Various Artists

J Curve Cincinnati Jazz Collection, Vol. 2

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The second volume of Queen City jazz yields results that are easily as substantive and satisfying as the first. It's also a good mix of styles, offering three female singers, two big bands, two fine piano trios, a little Latin-jazz and contemporary fusion, some hard bop, and sounds from the swing era. Starting with the singers, Kathy Wade uses a clipped, staccato approach, commendably reinventing and scatting the melody of "Bye Bye Blackbird" with pianist Ed Moss' trio. Judy James' dusky voice perfectly matches the pensively dank lyric of "Angel Eyes" with the Society Jazz Orchestra changing key on the bridge; Ann Chamberlain does a hip-straight swing groove on "Sunday in New York" with the unique combination of organist Wayne Yeager's trio and trombonist Eddie Morgan. Two outstanding flute players grace the collection: Matt Constantine with the SJO, and Sandy Suskind leading the upbeat, clave-flavored take of John Coltrane's "Countdown" with the Latin X-Posure Nonet, and piano from Pat Kelly, which is also quite strong. The best and nationally known pianist Steve Schmidt wittily pushes his "Sunny Side of the Street"-cum-"Confirmation/I Mean You" phrases on his original "Monkyside" with bell-ringing half steps from bassist Bob Bodley and indefatigable brush swing from drummer Art Gore. Teenage pianist William Menefield waxes a wistfully rhapsodic style over the ballad tribute to the slain Ennis Cosby "G.B.E. Cos." The Basie-like Blue Wisp Big Band show their veteran savvy on "Paging Bettie," featuring an extended section for bassist Michael Sharee and Schmidt's world-class pianistics. the Standard Time Quintet dishes out the hard-bop shine of "Blues on I-75" in a mode suggestive of Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, and Jazz Messenger. Nationally established guitarists Cal Collins and Kenny Poole have at it during "There Is No Greater Love," the most interactive swinger, with Ron McCurdy's deft brush work. Clarinetists Frank Powers and Joe Lukasik also get a feature per cut: Powers with his Classic Jazz Ensemble pining away on the old-time, oompah-pah-derived "Southern Stomp," and the delightful Lukasik (transplanted from NYC by way of Denver) with underappreciated pianist Phil DeGreg's trio on the Larry Clinton chestnut "Satan Takes a Holiday." The lone out-of-place number is the worldless, Brazilio-fuzak piece from Pat Metheny-Mark Ledford, "One More Day," led by the recently deceased keyboardist Billy Larkin and Triage. This is actually the second compilation series of Cincinatti jazz musicians, the first A Slice of Live was produced by Xavier University NPR affiliate WVXU in the '80s. All of the releases showcase the deep-bench strength of great jazz talent that the Ohio city has had, and continues to offer to its local environs and the curious world at large. Highly recommended.

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