Greg Fishman

"So You Say"

Greg Fishman Jazz Studios
Movies have always had the luxury of being able to go back to an earlier time and still feel brand-new. Tenor sax romanticist Greg Fishman's new quintet recording, “So You Say,” is like that.

Recorded with an equally lyrical Doug Webb, also playing tenor, the set-up with Mitch Foreman, piano, Kevin Axt, bass, and Dan Schnelle, drums, gives a big hug to those old school battles of the horns – two guys from the 1940s wearing pegged pants and battling it out for bandstand supremacy at 3 a.m.

But here in 2018, these two reedmen are not dueling. They are racing joyfully through modern dimensions of complex chord changes, having fun playing tons of notes just because they can. This is joyful jazz, to be sure.

Calling this a recording of two tenors sittin' around shootin' the breeze would also be accurate, because all the jazz in this 10-track album is breezy and refreshing. Everything is played 100 percent straight ahead by artists who want to connect directly with their music, the beauty, the grace, the intricacies performed on the run, sometimes exceptionally elaborate but always classically cool.

All the pieces are original compositions, with six by Fishman and four by Webb. So in synch are their ideas, sometimes it can be difficult to tell when one song ends and the next begins.

The first track, Fishman's “Fast Forward,” sets the table with a high speed, lyrically bop-ish frolic with the two horn men chasing each other through a maze of harmonic hairpin turns, while bursts of piano, bass and drum breaks keep urging them on.

A bit harder edged and strictly swinging is Webb's “One For Hank,” clearly hearkening back to an earlier time. Both saxes take on a more muscular attitude, feeling the spirit of the beat.

Fishman contributes a more personal “Nikki's Waltz,” with a lovely melody line that opens opportunities for both players to draw on tender moments from their own lives.

The blues makes it presence known in Fishman's melancholy “Harlem Avenue,” a haunting refrain in search of a film noir movie in black-and-white. If Bogie and Bacall were there, it would be perfect.

254 West 82nd” identifies a Webb tune that feels like a kinetic swirl of urban neon colors set spinning by Axt's own bass riffs. While the pace approaches frenzy, everything is kept under control with an awesome degree of button-down finesse.

Another cut named for a residence is Fishman's “Adams Street,” There must be something about real estate that inspires these guys because the energy just keeps on coming.

So much is going on that you quickly appreciate the clarity of everyone's playing. Think of that crisp picture on one of those new ultra-high-definition giant-sized TV screens. This sounds like that looks.

To get a copy of “So You Say” for yourself, visit

Leslie Pintchik

"You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!"

Pinch Hard Records
If pianist and composer Leslie Pintchik has a personality anything like her playing she would be the perfect companion to join for coffee, and maybe more. Which sounds like a typical title for one of her original pieces.

Known for choosing lengthy, story-telling song titles she has called this sunnily introspective album “You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!” which is also the first track.

It turns out to be a somewhat jaunty, sidewalk-feeling excursion for her sophisticated piano trio, spiced with guitar and alto sax solos by Scott Hardy and Steve Wilson respectively. With a recorded length of 4:47 minutes, listening on ear buds and walking at a jaunty pace you could probably get from Times Square to 53rd Street.

In the liner notes Pintchik says she was crossing Canal Street at West Broadway in the Soho section of Manhattan when she heard a voice behind her yell (no doubt into a cellphone) “You eat my food, you drink my wine, you steal my girl” just when she had a new piece of music in her head that needed a title.

Which is a nice reminder that art is always around us, if we only stay alert.

After “You Eat...” come five more originals, along with a pair of standards – “I'm Glad There Is You” and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” The former is played at the thoughtful pace of a Rorschach.inkblot test. The latter picks up speed with a light Latin rhythm from drummer Michael Sarin, becoming late night smoky moods that curl sensuously, reluctant to leave. A pulsing bass solo, also by Hardy, adds possibilities to the pianist's own reflections.

Pintchik is quoted saying the track expresses “a sense of life's fragility, beauty and especially shortness.”

But my favorite title, “Hopperesque,” looks to the terminally rueful painter Edward Hopper for inspiration. The composition also adds a touch of Paris cabaret life with two accordion solos by Shoko Nagai.

Appropriately fragmented, just like the anxiously foot-tapping, clock watching, finger thumping emotions that are implied in the CD's longest title, “Your Call Will Be Answered By Our Next Available Representative, In The Order In Which It Was Received. Please Stay on the Line. Your Call is Important To Us.” is this fun piece. All the players dig into their own techniques for relief from the frustrations of hanging on hold in our digital age.

It's in the closing two tracks that Pintchik opens up some new shades of happiness. The aptly named “Happy Dog” feels all floppy eared and endlessly enthusiastic. In to seal the deal is a sprightly percussion solo by Satoshi Takeishi.

Bravely closing the album with winsome insight, the expressive pianist plays “A Simpler Time.” Elegant beauty is the line, striking Pintchik's penchant for stirring together both beauty and heart, a combination nearly impossible to find in the real world.

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Danny Green Trio with Strings

"One Day It Will"

OA2 Records
The intuitive conviction among composers that classical music and jazz have more in common than rock 'n' roll and jazz just won't go away.

Clearly stating these artistic objectives right up front, San Diego pianist/composer Danny Green stirs a very big and somewhat classically structured pot in his first full album dedicated to recording his trio with strings.

In this case the additional musicians are a string quartet of players from the San Diego Symphony – violins Kate Hatmaker and Igor Pandurski, viola Travis Maril and cello Erica Erenyl.

Members of Green's trio are Justin Grinnell, bass, and Julien Cantelm, drums, soaking up the lush sounds of their orchestral companions like candy coated vitamins for their own creativity.

Just being an active listener to the Danny Green Trio Plus Strings' performance of “One Day It Will” does take a little different strategy. Rather than listening for extra sparkling piano licks or rhythms with a double-deep pulse, try listening to the whole sound all at once. Hear the waves of  conviction as they develop emotional swells growing  until they come toppling over in a rush of ecstasy.

Kind of like how you would listen to a symphony orchestra.

Green's early inspiration was the 1966 Verve release “Bill Evans Trio with Symphony Orchestra.” Also influential is Herbie Hancock's1998 Verve project “Gershwin's World,” particularly the piano work on Ravel's “Piano Concerto in G major.”

“I was intrigued by the possibilities of integrating classical harmony and form into the jazz context,” Green explained in a press release.

“The process for arranging each song began with my thinking about where the strings should take the lead melody, where they should play background lines or harmonies – or what I could do to make the strings essential to the arrangement.”

“One Day It Will” contains 10 original tracks, each one a fully developed composition. All are drawn from more abstract situations, such as a response to the weather a la George Winston.

Some are faster, with a quicker pulse rather than a driving beat. Others feel languid, sometimes sad, but ever thoughtful. Plan on listening attentively to “One Day It Will” many times over. Because the differences can be subtle, every listening will reveal new musical moments with additional nuance.

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