Al Foster, 'Pent-Up House,' Smoke Sessions ****

Another rare treat from a veteran and someone whose work always makes the spine tingle. Drummer Al Foster, 79, the Miles Davis player who was on 1970s and 80s albums of the trumpet genius including In Concert: Live at Philharmonic Hall, Big Fun, …

Published: 5 Jul 2022. Updated: 36 days.

Another rare treat from a veteran and someone whose work always makes the spine tingle. Drummer Al Foster, 79, the Miles Davis player who was on 1970s and 80s albums of the trumpet genius including In Concert: Live at Philharmonic Hall, Big Fun, Get Up with It, Dark Magus and on through to Decoy, You're Under Arrest and Amandla, has recorded the Sonny Rollins classic standard before on a 1990s Hank Jones trio recording as a member of the much-missed great pianist's trio.

'Pent-Up House' which has a bebop chirpiness and harmonic joie de vivre to it first appeared in 1956 on the Sonny Rollins plus 4 album. The instrumentation on the Foster treatment recorded at Sear Sound in New York keeps to the classic quintet sound. And in Foster's band are the two Ps - peas in a pod for rapport going by the sound of the connoisseur blend - stellar iconic ease and magnitude of all-round masters-at-work prowess in one, the New Orleanian and Smoke Sessions labelmate Nicholas Payton on trumpet and, two, the Michael Brecker of the 21st century Chris Potter (the ex-Dan, Dave Holland, McCoy Tyner titan) on tenor saxophone.

Al says via his publicist: “I fell in love with Sonny Rollins from his albums with Max Roach. He played so lyrically on those records. It was like he was having a conversation through his solos. What a super genius he is.”

Foster's pianist is Kevin Hays and the fine double bassist the Glasperian Vicente Archer, superb last year on Orrin Evans' The Magic of Now and the rhythm section generates the right kind of traction the piece needs as it jabs and shadow boxes once again into our deep jazz head consciousness.

'Pent-Up House' is drawn from the Paul Stache and Damon Smith produced Reflections to be issued on 26 August and guaranteed to put a significant skip in your step to ward off all languor given the integrity of approach and taste exhibited by all concerned. Payton delivers some blistering solo work in key passages as the master throws rhythm after rhythm to him to play with time after time.

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Sachal Vasandani and Romain Collin, Still Life, Edition ****

What is significant here is the directness and the range. And that isn't just in the pared-back voice and piano setting, fine choice of material, or simply the power of melody most evident on the version of Paul Simon's 'The Sound of Silence.' The

Published: 5 Jul 2022. Updated: 36 days.

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What is significant here is the directness and the range. And that isn't just in the pared-back voice and piano setting, fine choice of material, or simply the power of melody most evident on the version of Paul Simon's 'The Sound of Silence.'

The tendresse is the pervasive largesse of the generosity of approach exhibited throughout. A wee small hours of the morning record when the party's over, the candles flicker and dim and as previously noted the new vocals-piano version of Sachal Vasandani's 'No More Tears' is an exquisite, coming-to terms with heartbreak ballad and better than a previously released version.

So, the production concept seals the deal. Its approach means that yes there is a certain nakedness on this studio affair recorded at the Bunker Studio in Brooklyn last summer. But the point is that its direction amplifies the honesty in the rendering of songs both historic and contemporary that allows both voice and piano to be easily untangled and appreciated more however much they exist in a togetherness as they of course do.

Not a giddy record by any means. But you don't need to don the hairshirt either to appreciate its qualities because of the deep luxuriance and humanity found in the sound that allows both tears in the joy and happiness in the darkness.

Sachal's voice on Elizabeth Cotten's 'Freight Train' plunges deep like to some perhaps a jazz George Ezra. Not really apt. Perish the reductiveness in the thought. But there is like a drop shadow in the graphic edge of his timbre that it flashes up such a casual notion because its richness hooks you in on a deceptively simple level. This charming folk song goes back to the very early 20th century. Cotten was a domestic for Peggy Seeger's family and taught the song to the future great singer who recorded it in the 1950s, the track appearing on Origins of Skiffle. Her voice is so high by contrast to Sachal's burrowing ever deeper plunge down the stave.

Pianist Romain Collin plays very quietly but appropriately so throughout, think Jamie Safir a bit in terms of empathy but Collin's touch isn't really the same because it leans more Brad Mehldau-like. Sachal's utterly unique voice is the purest cashmere and ''soft singing'' in the mould of Chet Baker has never sounded the same since Chet practically trademarked the concept and that Sachal moves on immeasurably to live again shaped to his own individual way of sounding.

Songs include Billie Eilish 2019 song 'I Love You', the aforementioned Simon classic from 1965 and there is a brainwave of a Peter Gabriel choice in the inclusion of 'Washing of the Water' (from the 1992 Us album). At heart Still Life is about love, the greatest word in any language and serves the muse admirably in a spirit of wisdom and ample provision of light. SG. Released on 15 July

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