Hemispheres is a new group recording from Joel Rosenblatt on drums (late of Spyro Gyra), Ric Fierabracci on bass (latest trio recording with Frank Gambale and Virgil Donati), and Australian keyboardist Phil Turcio. These three music veterans, along with a little help from friends like Eric Marienthal, Gary Meek, Bill Evans, Steve Tavaglione, Christian Howe, Joel Hoekstra, Brett Garsed, and others, deliver a tasteful blend of funk, fusion and jazz, on this, their debut recording. This collection of eleven compositions is well written and arranged, and unlike other fusion outings with so many hired guns, never gets monotonous or out of hand. There’s great improvisation and interplay between Turcio’s keyboards and whomever is taking the sax, guitar, or occasional violin lead on a particular tune. Rosenblatt is his steady self, reminding one of how big a part he was to Spyro Gyra’s sound for 12 years, and Fierabracci lays down some nice fat tasty bass. This is great music that may never be heard on traditional radio. If you’re a fan of the Yellowjackets, Steps Ahead, and the Elektric Band – you won’t be disappointed.
Looked outside the window lately? The forecast for Weather Report fans has been sunny this month. On October 1, the two-CD set Live and Unreleased hit stores. Performances from 1975 to 1983 are captured in the collection and you’ll find all of the group’s signature songs. The release was produced with the full cooperation of Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, making this the first official Weather Report album in over 15 years.
Joe’s new solo release, Faces and Places made its U.S. debut in mid-September. The CD is the perfect blending of world music and jazz. You won’t believe that Joe is 70 years of age when you hear how this music moves. Joe’s plugged-in sound, combined with the world influences, makes for one of the best jazz listening experiences this year.
Faces and Places is out on ESC Records, which is also releasing Victor Bailey’s new solo effort in the U.S. this week. Victor was Weather Report’s bassist when the group dissolved in the mid-80s but continued his relationship with Joe in the Zawinul Syndicate and beyond. That’s Right has a top-notch band – Omar Hakim, Bill Evans, Jim Beard, Dean Brown, Lenny White, and Bennie Maupin. I haven’t heard the CD, but I’ve very interested in one of the tracks that ESC’s web site describes. On “Black on the Bach,” Bailey overdubs four tracks of interlocking bass parts – arpeggios, solos, counterpoint, call-and-response -to merge J.S. Bach and the blues. That, in addition to Bailey’s established playing ability and the calibre of other musicians on this CD, will make me consider buying this CD without even a sample listen.