Gili Lopes, Algures ****

Progressive and hooky at the same time there's plenty to delve into here from Guildhall School of Music educated bassist Gili Lopes with saxist John Ellis, drummer Ari Hoenig, guitarist Vinicius Gomes, pianist Helio Alves and percussion ace Rogerio …

Published: 25 Jan 2024. Updated: 33 days.

Progressive and hooky at the same time there's plenty to delve into here from Guildhall School of Music educated bassist Gili Lopes with saxist John Ellis, drummer Ari Hoenig, guitarist Vinicius Gomes, pianist Helio Alves and percussion ace Rogerio Boccato in the personnel. There's a good version of Wayne Shorter's 'Infant Eyes' and a brooding, grown-up atmosphere to the heads throughout that allow you then to journey further within the more open improvisatory passages. If you are into Esperanza Spalding's early work you will probably feel at home here. There's a strong Brazilian flavour too here best expressed on Milton Nascimento's 'Outubro' in what is a sophisticated sound - well worth investigating for its freshness and often poetic poise and humanity.

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Akiko Tsuruga, Beyond Nostalgia, SteepleChase ***1/2

Likeable, swinging Hammond B3-led mainstreamery here from New York based Japanese player Akiko Tsuruga, a certain riff-groove achemy the name of the game and bright clean playing from a strong band, particularly trumpeter Joe Magnarelli on 'I'll …

Published: 25 Jan 2024. Updated: 33 days.

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Likeable, swinging Hammond B3-led mainstreamery here from New York based Japanese player Akiko Tsuruga, a certain riff-groove achemy the name of the game and bright clean playing from a strong band, particularly trumpeter Joe Magnarelli on 'I'll Close My Eyes' where there is also some very nifty brush work on the same track from drummer Byron Landham. It's our pick of the album - and makes us recall, while this is very different, a lovely version of the Billy Reid standard taken at a much slower lick, by Joey DeFrancesco and Jimmy Smith on their album Legacy which Landham was also on. Tsuruga, who hails from Osaka, was mentored by the late great ''turbanator'' Dr Lonnie Smith and certainly the feelgood spirit and swinging ease you find on a Lonnie Smith record is an inspiration here. The title track where tenorist Jerry Weldon comes to the fore has a few interesting twists and turns as the balladic flavour of the piece unfolds. And on 'Back Track' guitarist Ed Cherry injects a lot of Cornell Dupree-like energy into his comping and lively soloing. The version of 'Mack the Knife' buoyant and happy-go-lucky as it is you could imagine going down a storm in a top jazz supper club. Feelgood vintage stuff - if you're into players like Ed Bentley on the UK scene you'll be right at home here.