Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Instrumental CD of the Month - "Till Brönner"

Instrumental Jazz CD of the Month
Till Brönner: "Till Brönner" (Verve) 2012

Till Brönner, the brilliant German jazz trumpeter who remains ignored by U.S. audiences and press despite a hugely successful career in Europe, has a new self-titled album coming out today in Europe. The project, inspired by Creed Taylor's legendary CTI label, including some lush string orchestrations a la Claus Ogerman/Don Sebesky by the brilliant LA-based arranger Nan Schwartz, is also a heartfelt tribute to Till's idol Freddie Hubbard, who reached the apex of his career at CTI. Curiously, since Till Brönner records for Verve Germany, the album cover includes the logo of that famous label, another company that Taylor popularized (during the '60s, before the CTI era).

The repertoire includes Brönner's "F.F.H. (For Freddie Hubbard)" and renditions of such Hubbard's tunes as "Little Sunflower" (which the late trumpeter recorded for CTI as a sideman on Milt Jackson's masterpiece, "Sunflower") and "Gibraltar" (originally recorded by tenor sax master Stanley Turrentine on "Salt Song," and later revisited by Hubbard himself on some live dates).

There are also hauting takes on the gorgeous ballads "Once Upon A Summertime" (the first tune ever composed by ever Michel Legrand, back in 1954, under the original title "La Valse des Lilas", and a definitive proof that the French maestro is a genius!) and "Lazy Afternoon," recorded for CTI by Jackie & Roy on "Time & Love", but covered by Hubbard, some years later, for the best album of his Columbia years, "The Love Connection."

Till always loved both songs, and previously recorded "Once Upon A Summertime" in another superb project, "Love Is What Stays," which he produced (and Nan Schwartz arranged) for Mark Murphy in 2007.

When I first saw the tracklist of Till's new album, I said to myself: "what do he and Nan think they can do once again with this ballad?" Now I know the answer and can assure you: the best vocal version ever of "Once Upon A Summertime" is on Mark Murphy's CD; and the best instrumental ever is on Till's new CD.

"Till Brönner" is available in three different issues: CD, vinyl LP, and in this highly recommended 2-set limited deluxe CD edition, with the following tracklist:

CD 1:
01:Will Of Nature (5:17)
02:F.F.H. (6:45)
03:Return To The Fold (6:18)
04:Gibraltar (4:01)
05:Pegasus (4:11)
06:Red Street (4:45)
07:Three Days of the Condor (6:13)
08:Lazy Afternoon (7:07)
09:Wacky Wes (5:27)
10:The Gate (6:13)
11:Half Story (5:51)
12:Once Upon A Summertime (5:33)
(all tracks by Till Brönner, except #4 by Freddie Hubbard, #5 by Larry Goldings, #7 by Dave Grusin, #8 by Jerome Moross/John Latouche, #12 by Michel Legrand/Eddie Barclay/Eddy Marnay/Johnny Mercer)

CD 2:
01:Till's Blues [Brönner](4:01)
02:Body & Soul [Green/Eyton/Heyman/Sour] (1:59)
03:Little Sunflower (Live) [Hubbard] (14:39)

CD 1
Till Brönner (trumpet & flugelhorn, brass and woodwind arrangements)
Magnus Lindgren (tenor saxophone, flute, bass clarinet, brass and woodwind arrangements)
Roberto Di Gioia (Fender Rhodes, analog synthesizers)
Jasper Soffers (Fender Rhodes - #8,12)
Bruno Müller (guitars - #7,9)
Albert Johnson (electric bass)
Christian von Kaphengst (electric bass - #8,12)
Matteo Scrimali (drums)
Wolfgang Haffner (drums - #8,12)
Roland Peil (percussion)
Liam Mario (percussion - #11)
Tilmann Dehnhard (flutes - #9-12)
Nan Schwartz (string arrangements, conductor - #2,3, 9-12)
Stefan Pintev, Rodrigo Reichel, Boris Bachmann, Rukandra Klein, Juliane Merse, Alexandra Psareva,Maja Hunziker, Veronika Passin & Alexander Affanasiev (violin)
Erik Wenbo Ku & Thomas Depen (viola)
Alexander Bagrintsev & Sebastian Gaede (cello)

CD 2
Till Brönner (all instruments - #1, flugelhorn -#2, trumpet - #3)
Jasper Soffers (keyboards - #3)
Johan Leijonhufvud (guitar - #3)
Dieter Ilg (acoustic bass - #3)
Martijn Vink (drums - #3)

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