All posts by mferber63

Upcoming Events: Hiromi – Jazzfestival Bern

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Let me talk about two upcoming events:

1. Hiromi comes to Switzerland: Japanese pianist and composer Hiromi Uehara gives four solo concerts in Switzerland. Form March 27 to March 30 she plays in Basel, Geneva, Berne and Lucerne. The concerts are all in classical concert halls, where usually symphony orchestras are playing. So extra challenge for her, because I would assume the audience attending these concerts has a more classical background.

I have not been able to see her live, but I bought her latest CD “Move” and I was really impressed by the power and extraordinary musical expressions in her playing. Her sidemen on this album are also excellent musicians with a wide background. Bassist Anthony Jackson worked with Chick Corea, Steely Dan and Paul Simon and drummer Simon Phillips played with Toto, The Who, Judas Priest and David Gilmour. Personally I would like to see her with these two sidemen if possible. To give you an idea of how this trio sounds I added the following video:

 

2. Jazzfestival Bern: The other event that is around the corner is the Jazzfestival Bern. This festival starts on March 17. The opening night features Roy Hargrove on trumpet and italian singer Roberta Gambarini with the Swiss Jazz Orchestra.

Closing night of the festival is on May 24 with Terry Lyne Carrington’s “Money Jungle” and the Ellis Marsalis Quartet. In between there will be concerts with Terence Blanchard, Cassandra Wilson, Kevin Eubanks and Spyro Gyra. Even if I think this festival is a little bit too much spread over two months it allows you to see free concerts with great food in a tent outside the hotel “Innere Enge” and the guys at the jazz festival Bern have the right touch to find interesting young musicians to play there.

George Benson: Inspiration

Inspiration_ A Tribute To Nat King Cole

Another album from the Concord Records from 2013 is George Benson’s tribute to Nat King Cole: Inspiration.

I might have explained before that I also think that the music of Nat King Cole is something I’m also enjoying to listen, but with that CD George Benson makes it clear that he was and still is one of the greatest admirers of Nat King Cole and his muisc.

The album starts with a recording from 1951 with Little George Benson singing and playing the Ukulele to “Mona Lisa”, his personal choice at that time and still today, also closing the record with the original arrangement from Nelson Riddle.

In between we hear many of those great songs Nat King Cole became famous also in it’s original arrangements and George Benson as the really inspired vocalist. Benson’s voice is very similar to Nat King Cole’s way of singing, especially on “Walking My Baby Back Home”.

“Just One Of Those Things” featuring Benson also on the guitar with a classic-Benson solo singing the guitar solo line.

“Unforgettable” with Wynton Marsalis on trumpet and Benson on guitar playing this song groovy and relaxed with no extra pathos.

“Route 66″ shows again the excellently swinging Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra, under the direction of arranger Randy Waldman.

My personal highlight on this CD is “Nature Boy”. The arrangement is again from Nelson Riddle and Benson plays the solo part on guitar. This song has not covered any dust in all those years since it was released by Nat King Cole in 1948, just amazing. And I think this is also Benson’s message with this album: Here is some music I grew up with and the music from my youth has inspired me my whole life and now I allow myself to play and sing these original arrangements and hopefully inspire another generation of musicians.

“Smile” features Till Brönner on trumpet, “Too Young” features Judith Hill (you can hear here tonight at the Oscars) on vocals in a nice vocal duet and “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” is again a swinging big band arrangement giving Benson again the opportunity to play an excellent guitar solo.

So this tribute to Nat King Cole shows this music in it’s original form perfectly played by today’s masters. Benson himself is very proud of this album because it presents one the greatest guitar players of our time as what he always wanted to be: a great singer.