turner has his own credentials as a leader with his trio Fly (with the bassist Larry Grenadier and the drummer Jeff Ballard) garnering considerable accolades for their recent recording Sky & Countrythat
made many a critic’s top ten list for 2009. On this appearance, Mr. Konitz and Mr. Turner were joined by Ethan Iverson (of The Bad Plus fame) on piano, Ben Street on acoustic bass and the veteran Albert “Tootie” Heath on drums.

I arrived to the club early with a friend and was seated stage left when as fortune would have it Mr. Konitz came walking from behind the stage and sat right next to our table, looking to have a bowl of soup prior to his first set. After negotiating with a waiter to get him the mushroom bisque (an excellent and flavorful choice), Mr. Konitz was gracious enough to stay and talk. My first impression of the man was that at the age of eighty-two he was remarkably sharp and engaging, in a way that belied his age.

It became clear that he was uninterested in re-hashing what he had done in the past. As he said “Reminiscing doesn’t go well with soup.” He is an artist who prefers to live in the present; looking forward being a key to his creativity. Mr. Konitz has led several groups in the past, but for the most part he considers himself a sideman. The economic imperatives of the business have necessitated that he assemble musicians from various locales wherever he appears. The frequent influx of new musical plasma via these associations has been a source of inspiration for Mr. Konitz. Because he insists on unstructured spontaneous improvisation however, not all pairings with other musicians are successful. On this evening he related how during a recent appearance with pianist Brad Mehldau, the bassist Charlie Haden and percussionist Paul Motian, the musical communication was especially “in-sync”, so much so that he felt it was a near euphoric experience. Mr. Konitz was extremely forth coming about who he admired and who he felt as he said “…played too many notes”. His economical use of notes springs from his refusal to pre-arrange what he is going to play in any predetermined or predictably patterned way. I was taken by the journeyman way Mr. Konitz seemed to approach his craft. Dressed in a tan jacket that reminded me of the type of garment worn by a machinist or a precision watchmaker, he was unmistakably ready for work.

The first set started off with a composition titled “Solar”. Often attributed to Miles Davis, Mr. Konitz was sure to point out that it was really a Chuck Wayne composition (based on the song “Sonny”). Mr. Konitz and Mr. Turner immediately commenced with an intuitive display of subtle interplay, the two saxophones at times meshing and at times veering off into opposite directions but always maintaining a sense of the melody. A smiling Mr. Heath seemed to enjoy prodding the group with an array of hi-hat accents and rolls interspersed throughout, all the while maintaining his rhythmic continuity with Mr. Street. When Mr. Turner soloed he did so with a gentle waterfall of notes played in a deep mellow tone. When he played with Mr. Konitz his cadence was particularly well matched with the journeyman’s own.

The second song in this set was a Tristano composition titled “Naidu”, where Mr. Konitz and Mr. Turner once again showed a rare affinity for being able to feed off each others changing ideas. With telepathic skill they delivered these sympathetic thoughts independently and still presented them as one homogeneous statement.

Mr. Turner is a tall, thin player that tends to bend at the knees when he is playing. He compresses then elevates himself vertically during his solo excursions. His lanky appearance further accentuates his elastic playing. His notes are supple and warm and they stretch into and out of tension. Mr. Konitz by comparison offers a sturdy and compact profile that generates great energy from deep within his center. He sways slightly from the waist to the rhythm of the song. He thoughtfully contemplates what his next note will be based on what he is hearing from his fellow musicians, consequently always playing slightly behind the music.

On “My One and Only Love” pianist Iverson, who for the most part was quietly laying back in deference to the Maestro, played a nice duet with both Konitz and Turner.
Mr. Konitz has an impatient streak to him and he frequently and precociously interjected unexpected ideas during Iverson and Turner’s solos.

On “I Remember April” Turner and Konitz once again showed compatibility playing together in beautiful concert. Konitz played with a brightness that was sharp and vibrant. Turner responded with a deferential, lower register tonal burst that intertwined itself into and around what Konitz had just played. Iverson was by now more comfortable soloing with a passionate release of cascading notes that spurred Mr. Konitz on in the best interchange between the two of the performance.

On the final song of the set “What Is This Thing Called Love”, Mr. Iverson played in a percussive rhythmic style that was reminiscent of his work with his regular group The Bad Plus.

Playing as Mr. Konitz does, with no safety net, is a formidable task for most musicians, many of whom are used to having the material more worked out in advance. Mr. Street and Mr. Heath skillfully provided the rhythmic balance that allowed the two lead saxophonists the freedom to freely express themselves in this format. Mr. Konitz, who continues to thrill with his beautiful tone, his quiet energy and his inexhaustible creativity, has found in Mr. Turner the perfect foil whose tone, cadence and delivery is compatible with his own and whose musical inquisitiveness is equally inspirational.

Monday, December 21, 2009

TONY MALABY’S APPARITIONS, at the Cornelia Street Café:

December 12, 2009 1st Set

Tony Malaby has gained notoriety as an avant-garde saxophonist who has daringly utilized multiple palettes of instrumentation to achieve the sound that he wishes to explore. This quest has made for some interesting pairings with artists such as guitarist Ben Monder, drummers Michael Sarin and Nasheet Waits, tuba player Marcus Rojas and cellist Fred Lonberg Holm. In each instance Malaby seems to breathe fresh inspiration from the wellspring of sounds these various stylists can bring to his musical table.

The Cornelia Street Café is a little gem of a club on Cornelia Street off Bleeker in the West Village, NYC. I had not been there in sometime but was familiar with the narrow lower level and the comfortable vibe of the place.

On this evening Mr. Malaby's group-the second iteration of this group- featured songs from their new cd titled Voladores. They brought instruments that included toms, snares, cymbals, bells, chimes, toy xylophones, multiple mallets and assorted percussive instruments of the two drummers, Tom Rainey and John Hollenbeck (who replaces Michael Sarin from the first album line up), along with the double bass of Drew Gress and Mr. Malaby’s saxophones.

According to Malaby, the two drummer format was born “… a couple of years ago when he performed several times with two drummers and loved it: It's just (like) the most comfortable couch, or like taking a warm bath, just being surrounded by that sound and falling into it." "I decided to try to create platforms for my favorite 'zones' that we'd developed or would hit on.”

Playing in a zone is a good way to describe what Malaby does. His musical conceptions seem to be loosely structured. They are mere skeletal armatures on which to build his creations. He and his fellow musicians breathe life into each composition as they add layer upon layer of skin, sinew, nerve and flesh. They organically, through improvisation, create the music you hear.

The group led off with an Ornette Coleman composition titled “Homogenous Emotions”. Here Mr. Malaby showed his ability to emit bellowing deep tones or switch to high-reaching screeches on his tenor with ease and fluidity. On “Old Smokey” the group showcased how deftly they could telepathically negotiate multiple time changes. The creative juices were flowing for Hollenbeck, who on what appeared to be a child’s xylophone, created the eerie sound of swarming locusts as he played the unlikely instrument with seed filled mallets.

Hollenbeck was especially mesmerizing as he utilized a variety of instruments in his percussive arsenal creating an at times surreal groundwork. This allowed Malaby the option to soar or ponder on both tenor and soprano saxophones as the mood suited him. The powerhouse bassist Gress and drummer Rainey provided what bottom the music allowed. Gress, at times, seemed unsure of what direction the music was taking him, but his arco work was particularly well matched with Malaby’s deeply toned tenor on the aptly titled “Dreamy Drunk”.

On “Sour Diesel” Gress played a repeating bass line as Malaby played soprano saxophone and Hollenbeck played what appeared to be a combination of bells and a breath-actuated keyboard. The unusual sound that Hollenbeck produced was a most effective counterpoint to the soprano. By about halfway through the song, Malaby had switched to tenor where his performance was the most poignant of the evening. The group ended the set with the title composition from the new release“Voladores”.

As an avant-gardist Tony Malaby’s concepts are daring, musically challenging, and worth experiencing. They can certainly be outside the comfort zone of those looking for modern music that is still lyrically and rhythmically traditional in its approach. Malaby’s music however represents a dynamic, restless spirit that continues to push the boundaries of what music is supposed to be. From such explorations great things can come. With the members of Apparitions he has found like-minded musicians that can allow him to realize this musical vision.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More Best of Jazz 2009 : Saxophone Jazz

As the year draws to a close I am compelled to mention some of the other fine music that I have heard this past year. Following on the heels of my top five piano based jazz cd's, the following selections each have provided their own special magic for me. As I previously explained these selections are only taken from what I have heard and so my apologies to the artists whose great works I simply didn't have the chance to review this year.

In no particular order: My five top Saxophone based jazz cd's of 2009

David Binney: Third Occasion (mr 0006)
David Binney (composer and alto saxophone); Craig Taborn (piano); Scott Colley (acoustic bass); Brian Blade (drums) Brass Section : Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet); Brad Mason (trumpet, flugelhorn); Corey King (trombone); Andy Hunter (trombone).

This album plays like an extended musical suite. Binney shows his creative talents as a noteworthy composer. His powerful and emotional alto saxophone continues to be a modern and distinctive voice that stands out amongst his peers. Colley and Taborn anchor the proceedings, allowing Blade the opportunity to weave his percussive magic.The effective use of brass adds a dimension to this music that brings it into the realm of orchestrated jazz with a bite. Listen to Binney and Blade skillfully building the tension on Squares and Palaces.Binney has presented an artful offering with promises of more to come.

Donny McCaslin: Declaration (SSC-1218)
Donny McCaslin (tenor saxophone , alto flute); Edward Simon ( acoustic piano); Ben Monder (guitar); Scott Colley (acoustic bass); Antonio Sanchez (drums); Pernell Saturino (percussion). Brass Section: Alex Sipiagin (trumpet); Chris Komer (french horn); Marshall Gilkes (trombone); Marcus Roja (tuba, bass trombone); Tatum Greenblatt(trumpet)

Donny McCaslin has been one of a new breed of tenor saxophonists that have taken up the mantle left by the late Michael Brecker. He has been an integral sideman for many of today's most creative bands and now is bursting into his own as a formidable solo artist. He possesses a fiery delivery that is not just bluster but a true extension of his inner burning flame. With Declaration he has made a brilliant, swinging and at times inspiring record of unusual beauty, passion and warmth.

Justin Vasquez : Triptych
Justin Vasquez (Alto & Soprano Saxophone); Aaron Parks (Piano);Adam Rodgers
(acoustic and electric guitars);Orlando Le Fleming(bass);Clarence Penn(drums);Gregoire Marmet (harmonica); Gretchen Parlatto (voice).

As a debut album, Triptych, is simply way above anything else I have heard from a new artist. Young Vasquez shows some real moxie on this creative, intelligent and enjoyable maiden voyage. He utilizes the voices of his various musicians very effectively. Vasquez is joined by a stellar group of musicians who organically weave his compositions into beautiful and coherent pieces of music. Special note to Adam Rodgers' wonderful guitar work on Nimbus. Gretchen Parlatto's haunting vocals on Triptych and Aaron Parks' sympathetic work throughout. An artist that we should be looking to for great things to come in the future.

James Moody : Moody 4A (ipoc 1016)
James Moody (Tenor Saxophone); Kenny Barron (piano); Todd Coolman (bass); Lewis Nash (drums).

From the start of this album, with his playful but robust rendition of Secret Love you know you're in for a treat by a master. Moody's smooth, full toned saxophone is a pleasure to behold. He easily breathes refreshing ideas into old standards like 'Round Midnight, Stella by Starlight and East of the Sun making it obvious that he still has something to say in his inimitably joyful way. Moody is joined by the masterful Kenny Barron on piano and the fine rhythm section of Todd Coolman and Lewis Nash. These guy know and respect the tradition and it shows. At age eighty-four Moody is the keeper of the flame. Based on his mellifluous playing, (check out his easy swing on Kenny Barron's Voyage) the flame will be burning for quite some time within him.

Charlie Mariano with Philip Catherine and Jasper Van't Hof: The Great Concert (ENJ-95322).

With the passing of the great tenor saxophonist Charlie Mariano this year, the jazz world sadly lost one of it's truly creative voices. With this posthumously released live recording of this wonderful concert, we see the unbridled passion that Mariano could release from his horn at the ripe young age of eighty five! Beautiful to behold. Unfortunately for most American listeners, Mariano made his home in Europe since the early seventies. Many of us were deprived of seeing his penetrating artistry first hand. On this last concert, recorded in Stuttgart,Germany in May of 2009 with the wonderfully empathetic guitar virtuoso Philip Catherine and the pianist Jasper Van't Hof we find Mariano in a most pensive yet powerful mood. His voice is bright, clear and brimming with emotion. An extraordinarily powerful piece of music and a fitting epitaph to a lifetime of fine music.

Special mention to Joe Lovano's :Folk Art ; Joshua Redman's: Compass and Loren Stillman's:Winter Fruits

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Picks for Best Jazz Cd’s for 2009

First and foremost I want to say how impressed I have been with the quality of offerings that I have had the chance to preview this year. Most of these selections come from musicians that fly far under the radar of the general listening public. Admittedly there are many fine albums, many by more established artists, that I have not had the opportunity to listen to or review. Consequently my list in no way attempts to represent a very best of 2009 but simply the best that I have had a chance to hear. With that caveat firmly established here are some of my favorite cds from this year.

My Top Five Piano Based CD’s

Lawrence Hobgood with Charlie Haden and Kurt Elling When the Heart Dances (Naim CD112)Exquisitely recorded by Ken Christianson, this album awakened my consciousness to the beauty of the playing of pianist Lawrence Hobgood. The under appreciated Hobgood has for years been successfully accompanying and arranging with vocalist Kurt Elling, who joins him brilliantly on three songs on this album First Song, Stairway to the Stars & Daydream. His poignant collaboration with the noble, warm bass of Charlie Haden is notable especially on Que Sera Sera, When the Heart Dances, Why Did I Choose You, New Orleans & The Cost of Living. His unaccompanied piano plays like a reverential benediction on his own compositions, Sanctuary & Leatherwood. A fine album from a pianist who we hope to hear more from in the near future.

Marc Copland, Drew Gress and Bill Stewart
New York Trio Recordings, Vol. 3: Night Whispers(Pit3037)
Pianist Marc Copland has had a prolific year with several releases that all merit close attention. My favorite, this year, showcased the brilliant and sensitive Copland with a powerful trio made up of the buoyant Drew Gress on bass and the ubiquitous Bill Stewart on drums. There is a wonderful exhibition of subdued introspection-ala Bill Evans-on Copland’s three solo deconstructions of the touching Johnny Mandell song Emily. His treatment of the Julie Styne standard I Fall In Love Too Easily is equally moving. The eruptive force of Stewart’s drums and Gress’s elastic bass are perfect foils to Copland’s probing piano musings. On Gress’s Like it Never Was the interaction is moving and spookily telepathic. The album features three Copland compositions the somnambulistic "The Bell Tolls" along with the title tune "Night Whispers", and his visual "Scattered Leaves". An unusual take on the familiar Miles Davis classic "So What" is icing on this cake.

Steve Kuhn, Drew Gress and Joey Baron with Joe Lovano
Mostly Coltrane(ECM 2099)

In celebration of a brief collaboration between Kuhn and saxophone titan John Coltrane back in 1960, pianist Kuhn has offered an inspiring album of rare warmth and elegance.The pianist carefully chooses a series of Coltrane tunes that are more in line with his own melodic sensibilities including Welcome, Song of Praise, Living Space, Central Park West, Configuration, Jimmy’s Mode and Spiritual.
The tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, channels the spirit more than emulates the sound of Coltrane, and is featured on several compositions. Lovano is in top form and he and Kuhn can be especially poignant in their interplay.The rhythm section of David Finck on bass and Joey Baron on drums play with a respectful yet powerful energy. Kuhn’s ability to wretch emotion from his keyboard is touching on Crescent. On the free flowing treatment of Like Sonny, the entire group achieves a truly remarkable flow of oneness. Kuhn takes another run at his own composition Trance from his 1975 album of the same name. This time around he chooses to play the ostinato based melody solo. He delves more deeply into the nuances that he can produce from its core theme rather than concentrating on the driving, rhythmic nature of the original song. An interesting retrospective look at a song that I always found compelling. Kuhn is a treasure and with this album he has re-established himself as someone who is still at the top of his game.

The Jeff Hamilton Trio : Jeff Hamilton, Tamir Hendelman, Chris Luty
The Jeff Hamilton Trio: Symbiosis (Capri74097-2)

I know, I know the Jeff Hamilton Trio is lead by the very talented drummer Jeff Hamilton, nonetheless with Chris Luty on bass and the marvelous piano of Tamir Hendelman, it makes my top five of piano based Cd’s for 2009. This album swings on songs like You Make Me Feel So Young or Fascinating Rhythm . The music can also pull at your heartstrings, like when Hamilton’s wellspring of ideas on drums spurs on Hendelman to pianistic magic on Midnight Sun. Luty’s inspired arco bass work and Hamilton’s airy brush strokes, on the somber Claus Ogerman composition Symbiosis is perfect for the pensive, classically inspired piano of Hendelman. Blues for Junior and Blues in the Night are straight ahead blues with no excuses. A pleasurable musical experience throughout.

Jay Epstein, Bill Carothers and Anthony Cox
Easy Company (Gone Jazz 0902)
I am sure this is not everybody’s cup of tea, but I enjoyed Easy Company a great deal. With unusual choices in material like the John Williams composed Star Wars inspired Imperial March to a hip treatment of the Cream classic White Room, Messers Epstein, Carothers and Cox stir up a convincing pot of piano based trio music that is surprisingly fresh. No two treatments are alike and the trio manages to push each other along to unexpected heights and around blind corners without any deleterious effects. Check out the emotionally evocative treatment by Cox on bass and Carothers on piano on Never Let Me Go. Carothers is an interesting, restless soul of a pianist who is hard to pigeonhole. Epstein and Cox are equally creative with something to say. They truly make for Easy Company. The entire album has the raw feel of a garage band recording where the musicians are serious about their craft but are having fun, prodding each other on and seeing where it takes them. It’s a fascinating ride that is worth the trip.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Review of Ravi Coltrane w/Geri Allen Trio at The Iridium

Check out my live performance review of Ravi Coltrane with Gerri Allen Trio at the Iridium as published on All About Jazz.

Despite my comments about his Iridium appearance the man can play :

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eric Alexander's "Revival" Burns It's Way Into Your Consciousness

Artist: Eric Alexander

CD:Revival of the Fittest (HCD 7502)

Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander has a prolific body of work starting with his debut album “New York Calling “ released in 1992.With his latest release “ Revival of the Fittest”, Mr. Alexander has created a memorable homage to one of his major influences, the under appreciated George Coleman, whose composition “Revival” is the highlight of the album.

Mr. Alexander’s pure, burnished tone and lyrical playing is seen by some as a throwback. It is steeped in the tradition of the hard bop players who he has chosen to use as a source for inspiration. “Revival” is one of those songs that you can’t seem to get out of your head. On a recent drive home from a disappointing Ravi Coltrane concert I was listening to WBGO and was struck by the way the tune, which I had previewed before, just grabbed my attention. It is no wonder this catchy song is getting airplay. The twists and turns of the melody are exquisitely executed with a creative wellspring of ideas and Mr. Alexander’s tone is warm and mellow while retaining a sense of drive and joy that is infectious. Joe Farnsworth driving, syncopated drums keep this memorable tune in high gear.

Mr. Alexander’s innate ability to bring emotionally charged feelings into exquisitely crafted, elegantly executed passages sets him apart. On the straightly played “Blues for Phineas” he conjures up images of the great masters of this medium- the Mobley’s, the Turrentine’s, the Newman’s. He plays the blues with a refreshing respect, no gimmicks and little mimicry.

On the Ivan Lins ballad “The Island” Mr. Alexander’s lush tone is especially moving as he plays the song’s sensuous melody with little embellishment. He blazes his own understated path delivering passages that are just so tastefully done they make you stand up and listen. Pianist Mabern, seemingly inspired by the Alexander solo, touches on a plethora of styles during his creative solo.

On Michel Legrand composition “ You Must Believe In Spring” Mr. Alexander seems completely at home as drummer Joe Farnsworth sets the tempo with a quick paced Latin beat. Mr. Alexander takes this cue to demonstrate his formidable ability to string together rapidly delivered crescendos of notes that all seem to lead in unified direction to a satisfying conclusion.

With the release of Revival of the Fittest, Eric Alexander has provided a rewarding musical offering. My guess is once you put “Revival” on your cd player or I pod’s rotation you may find it stays there longer than you might have thought.

CD: Revival of the Fittest (HCD-7205)

Musicians: Eric Alexander (tenor saxophone); Harold Mabern (piano); Nat Reeves (bass); Joe Farnsworth (drums).

Recorded: Recorded April 14 & April 28, 2009 Van Gelder Studios, New Jersey

Track listing: Revival; My Grown Up Christmas; The Island; Too Late Fall Back Baby; Love-Wise; Blues for Phineas; You Must Believe in Spring; Yasashiku (Gently). Tracks in bold are favorites

Friday, November 20, 2009

Q'd UP :Snow and Jazz Alive and Well in Utah

As any skier knows, Utah is known for the pristine, powdery snow of its Wasatch Mountains, but few people would think of this western state as the source for fine jazz. With Q'd Up's new album "Quintessence" ,that perception is bound to change.

Q'd Up is a Salt Lake City based group formerly known as FJQ or Faculty Jazz Quartet.
Made up predominantly of faculty members of the Brigham Young University music department; it now consists of multi-reed artist Ray Smith; keyboard player/composer Steve Lindeman; bassist, Matt Larson and the drums, mallet playing and percussion of multi-instrumentalists Ron Brough and Jay Lawrence On this latest release they are joined by Kelly Eisenhour on a several vocal tracks.

This group of talented musicians have produced a tight, well executed album that is a fine easy listening addition to anyone's jazz collection. On "Beyond Your Wildest Dreams" , Dexter Gordon sounding tenor saxophonist Ray Smith has you checking out the liner notes to verify who it is that is actually playing here. One highlight of the album is the imaginative "Dark City Streets" penned by drummer/composer Jay Lawrence. With a Henry Mancini feel evoking dark and perhaps sinister alleys, the tune features some distinctively husky sounding alto flute work by the talented Smith and some creative city sounds overdubbed at the coda by engineer Mike Chadbourne.

The Johnny Mercer/Jerome Kern standard " Dearly Beloved" melody is reminiscent of Benny Golson's "Killer Joe" and features some fine vocal work by Kelly Eisenhour that brings to mind the great Ms. Nancy Wilson.

"Skeches of Trane" is a Jay Lawrence composition that features a driving bass line by Matt Larson and a cooking organ solo by Steve Lindeman. The song just swings throughout. Smith's Dexter Gordon influence is again on display on the Julie Styne/Sammy Cahn composition "It's You or No One" where Smith and Eisenhour join on some nice unison work with sax and voice. There is a pensive sound to the alto flute of Smith and the hollow Marimba work of Bough on Lindeman's haunting dedication to pianist Stefan Karlsson, "Take Me To Wonderland Right Away".

"Don't Blame Me",featuring the voice and lyrics of Kelly Eisenhour, is a classic torch song of an unrequited love. Eisenhour shows she has a soulful side and she is ably accompanied by Smith's tenor and Lindeman's classic blues organ sound.

The title track is the most adventurous, most rewarding cut of the album. Quintessence is that often unachievable fifth element; that highest natural form of being. On "Quintessence", Q'd Up shows it is approaching this fifth element. The "Weather Report" sounding composition has Smith's bass clarinet deftly emulating the rapid bass lines ala Jaco, before he switches horns to a Shorter-esque soprano sound. The Zawinul feel is apparent and Lindeman's keyboard pays homage to the Austrian's sound. This tightly knit group of talented musicians know how to swing and get down. Q'd Up offers solid musicianship, good song selection and tight arrangements that are the result of musicians who have been playing together for some time. Together they prove jazz is alive and well in Utah.

Recorded at LDS Motion Picture Studio. Provo, Utah 2009

Album: Quintessence; Jazz Hang Records JHR100Q

Musicians: Ray Smith (sax & woodwinds); Steve Lindeman (keyboards); Matt Larson(Bass); Ron Brough (Drums, Mallets & Percussion); Jay Lawrence (Drums, Mallets & Perfcussion); Kelly Eisenhour (Vocals on tracks 3, 6 & 10)

Tracks: Beyond Your Widest Dreams; Dark City Streets; Dearly Beloved; Sketches of Trane; Rustyn's Lullaby; It's You or No One: Brother Jay; Cine Bossa & Starbush; Take me to Wonderland Right Away; Don't Blame Me; In Pursuit of Guacamole; Quintessence.
(Favorite tracks are in bold)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Description of How to Sing the Blues

My friend, the great drummer Jimmy Cobb, forwarded me this email with a hilarious description of what is and what is not the Blues. It was purportedly written by someone named
Stretch Melon Clinton (if there is such a person) but no matter what the source is this is funny material:

> HOW TO SING THE BLUES ... by Stretch Melon Clinton
> 1. Most Blues begin, "Woke up this morning."
> 2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, 'less you
> stick something nasty in the next line, like "I got a good woman, with the
> meanest face in town."
> 3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat
> it. Then find something that rhymes ... sort of: "Got a good woman -
> with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher - and she
> weigh 500 pound."
> 4. The Blues are not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in
> a ditch; ain't no way out.
> 5. Blues cars: Chevys and Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues
> don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues
> transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet
> aircraft an' state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin'
> plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.
> 6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet.
> Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get
> the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.
> 7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any
> place in Canada. Hard times in St. Paul or Tucson is just depression.
> Chicago, St.Louis, and Kansas City still the best places to have the Blues.
> You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain.
> 8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with
> male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg cuz you skiing is not
> the blues. Breaking your leg cuz an alligator be chomping on it is.
> 9. You can't have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The
> lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.
> 10. Good places for the Blues:
> a. highway
> b. jailhouse
> c. empty bed
> d. bottom of a whiskey glass
> Bad places:
> a. Ashrams
> b. gallery openings
> c. Ivy League institutions
> d. golf courses
> 11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less
> you happen to be an old ethnic person, and you slept in it.
> 12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if:
> a. you're older than dirt
> b. you're blind
> c. you shot a man in Memphis
> d. you can't be satisfied
> No, if:
> a. you have all your teeth
> b. you were once blind but now can see
> c. the man in Memphis lived.
> d. you have a retirement plan or trust fund.
> 13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck.
> Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Gary Coleman could. Ugly white people
> also got a leg up on the blues.
> 14. If you ask for water and Baby give you gasoline, it's the Blues.
> Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
> a. wine
> b. whiskey or bourbon
> c. muddy water
> d. black coffee
> The following are NOT Blues beverages:
> a. mixed drinks
> b. kosher wine
> c. Snapple
> d. sparkling water
> 15. If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues
> death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way
> to die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse, and dying lonely on a
> broken down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis
> match or while getting liposuction.
> 16. Some Blues names for women:
> a. Sadie
> b. Big Mama
> c. Bessie
> d. Fat River Dumpling
> 17. Some Blues names for men:
> a. Joe
> b. Willie
> c. Little Willie
> d. Big Willie
> 18. Persons with names like Sierra, Sequoia, Auburn, and Rainbow
> can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.
> 19. Make your own Blues name (starter kit):
> a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
> b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime,
> Kiwi, etc.)
> c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore,
> etc.)
> For example, Blind Lime Jefferson, or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc.
> (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")
> 20. I don't care how tragic your life: you own a computer, you
> cannot sing the blues. You best destroy it. Fire, a spilled bottle of
> Mad Dog, or get out a shotgun. Maybe your big woman just done sat on it.
> I don't care.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kandinsky :Improvisations with Color

Vasily Kandinsky exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum, NYC
November 14, 2009

Rainy days bring out the crowds to New York Museums. I had been wanting to see the Kandinsky exhibit at the Guggenheim for several weeks and Saturday gave me my opportunity. After driving from Connecticut and circling the block for a half an hour, I came to the conclusion that my usually faithful parking karma had taken a vacation day. With this realization, I succumbed to the inevitable and secured a parking space at a garage on 87th and Park that had a reasonable prix fixe for the time I had allotted. After walking in a fine mist that deceivingly drenches you, I made my way to the Gugg. I couldn't believe the long lines waiting in front of the ticket booths to get in. Seven rows deep, twenty people long and hundreds already making their way through the exhibit; quite an impressive turnout for an abstract artist!

The overcast light from the atrium's skylight cast a muted, cream colored light on the crowds below. It felt like we were all enveloped in a gauze,. seeing each other through mosquito netting. There is a thickness to the air a mixture of heavy humidity and perspiration emanating from the mass of humanity that inhabits the building. Most people lament about the long lines. Some succumb to their own creations of an seemingly endless wait,leaving prematurely an unfulfilled. Most suffer silently, braving the lines like homeless waiting for soup at a shelter. Gratefully the lines move fairly quickly, the mechanized efficiency of capitalism at its finest. Within fifteen or twenty minutes I get my ticket, an eighteen dollar entry pass to the world of Kandinsky.

Vasily Kandinsky is an artist whose transformative use of color and form was instrumental in the creation of the abstract art movement of the early twentieth century. Having never taken an art history or art appreciation class (it wasn't de rigueur for engineering school graduates), I have been drawn to Kandinsky's work for the purely visceral feeling that his dramatic use of color and shapes has elicited from me. I get a similar feeling when listening to a great jazz artist or group.

Looking up at the Frank Lloyd Wright designed spiral, I watch the flow of bodies surge through its serpentine corridors. This flow has the feeling of an orderly organic rush of plasma through a pulsating organ. I am sure the architect would have a smile of satisfaction on his face. It is perhaps the most symbiotic exhibit that could be presented at this facility. It was the abstract movement that was in some respects the inspiration for Guggenheim building this museum and hiring Wright for this commission.

The exhibit starts with a four panel display that Kandinsky was commissioned to paint for collector Edwin Campbell, for his Park Avenue apartment. It is sometimes referred to as "The Four Seasons". Painted between May & June 1914, these panels have apparently never before been displayed together in a museum They represent a stage of abstraction for the artist that was by this time highly developed.

With his abstract credentials firmly established, the exhibit regresses to Kandinsky's earlier works where he paints using more identifiable objects. The exhibit cleverly allows the viewing public to slowly experience the artist's progressive move into abstraction. Kandinsky's subject matter during his early period is predominantly landscapes. Objects like trees, mountains and people are readily identifiable. His quest for freedom from form is a slow process that he develops over a period of time and is well represented by various works in the show. For me his work from 1908 "Blue Mountain" is a most impressive painting where Kandinsky has started to use brilliant colors with minimally identifiable forms to inch us into his foray into almost total abstraction.

"Picture with an Archer" from 1909 still exhibits identifiable forms as well as a recurring theme of Kandinsky, the rider on the horse. This presumably represents Kandinsky's path to enlightenment and is a repeated motif in his work. Some of my other favorites from this period and brilliantly on display are his 1911 " Romantic Landscape" and his series of pictures titled "Compositions". By this time Kandinsky had been trying to free his art. His goal was to better approach the freedom he felt was implicitly achievable in the new music that was being concurrently presented by avante-garde composers like Arnold Schoenberg. His "Impressions III (Concert) from 1911 is a representation of a Schoenberg performance that he attended. He used numerous titles for his works like " Impressions" "Improvisations" and "Compositions" which have a definitive tie to his admiration of music. For me, Kandinsky represents the perfect visual representation of the beauty and expressiveness of improvisational jazz. Where jazz musicians use expressive glissandos of seemingly unrelated notes, rhythmic pulses of multiple meters free from apparent musical order to create expression, Kandinsky uses brilliant colors to form impressions and define his expression. Colors that flow into each other in seamless harmony. Flowing, organic representations that transcend normally definable objects creating a new reality that is both harmonic and atonal. It is this symbiosis with its expressive creative musical undertones that make Kandinsky a joy for me. There is a entire room dedicated to Kandinsky's more mechanically contrived etchings, inks and watercolors, but even these have an organic quality to them. He incorporates geometrical forms as well as from embryonic and microscopic objects in his work.

The exhibit is a splendid representation of the maestro's work in the perfect setting. A must see for any lover of improvisational art at its finest. The exhibit will continue at the Guggenheim through January 13, 2010. For a glimpse at the exhibit check out this link to the Guggenheim

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Abercrombie, Nussbaum & Versace Tear it Up at the Cole Auditorium

October 25, 2009

Autumn days in Connecticut are usually filled with the brilliant colors that embody a New England fall. Last Sunday, for those in attendance, the place for brilliant musical colors was the Cole auditorium at the Greenwich Library. Musical director David Waring, armed with a generous gift from patron Clementine Peterson, concluded his tasteful jazz series with a very special performance; a homecoming of sorts. Guitarist John Abercrombie and keyboardist Gary Versace, both Greenwich High graduates and drummer Adam Nussbaum, originally from Norwalk, brought their own special high-energy jazz to the comfortable confines of the Cole Auditorium.

As the musicians made their way to the stage it was obvious they were among friends and appreciative followers. The group seemed to be loosely led by Mr. Abercrombie, whose career spans nearly four decades of musical adventurism. Mr. Abercrombie was an original member of the groundbreaking jazz-rock super group Dreams, which included Michael and Randy Brecker, keyboardist Don Grolnick and the powerhouse drummer of Mahavishnu fame, Billy Cobham. Abercrombie’s breakout hit was the seminal fusion album Timeless
from 1975 which he did with keyboard wizard Jan Hammer and drummer extraordinaire Jack De Johnette. Since then he has continued to explore his own impressionistic style of music in many varied formats.

Mr. Nussbaum’s biography includes stints with the iconic tenorman Sonny Rollins and the saxophonists Dave Liebman and Michael Brecker . He was an important part of the John Scofield Trio, a progressive group with the guitarist John Scofield and the bassist Steve Swallow.

Mr. Versace is the youngster in this powerful triumvirate. Mr. Versace is a keyboard player who has made an indelible mark predominantly as an accompanist on organ and accordion. His has been named up and coming artist on the organ for the last three years in the Downbeat readers poll. I was particularly impressed with his work on the recent Loren Stillman album
“ Winter Fruits”.

The trio started the set with the standard “How Deep is the Ocean” which was played at a sauntering tempo, with Mr. Nussbaum starting out ever so lightly on brushes. Mr. Abercrombie plays his solid body guitar through series of electronic devices including a modulating volume pedal that he deftly uses to increase or sustain his thumb-strummed notes. Mr. Versace (pronounced Ver Says) was playing a Nord electronic organ which he had connected to a vintage Leslie speaker. Mr. Nussbaum’s drum kit included 3 toms, 1 bass drum, a snare, a hi-hat and 3 cymbals. As the trio played through the familiar changes of the song , increasing tempo and intensity, it was predominantly Mr. Abercrombie and Mr. Versace trading musical ideas as Mr. Nussbaum prodded them in suggestive directions.

On Mr. Abercrombie’s “Anniversary Waltz”, Mr. Nussbaum uses an assortment of rim and stick work to subtly build the rhythm over Mr. Abercrombie’s spacey guitar explorations. There was a demonstrable joy visible between the musicians as they interacted on this song. Mr. Versace played a particularly penetrating solo on organ as Mr. Abercrombie looked on approvingly. When Mr. Abercrombie soloed he built upon a series of repeating note patterns that drove the music into a funky, rock/blues direction.
Mr. Nussbaum pushed the song into a driving coda. Mr. Nussbaum’s strong left hand is particularly impressive.

On “Sad Song” from Mr. Abercrombies’s recent album “Wait Till You See Her” the audience was treated to the sensitive, impressionistic side of this artist. Mr. Versace and Mr. Abercrombie were particularly sympathetic in their communication of the melancholy spirit of this music. Mr. Nussbaum, who can be a tremendously muscular drummer, showed he is also capable of nuance with his deft use of padded mallets and shimmering cymbals work.

The trio performed several other pieces including “Retractable Cell” and a medley that featured Adam Nussbaum’s ‘We Three” and Ornette Coleman’s “Round Trip”. Mr. Versace weaved his solos with cascades of notes that darted deftly between Mr. Abercrombie’s atmospheric guitar. The young organist was pushed along by the ever-changing time signatures instigated by the playful Mr. Nussbaum, but more than held his own and had fun doing so.

The highlight of the performance was Mr. Abercrombie’s “Ralph’s Piano Waltz” from the guitarists watershed release “Timeless”. The driving nature of the song was the perfect vehicle for Nussbaum’s brand of power driven drumming. Mr. Versace ‘s electronic keyboard took on a rock fusion sensibility with a flurry of notes that showed influences reminiscent of my days of listening to Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman. Mr.. Abercrombie was particularly animated as he took on a distinctively blues tinged solo that demonstrated that he could still shred with the best of them. Together the trio breathed life into Abercrombie’s composition to the delight of the audience many of who were apparently musicians.

In talking to Mr.Versace after the performance it was clear that Mr. Abercrombie has influenced a whole generation of younger musicians as a leader, a teacher and a composer. They see his impressionistic art as one worthy of emulation and continued expansion.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gretchen Parlato whispers to you " In A Dream"

The wispy voice of Gretchen Parlato whispers its way into your head and refuses to leave. Despite her muted, intimate approach to singing she somehow manages to capture your attention with precise intonation, a hushed toned sensuality and an astute sense of timing and space. You’ll find yourself straining to hear more. She shows an instrumentalist’s sensibility with the material she chooses to record, with compositions by Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Theolonius Monk in her repertoire.

I first heard her haunting voice on alto saxophonist Justin Vasquez’s “Triptych”, a fine release from last year. Parlato was a stand out on the title cut where she utilizes her voice not so much as a lead vocal but as another instrument. She has an uncanny rhythmic sense and reminds me of a young Flora Purim in the early Return to Forever days.

On her second album “In A Dream” she has aligned herself with fine musicians who help her through the difficult waters of headlining her own group. She wisely reunites with the talented and sympathetic Aaron Parks on keyboards. Along with the fine guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke is Derrick Hodge on bass and the kinetic Kendrick Scott on drums.

Her take on “I Can’t Help It”, the Stevie Wonder composition, has her singing and vocalizing behind the percussive vocal dynamics of Loueke as he accompanies her on voice and guitar. The pure, unadorned treatment of the production is especially refreshing as it allows her voice to stand brilliantly on its own.

Behind the machine-like brush work of Scott on snare, Parlato takes the words of “Within Me” and makes them her own in a display of subdued poise. Her hushed, bedroom voiced approach can sometimes seem affected but her timing is impeccable and she is pitch perfect.

On the Herbie Hancock/Bennie Maupin composition “Butterfly” her lithe vocals work seamlessly with Loueke’s vocal pops, clicks and guitar chords, once again proving these two are of similar musical spirit. Her deft use of space between words creates anticipation. Wayne Shorter’s “ESP” finds Parks playing Fender Rhodes, while Loueke matches Parlato’s percussive scat-like improvisations with his guitar licks.

For the non-jazz audience her unique rendition of an old SWV hit “ Weak” is sure to please. With a catchy backbeat and the spacey sounds of Parks on Fender Rhodes, Parlato delivers the lyrics to this pop song with a breathy sensuality that is particularly captivating.

The title track, a Robert Glasper composition “ In A Dream”, with its somnambulistic melody and swaying electric piano and organ comps by Aaron Parks finds Parlato’s dreamy, lacelike vocals at their best. It is this song that is perhaps most indicative of what sets this singer apart. Parlato is a captivating stylist whose interpretive skills embody an appreciation of the music that goes well beyond simply singing. In addition to an expressive vocal instrument, she seems to be able to immerse herself into the music and become one with it.

If used to excess her hushed delivery may wear thin, but for now “ In A Dream” stands alone as a thoroughly enjoyable departure from the crowded fare offered by most female vocalists.

Artist: Gretchen Parlato

CD: In A Dream (OSD –CD-107)

Musicians: Gretchen Parlato (voice); Lionel Loueke (guitar and voice); Aaron Parks (keyboards); Derrick Hodge (acoustic and electric bass); Kendrick Scott (drums & percussion).

Recorded: Recorded September 16, 2008 Kampo Studios & December 17th & 18th, 2008 at Legacy Recording, New York.

Track listing: I Can’t Help It; Within Me; Butterfly; In A Dream; Doralice; Turning Into Blue: E.S.P.; Azure; On the Other Side; Weak.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Loren Stillmans' "Winter Fruits" :Dry Ice in an Alto

Loren Stillman is a London born alto saxophonist who is now residing in Brooklyn, NY.
In 2002 he was a semi-finalist in the Theolonius Monk Saxophone Competition. He has played with a myriad of master jazz musicians including Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, John Abercrombie and has studied with Lee Konitz and Dave Liebman.

Loren Stillman’s new release “Winter Fruits” is a compilation of eight songs that together demonstrate a modernist approach to improvisational music, where melody and chord changes are for the most part abandoned. In lieu of such traditional forms, the music uses a combination of orchestrated and free journeys into the creation of a musical atmosphere where the artist interaction create a flowing, unpredictable conversation with the listener more or less along for the ride. For this effort Stillman brings together the skills of organ master Gary Versace, guitarist Nate Radley and drummer/composer Ted Poor, collectively known as Bad Touch.

In promotional material sent by his publicist, I was struck by a comment attributed to the guitarist John Abercrombie. Supposedly Abercrombie compared the young Stillman, his band mate in the group Jackalope, to a young Lee Konitz on steroids. Certainly Stillman’s chilled delivery, lack of vibrato and deliberative cadence are derivative of Konitz’s cool sound. Abercrombie is another obvious influential force in this music. The album is reminiscent of some of the ethereal collaborations that Abercrombie has done with the British multi-instrumentalist John Surman.

The entire album flows in an enjoyable manner that seems organically connected with the voices of Stillman, Radley, Poor and Versace darting in and out in a precise but relaxed manner. The album is best listened to as a suite in one sitting. Stillman’s use of long, deliberate, laid-back lines of improvisation are quite effective. His tone is pure and never abrasive. He rarely uses screeches or harsh accents., although there is sometimes a hint of breathiness in his delivery. When he does emphasis a passage it is usually with a overflowing continuity of thought which pours from his alto like the dense white clouds of condensation that pour from melting dry ice.

The precision of the group is most impressive on “Muted Dreams” with its delicate and exquisitely executed passages of luminescent sound. Stillman’s extended runs are particularly impressive in their tonal beauty and flawless fluidity. “Skin” is another fine composition where the group easily navigates complex, synchronous lines in a fusion-like manner but with a more refined approach that concentrates on tone in addition to speed.

“With You” is one of the more melodic pieces on the album with Radley and Versace showing some nice interplay. Poor predominantly uses cymbals with some accents on toms and snares. When Versace delves into his solo there is no discernable time except for a pulsing, throb-like cadence. Throughout it all Poor somehow manages to create the illusion of the barest of rhythms. Radley’s re-entry after Versace’s solo is beautifully seamless. Stillman returns with some of his most lyrical playing.

The Abercrombie influence is especially apparent on the airy Radley guitar lines of “Man of Mystery”. Versace’s versatile command of his arsenal of sounds is complimentary throughout. He modulates his volume and like a chameleon changes tonal colors at precise moments to add emphasis.

“Winter Fruits” is perhaps the most choppy, darting composition on the album It ends with a repeating bass line by Versace that is the backdrop for some truly free improvisational ramblings by Radley, Stillman and Versace while Poor pounds and crashes relentlessly behind.

“Puffy” is a slow, reflective piece that allows Stillman to show the most lyrical and sensitive side to his playing. Radley intertwines floating guitar riffs between Stillman’s thoughts as Versace church-like organ creates an air of somber seriousness.

“Winter Fruits” represents an evolutionary step in the refinement of a very promising young alto saxophonist who plays his horn with the confidence of a seasoned bartender delivering the perfect chilled martini.

Artist: Loren Stillman

CD: Winter Fruits (PIT 3042)

Musicians: Loren Stillman (alto saxophone); Gary Versace (organ); Nate Ridley (guitar);
Ted Poor (drums).

Recorded: Recorded July 4th & 5th Bennett Studios, New Jersey

Track listing: Muted Dreams; Skin; Man of Mystery; With You; Like A Magic Kiss; A Song to Be Played; Winter Fruits; Puffy. Highlighted tracks are favorites.

All compositions by Loren Stillman except Muted Dream & Winter Fruit by Ted Poor.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chicago Mike Reed's "About Us"

Artist: Mike Reed’s People, Places & Things

CD: About Us ( 482 Music-1068)

Musicians: Mike Reed (drums); Greg Ward (alto saxophone); Tim Haldeman (tenor saxophone); Jason Roebke (bass); David Boykin (Tenor on track 4); Jeb Bishop (trombone on track 6); Jeff Parker(guitar on track 10).

Recorded: Recorded Feb –March 2009 Chicago, IL

Being from New York I am not familiar with the Chicago jazz scene, so it was with some interest that I put on my headphones to listen to the new Mike Reed offering “About Us”. Reed’s latest effort finds him joined by fellow People, Places & Things members Greg Ward on Alto, Tim Haldeman on tenor and Jason Roebke on bass. Together with guests tenor saxophonist David Boykin, trombonist Jeb Bishop and guitarist Jeff Parker, they play what Reed describes as a sampling of what is the best of the current developments in Chicago improvised music.

Much of the music borders on free jazz and is influenced by Ornette Coleman and his piano-less groups. While well played and competently arranged there was only a few times I found myself checking out the title of the tunes.

“VS #1”, a Ward composition offered a walking bass line with a jaunty dual saxophone intro that starts like the theme to a detective story. Ward is given room to improvise over Reed and Roebke’s bouncing rhythm. About three and half minutes into the music the rhythm section drops out and allows Ward the chance to solo in a probing and introspective way. He eventually builds full circle, returning to the song’s intro line. “Big and Fine” is a fun Boykin composition. The composer plays tenor in a burlesque inspired style that is quite raucous and a departure from most of the material on the album.

The Reed composition “The Next Time You Are Near” is a languishing ballad that makes great use of the precise synchronized playing by saxophonists Ward and Haldeman. These guys have undoubtedly played together for some time. Their breathy, tonally husky treatment of the repeating melody line implies pathos. Ward’s playing is particularly moving. Reed’s padded drumbeats are perfectly muted. He saunters at a leisurely pace providing the background for the two saxophonists to weave their sounds in some of the best interplay on the album.

Guitarist Jeff Parker offers a composition that has a catchy melody line. Reed and especially Roebke seem to enjoy playing to this upbeat, in-the-pocket style tune. Solos by Parker and Ward give this song vitality, with Ward playing some nice changes ranging from hushed tones to controlled flurries. Reed, for his part, deftly moves from subtle to in your face as the song demands.

Track listing: It’s Enough; VS#1; About Us; Big & Fine; The Next Time You Are Near; Big Stubby; Flat Companion; First Reading : Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians; Under the Influence of lunar Objects; Days Fly By. Highlighted tracks are favorites.