Once upon a time there was a guy called Harvie, who may have had a longer surname than S. (although there was a President whose diplomatic parents gave him only a middle initial, to avoid annoying relatives each with a name beginning S—, and to name their son after both). Harvie may have agreed with the late great Doc Cheatham that the integration of Latin American rhythmic complexity was an avenue along which jazz could be taken to its betterment. In any event, that is what Harvie did, incorporating also, courtesy of his pianist Daniel Kelly, a witty use of the multifingered piano style (one man piano duet) which can be heard on old Latin recordings. Kelly avoids stock cliché-ed passagework by being lightly comical with some extravagances.
Kelly opens “Rhythm-a-Ning”, with the sound almost of a limp, but then when the other accents enter the performance declares itself Latin and dancing, and indeed Monk, rather than lame, stumbling or stuttering. Kelly’s piano work is confident, and Jay Collins on tenor makes a handsome noise. Listening to this track it’s not a case of adding to a Monk original, but actually stripping out some aspects of Monk’s conception in a very much considered reworking.
“Mariposa in Mano” starts quiet and builds into something full-blooded. Philip Dizack may have been asked to choose whether to play trumpet in an idiomatic Latin style or with jazz fire, but probably he wasn’t. Anyway, he does both. Scott Robert Avidon plays tenor on that one and stays aboard as the sole hornman on Kelly’s “Earquake”, with Kelly doing the three-handed Cubano antico piano (rollicking as far as one can rollick in Cuban) after a demonstration of what else the leader does apart from compose. Quite apart from complexities of rhythm there is a need to swing, bend into the music, propel it. Harvie fulfils that well, and Avidon storms.
The track called “S” opens with Collins’s soprano and a real tug on the bass propelling things, and the title track is indeed what it says on the label, Collins’s tenor the sole horn and featured pretty well throughout an entirely successful, wholly admirable performance which doesn’t seem especially original, any more than the composition does: but its so satisfying. That’s the surprise: with both percussionists assisting the drummer and pianist, and the bassist doing solid and propulsive things.
Kelly’s subtlety and finesse are to the fore opening “What is this Thing Called Love”, and continuing as the bassist boss (or boss bassist) renders the pulse audible. The pianist rushes about sowing the seeds of harmonic developments, which trumpet and saxophone nurture with care and attention before Avidon picks things up, with all these harmonic extensions in which to develop. This also is satisfying, Latin Jazz and the joys of horticulture, before the pianist returns Debussy-esque. The conclusion is developed by Kelly and the bassist with much lyrical tenderness, stating beautifully the modest paraphrase of Cole Porter’s tune which underpins the whole performance. The scent or fragrance?
Drummer and bassist come back with just Corniel on percussion and the drummer on the lively and warm closer “Coco Loco”. And yes, I liked this a lot!
// Notes from the Road
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