Quartette Humaine/Big Sur
Review by Willard Manus

Okeh, one of Sony's many labels, recently released two noteworthy jazz albums, QUARTETTE HUMAINE and BIG SUR. The latter features the inventive guitarist/composer Bill Frisell playing an hour's worth of music that he wrote during a 2012 residency at Big Sur's Glen Deven Ranch.

On it, Frisell (joined by four of his favorite musicians) plays compositions that reflect the wild beauty and solitude of the Central California coastline, a region favored by such artists as Robinson Jeffers, Henry Miller and John Adams. The titles of the compositions best describe the moods and melodies that inspired Frisell: A Good Spot, Cry Alone, A Beautiful View and Hawks, to name but a few. Frisell mixes chamber jazz, classical and folk on this meditative and moving album.

QUARTETTE HUMAINE reunites the team of keyboardist Bob James and alto saxophonist David Sandborn, whose first collaboration, Double Vision, won a Grammy back in 1986. Now these two masters have put together an all-acoustic album dedicated to their heroes, Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond.

James and Sandborn are sometimes labelled as "smooth jazz" practitioners, but on QUARTETTE HUMAINE they show just how wrong their critics are. The seven new compositions (by James and Sandborn), plus covers of My Old Flame and Geste Humaine, are anything but smooth. Fast, fiery and adventurous--yet always melodic--QURTETTE HUMAINE'S tunes startle you with their bold, unexpected beauty.

(Visit www.sonymasterworks.com)