Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 52: Ernie Watts "Classical Moods" & Tamba 4 "We and the Sea"

Deck of cards day? I know...

I'm getting down to the last of this bag of CDs. So far the pattern has been that I'm impatient with the bag I'm working on and want desperately to move on to the next. Well, this is only the second bag, but more or less...

So let's get through this bag...

Ernie Watts
Classical Moods

Sometimes there are artists that I don't know if I'm familiar with them because they come up often or if I've heard of them a lot or if their CD just kept popping up when I was going through my CDs. Ernie Watts is one of those guys, because the name is very familiar but anytime I think of it it's just this album cover that I think of.

Watts, from the liner notes, is a studio/session player that would spend his nights playing in LA clubs. This is his chance, so he says in the liner notes, to play these classic jazz standards that he grew up with because during the sessions he's playing original works of the people he's working for.

There's a double edged sword with the whole 'session musician' thing. The good side is that generally you are a master of your instrument. You don't get into the studio unless you can bring it on the first take. It's one thing for the artist on the top bill wastes time, but the hired help can't miss a note. And so these players are on point before they even arrive. And of course if they're good, they get to do it a lot. And they develop their playing because they do it so often and with so many different ways.

The bad side of that is that you are 'for hire,' and that means all of you--your sound your style, everything. They never really get to cut loose, experiment that much--they serve the person they're recording for. Ideally Watts shakes off those cobwebs in the aforementioned clubs, but I think it doesn't really turn on and off.

And so Watts playing on this album is that of a master saxophonist playing extraordinarily well, but all within the lines. These are exemplary samples of jazz standards that are played well. I don't want to add a 'but', not every player has to be wild, unconventional. There should be room for the craft. And in that room would sit Watts. I would take lessons from him just to be that clean all over the sax' range.

At some point I think I was really into Mugrew Miller, the piano player on this album, but I don't really remember the context. I think he played with someone I really liked or something. Google isn't helping me remember.

Tamba 4
We and the Sea

I might be able to momentarily escape Blue Note, but I can't escape Rudy van Gelder. I was perusing the liner notes hoping for something more intelligent to say other than "Nope, don't know who these guys are" or at the very least have some good old fashion fun with the liner notes when I see the 'Recorded by' credit. Gelder. He's everywhere.

So, yeah. Don't know a thing about this CD, wouldn't have given it a second glance in the store. It's the first group to have recorded Girl From Ipanema.

The first track was a completely awesome first track because it started out as a progressive jazz number that built and built and then, four minutes in, broke down as the bossa nova rhythm started to come in. What a great way to start their first American recording. By the second track that softly sung Portuguese is in place to let me know it's Brazilian music.

This is a tragically short CD, just over thirty minutes. Good timing though, because I'm kind of tired. But I've had a long run of straight jazz and some pretentious jazz, so this is a nice change up.

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