REVIEW Joey Calderazzo, Live From the Cotton Club Tokyo Vol 1., Dot Time Records ***
It might become compulsory to begin a live album with the noise of the audience just so we know that it is live.
In any case that is how Live From the Cotton Club Tokyo Vol 1 begins. “Volume 1” makes it sound like The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. But this particular story is not that epic a tale.
Joey Calderazzo is an A list player, usually known as a member of a group and for a long time with Branford Marsalis and who has a new album The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul out in March.
There is a British interest in the choice of bassist with Orlando Le Fleming who lives in America and who swings like mad on ‘Hats Off to Rebay’ and the Jeff Watts-like sound of Donald Edwards on drums completes the band.
Most of these tracks are pretty long and that is not unusual in a live jazz club setting. The band swing all night long and it is enjoyable but you will not come away from this with any other great insights other than bask in the ability of the players or just wish you were there because going by the audience it was fun.
The latinate ‘Cianna’ has a feelgood style to it but you certainly will be looking for a bit more edge and that luckily is provided in the opening of ‘One Way’ that has a mysterious teasing opening from Le Fleming and Calderazzo, the pianist using the deepest notes of his instrument to add a little suspense, the bluesiness an added ingredient for great flavour.
I have not heard Calderazzo live in quite a few years, I think the last time was at a festival in Glasgow, and was always blown away by his technique on his own records and which is still there in natural abundance. I’d pick ‘Free’ to indicate that great aspect of his playing best of all with Edwards really coming into his own and the trio respond best and show their firepower which mostly on this record as a unit is kept in reserve.
The audience show their engagement again at the beginning of the choppy opening to ‘The Mighty Sword’ and Le Fleming rampages the tune along, the trio going for broke. Certainly then to reach a conclusion a pretty album and very easy to absorb but I would not say it is a classic and is quite undemanding in large sections. Nevertheless it certainly helps put the Cotton Club in Tokyo on the map for quality live recordings and presumably future volumes. Stephen Graham