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Gimme 5 (Top Five Jazz Releases for August 2012)

***** Ravi Coltrane – SPIRIT FICTION (Blue Note)
When a legend has a son, and that son decides to do the same line of work as his father, it rarely goes so well for the son. This is Ravi’s plight. When I first saw him in Paris I was stunned at the similarity in looks but also embouchure and tone he got from the sax. Now, under the production of Joe Lovano, Ravi stands shoulder to shoulder with John. Part of the help is to loosen up the rhythm section: more floating and abstract accompaniment means more room for Coltrane’s tone to float and fill. Really great stuff. Use #4 (The Change, My Girl), the ballad #8 (Yellow Cat) or the Joe Lovano workout #9 (Check Out Time).

**** 1/2 Chick Corea & Gary Burton – HOT HOUSE (Concord)
40 years since Crystal Silence (is that possible? Yes it is, I just looked it up!) Corea and Burton reunite (again) to explore the sonorities of the piano/vibes union. This is all beautiful stuff. Check out the Beatles cover, #2 (Eleanor Rigby), those rippling lines and the seemingly effortless interplay that can be found all through the session. The title track (#5) sets off some sparks as well. There is a Monk cover (Light Blue, #7). #10 (Mozart Goes Dancing) uses arrangements for string quartet (a Corea composition) and is the sole original on the album. The covers take the day.

**** Cheryl Bentyne – LET’S MISBEHAVE (THE COLE PORTER SONGBOOK) (Summit Records)
She of the Manhattan Transfer, #1 track (Love For Sale) is killer, the rest ranges from good to very good, including #6 (Night and Day) and James Moody’s last session #13 (Every Time We Say Goodbye).

**** Bruce Barth – THREE THINGS OF BEAUTY (Savant)
Steve Nelson! Dana Hall! Use title track (#5) or for a ballad try #6 (Night Shadows). Love that piano/vibes sound.

**** Marcus Miller – RENAISSANCE (Concord)
Good and funky, with that slap bass that makes you think of Seinfeld and the 1990s. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Use #1 (Detroit), #2 (Redemption), #4 (Slippin’ Into Darkness).

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