Friday, May 1, 2009

DVD of the Month - "Kristin Korb: Live in Vienna"

DVD of the Month
Kristin Korb: "Live in Vienna" (MVD/Quantum Leap) 2005

"A good bassist and a quiet singer with a small voice." More than often, when reading reviews about Kristin Korb, I found that statement. Well, simply put, that's not true.
At least that's not what you see and listen on her recent live gigs neither on this highly-recommended "Live in Vienna" DVD, filmed during a GREAT performance in one of Vienna's best jazz clubs, "Porgy & Bess".
Produced by Barbara Weissenbeck, who used a few cameras and opted for close shots, it preserves the intimate atmosphere of the venue. Korb - a great bassist and an excellent singer - leads a trio with the underrated Austrian pianist Fritz Pauer (a cult figure in the European jazz scene since his sessions for MPS and his collaborations with my late friend Art Farmer) and NY drummer/percussionist John Hollenbeck.
All nine tracks are precious diamonds found so rare, but of course I have my personal favorites. The solo version (by "solo" I mean a bass/vocal performance) of "Alone Together" is beyond words, an irrefutable proof of Korb's complete command of her skills both as a bassist and as a singer, actually making bass & voice a single "instrument."

Ray Brown's instrumental theme "Lined with a Groove" shows she learned everything from her master (she also got Brown's "sound" indeed), although becoming her own woman. Btw, the most hilarious moment of the night happens when a cheerful Korb tells the audience how Ray Brown suggested her to play Neal Hefti's "Whirly Bird". Not only she wrote lyrics to the tune, but also to the complete tenor sax solo played by Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis on a Count Basie Orchestra album. Korb delivers a top-class vocalese performance that would make Jon Hendricks and Eddie Jefferson proud, referring to many of Basie's band members in her inspired set of lyrics.

John Hollenbeck plays a highly inventive and vigorous solo on "Cheek to Cheek," presented in a latin-bossa exquisite mood. There's also the best rendition I've heard of "My Old Fashioned" since Paul Desmond's version on "Pure Desmond" with Ed Bickert thity years earlier.
Before the encore, Korb talks about her Montana roots and her exposure to country music, offering a delighful arrangement of "Top of the World" (yes, The Carpenters's second U.S. number-one pop single, but a song also covered by country singer Lynn Anderson as the title track of her 1973 LP, recahing #5 on Billboard's country singles chart). Pauer's piano solo is a lesson in the combination of lyricism and elegance, with no trace of overplaying. And Korb's joy on stage is a more than pleasant bonus.

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