Jazz CD Reviews

Review Essay

Jazz came into existence as a music style at the beginning of the twentieth century and nowadays it is successfully developing. Many jazz sub-styles are appearing; moreover, this kind of music has its classical background of talented performers. This paper provides reviews of 5 jazz albums, most of which refer to the middle of the twentieth century. These are Trumpet Evolution and My Passion for the Piano by Arturo Sandoval, Wild is the Wind by Nina Simone, Jazz Impressions of Japan by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and Sarah Vaughan’s album, entitled with her name.

To begin with, Arturo Sandoval is an outstanding figure in the jazz history. His almost 50-year-long career is full of unexpectedness. One of them is his album Trumpet Evolution (2003). The album is notable for different embodiments of trumpet sounds from the classical ones to highly technical improvisations. The Sandoval’s performance of jazz masterpieces of Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, or orchestral music of Raphael Mendes and others are amazing examples of pieces absorbed by the performer and rethought within his consciousness and technique. Emotions, which Sandoval spreads onto the existing compositions, reveal his exceptional manner of trumpet playing.

Besides, Sandoval is not only a great trumpeter but also a pianist. This statement comes out of his earlier album My Passion for the Piano (2001). Here, he leaves his traditional trumpet performing to demonstrate a high-level technique and simplicity in fast flowing melody of keys. Several tracks are backed by bass, drums, percussions, and saxophone respectively performed by Dennis Marks, Ernesto Simpson, Samuel Torres, and Ed Calle.

The light manner and playful simplicity of Sandoval’s key performances are on a par with his trumpet play. In addition, the major Cuban motives, referring to such styles as Cuban, Afro-Cuban and Latin Jazz, perfectly reconcile with minor tracks of world fusion such as “Marinela Says Goodbye”. For fans of Sandoval’s trumpet pieces, this album will make a fine unusual impression.

One of my favourite jazz performers is Nina Simone with her melancholic album Wild is the Wind (1966). In comparison with her previous albums, it demonstrates the extreme diversity of styles and genres. It combines folk, blues, pop, soul and finally, jazz. Her powerful, sometimes exhausted voice sounds in listeners’ ears as a leitmotif of the whole album. It brings them into the depths of African-American women’s souls and shows the extreme difficulties of their lives.

Women in jazz are notable for their deep voices. One of these voices belongs to Sarah Vaughan with her eponymous album (1954). Later, this album was renamed Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown to emphasize that one of the best trumpeters of the 60s was involved in its creation. Besides, several tracks are accompanied by the flute and Paul Quinnichette’s vocals, whose tenor significantly strengthens songs and matches the Sarah’s voice. Vaughan performs one of the best jazz vocal manner ever recorded, whether it is rhythmic performance, high register or low notes.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet, which includes Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Eugene Wright, and Joe Morello, is notable for its impressionistic approach to creating jazz music. The album Jazz Impressions of Japan (1964) is a fundamental rethink of the Eastern motives in music, performed through the prism of jazz direction. Some tracks contain the direct Japanese melodies. The Quartet brought the exotic motives into jazz and blues; moreover, they introduced blues into Japanese compositions with the help of the Western instrument such as the harmonica. Songs sound unusual and experimental but demonstrate the genius combinations of styles.

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