Recent Recordings by Area Artists

Pianist Sven Anderson has been a stalwart on the scene as a player, educator and as a sideman. He and wife/vocalist Janet Tenaj have provided a variety of mainstream jazz, originals, scat and vocalese, Latin rhythms and stretch parameters. They worked with the legendary Little Jimmy Scott. This effort is dedicated to Marvin “Doc” Holladay, the famed baritone saxophonist, founder of the jazz and world music program at Oakland University, confidante with Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, Thad Jones and Mel Lewis as well as so many others. Doc’s autobiography Life, On the Fence (George Ronald Oxford Press) documents his long life in our music. Doc and his wife Diane have been living in Ecuador for many of his post-retirement years.

Doc’s Holiday is an apt tribute to Sven’s hero and mentor. In fact, the keyboardist followed in Holladay’s footsteps as a teacher at Oakland.
These selections are in tribute to friends and colleagues Anderson has collaborated with, as well as his influences. Anderson is not a stab-and grab-chordal player. He uses melodic themes that move with assurance but not with leaps and bounds like, say, Thelonious Monk. Many of these tracks are ensemble group efforts full of sing-song melodies you think you might have heard, but they are Sven’s originals. “Groove Chick,” recorded before Chick Corea’s recent passing, has the bouncy, staccato references to the elfin, playful pianist. “Sir Tynor” is also a tribute, written before the death of McCoy Tyner last year. Accented by Steve Wood’s soprano sax, it is a high octane, upper register song form which you will find a delight upon repeat listenings. Other tributes to A. C. Jobim, Dr. Alberto Nacif, Airto Moriera and Holladay share loving devotion to the art Anderson has learned, and how he lives his life. Local bassist John Barron throughout, percussionist Dennis Sheridan, underappreciated drummer Rob Emmanuel, the ever outstanding Steve Wood on sax or flute, Janet Tenaj on three tracks, several from Ed Gooch, Chris Smith on two both on the trombone, and guitarist Frank Marinello during “Friends” add a Latin-tinged world music fringe element to this delightful album.

The front artwork depicting a devilish long haired guitarist should not dissuade you. Anderson does play some guitar, but the music is small ensemble comparable to the Blue Note/Prestige post-bop bands. The wonderful inside fold mural of Doc Holladay is rendered by Eugene Mann.

Pianist David Janeway was a longtime member of the Detroit jazz scene as a born and raised Motor City man, before moving to NYC. Like Denny Zeitlin, he works days as a clinical psychotherapist. He is also an established performer, and since the days of his debut recording Entry Point from 1980 that featured Marcus Belgrave, Phil Lasley, George Davidson, Marion Hayden, Vincent York and the late saxophonist Bob Berg, Janeway has surrounded himself with excellent supporters.

His 2004 issue for the indie New Direction label Excursion is primarily a trio date with Harvie S(wartz) on bass and drummer Steve Davis. But making a cameo on one track is the late trumpeter Charles Moore, who founded the Detroit Artists Workshop with John Sinclair, Strata Records, co-led the futuristic Contemporary Jazz Quintet+, the Eternal Wind Ensemble, and groups with Yusef Lateef, Kenn Cox and Adam Rudolph. Music from the pens of Janeway, J.J. Johnson, Duke Pearson, Joe Henderson and John Coltrane are included. Moore is on the poignant “Another Chance.”

His new 2021 SteepleChase/Look Out CD Distant Voices features former Detroiter bassist Cameron Brown and the great drummer Billy Hart. It’s a mix of some standards and originals, but primarily smartly chosen works by Woody Shaw, Hank Jones, Gary Peacock, Mercer Ellington, Freddie Hubbard, Walter Bishop, Jr. and Wayne Shorter. Janeway plays acoustic piano and a little Fender Rhodes.

Janeway wears his influences on his sleeve — Bill Evans, shades of Ahmad Jamal, the more complex Hank Jones, and the bolder Cedar Walton. Janeway has a fluid style that does not ramble or pile on extra notes. Trumpeters Belgrave, Shaw and Art Farmer inform his fleet voicings. This is an excellent recording, and the more you listen, the more compelling the music becomes. This could easily be one of the Top Ten Jazz CDs of 2021, and maybe one for the ages.

Tidbits. Last issue we wrote about singer Jeannine Otis, who is related to the jazz Joneses from Pontiac. She is the cousin of Thad Jones. Bruce Jones is Thad’s first-born son. Elaine is his mother.

Pianist Craig Taborn, University of Michigan alumnus, just produced an ambitious project 60 X Sixty as a live stream. It’s sixty pieces of his music in 60 minutes — sixty seconds or so for each composition in random order, shuffled continually without titles. Tracks can be added or removed at any time. It is uniquely living and breathing. Residing in Brooklyn, the award-winning improviser is doing this with support from Pyroclastic Records. Meanwhile his new ECM CD Shadow Plays is his latest for the label with a ten year break as he is doing many other projects.

Taborn’s longtime running mate drummer Gerald Cleaver has moved to San Francisco to join their always expansive creative music scene.
Finally, congratulations to John Churchville, the drummer and tabla player, who debuted his new band with electric bassist/guitarist Dan Ripke and violinist/vocalist Collin Murphy in September at Silvio’s in Canton. Churchville has taken a position in the Ann Arbor Public Schools as an instructor at Paddack Elementary School. He is also due in collaboration with Grammy award winner Gregg Brown, who plays guitar, percussion and the Buchla CM100 Synthesizer. Brown’s 2010 CD Intergalactic Spiral (Big O Records) features notables like saxophonist/flutist Mark Kieme, bassist Chuck Bartels, guitarists Robert Tye and Joe Gloss, drummers David Taylor, and Randy Marsh, bassist James Simonson, and organist Jim Alfredson from Organissimo, in a wildly original Indo-fusion display, highly recommended.