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Index of SEMJA reviews


Recent Releases by Area Artists


The musical talents of alto saxophonist Larry Nozero should be known far and wide. He has a loyal following in the Detroit area, but he undoubtedly deserves broader exposure. In today's world, recordings provide such a forum, and thus we certainly need more examples of his playing on CD. In a partial effort to fill this void Dominic Records has released Warm (DR 7703, Nozette Productions, 30892 Jasper Ridge, Novi, MI 48377), which features Nozero accompanied by members of his regular quartet, sometimes replaced by other colleagues, augmented by a septet of string players as well as, on some tracks, percussion, synthesizer, and guitar. The repertoire consists of contemporary ballads from the pens of composers such as Legrand, Jobim, Mancini, Quincy Jones, and even Lennon /McCartney. Nozero plays with great beauty, delicacy, and restraint, and his personal tone is very much in evidence.  I must confess, however, that I had to listen to this CD in small doses, as the cloying, banal backgrounds, which are too prominent in the mix, are not much to my taste. Some great saxophonists have made such records: Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Stan Getz, and Paul Desmond immediately come to mind. All of them used the occasion to create some magnificent music, and so does Nozero. Let us hope that this is but the first in a series of recordings that will allow the saxophonist to demonstrate his superior skills in various environments.

Nozero also makes an appearance on Hope for the Holidays, a fabulous collection of Christmas songs recorded by some of Detroit's finest musicians as a benefit for Focus: HOPE, a local civil and human rights organization (313-494-4363, bathisj@focushope.edu). Anchored on most tracks by the stellar rhythm section of Gary Schunk (piano), Marion Hayden (bass), and Gerald Cleaver (drums), the front line instrumentalists and vocalists provide a series of swinging modern jazz versions of Christmas classics. There are many ordinary holiday albums in the stores at this time of year, but this one is a musical treat. It begins with a raucous version of "We Three Kings of the Orient Are," arranged by Marcus Belgrave, with inspired solos by James Carter on tenor sax, Belgrave on fluegelhorn and Vincent Chandler on trombone. Belgrave also provides a spirited quartet rendition of "Let it Snow," and teams up with tenor saxophonist Donald Walden on "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Some of the Motor City's finest vocalists -- Ursula Walker, Naima Shamborguer, and Karen Newman -- provide more traditional renditions of seasonal favorites, as do pianist Geri Allen, flutist Alexander Zonjic, and the quartet Straight Ahead. This is a great recording for a very good cause.

Finally, mention should be made of The Tim Flaharty Trio with Nancy K. (M-1510, 248-543-5070), an album of standards and modern jazz compositions. Flaharty plays electric guitar, and is joined by George Bennett on electric bass, Jim Cadotte on drums and, on some numbers, by vocalist K.