Irene_kral-live_span3 Blue_mitchell-live_span3
May 1997

Irene Kral
Live
Just Jazz
Blue Mitchell
Live
Just Jazz
Sal Nistico
Live
Just Jazz

One of the longest surviving historical venues on the west coast is Pete Douglas' no-profit Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society at Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco. Since May 1966, jazz guardian Douglas has hosted over 1000 jazz musicians at his inviting beach house on Monday nights. The spirited atmosphere and personable presentation enhance the evening's musical pleasures.

From its archives come several interesting titles on the Just Jazz label. Among them is Kral's recording, which illustrates her superb talent as a jazz singer. Her flawless technique and exquisite taste is always evident as she gets to the heart of meaningful lyrics, such as those written by Johnny Mercer for Jimmy Rowles' "Don't Quit Now." Her duos with pianist Alan Broadbent also reveal a rare level of simpatico, distinguished by daring and sophistication. Frank De La Rosa and Benny Barth are on the trio tunes. All of the music was recorded in 1977, a year before cancer claimed Kral.

There are no wasted notes on the Mitchell recording. Everything he plays has purpose and meaning. He is meticulous in his choice of tunes, too. Unhurried and flowing, his sensitive, vocal-inflected trumpet puts a personal stamp on each selection. His delicious sound alone makes his "Portrait Of Jenny" a gem. Mark Levine's lively presence on piano is also felt; his "Something Old, Something Blue," which reflects Mitchell's lyrical style, has pretty, bebop-rooted chords. Tenorist Mike Morris is daring, and Kenny Jenkins and Smiley Winters add to the propulsive rhythm section. The band easily handles a racing tempo on "Sweet Smiley Winter."

Also impressive is the Nistico release. His rep as a fiery tenor man blossomed during his '60s tenure with Woody Herman's band, and continued to grow when he joined the sax sections of Count Basie, Don Ellis and Buddy Rich. Here, Nistico's solos are fluid, hot and precisely timed, particularly on the intense, uptempo excursions, such as his version of "You Stepped Out of A Dream." On "How Deep Is The Ocean," his improvisatory skill recalls Stitt, Ammons and Bird. "I Can't Get Started," which rings like Rollins at times, underscores Nistico's maturity and bright imagination.

Titles by Pepper Adams, Freddie Hubbard and Richie Cole from the same label retrieve more moments of jazz by the Pacific.

Originally published in May 1997
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