Voyage - Michel Sardaby plays Billy Strayhorn, Fats Waller, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker...
Ron Carter *
Like Wynton KELLY, Andrew HILL and Monty ALEXANDER, Michel SARDABY, is Caribbean. Wynton and Monty were born in Jamaica, Andrew in Haiti and Michel in Fort-de-France, Martinique, in 1935.
Now, I'm not just pointing out these geographical differences as mere biographical details, but to emphasize the fact that between all Caribbean jazz musicians there is a common denominator: they have all shared a similar musical culture. A strong affiliation exists between the music and the four pianists, and, furthermore, it exists between all Caribbean jazz musicians.
The irregular and infectious beat of biguine, gro-ka, reggae and merengue music is the watermark of the people born in the archipelago which stretches from The Bahamas to Tobago. These same powerful Caribbean rhythms are still present in "VOYAGE", even if the musicians have chosen to live in New York, Miami or Paris.
From 1971 to 1975 Michel SARDABY recorded in The United States with musicians as prestigious as Percy HEATH, Connie KAY, Ray BARRETO, Billy COBHAM and Richard DAVIS.
But "VOYAGE", to my mind, is the first album which really does justice to Michel SARDABY's talent.
Firstly, because at the present time Michel is in a period of harmonic perfection and fullness. Listen to the richness of his palette in "Lush Life", Billy STRAYHORN's classic, or to the almost modal introduction (one thinks of Bill EVANS) of "The Jitterbug Waltz", perhaps Fats WALLER's most mysterious composition; or again listen to Michel's originals : "Lame Leg", "Caribbean Flower" or "Sandra's Dream".
The other reason why I consider "VOYAGE" to be the definitive SARDABY's album is the ultimate perfection of sound which digital recording allows.
The sound of the "D 274" Concert Grand Steinway, recorded live with an artificial head, is reproduced with a reality which is almost beyond belief.
The lightest touch on the pedal and keyboard is a feast of quiet softness; the back wall is pushed back fifteen feet, the piano is present but without a false or acid sharpness and without distortion - in one word - it's ecstasy.
With the compact disc we have already learnt the virtues of silence : the death of the infamous background hiss, the end of sinister scratches. "VOYAGE" gives you a sound hologram : Michel SARDABY and his concert Steinway are brought home to you. Better.
With "Sandra's Dream", "Solar", "In a Sentimental Mood" and "Relaxin' at Camarillo", the old bopper classic, enters the smartest bassist of the jazz scene, Ron CARTER. His perfectly rounded sound, his clear tone, his perfect pitch and the underlying rhythm enables SARDABY to communicate on a fabulous level.
Solo and in duo, his sensitivity has never found such a perfect setting.
When you put the compact disc in your player listen carefully — listen to the silences. Silences before notes, after notes, between notes — they're Sardaby's signature.
Pianist Michel Sardaby was born in 1935 in Fort-de-France (Martinique). His Caribbean roots and bebop spirit tell the story of highly respected musician. After graduating from the Ecole Boulle, the highest school for decorative arts in Paris (1956), he graduated from the bebop school of Paris whose masters were no less than Dexter Gordon, T-Bone Walker, Sonny Criss, Kenny Clarke, Ben Webster, J.J. Johnson, Chet Baker, Art Taylor, Jimmy Gourley, Guy Lafitte, René Thomas or Pierre Michelot. His personal discography features unique encounters with Monty Alexander (1984, Carribean Duet) or Ron Carter (1984, Voyage). Trio interplay is his favourite context with the help of carefully chosen rhythm sections such as Percy Heath and Connie Kay (1970, Night Cap), Richard Davis and Billy Cobham (1972, In New York), Richard Davis and Billy Hart (1974, Gail), Rufus Reid and Marvin Smitty Smith (1989, Going Places), Jay Leonardt and Tootie Heath (1990, Night Blossom), Buster Williams and Ben Riley (1996, Plays Classics and Ballads) or Reggie Johnson and John Betsch (1997, Intense Moments). He also favours the quintet, yielding a great recording with Ralph Moore (ts) et veteran trumpeter from Memphis Louis Smith (1992, Straight On). He has recently been working with young Turks from New York such as Robert Dickson (ts) and Derrick Garner (tp).
His latest albums, Karen (2003, Reuben Rogers and Dion Parson), At Home (2004, Ray Drummond and Winard Harper) and Night in Paris (2005) reflect the mastery and craftsmanship of a poet. A melodic composer, a moving soloist, he relentlessly revisits Ellington, Monk and standard songs that the perfect vehicle for his sophisticated take on the blues. One of jazz’s best-kept secrets.
Today, The Michel Sardaby Trio features one the best rhythm section you can find in Paris with Darryl Hall or Wayne Dockery on the bass and Doug Sides or John Betsch on the drums.
Ron Carter *
Carter began playing cello at ten. But when his family moved from Ferndale, MI, to Detroit, Carter ran into problems with racial stereotypes regarding the cello and switched to bass. He played in the Eastman School's Philharmonic Orchestra, and gained his degree in 1959. He moved to New York and played in Chico Hamilton's quintet with Eric Dolphy, while also enrolling at the Manhattan School of Music. Carter earned his master's degree in 1961. After Hamilton returned to the West Coast in 1960, Carter stayed in New York and played with Dolphy and Don Ellis, cutting his first records with them. He worked with Randy Weston and Thelonious Monk, while playing and recording with Jaki Byard in the early '60s. Carter also toured and recorded with Bobby Timmons' trio, and played with Cannonball Adderley. He joined Art Farmer's group for a short time in 1963, before he was tapped to become a member of Miles Davis' band.
Carter remained with Davis until 1968, appearing on every crucial mid-'60s recording and teaming with Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams to craft a new, freer rhythm section sound. The high-profile job led to the reputation that's seen Carter become possibly the most recorded bassist in jazz history. He's been heard on an unprecedented number of recordings; some sources claim 500, others have estimated it to be as many as 1,000. The list of people he's played with is simply too great to be accurately and completely cited. Carter's been a member of New York Jazz Sextet and New York Jazz Quartet, V.S.O.P. Tour, and Milestone Jazzstars, and was in one of the groups featured in the film Round Midnight in 1986.
He's led his own bands at various intervals since 1972, using a second bassist to keep time and establish harmony so he's free to provide solos. Carter even invented his own instrument, a piccolo bass. Carter's also contributed many arrangements and compositions to both his groups and other bands. - Artist Biography (excerpts) by Ron Wynn - www.allmusic.com
Steinway Concert Grand D 274
Lush Life (Billy Strayhorn)
The Jitterbug Waltz (Fats Waller)
Lame Leg (Michel Sardaby)
Caribbean Flower (Michel Sardaby)
Sandra's Dream * (Michel Sardaby)
Solar * (Miles Davis)
In a Sentimental Mood * (Duke Ellington)
Relaxin' at Camarillo * (Charlie Parker)
..."Voyage" masterpiece of intelligence of good taste and pianistic inspiration... - Jazz Hot, Paris, France n°421