Bill O'Connell, Live in Montauk, Savant ***1/2

Don't expect fireworks but there is acre upon acre of solid playing here. And with tunes including classics by Duke Ellington, Bobby Timmons and Herbie Hancock and staples of the future in the work of pianist-leader Bill O'Connell himself this live …

Published: 1 Aug 2023. Updated: 55 days.

Don't expect fireworks but there is acre upon acre of solid playing here. And with tunes including classics by Duke Ellington, Bobby Timmons and Herbie Hancock and staples of the future in the work of pianist-leader Bill O'Connell himself this live recording made at Gosman's Dock during the Hamptons Jazz Festival at Montauk on Long Island in 2021 taps the heart of the modern mainstream. Mainly a quartet affair Live in Montauk marks the first time that pianist Bill O'Connell has completed a recording with the Mwandishi era icon drummer Billy Hart. Another plus factor is a guest appearance by, once again - he crops up in lots of guest spots at the moment - trumpet legend Randy Brecker on opener Ellington's 'Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me' to begin with. Later, after a bustling introduction from O'Connell on his own piece 'Tip Toes' where Brecker harmonises deftly with tenorist Craig Handy, Brecker launches into a fluttering typically high energy solo foray. Fans of bassist Santi Debriano will know 'Ripty Boom' from 2020's Flash of the Spirit, a Debriano tune that O'Connell also joined him on and continues their journey on the tune here once again live. Highlights for us include the tender Handy solo on O'Connell piece 'No Rhyme or Reason.' Bill O'Connell, photo: press

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'Beautiful Love' whets the appetite for Mette Juul's reverentially Norma Winstone-esque Celeste

Welcoming you to the present time, each one must make it alone; even the old clichés have meaning totally new to me - it's suddenly good to be home. – Norma Winstone, from the Towner/Winstone song 'Celeste' While Celeste (issued by Naxos-Prophone) …

Published: 1 Aug 2023. Updated: 55 days.

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Welcoming you to the present time, each one must make it alone; even the old clichés have meaning totally new to me - it's suddenly good to be home.

– Norma Winstone, from the Towner/Winstone song 'Celeste'

While Celeste (issued by Naxos-Prophone) is not out until November, the latest from classic jazz singer Mette Juul - no stranger to these pages - read more about the Dane on 'There Is a Song' - the good news is that opening track 'Beautiful Love' a standard that goes back to the 1930s and has been covered most aptly given Juul's voice by Helen Merrill - is now streaming. Listen to it above.

American guitarist Mike Moreno who was on There is A Song is on Celeste as is the great Swedish bassist Lars Danielsson whose own Symphonized was released earlier this year.

The striking thing we found overall is the way Juul connects with a Norma Winstone sensibility. And that is not just because she covers 'Distance' that Norma interpreted in classic fashion in one of her best ever recorded performances. But also more directly because of the Ralph Towner 1970s title track the piece 'Celeste' that Winstone set lyrics to and recorded in the 80s firstly with John Taylor and the late Tony Coe on Somewhere Called Home.

Juul's succinct and compelling version is led off by Danielsson. And the album includes a fair sprinking of standards incuding Juul's version of 'Nature Boy' and 'My Foolish Heart' on the album which was recorded at the famed Nilento studio in Sweden. Mette Juul, above. Photo: press