Nov 19, 2010
Jazz recordings are sometimes graced with the phenomenon of the “one take”. Imagine getting a band together and running through a number, and having that first time through be so wonderful that no further attempts are made to modify or alter it. It doesn’t happen that often, and when it does its magic. Think of some of the famous one take recordings – much of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman and Kind of Blue, or Art Tatum’s solo recordings for Norman Granz in the mid-Fifties. All first take masterpieces.
Alma Records has come up with a great way to create this kind of magic, with their “One Take” Series. Since 2008, the Canadian company has placed jazz musicians in a studio with minimal rehearsal, asked them to pick some tunes, and rolled the tape to record the music. They also bring in cameras to make a DVD. The end result is whatever it is - no overdubs, no do-overs. The real stuff, served straight, no chaser.
Volume Four of the series has just been released, starring one of my favorite Hammond B-3 players, Joey DeFrancesco. He is joined by Robi Botos on keyboards, Vito Rezza on drums and Phil Dwyer on sax. DeFrancesco and Rezza appeared previously on Volume One; Botos and Dwyer on Volume Two.
The six recordings made during the session are, as you might expect from musicians brought together without much preparation, heavy on standards, which are played with straight forward gusto. The players find ways to bring out the rhythmic patterns and melody that make songs like “There is No Greater Love” worth repeating over and over, with the expected solos coming at just the right places.
The highlight of the album is an incendiary take on a DeFrancesco number, “Not That”, which lets the “Philadelphia Flash” cut loose for some extended organ madness, and Dwyer add a soulful sax solo.
If no new ground is broken on the CD, that’s just as well. “One Take” brings us music that is fresh, lively and spontaneous. In the age of auto-tune and digital recording, that’s increasingly difficult to find.