Sunday, October 31, 1999

Second jazz CD as good as the first

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        When J Curve Cincinnati Jazz Collection Vol. I arrived a year ago, I called it “the best, most detailed overview” of local jazz. Now there are two.

        As the second volume is released next weekend, the first volume's gaps have been filled. The Blue Wisp Big Band rolls like a Mercedes through “Paging Bettie”; Latin X-Posure takes John Coltrane's “Countdown” to the Caribbean.

        II also boasts clarinetist Frank Powers' superb Classic Jazz Ensemble, featuring hard-bop trumpeter Mike Wade in a stylistic U-turn.

        Mr. Wade's Standard Time is back on II with the bopping “Blues on I-75.” If only the traffic moved as smoothly.

        Singers play a big part on II, including Kathy Wade's spunky, Nina Simone-inflected “Bye Bye Blackbird” and Judy James' smoldering “Angel Eyes,” both with pianist Ed Moss. Ann Chamberlain swings effortlessly through “Sunday in New York.”

        Versatile clarinetist Joe Lukasik sparkles on “Satan Takes a Holiday,” backed by pianist Phil DeGreg's trio.

        The Steve Schmidt Trio assays the angular, Thelonious Monk-inspired “Monkyside.” Piano prodigy William Menefield plays his elegaic tribute to Bill Cosby's murdered son, Ennis, “G.B.E. Cos.” On the lighter side, there's Triage's “One More Day.”

        For guitar fans, Cal Collins and Kenny Poole have an energetic dialogue on “There is No Greater Love.”

        The set again comes with a booklet, beautifully photographed (by Ann Seagal and Mark Schlachter) and annotated (by William Lawless Jones). Some proceeds will again go to the Vontz Center for Molecular Studies, named for Al Vontz Jr., the longtime jazz patron to whom the CD is dedicated.

        No sequel-itis, no diminishing returns. Any lover of great jazz needs both J Curve Cincinnati Jazz Collections.


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