by Willard Manus
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,